When I was a kid one of the highlights of Christmas was watching the BBC stars visit young people unlucky enough to be in hospital over the holiday season. The bigwigs of the Beeb with their usual impeccable judgement always picked celebrities who were noted for their rapport with the young. As well as the sainted Roy Castle, these kind hearted notables included the likes of Rolf Harris, Jimmy Saville and Stuart Hall, along with the Salvation Army band and God knows who, I shudder to think, dressed up as Santa Claus. By the way, did anybody else’s dad routinely refer to Santa Claus as “Old Raggy Tash”? I always wondered. Anyway, not knowing then what we all know now, I used to think these kids were dead lucky, and wished I was one of them, though only with something enough to keep me in hospital for a few days, tonsillitis or some such, nothing too serious or painful, just enough to ensure I got a present off Rolf or Jimmy, even if it did mean listening to the Sally Bash band or heaven forbid, Helen Shapiro, who I seem to remember was often up for this gig. I was a lovely child. Where are they now?
Anyway the reason I mention this is that this Christmas someone dear to me was unfortunate enough to find themselves taken into hospital on Christmas Eve and kept in through most of the festivities. She is fine now, thanks for asking, but it was no great fun. Eerily quiet would be the main thing, and a bit boring once you wake up a bit, as hopefully you do. Darkened wards, park where you like when you visit, skeleton staff, very, very good though they be, and fair enough, munching Roses at the desk, and a decent dinner, but not the same as being at home with family and friends roundabout. Be careful what you wish for is my warning to my selfish young self.
Anyway what about the football? Big, big game today, and the way I read it, could go either way. Both games between us so far this season have been close run affairs, and I don’t expect this to be any different. The most important thing for us will be to hope we can get as many of our first choice players on the pitch, something which has been hard to do this season, right from the start. No criticism of any of the lads who have come into the side this year, but the constant changes have made things difficult, it’s much better for anyone to come into a reasonably settled side, and play where you are used to. A number of lads this season have had to play out of position, even when they made their debut, not great. Nobody’s fault of course, but frustrating. So, well balanced I reckon, the lads will need all the help they can get from fans, and the prospect of another go at the last 16 is a big prize, for all of us. Best foot forward lads.