WE KNOW HOW you feel.
It’s January 1, four weeks from your next pay-day and you’re already counting the cost one-too-many Christmas splurges.
You’d eat beans on toast to save money, but then your low-carb New Year’s Resolution would be out the window. It’s enough to drive you to drink, except you said you’d stay clear of that for a while too, didn’t you?
But listen, lads and lassies. January ain’t all that bad. Sure, it’s a long, dark auld slog of a month, but there’s plenty of little sporty rays of sunshine ready and willing to shine through.
So escape from the dank monotony of that thrifty diet and plan out your month of joy – coming vicariously through your favourite sportsmen on the planet of course.
The new season of the most soothing, relaxing sport to watch on TV returns this weekend. And what better venue to use as a means of escapism than Hawaii!
Bubba Watons, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson will be among those teeing off at the Tour of Champions event in Kapalua.
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A week later, on January 10, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Michael Hoey and Shane Lowry will all be involved as the European Tour cranks into gear in Durban. Rory McIlroy‘s first outing of the year will be at the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi on January 17.
While McIlroy is getting in the swing, his missus will be competing in the first Grand Slam event of the year. The Australian Open (starting on January 14) is never on at a very viewer friendly hour, but we are always rewarded for staying up late or getting up early.
And sometimes, you can arise at a sociable hour and find two of the game’s all-time greats locked in an endless battle of wills. That’s what happened in last year’s final anyway.
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The old reliable. Whereas most sports tend to wind down or avoid wintry conditions altogether, the beautiful game thoroughly embraces the seasonal factors.
Tomorrow may mark the last Premier League fixture for 10 days, but that’s where the FA Cup steps in (January 5) with the novelty factor of the third round. Hot on its heels will be the never-disappointing two-legged affairs in the Capital One Cup (January 8/9 and 22/23).
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Then, even if the cup competitions do turn out to be damp squibs, the league action will return with mouth-watering fixtures like Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford and the Emirates to keep us all entertained.
American Football’s regular season was all wrapped up an neatly put away at the weekend, so we are left with the 12 best franchises in the USA.
From Saturday, this month will bring us 10 knock-out fixtures as the Patriots, the Redskins, the Broncos, Ravens, Seahawks, Falcons, Bengals, Texans, Vikings, Colts, 49ers and Packers all put their bodies on the line in the hope of making it to the greatest show on earth in early February.
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Nothing announces the arrival of spring like the Cheltenham Festival, but this month offers a tantalising whiff of the racing’s big week with the Festival Trials on January 26.
Can’t wait until then? The Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot a week earlier is likely to be even more exciting.
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Like football, rugby tends to meet the challenge of cold and inclement weather head on. This month’s oval ball highlight is undoubtedly the climax of the pool stages of the Heineken Cup from January 11 to 20.
Connacht and Leinster may be facing up to the end of their run in the big cup, but Ulster and Munster will remain confident of sealing a berth in the last eight.
And once Europe’s top eight teams reveal themselves, the intensity will only be turned up a notch further as the Six Nations arrives along with a great stretch in the evenings in February.