Unfamiliar fixtures, unfamiliar optimism

The Bradford City official website referred to the new fixture list as ‘intriguing’. That’s one way of describing a league programme that brings Macclesfield Town to Valley Parade for the season’s opener, is followed by early season trips to Shrewsbury, Barnet and Hereford and ends with the delights of a visit to Wycombe.

The reality of life in League Two was always going to set in once the plans for the next nine months could begin, and while the clubs rolling up at Valley Parade between August and May will seem largely unfamiliar, it is hoped that the majority of them won’t be back again anytime in the near future.

It’s certainly a contrast looking at next year’s fixture list compared to others we have first read in previous years. I remember spending hours studying the release of our first ever Premiership fixtures. I’ve read this season’s a couple of times, but it doesn’t exactly fill me with great excitement. Of course we go to watch City and the opposition is secondary, but it’s hard to not to feel envious of Huddersfield Town’s Easter Monday trip to Elland Road. Our local derbies this year will be Rochdale, Accrington, Lincoln and Rotherham.

I always find the release of the fixture list to be a mixed blessing. It’s certainly an exciting moment in a Bradford City free summer, but sharply brings into focus that the new season is not long off and usually makes me long for the opening game to come around.

If the club is also looking some way off being ready for the campaign ahead, it can also seem a bit disconcerting. The weeks are flying by, but there are still no new faces to pose in a City kit for the local media and talk about their aims to take the club forward. Meanwhile many of our rivals seem to be snapping up decent players with disturbing regularity.

Chesterfield in particular have brought in a few new faces that we would have been happy to see join this club. There are still plenty of players are available, but with so many new faces needed to be brought in before the Macclesfield game it would be nice to welcome the first batch sooner rather than later.

New signings will soon arrive, pre-season friendlies begin in just over three weeks and we all soon be settling down for another campaign of highs and lows. With City apparently having one of the largest playing budgets in the division, it is to be hoped promise will be fulfilled and the highs will for once outweigh the lows. The fixture may prompt a range of emotions; fear is certainly not among them. Being the first visitors to Shrewsbury’s new stadium might be tricky, but there are no games that leave you feeling less than comfortable about City’s chances.

The fixture list feels unfamiliar, but hopefully it won’t be a novelty that we have to get used to.