The traditional festive derby games are eagerly anticipated by Irish League fans each year with a sell-out crowd making their way to Mourneview Park full of festive cheer for the 2022 edition of the Mid-Ulster Boxing Day derby.

Prior to World War II a Portadown v Glenavon Christmas encounter was not a regular feature of the Fixture schedule. When the Ports returned to Irish League action again in 1947 a Christmas Day derby was on the cards. Mourneview Park was the venue, but our hosts were not full of the Christmas spirit as they ran up a 5-1 scoreline.

Everybody loves a Yuletide Reds v Blues fixture and what could be better. Well how about two Christmas derby games. That is what transpired in 1948 when Shamrock Park was the venue for the Christmas Day game and on Monday 27th December, Ports fans made the journey to Lurgan for the return fixture. A huge crowd turned out at Shamrock Park with the queue said to be over half a mile long. Portadown Pipe Band provided the festive musical renditions as the Ports fans celebrated a 3-1 victory. The return game ended all square at 2-2.

During the 1950’s Christmas Day was the traditional date for the festive derby, kicking off in 1950 with a 7-2 success for the Ports at Mourneview Park. Walter Allen bagged five goals to leave Glenavon feeling the blues. In their three Christmas fixtures Portadown scored 17 goals.

As all Ports fans are quick to remind our friends of the blue persuasion, the Mourneview Park men have not won the league since the black and white days of the 1950’s. That successful period for Glenavon saw them win seven of the next eight meetings following that 1950 Ports win.

Neither side took the share of the spoils on Christmas Day 1956 at Mourneview Park. Despite strong protests from both sides, the referee insisted in playing the game in the face of a winter blizzard. After just 13 minutes the game was abandoned, much to the great annoyance of the spectators that paid to watch less than a quarter of an hour action.

The Ports solitary Christmas victory during the 1950’s came in 1958, when a 3-2 win in Lurgan saw Portadown overtake Glenavon in top spot in the league table.

Glenavon rounded of the decade with a 4-0 win at Shamrock Park and it would be four years until the fixture was next on the Christmas schedule. Once more the Ports celebrated a festive success in Lurgan with a 3-1 win in 1963. The rest of the 60’s saw just four more Christmas derbies with two wins a piece.

The 1970’s saw Portadown maintain their dominance in the Christmas derby meetings. Between 1970 and 1976 The Ports secured three wins and three draws from the seven Christmas Day games. A 0-0 draw in 1973 saw the headline, “Proud Ports Strive Ahead” as they set atop of the table, a position they repeated in 1974 following a 4-2 derby win. The only reverse during this period came in 1975 when the Lurgan blues grabbed their first win since October. The last ever Christmas Day fixture list in the Irish League took place in 1976 and the Mid-Ulster derby ended in a 0-0 stalemate. A 5-1 win in 1978 was to be the last festive derby against Glenavon until the Boxing Day on 27th December 1993 which the Ports won 3-1.

Following a 1-0 win for the Lurgan Blues in 1996, it would be seventeen years before the Lurgan men could again celebrate success in the Boxing Day derby. The 1998 game at Mourneview Park was abandoned on the hour mark when a raging storm saw debris blowing parts of the stands around the ground.

Between 1997 and 2012 Portadown won nine and drew two of the eleven Boxing Day Derbies. Glenavon failed to score in nine of those games. The last derby to take place on Boxing Day was in 2016 and ended with Glenavon securing a dramatic 2-2 draw in injury time having been 2-0 down after 49 mins. Glenavon however played David Elbert in this game when he was not eligible to play with the result that Portadown were awarded a 3-0 win.

In last season’s festive fixture, which took place on the 27th December 2021 in front of a sold out Shamrock Park, it was Glenavon who went home happy after securing a 1-0 victory – made all the sweeter for Gary Hamilton’s men as it was achieved with 9 men after they had former Ports Peter Campbell & Robert Garrett sent off before half time.

The last Boxing Day derby to take place at Mourneview Park was back in 2015 with a 90th minute strike from Rhys Marshall securing all 3 points for Glenavon in a game which saw Michael Gault sent off for the Ports along with unused substitute Tim Mouncey, this was Glenavon’s second successive Boxing Day derby triumph at Mourneview Pk after winning the 2013 Boxing Day derby 3-2 thanks to an injury time winner from Mark Patton – that being Glenavon’s first victory on Boxing Day against Portadown since 1996.

Glenavon will be without club captain Mark Haughey who has to undergo an operation on his ACL while Micheal Glynn is suspended.

Seventy five years after that first post war Mid-Ulster derby the sides are ready for action again, as the next chapter in the festive spectacle will unfold.

History piece complied by Trevor Clydesdale


Here’s what Portadown manager Niall Currie had to say on this seasons Boxing Day Mid-Ulster derby

We’re obviously disappointed with the result last week but we’re on the back of some great performances, with last week being a good performance too, but we just made some naive and young mistakes – and that’s what we are, we’re young.

We go into Boxing Day fully ready to go, we know that we have a great support with Mourneview set to be a sell out, we’re all very excited. Glenavon will be favourites but we’re in a much better position then we were and we feel we’ve given ourselves a chance, even though no one else does.

If we can perform at our levels and make sure our performances are the same as they’ve been over recent weeks, and that’s all we’re focusing on – our performances, then we feel we’ve every chance. We’re going to give it everything for our support and the club. We’re working hard behind the scenes to get some experience into the squad, which we desperately need but we walk into Boxing Day knowing as long as we get our levels and performance right we have a chance.


Match officials | Referee – Shane Andrews | Assistant Referees are Andrew Nethery & Rachel Greer | Fourth Official is Glen Buchanan

Last Five Head to Head (All competitions)

  • Friday 30 September 2022 – Portadown 1 (Conaty) Glenavon 1 (Haughey)
  • Saturday 23 April 2022 – Glenavon 1 (Wallace) Portadown 0
  • Saturday 12 February 2022 – Glenavon 3 (Singleton, Haughey, McCloskey) Portadown 0
  • Monday 27 December 2021 – Portadown 0 Glenavon 1 (Campbell)
  • Friday 27 August 2021 – Portadown 1 (Finnegan) Glenavon 1 (O’Connor)

Last Five Head to Head at Mourneview Park (All competitions)

  • Saturday 23 April 2022 – Glenavon 1 (Wallace) Portadown 0
  • Saturday 12 February 2022 – Glenavon 3 (Singleton, Haughey, McCloskey) Portadown 0
  • Tuesday 4 May 2021 – Glenavon 4 (Fitzpatrick x2, Doyle, McCallum OG) Portadown 1 (Bonis)
  • Saturday 17 October 2020 – Glenavon 2 (Singleton, Campbell) Portadown 4 (Murray x2, Bonis, Burns)
  • Saturday 1 October 2016 – Glenavon 1 (Braniff) Portadown 0 (Shannon s/o)

A reminder that to please not arrive to the game if you do not have a ticket, the game is ticket ONLY with NO cash turnstile available. Tickets available via

If you are outside the UK and Ireland you can still view the action via the Eleven Sports and OneFootball platforms. This week’s international streamed games include Glenavon v Portadown