You don't know you're born, Jürgen

Cod Almighty | Article

by Rich Mills

19 January 2017

Jürgen Klopp is the latest top-flight manager to bemoan the crowded festive schedule. But it used to be far busier...


Recently, you will have seen Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp become the latest Premier League manager to complain about the lack of a winter break in Britain and the tight scheduling of fixtures to serve their Sky TV paymasters. Liverpool beat Man City at Anfield on new year's eve only to be held by Sunderland on 2 January, and Jürgen Klopp – accustomed to a mid-season winter break in Germany – was upset that the quick succession of fixtures didn't allow his team sufficient time to fully recover.

It didn't affect some teams too badly, of course – Manchester United, for example, won both their games. So maybe someone should point out to Klopp that if a team like Liverpool is happy to take the astronomical sums of money that Sky pours into the Premier League, then they might just need to suck it up and accept that televised games are part and parcel of the deal; Sky will have a big say in the scheduling.

One thing's for sure, though: if Klopp had faced the sort of festive fixture programme that was commonplace in the past, he would probably have had some kind of meltdown. We're used to a busy period of games over Christmas and new year these days, but take a look at seasons past and a day between games would have been seen as a luxury. Or even a chance to squeeze in a little training!

Two games in two days while the fans and players' families would have been overindulging was a little harsh on the players, but it was very much a part of football. Even now, fans love heading out into the cold to cheer on their team after filling their bellies with turkey and trimmings.

Take a look at some of these festive fixtures.

Christmas day and boxing day in 1933 saw a Town team featuring legendary such players as Jackie Bestall, Pat Glover, George Tweedy and Harry Betmead beat Manchester United home and away, with Glover bagging five of Town's ten goals.On Christmas and boxing day 1930, Town drew home and away with Liverpool, followed by a 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on the 27th. That's right – three games in three days

A festive double-header in 1951 saw us play and win our first ever Football League games against local rivals and League newcomers Scunthorpe. Jimmy Bloomer (snr) and Billy Cairns scored in both games, with the team managed back then by one Bill Shankly.

In 1957 Liverpool were our opponents for the festive back-to-back fixtures. Town, under the guidance of manager Allenby Chilton and with plenty of familiar names in the side – Jimmy Fell, Clarrie Williams, Keith Jobling, Ron Rafferty and Johnny Scott – beat them at home on Christmas Day but fell just short in the away fixture the next day.

Look a little further back and teams really had to dig in and work even harder over the Christmas period. On Christmas and boxing day 1930, Town – with Bestall, Teddy Buck and Ernest Coleman in the side – drew home and away with Liverpool, followed by a 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on the 27th. That's right – three games in three days. The Blues had also played a double-header against Villa on the two previous days!

But don't think of this as something that ended back in the days of black and white telly. No, fixtures on consecutive days over the festive period happened far more recently. In 1986 Mick Lyons' Mariners drew with Oldham at home on Boxing Day before losing away at Sunderland the next day.

In 1994, with Brian Laws in the hot seat, Town lost away at Barnsley on Boxing Day before defeat at home to Oldham the next day, the only consolation being Neil Woods' goals in each fixture. 

Modern managers might moan about fixtures these days but they've got it way easier than their predecessors!

Have you got any memories of frantic Christmas and new year scheduling? Did Town ever have to cope with worse that three games in three days? Have Town ever played two games in a single day? Some clubs have but did the Mariners? 

Drop us a line and let us know.