Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime - Part 8

With only a few days until the Christmas festivities begin, we embark on a battle of the greats. From the pitch of the Britannia stadium, to the beautifully polished floor at Strictly Come Dancing with our very own Abbey Clancy in the Grand Final tonight. Good luck Abbey! Last weekend was the final of X-Factor crowning the amazing Sam Bailey as the winner. I love that during her live interview, the first thing she was looking forward to was seeing Leicester play in their Capital One cup game- brilliant! Television is really building us up for the conclusion of 2013.

I wish I had a crystal ball, as I would hope that today we are celebrating a win and progression to the Capital One Cup quarterfinals next year, after the mid-week meeting of Stoke and Manchester United. Let’s hope it will be Stoke’s golden ticket to Wembley for final. So let’s hope it will be 3 points today before Stoke’s players embark on a hectic Christmas fixtures list.

Pass the gravy………

At the very moment the majority of people will be nursing an overfull tummy from the usual Christmas indulgence of delicious food and treats on Christmas day, the players are likely to be tucked away into their hotel rooms on mandatory rest for their Boxing meet against Newcastle. That being said, a turkey Christmas dinner is generally on the approved diet list so it makes for a nice meal for the players and family, although I imagine they have to watch the sausages and other less healthy items and instead substitute with plenty of brussel sprouts-yum!

This can be a particularly tough time of year for the families of footballer’s, especially those with young children who still bask in the delight of Santa and all things festive. Stoke’s previous fixtures at this time of year have been very favourable, so we can’t really complain too much. It is one of the sacrifices that most professional athletes have to make, as training doesn’t cease for any holidays. The same can be said for anyone involved with horses. They will need tending to in the same way they do on the other 364 days of the year-with no exceptions! I do enjoy being on the yard Christmas morning as it always has a magical feel about it, where normal routine jobs seem somewhat more enjoyable!

Time to celebrate……..

Normally the constraints of the fixtures list extinguish any hope of a social life for both the players and partners during the season. This is the ‘norm’, however, I can celebrate the fact that I have a few very exciting events in the social calendar this month. Olympia International Horse Show in London is one of the diary highlights of the year. I have been going to this show since I was 11 so it is very special to me and as it’s always a week before Christmas it really gets me into the festive spirit. London always looks so beautiful decked out in the finest lights and window front décor on all the lovely shops! On Tuesday evening, I got to indulge in the sight and sound of the Grand Prix Freestyle-the ‘Dancing Horses’ along with the Shetland Grand National along with other brilliant displays of horsemanship whilst enjoy the superb hospitality. Although I will be in a glamorous frock paired with lovely but probably desperately uncomfortable shoes for the evening, I’d much prefer to be in the saddle competing there. It is a childhood dream of my to ride a Freestyle at Olympia- watch this space! The shopping is pretty amazing there too. Shhhhh don’t tell Asmir……… he gets nervous when I start mentioning shopping!

This weekend I will be enjoying the delights of Calvin Harris and Tiesto in Manchester with good friends. I am determined to convert Asmir to a dance music fan-so far I have had some success, but he leaves the raving to me. That will be followed by a lovely Sunday stroll around Manchester’s Christmas market. It really will feel like Christmas then that I may just have to sample the mulled wine.

Asmir and I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Stoke City supporters a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you all at the Everton game on New Year’s Day. I can imagine that some will be nursing some very sore heads from the excess of the evening before, but there’s nothing like a good game of football to alleviate that over-indulgence.

Nicolle x