‘Boxing Day’ with 66 goals in ten games, and revenge included

Finally, despite the covid, there has been football on English Boxing Day, a venerable tradition that pairs the favorite sport of the British with that unique and familiar date. This was not the case in 1962, when on December 26 the entire island dawned covered by at least one meter of snow. Impossible to move, impossible to play. It would only be the beginning. The coldest winter on record in England prevented the development of football until March. How would it be that the bookmakers, then already a strong industry in England as they are today in Spain, managed to get a committee of experts to meet every Saturday at game time to draw up a list of imaginary results that, of course They were not valid for the classification, but they were valid for the bettors. A unique story that I already have told in this space.

But if there was no football on Boxing Day in 1962, 1963 was going to offer complete revenge. The nightmare of the previous winter had passed and it was possible to play in the conditions typical of a winter, let’s say, normal on the island. And what happened was an extraordinary day that collected 66 goals in 10 games, never seen before. The table of results today produces the same amazement as then: Blackpool, 1- Chelsea, 5; Burnley, 6- Manchester United, 1; Fulham, 10- Ipswich, 1; Leicester, 2- Everton, 0; Liverpool, 6- Stoke, 1; Nottingham, 3- Sheffield United, 3; Sheffield Wednesday, 3- Bolton, 0; West Bromwich, 4- Tottenham, 4; West Ham, 2- Blackburn, 8; and Wolverhampton, 3- Aston Villa, 3. No draw at zero, only two of the 20 teams were left unmarked, one game with 11 goals, another with 10, one with 8, two with 7 …

The big bombshell was Manchester United’s defeat of the modest Burnley, with four goals from Andy Lochhead, a big Scottish header, eventually man of the day on that extraordinary day. He was not the only one to score four. Roger Hunt also did it to Stoke, the Liverpool insider called to displace the great Jimmy Greaves from the 1966 world champion England forward. And another four did Graham Leggat, despite playing winger, in the record game of the day record, Fulham’s 10-1 over Ipswich Town. The famous Greaves was left in two, which on a day like this seemed little, in the 4-4 achieved by his Tottenham in the visit to West Bromwich.

Everton, the only victim

Those 66 goals produced a huge shock, both because of the amount itself and because many of the results were a great surprise and prepared an enormous atmosphere for the day of the 28th. Then there was the custom, already lost, of repeating the matches on the 28th. of Boxing Day, but in the visitors’ fields of the 26. Thus, within the general league championship that space of rivalries was created (which changed every year) that delighted the fans, whose displacements were massive thanks to the dates vacationers, the collected size of England and its network of railways.

And on the 28th, without going so far, he met expectations. The greatest expectation was at Old Trafford, where Manchester United retaliated against Burnley. Matt Busby tweaked the equipment. He debuted 16-year-old Willie Anderson and sent a telegram to Belfast for George Best to return, who had only played one game until then and had permission to spend the holidays with his family. United won 5-1 and Best, soon to be known as The Fifth Beatle, scored the first of 471 goals he would make in his 11 years as a Mancuniano. West Ham made up for their tremendous defeat at Upton Park to Blackburn by beating them 1-3 at Ewood Park, and Ipswich partially closed the wound of 10 goals conceded against Fulham by beating them 4-2. For their part, Aston Villa and Wolwerhampton drew again, this time 2-2, so that their fans saw ten goals adding the games between both teams in two days without a winner being produced.

The only double victim of that feast was, curiously, the previous League champion Everton, who after losing on Boxing Day 2-1 in Leicester would lose again on the 28th, 0-3, in their own field. There he began to lose the trail of his head and at the end of the championship he would be third. The title was won by Liverpool from the famous Bill Shankly, who had taken the club four years earlier in the Second Division. The top scorer trophy went to spur Jimmy Greaves, with 35.

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‘Boxing Day’ with 66 goals in ten games, and revenge included

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