Usually I moan about the lack of trains to away games. TV companies changing kick off times without taking into account last train times or engineering works. It is the bane of my life. Up there with ticket prices as a major frustration of being an away fan.
Coming up we already have a nightmare journey to Southampton to come on Boxing Day. There were already no trains due to engineering works, so fans were already having to make alternative arrangements. Matters were then made worse with BT Sports deciding to move the game to a 7.45pm kick off. By the time the game is over and everyone has driven home, it will be gone midnight.
I feel for everyone’s designated driver. Boxing day should be a joyous occasion filled with football and beer. A 3pm kick off would at least mean the designated driver would be home at 8pm and able to get a few in the boozer – paid for by his pals who he has just taken to the game – and have a decent night. Now, he has no chance, unless he decides to drive straight to O’Neill’s in Leytonstone.
Personally, changing the fixture has ruined my chance of doing every league game this season. I was on course for the 38. Had planned holidays away from games. Opting for short midweek breaks (Ibiza & Egypt) to ensure I was back for the weekend (yes, some might call me sad). However, the change in times means I have no chance of making it.
The plan was to spend Christmas in Suffolk, escaping on Boxing Day to Southampton for the game. A 3pm kick off would mean I would be back in Suffolk at about 11pm, enabling myself to continue the full Christmas festivities before handing back to London for Bournemouth at home, and then back to work on Tuesday 29th December. The change of times means it is not far on family for me to arrive in Suffolk on Christmas Day, bugger off early hours of Boxing Day morning, never to be seen again.
So that is my chance of doing the magical 38 ruined.
Also coming up, we have a Tuesday or Wednesday night trip to Liverpool coming up in the 2nd week of January. Great. Just as we all get our holiday reset, we have to take a couple of days off (with no trains) to head up North. This fixture shows that the Premier League are as bad as the TV companies when scheduling games.
Yes, it is a random computer generation, but they do put stipulations in it, such as distance of travel for sides on Boxing Day & New Years Day. Why they can not repeat this for scheduled mid week games I do not know.
Anyway, rant over.
Today I do not mind the lack of trains. A mid week cup tie in a backward northern town. It is what you live for as a football fan.
Anyone going tonight is probably sitting there at work now, reading this, looking at their clock.
A half day booked off. Football gear hidden under the desk. It hits 1, a quick change in the toilet before commuting to wherever you are meeting your mates. In my case, it is the hour and twenty journey from Twickenham to Walthamstow. Meet my pals at Walthamstow Central, before the drive up to Sheffield.
A 3 and a half hour commute. As long as we do not encounter traffic (Everton away last season, adding an extra 2 hours to the journey), or a break down (THAT mini bus trip to Burnley which meant we missed the game and watched it in a pub in Coventry), we should be in a pub near the Leppings Lane end by around 6pm.
The journey will hopefully be swift. We will have some tunes blasting out (Courteeners, Rifles, The Who, Fetty Wap, The Jam, etc). Some Haribo will be eaten. And a couple of cans will be sunk – not by the driver obviously. I am buzzing writing this.
Watch the game, then the reverse journey. Bombing it back down the M1, knowing that we have tomorrow booked off. We will be back in London by about 1pm. Will any pubs be open? Probably might. If the result is good, a cheeky trip into Rainbow’s in Liverpool Street might have to be the plan of action to finish off the night.
I am buzzing for tonight. It is a rode trip. It will be cold, it will be dark, it is up north so will probably be raining.
It is a trek, but for once it is not due to greedy TV companies. It is for the Cup. And if you can’t get up for the Cup, what are you in football for?
Have a safe journey to all my fellow travellers. As I write this we have 5 hours until we can finish work.