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Christmas - A time to find out who will go down, or is it?

You know what they say about being bottom at Christmas. In the Premier League, at least, only West Brom have ever survived having propped up the table on the December 25.

But enough about those big time charlies. What about the rest of us? Does being at the foot of the Championship, League One or League Two guarantee misery come May?

Well, sadly, it usually does. In the last three seasons, six of the nine sides bottom at Christmas have bitten the dust.

That's not good news for Blackburn, Coventry, Chesterfield and Dagenham & Redbridge as things stand - although at the time of writing the Daggers are level on points with Plymouth and have the same goal difference. 

Preston's valiant fight back wasn't enough to keep them in the Championship last season. Despite rising to 22nd under Phil Brown, the Deepdale outfit fell four points short of safety.

A year earlier, cash-strapped Plymouth were well adrift and never stood a chance, but did manage to clamber above Peterbrough in the final reckoning.

In League One, Crewe stayed rooted to the bottom in 2008-09, as did Stockport in 09-10.

And given that Luton had minus five points at Christmas 2008, it is probably no surprise that they sank into the Conference that season.

Yet there are some heart-warming tales of survival against the odds, as three sides from the Championship, League One and League Two have shown.

Yeovil - League One (2010-11)

With four relegation places, nowhere is bottom spot more depressing than in League One. And when Santa came calling, the Glovers had little to cheer.

With winter laying waste to the fixture list and Yeovil unable to play for three weeks, Walsall's win over Charlton on December 12 put the Saddlers a point above Terry Skiverton's men on Christmas Day.

But the rest did them good. Three straight wins in January set the Glovers on their way and a stunning record of just eight defeats in their final 27 games, to secure a 14th place finish that they could only have dreamed of in winter.

Hereford - League Two (2010-11)

At the start of the season, the Bulls were dreadful, winning just three games before Christmas and none at all at home.

But, like Yeovil, a rest over Christmas proved the perfect tonic.

Five straight wins on the road, a decent Cup run and - eventually - a victory on home soil saw new boss Jamie Pitman streak clear of the bottom.

Mind you, only the ineptitude of Lincoln and Stockport saved the day after a drastic late slump.

Doncaster - Championship (2008-09)

Few people expected newly-promoted Donny to survive when they won promotion to the Championship, so it came as no surprise to see them bottom of the pile at the half-way stage.

But they must put something in the mince pies up Yorkshire way, because Sean O'Driscoll's men were unstoppable in 2009.

An undefeated run of eight game began with a thrilling 4-2 win at relegation rivals Forest on Boxing Day and saw a rampant Donny beat local rivals Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.

Marooned on 18 points at Crimbo, they finished the season on 58, 12 points and nine places above the drop zone.

By Chris Dunlavy, The Football League Paper


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