I remember back in March 1997, I did a radio documentary for Radio 5 Live called
"The Death of Football". During the Bristol Rovers game, where Mooney scored
after five minutes (and where the match finished 1-0), I made the point that over
the past few years we had played on every day of the week, culminating in us
playing Chesterfield at the end of that season on a Thursday.
I felt that, despite the whole procession of fixture changes, there
would be, sooner or later, some sort of backlash from the fans about being
messed around. The essence of the programme was to show that since
Hillsborough, there had been a concerted attempt to take the game away from
the true home and away fans, and part of the programme's raison d'etre was
to provoke a response. I am still waiting for the backlash!
Nearly five years on and we have 6.15 kick offs on Saturday and Sunday
(including poor Preston travelling five hundred miles on a Sunday night). A Tuesday gets
moved to a Monday (Burnley) to accommodate a five hundred mile Thursday trip
(Preston) three days later, regardless of the FA Cup Fourth Round, two days before the
Burnley game. Tuesday games in South Yorkshire three days after a Saturday game
in West Yorkshire still ensures that a fan looks at the fixture list in
What to do?
I'm not so up on the football politics these days, owing to a combination of
disillusionment and time...but does anyone know if there is something /
anything / anyone who is trying to galvanise awareness of this issue. It
seems incredible that as fans we are still letting this move away from
3pm on Saturday and 7.45pm on Tuesday evening continue unabated. I am slightly more
fortunate than others in as much as I can get pretty much anywhere at any
time. But a few years ago I remember taking every single day of my annual
leave to follow Watford in the league and cups - a day here, a half day there.
For those that have to do it, it is a right royal pain in the arse.
People say "You don't have to go", but that is crap! Sometimes the illness
is too severe not to go!
Surely, by way of compensation to the fans who travel to these shockingly
scheduled fixtures, the clubs or tv companies (where they have changed it)
should be duty bound to provide reasonable transportation to the game. When
I say reasonable, I don't mean a free club coach that gets stuck for two hours
on the M6. I am talking about trains that are not difficult to organise....
Another pipe dream I fear!