The Christmas period for footballers has become a time of even more regrettable parties than usual and either a midseason break or fixture congestion (for those in England). But on the way to becoming a period of intensely commercialized, physically grueling and/or extremely drunken madness, football's relationship with the festive season has definitely come a long way. These wonderful pictures provide us with a glimpse of those changes over the last 113 years. Enjoy.
A football themed Christmas card (circa 1900). Today, we have this.
Officers of the British army play against the other ranks at their camp in Greece on Christmas Day 1915 — one year after the famous Christmas truce match between British and German soldiers.
Liverpool players and directors can barely contain their excitement while blowing up balloons for their Christmas party in 1936.
Goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn does any early version of multitasking at Tottenham's party in 1951.
Spurs star Jimmy Greaves surrounded by Christmas cards from fans in 1964. In this picture, Greaves has clearly just realized how tedious it would be to read all of them.
You think modern football club Christmas parties are a recipe for disaster? Here's Manchester United's Sammy McIlroy, Willie Morgan, Stuart Pearson, Gerry Daly and Lou Macari with cowboy hats and shotguns in 1974.
A curly haired Andy Gray dressed as a Santa with an impossibly large belt buckle circa 1980.
Man United's Gordon Strachan, Bryan Robson and Sammy McIlroy with a giant Christmas cracker at an ugly sweater party in 1985, decades before those types of social functions were held ironically.
Maradona and his very robust mullet celebrate the proper way in 1992.
Zidane and his family with a pretty terrible Santa (where's Andy Gray when you need him?) at snow training in Tignes for the French national team in 1997.
In 2004, former England goalkeeper David James was somehow convinced (read: given money) to be "LG's new-look urban Santa, 'Father X', a new stylish image for Santa to bring him into the 21st Century." Getty explains: "The new image - the result of a survey of 16-24 year olds - claims Santa needs a new image to appeal to today's youth." So that happened.
Wax figures of David and Victoria Beckham in a celebrity themed nativity scene at Madame Tussauds (with Kylie Minogue the angel, George W. Bush, Prince Philip and Tony Blair as the three wise men, and Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant and Graham Norton as shepherds. Again, 2004 was very strange.
Christmas tree head at a match between Mainz and Nuremburg in 2004 (of course). The text reads, "Happy Christmas for all fans."
Arsenal's fancy-dress Christmas party 2013. Players in the '70s just didn't dress up as Ninja Turtles like they do now. Probably why everyone did so many drugs back then.
Best Christmas tradition in football. 27,500 FC Union Berlin fans fill stadium to sing Christmas songs. pic.twitter.com/PAnfnWPvXF
— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) December 24, 2013
A decade after 89 fans snuck into Union Berlin's stadium to sing Christmas songs to help ease the pain of a few bad results, a record 27,500 supporters filled the ground for the now officially sanctioned event this year.
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