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Bolton Wanderers Festive Football History Feast

Get into the festive football spirit with our plotted history of Bolton's performances on Boxing Day down the years

Bolton's recent Boxing Day exploits give fans hope despite a poor overall festive record
Bolton's recent Boxing Day exploits give fans hope despite a poor overall festive record
Clint Hughes/Getty Images

Twelve months ago Bolton Wanderers defeated Blackburn Rovers thanks to Emile Heskey's hilarious debut substitute goal. With a trip to Rotherham United on Saturday looking like our biggest fixture of the season so far, we take a look back at Wanderers' history of Boxing Day football down the years.

In total Bolton have played 112 times on, or close to, Boxing Day, with 40 of those clashes at home and 72 away. 35 of these festive fixtures have resulted in a Bolton win, with 32 draws and 45 defeats.

The early years

As one of the 12 founding members of the Football League when it started up back in 1888, Wanderers have been involved in the league throughout the entirety of its existence. Teams played on Boxing Day from the very first season of the league, and Bolton's festive clashes were dominated by visits to Derby County.

Bolton visited Derby on Boxing Day for the first nine years of the old First Division, and their first trip saw their only victory in that near decade. Two goals from Kenny Davenport and one from James Brogan were enough to defeat Derby 3-2, despite two goals for the home side by Alex Higgins.

Derby won the following season and Wanderers earned a draw a year later, and that sequence then repeated itself twice. The most demoralising defeat in that series was a 6-1 defeat on Boxing Day of 1893, in which John Goodall and John Stuart McMillan both scored hat-tricks.

Wanderers lost the final two of their festive clashes at Derby, before facing another six years of Boxing Day away days. They won just one of those travels but in some style, with a 6-1 thrashing of Barnsley on Boxing Day 1899. Six days later Bolton played on the first day of the new century, beating Brighton New Tower 2-1 on 1 January 1900.

Early 1900s

In 1902, Wanderers suffered their heaviest ever Boxing Day defeat on the wrong end of a 7-1 hammering at Sheffield United. They also lost 5-1 at Liverpool the day before (yes, they used to play on Christmas Day back then) and, unsurprisingly based on these results, suffered relegation for the first time during this season.

Wanderers only stayed down in the Second Division for two years and won both their Boxing Day fixtures, 4-0 at home to Chesterfield and 2-0 at home to Lincoln City.

Upon return to the top tier, playing festive games against Liverpool became somewhat of a tradition. In total Wanderers have played Liverpool six times on Boxing Day - their second most frequent festive opponent, tied with West Bromwich Albion, behind Derby, who we've taken on 12 times - and have only ever been victorious once, with a 2-0 at home in 1906.

The final year of Football League fixtures before the 1st World War saw Wanderers record their biggest Boxing Day victory, with a 7-1 away thrashing of Aston Villa in 1914. In the second season after the league resumed Bolton were involved in another eight goal thriller, this time defeating Sunderland 6-2 at home in 1920.

in 1922 Wanderers lost 5-0 at Arsenal on Boxing Day having defeated the Gunners 4-1 at home on Christmas Day, in the season in which they first lifted the FA Cup. Wanderers then went undefeated on Boxing Day (or Christmas Day) between 1926 and 1933, when they recorded a 4-1 victory over Bradford Park Avenue. Their final festive match before the 2nd World War was a 4-2 defeat at, you guessed it, Derby.

Post-War festivities

Wanderers' first Boxing Day match after the war was a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United, having drawn 2-2 at home on Christmas Day. Six years later Wanderers were involved in their highest scoring festive match, as they were defeated 6-4 at home by Arsenal on Christmas Day 1952.

During this period, Bolton set in stone the path towards a terrible run that gave their fans very little to cheer at Christmas time for decades. They recorded just three victories on Boxing Day in 15 attempts between 1950 and 1967, 3-1 at home to Charlton in 1953, 1-0 at home to Manchester City in 1956 and 2-1 at home to Wolves in 1959.

