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Christmas Day off for footballers - since when?

ESPN staff
December 23, 2013
This man hasn't had Christmas Day off in a very long time... © PA Photos

When did football matches stop being played on Christmas Day? asked Kevin from Hampstead

Up until the 1950s there was usually a full league football programme on Christmas Day in England - in 1957 there were 38 league games on December 25. But after that the number dropped off, possibly because the amount of public transport available was steadily reducing, or maybe people felt more pressure to stay at home!

In 1959 only two matches were played on Christmas Day, and the last time it ever happened in England was in 1965, when Blackpool beat Blackburn 4-2 in the top division. The tradition carried on longer in Scotland, where there was a full programme most years until 1971, and some matches as late as 1976.

A few years ago Brentford made an attempt to revive what they called "the old tradition of husbands going to football on Christmas Day while the wives cook the turkey", and tried to play their third-division match against local rivals Wimbledon on December 25. But, possibly because modern wives didn't think much of that idea, the match was eventually brought forward to Christmas Eve.

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