These trips usually mean a flight at some ungodly hour, but this one started relatively easily. At 06.30 I was up and and at ‘em, ready to start our new series focusing on the weirder world of football.
This time round we had been given a cracker of a job, to find out about FC Santa Claus in Lapland, the official home of Christmas.
After checking that I had my passport about 15 times, I ragged over to Highbury and Islington station to meet our cameraman/editor Benty. He’s recently had his haircut and looks like a Peaky Blinders extra, so he was pretty easy to find.
At Paddington we met Jason and chipped to Heathrow to our producer Tom Pryce.
Whilst queuing for the plane I noticed that everyone was dressed for extremely cold weather and it was at this point I started to question my choice of outfit. Being the vain idiot I am, I avoided looking like a Millets catalogue and went for trainers and jeans, a decision I was later to regret.
We got to Rovaniemi just after 22:00 and managed to squeeze in a quick snowball fight and a trip to a local restaurant. Tom, Jason and I went for your classic sautéed Reindeer, and Benty, ever the maverick, insisted on Bear meatballs. We only later realised that bear meat can be lethal to humans if it isn’t cooked correctly, so I’m pretty happy I stuck with a bit of Rudolph and Blitzen. Ben is still alive…
We woke at about 08:00 on day two and had a full days filming ahead of us. The first thing I noticed was the lack of daylight hours we had to film in. During winter, Rovaniemi only get’s sunlight between 10.30 and 14:00 so we had to work quickly.
We drove Santa’s Village and had a gay ol’ time. We met Santa himself, went on a reindeer ride and bought copious amount of tat from the gift shop. After all that frivolity it was time to knuckle down and get some footage about the team.
We met the FC Santa Claus futsal team in a gym in the middle of nowhere and they turned out to be incredible hosts. They let us join in on training and made sure we enjoyed ourselves, no matter how badly we played.
As we were leaving the sports hall a group of ladies turned up for a roller derby practice. If we hadn’t been in such a rush, I’d have loved to have watched players like ‘Paloma Hate’ and ‘Girlzilla’ hammer around the track.
We finished the day like we finish everyday, by backing up footage and having a couple of beers in the pub across the road.
Day three was a hectic one. We hit the half frozen river at about 10am to record our intro links and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a dramatic landscape doused in such beautiful light. However, we hardly had any time to take it in, as we had to run around Lapland like blue arse flies.
In the evening we were invited to play snow football with the FC Santa Claus lads. I donned an extra warm snow suit and joined in with an informal game of heads and volleys. I’m not sure it’s something they do regularly, but I think they wanted to us to have a rewarding trip.
We saved the best till last. We were invited to a countryside retreat in deepest darkest Finland by the chairman and the head of media in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. After roasting sausages on the fire, they gave us some incredible interviews and we were free to enjoy our evening.
The night sky was beautiful, I’ve never seen stars like it. With no light pollution at all, you could see absolutely everything, but sadly, the Aurora Borealis didn’t make an appearance.
What an incredible trip.
If you want to see what happened when two of our presenters Sausages and Caviar went to Rovaniemi, to meet FC Santa Claus and visit Santa Claus village you can check it out here: