Boxing Day : Some things never change...
The traditional Boxing Day, ie on December 26, is well ingrained in the DNA of British fans. Maybe in many parts of Europe the players have a break and Christmas have combined with complete lack of football activities, but for UK fans the exit from home on Boxing Day, beers and the stadium is a ritual. Although several agencies have begun pushing for a winter break in England...
Boxing Day derbies were always a part of the tradition. These matches always had something special.
As the day of Christmas 1860, Sheffield and Hallam FC (the two oldest clubs in the world) were confronted at Sandygate Road. Hallam won 2-0 in a game played under the rules of Sheffield, ie fouls, corner, sidekicks and heads.
The programming was significant, so there were ongoing matches at the same day. In 1999, fans from the East End had time to watch the match of Clapton and then went straight for the match of Leyton against Ilfornt! An afternoon full of ball.
The derbies, at every level, are the joy of the next day of Christmas, but recently there are some clear limitations. The last two years, only two derbies held at Premier League. The one of Fulham vs Chelsea in 2011 and the other of WestHam vs Fulham the next year.
Both the derbies, and the so-called "double" games tend to disappear. At 60s and 70s, someone could watch, for example, West Ham United vs Blackburn at morning and Fulham vs Ipswich at afternoon with a total of 21 goals.
The availability of public transport and the programming in the hours playing their role. On Boxing Day of 1979, Sheffield Wednesday and Man Utd were confronted for the first time after 8 years. The date was known and the city lived in the rhythm of the next day rather than Christmas for some time. Hillsborough had 49.309 viewers, a record for the third category.
This year, the match of Arsenal vs WestHam was the only derby at Premier League. In Championship, things are a little better with some harder games like Forest vs Leeds and Bristol City vs Watford. In Conference there were 7 derbies.
There are already some rumors about plans for a winter break, to satisfy the needs of the big clubs playing in Champions League and the National team of England. The fans however are not willing to spoil the Boxing Day tradition for any reason...
The dictates of modern football cannot change everything. Hallam FC, as in 1860, preparing for a match in South Yorkshire versus Dinnington Town, and will not be alone.
The Boxing Day is and will always be special for the British fans.