Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue
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On Christmas Day players will typically be sitting down for a meal of roast turkey, roast potato’s and Brussels sprouts followed by Christmas pudding. But in the past it was a very different Christmas story. The Festive period was a very busy time in the football fixture calendar for both players and spectators.
Over 55 years ago, unless Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, players would have been lucky to have had time on Christmas Day to relax at the family table for a full Festive lunch. Typically teams played two league games in the three days spanning the seasonal period between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Often this would mean playing in back to back games against the same local opposition on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
In West Ham’s history the team has played 47 times on Christmas Day. These games include Southern League and war time league encounters. The last time claret and blue was worn on December 25th was 55 years ago in 1958. This was West Ham’s first season back in Division One after a 26 year absence from the top tier. Prior to 1958 all football league clubs frequently played on December 25th.
In the more recent post World War II Christmas Day football league games the 10 matches bought festive cheer as the club won eight and drew the other two matches. For John Dick and Terry Woodgate it was a season of good tidings. Dick had the distinction of scoring in three different Christmas Day fixtures. While Woodgate notched all three of the goals in 1950.
Bottom of the Premiership at Christmas and the Championship Beckons
In today’s Premiership there is the Christmas Day benchmark that whichever club is bottom of the league table will not escape the clutches of the Championship. So far in the 23-year history of the Premier League this has been the case. Though in 2002 West Ham came very close to disproving the theory when they missed clawing their way to safety by two points.
The rest of this feature selects a few of the Christmas Day highlights and more notable and unusual achievements.
The last Christmas Day Match in 1958
Division Two Champions and Promotion Season – December 25, 1957
Woodgate Wraps it up 1950
Ernie Gregory , John Bond, Noel Cantwell, Andy Malcolm, Ken Brown, John Smith, Mike Grice, Phil Woosnam,
Vic Keeble, John Dick, Malcolm Musgrove
Despite winning the Division Two championship, West Ham’s opponents over the Christmas period, Ipswich Town, got the better of the festive points. Ipswich drew at Upton Park and in the return game won 2-1. Mick Newman’s second and last league goal for the Hammers secured the point.
Ernie Gregory, John Bond, George Wright, Andy Malcolm, Ken Brown, John Smith, Billy Dare, Mike Newman, Vic Keeble, John Dick, Malcolm Musgrove
In this Christmas Day exchange it was West Ham’s winger, Terry Woodgate, who had the most memorable present. Terry notched a hat-trick. Though Leeds got their revenge 24 hours later with their 2-0 victory at Elland Road.
Ernie Gregory, Fred Kearns, Jack Yeomanson, Derek Parker, Dick Walker, Tommy Moroney, Tommy Southern, Jim Barrett Jnr, Bill Robinson, Gerry Gazzard, Terry Woodgate.
A long trip up to Yorkshire for the Division II game away to Bradford Park Avenue did not bring any good tidings. Despite the 2-1 defeat against the now defunct football league club, it triggered a five match winning streak including a home win over Bradford PA three days after the defeat.
Jack Weare, Charlie Bicknell, Charlie Walker, Ted Fenton, Dick Walker, Joe Cockcroft, Stan Foxall, Tommy Green, Peter Simpson, Len Goulden, John Morton
Two Earl, Earles are calling 1925
A memorable day for Stanley Earle as he scores West Ham’s first hat-trick in a football league match on Christmas Day. Similar namesake, full back Alf Earl makes his football league debut in this Division I fixture.
Ted Hufton, Billy Henderson, Alf Earl, Jim Collins, Jim Barrett, Syd Bishop, Tommy Yews, Stanley Earle, Vic Watson, Billy Williams, Jimmy Ruffell
Division Two Runners-up and FA Cup Finalists season 1922
In the season the Hammers reached the first Wembley Cup Final and clinched promotion to Division One, it included a Christmas Day triumph over the Red Devils. Though 24 hours later Manchester United reversed the scoreline to take the points at Old Trafford.
The West Ham team that day was the same line up as would appear at Wembley four months later.
Ted Hufton, Billy Henderson, Jack Young, Syd Bishop, George Kay, Jack Tresadern, Dick Richards, Billy Brown, Vic Watson, Billy Moore, Jimmy Ruffell.
League Debuts on Christmas Day
Two players made their Southern League debuts on Christmas Day.
1. William Davidson in the 1902's 1-2 defeat against Southampton (H)
2. George Chalkley in the 1908's 1-0 victory also against the Saints (H)
Four Hammers made their League bows on Christmas Day.
1. Syd Bishop in 1920's 1-1 draw with Birmingham City in Division Two
2. Alfred Earl in 1925’s 5-3 victory over Aston Villa (H) in Division One
3. Jim Harris in 1930’s 4-3 victory over Portsmouth (H) in Division Two
4. Leslie Bennett in 1954’s 1-0 win over Derby County (H) in Division Two
1958’s back to back Division I games on December 25th and 26th bought a welcome double as the Hammers beat Tottenham Hotspur home and away.
Vic Keeble loses his shadowers to run through and let fly with a right foot drive for Hammers second goal
The scene that made the hearts of the West ham supporters stand still, Phil Woosnam sits on the trainer’s bench while an anxious Billy Moore bends over the injured knee
West Ham United 2 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
John Dick, Vic Keeble
West Ham United 1 - 1 Ipswich Town
West Ham United 3 - 1 Leeds United
Bradford Park Avenue 2 -1 West Ham United
West Ham United 5 – 2 Aston Villa
Earle 3, Williams, Watson
West Ham United 2 – 0 Manchester United
WILLIAM DAVIDSON debut
GEORGE CHALKLEY debut
SYD BISHOP debut
ALFRED EARL debut, STANLEY EARLE scores a Hat-trick
JIM HARRIS debut
TERRY WOODGATE scores Hat-trick
LESLIE BENNETT debut
A Record of West Ham's Christmas Day Games
1935 West Ham v. Southampton
1943 Chelsea v. West Ham
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller