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The FIVE teams that I’m most looking forward to seeing Sunderland face next season in League One

The Lads haven’t even been gone a month, but with the fixture’s released earlier today we’re already frothing at the mouth at the thought of visiting ‘fOrtREsS FraTToN’.


Home: Saturday 17th August

Away: Saturday 1st February

Come on, it’ll be a laugh!

Get ready for Tom Naylor criticising Sunderland for some inane, misunderstood reason (even though he wanted to join us only a year ago) via the medium of social media, Brett Pitman shouting at 12-year-olds, and weird middle-aged men trying to kick precious Luke.

Cauldron Fratton Park, that ‘Milan’ atmosphere (which our own Tom Walsh pointed out was a game where they conceded two goals in the last five minutes) and Simply Red kicking off with Max Power - Portsmouth are a set of absolute wallopers, and I love it. Bring it on.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off: Second Leg Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Tranmere Rovers

Home: Tuesday 22nd October

Away: Tuesday 28th January

One benefit of being a League One club is the amount of old school grounds we get to visit that are actually close to home, and this season we get to add another one to the list in the form of Tranmere Rovers.

The Birkenhead-based side - with their wonderfully named manager Micky Mellon - are a club on the up after years of turmoil.

And... I’m not over our FA Cup tie back in 2000, when they decided it was perfectly acceptable to replace a sent-off player with a substitute at the end of a fourth round thriller at Prenton Park, who then went on to defend a free-kick before anyone realised.

Prenton Park a canny ground that holds a capacity of 16,587 and you can have a cracking night out in Liverpool afterwards, so strap on your jet-pack and zoom off to the land of Max Power with me.

Stefan Schwarz of Sunderland Nick Henry of Tranmere

Ipswich Town

Home: Saturday 8th February

Away: Saturday 10th August

I have zero positive memories of watching Sunderland play at Portman Road.

There was that lovely 5-2 spanking a few years back, a 5-0 defeat on New Years Day and a devastating 2-0 defeat back in 1998 that effectively condemned us to the Division One play-offs - a defeat that brought out a rage in my father that was so fierce, he decided to drunkenly volley an entire loaf of toasty bread at our new wide-screen TV.

We were picking out the crumbs for months.

Ipswich at home is a totally different story, however. The heady days of Quinn and Phillips and Julio Arca screamers during 4-1 routs on New Years Day are all still fresh in my mind, so it’ll be nice to see the Suffolk boys drive their tractors up to the North East for what will hopefully be a top of the table clash.

Sunderland v Ipswich Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Coventry City

Home: Saturday 23rd November

Away: Saturday 29th February

We took an absolute boat load of fans to the Ricoh Arena last year to witness Lee Cattermole smash home the opener, and we’ll likely take the same amount this year to the Ric...hang on, they don’t have a ground? They’re homeless? Oh right. So no Jimmy Hill statue to shout at, just fans? Fair enough, I’ll take it.

St. Andrews is a decent enough stadium, and with Sky Blues fans likely to boycott home games, it’ll feel like a home game in the second city and that is something I am 100% signed up for.

Birmingham City v Sheffield United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers

Home: Thursday 26th December

Away: Saturday 21st September

As much as I loved Rochdale away last year, my abiding memory of it is being told that the Rochdale is so bad, even the inhabitants of Bolton take the p**s out of it.

The Reebok (or whatever’s it’s called now) has been the scene of some absolutely class days out in the past - Sulley Muntari’s last minute winner and Darren Bent’s debut goal are two particular memories that stand out.

Bolton is cheap, cheerful and close enough to the bright lights Manchester to get immediately out of once we’ve nicked three points of them.

The poor beggars have already been deducted twelve points before the season has even began, so whilst this could have been a promotion six-pointer, it’s now probably no more or less important than say... Gillingham away?

Regardless, it’s close to home, we’ll probably win and it’ll be good to see Will Buckley.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - FA Cup Third Round Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

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