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A Bit of Boxing Day Nostalgia

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A recent exchange of e-mails from an old friend, Rob Swift, had us recalling a Boxing Day match against Man Utd in the 1977-78 season. We were actually a very good team in those days, possibly only a decent goalie away from winning the title, and we finished third that season, with of course, the mighty Bob Latchford scoring 30 league goals.

Expectations were high going into that Boxing Day fixture, United were in a period of transition, and we were unbeaten in 18 league games, having lost the first two of the season, surprisingly (at the time) at home to newly promoted Nottingham Forest, who went on to win the title, and a narrow away defeat to Arsenal.

We got stuffed. 6-2! But such was the festive mood at the time, everyone recognised that it was just a bad day at the office for our defence that day. I remember there were ironic cheers of appreciation and even resigned laughter at the absurdity of the situation as the United goals flew in to the back of the net.

The crowd went home that day, having experienced a disappointing & embarrassing home defeat, but also having witnessed a highly entertaining match. We'd all heard about strange results over the Christmas period in days gone by, 'cos we knew our history. In older times teams would play each other home and away within the space of a few days, often winning handsomely in one game, only to get thrashed a day or so later.

I suspect the mood against Birmingham this coming Boxing Day will be somewhat different if we get beat 6-2.
Barry Ward, Lancaster     Posted 17/12/2010 at 11:17:59

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Stephen Kenny
1   Posted 17/12/2010 at 16:30:26

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Very, very odd. I can't imagine us EVER going home happy with that score. Personally, getting beat by that score would ruin my Xmas.
David S Shaw
2   Posted 17/12/2010 at 16:45:37

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I was thinking about that game the other day actually. That the one where Man U were singing THAT Slade song?

Question I was thinking was, did Everton also sing that Slade song and if so who against?
Charles King
3   Posted 17/12/2010 at 17:36:22

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I was there with the lads; as I remember, the floodlights packed up for about 5 mins.

That Man Utd side were the most attack-minded side I've ever seen. Tommy Docherty put them together in the old 2nd Division after George Best.

With virtually unknown picks from around the leagues "the Doc" brought a group of young lads together and give them free rein. They electrified Old Trafford. I still think of that team as the model of what can be done when a manager is brave, Holloway is re-enacting the process at Blackpool.

Doc's downfall of course was starting an affair with the team physio's wife and getting sacked. A series of modern tactical managers came along and they've never been as exciting, even the Fergie teams.

I like to think Evertonian's had the good grace to recognise a very special Utd team on that night.

Howard Don
4   Posted 17/12/2010 at 19:08:49

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Barry, I was at that game with a mate and his brother in law from Brum. It still sticks in my memory as one of the craziest games I've ever seen.

Charles (3) , it's funny how memories differ. My recollection is they scored every time they got into our half, which wasn't often, and up to probably their 4th goal you always felt we had a chance to win it as we were the better side. Even the Brummie guy said it was the most one sided 6-2 defeat he'd ever seen. Time plays tricks on the memory but that was our opinion leaving the game. That's also probably why everyone was in a reasonable mood, we just felt we'd seen a completely freak occurence.
Andy Crooks
5   Posted 17/12/2010 at 19:16:14

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Barry, I thought we'd win the league that year and that was the result that made me realise we wouldn't. I was gutted.
David Hallwood
6   Posted 17/12/2010 at 19:44:30

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It was one of the few times I've been in the Lower Bullens, and what sticks out in my memory was a goal from Macari scored in the Park End, one of the best I've seen at GP, I didn't realise it was that long ago, just shows how time flies when you're enjoying yourself.
Bob McEvoy
7   Posted 17/12/2010 at 22:16:23

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Dave... I was in Gladwys St and right behind and in line with the trajectory of Macari's goal and I remember thinking if they're scoring goals like that let's just put the day down to experience. But the following day we went to Leeds and lost 3-1 and that was a more sobering knock-back.
Alan Wilson
8   Posted 17/12/2010 at 22:40:02

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I wasn't at the game but I think I remember the BBC radio summary suggesting that Everton were enjoying Christmas as much as the average turkey.
Tony McNulty
9   Posted 17/12/2010 at 22:47:47

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I attended that game as well. I remember the Manure fans singing, "Merry Xmas, Merry Xmas, Merry Xmas, Everton."

