The Not So Secret Footballer: A Wombling Merry Christmas

Since the summer, AFC Wimbledon striker Jack Midson has been keeping us in the loop with life in the lower leagues of English football. Jack has now reached double figures in the league this season but things aren’t going so well for the team as a whole at the moment. In his latest column, Jack gives an insight into his first Christmas with the Dons and remains confident that things will improve soon.

The Christmas period is always a busy time for football. I trained on Christmas Day for the last two years while I was at Oxford and stayed in a hotel on Christmas night this year. People say that footballers don’t train that many hours and have a good life, but it works the other way a little bit at Christmas. I don’t deny that it’s a good life but days like Christmas Day, playing Boxing Day and playing on or around New Year’s Day isn’t great for family time.

All the same, football is a short career and I view it that there will be many years to spend with family when my football career has ended. Boxing Day had added spice for me this year as I was playing against my old club Oxford and there was the added bonus of the game being shown live on Sky Sports. It was a shame the result didn’t go our way. The only good thing about being in over Christmas was that we held a Secret Santa among the players and I got some good presents!

Some teams don’t train on Christmas Day. Each manager does things slightly differently. We were off on Christmas Eve and in a hotel on Christmas night but our opponents Oxford were in training both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’ve heard about a few older players who are nearing the end of their football careers who have never been in on Christmas Day so they have been pretty lucky! A lot of footballers with commitments attached to their family life see Christmas as a chore and an inconvenience, so they are obviously eager for a winter break to come into effect. I don’t see it that way – there will be many opportunities later in life to celebrate Christmas.

Unfortunately, results haven’t gone our way lately and we are going to have to stick together, work hard and get out of this rut. Although I’d like it to work out for every player in our squad, it doesn’t seem likely this will happen. The January transfer window has probably come at a good time and I’m sure there will be players going and some coming in to help strengthen the squad for the rest of the season. We are fortunate that we gained a lot of points early on in the season and we are still not too far from the play-offs. I believe we have the players and ability to go on another good run and get into the play-offs by the end of the season.

There is still a buzz around the club with Wimbledon being back in the Football League and the fans have been great, even during this bad period that we have been having recently. The history of Wimbledon goes way back before I was at the club but it is a privilege to be a part of their first season back in the Football League and I am going to make the most of it.

During the FA Cup this year we progressed from Round One after beating Scunthorpe in a replay. We then played Bradford away in Round Two but unfortunately lost up there. I was happy with my goal but it was a heartbreaking scoreline. It’s always disappointing to be knocked out of the FA Cup. That dream to get into Round Three comes around every season, to try to get drawn against one of the big Premier League teams. During a footballer’s short career there are not many chances to play at some of the best grounds in the country and the FA Cup is a way of achieving that. I will hope to make the most of the opportunity next year.

I have recently worked with Matt Bloomfield from Wycombe Wanderers and Aaron Downes from Chesterfield in a media capacity. They both seem to be sensible guys and are looking to their future careers after football. They are doing courses in journalism, media and broadcasting. These courses seem to be more and more popular with footballers rather than the more predictable coaching courses that others take. I think it’s something that I’d like to do too and will look into it further to see where the PFA can help me. The PFA encourage and assist footballers a lot with their careers after football which is a massive help.

Since I last wrote on these pages, Gary Speed tragically took his own life. His death came as a shock to everyone in the game, mainly because there were no visible signs of depression. It just makes you realise that life is too short and you have to make the most of every moment.

Read all the posts in the Not So Secret Footballer series.

The Seventy Two
The Seventy Two published an outstanding series of articles about the Football League between 2010-12 and was the brainchild of Leicester City fan, David Bevan. As well as collaborating with The Two Unfortunates on the Football League Blog Network and a mammoth 2011-12 season preview, the site featured a host of leading bloggers and David was rewarded with a nomination in the 2011 Football Supporters’ Federation awards. Latterly, he was joined as co-editor by Joe Harrison and TTU is happy to present this archive of the site’s output.

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