On behalf of all at Bolton Wanderers I wish you a very Happy Christmas and peaceful and prosperous New Year.
In my role as the Club Chaplain people often say to me: “this must be your busy time of year” as they think about Christmas. It is a busy time of year for many and not least for our team as the games over the festive period come in thick and fast and we all get behind the lads at this crucial time.
Tradition has it that games used to be played on Christmas Day itself as well as Boxing Day.
This made a lot of sense, particularly in the early years. Christmas Day was a rare public holiday and football was one of the few entertainments available. There would be a full programme of fixtures on Christmas Day and, usually, another full programme on Boxing Day.
The first Football League match to be played on Christmas Day was Preston North End versus Aston Villa in 1889. This was a real Christmas cracker, and 9,000 spectators postponed their turkey dinners to see it, making it one of the highest-attended games the fledgling league had seen.
The Boxing Day fixture is now as much a part of the Christmas traditions as left-over turkey and mince pies and one that we always look forward too.
Probably the most famous Christmas Day football match took place in 1914 when one of the deadliest conflicts in human history was paused for a kickabout. The First World War 'Christmas Truce' saw troops along the Western Front exchange gifts, sing carols, and play football. The match has attained mythical status, but letters from soldiers provide evidence that it did take place.
The Carol that was heard to be sung as the gunfire ceased that day was Silent Night. The Carol is a reminder of the reason for this season and takes us back to the first Christmas and the birth of a child born in Bethlehem, named Jesus. He went on to establish his own team and still has millions of supporters in the world today. His key message was about love for others and looking out for those in need.
At our recent Carol Service we remembered what the reason for the season was all about and you can listen to the Service on Tower FM on Christmas morning or on Listen Again on the Tower FM website - https://www.towerfm.co.uk/music/listen-again/
Have a wonderful Christmas time with all your family and friends. We look forward to an exciting New Year and second half of the season.