With both teams languishing in mid-table, this North London derby took place on Boxing Day 1983 and prompted one of the contributors to reminisce about the days when, during the festive period, teams would play on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Bobby Robson, who had then just taken over as England team boss, said: “I must say as a player I enjoyed the all-action Christmas though it used to be very hard playing four or more games in the space of eight days.I remember playing Manchester United at Fulham one Christmas Day in thick, clawing mud then jumping on the train and playing at Old Trafford the next day on a rock hard surface.”
Just how crazy the Christmas results could be was shown in 1963, when on Boxing Day Fulham battered Ipswich Town 10-1 at Craven Cottage then in the return game, two days later, the Tractor Boys came out on top 4-2. Similarly, West Ham lost 8-2 at Upton Park to Division One table-toppers Blackburn Rovers on the 26th but shrugged off that ignominy in the return game on the 28th, beating their rivals 3-1 at Ewood Park.
December had been a hectic period for Tottenham and included a UEFA Cup second leg tie against Bayern Munich. Keith Burkinshaw’s team trailed 0-1 from the first leg but a goal from Steve Archibald just after half-time levelled things up and Mark Falco struck the winner with two minutes left. Spurs would go on to lift the trophy later in the season in a dramatic Final against Belgian side, Anderlecht.
In this game, Don Howe was in charge of Arsenal having been appointed caretaker manager after the departure of Terry Neill. One of Howe’s first moves was to put Raphael Meade up front with Tony Woodcock and dropping Charlie Nicholas into midfield. Meade had scored a hat-trick against Watford in Howe’s first match and here he grabbed another two.
Howe’s third game in charge was a 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham the next day and before it he said “If I’m given the chance, I would love to manage Arsenal”. It took until April 1984 before he was appointed permanent boss and his reign lasted until March 1986 when he resigned and George Graham took over.