Hey kids! It’s Christmas. Santa’s coming, and he’s bringing friends.
But don’t worry about easy access chimneys and keeping a clean flue for the big man to shimmy down. In the world of football at least, Santa Claus is coming to town via the turnstiles.
Every year, stands and terraces are filled with fans sporting Santa hats, false beards, suitably coloured costumes mimicking jolly Saint Nick in their team’s own colours and even a bit of festive club merchandise to complete the look.
Simon Stacpoole – A young fan looks admiringly towards a blue Santa Claus.
Simon Stacpoole – A man dressed as Santa poses with a young girl outside Turf Moor.
Marc Atkins – A Tottenham fan wearing a Santa hat makes his way to White Hart Lane.
Mark Leech – A West Ham fan in a Santa hat.
Some arrive together by design. Others coalesce in the stands after finding a clutch of like-minded Christmas-themed punters amongst them.
Teams who naturally fit into the red colour scheme dictated down by Coca Cola’s marketing campaigns obviously hold a slight advantage over their more alternatively-shaded rivals.
Simon Stacpoole – Liverpool fans with Santa Claus beards.
Mark Leech – A United fan in a red pullover and Santa Hat.
Marc Atkins – A Stoke fan, wearing a santa hat tucks into a bag of chips.
Simon Stacpoole – A Stoke fan wears a beard and hat proclaiming ‘Santa Is A Stokie’.
Paul Roberts – A father and son dressed as Santa and an Elf take their seats at The Liberty Stadium prior to kick off.
Simon Stacpoole – Stoke fans in festive mood in their Christmas outfits.
Roy Beardsworth – Young mascots enter Fratton Park with Santa hats on their heads.
Matt Roberts – Sunderland fans dressed in Christmas outfits celebrate their 4-1 victory against Hull..
Witters – Munich fans wearing Christmas hats watch the action.
Paul Roberts – A man with his children wearing a knitted Father Christmas hat on Boxing Day.
It’s not just football where Santa pops up either however. Rugby in particular enjoys a strong tradition of welcoming Father Christmas in through the ticket barrier at Christmas time.
David Wilkinson – A streaker wears two Santa hats during England vs New Zealand Barbarians.
L’Equipe – A rugby spectator dressed as Santa Claus holds up a banner at Toulon vs Exeter Chiefs.
David Wilkinson – The Rosslyn Park substitutes are in the festive spirit wearing Santa hats before facing Westcombe Park.
Yet occasionally the jolly mask (or should that be beard?) that supporters don to get into the spirit of things can slip, revealing the sometimes raucous fan beneath.
Simon Stacpoole – A Stoke fan dressed as Santa reacts to abuse from the away supporters, 2 of 4.
Simon Stacpoole – A Stoke fan dressed as Santa reacts to abuse from the away supporters, 3 of 4.
Simon Stacpoole – A Stoke fan dressed as Santa reacts to abuse from the away supporters, 4 of 4.
If you haven’t seen Santa offer out a set of rival fans, you haven’t experienced Christmas proper.
Steve Bardens – Wigan fans dressed as Santa.
Glyn Thomas – A Villa fan, with a passing resemblence to Rafael Benitez, gets into the festive spirit.
Roy Beardsworth – A Sky cameraman dons a Santa hat.
Marc Atkins – A Tottenham fan wearing a Santa hat looks on nervously.
Mark Leech – A West Ham fan in a Santa hat drinks a pint of Guinness.
Mark Leech – A West Ham fan in a Santa hat holds her camera, waiting for the teams to emerge from the tunnel.
So you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town, and he might be part of a firm.