HOW'S the head then? Throbbing a bit, stomach churning, wondering whether to reach for a glass of water or a bloody Mary? Welcome to 1995, friends. As the man said when he jumped into the bed of nettles, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But all over our cosmopolitan community it's hangover time again as we brace ourselves to begin a new year. So as this page twitches in your shaking hands, don't think the scribe is in any better shape. It's a safer bet than anything going round at Sha Tin this afternoon, that he's not. It has been my good fortune for a long time to mix with people who earn a living from playing sport professionally. By and large they have been a wondrous lot whose skills I have envied and whose company I have enjoyed. Virtually to a man they have also been wont to celebrate hugely on New Year's Eve. Now I may be wrong, but it also seems - and there are a lengthening number of New Year Days to prove it - that those of a Celtic background pay greater attention to the annual ritual than most. For a number of years local First Division clubs were not as well staffed with expatriate players as they are now. Back then they were a somewhat higher-profile, more elite contingent with a great many of them hailing from the land of the thistle and heather. And there would be dark murmurs when the Hong Kong Football Association fixture list came out with, sure enough, a team well larded with expats down to play an all-local team on New Year's Day. 'Och, they've ruined it for us, now we canna go oot on the Eve,' was the plaintive cry. Not, I must report, that come the night, it did prevent considerable partying. At least they did turn up which was not the case with another Scots-born player of long ago. The late Alex Harley came from Glasgow and made at least one big-money move from Birmingham City to Manchester City. He had a flair for scoring goals - and did not mind a drink. The increasing level of his consumption went glass-in-hand with his descent from the heights of the First Division to a job in the Irish League. On one New Year's Day, there was an important game - but no Harley. The irate manager 'phoned Glasgow after the match and got Harley's mother. 'I'll gae an' see if he's in,' she said, leaving the telephone down. 'It's Ireland for you, son,' she called and from the upper regions came the retort: 'Tell him, I'm nae in.' 'He says he's nae in,' was the faithful reply from Mrs Harley. Exit Alex. Jockeys, also, have been known to hold their own. Back in the days when Happy Valley was the lone racecourse here, British champion jockey Pat Eddery was the man who mattered. A wizard in the saddle, Pat was - and is - no party pooper either. Full marks to a more youthful Pat back in the mid-1970s who was still at full throttle when at least two of us shambled off around 4 am. And he rode four winners later that day. There's stamina for you. One could go on, but time presses and Sha Tin calls. Have a good year, you probably deserve it after last night.