Here we are then – at Christmas time, where anything goes. Not even the idea of a bearded stranger letting himself into our homes while we sleep bothers us, even if he does choose the chimney of all things. It’s the time of year that we all rejoice – for it’s the time of Boxing Day football, something that is much a part of the festive period as mince pies, tinsel and the birth of Jesus Navas.
Since our first Boxing Day outing back in 1983, there have been some memorable festive fixtures. And in a rare display of forward-thinking, the Conference actually seemed to have it right with the idea of playing your nearest and dearest in the Boxing Day/New Year’s Day double-header. Not least ‘cos there aren’t any bloody trains and everyone’s probably too pished to drive. It also guaranteed a bumper gate, usually…
Ahead of our prestigious Boxing Day adventure to the mystical land of Da Genh Am, we’ve looked back at 10 of the top Christmas crackers to see what we the Class of 2014 has to live up to:
Not bad for Boro’s first ever Boxing Day fixture, was this one. You can’t ask for more – an eight-goal game where most of them ended up in the opponents net. You can be picky and question the defence for letting in three goals, but doesn’t everyone deserve some time off at Christmas?
A Jim Beech brace was enough to decide this one against Letchworth Garden City on Boxing Day 1984, with Stevenage stepping up from the United Counties League and taking on their north Herts counterparts in the league for the first time in the Servowarm League Division Two North.
Colin McGill settled this one, with Paul Fairclough’s Boro’ edging out his previous employer Hertford Town. Had it been the first meeting of the pair since Cloughie left Hertingfordbury Park, it might’ve taken on an extra edge – but the fixture computer had already taken care of that one.
Boro’ reached new heights in 1992 with promotion to the top tier of the Isthmian League and Enfield were no mugs as a festive opponent. In the end, the non-league stalwarts had just enough to overcome Cloughie’s men but it didn’t ‘arf serve as a yardstick for Boro’s progress to date.
The first season in the Conference and a Boxing Day trip to Kettering Town, with Boro’ now finding their feet at the top non-league table. The Poppies were responsible for our exit from the FA Trophy in the January of 1994; our first league encounter with them saw us exact revenge.
The first half of the 2001-2 season hadn’t been all that. Cloughie wouldn’t be manager come the end of the season, which gives you an idea of how underwhelming it had been that term. But one clear highlight was our first league game against Barnet and a 3-0 rout of the Bees at Underhill.
Three years on and things were getting meaty between Boro’ and the Bees. If truth be told, the league was already theirs to lose, but we were gunning for promotion too. A feisty Boxing Day pairing saw them finish a man down, us a goal up and the promise of a humdinger in the return fixture.
We reckon Stalebuns were a bit miffed that we made the Conference before them and this 2006 match was the first time we’d met since we left them behind. It wasn’t all plain sailing but Boro’ won out thanks to the odd goal in five – and they still pay our benefits to this day. A rather sweet touch.
Oh, to be alive that day. The U’s had made a thing of trumping us in the playoffs the season before, but they ballsed it up in the final much to our disappointment. For the first time since Rendell’s winner, we returned and bloodied their noses. Scott Laird kicked some snow at the referee. It was truly joyful.
Now, we’d made a decent start to life in League One but this one was borderline ridiculous – even if you do consider the 5-1 hammering of Sheffield Wednesday. Jon Ashton was pulling off Cruyff turns, simple training ground routines were catching their defence out with ease and we even won some award…