Finally. Today’s the day. The Championship fixtures are announced at 9am. Us Brentford fans find out when we resume hostilities with the likes of the Loftus Road mob or Fulham aswell as undertaking journeys to league pastures new(ish) such as Aston Villa, Burton Albion and Newcastle United. And over in the Euros, those bemoaning the England team can, perhaps, take a little more comfort after seeing Spain come unstuck.
First up though, the fixtures. If these were commentated on (and knowing how Sky Sports News works, nothing would surprise me) I’d expect the line , “For those of you just getting in to work” to be trotted out as these are revealed.
Key dates, as ever, remain first home and away games, both local derbies, the season denouement and whether a Christmas visit from the in-laws will, at least, be tempered by knowing we can escape down the road on Boxing day.
I’ve seen a lot of talk on social media getting excited about the likes of the aforementioned Newcastle, Aston Villa and Burton. Not surprisingly, given league encounters against those three are rarer than a Nick Proschwitz goal. We did, at least, play the Magpies back in 92/93, although 1-2 and 5-1 defeats represented a poor haul against the eventual Division 1 (this was pre Championship) winners.
For me, though, Fulham will be the first name to look out for. Having taken 10 points and 11 goals from them in the four games since our return to the Championship, the chance to continue that run is one which only excites. Stuart Dallas, Jota in the last minute(s), Sam Saunders and an unexpected home debut for Tom Field are just a few of the memories that spring to mind. Here’s to creating a few more.
Roll on 9am when we can start planning the next season and seeing if those dates we’ve already been obliged to mark in the calendar as busy (who gets married between August and May?) are going to see a bullet dodged or backfire massively.
At least, on the planning front, we’ll be offered a small helping hand. Sky have confirmed that aswell as the fixtures they “will confirm details of our first three televised matches alongside the main fixtures announcement”. The ongoing carve up of the fixture list in the name of TV coverage has been a source of frustration for many, albeit an understandable one given their contract to cover live games. Hopefully this does mean we can start to plan the first couple of away trips without fear of having to rebook train tickets.
Besides, the Bees shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just as we are looking forward to visiting Villa Park, Carrow Road et al, I’m sure the Sky producers have similar, audience grabbing, aspirations. Don’t expect Brentford to feature ‘on the road’ for a while. I can see Newcastle United becoming last season’s Leeds United with a TV game every five minutes or so.
Over in France, meanwhile, the Euros continued with Croatia beating many people’s favourites, Spain. Thanks, largely, to goalkeeper Danijel Subasic rewriting the penalty law and being about three yards forward when he saved Sergi Ramos’ spot kick with the scores locked at 1-1 late on.
Northern Ireland, meanwhile, also reached the last 16 despite losing 1-0 to Germany and their talismanic striker yet to kick a ball in anger. Will Grigg’s on the bench, rather than on fire. And, just as after their 2-0 win over Ukraine where we treated to ‘that dance’, Charlie Lawson (TV’s Jim McDonald) was in celebratory mood, enjoying a large Black Bush and delivering a hushed soliloquy to camera from what appeared to be a farmhouse kitchen.
To see such passion and support is a beautiful thing. I love it. Who knows what Charlie will do should they reach the last 8? It’ll be fun finding out though, so it will.
And finally…. : With Brentford almost set to ‘go again’ The Last Word ‘season review’ : Ready. Steady. Go Again and the three year anthology : The Bees are going up remain available for download. Should anybody want to go over this nonsense, re-live a stunning few seasons of Championship life once more and remind ourselves how things turned out after that penalty’ you can do so now.
Here’s to more of the same over 2016/17. Thanks, as ever, for reading.