Fixtures Unveiled: Plot Your Path Through Boro’s Dates With Destiny

LEICESTER. Big Nige… sacking permitting. That’s a tough opener – but aren’t they always?
The fixtures are out so football is officially back and if you are anything like me you’ll be buzzing. Planning. Speculating. Jiggling the work rota. Looking at train timetables and the AA routefinder. And feeling sick with worry. Leicester first. At home. They did the double over Boro last term. They are big spenders. They will be up there. That’s tough.
As for the rest, it is time to impose your own world view on what is essentially a random list of dates, and time to project your own hopes and fears onto the unknown.
Go on, pick a path through this little lot and plot a route to glory… or despair.

For me, my upbeat instinct takes me straight to the end of the list and I see three winnable games out of the last four with home games against institutional relegation strugglers Millwall and Barnsley plus an end of term long haul promotion party at Yeovil. But that’s me. You may see a series of relegation six pointers and disaster looming.
The full fixture list is on the main Gazette site for the first time. The Powers That Be used to jealously guard their copyright and charge us full whack for use of them for anything other than once and once only in print on the day under the stringent legal straitjacket we signed up to, it was only on pain of death we could even hint at them outside of a news context.
But obviously, social media makes it impossible to police that now, even if there was any logic to restricting the most basic bits of customer information and powerful PR tool.
So let’s do it. Let’s see how the reshaped and tuned mighty #Mogganaut will begin to roll on the path to play-off success. Or not. Delete as applicable.
3 (h) Leicester
10 (a) Charlton
17 (h) Blackpool
24 (a) Wigan
31 (h) Sheffield Weds
14 (a) Ipswich
17 (a) Nottingham Forest
21 (h) Bournemouth
28 (a) Queens Park Rangers
1 (h) Huddersfield
5 (h) Yeovil
19 (a) Barnsley
26 (h) Doncaster
2 (a) Blackburn
9 (h) Watford
23 (a) Leeds
30 (h) Bolton
3 (a) Derby County
7 (a) Birmingham
14 (h) Brighton
21 (a) Millwall
26 (h) Burnley
29 (h) Reading
1 (a) Bolton
11 (a) Blackpool
18 (h) Charlton
25 (a) Leicester
28 (h) Wigan
1 (a) Doncaster Rovers
8 (h) Blackburn
15 (a) Watford
22 (h) Leeds
1 (a) Sheffield Weds
8 (h) Ipswich
11 (h) Nottingham Forest
15 (a) Bournemouth
22 (h) Queens Park Rangers
25 (a) Huddersfield
29 (a) Brighton
5 (h) Derby County
8 (h) Birmingham
12 (a) Burnley
19 (h) Millwall
21 (a) Reading
26 (h) Barnsley
3 (a) Yeovil
That looks like a promotion campaign to me. But then, it always does at this time of year. We are unbeaten and joint top. Or joint bottom without a win, you decide. I always find it strange that people can brand the fixtures as “tough” or “easy” at this stage when most clubs barely have two-thirds of their first team fixed and we can’t possibly know how they will shape up when the action starts. But football lore demands it.
So I will make a sweeping statement and say: blimey, August looks tough with three possible play-off rivals. That is a tricky looking start and with the sting of last season still smarting it will heap pressure on the boss from the off. There won’t be a lot of leeway in a season that is sure to have a low boiling point. November looks testing too. If truth be told, I’m not a massive fan of January either. Or the back end of March going into April. Oh no, we are all going to die!
Just a few observations: both Forest fixtures are midweek – again. Why is that. Can anyone remember the last time we playe dthe Trickies on a Saturday? Millwall the Saturday before Christmas – great, the trains will be heaving; Blackburn in January will be grim, but then it is whatever the date; two very long trips to Brighton and Bournemouth in March… but at least it is March and not dank and depressing November; home for the two games after Christmas is always a result for returning Tees exiles at their Mam’s for the holiday and the club in terms of bums on seats; and Bolton away on New Years’ Day is a short haul but it will be freezing. It always is. Still, the fixture list is what it is.
We need a good start and we need few entertaining performances at home to raise morale and shift the last few season tickets (ha!). After that it is just about staying in the pack and avoiding the worst of the wobble – this year pencilled in to start at Bolton on New Year’s Day followed by the traditional battering at Blackpool – then regaining morale and momentum ready for that last surge down the final straight with the three wins out of the final four in the crucial run in. Then Yeovil…
We will be going there 8,000 strong in shirt sleeves needing a win to squeeze into the play-offs. Against a team with nothing to play for. What could possibly go wrong?


17 thoughts on “Fixtures Unveiled: Plot Your Path Through Boro’s Dates With Destiny

  1. Teams coming up tend to do better early on so a team you would maybe beat later in the season you have a better chance of dropping points with a draw early on.
    I would love us to play well and get results all season .But we know that wont happen. May be a slower start with a big run at the end is the way i would like it to pan out this time round. But that would be a real change of form.
    Some good games on paper over the festive season with Reading being possibly the best prepared team coming down money wise.

  2. End of season seaside trip to Yeovil?
    Crikey you must be expecting some coastal erosion in Somerset. Or an April tsunami!!!
    **AV writes: I think we are doing an overnight on the Friday and I’m thinking Weymouth or Poole so I’ll be getting some bucket and spade/fish and chip action. But I take your geographically accurate point.

