December is a busy time in the world of sport.
As work schedules take a break to allow the public to indulge in the festivities, the world of sport kicks itself up a gear to take advantage of the glut of punters suddenly available to their turnstiles and gates.
Christmas is a time for people to come together, and what better way can there be than coalescing amongst friends and strangers in the stands at a football match?
As we’ll cover in later countdown blogs, the festive period holds a special place in the heart of football in the UK and beyond, for reasons of tradition, family and more.
Yet the extra games that tend to fill the stockings of the mind and free time in modern times makes for an intense and bumper collection of games that can make or break a title bid.
The cold conditions, occasionally icy pitches and frosty, blue skies can make for dramatic spectacles and skin-shivering scenes as teams pack in two or sometimes even three games a week as month of December comes to a glorious close.
December can also be the month in which the hearts and minds of non-league and Sunday league players at tested the most. A kick about can become an endurance against the cold; a match a distraction from the opportunity of filling a plate or a pint glass in the pub to get into the seasonal spirit.
In so many ways it is the month for football in England, if not the UK. August and September may be the starting points of the season, with May being the time winners are made and trophies issued.
But beyond the logic, glory and official significance of these book-ends, there is so much about the nation’s passion for football that is encapsulated in the month of December that it’s hard not to think of it as the time in which the soul of the game naturally resides.
Stay tuned for more blogs from Offside counting down the days until Christmas, and be sure to visit welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com for more information and access to our picture archives.