Mismatch of the Day is at Cheltenham on 24 Aug. Visiting Swindon Town fans can choose between a Brian Jones 50th Anniversary Walking Tour or the regular Ghost Tour.
The Coals to Newcastle award goes to Southend United, who make trips to Stevenage and Lincoln where urban beaches will compensate them for leaving their own perfectly good beach behind. Southend’s opening match is at Coventry, just 14 miles from another mock Copacabana at Solihull. And on 10 Aug Southend host… Blackpool.
The Knowledge is shared by Morecambe and Peterborough. Thanks to a quirk of the league fixture list and the Carabao Cup draw, Morecambe visit Mansfield twice in four days; Peterborough play at Oxford on the same pair of days. Click on the links to make the most of your visits.
The Happy Eater award belongs by a nose to Leeds United. Their visit to Wigan coincides with a Food Festival; to Ipswich with an event called The Feast; and back home there’s Leeds Beer Week at the end of the month.
Weird Ride (previously the Ride the Wild Lightning award until the judges discovered what that expression meant) also goes to Leeds. Their trip to Bristol City on 4 Aug could include a detour to Bristol’s M Shed, where the chance to ride in an electric dockyard crane cabin is on offer.
Zen Men of the Month are Tranmere Rovers’ fans. They could attend a performance of Moby Dick on SS Great Britain in Bristol, an Aardman exhibition in the same city, an International Kite Festival at Portsmouth or their own One Wirral 2019 at home. Runner-up: Wycombe’s trip to Bristol Rovers coincides with the International Balloon Fiesta.
Traditionally, the match-day experience is incomplete without a visit to licensed premises. That can be before and after the match: there are some games you wouldn’t want to watch sober. But the licensed premises don’t have to be some low dive that doesn’t mind who it serves. There are highlights in all four divisions in August:
LeedsBeer Week (where the visiting team is Swansea 31 Aug) LeicesterGin Festival (Bournemouth 31 Aug) SouthendBeer Festival (Blackpool 10 Aug) StevenageGin & Funk Festival (Exeter 10 Aug)
In the towns you’ll visit following your team, some of the goings-on will be particular to the town. In other words you might not get the chance anywhere else. That means, unfortunately, that you might not get tickets either – local people will tend to hear about the events first. But if you keep an eye on Towns of Two Halves, the website will be updated on a regular basis.
Here’s a sample of some of the film and TV-related events around the country in August. They may not exactly be once-in-a-lifetime things, but they’re not daily occurrences either.
BradfordFilm Festival (where the visiting teams are PNE 13 Aug, Oldham 17 Aug, Forest Green 24 Aug) BristolAardman: Early Man (Leeds 4 Aug, Wycombe 10 Aug, Cheltenham 13 Aug, QPR 17 Aug, Tranmere 20 Aug, Oxford 24 Aug, Middlesbrough 31 Aug) BristolFriendsFest (Oxford 24 Aug, Middlesbrough 31 Aug) ChelseaStanley Kubrick (Leicester 18 Aug, Sheff Utd 31 Aug) GillinghamCall the Midwife location tours (Burton 10 Aug, Newport 13 Aug, Blackpool 20 Aug, Bolton 31 Aug) ManchesterFriendsFest (Chelsea 11 Aug, Spurs 17 Aug) SheffieldFilm & Comic Con (Barnsley 10 Aug)
When you’ve made a long journey only to see your team beaten, it can be hard to regard the day as time well spent. But if the fixture list takes you to the following places this month, there’s a chance to make the trip more worthwhile:
Bradford Our Plastic Ocean (may be of interest to travelling Cambridge United fans on 3 Aug, PNE 13 Aug, Oldham 17 Aug, Forest Green 24 Aug) BrentfordFestival for the Environment (Hull City 17 Aug) BristolInsect Festival (QPR 17 Aug) BristolReWild our Planet (Leeds 4 Aug, Wycombe 10 Aug, Cheltenham 13 Aug, QPR 17 Aug, Tranmere 20 Aug, Oxford 24 Aug, Middlesbrough 31 Aug) BristolSummer Holidays: Climate Action (Leeds 4 Aug, QPR 17 Aug, Middlesbrough 31 Aug) LeedsWar on Waste (Forest 10 Aug, Brentford 21 Aug, Swansea 31 Aug) MiddlesbroughFragile Earth (Brentford 10 Aug, Wigan 20 Aug, Millwall 24 Aug)
This is a sample of what you’ll find to do (apart from watch the match) when you follow your team around the country. Check out all the destinations at Towns.
