We, as football fans, are hamsters on a wheel. From a very young age we endure and enjoy in equal moderation an endlessly repetitive loop of summer transfer rumours, August delusions, promising cup runs, and tantalising glimpses of glory before reality inevitably smacks us hard across the chops and our teams once again break our weary hearts. Then the whole tawdry affair resumes all over again.
Wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to break that cycle? To unburden yourself from the duty and responsibility of following a single team and instead indulge in some selfish thrill-seeking? Your club will still be there waiting for you next year on your return. In truth it will barely have noticed your departure.
After years of loyal and devoted service don’t you deserve a well-earned hiatus from watching the same eleven men produce the same predictable dross, all whilst sitting next to a fat man with questionable hygiene who insists on shouting xenophobic abuse to any player not born within twenty miles of the ground?
For the exorbitant price you pay just for the privilege of watching a game of footy each weekend shouldn’t each match truly matter – a fiercely contested derby or perhaps a proverbial six-pointer? Sometimes even a great pie is enough.
So sack off your season ticket, put aside your allegiance until next August (at least in person), and take a Ross-and-Rachel style break from all the stress and strife of following the one solitary club. Instead treat yourself to a best of package…a fantasy fixture list….a dream season.
August 18th Leeds United v Wolves
Its de rigour to start any dream season with a potential humdinger and this has all the makings. Neil Warnock will be looking to piece together his 8th promotion campaign whilst Wolves are hoping to bounce straight back into the big time. All played out at a sunny Elland Road in August.
August 25th Southampton v Wigan
The Saints opening Premier League is away at the new champions City and with all due respect are not expected to fare well. This however will be viewed as a chance to get some points on the board and all whilst celebrating their long overdue return to the top flight. St Marys will be booming.
Sept 1st Hartlepool v Scunthorpe
The first in a number of derbies to feature in a season to remember. A north-east cracker pet.
Sept 8th Morecombe v Fleetwood
An opportunity to check out the progress of league newbies Fleetwood as they take on their fellow north-west seasiders. Cockles and the drunken construction of sand castles are optional but recommended.
Sept 15th QPR v Chelsea
A fierce local affair made all the more lively with the prospect of Anton v Terry Part II. This is one derby that rarely disappoints.
Sept 23rd Liverpool v Man United
The Guardian described this fixture in January as ‘football tribalism at its most visceral’. It’s vicious, intense as hell; a ninety minute defibrillator of passion and that’s before we even consider Evra and Suarez. The Race Relations Board are going to be fielding interview requests throughout September it seems.
Sept 30th Nottingham Forest v Derby
There has never been any love lost between these two but in recent times their rivalry has been cranked up to 11 with a series of headline-grabbing incidents between both fans and players. Expect to see a red card or three.
Oct 6th Inverness CT v Ross County
With County’s demolition of the First Division last term they’ve now earned the right to challenge Callie for the crown of King of the Highlands. Not only is a corking game in store but the drive up the A82 will take your breath away.
Oct 13th Swindon v Coventry
With the two divisions on an international break why not take a trip to the County Ground and enjoy the mad theatrics of Di Canio on the touchline as his team take on a Coventry side tipped for promotion.
Oct 20th New York Red Bulls v Sporting Kansas City
The Red Bull’s last home game of their schedule offers the chance to visit the Big Apple, hurl some British vernacular Tim Cahill’s way, and giggle under your breath at those around you talk loudly about ‘offence’. Pass the trip off to your missus as an early Xmas shopping opportunity. She’ll think of how Sandra will be impressed with her gift bearing a Bloomingdales tag and buy it wholesale.
Oct 27th Everton v Liverpool
The Merseyside Derby is always more exciting at Goodison. Fact.
Nov 3rd Paris Saint-Germain v St Etienne
A complete weekend break in the UK affords us another trip abroad this time to beautiful Paris. PSG have been accumulating superstars like action figures this summer and it will be fascinating to see if they can blend a fluid, functioning team from them. For me personally I’d be in the away end cheering on a team I’ve long cherished from afar. From their 70’s kit to the band named after them Les Verts have a coolness the Qataris can never buy.
Nov 10th Plymouth v Gillingham
It’s all very well swanning off to New York and Paris but perhaps it’s now time to put something back? To stand up and be counted and do the right thing. Devon might be one hell of a drive – especially for a game between a couple of League Two sides probably snug in mid-table at this point – but Argyle need money. A ticket, pie and a pint might not be much but it all helps.
Nov 17th Arsenal v Tottenham
It will be hard to match last season’s seven goal thriller but the North London derby is never short of quality goals and high drama.
Nov 24th Man United v QPR
United partly blame Rangers for their May 13th shellshock, viewing the late conceding of Aguero’s goal in particular as a white flag raised after their own relegation battle was secured. Will this be pay-back? Will Young go for a triple pike with tuck this time?
Dec 1st Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Since Dortmund’s rise to dominance this has become a sizzling clash between the old guard and the new pretenders and with Gotze, Reus, Ribery and Robben on show there’s no shortage of twinkle-toed talent either. Pretend its Oktoberfest beforehand for a weekend to (not) remember.
