Boxing Day is one of the best days of the year for football. Here, Sky Sports legends Matt Le Tissier and Alan Smith reveal why...
There’s nothing quite like the festive season for football fans and with today being Boxing Day, we’ve been talking to footballing legends Matt Le Tissier and Alan Smith about Sky Sports’ biggest ever Boxing Day clashes.
That’s because if you sign up to Vodafone 4G you can choose to have Sky Sports Mobile TV included as part of your plan*, letting you catch all the action live on your phone. Read on for a retrospective on one of the best footballing days of the year…
Boxing Day Bonanza
There’s nothing like the atmosphere of Boxing Day football, but if you can’t make it out to see your favourite team play, don’t worry! Sky Sports Mobile TV on Vodafone 4G lets you watch live matches from Sky Sports 1 and 2 wherever you get a data signal.
And that’s great news at this time of year because, as Southampton legend and Sky Sports stalwart Matt Le Tissier explains, the big Boxing Day clashes aren’t to be missed:
“Boxing Day games are a family celebration,” he says, “and there’s always a festive mood at all the games. But more than that, I think the fact that there’s so many points to play for in such a small space of time has always made it a pretty important day. That’s especially so at the bottom of the league. Things in the relegation zone change more quickly and there are a lot more teams than there at the top.
“I think only two teams have ever stayed up having been bottom at Christmas,” he adds, “so it’s quite important to not be bottom of the league once the Boxing Day fixtures come round, or the odds will be stacked against you.”
And during Matt’s playing days he was a big fan of the Boxing Day clashes, for a reason you might not expect:
“I always found the Christmas period a really nice one because I loved playing matches but I wasn’t overly keen on the training, and when you’ve got three games so close together over Christmas you do next to nothing in terms of training. That suited me perfectly!”
So who would square off in Matt’s dream Boxing Day match? “A Southampton Portsmouth game would be nice,” he says. “That would test the Christmas spirit to the absolute limits.”
Sky Sports Commentator and ex-Arsenal striker Alan Smith agrees that there’s a bit of magic at Boxing Day games, explaining that “it’s a time of year that’s really special for the fans. There’s always a different atmosphere on Boxing Day,” he says. “People are pleased to get out of the house and into the fresh air; there’s always a good atmosphere. You get good crowds and good games, and they were always enjoyable to play in.”
And for Alan, the most memorable matches are the ones where he was on the pitch himself:
“The ones that really stick out are the ones that I was involved in. I’ve covered enough for Sky Sports, but it’s bigger when it directly affects your life – when you have to leave home at 6pm on Christmas night just as the family are getting settled down to watch TV, and you’ve got your tracksuit on. Many’s a time when I was at Arsenal that we’d head to Highbury for a training session on Christmas night, and then off to the hotel.
“I remember one occasion against Charlton where one of our lads turned up a little worse for wear,” he reveals. “I shan’t name any names, but he still had his slippers on when he arrived for training! During shooting practice he was all over the place, and the during the actual game he was struggling to get up and down the pitch, so he had a bit of a roasting from George Graham. But we still won the match,” Alan says in closing, proving that all’s well that ends well.
Our time with Sky Sports’ best and brightest has made us all nostalgic. As such, we’ve been looking back through the record books and have drawn up a list of some of our favourite Boxing Day games through the years. Do you remember these classics?
1999 | Coventry 3-2 Arsenal
Fourth place Arsenal went into Christmas five points behind leaders Leeds. They travelled to Coventry on Boxing Day, who had failed to beat the Gunners in their last 10 attempts, to claw back some points. Gary McAlllister (6) gave the hosts an early lead, which was then doubled before half time through Mustapha Hadji (40). Arsenal hit back through Freddie Ljungberg (67), but within five minutes Coventry scored again – this time via the boot of Robbie Keane (72). Davor Sukor (86) pulled another goal back for Arsenal, but the home side held on for the win.
2002 | Middlesbrough 3-1 Manchester Utd
Middlesbrough recorded their first home win over Man Utd in the Premier League on Boxing Day in 2002. They were managed by former United assistant Steve McClaren at the time, and Roy Keane was making his first start for United since August. Alen Boksic (44) gave Boro the lead just before half time, and it became 2-0 just after that, thanks to Szilard Nemeth (48). Ryan Giggs (60) pulled one back for United but, as they pushed for an equalizer, Joseph-Desire Job (85) drove victory home for Middlesbrough.
2003 | Charlton 4-2 Chelsea
Chelsea went into this game level on points with Arsenal, and just one behind leaders Man Utd, but were beaten by a Paulo Di Canio-inspired Charlton. Hermann Hreidarsson put Charlton ahead after just 42 seconds, but John Terry soon equalized (10). Matt Holland (35) restored Charlton’s lead, before Jonatan Johansson (48) and Jason Euell (53) made it 4-1 – both goals coming early in the second half, Eidur Gudjohnson (73) pulled one back for Chelsea, but it was too little, too late.
2013 | Hull 2-3 Manchester Utd
Manchester United came back from two down to beat Hull in last year’s Boxing Day classic in the making, despite ending the game with only ten men. Steve Bruce’s side raced to a two goal lead inside of 13 minutes through James Chester (4) and David Meyler (13), but only took another 13 mins for United to be level through Chris Smalling (19) and Wayne Rooney (26). There were more chances at both ends, before Chester put the ball into his own net in the 66th minute. Antionio Valencia (90) was sent off for a second caution, but United held on.
Remember any more big Boxing Day matches that deserve a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!
More on 4G… You can find out everything you need to know about Sky Sports Mobile TV and our other 4G entertainment packs at vodafone.co.uk/4g.