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Boxing Day down the years

1908 : Northfleet United 2-1 Gravesend Athletic
The first ever Boxing Day game at Stonebridge Road, Northfleet United took on local ambitious side Gravesend Athletic in a friendly, only 24 hours after a Christmas Day game v Gravesend United. Athletic had renamed themselves from Gravesend Amateurs the month before and fancied themselves as a progressive new outfit, ambitiously entering the Southern League. They played on a ground in Grange Road and turned professional but it was a disastrous gambit and the whole thing had collapsed by February. This friendly ended 2-1 to the Fleet, with Harry Griffiths and an own goal helping the home side on their way to the first ever Boxing Day win at Stonebridge Road.

Northfleet United’s 1908-09 side were the first to play a Boxing Day game at Stonebridge Road

1913 : Gravesend United 1-1 Northfleet United
The last ever Boxing Day clash between the two local rivals of Northfleet United and Gravesend United, suitably enough ended as a 1-1 draw at Pelham Road. Northfleet’s most loyal servant Arthur Seccombe (pictured front row, second from left) scored for the visitors, Gravesend equalising through Thomas Beldham, who moved to Northfleet the following season, only to join the Army as the Great War began. The day before the two teams had played in front of 4,000 at Stonebridge Road, Fleet winning that 4-2.

1946 : Dartford 2-1 Fleet
Gravesend & Northfleet’s first Boxing Day game came in the Southern League Cup Qualifying Group, Dartford winning 2-1 at Watling Street in front of a 6,000 crowd. Jim Wilson scored for the Fleet who bowed out of the competition despite beating the Darts 5-0 on Christmas Day at Stonebridge Road.

1949 : Fleet 4-2 Dartford
Another chapter in the North Kent derby story, Bert Hawkins helped himself to a hat-trick as Fleet saw off the Darts in front of a huge 6,458 crowd at Stonebridge Road. Future Leyton Orient manager Les Gore scored our other goal. Some 7,002 watched the return the following day at Watling Street.

1960 : Chelmsford City 0-2 Fleet
Another big crowd, this time at Chelmsford’s New Writtle Street (below), where 5,000 saw the Fleet carry off the points in the Southern League, Mickey Cross and Dave Tune on target in a 2-0 win. It was a good a result for the Fleet who were struggling towards the bottom against a Clarets side who would finish sixth.

2000 : Canvey Island 1-1 Fleet 
Despite five seasons of Isthmian football, this was the only season we played a Boxing Day game. A full year before the Fleet-Canvey rivalry, this more sedate affair saw Craig Wilkins earn a share of the points, watched by 620 in Essex. The Fleet lineup, bar a few players, was more or less the side that won the title the next season.

2004 : Crawley Town 1-1 Fleet
Loanee Craig McAllister scored at Crawley Town in the days when a trip there amounted to a Boxing Day derby! It was also dubbed the ‘Gladwish Derby’ as both sides were sponsored by non-league philanthropist Victor Gladwish (Fleet’s blue and green away kit reflecting his company’s corporate branding!). A crowd of 1,863 watched this mid-table Conference fixture with all the action in the opening seven minutes, McAllister scoring after 120 seconds and Neil Jenkins equalising five minutes later.

2011 : Fleet 3-1 Hayes & Yeading United  
It was six matches without a win for newly promoted Fleet but this was a routine enough victory over a struggling Hayes & Yeading side. Michael West scored the only goal of the first-half from close range. Tom Phipp made it 2-0 shortly after the break from 20 yards and scored another eye-catching effort with a volley from Nathaniel Pinney’s second assist of the afternoon. Tom Collins netted a consolation for Hayes late on as Fleet continued to steer clear of the relegation places by quite some distance in 2011/12.

2014 : Chelmsford City 1-5 Fleet 
A superb result as Jamie Day’s side trounced Chelmsford, Kenny Clark, Billy Bricknell (2), Daryl McMahon and Sean Shields all on target as Fleet seemed to be turning a corner under their new manager. But the joy was short-lived as Fleet were on the wrong end of exactly the same scoreline days later at home v Basingstoke Town and then lost the New Year return match to Chelmsford City at Stonebridge Road.

2016 : Dartford 2-1 Fleet
This was Fleet’s promotion season but Dartford put a dent in our pursuit of Maidenhead United with a deserved 2-1 win at Watling Street in front of 2,404. Tom Bonner and Duane Ofori-Acheampong scored early in the second half and the Darts should have been 3-0 ahead before an Anthony Cook goal 10 minutes from time gave the visitors some forlorn hope. Fleet gained revenge on New Year’s Day in a 1-0 win, Bradley Bubb the scorer of the only goal.

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