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The Magnificent 7: St. Stephen’s Day crackers

From eight goal thrillers, to on-field team talks, football has served up a feast of fascinating St. Stephen’s Day encounters.

Stephen Ireland doesn't actually feature in our St. Stephen's Day list but he is called Stephen and that's good enough for us.
Stephen Ireland doesn't actually feature in our St. Stephen's Day list but he is called Stephen and that's good enough for us.
Image: CLINT HUGHES/AP/Press Association Images

DEPSITE REPEATED CALLS for a winter break, St. Stephen’s Day football has become a fixture in this part of Europe and it would be a shame if football fans, worn out by Christmas Day excess, didn’t  have some games to relax in front of the following day.

These are our most memorable St. Stephen’s Day games, but what are yours?

1963 – The day goalkeepers forgot to turn up

The First Division results from St. Stephen’s Day 1963 read as follows:

Blackpool 1-5 Chelsea
Burnley 6-1 Manchester United
Fulham 10-1 Ipswich Town
Leicester City 2-0 Everton
Liverpool 6-1 Stoke City
Nottingham Forest 3-3 Sheffield United
West Bromwich Albion 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 Bolton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-3 Aston Villa
West Ham United 2-8 Blackburn Rovers

The Fulham score really was 10-1, that’s not a typo.

Some of the Ipswich Town team who conceded 10 goals on St. Stephen’s Day 1963
(C) PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

1981 – To rise from the ashes, you first need a fire

When Liverpool won the 1981-82 First Division title it was, perhaps, Bob Paisley’s sweetest championship victory as most pundits had written the Reds off after an abject display in a 3-1 St. Stephen’s Day defeat to Manchester City at Anfield.

The game will be remembered for the fate of the two goalkeepers. Liverpool’s new signing Bruce Grobbelaar had a nightmare while, at the other end, Joe Corrigan was knocked unconscious by a bottle thrown from the Kop.

That Liverpool went on to win the title after such a poor result, speaks volumes for the team’s desire that year.

YouTube Credit: MCFCVideos

1991 – No chance of United returning Oldham’s gift

Manchester United paid a Christmas visit to neighbours, Oldham Athletic on December 26, 1991. Denis Irwin, signed from Oldham only a year earlier, scored two against his former club.

Brian McClair, leading goal scorer for United that season, also beat the keeper twice while Ryan Giggs and Andrei Kanchelskis scored one each to turn this St. Stephen’s Day fixture into something of a rout.

YouTube Credit: Mattyredman

1995 – Snow white

You have to stick with this video for about 90 seconds to see where the problem arises but, during Linfield’s 3-0 win over Glentoran in 1995, the orange ball they had been using burst.

Now, you’d image they would have a replacement ball but they didn’t and it’s like they’re playing with an invisible football for the rest of the game.

YouTube Credit: JillHancot

2005 – Wigan hold on, just

Did you know that during the 2005-2006 Premier League season, 25% of clubs had an Irish captain. Can you guess who they were? There are no prizes or anything, but you might as well give it a go.

Recently promoted Wigan put on their best display of the season on St. Stephen’s day when they held on for a win against pre-money Manchester City despite repeated fight backs from the Blues and significantly reduced fingernails for Wigan supporters.

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YouTube Credit: WeLoveManchesterCity

2007 – No season of goodwill

In the early kick off, Chelsea and Aston Villa shared eight goals, three red cards and two penalties. Shaun Maloney scored twice early on to stun the Stamford Bridge crowd into silence before the game turned after Zat Knight was sent off for conceding a penalty that Andriy Shevchenko converted.

The match ebbed and flowed before Michael Ballack scored a free-kick in the 88th minute to seemingly secure the win. However, Villa had one last trick up their sleeve.

YouTube Credit: Filti912

2008 – Half-time humiliation

Hull City’s first season in the premier league was mixed to say the least. The early part of the season saw the team secure wins at both Arsenal and Spurs and, at one point, Phil Brown’s men were sitting in the European places.

However, the second half of the season was disappointing and, in the end, Hull just staved off relegation. What caused the downturn in form remains a mystery but many put it down to St. Stephen’s Day 2008 when, 4-0 down at half-time to Manchester City, Brown decided to give his team talk on the pitch. Hull lost 5-1.

Manchester City V Hull City by Blu3army

DailyMotion Credit: Blu3Army

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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