People talk about Boxing Day and New Year these days as the festive fixtures.
But fans of a younger generation may be surprised to learn that Christmas Day football was, for many, many years, a regular feature of the English League calendar.
Huddersfield Town, in common with everyone else, played most seasons on December 25 – although it is almost 60 years since they last turned out on that particular date.
And while it would seem outlandish these days to entertain such a thought, Town actually twice played two matches on Christmas Day!
Those were during the Second World War, when the regular Football League matches were replaced for Town by the Wartime League (North).
In 1940-41, Town played Bradford City home and away on Christmas Day and, the following season, they marked the 25th by playing at Leeds United in the morning and Bradford Park Avenue in the afternoon.
Against Bradford City, Town won 5-0 away with goals from Vic Metcalfe, Eddie Boot, Jimmy Isaac and a Billy Price double.
Later in the day at Leeds Road, they lost 4-3 despite Price, Bobby Barclay and Lewis Brook.
With Price netting in both matches, it gives rise to the question: “Which Town player scored three goals against Bradford City with just over two hours between the second and third?”
The following season, Town lost 2-1 at Leeds (again Price on the scoresheet) and won 3-1 at Park Avenue.
While Wartime football tends to get shelved as a topic, the 1940-41 season featured the emergence of a young winger who was to play a significant part in the club’s future in regular Football League action.
That was Vic Metcalfe, who played for England in an era of outstanding wingers and still stands third in Town’s all-time appearance list with 459 peacetime matches to add to the 65 he played during World War Two.
Town – who played on Christmas Day in their first year of existence, 1908, when they lost 6-1 at Bradford Park Avenue Reserves – regularly played on that date through to the Second World War.
Indeed, in their hat trick of English title seasons, they played on Christmas Day in the first two.
After hostilities finished in 1945, the League remained regional in 1945-46 and matches were played on a home and away basis at Christmas – one on the 25th and the return on either Boxing Day or the 27th.
Town doubled up against Blackburn, Aston Villa, Blackpool, Wolves and Derby county and, crazily, when they won promotion in 1952-53 with the famous unchanged defence of Wheeler, Staniforth, Kelly, McEvoy, Quested and McGarry, they played Swansea as their holiday opposition.
The Welsh club were then known as Swansea Town and visited Leeds Road on Christmas Day 1952.
Town won 3-0 with goals from Willie Davie, Metcalfe and Jimmy Glazzard.
Only two days later on the 27th, Glazzard was on target again down in Wales in a 3-3 draw, Davie and Alistair Gunn also on the scoresheet – and remember, travelling to the far side of Wales in those days didn’t mean popping down the motorway!
Later that season, Glazzard scored his famous four goals in the 8-2 Leeds Road win against Everton at Easter.
All those goals came from Metcalfe crosses and the winger was a seventh ever-present in the team (Glazzard missing only the final game, otherwise it would have been eight).
Sunderland and Middlesbrough also featured on the list of Christmas opposition in the 1950s before Town’s final match on that date.
That was in the 1958-59 season, when Charlton visited Leeds Road on the 25th and lost 1-0 to a Stan Howard goal.
Town played the return at The Valley on the 27th and lost 2-1 with Les Massie their scorer.
A member of Town’s final Christmas Day side was Denis Law.
He was 18 at the time, and the brilliance of Law had previously captured the attention of Scotland’s selectors, who had made him the youngest player of the century to play for his country.
They had left him out of the 1958 World Cup, but he made a scoring debut against Wales at Ninian Park on October 18 and quickly became established.
He went on to become a football legend, of course, and his 30 goals for Scotland is still a joint record held with Kenny Dalglish.