From Denis Law playing keepie uppie round the Christmas tree to George Best festooning his Manchester boutique with tinsel, footballers have never been lacking in festive spirit.
Some have donned Santa outfits for charity and brought pleasure to patients’ lives through making hospital visits. Others have even appeared in club pantomimes. Oh yes they have!
A classic case was the Manchester City production of Aladdin in 1971, performed when the Blues were in high spirits after thrashing Ipswich Town 4-0 at Maine Road.
The scorers in front of a delighted 26,900 home crowd were Colin Bell, Franny Lee, Wyn Davies and Ian Mellor.
Next day, Lee was playing one of the two policemen in Aladdin alongside fellow attacker Mike Summerbee. Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan was cast as Aladdin while skipper Tony Book was the evil Abanazar.
It’s a fair bet that the foursome’s acting ability didn’t quite match up to their football skills!
The panto didn’t affect the team’s form as City drew 1-1 with a strong Leicester City side in their next match, then beat Stoke 3-1 away on December 27th. Their New Year’s Day game against Nottingham Forest ended in a 2-2 draw.
City eventually finished the league in fourth spot on goal difference, tied on 57 points with second-placed Leeds United and third-placed Liverpool. Derby County were champions with 58 points.
The tinsel was out in force when Summerbee and United winger George Best decorated their boutique Edwardia in December 1967. Dubbed ‘El Beatle’ by the press, Best was renowned as a fashion icon and always dressed in the latest styles.
The two footballing pals were partners in the shop which started with a small newspaper advert announcing its opening on March 15th 1967.
Little did the friends know that traffic would be brought to a standstill on the busy A56 as cars slowed to catch a glimpse of their football idols – or that a crowd of teenagers and press would be jostling outside the shop!
Summerbee and Best caught the Christmas spirit again in December 1969 when they donned Santa outfits for the Charity Children’s Show at Manchester’s Odeon Cinema.
Joining them were Miss Great Britain Wendy George, Best’s former girlfriend Eva Haralsted, Kathleen Winstanley and, unexpectedly, Tony Book!
As our photo shows, Book barged in unannounced with Best covering his face in disbelief! At least Summerbee saw the funny side.
United forward Brian Kidd was busy putting the finishing touches to a festive snowman when press photographers snapped him at Blackley Golf Club in December 1969.
Born in Collyhurst, Kidd joined the Red Devils’ academy in 1964 and ended up making 203 league appearances for the club, scoring 52 goals. He joined Arsenal in 1974 and then moved to Manchester City in 1976.
Kidd notched up 98 league appearances for the Blues and scored 44 goals before signing for Everton in 1979. He’s now an assistant coach at City alongside Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta.
Another legend who played for both City and United was the brilliant forward Denis Law, pictured playing football in his front room during Christmas 1987.
The Scotland international had two spells at City from 1960 to 1961 and from 1973 to 1974. But the bulk of his playing career at Manchester was with United from 1962 to 1973.
Law scored 237 goals in 404 appearances for the Red Devils, making him the third highest scorer in the club’s history behind Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney.
Tough training rather than festive fun was the order of the day for City players on New Year’s Eve 1969.
The squad warmed up with a 30-minute cross-country run before getting down to some grueling laps on the running track at Wythenshawe Park.
The hard graft paid off as City beat Hull 1-0 in the FA Cup on January 3rd and went on to win both the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup by beating Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in Vienna.
Finally, no Christmas round-up would be complete without a winter wonderland photo of City’s brilliant ‘ballet on ice’ win over Tottenham Hotspur in December 1967.
It looked more like a scene from Frozen as the Blues gave a football masterclass at Maine Road to dance round their opponents by four goals to one.