Its been thirty years since Walsall last played on Christmas Eve and indeed down the years in all leagues and competitions have only played 13 times. In the Football League and FA Cup we have the following record…
Played 9, Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 6. Scored 11. Conceded 25.
Our first ever game on this day was way back in 1888 before we joined the Football League in a Birmingham Cup game at Notts Olympic Walsall ran out winners 6-4 watched by 1,200 festive fans.
In 1892 the fans were treated to an eight goal thriller as Walsall and Bootle fought out an exciting 4-4 draw with two goals each from Forsyth and Davis. By now we had gained our Football League status and played at the Chuckery Ground. A disappointing gate of 500 was recorded which was Walsall’s lowest of the season. However this was the only season that the club were to play at this ground in the Football League due to complaints from neighbours!
The next fixture on this day came along in in 1898 with the short trip to Small Heath which resulted in a 1-2 defeat.Then in 1900 Walsall entertained Woolwich Arsenal at the West Bromwich Road Ground before 3,000 fans. Centre forward Dean, who scored 11 goals in 23 games that season was the Walsall matchwinner. 1904 saw Walsall draw away 0-0 with Wolves reserves in the Birmingham League as by now had lost their Football League status and indeed were destined to spend 20 years back in non-league football.
In 1910 Crewe became the first visitors on a Christmas Eve fixture at Fellows Park but it wasn’t a happy trip for The Railwaymen as Walsall won this game 2-1 with goals from Richards and Parsonage before a crowd of 2,258. Walsall Football Club regained their Football League status in 1921 but suffered a 0-7 hammering at Rochdale this year. This was our only December 24th game that decade and there was an 11 year gap until 1932 when Walsall defeated Chester 3-1 at Fellows Park in another Third Division (North) game. Walsall legend Gilbert Alsop notched two in that game in front of a delighted 6,000 spectators.
1938 saw a disappointing 0-2 home defeat to Brighton And Hove Albion. Saddlers were firmly rooted to the bottom of the Third Division (South) at this time with just eight points from 18 games. We found ourselves switching from the Northern and Southern sections of the old Third Division down the years. Then in 1945 in a disrupted season Walsall lost 0-2 to Notts County at Meadow Lane with a gate of 7,000. 1949 saw Walsall lose at Fellows Park to Nottingham Forest 1-3 with Devlin getting Saddlers goal with a good attendance of 10,910. Walsall’s last ever Football League game on this day was in 1955.Walsall were 23rd in the table and crashed 1-4 at Fellows Park to Torquay United with Moore on target. A healthy 11.688 turned up for this one.
Walsall’s last ever game on Christmas Eve came in 1979 under player manager Alan Buckley, our promotion winning year, when we crashed out of the FA Cup with Halifax Town at The Shay 0-2 in a second replay after extra time. The 90 minutes score was 0-0. The Walsall line up that day was as follows…
Ron Green, Tony Macken, Kenny Mower, Ricky Sbragia, John Williams, Ian Paul, Don Penn, Steve Waddington, Roy Mc Donough, Alan Buckley, Brian Caswell. Att: 6,530.