London, 25 December 2020 (AFP) – The long-awaited moment of the Premier League season, ‘Boxing Day’ (26 December) and the holiday season, is an institution that gives English football a worldwide reputation and a special tradition is.
– Origin of the name ‘Boxing Day’ – Officially 1871, the holiday after 26 December is called ‘Boxing Day’, because domestic servants or disadvantaged people get Christmas packages – Box (in English) – from their owners or Patron.
This Victorian era heritage is also celebrated in many Commonwealth countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand), but is sometimes called St. Stephen’s Day, especially in Ireland.
– A tradition as old as championships – Going back to medieval games, ‘Boxing Day’, played on religious holidays such as Easter or Christmas, to distant relatives of football, has always been a special date for English football.
The first club match, a derby between Sheffield FC and Hallam FC, took place on 26 December 160 years ago.
Twenty-eight years later, in the inaugural season of the English League, which included 22 matches, Preston North End defeated the Derby 5–0 on December 26, 1888.
The tradition remained and until the 1957–1958 season it was mandatory for all teams to play on 25 and 26 December, usually in round-trip matches between the same teams.
Although the Christmas game has ended, the holiday season is still very busy, because between 26 December to 4 January, the 30th will be played with just one day off.
– Television banquet — With American football like Thanksgiving in the United States, sitting in front of TV is likely to avoid family arguments.
All matches of the 15th round will air on 26th and 27th December, including a live broadcast by the BBC on January 26 at 12 noon (Brasilia time), between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.
Since 2019, the end of the year has also become a laboratory of news arrivals. Two full rounds of Amazon Prime Video have been booked, including the 16th, which runs from December 28 to the 30th.
– Hand-picked pairings – ‘Boxing Day’ and end of year parties usually fill in classics or regional skirmish dates.
The advantage is double: these games usually guarantee huge spectators and allow teams to limit movements over periods of overload and where the weather can play tricks.
However, modern programming has caused significant disparities.
This year, Chelsea, who will host two matches in the next three rounds, travel just twenty miles to face Arsenal, their only “away” match on the 26th.
Liverpool will take 1,300 km (round trip) to face Newcastle on the north, on 30 December, and then Southampton on the south, on 4 January.
– Fantastic and decisive game – ‘Boxing Day’ usually consists of historical matches. On Boxing Day of 1963, 66 goals were scored in ten matches of the 24th round, including a 10–1 win over Ipswich to Fulham, 8–2 to Blackburn against West Ham, and a 6–1 defeat by Manchester. United against Burnley.
Today’s rapid succession of games is a real test of fire for the ambitions of clubs, who can see their chances of winning or increasing thanks to ‘Boxing Day’.
hap / ole / gh / aam