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Christmas

From Kobe Bryant v Shaquille O’Neal to the 1914 Christmas Truce: the best festive sporting moments in history

  • NBA legends and former Lakers teammates locked horns on Christmas Day in 2004
  • Which other moments make our list?
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 December, 2018, 9:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 December, 2018, 9:02am

Christmas and sport go hand in hand – and not just watching it on television when we’ve stuffed our faces with too much turkey.

Yes, some people actually have to get up off the sofa to compete in various competitions for our viewing pleasure.

There have been famous sporting moments across the world on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

So here are a few of our favourites:

8. A royal day

Britain’s best-loved racehorse, Desert Orchid, was a whopping 20-1 early doors and then 16-1 for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day in 1986.

But Dessie famously went on to win the great race, and would end up with four famous King George triumphs.

7. Cashing in

Starting on Boxing Day 1986, Australian tennis saw one the greatest moments in its history when Pat Cash led his country to Davis Cup glory.

Cash, who would go on to win Wimbledon the next summer, came back from two sets down against Mikael Pernfors to seal a 3-2 victory against Sweden.

It was his third point of the tie, having beaten Stefan Edberg in the opening singles rubber, and then teamed up with John Fitzgerald to beat Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd in the doubles.

6. Ghost of Christmas Post

A Christmas Eve NFL divisional play-off between the Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Colts in 1977 saw one of the game’s most famous ever plays executed.

Dave Casper – whose was nickname “the Ghost” after the Casper cartoon series – caught a 42-yard pass to set up victory for the Raiders, in a play fondly remembered as “the Ghost to the Post”.

5. Kobe v Shaq

Christmas Day games are a regular for the NBA, but there are none more memorable than the first ever meeting of Kone Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

The former Los Angeles Lakers teammates dominated the league for eight years but weren’t the best of friends.

In July 2004, the three-time reigning champion Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat, and the NBA scheduled their first showdown for December 25.

Bryant scored 42 points and got O’Neal sent to the bench by drawing his fifth and sixth fouls with the teams tied at 91-91. Dwyane Wade gave the Heat a 104-102 win in overtime.

4. Women’s football wins

A crowd of 53,000 flocked to Everton’s Goodison Park football ground in 1920 to watch the Dick, Kerr Ladies team from a Preston munitions factory beat St Helens Ladies 4-0.

The crowd dwarfed those at the men’s fixtures, with the Football Association reacting by banning women’s matches from their grounds.

3. Longest game in NFL history

During the first ever (and last) Christmas Day game, the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins went into double overtime in 1971.

The AFC divisional play-offs game finally ended after 3 hours, 21 minutes when Miami’s Garo Yepremeian kicked his side to victory.

2. Blair’s bravery

On Christmas morning in 1953, New Zealand fast bowler Bob Blair was told his fiancée had been killed in the Tangiwai train crash the previous night.

A Wellington-to-Auckland express passenger train derailed into the Whangaehu River on Christmas Eve when the bridge collapsed, killing 151 people.

New Zealand had been playing a test match against South Africa in Johannesburg, and it was announced Blair would play no further part.

Bert Sutcliffe had already started to walk off the field at the fall of the ninth wicket, only for Blair to appear at the crease.

They added 33 for the last wicket until Blair was stumped off Hugh Tayfield with South Africa winning the match by 132 runs.

1. The Christmas Truce of 1914

There can only be one winner on this list, though. A symbolic moment of peace in a violent, bloody conflict, some German and British forces emerged from the trenches on December 25, 1914 to exchange gifts and play football in No Man’s Land.

There was still fighting in some sectors, but this remains one of the most memorable images of the truce. The occasion was dramatised in the 2014 film Joyeux Noel.