Christmas Day with the mother-in-law and thinking of the Bolton Wanderers match ... The Paul Warne Column

WE'VE got my mother-in-law up for Christmas this year. I know what you're probably thinking but, honestly, it's okay. I'm looking forward to it.

This column first appeared in last Friday's Advertiser

My mother-in-law is called Julie and she is a lovely lady. It's nice for the kids to have their grandparent up.

My son, Mack, is 15 and my daughter, Riley, is 12 so they're past that age of Father Christmas joy. They'll have someone else to play Yatzy with on Christmas Day. It will be good.

I'll go for a run and get out of the house for an hour, which is my joy!

The players won't be in for training on Christmas Day but they'll all have to go for a run and send in video proof.

Normally, I go out on Christmas Day, round to friends in the village for a quiz night and that. But I can't really leave my mother-in-law in the house. I can't take her. She wouldn't want to go. But she's brilliant at quizzes.

All she does when she's at our house, literally from 3pm to 6pm, is go from Channel Four to Five to Two to Three and back to Five looking for quiz shows.

I like a quiz as much as anybody, but not three solid hours of them. I like a jovial quiz. She'd get on well with our left-back, Joe Mattock, who will never, ever make my quiz team. She'd absolutely destroy him.

Mrs Warne isn't really getting treated this year. Not so far anyway.

There is a sick part of me that really enjoys Christmas Eve shopping because I just think, and I hope this doesn't sound sexist, there are a lot of men with a lot of fear in their eyes on December 24.

“Have you got this in a ten?” “I've got it in a 16.” “I'll take it. Give me a gift receipt.”

There's a lot of entertainment in that so I don't mind leaving my shopping right until the last minute.

I also have a good frugality from my mum's side of the family so I like the fact there might be a chance to pick up a late bargain.

Christmas isn’t about me and my wife, though, is it? It’s about the kids. They’re always sorted for Christmas.

To be fair, my son has asked for nowt this year. He doesn’t need anything. He’s got better trainers than me and he’s at the age where he wants clothes. He wants a The North Face coat like mine; not my matchday one but like a Thermoball one or whatever they’re called. He’s pretty relaxed. He’s a good kid.

My daughter, she wants an iPhone which I’ve got her on an upgrade so it hasn’t really cost me anything. Genius!

She also asked for a loft conversion so she can have her bedroom up there and a new bed.

She used to give it the old: ‘Well, it’s not from you, is it? It’s from Santa so I can ask for what I want.’

Now she’s gone through that wall of illusion, I’m saying to her: ‘It’s not so funny now, is it? It’s down to your dad now and that is a straight ‘no’!’

I love Christmas but I don’t enjoy opening presents. I feel a real pressure that I’ll have to like them.

Ask my missus... I’m like ‘Bah humbug’ on Christmas Day. I open my stuff last when no-one is looking at me.

On Christmas Day I’ll be thinking about the Bolton Wanderers game on Boxing Day so I’ll leave some of my presents until after that because then it feels Christmas is elongated a bit.

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THE players went to Dublin earlier this month for their Christmas do and things like that are brilliant for team bonding.

It's all about making memories; making friendships that will last forever.

Football games come and go. In ten years' time, I very much doubt that the lads will text each other and say: 'What about the Reading game? What a classic.' But they will text each other and stay in touch because of what they do and experience together over the course of a season.

Socialising together is essential. All the stuff they do away from the football club is essential, even if it's just going for a coffee for three hours and sitting there talking rubbish.

I would much rather they did that than be a group of players broken into cliques doing different things.

They come together off the pitch and that's part of the reason why they're so together on it.

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OBVIOUSLY I was hoping for three points last week when we played Reading, as they're below us in the table, but I was happy to take one after we played so poorly in the first half.

Joe Mattock is usually good for one goal a season and will have enjoyed his 90th-minute equaliser.

I put Jamie Proctor on in attack for the second half with Michael Smith.

Jamie was running 90 yards at the end of the game to get in a tackle on the edge of the box.

Even if I have two big lads up front, they still have a supreme work ethic.

A few of our players looked dead on their feet at the final whistle, as did some of Reading's. It was end to end.

In fairness to their goalkeeper, he did allow us to breathe by taking his time on stuff!

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THE lads visited Rotherham Hospice last week.

On the way there, they stopped and bought chocolate and biscuits with their own money to give to staff. People don't see that. I have got an amazing group.

It will be difficult for me in January if I have a couple who knock on my door and say: Look, Gaffer. I think it's time I went and played football somewhere else.'

I would understand that but I don't want to lose anyone. They're like my kids.

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