The Craziest Ever Day of English Football

The hectic goal-fest of Boxing Day, 1963 when 66 goals were scored in 10 games in the English top flight Division 1 is probably the most epic day in English football history. Read about the time records were broken and legends were made.

The beautiful game has a reputation in some quarters for not being the most exciting sport because it’s perhaps the only sport where matches can sometimes be played without a single game point being scored.

Yet football often throws up games of breathless action and Boxing Day 1963 served up a whole day of them with 66 goals in just 10 games.

It was the day after Christmas in 1963, still three years to go before England’s first and, to date, only World Cup triumph. Everton were the English Division 1 (precursor to the Premier League) title holders and AC Milan were the current European champions. On that day 20 of the 22 Division 1 clubs were going to attempt to warm the hearts and bodies of spectators across the land, numbed as they were by artic temperatures during the ‘Big Freeze of 63’, with an exhilarating 90 minutes.

Firstly, Liverpool, who would go on to be crowned league champions that season, thrashed Stoke City 6-1 at home with club legend Roger Hunt scoring four goals. Hunt went on be a record goalscorer for ‘The Reds’ and played an integral part of England’s 1966 World Cup campaign.

Matt Busby’s Man United, meanwhile, were thrashed 6-1 away by Burnley with four of their goals coming from striker Andy Lochhead. The Guardian wrote: “The Clarets were organised and compact as they set about dismantling the FA Cup holders, and it was down to ‘Morgan’s mastery’ that a series of frustrated fouls ultimately resulted in a red card for United defender Paddy Crerand.”

Entertaining draws were played out by Sheffield Utd, who fought back to draw after going 3-0 down to Nottingham Forest, and cross-town rivals Wolves and Aston Villa also played out a 3-3 draw.

West Bromwich Albion and UEFA Cup Winners Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur fought out an eight goal thriller after Spurs let a 4-2 lead slip from their grasp to end the game even-stevens. Days earlier, West Brom’s players had gone on strike when they were told that they had to wear shorts to train in freezing conditions during the exceptionally artic winter of that year, but peace was reached ahead of their Boxing Day fixture and the Daily Mirror wrote that “the only crisis at the Hawthorns [West Brom stadium] was in the Spurs defence.

Chelsea’s away victory over Blackpool meanwhile was won at a trot, with ‘the Blues’ scoring five goals to Blackpool’s one.

Then there was the game with West Ham v Blackburn. ‘the Blues and Whites’ showed why they were current league leaders by demolishing the London side a whopping eight goals to two which is their highest ever away win. Both England footballer Fred Pickering and Republic of Ireland international Andy McAvoy scored hattricks that afternoon and McAvoy went on to be the joint top goalscorer for that season. A reporter summed up the game thus: “Everything West Ham did was tinged with misfortune. Everything Blackburn did was coldly calculated and correct.

West Ham goalkeeper Jim Standen trudges away as he conceded eight against Blackburn (dailymail.co.uk)

Even that game was topped, however, when Fulham destroyed visitors Ipswich Town 10-1. ‘The Tractor Boys’ had been crowned English champions just 18 months prior, but in this game Bobby Howfield scored a hattrick and Scottish International Graham Leggat scored four goals including a hattrick chalked up in an incredible three minutes. That was a record fastest hattrick in Division 1 history. Fulham boss Bedford Jezzard said after the game: “It must have been those lovely turkeys we gave ’em for Christmas. From now on, they get one every week.” Ipswich chairman John Cobbold could only retort: “It could have gone either way, until the match began.” That result is both Fulham’s best, and Ipswich’s worst ever result respectively to date.

Newspaper report of Fulham’s historic win (fulhamfc.com)

The two other results were Leicester City’s 2-0 win over Everton and Sheffield Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers.

That afternoon’s incredible haul of 66 goals scored in a single round of league fixtures compares to a Premier League record of 44 goals. It was a crazy day. Tottenham centre forward Terry Dyson, who played in his side’s 4-4 draw with West Bromwich Albion, remarked: “It was a bizarre afternoon of football, without a doubt.

Even more remarkably, two days later the reverse fixtures were played out and some of those badly mauled teams turned the tables on their tormentors.

Despite how dominant their opponents had been on Boxing Day, West Ham would hit back at Blackburn with a 3-1 win, Ipswich overcame Fulham 4-2, and Man Utd retaliated against Burnley with a 5-1 thrashing. And Bolton Wanders also bounced back to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 to cancel out their previous result.

