Merry Christmas troops. It’s a lot merrier for me than usual as the heroes at Peterhead and Montrose agreed to move the Boxing Day fixture to the 22nd so we could all spend time with our loved ones on Christmas Day.

I went full steam ahead with their advice and after my two sons finished unwrapping their apples and oranges I spent the full day with my two most precious loved ones – whisky and red wine.

I feel this is very much deserved after years of playing full-time football, where i had to watch everyone else get “mad with it” while i sat out the back door polishing the fake Puma Kings my mum had bought me for Christmas in preparation for the game the following day.

I know i sound like an a******e complaining about being paid to play football for a living on Boxing Day, but having to cheers at the dinner table with a bottle of Lucozade Sport is up there with Cliff Richard and Mrs Brown’s Boys for ruining your Christmas Day.

We had a manager (see if you can guess who) who hated the festive period. He hated it so much that he told us in his team talk an hour before the Boxing Day game that his daughter phoned him on Christmas Day to wish him a Merry Christmas and he told her f**k off as he was preparing for Torqwaaay the following day (that’s Torquay to you and me, but this guy had a funny way of pronouncing the opposition, with MK Dons sound liking a festive McDonalds range in ‘Macdons’ a personal favourite of mine).

We would train early Christmas morning so we could get home to see the families as they were waking up. As i said before, he wasn’t a massive fan of this particular day, rushing us to get changed and down to the training ground for him to address the group before we got down to tacitcs and someone getting roasted like a hot potato for being out of position during team shape.

Now i wasnt expecting an Andrea Botelli version of Silent Night, but what came out his mouth will live with me for the rest of my life. “F**K merry Christmas lads, today for the rest of the world it’s Christmas Day, for us it’s just Wednesday morning, We travel to Torqwaaay tomorrow to play a Champions League final.”

I don’t know if any of you have ever played at Torquay, but if they ever play a Champions League final there I’ll give Rudolph his big red nose I’ve been wearing for the last 32 years back and he can get on with leading Santa and the other reindeers.

We were then warned not to touch alcohol at all and try to have pasta for our dinner! Usually I would take this sort of advice from a manager the same way i take my Christmas dinner (with a pinch of salt) and have one glass of claret with my overcooked meal just to kid on to my family i was enjoying myself. However, he had a different hold on me and seeing as I wouldn’t put it past him to be standing on the team bus holding a breathalyser when we boarded the next day, I cracked open the four pack of Lucozades as I tucked into my Spaghetti Jonny Hayes.

Of course, I followed the pasta up with two plates of Christmas dinner and a slice of cheesecake and i went to bed with my stomach fuller than Santa’s sack. I then went to Torquay and played like i was towing his sleigh as we came in at half-time 1-0 down, with his team talk funnier than any joke i pulled out the crackers the previous day.

“I KNEW IT LADS, I KNEW YOUS WOULD HAVE YOUR SANTA HEADS ON TODAY!” He went mental explaining that this is why we are this level, because we eat too much turkey and are sleepy. He then told us when we get the ball just to kick it out of play as it’s safer there than at our feet, with Matt Ritchie told that if we produce a miracle and manage to get a corner just to tap it out for a goal kick.

We lost the game 2-0 and thought it was going to be a proper Boxing Day, with the gaffer punching someone about on our return to the dressing room. However, he was calm and told us to go and enjoy the rest of our day with our leftover pasta and tap water and we headed back to Swindon in a similar fashion to Santa after the nightshift... with nothing in the bag.