Fixtures chaos!! - A Toast viewpoint.
When I heard the Carling Cup draw yesterday had given us Barnet at home I thought that was a tip for the first league game and we would get a side starting with B and of course I was right we got Boro!! Well there is plenty of choice with Barnsley, Blackpool, Bristol City, Birmingham, Burnley and Brighton and the Boros of Peter and Middles!!
So travelling fans will get the longest trip out of the way first up and it might, as someone said today even be warm up on Teesside. Now at the start of last season Boro were the favourites for promotion but struggled from the start and were in the relegation fight for long periods before finishing strongly and making the top half of the table just in 12th.
The next Saturday we welcome Brighton to Fratton Park for what will be a huge occasion. A full house is guaranteed for the visit of the League One champions who will want to get off to a flying start but their recent record at Fratton is not good having not won there since Boxing Day 1985.
Next up Reading are in town for another derby game so after a long trip to start off, things certainly warm up with two very attractive fixtures.
The division looks tough when you see the teams on the list and there appear to be no easy games it is vital that the team building promised by Roman Dubov in his letter to the Supporters Conference gets underway immediately. He said that the 'main priorities must be sitting down with the manager and helping him strengthen the team`. To have a chance just to survive SC needs funds available to make some modest purchases.
So we now know the 46 dates that will determine our destiny next season. However the matches are as always unevenly spaced out. After a home game at the end of August there is a spell of four weeks without a home game and then we have two in three days!! Now that is not good for gates is it Football League?
There are five midweek home games and the same number of away matches and none of those is further than Birmingham so perhaps there is some sense there.
One day where lovers will have their tiffs though is a home game on Valentines Day; dinner and roses or a trip to Fratton Park? No contest of course.
The Saturday home game before Christmas will normally draw the lowest gate of the season so I have always been led to believe however that will not be the case this year with Southampton the visitors in December. That is of course until the Sky or other TV company grab the game for live coverage. The return at the Dell is on Easter Saturday.
The season finishes very early on 28th April at Nottingham Forest with the final home game the week before which will probably be when the 'Fan's Day' celebrations will be repeated. In fact the games are really crammed in with the final thirteen in just fifty six days!
Now of course because of the stupid copyright rules that cover these fixtures we are not allowed to publish them in full and you will have to look elsewhere for the full list. Seems strange that the Football League should want their fixture list widely publicised yet they charge you for the privilege. That is why I have only referred to the games and not given the dates and also explains the headline.
Reading the comments on the forum earlier members were concerned about the tough start. Manager Steve Cotterill commented on that 'you have to play every side at some stage of the season so we`re not too worried about that.'