Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The excitement of football fixture day. Yes, really

To the non-fan the announcement of the football fixture list tomorrow must seem like a strange thing to get excited about.

A computer simply selects the order in which football teams - that already know they will have to play each other by virtue of being in the same division - will meet across the order of the season. It's an incomplete schedule since television companies, cup games and the weather will mean it undoubtedly alters several times.

Does it really matter whether we play Huddersfield in September or March? Given that we will have to play all teams twice there are, unlike cup draws, no surprises awaiting.

However, maybe it's just me and, although it's not the cool hipster thing to say, I always look forward to the announcement with a sense of excitement.

Firstly, there's bugger all else going on at the minute. Well, except a glut of copy and paste Twitter bots telling us the transfer news and rumours Radio Nottingham or the Post brought us hours or days earlier. (They're almost as annoying as the 'wind up' 'ITK' prats who think it's funny to try to catch people out with made up 'news').

But it is more than that. I DO care when we play Huddersfield and, for that matter everyone else. As a fan living afar (deepest, darkest Lincolnshire no less) I'm eagerly looking out for the dates of the slightly easier to reach games. Yes, that's you Milton Keynes and Hull (!) - but not you overpriced Ipswich. If these fixtures fall on Saturdays - and preferably not right in the middle of winter - then an away day beckons. A football fan that hasn't experienced an away day is an incomplete football fan.

Rightly or wrongly I'm proud of my record of visiting 59 football league grounds - and slightly peeved that relegation and new grounds have deprived my total. The combination of a new place to visit and the special away day atmosphere mean that even the most mediocre match can be a fun adventure.

I'm also looking out for Rotherham, Bristol City and Reading as potential away day fodder. Only the fixture list could bring these three delights together on a bucket list, with the greatest respect of course.

Then, of course, there's the dates with the Sh**p at home and away, which are almost always late August/early September (home) and late January/early Feb (away) for no apparent reason. There's also the Boxing Day and Easter games to be aware of as well as the start of the season - before realism sinks in and the dream dies for another year - and the all-important run-in that, by then, won't be all-important.

If nothing else us Forest fans can at least console ourselves in the fact that no matter what the computer does to us tomorrow, it can't pit us against ruddy Walsall again...

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