How better to bond with your kids than to treat them to an away game with all the trimmings? The question then becomes… what trimmings? Wagamama for lunch? Something from Wilko in case the action doesn’t hold their attention? You can do that, of course, but you can do better.
How much better? That will depend on their ages, interests and on where you’re going. Here are some possibilities for before and after the match. Try not to let that become ‘instead of the match’:
The Circus is in town at Grimsby (where the away teams are Bradford 10 Aug, Doncaster 13 Aug) Lincoln (Southend 17 Aug)
Dinosaurs will be roaming Lincoln (Accrington 3 Aug, Southend 17 Aug, Fleetwood 31 Aug) Newcastle (Arsenal 11 Aug, Watford 31 Aug)
You can’t fail with Lego Cheltenham (Scunthorpe 10 Aug) Crystal Palace (Everton 10 Aug, Villa 31 Aug) Derby (Swansea 10 Aug, Bristol City 20 Aug, WBA 24 Aug) Newcastle (Arsenal 11 Aug, Watford 31 Aug)
When your team loses its 100% record on the first afternoon of the season, you’ll have a distinct sense of being Back to the Future. Some of the players, you realise, belong in Jurassic Park – even the one (usually strolling around the midfield) who thinks he is The Greatest Showman. Out in the fresh air all afternoon, why not spend some more time out of doors and take in a showing of the real thing?
Back to the Future at Crawley (where the away team is Salford 10 Aug)
There must be a crossover between gaming enthusiasts and football fans. Apart from anything else, footballers clearly love gaming. So if you like to swap the screen for the stadium occasionally, here are the towns and cities with something extra for you this August:
LiverpoolSunnyCon Anime Expo on 10/11 Aug (where away fans from Norwich 9 Aug might still be in town)
BarnsleyComic Book Art (Fulham 3 Aug, Charlton 17 Aug, Luton 24 Aug); and at Shrewsbury (Portsmouth 3 Aug, Rotherham 13 Aug, Rochdale 17 Aug, Burton 24 Aug)
ManchesterPower Up (Chelsea 11 Aug, Spurs 17 Aug, Palace 24 Aug, Brighton 31 Aug) and Salford (Stevenage 3 Aug, Leeds 13 Aug, Port Vale 17 Aug, Orient 31 Aug)
This is something of a long shot. Tickets often go quickly for open-air theatre – to watch a play in the gently cooling evening of a summer’s night is such a treat. But if you were planning to follow your team to one of the following destinations, it might be worth checking availability and adjusting the time of your return accordingly:
Alice in Wonderland at Brentford (where the away team is Hull 17 Aug) A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Exeter (Macclesfield 3 Aug) Comedy of Errors at Brighton (West Ham 17 Aug) Frankenstein at Mansfield (Morecambe 10 Aug) Gangsta Granny at Shrewsbury (Portsmouth 3 Aug) Love’s Labours Lost at Northampton (Walsall 3 Aug) Moby Dick on SS Great Britain at Bristol (Tranmere 20 Aug, Oxford 24 Aug) Sense & Sensibility at Sheffield on 23 Aug (Leicester 24 Aug) Theatre on the Square at Accrington (Bury 10 Aug) The Secret Garden at Gillingham (Blackpool 20 Aug) Treasure Island at Peterborough (Ipswich 17 Aug) Twelfth Night at Oxford (Peterborough 10 Aug)