Fixtures day is a big day in the calendar for fans and players alike as it sets in stone where you are going to be on a given date, and all of a sudden it becomes real and all that armed with the knowledge that the season is just over a month away, fingers crossed (Covid), and we can start planning those away days.
I was lucky enough to attend the fixtures breakfast at SMK and on release of the fixtures it was quickly noted that we had some of the leagues big hitters in the opening month of August, but to Russ it didn’t really concern him as he commented, “ we have to play them sometime so why not get them out of the way early”.
Under closer inspection it really is a daunting start to the season, newly promoted Bolton away the first game of the season, then the following weekend our first home game versus one of the annually fancied teams Sunderland, the following Tuesday we have another favourite for the title when we host Charlton Athletic, and it doesn’t let up the following Saturday when we travel to Ipswich to play another fancied team who have money to spend with their recent club takeover.
Every fan has days and dates they look out for or a particular club that has a personal interest so I will endeavour to highlight a few of those.
The second month of the season sees us journey to newly promoted Cheltenham Town and the wonderfully named Jonny-Rocks Stadium. With the relatively short journey we can expect a good away following if Covid restrictions allow, and those that have been before will know with the low roof the atmosphere here can be excellent, its certainly one to put on the list of grounds to visit.
Towards the end of September we have the “Battle of Bucks” when we host Wycombe Wanderers although that is still in doubt as the EFL still ponder how heavy to come down on Derby County who are to be subjected to some form of punishment, and one of the alternatives is relegation which could mean Wycombe are spared from a season in League 1.
Six games in October and of course the one most fans look forward to when AFC come calling to SMK, certainly not a game to miss.
November sees us kick off the month against newly promoted Cambridge United at home, that will be ours and one of their shortest journeys of the season and the away game in March will probably see the biggest Dons following of the season.
Later in the month we have a Tuesday night game at Sheffield Wednesday which is not ideal, and for those that like a seaside trip a visit to Morecambe the following Saturday might be a tad cold for the hoped for weekender.
Boxing Day is a game many fans look out for and for us it’s a trip to Sincil Bank and Lincoln City, we certainly owe them one and as ever we will probably get a not too friendly welcome, with the Vermin banner probably making another appearance.
New Years Day is another notable day for fans but its an uninspiring home match with Gillingham for us and a visit from larger than life Steve Evans. The last Saturday of the month we will possibly be heading down to Wycombe, or it could be Derby…. hopefully that issue will get sorted out soon.
February sees more disappointment for those that like playing the seaside clubs, unfortunately it’s a Tuesday night game away at Fleetwood which makes it a big ask even for the most hardened fan.
February is also a tough month and almost a replay of the start of the season with games against Ipswich Town, Sunderland, Charlton Athletic and Bolton all coming thick and fast.
March does feel a bit easier with the highlight being the trip to Cambridge United that I mentioned earlier.
April and the sprint to the line, or worse looking over your shoulder with the highlight being the second Saturday of the month and the trip down to the smoke and the Meccano Stadium and all the fun and games that brings.
Our final home game of the season sees us play Morecambe, and our final away game down at Home Park Plymouth, not the most inspiring finish to the season but who knows what it all could mean.
In the League Cup we have bagged a trip down to Bournemouth on a Tuesday night in August so that could be a day down on the beach, weather permitting, and in the Pizza Cup we have been lumped together with Burton Albion, Wycombe Wanderers and Aston Villa kids.
Fingers crossed when August comes round everything will be back to normal, well as normal as possible, and of course there is bound to be a question mark or two regarding away fans at games, especially if the predicted Winter Covid comes calling.
Don’t forget the pre-season friendlies, hopefully we will be allowed to those, but whatever happens enjoy it and get to the games, and I’m sure we will all appreciate the live football, watching from the sofa is no substitute.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Come On You Dons.