Minimal 70s, 80s and 90s success

Things didn't get much better for Wanderers in the 1970s, with just two festive wins all decade - both by a 2-0 scoreline, at Sheffield Wednesday in 1974 and at home to Notts County in 1977.

The Christmas period also wasn't particularly cheery in the '80s, as Wanderers' festive form reflected their four year slump into the Fourth Division with just two wins again in the decade - 1-0 at home to Carlisle in 1982 and 2-0 at home to Blackpool in 1989.

Moving into the '90s Wanderers may have risen back up to the Second Division, following successive promotions in 1989 and 1990, but they still struggled to enjoy success at Christmas time. They again only won two matches on Boxing Day throughout the entire decade - a 2-0 home win over Wigan Athletic thanks to an Andy Walker brace and a 2-1 win over Grimsby Town thanks to Gerry Taggart and Nathan Blake - but drew six of their Boxing Day clashes.

Premier League and modern day

Wanderers' first taste of the festive period in the Premier League saw them fall to a 2-0 home defeat against Leeds in 1995, with goals from Tomas Brolin and David Wetherall, but the 2000's saw them face some really tough festive tests. These included a 3-0 defeat by Leeds again in 2001, thanks to a Robbie Fowler hat-trick, 3-1 and 2-0 defeats to Liverpool, and a 2-0 defeat to Man United thanks to Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

Bolton did have some success at Christmas though, including a 2-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday during the promotion season of 2000, and two Premier League victories over Newcastle. The stand out of these was Wanderers winning a seven-goal thriller 4-3 in 2002 at the Reebok Stadium. Bolton took a fifth minute lead through Jay-Jay Okocha, were immediately pegged by back by now-Bolton man Shola Ameobi but were in the lead again a minute later through Ricardo Gardner. A brace from super Michael Ricketts had Bolton in a comfortable 4-1 lead but in true Trotters style they tried to throw it away by conceding two late goals to Alan Shearer.

Wanderers have enjoyed better festive form in recent years, winning three of their last five Boxing Day fixtures. In addition to last year's defeat of Blackburn, Bolton also beat Barnsley 1-0 away thanks to a Neil Danns goal.

They had lost their previous two Boxing Day games, 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday and 2-0 at home to Newcastle in their final Premier League season, but beat West Brom 2-0 at home in 2010 with goals from Matty Taylor and Johan Elmander.

Wanderers have only won twice away from home on Boxing Day since 1996, and have only won four away days on this date since 1974. But recent form in the festive period suggests an upsurge in form, so lets hope for more of the same on Saturday.

A full list of Wanderers' Boxing Day results since 1888 is below, and you'll see that scorer info for Bolton is, at best, a little patchy down the years.

