Mens Team

When Christmas Day meant going to the match...

As people around the country and the rest of the world celebrate Christmas Day, spare a thought for the City teams of yesteryear and their families.

Hard as may seem to believe today, there was once a full league programme on Christmas Day.

As presents were unwrapped and turkeys were placed in the oven, so the players set off for matches – often knowing they would have to do the same again on Boxing Day.

You can imagine one or two heated family discussions on the big day when the words “Right, I’m off to the match” were uttered just before the turkey was carved.

And how about players signing on Christmas Eve? Yep, that’s happened too, with Joe Royle and Steve McMahon both swapping Merseyside for Manchester when Santa was just hours away.

Of course, playing on Christmas Day seems unthinkable now, but as recently as 63 years ago, City were still in action on December 25.

In total, we have played no less than 44 Christmas Day matches through the years, before fixture planners finally saw sense.

When the players should have been opening presents with their families and enjoying a festive dinner, they were instead representing the Club in cold and frosty grounds up and down the country for what was then a pittance of pay.

The first competitive Christmas Day game Manchester City played was in 1902 when a then-record derby crowd of 40,000 witnessed a 1–1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

That said, training on Christmas Day is very much still a regular occurrence in the modern era.

Moving forward to December 1938 and City would have given Morecambe and Wise (ask your parents, kids!)  a run for their money in terms of sheer unbridled entertainment.

That year, City played three games in four crazy days on December 24, 25 and 27 winning 9-3 against Tranmere Rovers at Maine Road on Christmas Eve – then 5-2 at Prenton Park against Tranmere on Christmas Day – before beating Bradford City 5-1 on December 27 meaning some 19 goals scored and six had been conceded.

Incredible.

The last Christmas Day fixture for City was at Turf Moor in 1957, when Burnley won 2–1 in front of 28,000 shivering fans.

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Paddy Fagan scored City’s goal that day, but a day later City beat the Clarets 4-1 at Maine Road to exact almost instant payback.

Our complete record for Christmas Day is:

Played: 44 Won: 14 Drawn: 11 Lost: 19 Goals for: 74 Goals against: 86

Happy Christmas!

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