Sunderland fans got a Christmas Day treat with a 4-0 hammering of Newcastle
What will your Christmas Day consist of?
Present opening, no doubt, and a chance to relax with friends and family perhaps.
It was nothing quite to relaxing for the professional footballers of Sunderland.
As little as 60 years ago, they had to play matches on Christmas Day, as Philip Curtis of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society reports.
As 3pm closes in on Christmas Day and dinners are being allowed to settle, many Wearsiders will be no doubt be relaxing in front of their television.
After all, Christmas is a time for enjoying time with your loved ones.
They will be planning to watch and listen to the Queen’s Speech, taking in their favourite film or enjoying the presents they have just received.
However, for the older generation of football fans, that was not always the case and often it meant trips to a fixture.
That’s because, right until 1956, Christmas Day was match day with Sunderland often playing a League game on that day.
In fact, the congested festive fixture list was even more action-packed.
Until the mid-1950s, League games were usually played on Christmas Day as well as Boxing Day with the same teams more often than not playing each other on successive days.
These were special games. They were considered holiday matches and were expected to attract large crowds.
Fixtures were usually arranged so that teams did not have to travel too far.
And, apart from 1907 when Sunderland had to travel all the way to Bristol City, the opposition was usually from Lancashire, Yorkshire or even a local derby.
Even so, with limited transport available, fans had to plan well in advance to ensure that they arrived at the ground in time for the kick off.
They probably also had to placate their families before leaving for a day away from their loved ones.
Sunderland’s first encounter with Newcastle United on a Christmas Day was in 1914 and what a day it was for Wearsiders.
It was a day when the Black Cats hammered the Magpies 4-0 at Roker Park in front of an appreciative 40,000 fans.
However, just 24 hours later, Newcastle turned the tables, and enjoyed a 4-2 victory.
Between the wars, Christmas Day produced many high scoring games. For example, in 1926 Sunderland travelled to Everton and, in a pulsating game, lost 5-4.
The following day, they reversed the result winning 3-2. It meant the total number of goals scored in the two games was a huge fourteen.
Occasionally Sunderland were on the end of Christmas Day drubbings – in 1929 they lost 5-2 at Blackburn and in the Christmas Day match in 1934 they were beaten 6-2 at Everton.
The following day however they ran amok and beat Everton 7-0 with Gurney, Gallacher and Connor each scoring two goals bringing the goal total over the twenty four hours to an astonishing fifteen.
Perhaps only Sunderland could concede six goals one day and score seven the other.
Christmas Day matches continued to take place after the Second World War.
Perhaps the pick of the festive fare was in 1950 when Sunderland played Manchester United at Roker Park winning 2-1 in front of 41,215 with both goals coming from Tommy Wright.
On Boxing Day, the Black Cats again beat United, this time 5-3, with Ivor Broadis scoring a hat-trick.
Christmas Day 1953 brought captain Fred Hall a much awaited present for Sunderland in a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town.
Fred made 224 appearances for the club and yet this was his only goal.
Sunderland’s final Christmas Day fixture took place in 1956 at Roker Park against Aston Villa and ended with a 1-0 victory.
It was Billy Bingham who made December 25 history with the winning goal.
Since that season Sunderland have never played a match on Christmas Day.
Of course holiday fixtures are still arranged but never on consecutive days.
This year Sunderland will be playing away matches on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve against Manchester United and Burnley respectively.
Let’s hope the results bring Sunderland a Happy New Year.