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Spanish Football’s Most Successful Clubs, Ranked (May, 2022)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. Yet it is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Spanish Football and its ‘La Liga’

As the only validative measure of league quality, UEFA’s League Coefficient currently ranks Spanish football as the 2nd best in Europe (2021), having dominated UEFA’s cup contests for much of the 21st Century’s ‘teens’. It’s worth bearing that in mind when understanding why La Liga’s two powerhouses and rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona, have such global reputations.

Alongside a supporting cast of Spanish football clubs, they have scored a whopping 336.5 Success Points in total from all international competitions.

Its top tier league, ‘La Liga’ was founded in 1929. 5 Clubs are in the ‘Big 100+’ honour roll of clubs with at least 100 Success points to their name and Real Madrid and Barcelona are two of the most successful clubs in Europe.

Spain is a nation which tries to jostle with the English Premier League’s lucrative place in the limelight by offering plenty of glamour ties against Europe’s elite for its biggest clubs, earning them plenty of dosh in the process.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (RFEF Spanish Super Cup)1
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
LC: League Cup (Copa de la Liga)4
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (RFEF Copa Del Rey)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (La Liga)9

Scroll down to the bottom to view the full table of Spain’s Most Successful Clubs!


Here is the ARL countdown of Spain’s 5 most successful clubs

5. Valencia FC

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Points: 109.5

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1941

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 2019

Most Successful Manager: Rafa Benitez – 24 points (2001-2004)

Founded in 1919 and only competing for the Copa del Rey for the first time in 1923, Valencia sat in the background of the Spanish football scene until blowing up shortly after the Civil War, winning its first ever trophy in 1941. It followed this up with 3 La Ligas throughout the rest of the 1940s and this set the tone for ambition with mixed results.

The club has managed to win major trophies in every decade since, except the 80s, including its 3rd La Liga under ex Real Madrid legend Alfredo de Stefano in 1970 and it added another 2 Titles plus 1 UEFA Cup to its trophy cabinet in three years under its most successful manager Rafa Benitez. It won its 8th Copa del Rey as recently as 2019 by beating the league champions Barcelona in the final.

Valencia is the first club to make it into the ‘Big 100+’, coming in at 5th.

4. Atletico Madrid

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Points: 184.5

First Trophy Won: La Liga, 1940

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Diego Simeone – 40 points (2011 – present (2021))

A club founded by three Basque students in 1903, Atletico Madrid (AM) was only intended to be a subsidiary branch of Basque club Athletic Bilbao who the three saw win the Copa del Rey in that year. It became independent in 1921 however and, like Valencia, it would come into its own after the Civil War; it won La Ligas consecutively at the start of the 1940s and again at the start of the ‘50s. The club also won the King’s Cup twice in a row at the start of the ‘60s and again at the start of the ‘90s.

La Liga in the Postmodern era has been characterised by an increasingly stifling dominance by the ‘Real – Barca’ rivalry, hogging financial resources and the talent pool in the process. It’s been refreshing to see a third club find success of their own, largely under the reign of their most successful manager Simeone, grabbing 5 UEFA trophies, another Copa del Rey, then crowning it with another La Liga Title in 2014.

AM were crowned Spanish champions yet again in 2021.

Although AM has established itself as La Liga’s 3rd best club in the 21st Century, its later start in football puts it in as Spain’s 4th Most Successful Club.

3. Athletic Bilbao FC

Points: 190

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1903

Latest Trophy Won: RFEF Super Cup, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Fred Pentland – 43 points (1922-1925 and 1929-1933)

A club with the unique distinction of employing the cantera policy, which limits it to recruiting exclusively from the Greater Basque Region, is a founding member of ‘La Liga’. ‘Los Leones’ (The Lions) featured prominently in early Copa del Rey editions prior to La Liga’s inception in 1928, winning 3 in a row, from 1914 – 16, for example.

Athletic has its roots in the late 19th Century with a heavy British influence. Most of its managers were also British up until the early ‘30s, including its most successful manager Fred Pentland. Implementing a pioneering short passing style of play, he led Athletic to 2 League/Cup ‘doubles’ in 1930 and 1931 and under him the club didn’t share the King’s Cup with anyone from 1930 until 1933.

It continued to vie with Barca and Real Madrid (RM) for Spanish dominance until the latter half of the 20th Century which inevitably saw its small recruitment pool handicap them against the rest of Spanish clubs’ ever expanding recruiting networks. Major trophies have come ever harder to come by although, under the stewardship of Javier Clemente, a dour yet effective playing style would see Athletic haul in another 2 La Ligas in the first half of the 1980s.

Athletic Bilbao’s huge Copa del Rey haul helps put it in 3rd place in Spain’s Most Successful Club ranking.

