Leeds UNITED have only played six fixtures in their entire history on Christmas Eve.
However, one of those is still remembered fondly 20 years on.
When soldiers clambered out of their trenches to play a game of football on the same date in 1914 it was less of a surprise than if Christmas cheer had been shared between home and away fans at Elland Road 81 years later.
After all, Manchester United were in town.
Leeds had lost to Sheffield Wednesday the week prior, conceding six times. It was the worst result of Howard Wilkinson’s time as manager.
Title challengers United were never going to be his preferred opposition, especially as a loss against them rankles Leeds fans more than any other.
In one sense, it was the perfect time to play the Old Trafford club. They had not won for over a month.
It only took five minutes for Leeds to take the lead. Nicky Butt handled the ball in the penalty area and Gary McAllister stepped up to fire the resultant spot kick past Peter Schmeichel. It was the Scot’s 100th domestic goal, an impressive tally for any player, never mind a midfielder.
The Red Devils fought back, and after a mistake by Gary Speed they levelled, Andy Cole sweeping home their equaliser.
However, parity was not in place for long. Tomas Brolin had one of his better games in a Leeds shirt, heading the ball into Tony Yeboah’s path. The Ghanaian was unerring in front of goal, putting Leeds back in front before half-time.
Brolin then chipped the ball onto Brian Deane’s head in the 73rd minute, the striker heading home to put Leeds into an unassailable lead.
After the match, Wilkinson said: “It’s easier to look good against a team who come here to try and win the match.
“If we’ve got to one thing to learn it’s when a game is difficult to be won, you have to be patient and make sure above all else that you don’t lose it.
“But finding that balance doesn’t come overnight.”
Leeds United: Beeney, Kelly, Wetherall, Jobson, Dorigo, Palmer, McAllister, Speed, Brolin, Yeboah (Wallace 86), Deane. Subs (not used): Radebe, Worthington.