Christmas is now just four sleeps away, but anyone who says they’ve already finished their shopping is a liar.
After stocking up on socks over the weekend, your loved ones may think they are done, but having had longer than usual to think about these things due to the ongoing global situation, there can be no excuses come the big day. A golf towel with accompanying tees because they know you like sport is no longer good enough!
There are a plethora of fun football gifts for those looking to really make an effort, and not all of them will break the bank either.
Once upon a time, before video games and social media, a football fan’s best outlet for playing the beautiful game indoors was Subbuteo!
A sense of nostalgia has brought about a resurgence in playing numbers, with a whole new generation encountering the frustration that comes with burning the pitch in a bid to iron out any creases and losing your star striker underneath the sofa.
It’s believed that older players passed on their love for Subbuteo during the various lockdowns and there are a (number of other variations) for fans to feast upon.
Not forgetting the virtual reality world, (Fifa 22) is sure to be a hit with the youngsters at Christmas. Meanwhile, with the long winter nights still with us, the older boys – including this 31-year-old – may fancy a bit more sophistication by breaking their Football Manager fast.
While not every fan is wedded to their club enough to buy a replica shirt (or three) season on season, there is a big market for retro team shirts, or often something a bit different.
Be warned, these can get pricey, with the scarcity of classic second-hand kits meaning they are sometimes on sale for more than their contemporary counterparts.
One that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of a certain vintage, well, those around the 40 mark, at least, (is this) from Football Devotion.
A whole generation grew up idolising Serie A thanks to Channel 4’s Football Italia show. Few of those would turn their noses up at a t-shirt featuring the man himself, James Richardson, sporting a bit more hair than these days, in full flow as he prods at a copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport.
On a similar retro, yet reasonable theme, T-shirts 365 do a (lovely line of tops) featuring Paul McGrath striking a ball beside Republic of Ireland’s fixtures at Euro 88.
Thank You, My Beer
There are some lovely little stocking fillers if you are still looking to please your football fanatic relatives.
Those who play the game would probably appreciate anything that helps clean their boots, with the (Bootclaw) fast becoming a favourite across several sports.
Joke books, quizzes and football-related whoopee cushions to pop under Gran as she sits down after her turkey are also likely to be appreciated, but a trend that has taken off in recent years aimed at those of us old enough to drink has been beer mats.
These can be club, national team or event themed and with them usually made by indpendent suppliers, they feel that little bit more special.
Take Me to the Clouds Above…as We Go to Barcelona, or Madrid, or Munich
Finally, and the trip of a lifetime usually buys favour with your loved one and a weekend away, including a stadium tour, is unlikely to go amiss.
External issues over the last couple of years mean soccer tourists have found it tough to get to games, let alone wander the halls usually reserved for their heroes.
A stadium tour is usually a fantastic way of learning more about a club, whether it be your own or a European heavyweight.
While international travel is still very much uncertain, there will be those who aspire to see the biggest grounds across the world, sitting in the same changing rooms as their idols and being shown the same gift shops that…wait. Let’s be honest, the big names may not have visited the megastore, so you may be one up on them.
However, a top tip is to book online, with tickets often cheaper when buying over the internet. It is also worth checking government advice before placing your order, as it would be a huge shame to miss out due to travel restrictions.