Rivals are gearing up for their Boxing Day derby

Lutterworth Town manager Josh Dixon
Lutterworth Town manager Josh Dixon

For football lovers, the Boxing Day derby clash is as much a feature of the festive period as gift giving and feasting.

So even though there is a full fixture list this weekend and the visit of Father Christmas to enjoy first, some thoughts are already turning to the clash of local rivals on December 26.

Lutterworth Athletic chairman Mike English

Lutterworth Athletic chairman Mike English

Harborough Town’s guests Oadby Town have less than a dozen miles to travel for their Christmas encounter.

But in Lutterworth the distance is probably not even enough for a brisk walk to wear off the effects of a second helping of turkey.

This year Town play host to Athletic – a reverse of last year’s festive clash – and both sides are looking forward to battling it out with their neighbours for the first time this season.

Lutterworth Town boss Josh Dixon said: “It’s obviously a big day in the calendar.

“Both clubs are having a good season so, as well as it being the derby, it should also be a really exciting game because of where we are in the table.

“As they say, form goes out of the window but I’m sure they will be looking to get their own back after we beat them twice last season. That will make it even harder for us.

“They have improved a lot and are doing really well but we have to hope we have the edge.

“Our players played in the game last season so have the experience of what it is like.

“They’ve got some new faces so hopefully that works in our favour.

“We also hope there is a decent crowd.

“It’s nice to play in front of a lot of people and it would make for a great atmosphere.

“Also, as Athletic found last year, the Boxing Day game brought good revenue which is always needed as the club doesn’t run on fresh air!”.

That is a sentiment echoed by Lutterworth Athletic chairman Mike English.

The enjoyment of a big occasion is equally important to the clubs on and off the pitch.

“It’s good for the town and it’s good for both clubs,” he said.

“Financially it is great to have that local derby – it is a godsend.

“But it is also a great event for the players and the town.

“When I look at our form of late, our results have been bad.

“We were pushing for third and now we’ve slipped off a little bit because of bad results against the bottom side (Raunds Town) and Bourne.

“Unless the mentality is right you’re not going to get anything from any game.

“We’ve not been quite right but this is the perfect game to get it back.

“If you can’t get motivated for a game like this then you’re probably not the sort of player you want at the football club.

“They were the better side last year and probably still are – but there’s not a lot in it.

“I would say they are probably a little more ‘at it’ than us at the moment.

“They’ve had a long winning streak coming up the leagues and that has been the mentality.

“It will always be competitive because it is a local derby but they can’t keep beating us and we’ll go there with the belief we can get something out of it.”