1860 First Inter-Club Football Match

December 26, 2011 by staff 

1860 First Inter-Club Football Match1860 First Inter-Club Football Match, For all those looking at Monday’s football fixture list in gratitude as a respite from excessive poultry consumption and a refuge from the in-laws, we have Sheffield FC and Hallam FC to thank.

On Boxing Day 1860 at Sandygate Road, the world’s oldest and second oldest clubs played the first ever inter-club match, a 2-0 victory for Sheffield, the senior side, who prevailed despite fielding fewer men. For three lonely years as the pioneers of club football, the members of Sheffield FC had faced each other in matches between teams made up of players with surnames from the first 13 letters of the alphabet against the N-Zs, married v unmarried and those in professional occupations against the rest.

But in 1860 a tradition had been established that was built upon by the Football League’s inaugural 22-game season in 1888-89, when Preston North End’s “Invincibles” defeated Derby County 5-0 on the Feast of Stephen and all but sealed the title by stretching their lead to nine points over Aston Villa with five matches left to play. It has flourished ever since.

Christmas Day and Boxing Day double-headers were a routine part of the fixture list until 1957 and, although a handful of clubs ploughed on with hosting matches on 25 December, they had generally fallen out of favour by 1963, when the most remarkable Boxing Day on record produced 157 goals in 39 games.

In the First Division’s 10 matches 66 were scored, Fulham’s Graham Leggat bagging four in a 10-1 thrashing of Ipswich Town, Liverpool’s Roger Hunt matching him in a 6-1 defeat of Stoke at Anfield, Burnley’s raw-boned Andy Lochhead also scoring four in a 6-1 rout of Manchester United and twin hat-tricks for Fred Pickering and Andy McEvoy helping the league leaders, Blackburn Rovers, to an 8-2 mauling of West Ham United at Upton Park.

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