Our action news reporter from OTT has been out and about in Northern Ireland trying to get a flavour of Christmas from some of the local personalities. Our reporter’s first stop was Windsor Park where we interrupted the Linfield first team squad’s decoration of the Christmas tree with Jordan Stewart fighting off attempts at being put on top again.

Interviewer- “Well David Healy, is everyone looking forward to Father Christmas arriving at Windsor Park this year?”
DH- “Linfield as you know is a very open and inclusive club and if the Father is good enough he can play. We have players from both sides of the community here.”
Interviewer-“Do you think he would add to your team?”
DH- “He may need to lose a pound or two and we try and retain possession with the ball. He gives things away a bit too much.”
Interviewer – “It’s all very serious here David”
DH- “It’s an honour to manage this football club.”
Interviewer – “Happy Christmas David”
DH- “Teams always raise their game against Linfield.”

Interviewer- “Is that a Christmas smile there David?”

DH-“No, I want to be like Barry Gray”

Moving to North Belfast we look for some Christmas cheer at Solitude.
Interviewer- “Hello Barry, all looking shipshape for Christmas? Team look happy- are you doing any carol singing this Christmas?”
BG- “You media people – you have to keep it going. We’ve sorted that with Linfield. We don’t normally do that – why would we do Carroll singing this year eh?”
Interviewer- “Ok Barry, Happy Christmas. We have a shamrock on our OTT logo. Isn’t that good?”
BG – “No.”

Moving on to south Down we stop at Newry to meet the manager Darren Mullen.
Interviewer-“Are you looking forward to the Christmas programme Darren?”
DM – “I’m not Stephen McDonnell’s father.”
Interviewer- “Indeed. You must be pleased with the recent win at Coleraine.”
DM- “Why would you suggest such a thing?”
Interviewer- “Ok- well have a good Christmas then.”
DM – “Warrenpoint are just another team down the road.”
Interviewer- “Well you look like him.”

Taking the hint we stop and see if Stephen McDonnell is available to for some pre-Christmas chat only to be told he’s not allowed out until his homework is done.
Our interviewer apologised for not making an appointment with the club and would do so next time. We asked who we should speak to on that and were told to put all communication FAO of Mr D Mullen.

A better welcome we hoped would be in Ballymena.
Interviewer – “Hello David. Is Santa bringing a league title to the Showgrounds?”
DJ – “Goodness Gracious me! We are just enjoying December and he is welcome here as much as he is welcome anywhere else at this time of year or any other time of the year. He no doubt has requests for league titles from everyone else and we respect those requests. We are enjoying playing football in December. What is your full name?”
Interviewer- “Oscar Tom Thompson”

DJ- “Well Oscar Thomas Thompson, why would you talk about league titles when everybody knows nothing is given out in December?”
Interviewer- “Would you like to be Santa, David?”
DJ-“Supercalafragilisticexpealidocious! That indeed would be a PAR – TIC – ULAR dream of mine. Can I wear my new hat? I can tell you who bought it for me. I can give you their full names as well.  My son Gareth chose it – he was born on…..”
Interviewer. “Thank – you David – we are planning a ‘Christmas with David Jeffrey’ special for you.”
DJ-“Fandabbydocious Hieronymous Bosch! Plenty of braggadocio there – I…”
Interviewer-  “We are running out of film David”

Heading up the A26 we head down to Ballycastle Road –
Interviewer – “Rodney McAree – is it true you have the players singing
Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the New – Born King’ every training night in December?”
R McA – “Is Oran coming back for Christmas? I’m the manager here now. There’s still mail coming here addressed to the manager saying ‘Dear Oran’.  I mean that’s no preparation for preparing to play Ballymena. Partridge in a pear tree my foot – he went to St.Mirren. McAree is the manager’s name here. Rodney, not Joe.”
Interviewer. “Ok Joe….ah sorry, Rodney, Rodney. Honestly, that was a mistake.”

