Top 10 Christmas week football stats!

​Want to know more about club football over Christmas in Oz? @AndyHowe_statto picks his top 10 stats to ponder as the summer of football ramps up this week.

1. The first Australian national league matches played in the Christmas week – the seven days from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day – took place in 1989/90, the first summer season of the National Soccer League (NSL). 

2. Current Hyundai A-League coaches Graham Arnold (Sydney FC), Mark Jones (Newcastle Jets) and a 16 year old Tony Popovic (Wanderers) all played on the same team in the 1989/90 Christmas week, a 1-3 loss for Sydney Croatia against local rivals Marconi on 29 December.

Western Sydney Wanderers boss Tony Popovic, has been cited under the FFA National Code of Conduct.

The first season of summer soccer 1989/90 was significant for two other current A-League coaches, with Paul Okon (Mariners) and Kevin Muscat (Victory) also making their national league debuts, for Marconi and Sunshine George Cross respectively. Okon was just 17 years old, and Muscat just 16 years of age.

3. Crowds for the first Christmas week of games in 1989/90 ranged from 9000 at South Melbourne v Melbourne Croatia, down to a mere 558 for St George v Wollongong – the lowest crowd for any Christmas week national league game. The all-time highest Christmas week national league crowd was 25,039 at Adelaide Oval for Adelaide United v Sydney FC on 28 December 2007.

4. Three full NSL rounds were squeezed into Christmas week 1991/92. Of the seven NSL matches on Boxing Day 1991, there were three scoreless draws (APIA v Sydney Olympic, Parramatta Eagles v Brisbane United and South Melbourne v Sydney Croatia). In fact only 37 goals were scored in the 21 games of Christmas week 1991/92, an average of just 1.8 goals per game. Christmas week 1991/92 also saw the first NSL matches played on New Year’s Day, when four 1-1 draws were played on the first of the first.

5. Sydney FC’s Milos Ninkovic is the only current A-League player born on Christmas Day (1984) while Joel Porter, formerly with Gold Coast United, is the only other A-League player born on the 25th of December (1978).

Milos Ninkovic has been one of the standout players in the Hyundai A-League this season.

Australian football legends born on Christmas Day include three-time NSL winning coach for Adelaide City Zoran Matic (1944), and 1980s Socceroo goalkeeper Jeff Olver (1960).

6. Tarek Elrich (Adelaide United) is the only A-League player – current or former – born on the 1st of January (1987). Former Socceroo and 1983 Australian player of the year Joe Watson was also born on New Year’s Day (1952).

7. Australian international football pioneer Joe Marston, who played in England for Preston North End in the early 1950s, played in three English Division One matches on Christmas Day (1951, 1953 and 1954). All three games were against Burnley – the Lancashire derby – for one win, one draw and one loss.

Marston celebrates his milestone with new FFA Cup

The last English League match played on Christmas Day was in 1965.

8. The closest date to Christmas an Australian representative team has played is 23 December 2002, when the Young Socceroos (featuring current Vince Lia, Matt McKay and Alex Wilkinson) won the 2002 Oceania U-20 Championship final against Fiji. The Socceroos played in the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup final just four days before Christmas that year, a 6-0 loss to Brazil in Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

9. Western Sydney Wanderers are establishing a tradition of playing on New Year’s Day, having played 1st of January games in the Hyundai A-League each year since 2013. The Wanderers take on Perth Glory on the first day of 2017.

Glory striker Andy Keogh fights for the ball with Wanderers midfielder Bruno Pinatares.

10. There will be six Westfield W-League games played over Christmas week 2016/17, the standout matches being Melbourne City hosting in-form Perth Glory on Tuesday December 27, and the Wanderers v Sydney FC derby on Friday December 30. Brisbane Roar take on Melbourne Victory on January 1, just the second W-League game played on a New Year’s Day (after Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar in 2011).

Follow Andrew Howe’s Australian football stats updates on Twitter @AndyHowe_statto