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Provincial towns you jog round

So, we now know the line up on Planet Vanarama next season. We all already planning our away days?

It was a relief when Notts County eventually won the play off final on penalties. In both play off games they’ve looked a shadow of the team that pushed Hollywood FC almost all the way for the league title, but it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t have won the league comfortably next season if they hadn’t gone up. On the one hand it’s a shame we haven’t got a day out in Nottingham, which is a great city, next season. We’ll just have to get to the third round of the FA Cup and get Forest away instead. On the other hand, I’d quite like the league to be a bit more of a level playing field next season.

We already knew that we were reacquainting ourselves with Rochdale and Hartlepool. The Monkey Hangers’ fans are generally a good bunch, and it’ll be fun to see what fancy dress they do en masse if we’re their last away game of the season. Obviously, we’re all delighted to have the 409 derby back and to be taking over their town again. I hear there might be a piece on that in the Non League Paper tomorrow.

Photo © Oldham Athletic

I was a bit disappointed to learn that National League North winners Fylde aren’t based, as I thought, in Poulton. We went drinking in Poulton before Fleetwood away in January 2015, and it was really nice. Even the Wetherspoons felt like a lovely country pub. We probably should have stayed there to honest. We weren’t allowed in the stand at Fleetwood that we had a ticket for because it was full (one steward told us to “just push your way in”, advice that I’m not sure complies with the Green Guide or the Taylor Report), we had to stand by the side of the pitch in between the stands where I couldn’t see a thing, and when Andy dared to complain to a police officer he was told “sir, this is Sky Bet League One, if you want good organisation go to Anfield or Old Trafford”, the negligent patronising prick.

Anyway, Fylde is in Wesham, I’ve no idea what that’s like. Their new ground is meant to be very modern and not like a non-league ground at all, so I hope it’s much better to visit than Fleetwood, who can quite frankly go and fuck themselves.

I’ve no idea where National League South winners Ebbsfleet are based. It doesn’t sound like a real place. I assume it’s another Southern Leisure Centre.

Oxford is one of the best cities in the country, if not the world, so I’m made up that Oxford City won the NL South play offs. The pubs are brilliant, their promotion makes up for losing Notts County. This is the highest level they’ve ever played at, so playing us will be the biggest game in their history. Google Maps tells me the ground’s a bit of a way out from the city centre, about 25 minutes on the bus. If you’re a massive book nerd like me (or a Harry Potter nonce) then I highly recommend making a weekend of it and visiting the Bodleian Library.

Image © Geoff Jackson

Kidderminster is the one ground of the four promoted teams that I’ve been to before, in 2012 in the FA Cup. Lovely free kick by Baxter that no one remembers because he scored an even better one a couple of rounds later at Forest.

Photo © Alan Howarth

The ground’s right by the train station, although as I recall I didn’t enjoy walking down a desolate alleyway on my own to get to it. I hope they still do the dead nice (and massive) pies. A decent day out, especially if you get a direct train to Kidderminster from Birmingham instead of changing at Smethwick Galton Bridge (speaking of desolate unnerving places).

We also know what the pre-season line-up so far is. Entirely predictable trips to Chorley and Barrow, a few local derbies, a trip to the seaside (I think Everyday Is Like Sunday by Morrissey is about Blackpool, but it feels more relevant to Southport), and a home game against Mansfield. Not the most glamourous set of fixtures, but remember, the last exotic overseas pre-season tour was when two idiots wanted to show off in Morocco and look how that panned out.

Enjoy however you’re spending your weekend. We’re off to Royton Cricket Club today to watch the 2nd XI take on Rochdalians. Come down, Pete Wild might be there. And you can practice singing ‘fuck the Dale’. KTMFF.

Photo © Oldham Athletic

Written by Arlene Finnigan

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