December 26, 1963: The Greatest Boxing Day in English Soccer History

Boxing Day is arguably the 2nd biggest day on the EPL schedule (2nd to the final day of the season). It’s a day where almost everyone is home on Christmas break and is ready to settle in for some soccer. The Boxing Day games are also huge because they mark the halfway point in the EPL season and things begin to take shape in terms of figuring out the contenders and pretenders in the league. For those who don’t know what Boxing Day is, the modern form of Boxing Day started as the day where employers would give their employees gift boxes for a job well done over the year.

While there have been some legendary Boxing Day moments on the field of play, one Boxing Day ranks above them all. In 1963, an onslaught of goals gave the day some non stop entertainment. In total, 66 goals were scored in the 10 First Division games. That’s an astonishing average of 6.6 goals per game including six players scoring hat-tricks and three of them getting four goals. 66 goals in a match day is still a record in English soccer.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find video of any of these games but here is a short recap of each game from Boxing Day 1963.

Blackpool 1-5 Chelsea

Chelsea had a 4-0 halftime lead and never looked back. Barry Bridges got a brace for Chelsea and they easily beat Blackpool.

Burnley 6-1 Manchester United

Burnley manhandled the team who would end up finishing 2nd at the end of the season, Manchester United after United had equalized to make it 1-1. This game was notable due to Burnley players Andy Lochhead and Willie Morgan. Locked was one of the three players who had scored four goals on the day and Morgan was an 18 year old trialist playing one of his first games as a professional.

Fulham 10-1 Ipswich Town

The former 1961-62 champions Ipswich Town took last in the First Division in this 1963-64 season. Ipswich allowed 121 goals over the season and they suffered their worst loss in team history to a Fulham team who celebrated their best win in team history. Fulham’s Graham Leggat was another player to score four goals as well as scoring three goals in three minutes (still a record). Leggat’s teammate Bobby Howfield also scored a hat-trick.

Leicester City 2-0 Everton

In the lowest scoring game of the day, Leicester got one of the two clean sheets on the day by defeating Everton. Leicester upset the defending First Division champions and contributed to the turning point between the success of Everton and Liverpool as it resulted in Liverpool winning the First Division championship in 1964.

Liverpool 6-1 Stoke City

Speaking of Liverpool, the future champions kept it close at halftime to Stoke but scored five goals in the second half as well as four from Roger Hunt to seal the 6-1 win. This day was instrumental for Liverpool’s history. With losses to the 2nd and 3rd placed teams, Manchester United and Everton, it gave Liverpool momentum to win the First Division for the first time since 1947. This was also the first First Division championship for Bill Shankly as Liverpool manager and the rest as they say, is history.

Nottingham Forest 3-3 Sheffield United

In one of three draws of the day, Sheffield United had to come back from three goals down to earn the draw with Nottingham Forest. That was pretty impressive in itself.

Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Bolton Wanderers

In the other clean sheet of the day, Sheffield Wednesday took care of the relegated Bolton rather easily.

West Bromwich Albion 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur

West Brom had to come back from a couple goals down late to draw Tottenham. The result helped West Brom get into the mid table.

West Ham United 2-8 Blackburn Rovers

The leaders at the time, Blackburn, destroyed West Ham thanks to a couple hat-tricks from Fred Pickering and Andy McEvoy. Despite the blowout win, Blackburn finished 7th in the final table.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-3 Aston Villa

Wolves and Aston Villa engaged in a typical draw. Not much information has been provided on the game but it was a game where neither team was really at risk of relegation and not a threat to win the league.

So there you have it, the greatest Boxing Day in English soccer history. We can only hope this Boxing Day is even better.

(ESPN FC/Daily Mail)

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp