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Steve Fletcher: Christmas is an exciting time for everyone at AFC Bournemouth

PUBLISHED: 17:04 13 December 2016

Steve Fletcher in action on the field back in 2009

Steve Fletcher in action on the field back in 2009

Archant

During the festive season there is always a busy run of fixtures for AFC Bournemouth, so as Christmas approaches it is an exciting time for everyone at the Vitality Stadium

Christmas isn’t really Christmas when you’re a professional footballer. With two, sometimes three, fixtures between December 25th and New Year’s Day, you certainly can’t indulge in too much food or drink. Inevitably you’re tucked up in bed while everyone else is out celebrating, and it’s common to train on Christmas Day or be travelling to away venues for the Boxing Day match.

These are all the small sacrifices you make as a player around the Christmas period in return for what is a fantastic career as a footballer. The fixtures come thick and fast in December and through into January, and personally, I love it!

One tradition I still got to enjoy when I was playing professionally for AFC Bournemouth was having a roast dinner on Christmas Day, just without the high calorie trimmings, dessert and drink. I’m sure many of our players will be tucking into a Christmas roast themselves this year and our manager will simply be saying to them ‘just be sensible’. Of course, he doesn’t really need to tell our lot that, as every player knows what they need to do with regards eating, especially now they are in the Premier League.

A lot of points can be won or lost over the festive period, so it is a hugely important time of year on the pitch. Just before Christmas, we face our local rivals Southampton at the Vitality Stadium (December 18), then we have two big away games at Chelsea and Swansea on Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve respectively.

These days we get a full house for every game, but when I was playing in the lower divisions, the festive fixtures - and especially the Boxing Day game – were ones that always had a bumper crowd. I really enjoyed those matches. The atmosphere was amazing, especially when we got a great result. That would always make my Christmas!

Looking back one of the fixtures around the festive period that really stands out from my playing days is when we beat Swansea City at home (January 2, 1995) during the so-called ‘Great Escape’ season of 1994-95. We were 10 points adrift at the bottom of the division at one stage, and I had played centre-half for a period during that campaign because of our injuries. I went back up front for that Swansea game and I scored twice - we won 3-2. We went to stay up, winning the last game of the season against Shrewsbury.

I am sure our players will now be looking to our matches with Southampton, Chelsea and Swansea to make some special festive memories of their own in their AFC Bournemouth shirt. 


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