23 - Reading (April 14th, 2018)
I bet you cannot name me one thing interesting about Reading. Well, aside from Reading Festival (which is just the posh version of the much cooler Leeds Festival, if you needed to know).
Reading is the most boring town in the UK, with the exception of Milton Keynes and Silloth. No-one has ever uttered the words “hey, let’s go see the sights Reading has to offer”. It’s a painfully dull place which only plus point is that its near enough to commute to London.
The Madejski Stadium (or the ‘Mad Stad’ as TalkSport infuriatingly insist on calling it as though it has some form of character) reflects the town in which it is situated - it's the quintessential pop-up ground on a retail park in the middle of nowhere. It's 3 miles away from the centre of the town with no train station or any semblance of decent pub nearby.
Whilst we have finally shook off the dreadful day out that is Stoke-on-Trent we have sadly gained its southern, less angry equivalent.
22 - Middlesbrough (November 4th, 2017)
Next season we will be subjected to Sky forcefully pretending that this is a derby game - and for the millionth time, it isn’t.
As such, the high profile nature of this fixture takes all of the fun out of the day - herded in like cattle on cramped Northern Rail trains and pushed into the standard issue pub so that the police can keep an eye on us.
It is kind of a shame because Middlesbrough does have the potential to be a decent awayday experience. That said, the potential for grief is high and can you really be bothered with arguing about the fine nuances of a parmo with an angry Teessider?
Yeah - it’s not worth it. If you want to make your experience even worse you can opt to use the club’s organised transport which takes almost three hours to travel 30 miles.
21 - Hull City (September 16th, 2017)
It’s not that Hull is a terrible day out, it’s not that it’s difficult to get to or anything - it's just... we’ve only just played them. We need a bit of a break.
That said, I am intrigued to see what post-City of Culture Hull is like - I assume it's just more paving with an aquarium. Also, their total bottling of survival last season has robbed us of Swansea away. Bastards.
20 - Queens Park Rangers (March 10th, 2018)
A trip to take on Queens Park Rangers has all of the ingredients needed for an excellent away day - a good location in an excellent part of a cosmopolitan city (Shepherd’s Bush), plenty of pubs, straightforward transport links and a pleasant stroll to the ground. Yet, somehow, they manage to get this so wrong.
Prepare yourself for hearing the words “no away fans” from every single bouncer that is stood in front of stupidly empty pubs. We have no beef with QPR - and they have no beef with us - so let the lads and lasses drink together, mate.
The designated away pub is a God awful place which is heaving once about fifteen people enter.
19 - Bolton Wanderers (February 20th, 2018)
The first entry of the many, many post-industrial Northern towns that we will frequent on our creamy, creamy Championship campaign and, boy, it’s a bad’un. Here’s a disclaimer - if your ground is barely in the boundaries of the town you're supposed to be from you should be banished from the Football League.
While Bolton’s Reebok (or Macron as it is now) Stadium has excellent access to the M61 - meaning you can be back in Sunderland in about two hours after the final whistle - and you tend to get a decent-sized allocation, it is just an awful day out. Unless you like drinking cans in retail park car parks or trekking miles to that one away pub which is heaving, you have to choose between Manchester or Bolton for your pre-match sup.
The queue for the train back to Manchester is horrendous and takes forever - so hopefully this will be slightly mitigated if we absolutely batter them.
18 - Wolverhampton Wanderers (December 9th, 2017)
I’ve been reliably informed that the only way to really enjoy a day out in Wolverhampton is to spend it in Birmingham which, as we all know, defeats the object.
While I am a big fan of teams giving away fans a side stand and therefore the best view of the pitch, I am loathed of a city which loves a no away fans pub. So yeah, maybe you do have to stay in Birmingham.
17 - Preston North End (September 30th, 2017)
Well what do we have here? Ah yes, another post-industrial Northern town with an underwhelming away day in the works. Very much like Burnley, Preston feels like one of the matches you are simply obliged to attend. It’s near-ish, it’ll probably be a reasonable ticket price and we get a big allocation - but that’s when the good times start to grind to a halt.
