THE fixture announcement last week came as a bit of an anticlimax – as it does every year. So I don’t really know why I was expecting any different this time around, writes Toby Lock.
Everyone has to play everyone twice, home and away – it’s just a case of whether I can nurse a hangover on New Year’s Day and carefully make my way three miles up the road to stadium:mk, or whether I have to be sensible on the final day of 2011 because of a long away trip in the morning.
As a football reporter I will have to cover all the games. The fixture list at least allows me and the die-hard fans to plan where we’ll be for the next 40-odd Saturdays as Dons plot their way out of League One again.
But while clubs up and down the country will now be planning how to rope in every potential punter off the street and into their stands, you have to wonder whether the ‘fixture computer’ takes any consideration into helping the fans.
The main reason for me writing this is Dons’ fixtures against Yeovil – both are penned in for Tuesday nights.
Around 150 miles separate the two stadiums, and it takes a decent three-and-a-half hours to travel from one to the other, if you allow for a quick pit-stop along the way.
For the ordinary fan, who might take in the odd away game, travelling home from Yeovil on a Tuesday night won’t exactly be high up on their list of things to do before they die – especially as just three days earlier, they might have driven along the very same route for the game in Exeter.
I don’t doubt that the players and staff may stay down in Somerset for those few days, but it isn’t feasible for the fans.
And it’s vice-versa in the return leg – Yeovil fans are unlikely to travel in their masses to stadium:mk for a Tuesday night game in March – I’m sure at least 250-300 will be knocked off the attendances because these fixtures are midweek.
If the Football League are so intent on driving up attendances by offering ‘great football at reasonable prices’ then make sure it’s actually worth the fans making the effort.
Taking a Tuesday off work to travel to a game that could have been played on a Saturday is expensive business. Getting in late and possibly even booking the next day off or not risking the drive home that night and getting a hotel – it all adds up.
But as previously mentioned, every year we expect something amazing, and every year we’re left disappointed when the fixture list comes out. Let’s just hope this time next year we’re looking at Championship futures. That might cheer us up.