Christmas Sporting Landmarks

No Man’s Land (1914)

This may be a romanticised myth that the football game played between nations at war was won 3-2 by Germany but there is no doubt footballs were kicked as the dead were buried on Christmas Day 1914.

Christmas Truce 1914

Ladies Day at Goodison Park (1920)

On Boxing Day 1920, 53,000 people packed into Goodison Park to see Dick Kerr’s Ladies beat St Helens Ladies 4-0.  The Football Association in a typically heavy-handed manner banned all women’s football from its stadia.

The Football Association banned all women's teams from playing on grounds affiliated to the FA in 1921 because football damaged women's bodies. While a handful of teams, such as Dick Kerr's, were able to find alternative venues, this made most teams disband and reduced spectator numbers for the few who remained.  For several decades this decision meant that women's football virtually ceased to exist.  It only reversed from 1969 when, after the increased interest in football caused by England's 1966 World Cup triumph, the Women's Football Association was founded, although it would take a further two years - and an order from UEFA - to force the (men's) Football Association to remove its restrictions on the playing rights of women's teams. In the same year, the Mitre Challenge Trophy was created as the first national cup competition for women's teams in England, a competition which would eventually morph into the FA Women's Cup. It would take a further twelve years before the WFA was able to affiliate to the FA.

Nearly 100 years later the Football Association is still as incompetent as ever although it must be said they finish a very poor second to FIFA in that category.

Lancaster Ladies' 1920-21

Tommy Lawton (1940)

The great England centre forward played for Everton in the Merseyside derby on Christmas morning, snacked on turkey after the game then turned out for Tranmere Rovers against Crewe Alexander in the afternoon.

We will never know if Tommy Lawton was truly the greatest centre-forward ever produced by England but we do know that he played in an era totally different from today. It is probable that Lawton never earned in a 20-year career what Wayne Rooney earns in a week! Certainly in 1955 when Lawton was in his mid-thirties and playing for Arsenal he was on £17 a week. He was approached by the brewers Guinness to head a poster campaign for a fee of £10,000.  He had to turn it down as no Arsenal player was allowed to be associated with alcohol. Times were certainly different!  Lawton recalls the penny-pinching days when playing for England his expenses then were challenged because they were two pence too much. His answer: "I spent a penny on the way to the match and another on the way back." Lawton was born in the back streets of Bolton and was signed at 17 by Everton to replace the legendary Dixie Dean, who despite knowing the youngster was bought to take over from him, helped him all he could.  Next he went to Chelsea, where after a falling-out he ended up, astonishingly, with Notts County, a Third Division club, despite being in his prime. Then came Brentford and finally Arsenal, the club who tried to sign him as a teenager. Tommy Lawton died in 1996 but he lives in the memory of all the fans who idolised him.

Tommy Lawton scoring for Great Britain against the Rest of Europe in a 6-1 win
in front of 137,000 spectators at Hampden Park in May 1947
Scorers for Britain were Mannion (3), Lawton (2) and Steel

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Design: David Ainsworth