Soapbox: TV brings hard day’s nights for Gooners – and us


One great day out ruined, Arsenal at home turned into a logistical nightmare for away fans, another excuse for avoiding Chelsea – all, says a remarkably understanding Pete Sixsmith, in a day’s work for the TV folk whose job it is to undo the Premier League fixture list …

A colleague, who is also of the Red and White persuasion, performs the valuable task every year of making a copy of the fixtures, laminating them and passing them out to those who are Sunderland fans. Every year, I thank him and I see a pristine fixture list, with games every Saturday – as it used to be and as it should be.

Then along come the TV fixtures……………

They arrived yesterday meaning that the beautiful symmetry of Bill Pollard’s fixture card is now hopelessly distorted. The first tranche takes us up to the end of November and for us there are five changes thanks to the combined efforts of the Dirty Digger (Sky) and The Kingdom of the Mouse (ESPN).

The first change is due to Manchester City’s involvement in the Thursday Night Europa Also Rans League, which means that our fixture is pushed back a day. Obviously, City’s superstars will be exhausted after walloping the might of say, Lithuania’s Siauliai, or Torpedo Zhodino, the Pride of Belarus, or even the Danish superstars, Randers.

For this we lose a Saturday at football. Not bad for me (I will tick off Morecambe’s new ground) but little fun for those who have to make travel arrangements on a Bank Holiday Weekend.

Then the Disney owned ESPN kick in with a 5.30pm kick off for our home game with Arsenal.

I know a number of our fans will have a difficult trip, but it is even worse for the Gunners. They will have to suffer a long, late journey home, probably all the better for them to extol the virtues of their delicate, cosmopolitan approach to the beautiful game, while denigrating us vulgar Northern types for being so rough and nasty.

The first away game to be changed is our trip to Blackburn in October. That moves to a Monday night, which is a real shame as Blackburn is a good Saturday out: a few pints in Lancaster pre-game, dropped of foutside the ground and home by 7.30pm. It’s almost a local derby and there is always a good turn out. Instead it’s a Monday night dash after work and not getting home until 1am. Not quite as good, eh?

The visit to Sports Direct Sell Cheap Rubbish@St James’ Park is now a Sunday at 4pm. Northumbria Police should be well pleased with that, particularly as they will probably still be looking for Raoul Moat. Let us hope the tree and the phone box in the Bigg Market avoid a good shellacking afterwards.

In November we have two changes. First of all, the Sunday a date at 4pm for Chelsea gives me a another very good reason for continuing my refusal to visit Stamford Bridge, while the visit of Everton eight days later for a Monday night game guarantees the coldest night out of the year so far.

We have to put up with it. Without it, there would be no Darren Bent or Lee Cattermole; there probably wouldn’t be a Stadium of Light and we would still be huddled inside Roker Park. And for me, it means I can continue my quest to watch football on different grounds and therefore strengthen my position as the Most Boring Man On This Website.

Now, let me look at The Vodkat North west Counties fixtures for Saturday October 30.

18 thoughts on “Soapbox: TV brings hard day’s nights for Gooners – and us”

  1. “Streuth! Give me strength!”

    🙂 Good one Luke. This reminded me of some friends of my wife, who are from Ipswich. The bloke follows the Tractor Boys but his missus wasn’t so keen on football. She’d been once or twice but told me that she was put off going because the last time she’d been, she “couldn’t concentrate on the game because the bloke behind kept sucking his teeth.”

    Who said that the atmosphere at Portman Road was a bit flat?

  2. Time to reveal all. In the words of the late Ian Dury they are “Reasons to Be Cheerful”!

  3. I’m struggling now Malcolm. A Love Supreme was the only connection that I could think of. I’m a huge fan of Coltrane and MD as well. All the best guys are dead!

  4. A Love Supreme Jeremy? Good effort but not the connection I have in mind. Thought Wee Willie Harris might be the give away.
    My all time favourite ‘Trane Track is “My Favourite Things”. Have a couple of his versions of Love Supreme on CD as well as one by Will Downing.

