Bradford City's long-suffering fans couldn't wait for the strains of Auld Lyne Sang to finish on December 31 to herald in the new year – and neither could Robbie Threlfall.
The Scouse full-back, signed on a two-year deal by Bantams boss Peter Taylor in the summer following a successful loan spell, has had a first half of the season to forget, chiefly due to a debilitating back problem which left him sidelined for most of the autumn.
Back in harness following his injury woe, the Scouse defender, who started his career at boyhood club Liverpool – without ever making a full first-team appearance for the Reds – has copped an added frustration in his bid to reclaim a starting jersey, the weather.
The elements forced the postponements of three City games last month – the Boxing Day home clash with high-flying Chesterfield and the away-day trips to Aldershot Town and Crewe Alexandra – with reserve-team fixtures also not getting out of the starting blocks, while even outside training was frozen off at the club's Apperley Bridge training HQ for much of a decidedly Baltic December.
The break in the action couldn't come at a worse time for Threlfall, who turned 22 in November, with the young left-back keen to rewind the clock and return to the loan form he showed upon arriving at City from Mersey giants Pool in February.
Threlfall enjoyed a never-to-be-forgotten debut, showing his set-piece penchant with a fabulous free-kick in the 3-1 success at promoted Rochdale – the Bantams marquee result of 2009-10.
But highs have been conspicuous by their absence for Taylor's troops this season and for the defender, who has started just five League Two games.
Threlfall, whose last appearance – ahead of this weekend's scheduled trip to Lincoln City – was as a late sub in the 1-1 home draw with Accrington Stanley on November 23 – said: "It's been very frustrating for me, especially with the weather. We've only played a few games in a month and a half and something stupid like that.
"You've got to train hard, keep your fitness levels up and wait for a chance, that's all you can do. I'd got to try and impress the gaffer and hopefully, I'll get a chance in the near future.
"I'm not one of those to knock on a manager's door, to be honest. I
just focus on my own game and when I get a chance, just take it.
"Obviously, the injury set me back earlier this season. It was down to general use really at the start of the season and I aggravated it in a training session and it took a bit of time to recover.
"It was tough for me really. Obviously, back injuries are day to day things and it was a case of just trying to get going again, once it got better.
"I just want to kick on now. It's been hard with the weather as we've been stuck indoors, playing five-a-sides and doing a lot of fitness work really and it's not been ideal. The lads want to be outside and playing games and not stuck inside."
A pre-Christmas bonus of sorts did arrive for the Bantams in the shape of their 1-0 victory over basement boys Hereford United, which at least kept a bit of leeway between themselves and the relegation trapdoor – and more especially the Bulls, who Threlfall has spent two separate loan spells with.
An unused sub against his former club, Threlfall, a member of Hereford's all-conquering 2007-08 side who famously booked a return to third-tier football for the first time since 1978 – where he played alongside the likes of current Celtic striker Gary Hooper – was keen to put sentiment aside for a day, although he wishes the Bulls well in their battle against the drop, with partisanship put aside until the reverse trip to Edgar Street on April 30, City's last away game of the season.
And while City didn't serve up vintage winter fare, it did help recompense slightly for disappointing home results against Macclesfield Town and Accrington.
Threlfall said: "I don't think anyone would say we played to our level that day and they had good chances and put us under pressure.
"But I do hope they stay up and I'd like to see them get out of it. Although I don't really keep in touch with anyone, I know the manager and a few of their lads and wouldn't wish badly on anyone there."
Consistently inconsistent, just as they were this time 12 months ago, City are currently charged with the same early new year mission as in 2009-10, namely reigniting their campaign with some January victories or run the risk of their campaign petering out and potentially turning into a relegation scrap, with the club too close to the bottom two for comfort.
Taylor's side have hit the heights in fine back-to-back wins over Oxford United – smashed for five at Valley Parade – and promotion-chasing Bury, only to lose home games to the likes of Macclesfield and Morecambe.
Their spasmodic form has had Taylor tearing his hair out, never more so than on Tuesday where City were hammered 4-0 at Cheltenham Town, a team who they saw off 3-1 at home only in mid-October in a rousing victory.
Admitting it's a case of now or never in City's quest to shoot into the top half of the table, Threlfall said: "We really need some momentum to push on and try and get up the table quickly. It's been frustrating for us as a team. After Christmas, you get the successful sides pushing on and you have to scrap and battle. We didn't really get the results this time last year and it then went a bit flat.
"We're a capable team this year and just need a few good wins behind us to get a bit of confidence up."