It was Boxing Day, in the year 1970. In the country of the elves, everyone was resting, trying to recover from their efforts over Christmas Day and the days before.
All over the land, elves were sleeping, lying on their beds or slumped in chairs, just glad that the heavy work was over for another year.
One of their number, though, Frankie Elf, while tired, was also a very worried man. He was a most handsome elf, his blonde hair and brown eyes contrasting sharply with his green outfit but even at his young age, there were faint lines of worry across his forehead and he kept fidgeting with some utensils left over from the Christmas dinner.
Frankie, you see, was the only elf who was a Celtic fan and he was very conscious that his team had gone through a very difficult year. Granted, they had won the League but in the Cup Final, they lost to Aberdeen and even worse, failed miserably to beat Feyenoord in the biggest competition of them all. No wonder the Aberdeen and Dutch Elves had such a good time at Christmas!
Then, only a couple of months ago, in the first big competition of the new season, his team had lost to Rangers, giving their blue elves a day to remember. So, if we take all those failures into account, it was no surprise that Frankie felt worried. Recent events in the league in the new season were not helping either; after a good start, the side had hit some sticky moments and they only had one game left to get ready before they met Rangers in the league again at New Year.
All these thoughts were going through his mind but just as he pushed them away, felt his eyes finally closing and sleep approaching, he heard a soft voice say the three magic words “Ho! Ho! Ho!”. It was Santa Claus!
Frankie leapt to his feet but Santa motioned to him to sit down and gazed at his face.
“Frankie, you are looking a bit stressed. What’s wrong?”
“It’s my football team, Santa. We’re going through a sticky spell”.
“Oh! right” nodded Santa, who did not watch much football “have they got a match today?”
“They do, Santa, and that’s what worries me”.
“But you’ve got some good players, surely?”
“We do, Santa. McNeill is great at centre-half; wee Johnstone on the wing is a bag of tricks and their tall guy at right-back –Craig – not only is an excellent player but is a really intelligent guy too and good looking too!”
“But you’re still worried?”
“Yes, I am…I’m sorry to bother you with my concerns”.
“Don’t worry about it Frankie. You’ve worked hard for us over Christmas so let me see what I can do for your team”.
“Thanks, Santa”. Frankie really was grateful. He knew what Santa would do. In his pockets, he had several containers of magic dust, which he would sprinkle over the team in the dressing-room and that would help them perform to the best of their ability. It would almost guarantee a win.
He lay back down again and tried to sleep…but it was impossible, he was still wound up. He turned on his radio and tried to tune in to one of the Scottish stations. Eventually, he got a signal and listened in but what he heard made him rush out of the house and down the road to Santa’s residence. He did not even knock but raced in, tripping over something lying on the floor, then re-gaining his balance before noticing Santa sitting at a table.
“Santa, you’ll never guess what’s happened!” he almost yelled.
It was fortunate for Frankie that Santa was very fond of him because at that particular moment, the big man was sitting with a glass of mulled wine in front of him and half a mince pie crowded into this mouth. So, Frankie had to wait a few moments before the Santa could make any sort of reply.
“What! Where! Who!” he managed to gasp out, bits of mince pie also making their way on to the table.
“He’s gone and dropped Johnstone and McNeill”.
“The Boss has…I mean the manager of Celtic has. Now, we’ll never win”
Santa decided that he would have to calm him down.
“Right, I get it….is Craig still playing?”
“Yes, he is”.
“Well, then, that’s good news. Now, listen, Frankie, just you go back and have a rest on your bed. There is nothing more we can do. I have sprinkled quite a bit of the magic dust in all the crucial areas and that should help”
“Oh! thanks, Santa. I’m sorry for bringing all my troubles to you”.
“No problem, Frankie, I’m sure things will turn out fine….so back to your couch”.
And with that final exhortation, he firmly pushed Frankie out of the room and as the little elf made his way back to his own place, Santa turned back to the table where there was wine left in the bottle and another tray of mince pies was a-waiting.
Three hours later, Frankie’s house was a bedlam of noise. Celtic had come up trumps, winning 3-0, so Frankie had invited a few pals to share his celebrations and this they were doing with great gusto, the music on, plenty of drinks available and oceans of food left over from Christmas Day.
At the height of the revelry, no one noticed that a figure dressed in red was looking through the window, happy to see that his hard-working elves were enjoying themselves. He picked out Frankie Elf in particular and could see that he was having a really good time. But then a thought came into his mind and he frowned. Did Frankie realize that in only 6 days time his Celtic team would be meeting the team called Rangers which had recently beaten them in the League Cup final?
In actual fact, Frankie was well aware of that and as he lay in his bed after everyone had gone, he returned to thinking about that particular match. Well, can’t do much about it lying here, he thought and turned on his side. As he did so, his knee banged against something. Switching on the bedside lamp, he noticed that he had thrown his tunic on the bed when he undressed and whatever he banged against, it must be in one of the pockets.
Carefully, he went through them and from the right hand one, he pulled out a container. What the blazes was that? Then, it dawned on him. On the day he had rushed into Santa’s house, he had tripped over something. This must have been what it was and he had instinctively picked it up and put it in his pocket. Frankie wrinkled his forehead in puzzlement…..then all the pieces came together and the realisation almost took his breath away. In this container was Santa’s magic dust. I must get it back to him.
Then some more thoughts crossed his mind. Magic dust…Santa never mentioned it so he obviously has not missed it….Celtic are playing Rangers in 6 days time….this dust could make all the difference….should I use it?…..or should I give it back to Santa?….he will never know will he?……and even if he did know, he obviously hasn’t missed it….and if I don’t give it back, how could anyone ever find out? It was a real dilemma but suddenly Frankie Elf stood up to his full height, tidied his hair by running his hands through it and straightened his jacket and trousers. He had made the decision. Bring on the Rangers!