How Hallam FC began Feast of Stephen’s glut of Christmas football

Since the first Boxing Day match 156 years ago, fans have gorged on festive servings of goals, none more so than in 1963 when Fulham beat Ipswich 10-1 When Hallam FC entertain Pontefract Collieries in the North Eastern Counties Football League Division One at Sandygate Road on Boxing Day, the club based in the Sheffield suburb of Crosspool will continue a tradition they helped start exactly 156 years ago. An offshoot of the local cricket club, Hallam FC are the world’s second oldest football team and were formed to provide opposition for nearby Sheffield FC. The sides clashed in football’s first Boxing Day fixture in 1860, with the hosts forced to call on extra bodies from the nearby hamlet of Stumperlowe to make up the numbers for a match that was won by the visitors, whose three years of extra experience clearly proved telling. As they reflected on the action over a few snifters in The Plough, an adjacent watering hole that remains open to this day, the supporters of both teams could have had little or no idea they had unwittingly drawn up a blueprint that would dictate the behaviour of millions of like-minded individuals of future generations courtesy of the peculiarly British tradition of scheduling football matches on each year’s Feast of Stephen. Continue reading...

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