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TWENTY BOXING DAY CRACKERS
Click on the images for larger pictures.
1885 - Chirk 4 Chester 4 - Friendly
Chester’s first ever Boxing Day fixture kicks off at 10:45am so that the players can get back in time to see the county fixture between Cheshire and Denbighshire at Wrexham. Chester come from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 despite being without several regulars. One of the players missing is James Southworth who is indisposed because he is appearing in pantomime.
1890 – Chester 6 Burton Swifts 3 – The Combination
Chester’s first ever Boxing Day competitive fixture, a Combination game at Faulkner Street, against a team who joined the Football League two years later. Winger Bobby Davies scores two of the goals. The following day Chester travel to Derby St Lukes and lose 2-1 in front of only 100 people.

1897 - Wrexham 1 Chester 3 – The Combination
The first local derby played on Boxing Day and Chester survive early pressure to win 3-1. One of the Chester scorers is Billy Lewis who finishes the season as leading scorer and is also awarded the final one of his 27 international caps for Wales.

1912 – Chester 9 Nelson 2 – Lancashire Combination Division 1
Chester score seven goals before half time against a team who eventually finish four places above them in the Lancashire Combination. Nelson are handicapped through the loss of two players when the score is only 1-0. Recent signing Gordon Best, from Hyde United, scores four of the goals.

1930 – Chester 9 Tranmere Rovers Reserves 0 – Cheshire County League
A best ever Boxing Day win in the final season before joining the Football League. Arthur Gale scores five of the goals to reach a total of 50 in only 24 games. Amazingly he had also scored five goals the previous day in a 7-1 thrashing of Hyde United. This was Chester’s tenth successive victory and included the 100th league goal of the season.

1931 – Lincoln City 4 Chester 0 – Division Three North
Twenty four hours after beating Lincoln 2-1 at Sealand Road Chester crack under sustained pressure from the home side and go down 4-0 in the first Football League Boxing Day fixture. Injuries to defenders Harry Skitt and Bill Reilly necessitate changes in the team and Imps striker Alan Hall takes advantage with a hat-trick. Chester are grateful to keeper Bill Johnson for keeping the score down.

1936 – Wrexham 1 Chester 2 – Division Three North
The attendance of 29,261 remains Wrexham’s highest League attendance and is also the largest ever crowd to watch a cross border derby. Chester snatch a narrow victory with goals from Frank Wrightson and Bob Sanders while Arthur Gale makes his second appearance following his return from West Bromwich Albion.

1942 – Manchester United 3 Chester 0 – Wartime League
The regionalised leagues during the war conjured up some interesting fixtures including this one at United’s temporary home, Maine Road. Chester are comfortably beaten in front of 10,449 spectators. Chester gain their revenge a week later when they hammer United 4-1 at Sealand Road with one of the goals coming from guest player Leslie Compton of Arsenal.

1946 – Rotherham United 3 Chester 1 – Division Three North
The first post war Boxing Day game and Chester are beaten in this top of the table clash. The previous day the two teams had fought out a 2-2 draw at Sealand Road. The Chester goal is scored by Tommy Burden and local boy Dennis Selby makes his Football League debut.

1950 – Shrewsbury Town 1 Chester 0 – Division Three North
Twenty four hours after beating the Shrews at Sealand Road Chester lose the return fixture at Gay Meadow. Although the clubs had previously met in the Welsh Cup and FA Cup this was the first time they had met in the Football League. The game is watched by 10,857.

1968 Swansea Town 0 Chester 5 – Division Four
Chester remain on the fringe of the promotion race with a stunning away victory at the Vetch Field. In a far from one-sided match Chester score through Billy Dearden, Andy Provan (2), Eric Brodie and Gary Talbot. This is the first time that Chester had scored five away since a 5-4 victory at Stockport in 1964.

1969 – Chester 2 Wrexham 0 – Division Four
Chester outplay promotion chasing Wrexham with an all round display of skill and power. Both goals are scored in the first half by Billy Dearden. Graham Turner and Derek Draper are both in excellent form which bodes well for Chester’s up and coming FA Cup tie with Second Division Bristol City. The attendance of 15,024 has never been bettered for a home league game since.

1974 – Chester 1 Bradford City 0 – Division Four
A bumper crowd of 8,372 are present to watch Chester maintain their promotion challenge. The only goal of an absorbing encounter comes from a deflected Dave Lennard shot in the 72nd minute. The above average attendance is caused by the issue of vouchers for the forthcoming League Cup semi-final against Aston Villa.

1980 – Blackpool 2 Chester 3 – Division Three
Chester stage a remarkable recovery after trailing to goals from Willie Morgan and Dave Bamber in the first 27 minutes. Keith Fear and Steve Ludlam put Chester level but hero of the day is substitute Terry Cooke who scores an 86th minute winner with a glorious shot which goes into the net via the underside of the bar.

1981 – Newport County 0 Chester 1 – Division Three
In a season of very little cheer Chester gain a rare victory. Steve Ludlam’s winner, a superb shot from the edge of the area, is only the fourteenth goal of the season. Chester parade new signing Peter Henderson who returns to the club from Gillingham.

1984 – Chester City 2 Wrexham 1 – Division Four
The final Boxing Day border clash and Chester come out on top in front of less than 4,000 spectators. It’s only the fourth victory of the season and City’s goals are scored by Andy Holden and a Nigel Walker penalty. This is the first home game in charge for caretaker manager Mick Speight who took over after the sacking of John McGrath.

1989 – Chester City 0 Wigan Athletic 0 – Division Three
The final Boxing Day game at Sealand Road but there is very little excitement in a far from entertaining encounter. Chester continue to find goalscoring difficult without the injured Carl Dale. The attendance of 3,165 is a seasons best at the Stadium and is only beaten by the final two fixtures, against Tranmere and Rotherham.

1999 – Mansfield Town 2 Chester City 1– Division Three
The final Boxing Day Football League fixture and Chester lose a vital game against relegation rivals Mansfield. Nick Richardson heads into his own net to put the Stags ahead but Matt Doughty equalises with a stunning volley from 25 yards, his first goal for the club. Three minutes later a defensive lapse gifts Mansfield the winner.

2000 – Chester City 2 Hereford United 1 – Conference
The first Boxing Day Conference fixture. With supporters looking forward to a trip to Blackburn, in the FA Cup, City produce their best league display for weeks to win a thoroughly entertaining game. Steve Whitehall scores the winner with a delicate chip over keeper Scott Cooksey in the 85th minute.

2002 – Northwich Victoria 1 Chester City 1 – Conference
Chester once again fail to break their Vics hoodoo at Wincham Park. Goals either side of half time, from Mark Devlin and Michael Twiss, settle the contest. Phil Bolland is sent off midway through the second half in front of an attendance of 2,305.

Chas Sumner
[Published 26/12/03]
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