I loved the old days when the complete league programme concluded one Saturday, you had the Cup final the next, then two Saturdays of home internationals and, for the really keen, the last hurrah – or should that be squeal – of the boys international. That was it until, well, the esteemed Texaco Cup.
For Texaco Cup today read Europa League, that pointless toil of Air Miles accumulation and matches against unpronouncable teams with ‘j’ and ‘z’ in their name. At this level it's more exciting to qualify for Europe than to play in it. Fulham were plying their trade in plate competition in the Faroe Islands just 26 days after the final senior match of last season, England v. Switzerland, on June 4. Take a look at the pic below. Brrr! You can fair feel the sea fret as it trickles down the neck of your cagoule. (Love to have been there. Really one to tell your grandchildren about). Four days before Fulham hit the highlands – and also while Wimbledon was on the telly – the first Scottish friendly took place involving Dundee United and Drogheda while the SPL season kicked off the day after the kids broke up. It’s what sale promoters call mid-summer madness.
And, finally, while I was in the south-west I stayed in Bath and spotted the beautifully located and trim rugby ground. This is a blog about football grounds but a pic of the The Rec will help fill the gap until I make my debut this season – in the extra-preliminary round of the FA Cup on Aug 20. That’s quite early enough.
More quirky fixtures: Two more wonderfully arcane pre-season friendlies to read about here. Firstly, a match at Redhill featuring the Glenn Hoddle Academy (which consists of lads who didn't make the grade at high-ranking League clubs) and, secondly, a match between Bishops Stortford and Gabala FC, the Azerbaijani club managed by Tony Adams.