Arsenal On Christmas Day

A merry Christmas to all; if it is not your bag or you are avoiding the festivities for whatever reason, hope your Saturday is fine and dandy. And a happy birthday to Arsenal Football Club, formed on this day in 1886, ArsenThe Royal Oak public house explaining why the club’s fortunes have driven many to drink whilst setting a precedent for a large number of their descendents – a snifter or two has been commonplace in English footballing culture.

For many decades Christmas Day offered no respite for the professional footballer. Indeed, it is a little surprise that Rupe has not tried (and succeeded) in persuading the Premier League to have an offering on this day of the year. It might turn many a stomach but there is no doubt that News Corp would love to be putting Arsenal v Chelsea on the television today, Richard Keys salivating, “You’ve had your turkey but what about this for a stocking filler…“.

Between 1893 and 1956, Arsenal played matches on Christmas Day. In a startling bout of originality, 1893 and 1894 saw the same opponents on Christmas and Boxing Day; Port Vale at the Invicta and Manor Grounds with a visit to Grimsby twenty four hours later. A pattern emerged; Arsenal won both of the home games with defeats suffered on their travels. Port Vale must have complained after their third consecutive defeat in 1895 having conceded thirteen goals in the three fixtures; they never appeared again.

The depth of professional football’s history is shown from the opponents on this day. Defunct clubs such as Burton United and Bradford Park Avenue were played, the former winning the 1902 encounter. Eleven of the clubs who have played Arsenal on this day are current Premier League members, although Blackpool and Newcastle have just joined those ranks.

Much footballing history assumes that fixtures played on Christmas Day were reversed twenty four hours later. That was not always the case. Indeed the practice started for Arsenal in 1911, losing at White Hart Lane (0-5) before winning 3-1 on the 26th. 1922s encounters with Bolton highlight the point; a 1 – 4 reverse in the away game was followed by a 5 – 0 win at Highbury.

On occasion, there was another game on the 27th – 1913 and 1919 – which did not seem to bother the players overly; Arsenal only lost one of those six fixtures to Derby on Christmas Day 1919. Were Premier League players to be asked to partake of that schedule, the whinging and complaining would still be heard the following September.

The period covered by Christmas Day matches was Arsenal’s “Golden Era“. The club’s first seven league titles were delivered in that time, six matches played on this date. Of those, the only defeat suffered was at the hands of Blackpool in 1937, Bloomfield Road witnessing The Tangerines emerging victorious by the odd goal in three. On the other occasions, Manchester City (1930 4-1), Leeds (1933 1-0), Preston (1934 5-3), Liverpool (1947 3-1) and Bolton (1952 6-4) were the presents given to Arsenal fans.

Football on Christmas Day was a tradition that died out half a century ago, the last two fixtures against Monday’s opponents Chelsea. 1954 saw Arsenal win by a single goal at Highbury, two years later honours were even at Stamford Bridge. A repeat of the home result will see everyone’s Arsenal world a lot brighter on Monday.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on December 25, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. gooner in belfast

    Happy Birthday Dial Square….
    and here’s to many more…..

  2. 2day mark my darling ARSENAL FC’s 124yrs of existance. Founded on the day of christ birth,we can neva b relegated HAPPY B’DAY TO ALL GROVERS

  3. YW I salute you for your dedication shown in blogging so early on Christmas morning. And its stuff like today’s blog that educates us “Johnny Come Lately Foreigners” about the history of this great club which has become an inseparable part of our lives.
    COY Gunners

  4. Very nice piece Yogi. I didn’t know it was Arsenal’s birthday!

    A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, Yogi.

    Seasonal wishes to all Arsenal fans everywhere. We all know what we want in our stocking this year.

    Seasons, stockings, so many double entendre possibilities at Christmas. Where’s Limpar when he might be useful?

    Now, can I manage to get this dartboard up before I’ve drunk too much.

  5. Merry Christmas (or Festivus or whatever you’re into) and a happy new year to everyone. Let’s hope 2011 is a good year for The Arsenal.


  6. Merry Christmas to ACLFers and Arsenal fans everywhere!

  7. mmmm”Johnny come lately foreigners” not so sure about that for a comment

  8. Don’t forget ‘stuffing the bird’ Consolbob.

    YW – thanks for all your cogent, rational and considered thoughts and analysis over the year – a bastion for the erudite and sane Arsenal fans.

    This year holds much promise, we would ALL do well to remember that though we are keen to ‘get there’ this is more than a destination; the journey adds much piquant flavour to the finished dish.

    Ah! An Ashes series that has just sprung to life kicks off again tonight and then a big London derby in two sleeps time. One should see me through to the other – with just presents food and booze inbetween. Life is good.

    Merry Crimblepants ACLFERs.

  9. Gunner From Nigeria

    The Saviour is born.
    Merry Christmas to Yogi, all ACLers, all Gunners in Nigeria and Worldwide.
    Trophybirthday to Arsenal fc.

  10. Hi guys,

    Merry Christmas to you all and I’d just like to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your posts this year.

  11. Merry Christmas gooners! Hopefully the 27th will be equally merry!

  12. seasons greetings to all gooners and a merry christmas

  13. Christ is born!
    Merry Christmas gunners.
    Wining on Monday would be a great Xmas gift.

  14. Merry Christmas to all boomers everywhere. Yw merry Christmas to you and your family. You give us the gift of your writing everyday. Thanks for another great year.

  15. Sorry spell check changed gooners to boomers. Anyway merry Christmas to all.

  16. Delia---Block 112

    Just popped in to wish all true Gooners a very Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2011, both on and off the field.
    As always COYRs.

  17. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all Gooners and of course all the best to all you ACLF-ers. So many friends made here…may the season find you and yours well, happy and healthy.



  18. Merry Christmas and Avery prosperous new year to you all.

    Definitely a nice 1 – 0 to the Arsenal and to Sunderland will mark an excellent Christmas present indeed!

    An Excellent 2011 to arsenal on behalf of all!

  19. Queen of suburbia

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  20. Merry X’mas and a happy New Year to you and all the readers of this site.
    Always look forward to reading the daily blogs..
    Keep up the good work!

  21. Merry Xmas to Everybody

    YW, Many, many thanks for a wonderful blog

    Bill, re: boomers, thought you’d coined a new term for non-doomers 🙂

  22. Man U and Man City both winning. Barring late miracles that’s my Christmas ruined.

  23. Anyone else see Pires about to fuck Harry Redknapp up?

  24. Deano, I was hoping Pires would punch the dirty scrote.

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