Many football fans look forward to this day over the Christmas season-the excuse to get out the house for a few hours have a drink in the pub with mates and go to a game! Walsall have played in 70 league games on this day over the years plus another 18 games from their non-league days and wartime. All are covered here. The record for the Football League games is…
Played 70. Won 27. Drew 13. Lost 30. Goals Scored 103. Conceded 130.
The first game was way back in 1888 in a friendly fixture against Blackpool South Shore at the Chuckery Ground in which Walsall won by 4 goals to 2 with a hat trick by Grey.
2,000 fans turned up for this game. The first two Football League games on this day were in the Second Division in 1893 and 1894. Both games were at the West Bromwich Road Ground and both were 1-2 defeats to Newcastle United and Newton Heath. 1896 saw a quite bizzare day at Darwen where Walsall lost 0-12..but. .only fielded eight players! Legend has it that a few of them had too much ale the night before after the game at Small Heath and were in no fit state to play! One of the players who took the field was a committee member whose registration was rushed through just in time to play his only game for the club! Walsall bravely held out for 15 minutes before the goals started to rain in.
1899 saw a 1-3 defeat at Lincoln City and 1900 a 3-3 draw at home to Gainsbrough Trinity. Walsall then lost their Football League status for 20 years and in 1901 Burton United Reserves came to town and were beaten 3-0 as the highest league gate of the season (4,000) was recorded in the Midland League. 1903 saw a 0-2 at Coventry City. The following season Walsall suffered a 1-4 defeat at Worcester and in 1906 drew 1-1 at home to Birmingham. In 1908 Walsall got thumped 0-4 away to Aston Villa Reserves. 1909 saw a 1-0 win at Crewe and the following year enjoyed a 4-0 home win to Wednesbury O. Athletic. Willenhall Swifts were the visitors the next year for which Walsall won that game 2-1. 1912 saw Wednesbury O.Athletc pay another visit and Walsall won this 2-1. The following year Walsall went to their place and won again-this time by 2-0. There was plenty for the home fans to cheer in 1914 when Coventry City Reserves were beaten 5-0 with Campey claiming a hat trick with a gate of 3,000. 1919 and 1920 saw two home games against Willenhall with Saddlers coming out top in both, 2-1 and 3-1. The 1920 fixture saw an amazing 11,500 turn up which was the highest home gate of the season. There were no wartime games on Boxing Day for Walsall and they regained their Football League status in 1921.
Lincoln City were the visitors to Fellows Park in 1922 and a brace by Groves secured a 2-0 win for Walsall. In 1923 Walsall lost away 1-2 at Wigan Borough. 1924 saw a 2-0 home victory against Grimsby Town. The following year Saddlers suffered a 0-5 defeat at Halifax Town. Attwood got Walsall’s two goals in a 2-4 defeat at Northampton in 1928. Worse was to follow 12 months later with a 1-5 defeat at Crystal Palace. 1930 Walsall drew away at Watford 2-2. Back to winning ways in 1931 with a 2-1 home win to Southport.Then followed a 0-5 hammering at Stockport the following season and when Mansfield came to Fellows Park in the following year the 0-0 draw ended Walsall’s 7 league- game winning sequence. In 1934 Walsall went down 2-4 at Millmoor to Rotherham United, drew 1-1 at Wrexham 1-1 in 1935 and returned to Wales the following year this time at Cardiff 2-2. The gate at Ninian Park that day was a remarkable 33,000.Then in 1938 it was a trip to Reading and this ended all square at 1-1.
Then came along several wartime games. Walsall travelled to Coventry in 1942 and 1943. A 0-2 defeat in the Football League (North) 1st Competition followed by a 0-3 defeat in a cup game. 1944 the team made the short hop to Wolves and drew 1-1 in another cup game.1945 saw a trip to the Potteries in another wartime game and came away with a 1-0 win at Port Vale. ‘Normal’ football returned in 1946 and the Fellows Park gate of 14,554 saw Saddlers beat Bristol Rovers 2-0.
