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Football News: And Finally... It's Christmas!

And Finally... It's Christmas!
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And Finally... It's Christmas!



With Christmas just around the corner, football goes into overdrive in the UK, as games are played almost every day, with Boxing Day matches now seen as a tradition, despite not being a thing at all until recent years. In fact, not so long ago, matches were often played on Christmas Day itself, in the 1953/54 season Liverpool not only played on Christmas Day but also negotiated and completed a signing, one of 4 they made in December in a desperate, and failed, attempt to avoid relegation at the end of that season.


Nowadays it would be seen as impossible to play on Christmas Day, and every suggestion of doing so from TV companies has been dismissed. Christmas nowadays is about blockbuster movies on the TV and family gatherings, for those lucky enough to have families. Though, when I was growing up, it was also about the weeks leading up to the day, when every moment alone in the house meant a chance to conduct a thorough search (my parents would probably call it more akin to ransacking due to the mess made) of every room in an attempt to find where they had hidden my presents.


My mother could never really get too upset about it, as she is not known for her patience and, as a child, her brothers and sisters would send the eldest brother, my Uncle Billy, to climb out of the back window and across to look into the bedroom window of next door's house in the hope of spotting their own presents. My grandparents knew there was no hope of keeping Christmas presents hidden in the house with 6 kids, so would ask the next door neighbours, the Nicholls, to look after the gifts for them. They reckoned without the resourcefulness of their own children though!


Christmas baubles


Christmas to me as a child was mostly about Star Wars on the telly and then visiting the families over the next couple of days. My dad's family were mostly in Wales, but what stands out was not the beauty of the countryside, it was the smell of cooking, as his mum was a fantastic cook. In contrast, my other nan just used to turn out food that was grey, literally, probably in large part as she chainsmoked and always had half a cigarette of dangling ash over the top of the pots as she stirred the food. Usually while chattering away so that you could just see the ash bouncing up and down and marvelled at how it stayed attached.


When times got desperate and they were that short of money she cooked the family's pet rabbit, no one actually realised what it was, because it tasted the same as everything she made, terrible. My nan might just have been the one person in the history of the world whose cooking was improved by the invention of the microwave. Though her cooking was better than her youngest son's, my Uncle John, who would live on fast food if nan was not around to cook for him. Which turned out to be lucky for everyone, as the one time he did attempt to cook himself a meal was by putting a tin of baked beans in the microwave. Still in the tin! It is lucky my aunt was checking up on him at the time.


The other thing that Christmas is known for, at least in the UK, is the Christmas party. Something which footballers have been known to take to extremes, with fancy dress seen as normal despite it usually ending badly as someone goes down the Prince Harry route and manages to offend with their choice of attire. Even this season Dundee United defender Jamie Robson was pictured with his face blackened, just to prove how socially aware and intelligent the modern footballer is.


Big Trak


This is not a recent problem though, footballers and Christmas parties have been causing issues even before Ed007 was begging Santa for a Big Trak, only to be gutted when he got a lump of coal instead. In fact Harry Redknapp once said (presumably leaning out of his car window to do so) while managing QPR that, "I'm not into Christmas parties, not for footballers. I think it's more aggravation than it's worth." He probably has a point, though it did not stop players at the clubs he managed from having Christmas do's which ended badly, such as when Robbie Keane, as Tottenham Hotspur captain under Redknapp, organised a quiet 'golfing break' after 'Arry had specifically forbidden a Christmas party with Spurs, at the time, having a reputation for being the Premier League's biggest partiers.


Just 48 hours before Redknapp said in a press conference (again probably held at the gates of the training ground leaning out of the window of his Rangey, owned and paid for by Rosie the dog via her off shore accounts) that his players would "never take the liberty" of holding a party without his say so, the squad had jetted off to Ireland, with Keane charging the players £2,000 per head for a night of wild debauchery. 72 hours later, a bedraggled Spurs side were beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 and Keane himself was heading off to Celtic on loan less than a month later.


Other managers took a similar stance to Redknapp, Alex Ferguson banned Xmas parties for the forseeable future after Manchester United's 2007 pub crawl. With WAGs banned from the event, they toured karaoke bars and strip clubs on a 13 hour, £4,000 per head drinking session that ended at the Great John Street hotel in Manchester with 80 hand-picked women taking part in what was described by onlookers as "a horrendous cattle market".


Dave Bassett had a totally different point of view on them, probably originating from his time at Wimbledon with the Crazy Gang. Certainly if any of the antics of their ex-players was anything to go by. Those players were involved in any number of incidents, from the relatively tame 1994 Chelsea party, which Glenn Hoddle 'wisely' put Vinnie Jones in charge of organising, where dwarf tossing was a major part of the night, to Dennis Wise's idea of a secret santa gift. Wise drew Robbie Savage's name out of the pot when at Leicester City and bought Savage a teddy bear wearing a Leicester shirt with a sex toy attached, along with a message reading, "you're the only pussy in a Leicester shirt".


Savage was as amused as Didi Hamann was when his Newcastle United secret santa gift was a copy of Adolf Hitler's book 'Mein Kampf' and a scuffle ensued. Though Dave Bassett, who was managing the Foxes at the time, termed it "a bit of good-hearted mickey-taking". Speaking of Foxes, that neatly brings me to Hayden Foxe, whose West Ham United career is probably better known for him being fined after their 2001 Xmas do in London nightclub Sugar Reef was punctuated by the Aussie climbing onto the bar, unzipping his flies and proceeding to urinate on everyone within reach.


Neil Ruddock


There is of course the common sight of the drunken footballer thrown out at the end of the night wandering down the street trashing cars. Not sure why they do it, but it is almost as regular as seeing Joe Hart picking the ball out of the back of his own net. Almost. Neil Ruddock and Trevor Sinclair at a West Ham United party are two of the most famous examples, though somehow the 'Razor' was acquitted. Probably because the jury could not believe that such a fat drunken slob was really a professional footballer. This was, after all, the guy who Swindon Town had to have shorts custom made for as he was too round to get XXXL sized ones over his gut!




The worst incident of all is probably the one that brought the utterly obnoxious social media pontificator and fake philosopher Joey 'utter gobsh***' Barton to public prominence, for all the same reasons he stayed there. Well other than racially motivated attacks on prone team-mates by himself, or his brother murdering someone in another racially motivated attack, followed by the pair pretending to have turned over a new leaf. Other than that Barton is probably best known for the 2004 Manchester City party, when he considered it a good idea to go to the fancy dress party dressed as Jimmy Saville and spend the night trying to burn holes in everyone else's costume with the lit cigar that was part of his costume. Teenage team-mate Jamie Tandy attempted to retaliate by burning part of Barton's costume, which enraged the ever volatile Barton so much he stubbed the cigar out in the youngster's eye. Luckily the fine of £60,000 he was hit with made Barton see the error of his ways. Oh wait.


Christmas is a time for giving, for footballers it is the busiest period, but for Ed004 it is his one chance to have a break from the year-round slog of making toys for Ed025 to hand out. So spare a thought for 25, as he jets around on his sleigh trying to keep the reindeer in check. Not everyone gets to relax at this time of year, especially those people who have to cook the Christmas meal, while the rest of us sit around watching TV and telling all and sundry that you had told your other half they should have started defrosting the turkey hours before they did, but they just would not listen, while the kids ignore the expensive toys you bought them to play in the empty boxes instead. Next year I am just going to buy a set of empty boxes and some parcel tape instead.

Written by Ed001 December 18 2018 10:45:08


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