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Fixtures and Fittings

Goodbye close season, hello buildup to 21/22.

It may have sneaked up on some people, but the fixtures got released this morning – the first sign that the new campaign is less than two months away.

And what a nice feeling to be looking at League One opponents again.

OK, you’ll need to click on “First Team” for them – and while things are what they are right now, isn’t that an uninspiring set of pre-season games? – but they’re there for your perusal.

No doubt the scientists and politicians will be imposing yet another lockdown by September, because of the Upper Volta strain that evades every known vaccine and makes your willy limp.

But in the off-chance that they don’t keep wetting the bed every time somebody sneezes, Donny away isn’t a bad one to start with.

The most important fixture of the season is the first competitive game at Plough Lane since 1991, and it’s at home to Bolton.

Which is a bit of an ironic pairing, because they were the last opponents in front of a paying home crowd.

The SW19 thoughts from March 2019 were in a different era (almost literally), although somehow strangely familiar to read.

Let’s hope the game on the 14th August is a helluva lot better than that one.

I’m sure you’re going through various fixtures that entice you. Sheffield Weds away is likely to be the biggie this season, and that’s the beginning of April.

Those hoping to go to Sincil Bank will need to do it midweek in October.

Christmas and New Year could be a bit better – Charlton at PL on Boxing Day is fine, but Oxford away tempers that a bit.

Oh, and New Year’s Day at Plymouth?

Easter is a mixed bag too – away at Crewe on Good Friday, but at least we’re at home on Easter Monday.

At the moment, it’s Wycombe, but last night the EFL sneaked in a doozy about Derby still possibly being relegated.

Our game at Adams Park is earmarked for the 11th December, by the way. The EFL might have finally made a decision by then.

Nothing really jumps out at me of being a crappy run of fixtures or not, unlike last season** where the run-in looked horrible but ultimately wasn’t.

** – and it’s so nice to write 20/21 as exactly that. For so many reasons.

I’m sure you’re doing things like figuring out which game is nearest your birthday, that kind of thing.

Your editor is planning to be away for Wigan at PL.

As for Franchise? Sadly we don’t get them out of the way early, but at least we don’t need to buy disinfectant until April.

The big what-if at the moment is whether we’ll actually be allowed to travel to away games.

Personally, I think we will, because it will start becoming politically toxic to keep restricting people by then – especially when most will have been double-jabbed.

The continued restrictions does bugger things up with regards to the second test-event, which was earmarked for the 17th July.

That’s for 4000 in the West Stand, and one expects we’ll need a hastily arranged PSF against a team people want to see.

Otherwise, the Bolton game itself will end up being that particular test event.

If you can avoid the club using the fixtures announcement as another attempt to flog season tickets, they’re clearly banking on the 9000 capacity final test as either Bolton or the first round of the Carabao Cup.

That game against Notlob will be a guaranteed sell-out anyway, although I’m not quite so sure if the Carabao would be.

It’s a headache the club has, and I don’t envy them having to juggle the very real issue of opening a new stadium under this backdrop.

That said, and as alluded to just now – are AFCW struggling to sell season tickets?

It seems almost nonsense to suggest that the first proper season back home wouldn’t generate interest, but predictions don’t always reflect reality.

I wonder how many are struggling to afford one this time round. especially after last season? Probably more than you think.

Plus, the club has a new issue to deal with, that it hasn’t faced since 2002 – we have more capacity these days.

At KM, you effectively had to have an ST if you wanted anything approaching a decent view.

Now, we may sell out the west and south stands, but anyone who wants a ticket for the vast majority of games will be able to get in.

Your editor has an ST this upcoming campaign, but after that I might not need to bother with one.

So if people are waiting and seeing if they’ll actually be allowed to attend, you can’t blame them.

And perhaps the club is finding out that not many have £10k ready to spare for a 25-year season ticket…

While we await signings, the big news this week was the naming of the club pub.

From now on, the pre-match boozing (and post-match bitching) will take place in the Phoenix.

I can’t say it’s a name that inspires me to be honest – I’ve never watched Peter Kay, but there’s been a couple of references to Phoenix Nights this past week.

And yes, it also evokes memories of the old hotel in Wimbledon itself. A knocking shop, apparently.

But the majority of people who voted went for it, and it may tell us all something.

Namely, more and more people want to move away from being a Wimbledon FC tribute act.

I have to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed that the Sportsman didn’t get more votes, and it was always the best link to old Plough Lane.

Plenty went for the Plough, which I didn’t realise was the name of the boozer where Tile Giant currently is (and where the new McDonalds will be).

As for the Batsford Arms, it’s a bit “cliquey” if we’re being honest. Especially as the original version wasn’t there that long to begin with.

1978 to 1985 from memory, and it’s eye-opening how many of our fans didn’t know what it was.

And probably don’t care either.

While we’re back home, and all looking forward to it, I think we’re increasingly going to break with the past and simply move on.

As your editor wrote after Sunderland last season – the same thing, but different.

Not that I’m against celebrating old heroes – Batsford Way is a good compromise – but as said on here before, we seem too keen to relive the past.

Your editor was at Plough Lane yesterday, incidentally. I was getting my second Moderna jab, which has made my left shoulder very tender.

I had time, so I popped into the club shop (where I got a brief crash course on why it won’t stock certain things).

I did have a very quick glance at where the Phoenix will be, and its success/failure will depend on how nice it is to go into.

Will it be pleasurable to sit in, or will it be one step up from a Working Men’s Club, like KM was?

Will the bar have decent beer at reasonable prices? And will it take less than a year to get served?

Food is likely to be out of the question on matchdays, but a good reputation for that on an ordinary weekday will help.

Other than that, I think you have to be realistic about any pub’s chances, especially these days.

Many won’t be drinking there anyway. They’ll be meeting their mates at their own watering holes.

A couple will get the arse about the name, or that they don’t serve obscure ales that are made on an industrial estate in Clapton.

And let’s face it – it’s there for convenience as much as anything.

The size of it doesn’t matter quite as much as people think. You don’t want it too big, because you’d never get served.

At half time, many if not most people will grab a quick pint/bottle from the concession stands, because it will be much quicker.

But you can imagine it buzzing after a great result – think of Northampton last season – and from what I can gather, the bulk will be drinking outside.

And by the time you’ve had a couple after beating Franchise, you won’t care about the name of it…

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