Yesterday I thought I would sort out my train tickets for Leeds United and Southampton.
Normally train tickets go on sale 3 months before a game, and as long as you buy around 2 months ahead you can take advantage of Advanced ticket prices. This can save a home and awya footbal lfan like myself hundreds over the course of the season.
But when I was searching the journeys on National Rail I was not met with positive news. Train tickets were still no on sale.
For Leeds, National Rail was showing tickets released up to and including the first week of October.
Further investigation showed that due to the ongoing train strikes across the network, many train companies are not putting out their timetable 3 months ahead of schedule. Some are releasing train times (and ticket costs) just a week ahead of schedule.
A pal of mine, needing to go up North for a meeting next week, is still waiting for the timetable to be announced so that he can purchase the train tickets.
And you can bet that the Advanced tickets will not be available due to how close it is to departure date – even though he was unable to buy earlier.
Away travel can already be a headache.
We have to wait before Sky / BT Sports decide what fixutres they want to move before we can purchase our tickets. This can often lead us to miss out on the Advanced tickets.
And when the TV companies do make this decision, they do not care about the match going fans.
Games will be re-arranged to Sunday’s when engineering works are scheduled (and therefore replacement bus services). Or to late Saturday kick-offs with no chances of trains home.
The move of the Sunday 4pm KO to 4:30 showed that the TV companies (nor Premier League who agreed the deal) actually care about match going fans. All the stuff post Super League was just PR.
It might only seem like half an hour, but for some games (Liverpool away, I am looking at you) that half an hour can be the difference between getting the last train home and there being no train home.
The change was made for the TV audiences. so that they can watch post-reaction and interviews from the 2pm KO ahead of the next game. Those of us at the game really do not care what Graeme Souness has to say.
In recent years, we have also had a few games moved at very, very late notice making pre-bought train tickets redundant.
And I am one of the luck ones.
Being a former away scheme member, I know I am gauranteed a ticket for every away day meaning that I can buy ahead of time.
For those on less credits, they take a huge risk buying train tickets with no gaurantee of a match ticket. This drives the cost up even more.
Sometimes organising an away day feels like a military exercise.
And the lack of advanced timetables is now just further adding to our headaches.
I sometimes wonder why I still do it – and I have already cut back from going every game home and away since Covid.
Life is easy for fans who just roll over in bed, turn their lap top on, watch the game and then go back to sleep.