By Gareth Walker
Yesterday evening I noticed that City had moved from the League Two page on the BBC website onto the League One Page. It suddenly made the crossover seem more official in my mind. The old season was over, we were now in a new one and we have been promoted.
That feeling became even more real today with the release of the league fixtures for the 2013/14 campaign; not least because the fixture computer has given us one of the toughest starts possible – an away game to Bristol City. The Robins were relegated from the Championship at the end of last season and will surely have their eyes set on an immediate return to the second tier.
It is an explosive first month of fixtures for the Bantams, as the trip to Ashton Gate is followed up by a home fixture against Carlisle with our former favourite Greg Abbott making a return to Valley Parade. Our other home game in August is another one that supporters will be looking forward to, as local rivals Sheffield United come to town. Obviously in the middle of all this we have the cup derby against Huddersfield Town as well!
September begins with another tough home game against last seasons beaten play off finalists, Brentford, before we hit a run of games where we will surely be looking to pick up a decent return of points: Colchester, Gillingham, Shrewsbury, Walsall, Tranmere and Crawley. This takes us up to the end of October, when we have two more of the promotion favourites to play back-to-back. Firstly, we visit Preston at Deepdale on a Tuesday night before we entertain the biggest club that the division has to offer, Wolves.
Highlights during November include a home game against Coventry and a trip to what has to be one of the coldest grounds in the country – Boundary Park to play Oldham. Wrap up warm, folks.
The typically crucial month of December sees a trip to the team who I have tipped to finish top of the division – Peterborough, before we head into the hectic Christmas schedule. We have two home games over the festive period. Firstly, the man that we love to hate – Steve Evans – brings his Rotherham side to BD8 on Boxing Day. Don’t fill up on too much turkey, because that promises to be a very tasty afternoon! The last game of 2013 sees us welcome Swindon Town to Valley Parade.
Because we have two home games over Christmas, the New Year inevitably begins with a couple of away trips. Firstly to Notts County and then Carlisle. January also includes the return games against Bristol City (home) and Preston (home) as well as our trip to Bramall Lane.
The backbone of the season in February, March and April will again be a time when we have to be looking to pick up points, hopefully to push us up towards the play off positions rather than being essential in a relegation scrap. MK Dons and Crewe visit us during that time, whilst we travel to the capital for the final time of the season to play Leyton Orient. We also have the away game against Rotherham at The New York Stadium.
Anybody who is looking to relive and reminisce about Sunday 9 May, 1999 will be able to do so when we travel to Molineux on 1st February.
The season ends as it started, with an away fixture. This time to the home of another City villain in the shape of Tranmere’s Ronnie Moore.
We all have different games that we will be looking forward to this season for different reasons, and I have given just a brief overview of some of the games that I personally am looking forward to or see as pivotal. Anybody who is familiar with Nick Hornby’s autobiographical book Fever Pitch will remember the line where he describes the summer as boring – “You just sit in the park and wait for the fixture lists to come out”. Well, now they are out and there are just 45 days to go until the big kick off.
It’s time to get off that park bench and start planning your weekends around City again!