    More clues to the link if needed – Harpo, Groucho, Chico, the Bolshoi Ballet and curing small pox!

  5. Ah, Blackburn. I’ve been to Ewood Park a couple of times, twice saw 0-0 draws there and also saw England U21 v Greece there as well.

    The last time I went was May 24 2009. Yes, that special day. Newcastle went down, we lost to Chelsea but stayed up and all the while I was sat in Ewood Park watching Blackburn pass the ball with already relegated West Brom in the only goalless game of the final day. It was for my friends birthday (21st May), ironically mine was the 23rd but I’d already offered to go to the match with him – unbeknown to the boredom that would unfold before me.

    It was Tugay’s last match, there was fans dressed as Turkish delights, and everyone had either a Tugay mask or a Mowbray mask. One retired and one was sacked, so they worked well.

    West Brom fans outsang the Blackburn fans all match, despite already being relegated and seemed to be in good spirits before, during and after the match. Witnessed some bald Blackburn fans trying to shout insults at the West Brom fans following the match which were of the witty: “Ya gan down!” variety, only to be laughed off by the West Brom fans.

    It was rather embarassing, the whole thing to be honest. Moreso when Tugay gave the ball away in midfield and a woman behind me shouted “Streuth! Give me strength!!” Well, if that wasn’t the kick up the backside the players need I’m not sure what is!

  6. Without Sky’s money we’d “still be huddled inside Roker Park.”

    So that’s another thing to blame Uncle Rupert for then eh? I bloody wish Pete.

    Strangely I’ve never been to Blackburn ever. It’s one of those places that doesn’t exist for me other than as a splodge of colour on a map. Peculiarly, a neighbour of mine here told me that his grandfather was from Barn-olds-wick, which I gleefully told him I’d never heard of. As Bill would confirm (quick departure to answer Malcolm’s question which is “A Love Supreme.”) Canadians have a tendency to pronounce everything phonetically. No “Barlick” for them. It’s “Barn-olds-wick”. There’s a place called Keswick north of Toronto which of course is “Kes-wick.” The most peculiar example of this was one day when I was talking to a young woman who delighted in telling me that she too was English by birth, and that some of her family still lived around “the Thayms river.” It runs through London apparently. It was as big a mystery to me as good old Barn-olds-wick.

  7. And for those of you familiar with that old stand by of Supporters’ Coaches and pre match pub trivia – the “What Connects” game. What connects, health service glasses, equal votes, Wee Willie Harris and John Coltrane soprano?

    Not too difficult but if no one has the answer in a day or so I will reveal all. Expect someone will get in within the hour though!

  8. Brunton Park, Pete.
    Turn up – they might ask you to play the way Carlisle are going, selling everyone and signing very little – so bring your boots!

  9. Went to Barnoldswick (pronounced Barlick) last season. Great day out despite the rain. As for Ramsbottom, wasn’t he the rather impudent snake in The Sooty Show c.1968?
    Wonderful film, Bill; it really was a bygone age. What on earth were people at the game eating and did it explain the lack of teeth. And as someone who has just forked out a kings ransom for a pair of glasses, wot I say is “Bring back the NHS frames”!!
    Spain V Germany is tight. Spain seem to want one pass too many while Germany are up against a decent defence for the first time since they played Serbia. Could be a long night!!

  10. And the rosette! When’s the last time you saw a rosette at a football match?
    Bishop won the replay 4-1, completing their hat trick of three amateur cups in a row.
    Corinthian’s greatest victory was in 1904, when they beat Manchester United 11-3. Their name — perhaps ironically in this day and age — came from the so-called “Corinthian” ideals of sportsmanship and fair play.

  11. Brilliant Bill.

    I love the way the players all look like my dad, the kids all have national health specs and a cricketing legend is playing on the wing. Bring back the rattle!

  12. Barnoldswick Town v Ramsbottom United could be a must see this season. Could go in my best Uncle Mort clobber.

    Then there’s Atherton Labernum Rovers v Runcorn Linnets whetting the appetite.

    Maybe with my ever growing disllusionment with the Premier League, a season watching romantically named non league sides could be the answer.

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