In the view of some, getting excited over the release of the season’s fixtures is a bit weird.
Unlike a cup draw, there’s no real mystery or excitement. It’s simply confirmation of what was already known – Charlton will play the other 23 teams in the Championship twice between August and May.
But, regardless of what is admittedly the trivial nature of the fixture release, it really is rather exciting. A season that is still the best part of two months away suddenly appears closer, the build up to the first few games of the season can begin, and important away trips can be pencilled in and looked forward to.
For those reasons, I’m very much looking forward to Wednesday, and the first round League Cup draw on Tuesday. Maybe more so considering the most exciting thing that’s happened so far this summer is the unveiling of the new, rather bizarre, mascots.
However, the release of the fixtures is almost always tainted by how predictable they seemingly are for Charlton.
Not in the sense that every team will be played twice, but the same sort of fixtures at the same time of year are frequently given to us. And quite a few of them fail to whet the appetite.
Consequently, here’s a few spoilers ahead of the coming week’s announcements. Look away now if you don’t want the fun ruined.
Unnecessary disclaimer: This is all tongue-in-cheek and I have no idea what the fixture list will look like.
8 August 2015 – Bristol City (H)
For some illogical reason, the Football League have decided that facing Charlton Athletic on the first day of the season is the fixture promoted clubs dream of. Probably because we’re massive and all that.
Four of the five seasons Charlton have spent in the Championship since their relegation from the Premier League have started with a promoted team. They were the promoted team on the occasion that they didn’t.
Add into that two fixtures against Wycombe Wanderers and Bournemouth in League One, in addition to Sunderland celebrating their Premier League return in 2005/06, and promoted teams have been played on the opening day on seven of the last ten seasons.
So, the first game of the campaign will see Scott Wagstaff return to SE7.
11 August 2015 – Northampton Town (H)
The League Cup first round draw, for us away travellers, is genuinely quite exciting. Because, without any sarcasm at all, there are few things more exciting than going to Morecombe away on a Tuesday night.
But Charlton don’t get the exciting draws. They get horrendously boring clubs from the lower leagues at home. Oxford United and Colchester United in recent seasons, and Northampton will be drawn in this.
A routine 3-0 win will follow, before a disappointing defeat away at Ipswich Town preventing a tie with a Premier League club.
26 September 2015 – Brighton and Hove Albion (A)/3 October 2015 – Milton Keynes Dons (A)
A bit of a personal one, but incredibly predictable.
These two fixtures, in theory, should be my closest away games. I live in Milton Keynes, and attend university near Brighton.
But both of our trips to the Amex since I’ve been a university student have occurred out of term time, meaning I’ve been back in Milton Keynes.
And with MK Dons in the Championship this season, we’ll obviously be playing them at Stadium:MK during term time. Probably the week after I’ve gone back to university, with Brighton away the week before, made possible by a midweek home game in the middle.
13 November 2015 – Queens Park Rangers (A)
Our one televised game of the season will be a trip to Loftus Road on a freezing Friday night in November.
Sky Sports will build it up as a “MASSIVE LONDON DERBY”, Guy Luzon will be asked if he can handle the pressure of such a fixture – “just another game” – and I’ll watch that Jackson header against the R’s from 13/14 on a loop during the week leading up to the game.
Oh, and as it’s on Sky, we’ll lose by at least three. Glory days.
19 December 2015 – Burnley (A)
Since our return to the Championship, our fixtures on the weekend before Christmas have been incredibly grim.
A 2-0 defeat away at Sheffield Wednesday, which featured Dan Seaborne and Salim Kerkar down the left, a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers, and a depressingly poor 2-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
So, of course, we’ll be forced to travel to Burnley, if not Hull, on the Saturday before the festive period gets underway, and we’ll fail to perform. Shudder.
9 January 2016 – Bolton Wanderers (H)
I know the FA Cup third round draw won’t be made for some time, but it’s still all rather predictable. I would be shocked if we don’t get a mediocre Championship club at home.
The upper tiers will be closed, a rotated side will put in a half-hearted performance, and Eidur Gudjohnsen will score a second half winner.
9 February 2016 – Leeds United (A)
The only Championship ground I’ve not been to, aside from one belonging to a relegated Premier League club (KC Stadium) and one belonging to a promoted League One club (Ashton Gate), is Elland Road.
Since our return to the Championship, we have travelled to Leeds on a Tuesday night, and on a Tuesday night where one thing or another has prevented me from slogging up north.
Undoubtedly we’ll be playing them again in midweek, and I’ll walk up there and back to attend if I have to.
30 April 2016 – Preston North End (A)
The last time #CAFC played #PNEFC away on the penultimate weekend of a season, they ended it as champions.
Should it happen, the person tweeting it will be me. All about them numbers, regardless of how unrealistic it is.
7 May 2016 – Huddersfield Town (H)
Last season, it was Yann Kermorgant who returned to The Valley on the final day of the season and celebrated promotion with his new club.
Next season, it will be Chris Powell who will be celebrating promotion in SE7 in May.
He’ll also be joined summer signing Lawrie Wilson, finding his best form again in Powell’s hardworking side, and February loan addition Kermorgant, who was allowed to leave Bournemouth after they signed 76 world class strikes.
Meanwhile, Charlton will have crawled to a mid-table finish.
If it all plays out like that, I absolutely promise not to give it the whole “I told you so” narrative. I’ll be too busy crying.