Macari scored a great goal actually, but the day was shite.
Brian Denton
10   Posted 17/12/2010 at 23:34:27

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I remember that game, and my recollection ties up with the feeling that it was just one of those games where everything United hit went in. I wasn't happy about it, but to be honest I was more concerned about getting back into town past the Park End ? those were the days of football hooliganism. Funny how you can even feel nostalgic about that!

A stranger Xmas game was the one we lost at home to Chelsea 4-3 in 84-85. Being a natural Everton pessimist, I thought that result would signal the end of our title challenge. In fact, we didn't lose a single match after that until the title was clinched.

For the slightly more elderly, how about the double-header against Burnley in December 1960 ? Dec 26th we win 3-1 at Turf Moor, and the very next day play the return at Goodison, and lose 3-0, in front of a crowd of ? get this ? 74,000! I was only a baby when that one took place, but I hope some of our older correspondents can reminisce.
John Barnes
11   Posted 18/12/2010 at 10:01:56

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I was at all the games mentioned and was glad to get out of the ground for different reasons. The Man U game cos my redshite cousins and uncles came along and couldn't stop smirking. Twats then and twats still. The Burnley match because I could hardly breathe and was passed over heads to the running track before plod moved us on ? down the tunnel and out on to Goodison Road. Also twats.
Bob McEvoy
12   Posted 18/12/2010 at 10:14:39

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I went to the Burnley game. Only nine years old. Had a stand ticket as a Christams present, so I was able to look down at all the species struggling to actually watch the match.
Kevin Gillen
13   Posted 18/12/2010 at 10:47:35

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I was there. I think Trevor Ross made his debut and scored an own goal. Also they had a young centre-forward making his debut, Andy Ritchie. When we scored our second, all the United fans jumped up and down too! Luckily I also got to go on Boxing Day when we stuffed them 3-1 after Jesper Olsen opened the scoring for them. Tricky Trevor Steven tore them apart.

Happy Xmas fellow ToffeeWebbers!!

Chris Robinson
14   Posted 18/12/2010 at 13:56:47

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What a game to recall! I went with my brother, who was not as avid a fan then as he is now, and thought it would put him off for life! It was surreal, given the long unbeaten run we'd been on. I especially recall the United following, then filling the bottom tier of the old Park End, cheering our goals as if they'd scored! Mind you, I think they were at least 0-4 up before we opened the scoring. We were in the Top Balcony.

There was no segregation then, but no problems either. I recall an old girl in blue and white two rows down from us for whom it was all too much when their 5th went in. She turned to the Mancs celebrating in the seats behind and started whacking them with her blue and white brolly..."Oh, just shurrup you'se..!!" Happier days indeed!

Brian Denton
15   Posted 18/12/2010 at 15:34:38

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Chris, rose-tinted spectacles indeed! Although I would probably date 1972-76 as the high-water mark of football hooliganism, it was certainly there in 1977-78 and would be there for some time to come. Just flick through some of the 'scally-memoirs' in Waterstones!

The ground itself was a relatively safe haven in those days. It was getting to and from the grounds which were dangerous. Many of my generation will recall the instructions to "put the blinds down, lads" on the football special as the train from Trafford Park entered a 'bricking section'. Or the terror of being accosted at Elland Rd by one of those little Leeds bastards asking you the time to get your accent... Aah, happy days!
Chris Robinson
16   Posted 18/12/2010 at 16:20:06

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Brian (#15), I agree that the ground was relatively safe. I didn't add earlier that there was some trouble, inevitably, outside the ground. Another memory of the match was the sound of a billy stick rat-tatting along the park railings, in hot pursuit of some scally fleeing the attentions of one of Liverpool's finest...

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