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Championship Opening Day Fixtures

Tuesday 26th June 2012
There's nothing like a fixture release list to break up the domestic football dearth that is Summer.

Whilst we have been treated to an entertaining Euro 2012 which has distracted us, the fixture release day always creates the illusion that the season isn't far away. I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, but there is still just under two months till a competitive ball will be kicked.

Mass coverage of the Premier League encounters ensued, as was to be expected. But I'm going to take a look at the Championship fixtures for August 18th.

The standout tie is quite obviously the Lancashire derby Burnley v Bolton. The return of Owen Coyle to Turf Moor will see spray paint sales exponentially rocket in early August, as the fans in claret and blueadorn old bed sheets, tablecloths, flags and nearby walls with the word 'Judas'. The atmosphere will be superb and it is likely that we will see Manish Bhasin introducing this game straight off the back of Match of the Day.

It will vie with Leeds v Wolves for top spot, both should be entertaining affairs and it will be interesting to see Bolton and Wolves cope with the physicality of the Championshipand in paticular Leeds United.

The other relegated side Blackburn Rovers will be relieved to have a slightly more low key beginning away at Ipswich. Steve Kean has a summer of rebuilding (of which Danny Murphy looks a solid acquisition) to do before a testing trip to Portman Road.

Elsewhere, Derbys fans will continue to be baffled by the clubs 'innovative' ticket pricing scheme as they face Sheffield Wednesday at Pride Park. From what I understand tickets will be cheaper as the weather deteriorates, if they'd played their fixtures over the last couple of months, the club would probably be in liquidation and the fans would be rolling in it.

Fans may be hoping there is a chill in the air come August, but they'll also be hoping for an instant three points against Dave Jones' side who will continue to be (quite rightly) smug that their Steel City rivals are playing Shrewsbury in league one after losing to Huddersfield in a dramatic penalty shoot out.

The aforementioned Terriers travel to South Wales to take on the, ahem, Redbirds of Cardiff, hoping for a successful first day back in the Championship. Fellow newcomers Charlton Athletic are also away, faced with the difficult task of escaping from St. Andrews with any points whatsoever.

Mido signed for Barnsley last week, he will be facing one of his former clubs in Middlesbrough. Most Teesiders will remember him as fat, unfit and selfish and they'll hope that is still the case until at least 5pm that day.

Others to mention, two excellent young managers meet at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace take on Watford. Steve Bruce's first game is at home to Brighton and Peterborough won't have far to travel as they head to Leicester.

In a repeat of last seasons closer Blackpool travel to Millwall, hoping to extinguish the hangover of their play off final defeat against tough opposition. Kenny Jackett's side finished last season with a flourish and it'll be interesting to see if they can maintain that momentum despite a few inevitable personnel changes.

Finally, two teams who narrowly avoided relegation, meet at the City Ground as Nottingham Forest take on Bristol City, both will be hoping for much better campaigns and this could be an indication of how their respective seasons pan out.

An exciting day looms, it may still be a while away, but I'm already excited and there will undoubtedly be a few pivotal signings between now and August which will influence the opening day.
Jack Critchley
Blackpool fan who enjoys a spot of the football league. I follow Championship through to League Two.

Total articles: 18

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