Monday, 20 June 2011

So which games are you going to?

Has anyone else seen Fever Pitch? You know the scene when the couple are lying in bed and she’s trying to plan a holiday, but he won’t. And she gets angry because the reason he won’t is that it might clash with an Arsenal game…

I realised this morning: that is me!

I’ve got loads planned for July… holiday with the boyfriend, going to see Take That (again) and the last Harry Potter film. But until Friday I couldn’t see beyond there.

Suddenly, by the end of the afternoon on Fixture List Day I knew exactly where I was going to be every weekend until April next year.

So here’s the pick of my favourites, helped along once again by the Town Tweeps who had lots of banter going that day.

In the absence of Naaaarwich, the first games I looked for were the first and last and I was rather pleased because I have family in Bristol. It’s a long way to go if we lose… but Town had an unexpected win there last season and it’s hard to turn down football when you haven’t seen it for three months.

Speaking of the last game I went to see; while me and my sister were in Leicester we made a pact that from now on we would always go to the last game of the season together – so I’m equally pleased to find that this year that will be Doncaster Away.

Regular readers will know that I considered this fixture the best one of last season; the score and the atmosphere were great. Can I wholeheartedly recommend it to Town fans? It’s easy to get to (more so for me as I live twenty minutes down the A1!) and there’s lots of parking. A brilliant little shopping centre nearby provides plenty of options for pre-match food and the ground itself is almost brand new. Pencil it in your diaries now!

So, having sorted those dates out I looked towards the second trip my sister and I promised to make together – Blackpool away. Joyfully, this is in September so I am, so far, able to keep to my budgeting rule of one game a month. I missed this fixture when Blackpool were last in the same league; but will not be doing so again. As an ex-Premier League side this promises to be an exciting game and I plan to party afterwards: win, lose or draw!

Next up, I always like to see where we will be around my birthday. This year Watford Away is the day after so I feel a trip to London coming on. Hope the date suits @Blue_Fred who told me this was the game he was most looking forward to: ‘I know we never bloody win but it’s only 15 minutes drive away’.

Like him, I also try and make it to all the games that are near where I live. Being from Yorkshire, there are slightly less options on offer this year with Sheffield United and Preston being relegated. But there’s still plenty to go to, along with Doncaster.

The big one is obviously Leeds, a game @dave_harrison was also keeping an eye out for: ‘I live in Leeds, so that’s the big one for me!’ Personally I have been avoiding this match, having been put off by how their fans behaved the day we got them relegated, but I’ll see how I feel a bit closer to January 21st.

There’s also my now local team, Barnsley. Hate the fans, hate the ground, but love having an away game literally five minutes down the road! So, on December the 10th I will definitely be making the trip to Oakwell.

Also being discussed on Twitter were the Festive fixtures: Leicester and Reading Away has disappointed some fans. But I’m making sure I have a Christmas at home this year so a quick trip to the Midlands shouldn’t be too difficult for me – and will give the boyfriend a break from the childlike hyperactivity that shines from me every Christmas.

Finally, Carl Marston from the EADT has also given his take on the fixture list; including what he feels will be the ‘hardest stretch’ and the ‘easiest stretch’. Whilst it is refreshing to see that the final games are considered ‘easy’, I want to make my point that this theory just isn’t going to apply in practice.

Remember last year? Remember the ‘easy games’ that ended in dull draws and defeats from last minute goals? Remember the frustration we were feeling at the lack of consistency?

But then remember the games that no-one expected us to win? Remember Bristol away, Cardiff away and of course Arsenal at home?

The best thing about the Championship is that is so unpredictable. Anyone can win, any game, on any day. I wouldn’t bet a penny on any of our games, or any other teams for that matter, because you can never guarantee an outcome.

What matters more is that the players are up for it and want to win this year. What matters more is the consistent support from the back room staff, starting with Paul Jewell.

But what matters most is that we, the fans, are there for them. So don’t get frustrated that Town haven’t bought as many players as you’d like. Don’t get annoyed with the board because they didn’t secure Jimmy Bullard or any other high profile players. Let them do their job and you do yours.

Sing your hearts out for the lads.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

WANTED: something to do with my weekends until August...

Unlike the rest of the world, my calendar doesn't run from January to December: it starts in August and ends in May.

The last game of the season is like Christmas day: the party you've all been building up to.

The Champions League final and the Play Offs are that little bit of extra excitement: like New Years Eve.

But then comes June... just like January: the excitement's all gone, there's nothing to do and all you're doing is waiting for next Christmas.

Well fear not my sport loving friends because I am fast discovering there is plenty else to concentrate your efforts on. Take all your love for football and channel it into some of these sports for two months:


First recommendation comes courtesy of one of my favourite ITFC Tweeps: @JulesHoward. She's been keeping us updated with the scores at the French Open this week, and gets overly excited by Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.

Perhaps we all should follow her lead: With Wimbledon just around the corner it's time for Murray-Mania to grip the nation again, and following England's latest result I think it'd be nice to restore some national sporting pride.


You cannot fail to have been intrigued by England's recent cricket victory. The last minute win over Sri Lanka was a corker, a perfectly written story to entice those neutral sports fans looking for somewhere to turn their attention.


I was also reminded that the beutiful game still ahs more to offer thanks to @bigstuw:

'Why do commentators keep saying no more footy until August? What aboutt he Women's World Cup and the Under 21's?'

The Women's World Cup begins in Germany on June 27th. Our girls are out for revenge; having lost to Germany in the final of the Euros two years ago. If you haven't already given this sport a try - do. There's some really talented girls being forced to move to America because the popularity of women's football isn't what it could be over here.

Plus: you can't honestly resist supporting England in a battle against Germany can you?!

As Stuw mentioned, there's also the England Under 21's. who managed a rather easy 2:0 win over Norway last night. The future of our sport includes our very own Connor Wickham who makes regular appearances for the side .

MotoGP/World Superbikes/British Superbikes:

I'm a reasonably new convert to this sport, having only been following it for about four years. But the excitement you get at the races cannot be equalled.

MotoGP, like F1, is glam, full of money and highly competitive. But what makes two wheels better than four in this case is the lack of arrogance and the abundance of characters. There's far more overtaking in bikes than with cars and the riders race to win - they rarely settle for second best.

World Superbikes this year is full of English riders, making it easy to watch for neutral fans. Leon Haslam's one to watch for the future, son of three times world champion Ron Haslam. My personal favourite is James Toseland... one for the girls, he's a hottie!

But my personal recommendation, should you be searching for something to do this summer, is the British Superbikes Championship. There's much less money here so it's a lot tighter than other competitions. There's a huge range of riders taking part: the older and more experienced, the younger and more adventurous (substitute for 'likely to crash'!), the consistently clever who make their way up the pack steadily, and there's even a girl this year! There's tracks across the country too (Nearest to Suffolk is Snetterton in Naaaaarfolk) and the tickets cost £30 - same as Town only for a whole day of entertainment.

Me at Brand's Hatch for the opening round of the British Superbikes!

Let me know if there's anything you can recommend to keep the boredom away this summer - leave a comment on my post or Tweet me @tractorgirlamy

In the mean time, here's how I see the summer this year:

Take the chance to absorb some other sports, see what else there is on offer. Of course football will always be your first love and you'll forgive your self for saying, 'Bikes/Tennis/Cricket are cool ... But they're not my beloved Ipswich'. The brief change in scenery will be nice for you though!

At least it might help take your mind off the transfer window...