Fans battle to beat freeze
Fans around the country have been lending a hand to clear snow and ice for Boxing Day matches. The pitch is generally left to ground staff because of the risk of damage, although at my non-league club fans were asked to help there with plastic shovels. Premier League clubs like Wolves have undersoil heating systems working at full blast, but ice in the stands and on approaches poses a safety risk to fans who can volunteer to help clear it.
At Accrington Stanley there is little prospect of the Boxing Day match going ahead. This would normally produce bumper earnings of around £20,000. The club has had little income since November but is keeping its head above water. A Premier League solidarity payment of £100,000 which is due will be a lifeline.
At one time there were matches on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Typically, two teams would place home-and-away on the two days. They were not necessarily local derbies, but in those days trains ran on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Before the abolition of the maximum wage, players could not often afford a car and would walk or catch a bus if they could find one to home fixtures. Sometimes better off fans would spot them and give them a lift in their car to the ground.
On Christmas Day, the smell of Will's Whiffs, a cheap cigar given as a typical stocking filler, would be everywhere. Players might well have had a quick smoke themselves to settle their nerves before the game.