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Footballers singing festive songs: the Knowledge Christmas special

“I see Chris Kamara has released a Christmas album, which led me to wonder if any football teams have ever released a Christmas record?” asks David Wesley. “QPR released this oddity but as a lip-sync it wouldn’t have been released.”

Unbelievable though it may seem Geoff readers, Kamara has indeed released an album of festive songs but, much like his pitchside reporting for Soccer Saturday, his overexcitement has affected his performance in the charts. By releasing Here’s To Christmas in November it would appear that he has peaked too soon – at No 8 in the album charts last month – and has slipped down the top 100 to No 64 at the time of publication. Kamara’s velvet singing voice is worlds away from the yelping character we see trying to make sense of football matches every weekend and when he was given the opportunity to warble into a microphone in a more tuneful manner he could not pass it up.

“Well, I’ve always liked a bit of singing,” Kamara told the Express and Star. “So to sing with a 22-piece big band and a conductor, it blows your mind away. It’s all your Christmases coming into one. It’s like a dream. Even if people don’t like my singing, they can listen to the music. It’s incredible.” It’s certainly incredible he was given this opportunity.

In answer to David’s question then, we haven’t found an official Christmas record by a football team, but there are plenty of unofficial festive ditties that have been released by clubs down the years for us to get our teeth into. Do you want to see Neil Lennon conducting a choir singing We Three Kings? Here’s Celtic’s Christmas offering this year then.

Lovely, yes? And here’s Petr Cech drumming his way through a collection of seasonal ditties at Arsenal back in 2015. Much like the QOR effort above, Everton did their best to bring their fans a little cheer back in 2013 with some lip-syncing.

Perhaps the most festive football team in Europe is Union Berlin, now of the Bundesliga. The right-on Berliners host an annual Christmas carols singalong in their stadium in which players and up to 30,000 of their fans can wave candles around sing Christmas songs on the pitch until they are full up on seasonal cheer.

Not so tuneful is Aleksandar Kolarov reciting the words to Jingle Bells from a clipboard as though Manchester City were holding him against his will in 2012. It proved so popular that fans demanded he spread more Christmas cheer the following year.

And yes, yes, we know this isn’t a footballer singing a Christmas song, but fitting 119 footballers’ names into the tune of Do They Know It’s Christmas is still some feat.

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After seeing Old Trafford’s finest looking especially tired and emotional after their party, I wondered what misdemeanours players have got up to at Christmas parties,” asked Alex Perkins in 2008.

Before we summon the ghosts of Christmas parties past, let’s start with something nice and innocent: a food fight. Never mind Pizzagate: in the 1960s the Spurs players showed that – yes, folks – you don’t have to dislike someone to toss oven-prepared savoury snacks in the direction of their noggin. “Bill [Nicholson, the Tottenham manager] had sent our trainer Cecil Poynton over to haul us out of the pub,” remembered Jimmy Greaves of his first Spurs Christmas do, possibly to a background of laughter from Ian St John. “I can still remember him coming in now only to be greeted by a cloud of nuts, fag boxes and sausages on sticks, forcing him to retreat, hands on head, back into the road. It launched a food free-for-all. The youth team players, desperate to stay on good behaviour, were like sitting ducks.”

Better a sitting duck than a standing ashtray. That fate befell Manchester City youth player James Tandy in 2004 when Joey Barton mistook his eyelids for a cinderbox and eased a cigar into both of them. Barton was fined three weeks’ wages.

Still, mistakes are easily made when you’ve quaffed so much lager and pink champagne that you can’t see beyond your own nose. In 2001, West Ham’s Hayden Foxe fulfilled his dream of becoming a somebody, mistaking a bar for a urinal and deliriously spraying his shame all over it. The entire Hammers group were thrown out of Sugar Reef, while Foxe was fined two weeks’ wages and given a free transfer at the end of the season. “The whole thing got blown right out of proportion,” said Foxe.

Another West Ham centre-half, Neil Ruddock, got in trouble along with Trevor Sinclair in 1998: Razor met the rozzers when he was arrested after West Ham’s fancy-dress party in – and you couldn’t really script this – Romford. Ruddock was charged with affray and Sinclair with criminal damage after a woman claimed that two men ripped bits off her car. Ruddock was acquitted due to conflicting evidence; Sinclair was fined £250 and forced to pay £225 compensation.

Explore our previous Christmas specials in the Knowledge archive, including: which football teams appear in the Bible? and who were the first team to use the Christmas tree formation? And for thousands more questions and answers look through our archive.

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Can you help?

“What is the shortest distance a team has flown to get to a match?” enquires Leo Eleftheriadis.

“Out of interest, and boredom at work, what is the highest attendance for a non-league league match in England?” ponders Ethan Mackintosh. “No cup finals at Wembley, just league games.”

Ollie Davis (@Ollie_Davis)

The shirt numbers for Liverpool’s starting XI adds to 670 (1,222 including the subs). Surely the highest for a competitive game in England? @TheKnowledge_GU

“Just looking at Ipswich starting to stutter somewhat in League One and it got me wondering: is the club in the lowest domestic division of all the European clubs who have won a European trophy?” asks John Wall.

Colm Kearns (@ColmLearns)

Much is made of who is top at Christmas (roughly marking the season's halfway point). What clubs have been 'winter champions' (as the Italian phrase goes) the most times without ever winning the league title?

(Or at least, whose 'winter titles' outnumber their official ones?)

“Robbie Gotts appeared on the bench for Leeds United for the 31st time against Cardiff City, but is yet to make his professional debut. Is this a record for an outfield player in the English game?” wonders Brian Smith.

Mike Mujahidean (@Linhem)

@TheKnowledge_GU have any players, like Europa League playing Malmö’s Markus Rosenberg today, ended his career, of his own volition, right after advancing from the group stages of a tournament?

“Hellas Verona found themselves 3-0 down at home on Sunday, making three second-half substitutions and all of them scoring to bring it back to 3-3 at full-time,” begins David Dunn. “Have all three second-half substitutes ever scored before? Or all six for both sides?”

Email your questions and answers to [email protected] or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.