Dec 8th Dundee v Dundee United
The Tangerines take on the Dee at a packed Den’s Park that has all the atmosphere and steamy-breathed passion of any other derby but thankfully little spite. The two clubs even shared a hooligan element at one stage called the Dundee Unity. Warms the heart that does.
Dec 15th Chester-le-Street Town FC v Seaham Red Star
Regularly voted the best grub in football the van outside Moor Park has achieved legendary status serving up sausage, bacon, egg, black pudding and beans all in a bap.
Time to get your belly in training for the Xmas turkey.
Dec 22th Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton
Two easy-on-the-eye passing sides reunited again after their League One promotion battle last term.
Dec 26th Oldham v Doncaster
There may be bigger games elsewhere but no fixture can offer you a better cure for your Boxing Day hangover. A few sips into your Bovril and the bracing wind from the coldest ground in the UK will soon clear the head and get the pulse racing once more.
Dec 29th Cardiff City v Millwall
Peace and love to all mankind? Not here there won’t be.
Jan 2nd Hearts v Hibernian
Hogmanay in Edinburgh followed by this rip-roaring grudge-match. 2013…I’ll s*** ya yer wee bampot. Thumb through some of Irvine Welsh’s finest scribbling on the train journey up then revel in a fierce, hate-filled Scottish derby only minus the religious bigotry.
Jan 12th Arsenal v Man City
If RvP had joined City this game could have been declared a biohazard due to the poisonous atmosphere. As it is Gooners will content themselves with unleashing hell once more on Nasri.
Jan 19th West Brom v Aston Villa
Locals from both sides will tell you that Wolves and Birmingham are their main foes but this is always a tasty all-Midlands encounter with usually one side running amok.
Jan 26th Preston NE v Coventry
Two sides expected to be in ‘the mix’ putting together their League One promotion charge. Should be a feisty one as both aim to prove their credentials.
Feb 2nd Crystal Palace v Charlton
The former tenants return ‘home’ to find there’s been many changes made. “That vase in the boardroom never used to be there and what have you done with the free sweetie jar in reception?”
Feb 9th Oxford United v Bristol Rovers
If the bookies have it right these two should be jostling for position by now in the top six. Plus Oxford isn’t exactly the worst place to visit on a brisk February Saturday.
Feb 16th Homebase v Sky Sports News
No Prem games and a fairly routine schedule elsewhere so it’s time for a well deserved weekend off and a chance to save your pennies for a forthcoming trip to the peninsula. Those shelves need putting up and that rickety gate won’t mend itself but all that can wait because Kammy is at Portsmouth and there’s beer in the fridge. Bliss.
Feb 24th Inter v AC Milan
All-in packages are available for a price of a Chelsea burger so there’s no excuse not to experience the deafening roar of a Milanese stand-off, flares and all.
Mar 2nd Tottenham v Arsenal
Another derby and a second bite of the North London cherry-bomb. Marvel at the sheer amount of vowels being used in their singing and laugh at AVB and Wenger both on their haunches going quietly and steadily insane.
Mar 9th Fulham v Chelsea
Staying in the capital for this one, an all-West London affair set alongside the tranquil and picturesque setting of the Thames. No dream season would be complete without a trip to Craven Cottage.
Mar 16th Wrexham v Luton Town
All being well fan-owned Wrexham will be firmly in the hunt for promotion to achieve a fairytale return to the Football League. Luton have similar aspirations and should be in contention too. So this could be a momentous encounter with huge significance for both. So probably a draw then.
Mar 22nd Scotland v Wales
The fourth game for each in a World Cup qualifying group that is – on paper at least – eminently qualifiable. Can’t we fix it so that both teams win this one? In some corners of the world they’d find a way. Too honest, that’s our trouble.
Apr 1st Blackpool v Crystal Palace
An Easter weekend in Blackpool with double shots for 50p and more cellulite on show than at a feeder’s convention. Yup, count us in.
Apr 6th Man United v Man City
It can’t happen again. Can it?
Apr 13th Newcastle United v Sunderland
Well-travelled Brits tend to dismiss these isles as being a mere postage stamp compared to the huge expanses say of America. They should spend ninety minutes in the company of this lot. It’s a different world where even the beer tastes funny.
Apr 20th Fleetwood v Chesterfield
The second and third favourites for promotion line up with just one further game to go. Something has to give. Something here will be decided.
Apr 27th Sheffield United v Preston
The final day of the League One campaign and two of the favourites face-up in a potentially era-defining game for each side. This one is a firecracker left unattended for eight months just waiting to explode.
May 4th Nottingham Forest v Leicester
Two of the Championship’s promotion favourites face off at the City Ground for a possible day of destiny. May the fourth be with them.
May 12th Aston Villa v Chelsea
With Chelsea’s likely title rivals all having ‘winnable’ games (as if there are such things at this stage of the season!) the blues travel to Villa Park to overcome extremely difficult opponents in a fixture that often produces a goal-fest. Last season finished 4-2 to the visitors.
May 19th Newcastle v Arsenal
First came the 4-4 extravaganza then Barton’s histrionics after being gently pawed across his mush. This clash always throws up incidents aplenty and considering both will be well in the top six reckoning this has all the makings of a stonewall classic involving goals, drama, heartbreak and ecstasy. In short the perfect way to end a season of dreams.