Brace yourself for a half hour hike through the town to Deepdale, with a choice of the numerous Yates’ and Wetherspoons outlets on the way. They’ve even got rid of the National Football Museum which deprives you of twatting a football past a cardboard cutout of David Seaman and gawping at the crossbar from the England-Scotland game in Euro 96.
Also, rumour has it that Deepdale is home to the worst pie in English football.
16 - Ipswich Town (September 26th, 2017)
Alright, I'll hold my hands up on this one. I haven't been to Ipswich before and, having read up on it, it seems to have all of the class away day factors - a ground near the train station, a veritable spread of pubs and a trip long enough for some serious can-action.
However, since my love of Norwich is so strong I consider this to be the antithesis of everything our Canary friends stand for. Oh, and Big Mick manages them... damn. Apologies, Tractor Boys - I may have called this one wrong.
Oh, actually, we rarely win at Portman Road. You can go whistle on that.
15 - Burton Albion (November 25th, 2017)
You may be a little surprised to find that Burton is so far down this list but hear me out. I know that this is the one that everyone is looking forward to. I know it has terracing and I am fully aware that it is the birthplace of an away day beverage of choice - the humble Carling - but there are mitigating factors.
Firstly, the fact that the ground holds under 7,000 means the bunfight for tickets is going to be immense - in the weeks leading up to our match Twitter will be filled with people asking “anyone got Burton spares?” (me included, no doubt). The ground is nowhere near anything and despite having the incredibly-named Fuggle & Nugget Micropub it’s slim pickings to get the sesh started.
Also - and I humbly apologise to the good people of Burton for this - but any place with the words on-Trent in its name is simply code for “crap awayday”.
14 - Aston Villa (November 21st, 2017)
The second of our Midlands brethren to enter the list and, like Hull, it seems only too soon since we last played Aston Villa.
Don’t get me wrong, Villa Park is one of the best grounds in the country and Birmingham is an excellent city, but we’ve done it so, so many times in the past decade.
Soz Villa - I know you hate Newcastle as much as we do, and you can get a Megabus there for a quid, but it’s just too soon. And that train back to the city centre is rank.
13 - Millwall (March 3rd, 2018)
OI OI! This one is gunna be pwoppa nawty. Don your favourite Stone Island shirt, grab your Burberry cap, whack on one of those ridiculous jackets with goggles on and let’s FAAAAACKIN AV SAAAAAAM!
A day out at Millwall feels like an old wive’s tale. I’ve heard so much about it, so many stories of battling through the streets of South London or, on the flipside, watching a League One game in front of 8,000 people. Its reputation does precede it a little but I feel like the only way I’m going get to a “respect, mate” from users of an AwayDays Instagram page is if I get my head caved in.
I mean, obviously, this is all pretty much avoidable but you’d feel a little cheated if you didn't have that uncomfortable moment of someone asking you for the time.
12 - Birmingham City (January 27th, 2018)
Ths gains points because it’s not Aston Villa and you can actually walk from Birmingham New Street to the stadium. St Andrew’s is also set on the edge of the wonderfully diverse area of Digbeth, somewhere which is the football equivalent of not judging a book by its cover.
While it may look cold and uninviting, there is a wonderful sense of community to this corner of Birmingham thanks to the large Irish contingent. Weave your way past the Bull Ring Rag Market and enjoy the cavalcade of unique drinking establishments en route. Aye, it’s a bit rough around St Andrew’s but that’s what we like, right?
11 - Bristol City (February 10th, 2018)
Bristol is a lovely city. Everyone seems to be happy down there - all walking around with beaming smiles on their faces, drinking flat cider from a boat and talking in their silly accents. And as someone from a bleak, Northern satellite town, it sickens me. Of course, I jest.
Due to the distance, Bristol City away simply screams “weekender” and who am I to resist that temptation? Spend pre-match on the beautiful riverside with a few local brews from The Apple (look it up, it’s a floating cider farm), watch the lads in the newly revamped Ashton Gate under the shadow of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and then end up in a club that plays wall-to-wall house music.
Alternatively, for the family-friendly version I guess, spot the various Banksy murals dotted along the city and maybe swing by the excellent aquarium.
Join us tomorrow as we run down our top ten!