By Frank Stubbs
Summer time is not normally a period where I add my latest blog. But, just like the season’s opening day or the FA Cup third-round draw, the fixtures coming out is one of ‘those’ days where I feel like a little kid.
Like many of us I treat the fixtures very personally. Especially as I am an Arsenal addict so not attending a fixture doesn’t ever come into any initial equation!
Saying that however, and although my choices are relatively flexible, you’ve probably guessed by now I do have a life outside football. When it comes to my passion however, I’m very selfish too. I don’t like doing things I don’t want to.
"I couldn't have handpicked Chelsea away any better!"
If there is something I would prefer to be doing that’s pretty much the direction I head. And yep, as I sit here in my mid-40s I have lost relationships, jobs and worse as a result.
Norwich away for a league cup replay when on holiday north of Inverness was one such choice. Scarborough away in the fog when I was supposedly at a meeting in Crawley another.
But do these - and many other - occasions make me a bad person? Inconsiderate? Maybe. Unable to compromise? Probably. Stubborn? On occasion. But fixtures like this were not on an initial list. So I had made other arrangements. Now, quite simply, other than the odd gig ticket I could sell if it clashes, I don’t. It’s easier you see.
When I look at the fixture announcement my brain works something like this:
Who we got first game? I could do with a London fixture as I have a wedding reception on Saturday evening. West Ham United at home. That’s a good start. Even better if it’s moved to Saturday lunch time or Sunday.
The weekend of the August 22 is the next I need to look at. I’ve got tickets for The Ashes at The Oval for the Saturday so I could do with a game that can be moved to Sunday. Liverpool at home - there are definitely TV possibilities there. Again, if it doesn’t get moved the Arsenal come first. I’ll sell the cricket tickets if that happens.
The following week I have music festival tickets so it was always highly likely I would miss one of the two days. Something Saturday in London would be good and to have it moved to Saturday lunch time would be perfect.
Newcastle away… Not very helpful that one. I can fly up and back to that one though so I will still get to one day of the festival. And it’s bank holiday weekend with no Champions League fixtures to follow, so I’ll cling on to the fact it could be moved to the Monday night! You never know.
Bestival is on the weekend of September 12 and I have tickets of course. Stoke at home. That’ll do. Make it Saturday or Sunday lunch time please TV companies. No hang on, it won’t be moved to Sunday because we have our first Champions League group match that week! Go for Saturday lunch time please TV people. That would be just perfect.
The following week and I do have a potential problem. One of my very best mates is getting married. He should know the rules - June is the month for weddings! I need a fixture that could not only be moved for TV but one that is the biggest fixture of the weekend. Surely then there is a massive chance it could be Sunday at 4pm. Chelsea away. I probably couldn’t have handpicked that any better, especially as both clubs will be playing in the Champions League the previous midweek. Fingers crossed on that one.
Mid July we normally find out TV’s full selections. Then and only then can I start to put together my totally selfish and personal diary. Only until the end of November though of course.
December and onwards will have to wait for the next TV announcement.
I should have one or two days free in June 2016 though.