Jayden Stockley’s exclusive Preston North End column: Cooking up the perfect Christmas

Scoring Preston's winner against Luton Town at Deepdale last week
Scoring Preston's winner against Luton Town at Deepdale last week

Christmas is a brilliant time of year and I’m the first to admit that I’m a big kid when it comes to everything which goes with it.

When we had the Christmas jumper day at training last week I wore Christmas pyjamas – we have all got them in our household.

I’ve got two children and the oldest is just starting to realise what it is all about so we might be in for an early start on Christmas Day.

I’m big on cooking so I’ll be doing the Christmas dinner in our house. It is something I’ve really got into over the last three or four years, probably from my love of eating!

Unfortunately I can’t go that hard on the food myself because we are playing at Leeds on Boxing Day – I can’t be waddling around stuffed full of food.

So my efforts in the main will be for the rest of the family but I can still enjoy some dinner.

Cooking the meat is the pride and joy, and I’ll be able to eat that. It’s the desserts and alcohol that I’ll have to avoid completely.

This is a first Christmas in Preston for myself and the family.

We’ve celebrated it up and down the country before, from Aberdeen to Exeter, and I’m sure this year in Preston will be nice.

Some of the family are coming up to visit so it will be a busy house.

Of course what would help Christmas go with a swing are some good results on the pitch.

We go to Cardiff on Saturday, then we are at Leeds United on Boxing Day.

They are two tough matches but if we can bring something back from those two, it would set us up nicely for the games at Deepdale against Reading and Middlesbrough.

I enjoyed the victory against Luton last week.

Any win is welcome and be savoured but to score the winner in the 85th minute was pretty special.

Both of my goals this season have come from close range and a striker, that is what you want.

You tend to be playing with confidence when you get close in like that, anticipating the ball coming to you.

In last week’s game the ball was bouncing around all over the place just before I scored. A couple of the lads had shots blocked and then it broke to me.

Fortunately I had a moment to take a touch and then side-foot it home.

It was a massive three points for us and to be in third place after that was a great feeling.

The table doesn’t lie, we are up there on merit and want to stay as high in the division as we can.

Luton were a club I played for on loan during my days as a Bournemouth player.

I went there for a few months, scored a couple of goals and really enjoyed it.

When I came on as sub against them last week, I actually got a bit of stick from some of the Luton fans!

I thought they would have long forgotten about me because it was several years ago that I went on loan.

But I got the ‘Luton reject’ chant which made me laugh a bit.

It was nice to score quite soon after coming on but I’m not the sort to have gone running to celebrate in front of the Luton fans.

Their chanting was just a bit of banter, a laugh and a joke – that is how I saw it.

As a striker I want to be finding the back of the net as regularly as possible.

It is something I’m working hard to do and hopefully there are more to come.

The Cardiff game is a 12.30pm kick-off which means an early start for the fans making the trip.

That support is much appreciated and hopefully we will be able to send them home happy.

For the players, an early start means an adjustment to your matchday routine.

Basically you’ve got to move your day two-and-a-half hours forward from when it is a standard 3pm kick-off.

We have a pre-match meal about three hours before the game, so that will mean shovelling some chicken down about 9am!

That doesn’t sound the best meal at that time but needs must.

I’ve seen lads putting away a plate of salmon and broccoli at that time but that is going a bit too far for me! I’d manage that at lunchtime but not for breakfast.

At Leeds on Boxing Day it is a later start, 5.15pm, so you move things the other way.

It’s bit more like preparing for an evening kick-off.

Fingers crossed, we can get a good set of results over Christmas and go into 2020 in strong form. Have a great Christmas and thanks for all the support.