The announcement that West Ham United could be playing Newcastle United on Christmas Eve has been met with some, lets just say, resistance from fans in the UK.
Cannot believe there are people out there that are actually in favour of going to a football game on Christmas Eve.— West Ham Fan Zone (@WHUFCFZ) October 6, 2017
If #westham and #Newcastle game is moved to Christmas Eve it will show fans are no longer important #shocking #sadstateofaffairs— Stewart Henderson (@stewarthend) October 5, 2017
Well folks I’m here to tell you that football on Christmas Eve is actually going to be awesome.
Here in America we’re used to sports being played on holidays. The NFL dominates Thanksgiving Day, as well as Christmas Eve, the NBA takes over Christmas Day, and NCAA football owns New Year’s Day.
Since I’ve been a sports fan I’ve had sports to watch on most major holidays. This distinct pleasure has not made its way across the pond and boy are you in for a shock, it’ll be awesome. Here are the reasons why you’ll love it.
Football family > than real family
The holidays are supposed to be about spending time with your family and enjoying eachother’s company. That’s all well and good, I love my family, they’re awesome and whenever we get together it’s a great time.
Even within the most close knit families there’s bound to be strife, arguments are bound to breakout whether it be about the United State’s failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, Brexit, Donald Trump, or sports rivalries you’re bound to step on someones toes and start a debate that you won’t win and can’t end.
Being at the footy nips that in the bud. Everyone is there for one thing and one thing only, to support their team. No debates over Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, no arguing with your Trump loving cousins about his border wall. Just you and 56,000 of your closest friends singing bubbles and cheering on the mighty hammers! Tell me that doesn’t sound better than discussing how to fund the NHS while eating dry ham and drinking cheap wine.
Great excuse for a vacation
Look I get it Newcastle fans, you’re bummed you have to travel 500 plus miles round trip to see your team. Look on the bright-side though, you get to spend your holiday outside of Newcastle!
Plus, 500 miles isn’t that bad. I spent last Christmas Eve in Lambeau Field watching the Green Bay Packers take on the Minnesota Vikings having driven close to 200 miles one way to get there. I do that for every home game I go to and some fans come from even farther away for it. So quit your belly aching at least you don’t have to drive, you can sit on a train and play candy crush the whole time.
Planning vacations around sporting events is great. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to four Wisconsin Badger games played on New Year’s Day and they’ve been some of my favorite memories.
Look you’re going to have the next two days off work mostly likely. Turn into a weekend to explore whichever area you have to travel to. You’ve been given a great opportunity to get away from family you might as well take advantage, heck even bring the family along!
You can extend the celebrations
I’m guessing you don’t feel like lugging all you family’s presents from Newcastle to London, but How is little Timmy going to get his new bike if he’s not home when Santa comes?
Easy! Just start your celebration on the 23rd. Santa made frequent trips to my dad’s house early on Christmas Eve so that we’d have our gifts before having to travel. I’m sure he’d make a few extra trips to help out. Plus, it keeps the Christmas cheer going for longer and in our dark depressing world an extra day of celebration would be a welcomed distraction.
You get to spend your time in the stadium and not on your couch watching Frozen for the 10,000th time.
Look, I don’t have kids so I don’t know what the new hit kids movie is but I’m assuming little Sally’s gonna want to watch Princess Elsa sing for the millionth time. Guess what? None of that at the footy! Instead you’ll be yelling profanities at Jonjo Shelvey, telling Rafa Benitez to come to West Ham, and drinking beer.
Plus, if you’re planning to head to your family gathering after the game you’ll already be liquored up and ready to confront any bollocks your family wants to throw your way. No need to pound beers while Grandpa tells you how he had to walk 15 miles to get to school back in his day. You’ll already have those beers in you, making the speech more tolerable.
If you normally host your family for the holidays, heading to the footy means you don’t need to clean for them. Sorry brother Johnny going to the footy, you’ve gotta host Christmas this year!
No prepping the house, no prepping a meal, no cleaning up a meal, it’s a win-win-win scenario. Plus, you get to see football.
Forces you to get your shopping done
I try to get all of my Christmas shopping done as quickly as I can. However, there’s always one person that I’m shopping for Christmas Eve to get that one last piece to their gift. Well, if you’re going to the game you don’t have that option. Sure Westfield Mall is right there but you’ll be drunk and in no state to battle to hordes of shoppers. Plus, you’ll be relaxed knowing you have all of your gifts purchased and ready.
You can look scrubby and have an excuse
If you’re heading to the family gathering after the game you’ve got a built in excuse to wear comfortable clothing. No khaki pants or button down shirts you can rock your jeans and a Manuel Lanzini kit and not have to apologize. It does slightly raise the risk level of having to wear grandma’s itchy homemade sweater, but you were going to have to do that regardless.
Getting home late isn’t the worst
If the game kicks off at 11am like most expect, Newcastle fans can be back home by 7pm. That’s the perfect time to tuck into a nice roast dinner after a long day of travels. You’ve got a few hours to chat with the family, have a few drinks, set the milk and cookies out for Santa, then hit the hay. It’s a long day that would start around 5am but it can be done.
If you miss the game it’s not the end of the world
If I lived in the UK and could reasonably travel to all of my team’s games I totally would. However, it’s not the end of the world if you miss one game. Newcastle to London is a long way to travel anytime of year much less near Christmas. Go head sit this one out, the world will keep spinning.
If you’re not at the game you have something to do
As awesome as being at the stadium would be, at least you have something to do and talk about during Christmas Eve. You and your family can bond over the fact that Andre Ayew is invisible, Kouyate missed an easy pass, and Slaven Bilic looks once again absolutely bewildered.
You can make fun of how laughably bad we are you get to do it around people you love. Watching the game with my extended family is one of my favorite things to do and you Brits should be exposed to that opportunity.
In all seriousness though, no matter if you’re at the game or at home watching it on TV. Sports on Holidays are fantastic. Change isn’t easy but trust me, you’re going to love having footy on Christmas Eve.
Yes there are drawbacks to Christmas Eve football and to me the biggest one is that the stadium workers have to work. I’ve worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day before and it sucks, it really does. Getting paid holiday time makes up for it a little but it’s still not fun.
For the fans, Christmas Eve football can and will be extremely fun. For those going to the game be sure to be extra respectful to all the stadium staff who’ve sacrificed their holiday so you can enjoy yours.