Our intrepid reporter heads west to Stroke City.
Interviewer “Paddy, your boys must be suffering from schizophrenia”
PMcL – “Whaddya mean – we play the ball on the deck”
Interviewer – Well you know, Derry/Londonderry, Institute/Derry City/ Dairy Board/ Dairy Box, Riverside/Brandywell….”
PMcL- “What are you on about? We‘re just trying to get three points from the next game.”
Interviewer – “Just trying to get an angle, Paddy. Or is it Patrick? McLaughlin with an L or with a G. See what I mean. Nothing is as it seems.”
PMcL- “You are what you seem – a bloody nightmare! Life was simpler in the Championship.”
Interviewer – “Happy Christmas Paddy. Or Happy Xmas/ Noel. Happy McCruddenmass, Paddy. How about that?”

In Dungannon, we meet new manager Kris Lindsay.
Interviewer- “Kris, has anybody said you look like Harry Palmer in those glasses?”
KL-“Aw’ right my saan, who’s this ‘Arry Palmer then?”
Interviewer – “You know, Michael Caine in the Ipcress File.”
KL -“Naa, Dungannon’s the fing now”
Interviewer- “Not many Cockneys in County Tyrone Kris”
KL -“Nuff said mi’te, nuff said.”

Since we are in mid-Ulster we pop into Mourneview.
Interviewer- “Hi Gary, I see you have got the beard a bit lighter for Christmas or have working conditions improved a bit in the club?”
GH- “Whaaat?”
Interviewer- “Well, you’ve been full hipster for a while or were you a member of the First Lurgan Vincent Magee Supporters’ Club? What’s the political climate like in the wings of Mourneview?
GH- “It’s just a beard”
Interviewer – “How long were you protesting about conditions? Did you wear Mr. Teer down? Is free association now allowed? Remember that iconic pose on the top of the wall. And the destruction of your cell throwing the chairs about. What about a beret? You know just like Che – the Lurgan Guevara”
GH – “Paul – finish this interview for me.”
PM- “What, again boss?”

Returning to Belfast we head to the East and meet Ronnie and Kieran Harding walking John McGuigan around the pitch to keep him calm. “Heel, John, Heel – stop straining”.
Interviewer – “Well Ronnie – you must feel like the Irish League guardians of the Christmas story.”
RMcF- Moustache bristling, face reddening – “Whaaat?”
Interviewer – Jocularity fading – “You know – wise men from the East and all that”
RMcF- “Smicker, Leeper, come here and listen to this nut. This is what awaits you. They don’t tell you about this nonsense awaiting you on your ‘A’ licence course.
Are you from Lisburn? Keith Kennedy send you?  Latvia even? I’m sure Riga and Lisburn are twinned.”

Crossing the Lagan we pop into a blustery Seaview – that being Stephen Baxter and not the weather.
Interviewer – “Stephen – all set for the big Boxing Day match at Solitude?”
SB -“Never mind that – our preparations are focused on getting Colin Coates ready for the man – dragging final against Eoin Bradley. We are waiting to see who will be dragged in the final. The John Sergeant trophy is there to be won. Dylan Davidson was one thing and Eoin did rightly too with Jim Ervin but this is the real McCoy. He has been practising on the Owens boys. Rumour has it DJ is to be dragged for the final.”
Interviewer – “David Jeffrey? The messiah of the Showgrounds?”
SB- “Yes, but the Messiah is on our side. I’m closer to the Messiah than him.  Do you know if the ref is from Latvia?”

The North Down coast awaits as we waltz down Clandeboye Road.
Interviewer – “Colin, you’ve had a tough first half of the season.”
CN- (looking beyond)
Interviewer – “Colin, Hi – I’m here in front of you.”
CN – “Have you got a forward? Subbuteo would do.”
Interviewer- “Do you want me to move Colin? We can move the camera if you like. Have you got a crick in your neck”
CN – “Have you ever played football?”
Interviewer- “Look me in the eye Colin. I’m here… right here. Do you coach the forwards Colin? You see the way you look to the sky during interviews? ……..Work with me here Colin”

OTT’s roving reporter is taking Christmas off. It’s been a stressful run-up.
Happy Christmas to all OTT readers.