Offside’s Christmas countdown: Santa in the stands

Santa in the stands. All images via welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com.

Paul Roberts - A Stoke fan dressed as Santa prior to kick off,
Paul Roberts – A Stoke fan dressed as Santa prior to kick off,

Hey kids! It’s Christmas. Santa’s coming, and he’s bringing friends.

Mark Leech - Burnley fans wearing Santa Claus hats.
Mark Leech – Burnley fans wearing Santa Claus hats.

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.

Simon Stacpoole - Everton manager Roberto Martinez shakes hands with a blue Santa.
Simon Stacpoole – Everton manager Roberto Martinez shakes hands with a blue Santa.

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 - Cardiff fans dressed as blue Santas make their way to the game.
Simon Stacpoole – Cardiff fans dressed as blue Santas make their way to the game.
Simon Stacpoole - Stewards search a group of men dressed as blue Santas before they enter the stadium.
Simon Stacpoole – Stewards search a group of men dressed as blue Santas before they enter the stadium.

Some arrive together by design. Others coalesce in the stands after finding a clutch of like-minded Christmas-themed punters amongst them.

Mark Leech - Newcastle fans dressed in black and white Santa Claus outfits arrive through the Selhurst Park turnstiles.
Mark Leech – Newcastle fans dressed in black and white Santa Claus outfits arrive through the Selhurst Park turnstiles.
Mark Leech - Newcastle fans arrive dressed in black and white Santa outfits.
Mark Leech – Newcastle fans arrive dressed in black and white Santa outfits.

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.

Matt Roberts - Father Christmas leaves the stands dejected after watching Middlesbrough lose 2-1 against West Ham.
Matt Roberts – Father Christmas leaves the stands dejected after watching Middlesbrough lose 2-1 against West Ham.

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.

John Hales - Munster fans with santa hats at Thomond Park for their team's Heineken Cup match with Perpignan.
John Hales – Munster fans with santa hats at Thomond Park for their team’s Heineken Cup match with Perpignan.

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, 1 of 4.
Simon Stacpoole – A Stoke fan dressed as Santa reacts to abuse from the away supporters, 1 of 4.

If you haven’t seen Santa offer out a set of rival fans, you haven’t experienced Christmas proper.

Simon Stacpoole - A fan dressed as Santa Claus catches the ball on the sideline.
Simon Stacpoole – A fan dressed as Santa Claus catches the ball on the sideline.

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.

Paul Roberts - Santa disappears into the tunnel at Cheltenham Town prior to kick off.
Paul Roberts – Santa disappears into the tunnel at Cheltenham Town prior to kick off.

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.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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