Year Result Opponent Home or Away League Additional Info
1888 Won 3-2 Derby County Away First Division Kenny Davenport (2), James Brogan; Alex Higgins (2)
1889 Lost 3-2 Derby County Away First Division
1890 Drew 1-1 Derby County Away First Division
1891 Lost 3-2 Derby County Away First Division
1892 Drew 1-1 Derby County Away First Division Drew 1-1 at Aston Villa on Xmas Day
1893 Lost 6-1 Derby County Away First Division John Goodall (3), John Stuart McMillan (3). Drew 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday on Xmas Day
1894 Drew 2-2 Derby County Away First Division Won 1-0 at home to Liverpool on Xmas Day
1895 Lost 2-1 Derby County Away First Division
1896 Lost 1-0 Derby County Away First Division
1897 (Xmas Day) Lost 2-0 Liverpool Away First Division
1898 Drew 1-1 Derby County Away First Division
1899 Won 6-1 Barnsley Away First Division Won 2-1 at home to Brighton New Tower on 1st Jan 1900
1900 Lost 3-0 Aston Villa Away First Division Also lost 3-0 at Forest on Xmas Day
1901 (on 28th) Drew 0-0 Sunderland Away First Division
1902 Lost 7-1 Sheffield United Away First Division
1903 Won 4-0 Chesterfield Home Second Division Won 5-1 at home to Barnsley on Xmas Day
1904 Won 2-0 Lincoln City Away Second Division
1905 Drew 1-1 Aston Villa Away First Division Drew 2-2 at Liverpool on Xmas Day
1906 Won 2-0 Liverpool Away First Division
1907 Lost 1-0 Manchester City Away First Division Lost 2-0 at Preston on Xmas Day
1908 Won 2-1 Leeds City Home Second Division
1909 (Xmas Day) Lost 3-0 Liverpool Away First Division
1910 Lost 2-0 West Brom Away First Division Won 5-1 at Birmingham on Xmas Eve
1911 (Xmas Day) Lost 1-0 Liverpool Away First Division
1912 Won 2-0 Sheffield United Away First Division
1913 (on 27th) Lost 2-0 Oldham Athletic Away First Division
1914 Won 7-1 Aston Villa Away First Division Lost 1-0 away to Liverpool on Xmas Day
1919 Drew 1-1 Preston North End Away First Division Beat Preston 4-1 at home on Xmas Day, beat Blackburn 2-1 at home on 27th
1920 Won 6-2 Sunderland Home First Division Drew 0-0 at Sunderland on 27th
1921 Drew 0-0 Oldham Athletic Away First Division
1922 Lost 5-0 Arsenal Away First Division Beat Arsenal 4-1 at home on Xmas Day
1923 Won 5-0 West Brom Away First Division Beat West Brom 2-0 at home on Xmas Day
1924 Drew 1-1 Nottingham Forest Away First Division Beat Forest 1-0 at home on Xmas Day, and Spurs 3-0 on 27th
1925 (Xmas Day) Lost 2-1 Manchester United Away First Division
1926 (Xmas Day) Won 3-1 Derby County Home First Division And beat them 2-0 on 27th
1927 Won 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur Away First Division
1928 Won 6-2 Birmingham City Home First Division And beat them 2-0 away on Xmas Day
1929 Drew 2-2 Burnley"]">Burnley Away First Division Drew 1-1 with Burnley at home on Xmas Day
1930 Drew 1-1 Manchester United Away First Division Middlesbrough on 27th"]">Beat United 3-1 at home on Xmas Day, lost 3-0 at Middlesbrough on 27th
1931 Won 3-1 Leicester City Away First Division Beat Leicester 1-0 at home on Xmas Day
1932 Won 2-1 Huddersfield Town Home First Division
1933 (Xmas Day) Won 4-1 Bradford Park Avenue Away Second Division
1934 (Xmas Day) Lost 2-1 Burnley Away Second Division
1935 Drew 3-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers Away First Division Lost 3-0 to Wolves on Xmas Day
1936 Drew 2-2 Brentford Home First Division
1937 Lost 4-2 Derby County Away First Division
1946 Lost 1-0 Manchester United Away First Division
1947 (Xmas Day) Lost 2-1 Sheffield United Away First Division Lost to them 3-2 at home on 27th
1948 (Xmas Day) Drew 1-1 Sheffield United Away First Division Beat them 6-1 at home on 27th
1949 Won 3-0 West Brom Home First Division Lost to West Brom away on 27th
1950 Lost 1-0 Fulham Home First Division Beat Fulham 1-0 away on Xmas Day
1951 Lost 3-1 West Brom Away First Division Beat West Brom 3-2 at home on Xmas Day
1952 (Xmas Day) Lost 6-4 Arsenal Home First Division
