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Football Some Premier League and Football League Players in for training

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Whilst most of us are unwrapping presents and thinking about Christmas turkey and mince pies spare a thought for those unfortunate football players who have to forego such pleasures.

Reading are one of the sides for whom Christmas day is another training day. Boss Brian McDermott insisting that it is part of the job. It might also have something to do with the fact that his side at bottom of the table at Christmas - normally a sure pointer to relegation.

Lower down the Football league it's a very mixed picture. Take Hartlepool United sitting rooted to the foot of the NPower League 1 table.

First-team coach John Hughes has said he will consider training on Christmas Day for the benefit of the Boxing Day trip to Carlisle United.

Hartlepool, who take on Portsmouth this weekend, remain 13 points from safety and are desperate for a good result over the festive period.

"It's a family time but we have a job to do," Hughes told BBC Look North.

"We get six to eight weeks off in the summer, so if it means coming in on Christmas Day that's what we'll do."

Not every club has taken the decision to train on Christmas day though. At Wolves for example manager Stale Solbakken has decided to bring his squad in early on the 26th – just hours before the Peterborough game – to run through preparations instead of them training on the big day.

Gillingham players have voted amongst themselves to have Christmas Day off.
The Gills face a hectic schedule over the festive season, playing five League 2 matches over a 15 day period, starting at York on Saturday.
But manager Martin Allen allowed the players to have one day to themselves.
Allen said: “I asked the players a couple of weeks ago what they would like to do over Christmas and they had a vote that they would like to have Christmas Day off.
“We had a chat between the staff about it. It was a dilemma that we faced, ‘what do we do on Christmas Day?’

Guy Whittingham allowed his players Christmas Day with their families.

Portsmouth's caretaker boss has decided it makes no sense to get the squad in for a training session the day before the League One showdown against Crawley Town with so many players living outside of the area.

So instead, he will make sure all of the preparation is done by the end of today – as long as the club’s training ground is fit.

Whittingham explained: ‘The players will do their work on Christmas Eve.

‘I’ve been involved at clubs in the past where sometimes you train on Christmas Day and sometimes you don’t.

‘A lot depends on the manager’s view, the personnel at the club and where they live. I’ve experienced both.

But whilst the situation varies about training on Christmas Day at one time there was virtually a full league programme!

But, you have to go back to Christmas Day was in 1957 for the last time the majority of League clubs played matches . That day, 38 league matches were played. After that the number of matches played declined dramatically largely due to a lack of public transport and the wish of fans to stay at home on Christmas Day.

By 1959 just two League matches were played on December 25th - Blackburn 1 Blackpool 0 in Division 1 and Coventry 5 Wrexham 3 in Division 3. The next - and last - match played on Christmas Day took place at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, on December 25th 1965. The home side defeated Blackburn Rovers 4-2 in a First Division match in front of 20,851 spectators.

So,on that evidence today's players actually have it easy even if they do have to spend an hour or so training in the morning.

Have a great Christmas day.



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