Pre-season – on the pitch

Pre-season has been like going to a gig of your new favourite band. Not during the tour to support their multi-platinum selling breakthrough album, you couldn’t get tickets for that one. This is the tour for the much-anticipated follow-up; arenas and stadiums only. Like Blur touring The Great Escape, or Stone Roses with the Second Coming, or Nirvana with In Utero.

The 6-2 defeat to Didcot is the new album’s big opening number, not necessarily the best song but one that gives you a sense that you’re listening to something big. The 2-0 victory over Dumbarton is the new album’s first single. A big hit simply off the back of the previous album’s success. The band’s artistic input has been curtailed by the record company who want more of what made the first album successful. It’s our Country House, a good song, but nothing new. A reminder of why you’re a fan.

Livingston and Winchester are the songs from the new album that made you realise that the new album is, well, just a bit boring and pedestrian.

As the crowd are thinking about heading to the bar, they play Leicester, the big breakthrough single, our Wonderwall. Suddenly everything is bouncing again.

Brackley is a forgettable ballad, then Manchester United XI is the big anthemic hit. A 12 minute set closer. You’re buzzing, what a tune. The lights go down. Bring on the encore, it’s going to be amazing.

Sadly, the band come back on to play Oxford City, a cover version of an old punk classic involving some guest who is probably the drummer of the support band on mouth organ. It wasn’t really the kick-ass encore you were expecting, but you cheer politely in anticipation of the big finale.

Instead, they play Banbury, a sentimental acoustic number they’ve been writing on the tour bus. It’s a paean to the lead singers’ dead grandma. It doesn’t really have a hook or chorus and nobody’s ever heard it before. Quite frankly it won’t even make the next album, it might, possibly, make the bonus CD of the 10 anniversary reissue of the big breakthrough album. The band depart satisfied they’ve discharged their artistic responsibilities. We, on the other hand, go home a little short changed.

So pre-season has passed me by a little. But so did the World Cup and Tour de France in what should have been a top summer of sport. But then, from time to time, I think of Wembley and still get a little frisson of excitement. And then I realise that in the past the summer has been a break from the drudgery of the season and the pre-season campaign has been for vainly trying to spot signs of recovery. This season, however, the recovery is underway and the summer is just a pause in the story. Screw pre-season, I just want to get going again.

Comment: Pre-season

For the second year running, I’m going to miss the home first game of the season because of a holiday. As a result it feels too early in the summer to get that growing sense of anticipation for the new season.

A surreal pre-season doesn’t help. Traditionally we’ve toured around the non-league scene like a feudal lord exercising power through fear by sacrificing locals. This year, we’ve been more like Ghandi; confronting great swaithes of force, getting struck down for our impudence, before climbing back to our feet to be struck down again.

We would expect to get the run around against Peterborough, but without the variation of opposition, it is impossible to judge where we we’ve got to.

It has to be a worry that we haven’t had the opportunity to hone a match winning formula. I don’t want to be a doomy naysayer; but with two tricky away games to follow, it puts unnecessary pressure on the York game. I don’t want to get to my opening game, against Chester on the 18th, with the storm clouds gathering over the club again.

Permanent fixtures

After what feels like months of inactivity, the club sprang into life this morning with the release of the fixtures, the start of pre-season training and a few trialists ambling around aimlessly and asking where the toilets are. My God, I hope Chris Williams was paying attention after a summer updating his Facebook profile.

The fixtures are looking more like an extended pre-season schedule every year. My understanding of British geography is heavily influenced by the nation’s football clubs, but I have no idea where Droylsden, Farsley, Ebbsfleet and Histon are.

We open with Forest Green Rovers, which, despite last year’s result is probably a decent draw. By the end of August we should have a reasonable understanding of what’s going to be possible with a tricky opening month. Christmas sees a bizarre Bank Holiday double header against Crawley on Boxing Day and New Years Day. Other than that, it’s little more than a series of games between August and May. Our big fish status probably means that individual fixtures are less important than where we end up.

No forgotten Premiership veterans amongst the raggle taggle of trailists this morning unless the odd fanciful rumour about Tommy Mooney counts. This is probably a good thing.

Alex Jeannin should get on well with The Big Zebrowski and Marvin Robinson, given his rumoured misdemeanours at Darlington. Phil Trainer (pictured) looks like he could do with a trip to the dentist. Gregg Coombes we know from last season; although possibly not – he demonstrated precious little to suggest he’s worth a second look. But perhaps Jim Smith knows differently and with pre-season under his belt he could prove a useful addition. There’s nothing remarkable about Joel Ledgister and Kalusivikako Ngoma, apart from Ngoma’s name, of course; which is not really a surprise given the level at which we wallow.

With Jim Smith’s main role as charismatic front man rather than footballing technician, one suspects this is the six week period that will see Darren Patterson earn his corn.