Everton FanZoner Warren Doyle looks ahead to a busy festive schedule in the Toffees' bid for Europe, and praises the club's work at Christmas.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Ah yes, that smell in the air is the smell of joy and festivity as you look forward to another year eating, drinking and regretting what you did at the office Christmas party. That's right, you're the one who drank rather a bit too much and said something silly which means you are dreading that first day back to work come January...
Never mind eh, at least you can turn to your football club and indulge yourself in the Yuletide football fixture spectacle, which is exactly what Evertonians will be doing. Managers and players, including our own, will no doubt be highlighting how important it is to pick up points during this busy period. Everton will indeed be looking for maximum points from their Christmas home games against Sunderland on Boxing Day and Southampton on the December 29.
We all know, in fact, just how vital it is to pick up points at this half-way stage in the campaign. With the hustle and bustle of the Premier League it is sometimes easy for clubs to lose perspective of what really is important. Christmas, it has been said, is a time for reflection, and as a club, Everton have made me feel a really proud supporter in recent weeks. Off the field, Everton have been a credit to its supporters and the community.
I should point out at this stage before I go on to explain, that clubs up and down the country also do a huge amount of off-field projects to support their local communities. In a time where footballers get criticized for some of their antics off the pitch, it never gets brought to our attention as much about the fantastic work they do, which 99% of them get involved with. For instance, Liverpool, like Everton, recently visited local children's hospital Alder Hey. The team was on hand to give out gifts and offer their best wishes to young patients. One photo in particular featured Luis Suarez with a patient who was a staunch Evertonian. It summed up for me that rivalry aside, a little bit of goodwill and perspective goes a long way.
Everton themselves have been heavily involved lately with the Christmas spirit - one look at the "Bring me Sunshine" video sums up the feel-good factor at the club. It's the off-field work which is the most pleasing however. The club is currently running it's 'Blue Crimbo' week. This consists of a blue themed street party with an Everton personality in attendance. The first party this week, recognised mother and son Tracey Holland & Andrew Cowley who had saved the life of an elderly lady prior to the Merseyside Derby. Blues legend Duncan Ferguson was the special guest and praised the pair for their actions. In another street party, defender Sylvain Distin surprised 13-year-old Elliot Hayes who had recently recovered from brain surgery. 'Blue Crimbo' will deliver more parties throughout the week.
Other kind acts include the aforementioned visit by players and staff to children at Alder Hey hospital. Spanish duo Joel Robles and on-loan Gerard Deulofeu attended a carol service supporting St. Luke's church, the church attached to Goodison Park. Scottish international Steven Naismith continues his own tradition this year of sponsoring Christmas dinner for those in the Whitechapel Centre in Liverpool - a homeless charity based in Merseyside - the second year in succession he has done so.
Players have also been in the local press this week visiting local schools and supporting local children's charities. Finally and probably most poignant, at the final home game of the year against Southampton, Everton plan to pay tribute to those fans who lost their lives in 2013.
We crave winning, we want success and we hope we build on a superb first half of the season of course, but the pride I feel for the community work my club has put in during the month of December is simply brilliant and credit goes to Everton Football Club. I just felt I had to bring to the attention the wonderful work that my club is doing at this time of year. It highlights how important our national game is and how much our local teams mean to us.
The phrase 'People's Club' is certainly apt and the community of Evertonians both local, national and international are very proud of you.
Merry Christmas Evertonians, and a happy 2014!
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.