Port Vale: Players happy to miss out on festive spirit, says Pope
TOM Pope is ready to play Scrooge in a bid to fire Port Vale to promotion.
The 21-goal striker insists he'll steer clear of the party spirit to concentrate instead on what is sure to be a crucial part of the campaign.
Pope says Christmas is never a time for celebration where footballers are concerned.
"We never have time to enjoy ourselves," he said, "but we're not complaining about it.
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"I remember last Christmas Day, we were in a hotel in Hereford, and it was the worst hotel I've ever seen.
"But that's football. It's part and parcel of what you do when you're a player.
"You have to give up Christmas and New Year to focus on your job.
"If we do get promotion, then we can all say it was worth staying in to make sure the club got where it wanted to be."
Team-mate Liam Chilvers said he too has got used to missing out on the festivities.
"It's an important and busy time for footballers," he said, "and you get used to it the longer you are in the game.
"I've been avoiding the party spirit for 13 or 14 years now.
"It's not ideal because you'd rather be with your family, but you make what you can of it.
"You're paid to play football and there's always a game on Boxing Day.
"Everybody else is enjoying themselves, but your family know what you have to do and they understand the pressures."
On-loan Chilvers also acknowledges how important the Christmas and New Year period can be to clubs.
"It's a crucial part of the season, particularly for those chasing promotion, and we need to be picking up points," he said.
"It can give you a bit of a buffer on other teams and lift you away from them.
"It won't be the deciding factor of the season, but it can definitely help towards a promotion push."
The players had their own Christmas night out together last week and boss Micky Adams is relaxed about such celebrations, as long as they are kept within reason.
"As long as everybody behaves themselves, then I've no issue with it," he said.
"It's a long season, and the boys will get together from time to time.
"It's not an eating and drinking competition for us as a group. It's party time, but not for footballers.
"I've got a history for giving players a bit too much rope, but I try to treat people as individuals.
"But one thing I suggest to my players is if you're in the team, and the team is going great, the one thing you don't need to do is go stupid at a Christmas party."