As the season is nearing its end, my mind often turns to the bottom of the league table, and top of the Championship. Thoughts and conversations with pals revolve around who we want to go down, who we want to stay up.
As someone who go’s home and away, with an away scheme membership (away season ticket) I travel the length and depth of the country every week with my pals. No agendas. No BS. Just a good group of lads going to the football.
For us, relegation and promotion into and out of the Premier League is important. Who are we losing. We are we getting?
It is always sad to lose a London club. Since the £26 ticket prices, we save a lot of money with easy trips round the capital. Birmingham clubs are similar. Just a little over an hour on the train, cheap train tickets, Birmingham is always a cheap trip up north.
On the other hand, last season the ‘worst case scenario’ came true when Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull came up. All rank trip to Northern towns. I actually have not made any of them this season.
So who do I want to go up and down?
With regards to relegation, I am happy with it being as is, with the current bottom 3 disappearing.
I am bored of Sunderland now. Their constant battle against relegation year after year. If they were a horse, dog or fish they would be put down by now. Time to put them out of their misery.
The trip has improved recently with a new train from Kings Cross direct to Sunderland. But it is still a 4 hour trip, with no boozers the other end (unless you go via Newcastle). Sunderland station is in a run down part of the city (or perhaps the entire city is run down?). They will not be missed.
Also in the north-east we have Middlesbrough. Another dump. Whilst I will not be making the Monday night trip this season (thanks Sky!) I have done it before. It is another place that is not high on the list of places to visit in the UK.
Making up the north-east trio is Hull City Tigers. One of only 2 current Premier League grounds I have not yet visited (the other is Burnley). I have no plan to visit it. I went for a wedding in Hull 2 years ago. I do not plan to go back.
I would not shed a tear if all 3 went down.
Also in the relegation dog fight is Swansea.
Swansea is a decent away trip, if you are doing the night out. Full of Welsh slags. But if you are not doing a night out, it is a long old trip up their with Sunderland. Around 4 hours, their is usually delays, often engineering works.
In the last 3 years we have been re-rooted vie Gloucester, held just outside Swansea station for over an hour, and had to get a rail replacement bus service from Port Talbot. A good night out, but a tough old journey.
West Ham and above are probably fair enough ahead to not be dragged into it. Whilst the Hammers going down would be hilarious, going to the London Stadium is the easiest trip for me to do.
Leicester fall into the Birmingham category of being a nice easy, cheap train trip.
Sandwiched between are Burnley and Crystal Palace.
Palace have the London thing in their favour, although it would be nice to get rid of their embarrassing ultras. Burnley can also disappear off the face of the earth. A nasty little racist town.
Sunderland, Hull City Tiger, Middlesbrough, Burnley & Swansea. 3 of those 5 gone will make away days a little more enjoyable next season.
As for who comes up, it looks like Newcastle and Brighton are almost certain to have their Premier League status secured for next season.
Despite my hatred of the north-east , I actually do not mind Newcastle.
Whilst in terms of time the train journey is not too much different from Hull and Sunderland, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or a pub at the end of the train journey.
Newcastle has some decent boozers near the station. The ground is a short (but hilly) walk from the station. Plenty of options home (trains back to London every 20-30 minutes). It is a decent away trip. Add in that it is a decent night out too.
I am not so enthused about Brighton coming up.
We have done the trip down to the Sussex coast a couple of times in the FA Cup in recent years and both times, I was not too impressed.
The journey is not the issue, but I just do not like Brighton as a town. It just is not set up for football fans to turn up en masse and have a pint. We are looked at by locals as the scum of the earth. They do not want us in their establishments and seem like they can not wait for us to leave.
Add in that horrible little train to Falmer – Brighton are not actually based in Brighton – and a stadium which comes out of the identikit stadiums that sprung up in the late 00s / early 10s and all in all it is a trip I will not overly look forward too.
Everything could change, however, it we get scheduled to play them in August or September. Bit of summer sun and beers down on the beach.
It looks like a 5-way battle for the play-offs.
Huddersfield, Reading, Leeds, Fulham & Sheffield Wednesday.
Right off the bat, I do not want Reading.
Like Brighton, it is one of these grounds not built in the city or town it resides in. Instead it is build on an industrial estate which you have to get a bus too. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, not bothered about going back.
Sheffield Wednesday is another I would right off. After the League Cup defeat, I do not have great memories of the ground. It is falling apart. And is a pigs-ear to get to. Trains planes and automobiles come to mind as you have to get a combination of trains, trams, cabs and walking to get to the ground.
That leaves Fulham, Leeds and Huddersfield.
Despite having done Fulham plenty of times before, it is always an enjoyable trip.
Another London day out, easy to get too, plenty of decent boozers. I do not think I have ever had a bad away day to Fulham. Even when it was torrential rain. They would be my favourite.
Huddersfield and Leeds are two trips I have never done before so I honestly do not know what either would be like for an away trip.
It would be nice to have Leeds back in the Premier League. A proper club who were ripped apart by improper owners.
A nice easy journey into Leeds, with a bit of a horrid journey to the stadium ,it would be nice to have a proper club with proper fans back in the Premier League.
Huddersfield, whilst one many have not done in recent years, is probably bottom of the 3, purely because of the train journey. You have to get to Manchester Piccadilly then across to Huddersfield.
I think I will stick to my original thoughts and welcome Fulham back to the Premier League with welcome arms.
Despite everything that is going on at the club at the moment, I go to football for the day out. That involves the train, the beers, the mates, as well as the game.
When you travel up and down the country following your team, there is much more important things that make it a great day rather than just the football.