2. Barcelona FC

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Points: 470

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa del Rey, 1910

Latest Trophy Won: Copa del Rey, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Pepe Guardiola – 66 points (2008-2012)

Standing alone as the only club able to loosen Real Madrid’s stranglehold over La Liga, Catalan top dog Barcelona is its fierce rival and a global giant in its own right. It falls short of the 500 Success points mark but has a record 150 points from the Copa del Rey alone, winning more than 1 in 4 of every trophy won. It clinched the first ever La Liga in 1930 before its founder, Hans Gamper, tragically took his own life a year later.

The 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s were sparse decades for Titles, though it filled its trophy cabinet with Copa del Reys and 4 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups in the 80s. Its superpower status really took off in the 90s and on into the 21st Century. It managed to win itself 3 Champions’ Leagues (CL) including 3 Titles and 2 CLs, amongst other silverware, under Pepe’s Guardiola’s leadership. He added 66 points to the club in 4 short years from 2008 – 12.

With over 450 points, this puts Barcelona in as just the 2nd Most Successful Club in Spain.

1. Real Madrid FC

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Points: 579

First Trophy Won: RFEF Copa Del Rey, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: La Liga, UEFA CL, 2022

Most Successful Manager: Miguel Munoz – 110 points (1959-1974)

Real Madrid (RM) is arguably the biggest club in the world by virtually every yardstick and it has the success to match, passing the stratospheric 500 point mark. The club has a record 14 Champions’ League trophies, no less than 7 Intercontinental Cups/FIFA Club World Cups, and dozens of Titles.

The club was founded in 1902 and RM won its first Copa del Rey soon after in 1905. Under the ambitious stewardship of Santiago Bernabéu Yeste from 1945 RM embarked on a policy of buying up the cream of European talent and creating teams of ‘Galacticos’. From then on it’s laid down a firm dominance over La Liga, grabbing roughly one in every three Titles ever won.

The first of those Galacticos, Alfredo di Stefano, launched RM into the big time as it jumped into the new big thing – International matchups formally governed by UEFA. When the European Cup was launched in 1955, RM won the first 5 on the trot.

As they say, the rest is history. ‘Royal Madrid’ truly are the kings of football. It is not only the Most Successful Club in Spain, but in the whole of Europe!

The Best of the Rest

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Although it holds just 1 La Liga Title, Sevilla FC’s profile has risen considerably in the 21st Century by winning a record 6 UEFA Europa Leagues, 3 of them won consecutively from 2014-16. That is a wonderful achievement for a club outside of the ‘El Clasico’ cartel! They come in at 6th.

8th placed Real Sociodad managed to break the status quo for a brief window from 1980 – 82, snatching 2 Titles plus a Super Cup under the guidance of ex Socio player Alberto Ormaetxea.

Success Point Table

PositionFootball ClubSuccess Points SubtotalsSuccess Points Total
1Real Madrid FCSC: 12 x 1 = 12

UEFA SC: 4 x 2 = 8

FIFA CWC: 7 x 3 = 21

LC: 1 x 4 = 4

AC: 19 x 5 = 95

EL: 2 x 6 = 12

CL: 14 x 8 = 112

T: 35 x 9 = 315
579
2Barcelona FCSC: 13 x 1 = 13

UEFA SC: 5 x 2 = 10

FIFA CWC: 3 x 3 = 9

LC: 2 x 4 = 8

AC: 31 x 5 = 155

UEFA CWC: 4 x 6.5 = 26

CL: 5 x 8 = 40

T: 23 x 9 = 207

+2 Trebles
470
3Athletic Bilbao FCSC: 3 x 1 = 3
AC: 23 x 5 = 115
T: 8 x 9 = 72
190
4Atletico Madrid FCSC: 2 x 1 = 2
UEFA SC: 3 x 2 = 6
FIFA CWC: 1 x 3 = 3
AC: 10 x 5 = 50
EL: 3 x 6 = 18
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 11 x 9 = 99
184.5
5Valencia FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 8 x 5 = 40
EL: 1 x 6 = 6
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 6 x 9 = 54
109.5
6Sevilla FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 5 x 5 = 25
EL: 6 x 6 = 36
T: 1 x 9 = 9
73
7Real Zaragoza FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 6 x 5 = 30
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
37.5
8Real Sociedad FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 2 x 9 = 18
29
9Real Betis FCAC: 3 x 5 = 15
T: 1 x 9 = 9
24
10Deportivo de la Coruna FCSC: 3 x 1 = 3
AC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 1 x 9 = 9
22
=11RCD Espanyol FC
Real Unión Club de Irún
AC: 4 x 5 = 2020
=13RCD Mallorca FCSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 1 x 5 = 5
6
=13Villareal CFEL: 1 x 6 = 66
15Real Valladolid FCLC: 1 x 4 = 44
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