Christmas at Filbert Street…

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ground, not a creature was stirring, not even a errrrm… hound. Our favourite Filbo Christmas stories, all wrapped up for you…

* Roger Davies became the club’s record signing when he was signed by Frank McLintock in December 1977 from Bruges. The signing took everyone by surprise, including Davies himself it seems, who had already made plans to get married at Christmas. So it was that Davies played at home to Middlesbrough on Boxing Day and was then excused the trip to Old Trafford the following day (where City were blown away 3-1) so that he could attend his own wedding and the accompanying nuptials. He was back on duty when City were beaten 3-2 at West Ham on December 31st. Jasper Carrott, on his weekly comedy ‘bit’ on the Central football preview commented that: “Davies has been told to go and get the first leg over at home”. It wasn’t funny then either…

* Back in the good old days football clubs would regularly play on Christmas Day and on December 25th 1924, Port Vale came to Filbert Street and got a right good Christmas stuffing. Arthur Chandler scored one in City’s 7-0 victory, but was somewhat eclipsed by his strike partner Johnny Duncan who ensured a very Merry Christmas for City with SIX goals…

* Moving the Match… In December 1974 the commercial boffins at City were convinced that the last home game leading up to Christmas was suffering from falling gates due to the floating supporter being dragged along Gallowtree Gate to do the last minute Christmas shopping. If you look at the attendances of these fixtures at the time compared to the season’s average then there is some merit in this theory. Their answer was to move the game to a different slot that didn’t clash with this alternative ‘attraction’. This was occasionally tried for several seasons and whilst the gates were not always significantly improved, the drama on the pitch was usually a little above the average: December 1974: City lose 1-0 at home to Ipswich in a match played on Friday evening but the real action was in the dressing room at half time when Keith Weller refused to come out for the second half.
December 1979: City play out the worst game of the season on a Friday evening at home to Cardiff who have come for a draw and are damn well going to get one.
December 1984: This was a beautiful, glorious massacre on a Sunday afternoon as Coventry were put to the sword 5-1.
December 1986: This time it was Sunday morning and City beat Oxford United 2-0 with Alan Smith scoring a belter, one of many in his farewell season with us. The kick off time meant that the ground was an eerie place to be and it really was like a library that day. December 1990: It’s Sunday afternoon this time and a 0-0 draw with Watford in a match notable only for the sub zero temperatures and Colin Gibson’s City debut. December 1992: A thing of beauty as Glen Hoddle’s artists from Swindon bring out the best from City on a difficult surface on a frosty Sunday afternoon. It finishes 4-2 to City and the neutral would say that “football is the real winner”. December 1995: Where do you start with this one? A real Sunday afternoon drama! City come from two down to beat Norwich, Mike Walker is welcomed to the ground as the new manager, Martin George is just about to pull the rug from under his feet (thank goodness) by naming recent Norwich boss Martin O’Neill as City’s new manager. This game was shown as the live match on Central but would have been moved anyway. Probably. And that was the last time they did it. Nowadays the only time you could play a match that wouldn’t clash with shops being open would be 2am on a Sunday.

* City players born on Christmas Day include classy 80s midfield maestro Gary McAllister and 1930s goalkeeper Sandy McLaren. Though both share a birthday with Jesus, McAllister was born in Motherwell, rather than Jerusalem, and McLaren wasn’t born in a stable, though he was a blacksmith.

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