Nearly there, only a couple more weeks till the seasons end. By this time, I would expect most clubs have their end of season night out or trip away planned. Although a biggie, it does not even come close to the Christmas night out/weekend away. These are the ones that the players relish and rarely end incident free. These days they are usually 2 day affairs which can lead you feeling like a warm bin for the following week. For this reason, I will be discussing this event below.
As you pitch up to preseason training in June there will be early talk of the Christmas night out. The senior players or player committee will dictate this issue and suggestions of Dublin, Belfast and Cardiff will be mooted to the boys.
“Come on boys, every team will do Newcastle – we will be different this year”
Fast forward 6 months and you’re 6 bottles of Peroni down at Tiger Tiger contemplating how we ended up here. Again.
It’s not the fault of the organising committee as it can be tough to organise flights around your fixtures – especially if all your away days during the Christmas period are a mere 3 hour car ride to the nearest airport.
You usually hire a minibus to travel down where the players pile in. It’s safe to say that you would not be able to swing a cat in this vehicle. The room draw commences about half the way down the road, this can be an extremely tense affair. You are absolutely raging if you get paired with a lad with zero personality or even worse you get lumped in with the keepers (different breed). This is only a minor concern when all is said and done as you don’t plan to spend much time in the room.
You arrive at the hotel (usually a Travel lodge again) and it’s a quick turnaround before meeting in the hotel foyer. There will be a range of outfits depending on the diverse age range of your changing room. One thing you are guaranteed is that there will be at least 5 spice boys – tight white jeans with rips, Geordie Shore haircut and a flamboyant shirt with sleeves rolled up to reveal their biceps. There is a 90 percent chance that these lads will also be sporting a shit tattoo sleeve that they think makes them look edgy and unique. I’m sorry to say you all look the same.
The older statesmen tend to over dress – 3 piece suit and brogues. I can’t argue, they usually look a million dollars. However, someone needs to remind them it’s a night out at Floritas and not a wedding. They are older, wiser, more experienced and most importantly much harder than me so I won’t be telling them.
Saturday night you have to play it steady. We are here for 36 hours, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Despite this advice, certain players will come firing out the blocks on all cylinders but suffer from burnout pre midnight. The young lads have never been away from their mothers and go all out and let their excitement get the better of them. They tend to be the usual culprits.
The club bullshitter will inform you that he has sorted VIP out at the best club – this turns out to be false. You’ve either got a great table at a dead nightspot or you pay £2000 for one table with 4 seats and one bottle of Smirnoff at some place that was featured on The Geordie shore. You make the most of it. The single lads will suffer enough knockbacks to last a lifetime. The rest of you will make it till the night club shuts and boys will part ways either back to the hotel, casino or the strip… burger van. Late night food is my preferred choice and on one Christmas night out I saw Iain “Yano” Campbell eat a burger without chewing.
The Sunday is a special day. Some teams go big on the fancy dress element and other teams keep it simple with a Christmas jumper feel. Early doors you will see a few casualties who hit it too hard the previous night. Occasionally these lads will phone up their girlfriends to come pick them up or get the next train home – fair to say they have had an absolute shocker and will get it in the ear come training.
For the rest of us, it’s a coffee and a good breakfast and we are raring to go again. If you are lucky, there will be a nice Super Sunday on offer. You put the kitty together and watch your odds on accumulator fall at the first hurdle as the league leaders will get beat by a team that hasn’t won all season – calm down SFA, we are only betting on the rugby. It is a certainty that you will bump into 5-6 other lower league teams who have the same idea as you and this can be a potential nightmare for bar owners. 85 lads worse for wear is good for the profits but can get a bit chaotic.
The day goes fast and the team bond grows with every pint sunk. All day, everyone is slaughtering each other for their hair, look, personality, clothes and how crap they are at football and it’s all good natured. Someone is inevitably likely to go overboard and the fear will hit them hard the next day.
As the evening arrives you have to ensure you stay out the clutches of the individual who plainly refuses to put the ball away as there is an excellent chance they could put you to sleep. If you make it to a nightclub, it will go in a similar fashion to the night before. Although this time your sweatier, stinker and uglier than the previous day.
When it’s all over – the Monday travelling back up can feel like the worst day of your life. You contemplate what you are doing with your life, “I’m 27 years old and I am still behaving like a Neanderthal” crosses the mind around 87 times.
All of the above seems like unprofessional behaviour for a part time footballer to be partaking in. However we are human and we need a blowout like everybody else – as long as nobody gets hurt. Nonetheless, a year down the line when it is time to begin the festive season, you utter the immortal word of Stevie G – “We go again!!”