Festive Football: I have never had players in training Christmas Day – Taylor

Christmas is not all turkey and mince pies when it comes to football. In their own words, those involved with the game tell the Yorkshire Post's Richard Sutcliffe and Ian Appleyard how they will spend their festive break and the sacrifices they make.

Peter Taylor, Bradford City manager

CHRISTMAS is the one time of the year when footballers are busy while the rest of the country enjoys a well-earned holiday.

It is also a time for families and that is why in all my years as a manager I have never had my players in training on Christmas Day.

At my various clubs, we may have had to travel to an away game and spend Christmas night in a hotel – that is inevitable.

But I have always been a firm believer in allowing the players as much time as possible at home on the actual day itself.

For those players with young children, I know they particularly appreciate this as it can be very hard to tell a youngster that Dad has to go to work for a few hours when everyone else's Dad is at home playing with their kids.

At Bradford, this year we are lucky in that we are at home on the Boxing Day to Chesterfield so the players can spend all of Christmas Day with their families.

Footballers know they are in a privileged position but that does not mean spending time away from the family is not difficult. That is why I know the players are looking forward to Christmas Day a lot.

They will be worked hard in training on Christmas Eve and then we will get together ahead of the game, hopefully with everyone feeling refreshed and raring to go.

It has certainly been my experience that players look forward to games at this time of year more than any other. I know I always did during my career.

The crowds are always above average, which means the atmosphere is that little bit more lively and I don't know any player who doesn't enjoy that.

When I was a player, Boxing Day was usually when you played your local rivals. Those were always very special and, for many fans, the highlight of the year.

That doesn't happen any more and instead you can be sent anywhere in the country, which I feel is a shame as beating your local rivals could make Christmas for players and supporters.

I am not sure why they don't schedule the big derby games for Boxing Day any more. I would like to see it changed back.

Having said that, though, games at Christmas still attract big crowds as whole families, many of whom might live away, come along together.

Attending a game on Boxing Day is a tradition everyone enjoys, though for some I appreciate it is also a chance to get out of the house after eating and drinking too much the previous day.

The bigger crowds make Christmas a very important time for the club. Extra money earned through the turnstiles can make a huge difference to the club's bank account.

That is why I really hope the weather improves in the next few days.

At this time of year, the games always come thick and fast – which means a lot of time spent away from the family, especially if the weather is not the best and we have to set off earlier to allow more time to get there. That is another reason why I like to give the players Christmas Day off.

I have had some long journeys at this time of year down the years.

The worst was probably when I was manager of Crystal Palace a few years ago and we played Cardiff City on Boxing Day.

Because we wanted the players to be able to relax and be refreshed for the following day, we set off quite early in the afternoon from London – after having allowed them to spend the morning at home.

The journey itself was fine as there was hardly anyone on the roads. But, as anyone who has done it will tell you, staying in a hotel on Christmas night can be quite an eerie experience.

There is only ever a skeleton staff working and not many people around.

So even though the hotel can be perfectly nice, there is just something that doesn't feel right about being there on Christmas night.

That is why I was delighted this season to see we would be playing at home on Boxing Day when the fixtures came out last summer.