Like re-runs of The Snowman and organised strikes by people who think £40,000-a-year is not enough to operate a tube train, Boxing Day football fixtures are a staple of the Christmas period.
Sky’s billions have contributed to the slow death of the 3pm kick-off over the last twenty years and Boxing Day is usually one of the rare occasions during the season when all twenty Premier League teams play on the same day. Not this year of though, as Bob Crow’s kicked up another stink. Still, nine fixtures should serve up more festive entertainment than anything on ITV1.
Fifty years ago clubs would regularly play on Christmas Day, providing hundreds of football-playing men up and down the country with the perfect escape route from an afternoon trapped on the sofa with their in-laws.
It’s around this time of year the sages on the Match of the Day sofa bemoan a lack of a winter break, attributing the England national team’s annual failings to the lack of a two-week rest. All bollocks of course, given half the players in the Premier League are foreign internationals, and you didn’t see Fernando Torres and Juan Mata complaining when they banged in the goals to seal Spain’s victory in the Euro 2012 final. England fail for numerous reasons, mainly because we’re not actually very good; but I digress…
I love Boxing Day football. Forget hair of the dog or Berocca, the perfect Xmas hangover cure is standing in the freezing cold for 90 minutes on the terraces of your local non-league side with a cone of chips and a polystyrene cup of Bovril. It’s usually a derby game, so the ground’s a sell-out and the atmosphere is charged. With as many as four rounds of fixtures in ten days, festive football is an essential part of the calendar, with Boxing Day the jewel in the crown.