Whereas nowadays supporters get to stay at home and tuck into some Christmas turkey on December 25th, it used to be a regular feature of the festive fixture list.
Up until 1958, Christmas Day and football went hand-in-hand, an occasion that brought significant joy to the Addicks who went from 1922 to 1946 without losing on Christmas until succumbing 3-1 to Grimsby Town at Blundell Park.
In what was a testing time for footballers, Charlton frequently played on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with some eventful results.
After beating Watford 1-0 at Vicarage Road on Christmas Day 1933, the Addicks downed the Hornets 24 hours later at The Valley, Cyril Pearce scoring a memorable hat-trick.
Christmas Day 1951 saw Charlton lose 3-0 to Tottenham Hotspur in a disappointing all-round display. Fortunately, the Addicks didn’t have to wait long for revenge, winning 3-2 at White Hart Lane 24 hours on to curtail the North Londoners’ 26-match unbeaten run.
Charlton’s first-ever Christmas Day performance on the Football League saw them beat Norwich City 3-0 at The Valley in 1922, but they fell 1-0 to Huddersfield Town at Leeds Road in the final installment of Christmas matches in 1958.
In total, the Addicks have a remarkable Christmas Day record, winning 18, drawing eight, and losing just three League fixtures.
The 30th Christmas match saw a particularly bizarre clash with Chelsea abandoned at 1-1 following heavy fog that made play impossible. The haze was so severe that Charlton goalkeeper Sam Bartram claimed in his autobiography to not notice the players leaving the pitch upon the referee’s decision to abandon the match. Supposedly the ‘keeper stayed on the pitch for an extra 15 minutes before a policeman informed him of his error. Charlton then dispatched of Chelsea 3-1 at The Valley a few days later.
Twice Charlton have won by six goals on Christmas, beating Swindon Town 6-0 at The Valley in 1934 and winning 7-1 against Clapton Orient at Brisbane Road in 1943. Ralph Allen notched a hat-trick in the Swindon thrashing while Don Welsh did the same for the Addicks against Orient.
15,968 supporters were at The Valley to watch Charlton defeat Wolves 2-1 in 1956, although the attendance, which fell noticeably below the average of 20,370, would have likely been much greater if not for petrol rationing around the country.
The final Christmas day match ever to be played at The Valley saw Charlton comfortably beat Doncaster Rovers 2-0 through goals from John “Buck” Ryan and Fred Lucas.
(Article by Benjy Nurick originally published in December 2019)