So, here we are, December, the festive season is truly upon us. Even though this country’s retail sector would have you believe that this has been the case since September! But now that the first few windows have been opened on your advent calendar (the one on your fireplace with the club badge on the front) there can be no doubt, Christmas is here.
Christmas has a habit of bringing us some of our favourite and our least favourite parts of the year. The Turkey dinner and the giving of presents at one end of the spectrum and the awkward visit of distant family and the endless TV Christmas ‘Specials’ at the other. Football is the same.
With Christmas come some aspects of football that we truly can look forward to all year and some which we’d rather do without.
First the ‘Pro’ list. Prime and most importantly of all is the wonderful amount of football we will have plastered across the TV over Christmas. A full Premier League fixture list on the 15th/16th and again on the 22nd/23rd. And the festive season keeps on giving. Full sets of fixtures on Boxing Day and again three days later on the 29th.
More football awaits over New Years too. And not just the Premier League, the Football League is just as busy. If you want a Christmas activity for you and the family then why not go and watch your local team. That’s if the impressive TV schedule that includes Everton vs Chelsea, QPR vs Liverpool, Swansea City vs Manchester United and Aston Villa vs Spurs isn’t enough for you.
And maybe a chance to avoid Christmas Downton Abbey or Christmas Doctor Who after all.
Luckily, should you happen to have a window in between games, there’s plenty more going on. Because, at the time of writing, there are just 26 days until the next transfer window opens and now that we’ve hit December, speculation is at a fever pitch.
Have you heard that Daniel Sturridge is leaving Chelsea for Liverpool? How about Wesley Sneijder going to Man City, Michu leaving Swansea or Brad Friedel going back to Blackburn? I’ve heard all of this in just today’s papers.
Is it just unconfirmed newspaper-talk? Almost certainly. But we love it, it keeps us entertained. And it’s amazing how one of these stories can change in your mind from paper-talk to a certainty when it involves your club signing a world beater.
I know that they say that it’s better to give a gift than it is to receive one. But people who say this probably haven’t studied their club shop closely enough. Another great thing about Christmas? Being given all that shameless football merchandise that you’d never buy yourself but really want deep down.
How else could you end up owning a Liverpool tie, the Swansea baby bottle, the Spurs inflatable chair, the Celtic crystal decanter set or the Manchester City garden gnome? All real gifts by the way. You want this stuff, you know you do, but you wouldn’t have the nerve to walk into a shop and buy your own USB memory stick in the shape of Fulham Chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed.
For all the good that comes from Christmas, and there’s apparently a lot, we can’t have it all good all the time.
It’s cold, it’s very cold. Play Sunday League football and it’s freezing. Play Sunday League football as a late-used substitute and it’s hard to imagine the world can get any colder.
We love football, we’d ridicule anyone for not fancying a game on account of the weather, but there are certainly times when we’d rather have not stood in a muddy field in single-digit-temperatures in our shorts and shirt. Not fun, not all the time.
But then again, we’re British. Come the start of pre-season again, and we’ll all be complaining that it’s too hot and saying that we can’t wait until the colder weather.
It is cold, we’ve acknowledged that, we’ve accepted it to a degree. But that still doesn’t mean we’re completely ok with seeing our footballing heroes on the TV wearing gloves. Or the odd yet increasingly popular combination of gloves with short sleeves (really, what’s the point?).
A culture still exists around football that makes us feel that we don’t just want skill, we want to see a little toughness. And gloves, tights and the (dreaded) snood don’t scream ‘tough-guy’ to anyone.
This is a little odd considering that the majority of the people sat in the stands (apart from some seemingly insane Newcastle fans) are wrapped up to the eyeballs and armed with hot flasks. But even so, guys, leave the gloves in the changing room.
So there you have it. Hopefully I’ve reaffirmed your seasonal scepticism whilst also giving you the knowledge that there is still a festive football feast out there for you to enjoy.
To all, I say look forward to Christmas, enjoy your Christmas parties, hope that your favourite players don’t enjoy theirs a little too much and, most importantly, enjoy the football.