Remembering the incredible 1963 Boxing Day matches

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without gifts, crackers and turkey with all the trimmings.

However, these are not the only things that make up the holiday season. No no. Christmas didn’t really come until every football account on Twitter posted a chart of Boxing Day 1963 results.

You know the one we’re talking about.

During a truly amazing afternoon of football, 66 goals were scored in just 10 games, with fans getting scores like 10-1, 4-4 and 8-2.

It’s a great title but as always, the devil is in the details. Here’s exactly how one of the most dramatic afternoons in English football history unfolded.

Barry Bridges
Barry Bridges scored a hat trick for Chelsea | Robert Stiggins / Getty Images

Blackpool entered the game one place above the relegation spots – and by the time the final whistle had sounded it was easy to see why.

The Tangerines were put to the sword by Chelsea with striker Barry Bridges scoring a hat-trick, while Peter Houseman and future England boss Terry Venables also bagged.

There is no doubt that the victorious Blues went directly to the platform to celebrate after the match.

Denis Law, Gordon Banks
Dennis Law was absent for the Red Devils | Standard Evening / Getty Images

Things have been pretty bad for Manchester United lately, but they never have been this wrong.

Before kick-off, the two teams were separated by two points, but the gap on the pitch was much greater. Burnley’s Andy Lochhead got the party started in seven minutes before United leveled things at the half hour.

After that, the hosts took control, scoring five unanswered points and dooming United to a terrible loss. George Best and Dennis Law, 17, who scored 30 goals during the season, were out on Boxing Day and clearly missed.

Bobby robson
Bobby Robson came on the scene at Craven Cottage | Les Lee / Getty Images

Ipswich Town made his way to Craven Cottage firmly anchored at the bottom of the table, but Fulham was not in the mood to offer them some festive charity.

Maurice Cook opened the scoring for the Cottagers from the start, before Graham Leggat added three more in as many minutes. He remained the fastest hat-trick in English Football League history until 2015, when Sadio Mane broke his record playing for Southampton.

Six more home goals – including one from Sir Bobby Robson – would come before the end of the afternoon. It was the most painful moment of a season that would unsurprisingly see Ipswich finish at the bottom of the pile.

Gordon Banks, Len Chalmers, Richie Norman, Frank McLintock, Ian King, Colin Appleton, Graham Cross, John Sjoberg, Howard Riley, Dave Gibson, Mike Stringfellow, Jimmy Walsh, Ken Keyworth, Albert Cheesebrough
Leicester got three festive points at Filbert Street | Express / Getty Images

Two goals? What a disgrace.

Leicester’s goals were scored by Ken Keyworth, while legendary Gordon Banks kept a clean sheet in the Foxes’ goal.

We will not waste any more words on such a rehearsal festival.

Roger hunt
Roger Hunt scored four goals on Boxing Day 1963 | Ian McLennan / Getty Images

Liverpool, third, were the big favorites when they met struggling Stoke City and the Anfield crowd did not leave disappointed.

Roger Hunt – who went on to score 33 goals at the end of the season – caught four, while the brilliantly named Alf Arrowsmith and Ian St John also scored.

The Reds used the result as a springboard, winning the Premier League title by finishing four points ahead of Manchester United.

1963-64 Nottingham Forest Squad
Forest could only draw against the Blades | Express / Getty Images

Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United were only four points apart at the start of the game, so it was no surprise that the fans were treated to such a close encounter.

In the end, the two teams shared six evenly goals with the Blades’ Mick Jones netting a brace. The visitors’ other scorer was Len Allchurch, who converted a penalty, while Ian Storey-Moore, Geoff Vowden and Frank Wignall sacked Forest.

The thrilling competition was a rare exciting time in a boring season. The two teams finished 12th and 13th respectively, separated by just two points.

Wednesday goalie Ron Springett could have gotten away with a few more roasted potatoes
Wednesday’s goalie Ron Springett could have gotten away with a few more roasted potatoes Robert Stiggins / Getty Images

Bolton spent Christmas in the relegation zone, six points adrift from safety, but Sheffield Wednesday wasn’t in the mood to offer them any sympathy on Boxing Day.

Colin Dobson nabbed a brace in front of the 30,000 fans gathered at Hillsborough, with Mark Pearson also scoring to sow misery on Bill Ridding’s side.

Bolton would improve in the second half of the season but it would be too little, too late. The Trotters would ultimately be relegated, finishing one point behind Birmingham City’s 20th place.

Danny Greaves, Jimmy Greaves
Jimmy Greaves had a great Christmas with two goals | Robert Stiggins / Getty Images

Hawthorns fans were treated to an eight-goal thriller with West Brom in the middle of the table holding top-flight Tottenham to a 4-4 draw.

Unsurprisingly, Spurs’ all-time top scorer Jimmy Greaves was among the goals, netting a brace. Her first came in three minutes and that lightning quick start set the tone for the afternoon.

Bobby Smith and Cliff Jones got Spurs’ other goals, while John Kaye, Clive Clark, Don Howe and Micky Fudge – whose strike was the the sweetest of all – mesh for the Baggies.

Fred Pickering scored a hat trick against the hapless Hammers
Fred Pickering scored a hat trick against the hapless Hammers | Getty Images / Getty Images

Despite one of the best center-backs ever, Bobby Moore, defending himself, West Ham still managed to score eight goals when Blackburn Rovers made it to Upton Park.

Andy McEvoy and Fred Pickering both had hat-tricks for the Rovers heading the table with Barry Douglas and Mike Ferguson also scoring. For the hosts, a Johnny Byrne brace didn’t do much to save their Christmas blush.

Although he entered the leaderboards during the holiday season, Blackburn’s form would slow down seriously in the second half of the season, with the Rovers ultimately finishing seventh.

Stan Cullis, Joe Gardiner
Wolves’ 1963/64 season was a vastly underrated affair – until Boxing Day | R. Viner / Getty Images

The only thing better than a Boxing Day derby is a Boxing Day derby which is also a six goal thriller.

Wolves’ Ray Crawford starred on the show for Wolves, scoring twice, while Terry Wharton also scored for the hosts. Aston Villa, meanwhile, had three different scorers: David Pountney, Vic Crowe and Tony Hateley.

In the end, both teams would finish safely in the middle of the table, separated by just four points.

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