When Football Was Played On Christmas Day

Written by on December 25, 2017

Yes, we used to play football on CHRISTMAS DAY in Scotland with the last ho-ho for Santa Claus in fitba’ terms being the year 1976.

Christmas football produced some notable results. Celtic’s 8-1 thrashing of Morton in ’65, coupled with Rangers’ slump against Dunfermline, took them to the top of the league. On the same afternoon Berwick Rangers won by an identical scoreline against Forfar.

It remains their record victory and meant a long journey back north for Archie Knox and his team-mates. The Tayside derby between St Johnstone and Dundee in ’71 finished scoreless and doesn’t sound like much of a game. Indeed Jocky Scott has forgotten that he ever played football on Christmas Day. Thanks to leap years, Christmas Day returned to a Saturday in double-quick time but in ’76 football was no longer shining as brightly as a certain star in the east – at Easter Road or anyplace else. Clubs were given the opportunity to move their matches and many, fearing poor turnouts, took it. Only two games went ahead – Clydebank v St Mirren and Alloa Athletic v Cowdenbeath. “I don’t think we’ll ever see football played on Christmas Day again,” says Rock Sport’s resident statmeister Alex Horsburgh “A bloke can no longer say to his wife: ‘I’m off to the game – back for my turkey later.’ Even if he wanted to and I’m not sure he would.” Respect, then, for the festive footballers. These guys also served, not once on Christmas Day but twice: Peter McCloy, Joe Harper, Jim Forrest, Arthur Duncan, Steve Murray, Jimmy O’Rourke, Drew Jarvie, Eric Stevenson. And who do you think is at the top of the tree for putting football before Brussels sprouts and rotten cracker jokes? It probably has to be Sir Alex Ferguson who achieved a hat-trick, having played for Dunfermline in ’65 and Falkirk in ’71 then managed St Mirren in ’76. The programme from that match is the most tinsel-trimmed ever, proof that Christmas was here to stay. The boss writes: “What better to complete your Christmas Day than producing everything that’s good in football?” Let the records show that the last ho-ho ended in a 2-2 draw while in the Lunchtime Kick Off at Alloa on December 25th 1976 the Wasps beat the Blue Brazil [ still nicknamed The Miners at the time ] by two goals to one at Recreation Park.


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