Ho, ho, fakin’ ho – glad tidings, season’s greetings and whatever else you might want off us this Christmas. As long as it’s under a fiver, mind. Now we’ve hit upon the right festive note to begin, let’s do just that. Begin. And we start with the news that it’s the first Christmas for 12 months! That means lashings of festive fizz, brussels sprouts and a sobering thought that the Mrs Brown’s Boys special is the best this generation of TV schedulers have to offer. It used to be Morecambe and Wise, Porridge, Father Ted and other specials. It used to be good.
Of course, another Yuletide feature is the traditional festive football programme. Much like Christmas in general, there’s a sense you’re obliged to spend time with certain people you try to avoid the rest of the year. And we think that’s why they keep local derbies in reserve for this time of year. Cambridge United, for what will be the third time in our mutual and loving co-existence, are Boxing Day’s opponents. For the first time in that three, however, it’ll be us doing the hosting – and won’t it be nice for our guests to come bearing gifts?
It’d be rude not to.
Stevenage v Cambridge United: Hark Now Hear…
The background to this particular fixture intrigues us. Three things are going on – and the first is pretty obvious as it’s our, hmm, let’s say “trouble” winning at the Lamex. The second? Well, it’s our relative standings in the League Two table. It’s the third game on the spin that we’ve taken on a team who are in and around our good selves – us ninth, the U’s seventh. Finally, thing number three and it’s the most troubling. For as poor as our recent home form has been, it’s been quite the reverse for our guests: 12 points out of 12 in recent times.
Both us, Cambridge United and David Brent seem to favour life on the road this term. All the stats suggest that we’d be better off doing this at their gaff. And, as the boss says, “local derbies have always got that little bit of an edge“. We couldn’t be arsed to put the research into this now-sweeping statement, but the form book often takes time off for a derby. Sure, it could go to type and we’ll be left sitting on our joint third worst winless run at home of all time. We could blow that out of the water too – and, with it, the U’s good fortune on the road.
If history teaches us anything, it’s that you should always have spare batteries to hand on Christmas Day for the kids’ toys. It also teaches us that this one could go both ways. Our first Boxing Day ding dong was a mediocre one-goal defeat in 2005. Meanwhile, the second saw Scott Laird kick the crikey out of some snow in a 3-1 win during our Blue Square Premier-winning season. We’ve also taken on Cambridge United twice on 28 December over the years; the most recent being the 3-2 League Two home win back in 2014.
Yet, history isn’t going to hand us three points on Boxing Day. No, we rather hope the U’s will be doing that instead. We sit in an encouraging position heading into 2017 – but this home hoodoo is undoing our good work on the road. It can’t last. It won’t last. With two games indoors this festive period, a haul of four-to-six points could be huge. A big fat lonely zero, however, could be less so. So then Santa, please can we have – at this time of miracle, wonder and joy – three home points for Christmas. We have been really good this year. We promise.
Stevenage v Cambridge United: FIFA 17 Verdict
EA Sports *really* don’t want you to feel at ease with where you think the line between reality and, er, virtual reality is. FIFA 17’s latest nod to real life seems to be this home hoodoo we got goin’ on. After handing the Us a good going over in the first half, it all got a bit floppy in the second. And with it, we started to feel a little less certain about it all. With good reason, as it goes. Luke Berry popped up in the 89th minute to take advantage of defending that’d make you weep. It’s why we’d never let you watch us do this every week.
BoroGuide’s Cambridge United club profile – it won’t want no figgy pudding…