clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland : Sky Bet Championship

Filed under:

Sunderland’s fixtures are out, so let’s get carried away!

The countdown to 2023/2024 began yesterday with the release of the Championship fixtures, and it’s the first big milestone as we prepare for the new campaign, writes Mitch Marshall

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Can you smell it? That faint whiff of frying onions and freshly cut grass?

It can only mean one thing: the Championship fixtures are out and there’s just over a month until we’re all back aboard the EFL’s crazy rollercoaster.

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

I’d actually done quite a good job of focusing on other things since the disappointment of defeat at Kenilworth Road in our playoff semi-final second leg in May.

I went on holiday instead of making the trip to Wembley; I watched Hannover 96 lose 5-1 in Bundesliga 2, and I contented myself with the knowledge that things are (almost) always worse for some other poor footballing sods somewhere.

Since then, a few exciting signings aside, I’ve barely given next season a serious thought but for some reason, the publication of the fixture list has made me feel all giddy.

Ipswich at home at 5:00pm on a Sunday? Yes please! Hull away on Boxing Day? I never wanted to be with all my loved ones, feeling cosy and warm at home anyway!

A saner and probably less hungover member of my family pointed out that we’ve got quite a tough run in, but I was having none of it because we’ll most certainly have won the league by early April anyway.

How could we not, with a massive former Benfica striker and a handsome Australian called Nectar playing alongside the two Dans- Batth and Ballard?

A-League Men’s Grand Final - Melbourne City v Central Coast Mariners Photo by Izhar Khan/Getty Images

What I think it comes down to is this: the fixtures give you something just firm enough to hang all your hopes and desires on.

Sure, I knew that we’d have to travel to Ipswich and Norwich, Plymouth and Southampton at some point next season, but without knowing when, it was hard to get unduly excited.

Now, though, I’ve got it all planned in my head.

The train refund from our aborted trip to Wembley in May will pay for a day out in West London at QPR in September, surely one of the league’s best days out. We also play Norwich on my birthday weekend, so I’ll spend the time making the most of the city’s wonderful pedestrianisation and watching Tony Mowbray’s red and white wizards tear the Canaries apart.

The fixtures being released is a welcome reminder of the routine that football gives so many of our lives. Oh, for that first pint in Vauxies before my first home game of the season against Rotherham!

There are also the ‘don’t call them derbies’ against Middlesbrough and Leeds to look forward to, and a return to Hillsborough to relive the beautiful Patrick Roberts sending us all delirious and even getting Alex Neil dancing on the touchline.

Speaking of Neil, we owe him one at Stoke’s place - if he makes it to mid-October, that is.

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

What’s even better is that the evidence of last season and our summer business so far suggests we that might even give these sides a good game and if we’re really lucky, an occasional thumping.

I hope Jobe Bellingham is licking his lips as much as I am at the thought of dancing round the opposition. Indeed, I can almost hear their anguished thoughts as he dazzles them with his rangy runs and world class genes.

So, get carried away.

We’re in a blissful midsummer haze with the roadmap ahead of us, but our best-laid plans are yet to come into contact with the cold, harsh reality of a trip to Huddersfield on a midweek in February.

Fill your head with hard-fought April wins and the sunlit uplands of the top two in May. We have real reason to be optimistic, so let’s shake off the shackles of the League One years, enjoy a sunny pre season and dare to dream again.

At least it probably can’t rain any more in Huddersfield than it did last season!

Huddersfield Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by John Early/Getty Images


Talking Points: What were the key things to take from Sunderland’s return to winning ways?


What were the positives and negatives from Sunderland’s victory over West Brom?


On This Day (10 December 1960): Sunderland put in the hard miles down in East Sussex

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report