1953 Won 3-1 Charlton Home First Division
1954 (Xmas Day) Lost 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur Home First Division Lost 2-0 to Spurs on 27th
1955 Lost 3-1 Manchester City Home First Division And lost 2-0 away to City the next day
1956 Won 1-0 Manchester City Home First Division
1957 Lost 5-1 Everton Home First Division
1958 Lost 1-0 Everton Away First Division And lost 3-0 at home to Everton on 28th
1959 Won 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers Home First Division
1960 Lost 2-0 Leicester City Away First Division
1961 Lost 1-0 Everton Away First Division
1963 Lost 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday Away First Division Then beat Wednesday 3-0 on 28th
1964 Drew 0-0 Northampton Town Home Second Division
1966 Drew 1-1 Bristol City Away Second Division
1967 Won 2-0 Middlesbrough Home Second Division
1968 Lost 1-0 Carlisle United Home Second Division
1969 Won 3-1 Preston North End Away Second Division
1970 Lost 1-0 Carlisle United Away Second Division
1971 Drew 0-0 Barnsley Away Third Division
1972 Drew 1-1 Tranmere Rovers Away Third Division
1973 Drew 1-1 Blackpool Home Second Division
1974 Won 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday Away Second Division
1975 Lost 2-1 Oldham Athletic Away Second Division
1976 (on 27th) Drew 1-1 Nottingham Forest Home Second Division
1977 Won 2-0 Notts County Home Second Division
1978 Drew 1-1 Middlesbrough Away First Division
1979 Drew 1-1 Everton Home First Division
1980 Won 1-0 Wrexham Away Second Division
1981 (on 28th) Drew 2-2 Blackburn Rovers Home Second Division
1982 Won 1-0 Carlisle United Home Second Division
1983 Lost 1-0 Wigan Athletic Away Third Division
1984 Lost 1-0 Wigan Athletic Away Fourth Division
1985 Drew 1-1 Blackpool Away Fourth Division
1986 Lost 3-2 Bury Home Fourth Division
1987 Drew 0-0 Hartlepool United Away Fourth Division
1988 Lost 3-1 Preston North End Away Third Division
1989 Won 2-0 Blackpool Home Second Division
1990 Drew 1-1 Southend United Away Second Division Scott Green
1991 Lost 2-1 Leyton Orient Away Second Division Scott Green
1992 Won 2-0 Wigan Athletic Home Second Division Andy Walker (2)
1993 Drew 0-0 Sunderland Home First Division
1994 Drew 1-1 Sunderland Home Championship Mixu Paatelainen. Beat Tranmere 1-0 on 27th
1995 (on 27th) Lost 2-0 Leeds United Home Premier League Tomas Brolin, David Wetherall
1996 Won 2-1 Grimsby Away Championship Gerry Taggart, Nathan Blake
1997 Drew 1-1 Barnsley Home Championship Gudni Bergsson; Georgi Hristov
1998 Drew 0-0 Bradford Home Championship
1999 Drew 1-1 West Brom Home Championship Claus Jensen
2000 Won 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday Home Championship Dean Holdsworth, Colin Hendry
2001 Lost 3-0 Leeds United Home Premier League Robbie Fowler (3)
2002 Won 4-3 Newcastle United Away Premier League Jay-Jay Okocha, Ricardo Gardner, Michael Ricketts (2); Alan Shearer (2) Shola Ameobi
2003 Lost 3-1 Liverpool Away Premier League Sami Hyypia, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Vladimir Smicer; Henrik Pedersen
2004 Lost 2-0 Manchester United Away Premier League Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes
2005 Drew 0-0 Sunderland Away Premier League
2006 Won 2-1 Newcastle United Home Premier League Peter Ramage (og), Nicolas Anelka; Kieron Dyer
2007 Lost 2-0 Everton Away Premier League Phil Neville, Tim Cahill
2008 Lost 3-0 Liverpool Away Premier League Albert Riera, Robbie Keane (2)
2009 Drew 1-1 Burnley Away Premier League David Nugent; Matt Taylor
2010 Won 2-0 West Brom Home Premier League Matt Taylor, Johan Elmander
2011 Lost 2-0 Newcastle United Home Premier League Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba
2012 Lost 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday Home Championship Mamady Sidibé
2013 Won 1-0 Barnsley Away Championship Neil Danns
2014 Won 2-1 Blackburn Rovers Home Championship Josh King; Emile Heskey, Darren Pratley