  3. I think given what happened last season it will be important for Mogga to have a good start. So looking on paper at our opening ten games I think the pressure is on – especially the away fixtures with Charlton, Wigan, Forest and QPR.
    Also the potential for another post-christmas slump hasn’t been helped by having Burnley, Reading, Bolton, Blackpool, Charlton, Leicester, Wigan before the end of January – though hopefully Boro will be as advertised a more mentally tougher proposition this term.
    Finally, at least the end of season run in doesn’t look too harsh if we need to push for the playoffs/escape to safety/clinch the title (everything is still possible before a ball has been kicked)

  4. Weymouth or Poole? Great place Weymouth had some good holidays there as a kid. On the other hand if you go to Poole Vic I’m sure ‘Arry will treat you to a G & T on his veranda. Right up your street I would imagine……..
    My first match will either be the Riverside at the end of August or Ipswich away in Sept. That won’t be another thrashing and dismal performance surely?

  5. Nigel –
    My first game is likely to be by the Trent (Smog, are we allowed to use the Tricky Trees word yet?).
    I like Vics idea for the away game at Yeovil but a question that sprang in to my mind is whether the bucket and spade were for the super size portion of fish and chips.
    By the way Vic, that is some severe haircut, very US Marine or Tank Kommandant.
    **AV writes: Severe? That is long!

  6. AV –
    Some of us treasure every hair we have, know them individually and cant ‘bare’ to lose them. They have individual names.
    Many moons ago our kids asked their grandad what happened to his hair. They believed him for several years when he told them he left them on the train. That is a long time ago, even before zonal (aiso known as non marking) at set pieces.
    **AV writes: I don’t really “do” hair. I let it grow upwards a bit then one day it gets too long so I get the clippers out and cut it back to the bone and start again.

  7. Can we mention the unmentionables yet? Well we have beaten them twice and palmed Kris Boyd off onto them…………………No, no you cannot.
    As for the fixtures, I always look at it the other way round. What will Leicester fans be thinking. “Boro? Awful end to the season. Massive squad overhaul, losing faith in the manager . Cast iron defeat”
    I haven’t got the faintest idea what will happen next year. That’s why I keep going.
    Up the Boro
    **AV writes: That sounds like a very sensible approach.

  8. Smog –
    One of the beauties of living in this part of the East Midlands is the sheer number of clubs in the same division as us.
    Fans of Leicester, Derby, Nameless Wood, Sheff Wednesday, Brum all have similar views of their clubs.
    They are all looking forward with a wary eye on the rear view mirror for what is coming up behind. A sort of think once, think twice, think trapdoor.
    They all think they should get points whilst rationalising potential failures.

  9. Looks to me as though Mike Ashley has been reading The Art of War.
    Toon fans do not seem to be very appreciative. Thank heavens that we have, in Messrs Gibson and Mowbray, two men of greater wisdom, loyalty, integrity, and local allegiance. And a local reporter whose perceptiveness, and willingness to face the awkward issues makes a refreshing change from the sensationalism of the nationals, and the knee-jerk responses and short-termism of many fans.
    We may be going through a difficult period on the field, but we have a lot to be thankful for. Completely revamping the club every time we hit a bad run is not an option in a sane world.

  10. If the last couple of seasons are anything to go by then the fixture list barely matters – we will start reasonably, then hit our stride pre-Christmas before falling away.
    That said, I’ll make a wild prediction for the sake of argument and say that by the end of October (which looks as straightforward a month as you’ll get) we’ll be within three points of last year’s total at the same juncture (25).
    Let’s hope the squad is made of stronger stuff this year.

  11. There’s some big names in those first seven fixtures, and four of them are away. I can see us in the bottom three after that start. And I’m an optimist!

  12. Disclaimer: football teams can go down as well as up. Past performance is no guarantee of future success. Being in touch with the top six after 10 games is no guarantee of a positive return on your emotional and financial investment let alone being top in December.
    If you are contemplating making an emotional investment in a football team do not seek advice from a an independent financial adviser. Before making any kind of investment in Middlesbrough Football club make sure that you are sufficiently resilient to cope with the inevitable set-backs.
    **AV writes: They should have that written on the back of the season cards.

  13. Football is cruel. I have studied the fixtures and life is a bitch.
    A few years ago we went to London as a family and by a huge coincidence, cough, it was the weekend of the FA Cup semi finals but it was the year the the Cardiff debacle occured. My son and I were mentally scarred by the Cardiff, Barnsley fans etc in our hotel and the tubes. Horrible.
    My wifes 29th’ish birthday is coming up and another trip to London has been planned, tickets bought for shows, exhibitions, meals planned.
    Then the fixtures are released and Boro are at Charlton on the 10th when we will be in the British Museum for the Pompei exhibition. And my son still owes me a match though he will remember my double or quits on the play off final last season.
    To rub salt in to the wounds and ensure I am truly marinated we are off to Borough market on the Saturday morning.
    Arggghh! Life is so cruel.

  14. AV
    Question I keep meaning to ask ,but forget. If we had won the last game we would have finished tenth,how did that effect the prize money if any?
    **AV writes: In the Premier League I think it is £600k a place but in this division it doesn’t really make a difference. The solidarity payments are distributed equally and the TV money is divided up equally (with a small extra payment per televised match.)

  15. Solidarity payments. What a horrific term. It’s a little patronising payment that says ‘we have no idea who you are, but run along you little scamp.’ Or ‘thank you for you entertaining us so well gotten years, here’s £3.60′
    It’s like banks charging customers for being overdrawn. They don’t have the money in the first place, so let’s charge them more, so we can charge them more next year’
    I’d tell them to shove their ‘solidarity payment’ up their sanctamonius backside. Quit the league and start up again where it’s about going to the game on a Saturday not worshiping the $$$$$$$$$$$
    **AV writes: It is the crumbs off the top table. The cleaner’s pickings of last’s night buffet..

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