Fixture lists: who needs ’em?


It’s not that the Premier League fixture list, as published in June, is utterly useless. It just doesn’t have a strong enough relationship with the truth. With scant regard for travelling fans, in some case long-distance travellers needing plenty of notice to obtain the best deals, matchdays are switched at the TV moguls’ whim. Jeremy Robson has a tongue-in-cheek idea for injecting fun into the uncertainty …

Every summer there is mild excitement when next season’s fixtures are announced.

When will we play the Mags, whether it is home or away first? Opening fixture, final fixture and whether we are at home on Boxing Day.

It’s a ritual, which as I’ve become older has worn a little thin. It really doesn’t matter that much when we play anybody. You have to play them some time. It’s a bit like knowing that you are having fish abd chips for tea at least one night this week. It’s usually Friday, but maybe not this week.

The fixture lists are also a little like the weather forecast. Stuff is going to happen, and we have no control over it. Come to think of it, I’ve never taken much interest in weather forecasts either.. I’m a strong advocate of the Billy Connolly school of meteorology. “If you want to know what the weather’s going to be like, then look out the ******* window!”

I don’t know why they don’t just keep the fixtures secret. Just tell people that there’s a game on, but leave the rest blank.

Often times in my youth I would wake up on a Saturday morning with the certainty of going to Roker Park that afternoon. This counterbalanced with complete uncertainty: not knowing who we were playing. It just didn’t matter to me. Home games against the likes of Barnsley, Sheffield Utd or Millwall were no less appealing than those against Man Utd, or Arsenal. In many ways they were more appealing as the chances of victory were obviously greater.

As a sure sign of modern times, going hand in hand with the monopolies on beer (if you can call Budweiser beer), and burgers (I resist making any reference to McDonald’s products as food), and Coca-Cola at the South African World Cup, we now have an embargo on reproducing the fixture list for the Premier League.

Why do we have a fixture list at all, when more fun could be had without one.?

Let your mind run free and picture the scene come mid October. It might cause a few problems for away supporters if only the players and management from the visiting team were in the know. You can just imagine it.

Spurs fans are sitting in the pub midweek. “Bugger it, we’re going to Newcastle this weekend, it must be our turn there soon. Went to Birmingham a fortnight ago, forgetting that we’d been there on the opening day. Decent derby game against WBA as it turned out. We supported the Baggies for the day, as their fans had gone to Wigan for the day, on the back of yet another daft rumour. Decent curry afterwards though. I`m sure the bloke in there recognised us.”

The chances of going to the right ground would narrow of course as the season progressed.

Two away fixtures left and your side is battling against relegation. Imagine if you were a Baggie. It’s 50-50. It’s either Newcastle or Wolves away. A short tip to Molineux or a taxing trip several hours north to St James. Instead of seeing their beloved Baggies they are treated to a dour encounter between the Magpies and their much loathed West Midlands neighbours, Birmingham City.

It would be complete chaos, but there’d be a few laughs as well as skirmished along the way. We don’t really need it, though, not when Murdoch`s merry men will be switching games whenever they feel like it. The people’s game is the rich man’s new toy all right.

4 thoughts on “Fixture lists: who needs ’em?”

  1. “Do you remember the story about the two Mags who went to watch their beloved team at Derby – only to get there and find out it was a Central League fixture? The first team were at home to Derby. Must have been the late 70,s. ”

    Funnily enough I do. It’s probably happened a lot more than you ever hear about. It’s the sort of material that Danny Baker used to cover when he was doing 606. Proper football stuff.

  2. Do you remember the story about the two Mags who went to watch their beloved team at Derby – only to get there and find out it was a Central League fixture? The first team were at home to Derby. Must have been the late 70,s.

  3. I got a sense of being in the wrong place watching our away game with the Mags on the big screen in our last season at Roker Park Luke.

    Many, man years ago someone told me a story about early one Saturday afternoon when he was walking down the Avenue in Deneside, Seaham when he heard a crowd chanting “The Argyle, The Argyle.” As he got nearer there was a smallish group of people dressed in green and white. They were Plymout Argyle fans thinking that they were on their way to Roker Park.

    Apparently, they’d been to Sunderland station, and someone must have told them to head for “Seaburn.” They had clearly misheard and got on the train to Seaham. The error was compounded when they’s asked a local for directions to the ground, who told them “Gan straight up there!” pointing up the Avenue.

    They were eventually pointed back in the direction of Seaham station.

  4. I’d love to see all the Man Utd fans from India, Japan et al turn up at Manchester Airport, only to find a very Man City heavy city centre and a deserted Old Trafford!

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