You know it is pre-season when the recently announced fixture list is the big news story of the week. (You also know it is pre-season when a medical centre being built near the ground is another). Nonetheless, with little over a month to go until our gallop to championship glory beings with a home tie versus Salisbury City, what else is there to do but take a half-assed look at the fixture list and make a few sarcastic comments? It is, after all, the 46-date schedule that will manipulate and control a fair proportion of our fans’ next nine or so months. Tuesday night versus Ebbsfleet, baby!
Our campaign gets off to a generally good start. Our first five fixtures (Salisbury, York, Eastbourne, Hayes, FGR) are all very winnable, giving us an opportunity to actually start a season with something resembling good form – something we haven’t really seen since, gawd, the 02-03 season (only 1 defeat in the opening 9 games) – and we all know how that season ended up.
The end-of-season-run-in is a bit trickier. Wrexham and Luton are Rushden’s last two opponents of the 2009-2010 season, and if the Diamonds need point for promotion, survival, or just to keep the fans happy, they could be hard going getting some in these two fixtures. Think positively, though – alternatively, we could end two clubs’ promotion hopes in the space of seven days! Happy days.
Festively, there is some change. Unlike the last couple of seasons where we faced Stevenage on Boxing Day and New Years day, not having the best of fun, it must be said, this season sees us pitted against Oxford for the double-header – the first day of 2010 sure to see a high attendence versus Oxford at Nene Park, especially if we have performed well against Kiddy (also at NP), 4 days earlier. Oxford also hold better memories for Rushden in recent years.
In terms of derby days, we play Kettering in mid-Jan (A), and late-Feb (H) – too early in the season to kill off the Scum’s promotion hopes, as we did last season, but close enough together to ensure a sustained period of mutual, rabid hatred. It will also be the first time Rushden fans visit the hilariously newly named Elgood’s Brewery Arena – a peanut to the first person who can create a rude alternative. Luton’s relegation also sees the return of the admitedly quite mild Diamonds-Hatters rivalry. Regardless, the last game of the season sees Luton travel to NP which, if, as predicted, Luton will be promoted, will act as a promotion party for the visitors. Combine this with the fact that it is the last game of the season for both sets of fans, the local aspect to the game and Luton’s large travelling support, we could be seeing a Nene Park crowd top 4000.
Roll on 8th of August. Hopefully, there will be live match photos posted up throughout the game.