The close season is officially over – the fixtures are out.
No doubt you’ve already hit various train websites on the hope that the first lot of uber-cheap tickets have been put up (and very quickly you’ve realised they don’t come online until 3 months prior). You’ve probably already added the fixture list (manually, of course) to your diary, and realised a game in February clashes with a very important anniversary. Which you’ve already started making mental notes on how to excuse getting out of it.
And you realise that in not so many weeks time, the whole 9-month circus starts again.
Unlike last year, there’s no pinching of oneself. You won’t be like Fleetwood or York fans right now, picking your jaw up off the floor that you’re finally in the Big Boys League, like we were this time last season. That the fixture list seems organised and games won’t get moved at the last minute.
In fact, it’s the first of hopefully every season where the fixtures have some degree of normality. And Chesterfield at home is a sign of that – playing a just-demoted team first game of the season is always a difficult one to judge, because they should be better but they also have the relegation thing in the back of their mind.
As far as fixtures go, they seem relatively easily balanced – namely there are no mega stand-out ones. OK, perhaps one is, and Gillingham away last away game of the season promises to be a goodun. Unless it’s the game that sends us down.Â A couple of the other promising away ones (ie Wycombe) seem early enough in the season to get a good crowd, and we travel to Plymouth on a Saturday.
The stand-out one, and not in a good way, is Torquay on New Years Day. I hear an “ouch” somewhere. We shouldn’t really bitch too much though – older heads will tell us that in the WFC era we had to go to Plainmoor on a Boxing Day (and your editor remembers the same when we had to go to Forest).
That said, I never quite understand the thinking behind these sort of pairings at that time of year. Boxing Day against Northampton at KM? Given we’re near Shots, Gills, Barnet, Daggers and Wycombe, it doesn’t quite make sense. Mind you, the Prem has both Manchester clubs playing the ones in the North East and Palace get to go to Cardiff the day after Xmas – so at least we’re at home.
Unsurprisingly, we’ve got Oxford away in the evening again – like Stevenage in cup competitions, we are obviously contractually obliged to go to the Kassam during nightfall. Maybe it’s just a test of our character and loyalty from the Footballing Gods? Pass that and we never get to do it again…
Southend away in the evening seems a little bit of a bummer, although thankfully you can just about get home if you get the 11pm train. Don’t have so much of a problem with Exeter being midweek though, as that could be a good overnighter.
And needless to say, the weather forecast for Saturday 10th November will be snow, hail, monsoon or a plague of locust. Probably all of them.
Oh, and for those who want to partake in the Steve Evans circus, Rotherham come to us on the 15th December while we go to their new gaff on the 30th March. Just think, he might have annoyed enough people up there to be given the elbow by then.
Still, at least we’ve got the fixtures out at this time in the Football League. Imagine being Hereford or Macc right now, and realising you have to wait for the big boys to finish planning their games before you pick up the dregs. Just think, we won’t have found out yet whether we’re at home to Woking on Boxing Day or away.
One thing that is a surprise is that we are at KM first game of the season. I doubt if we didn’t ask for an away fixture due to the KRE, and given the deadline is supposed to be extremely tight, you won’t be surprised if we find ourselves with a reduced capacity come Chesterfield. Thankfully, the Olympics has meant we start later anyway, just imagine trying to get it done before the 11th.
Anyway, we know where our lives will take us for the next nine months or so. Perhaps by then we may have a couple of players…