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Rovers at Christmas: A time of sacrifice for Ewood stalwart
DON’T go overboard on the turkey. Don’t be tempted to tuck into the chocolates. And certainly don’t get anywhere near the mulled wine.
While Christmas is a time to eat, drink and be merry for most of the nation, for our footballers it is a time of sacrifice.
And it is a sacrifice Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Dunn knows only too well.
After 17 years as a professional Dunn has not been able to experience a ‘proper’ Christmas since he was a kid.
But given the amount of games he has to prepare for and play over the festive period it is something he has grown to accept.
“To be honest Christmas is just the usual kind of thing for footballers, it’s normal to us,” said Rovers legend Dunn, who earlier this month made his 350th appearance for the club.
“You are always busy, whether it be training or playing matches.
“So you can’t do the same stuff that your friends and family are doing.”
Dunn is out of the house a lot over the festive period.
This year has been kind to him and his team-mates as Rovers have been handed home games against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day and Birmingham City on Sunday.
But in previous years the fixture computer has not always been as charitable with last season’s Christmas clashes comprising trips to Middlesbrough and Barnsley.
Any time Dunn does have to spend at home with his family is precious.
“Don’t get me wrong you can still enjoy Christmas and I love spending time with my children,” said the former England international, who produced an excellent performance in the 1-0 win at Yeovil Town on Saturday afternoon.
“Once you are home you’re back into whatever anyone else does at Christmas – except for the eating and drinking as much as you like bit!”
Dunn has had to train on Christmas Day in the past.
“I’ve had managers that do that but lately, in the last couple of years, we’ve not been asked to do that,” he said.
“At this stage of the season when the games are coming thick and fast, if you look after yourself it shouldn’t really matter.”
One way British footballers would get to experience Christmas is if the authorities followed in the footsteps of the vast majority of leagues in Europe and introduced a winter break.
But Dunn is not entirely sold on the idea.
“I suppose the idea of a winter break is to give you the chance to wind down,” said the 33-year-old.
“But if you had one you’d only have to get yourself back in shape after it’s over.
“So it’s not something I’ve really thought about it too much.
“Playing the amount of games we do has just become normal now.”
Christmas is a time of double celebration for Dunn.
As on December 27 it is his birthday.
He joked: “I’m 34 next – but I’m still hanging in there!”
Rovers complete their festive programme with a trip to Leeds United on New Year’s Day for a big War of the Roses encounter.
They then welcome Manchester City to Ewood Park on Saturday, January 4 for a mouth-watering FA Cup third round clash that will be televised live on BT Sport at 12.45pm.
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