There was a break of three years until 1949 and the next five consecutive years all ended in defeats. Millwall at home 0-1 in 1949 followed by away defeats at Newport County 0-3 (1950), Southend 0-3 (1951), Gillingham 1-3 (1952) and Brighton 3-5 (1953). The next two Boxing Day games in 1955 and 1957 saw Walsall make trips to our friends at Shrewsbury Town and both ended in defeats for the Saddlers. Morris got the goal in 1955 in a 1-2 defeat and the 1957 game saw Shrewsbury win 2-0. Walsall returned to winning ways in 1958 however with a 3-2 victory over Watford and there was a 2-2 home draw with Gateshead the following year.
The advent of the next decade saw Walsall kick off with two wins, 4-3 against Bury at Gigg Lane in 1960 and a 2-0 win at Fellows Park in 1961 to Luton thanks to two goals by Wilson. 1963 wasn’t so happy with a 3-5 defeat at Watford and in 1964 Colin Taylor got the goals in a 2-1 win against Mansfield. 10,557 (the second highest of the season) enjoyed a 3-1 win against Reading in 1966 with Allan Baker and George Kirby (2) on target., In 1967 Walsall led the third division but surprisingly lost 0-1 to Stockport before the highest gate of that season- 15,470. The following season Walsall lost 1-2 at Haig Avenue, Southport, with Dave Wilson getting the goal and the home side’s first goal was scored by George Andrews who was destined to join Saddlers five years later.
It was back to winning ways in 1969 with Ray Train getting the only goal of the game here against Mansfield and Colin Taylor scored another goal for the club the following year at Bury in the 1-1 draw. Then came a four year winning spell in the first half of the 1970′s. Chris Jones and a Colin Harrison penalty gave Saddlers a 2-1 win at Port Vale in 1972. The following year Walsall enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Cambridge thanks to two goals from Alan Buckley and one by Bobby Shinton..The 2-1 home win at Fellows Park against Wrexham in 1974 (Atthey and Wright) was the start of a 12 game unbeaten run and next year saw a 3-1 win at Hereford with Alun Evans and two from Alan Buckley. 1977 saw Walsall losing 0-2 at Carlisle and Terry Austin got the goal in in 1978 in a 1-3 defeat at Exeter.
Back to winning ways in 1979 with a 3-1 home win to Doncaster and a 2-2 home draw the following year here against Huddersfield. 1983 saw a 1-2 defeat at Lincoln however the middle of the decade was better with home wins against Preston 2-1 (1984), Newport County 2-0 (1985) and Grimsby 3-2 (1987) in which David Kelly got 2. 1988 saw a terrible game here against Oxford United in which Saddlers crashed 1-5 with Willie Naughton scoring a penalty. This was part of the clubs 15 game successive league defeats. A 1-1 home draw against Crewe in 1989 concluded Boxing Day games at Fellows Park.
A 0-1 loss at Gillingham in 1990 was followed by a 4-2 win over Blackpool at the Bescot Stadium with a Rod Mc Donald hat trick and in 1992 Dean Smith got the only goal of the game at Torquay. There was a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Barnet in 1994 and Kevin Wilson got the winner at Rotherham in in 1995. Mark Blake and Kyle Lightbourne got the goals in a 2-0 win at Wycombe the following year however there was a 0-1 defeat at Bescot in 1997 against Bristol Rovers. Andy Rammell got both Walsall’s goals in the 2-2 home draw against Wycome in 1998. Gabby Bukran scored in the 1-2 home defeat against Tranmere the following year. The year 2000 saw Walsall lose 1-3 at Swansea with Brett Angell on target. There was a win here in in 2001 as Aranalde and Biacalarni were on target against Crewe (2-1). 2002 saw Sheffield United come away from Bescot with a single goal win and they helped swell the gate to 10,459. Neil Emblen was the match winner at Cardiff the following year in a 1-0 win but there was a 2-3 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in 2004 with goals from Marvin Robinson and Paul Mc Shane. Tranmere came here the following year and that ended 0-0 and Mark Wright got the only goal at Bescot in 2006 against Shrewsbury. Michael Ricketts earned Walsall a point in the 90th minute at Port Vale in 2007 and Rhys Weston got the only goal at home to Stockport in 2008.