by Jack Howes

There are many bad things about Christmas. Take television for example. TV companies decide that as its Christmas what us viewers want is more celebrities on our screens, more soap ‘stars’ and failed X Factor contestants appearing on quizzes and panel shows to do worse than the general public. Pointless isn’t as good to watch when a Waterloo Road actress who can’t name one country that shares a border with Mexico is there instead of a member of the public.

Also there’s Christmas being Christmas™, meaning adverts come at you more aggressively than a Roy Keane tackle. If you ignore these adverts the state of modern capitalism means if you don’t spend more money than you have, just so your child can have some expensive toy they’ll tire of in two weeks, businesspeople who would torture their own grandmothers if it meant earning a few more quid or finding another tax loophole will tragically go without their end of year bonus. The companies these people own, who themselves have quite possibly invested unwisely and spent more money than they possess might then go to the wall and force its shareholders to sell their holiday homes in the Bahamas. And we can’t have that now can we?

And as much as you may dislike the office parties, the Christmas cards, the crappy films and the drunken sing-a-longs to Wham! you can’t stand other people moaning about Christmas. Nothing’s worse than the miserable sod who says ‘this Christmas lark is a right old swizz’. Even if you agree with this imaginary person you probably can’t stand him or her.

The best thing about Christmas is how it allows you to be incredibly lazy. As long as you can avoid either cooking the Christmas dinner or buying lots of presents you have a week or so of doing very little aside from consuming too much, putting on weight, going to bed too late and spending the vouchers you get from inside Christmas cards distant relatives.

There are few feelings better than waking up in the morning and knowing you have nothing to do that day. No need to get dressed, no need to get nervous or anxious in any way, no responsibilities you have to fulfil. Laziness and bone idleness is one of life’s greatest pleasures, made all the more pleasurable by both how little of it you get to experience and how you’re sticking it to the man (otherwise known as the press and the politicians) who won’t be happy until we’re working 12 hours a day and won’t be getting our pensions until we’re 100.

In this celebration of laziness, watching football itself is a fairly idle pursuit, especially if you’re one of the millions of armchair spectators watching on television or on laptops. You sit in your living room, increasing your blood pressure by both gorging on unhealthy food and drink and by shouting at stupid commentators, stupid pundits and stupid players who should never miss half chances from the edge of the penalty area or misplace passes when confronted by the tattooed, gormless thug who’s playing in the opposition midfield.

Even at matches you sit in your seat for fear of being ejected by irritating stewards, stopping only to occasionally bellow incorrect advice at your team and vitriolic abuse at the referee for correctly sending off your left back for being the last man and cynically stopping the opposition forward from scoring.

At Christmas, in one of the few traditions that Britain should be proud of, the football fixture list glugs on Red Bull and goes into a state of overdrive. Playing lots of games at the time of year means that clubs, especially those in the lower leagues can benefit from more spectators attending matches due to being off work. The financial benefits are huge.

Also with more fixtures being on, it allows you to watch more football. The Boxing Day fixture list, with the three o’clock fixtures followed by two live matches back to back and then a bumper edition of Match of the Day is perfect post-Christmas viewing. After what can be a stressful, tense day with your family and maybe relatives who you don’t like but are forced to see in the hope you’ll get some money left for you in their will when they snuff it, a day watching football is a great cure. The fixtures are even arranged so that there’s no Premier League match until three o’clock, allowing you to have a lie in.

The sheer amount of fixtures as well over the whole period, stretching from the Saturday before Boxing Day to the FA Cup 3rd round in the first weekend of January means there’s football on in some form pretty much every day for two or three weeks. As an armchair fan, it doesn’t get much better than this. There are no international breaks or European fixtures to get in the way, just football match after football match at the time of year when teams are generally at their best.

Purely as a fan this is when the football season is at its best. You’re at mid-season, when you know pretty much what sort of season your team will have. There’s enough time for your team to go up the table, with the January transfer window offering hope your team might pull off a masterful mid-season signing (Birmingham signing Christophe Dugarry for example) to escape relegation, push for the playoffs, push for automatic promotion, push for a European place.

There have also been enough games for you to think in your heart of hearts your team just might do something special this season. Your side may have been expected to finish mid-table, be having an unexpected run in the automatic promotions spots or in the European places and with almost half the season gone it’s more than just a freakishly good start. Optimism abounds.

Football, despite everything is a great sport. Christmas, despite its faults is a great time of year. Combine the two and it truly is the best time of year to be a football fan.