Tuesday 15 October 2019

Looking forward after trying times

Derek Fox winning last year’s Aintree Grand National on One for Arthur
Derek Fox winning last year’s Aintree Grand National on One for Arthur

It's all over now, so time to put the feet up, sit back, breathe and...relax.

The lights on the Christmas tree have been extinguished for another year and the decorations hastily taken down, crammed into cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes and thrown into the darkest corner of the attic.

Unfortunately, the incriminating evidence of an overload of mince pies and chocolates still remains, with one look at the ever-expanding waistline a hopefully not too long-lasting testament to a few weeks of avarice and complete over-indulgence.

To make matters crystal clear, I'm definitely not some sort of Grinch-wannabe who detests the festive season and all the trimmings that it brings.

I'm actually quite partial to the ho-ho holidays - seeing the smiles on the children's faces on Christmas morning, being able to enjoy a cheeky tipple early in the afternoon without being thrown a myriad of peculiar looks, and finding a whole host of pristine underpants and sweet-smelling surprises waiting for me under the tree.

However, the week between ringing in the new year and packing the youngsters back to school can be as trying, tormenting and frustrating as sitting through a Fair City omnibus. Don't get me wrong, I love spending quality time with the little blighters, but as with everything there's a saturation point, and my tolerance quota was submerged in quicksand about two days into the new year.

Summer is an entirely different story because of the wonderful gift that is daylight, so you don't have to deal with the vampirical tendencies that rear their ugly head after dark. I'm not accusing my two of being little blood-sucking monsters, but when the mood takes them it wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration.

When the rain is good enough to stay away, July and August afternoons and evenings are spent kicking a ball, swinging a hurl or bouncing on a trampoline, whereas in the depths of winter there's only so many board games you can sit through before World War 3 breaks out and you give in to the lure of screen time, chiefly for an hour or two of peace and quiet.

Anyway, all's now good with the world again. They're back to the much-needed routine of school and daddy dearest can take back full ownership of his stuttering sanity.

Sadly, there's not much happening on the sporting front in January to immediately lift the spirits, although the year began with a bang when Rob Cross firmly put the retiring Phil Taylor in his place by stylishly winning the PDC World Championship final.

Although the BDO equilavent at the Lakeside will hold my interest, the fireworks will be slightly more washed out and muted compared to the Ally Pally shenanigans.

February always heralds the start of the sporting explosion as the Six Nations championship completely transforms our Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and with the Champions League knockout stages kicking off, it brightens our midweek evenings.

For those of us who like to watch something closer to home in the flesh, the SSE Airtricity League makes a welcome return after the winter break.

Those competitions will continue to entertain into March, but for me, and many others, the third month of the year is all about the highs and lows of the Cheltenham Festival.

In April we'll be treated to the World Snooker Championships, the Punchestown and Fairyhouse festival and the Aintree Grand National, while May will give us plenty of reasons to be glued to our television screens as numerous soccer trophies are won.

The G.A.A. championships will hold an even greater interest than usual this summer, given the tinkering with formats and the new August All-Ireland final dates.

The jury is certainly out on whether the changes will be good for the games on both a local and national level, but there's sure to be plenty to get us talking over the summer months.

There's also the small matter of a World Cup in Russia to look forward to, and hopefully the standard of football throughout the tournament will be high and the expected trouble away from the games will not materialise.

Of course our own domestic league and cup competitions will keep us going well into October, long after leagues all over Europe have begun the merry-go-round all over again.

You can throw in a bit of American football, Formula One, tennis, golf or whatever tickles your fancy and there will be plenty to keep you entertained until next Christmas.

Then it's back to the bloody board games again.

Wexford People