Halloween 2: Darker

Newstead Abbey Mansfield flapper
The phantom flapper of Newstead Abbey

The second part of the Halloween preview takes us into darker or at least more grown-up territory – beginning in this case in the Midlands.

Festival of the Dead Coventry Birmingham Doncaster Rovers
The Festival of the Dead, in Coventry on 28 Sep

On 28 Sep Doncaster are at Coventry City. If their fans actually go to Coventry by mistake (the Sky Blues are playing home games at Birmingham City’s ground this season) they might stumble into The Festival of the Dead. The organisers describe this as a ‘combination of carnival, circus and clubbing’

Ghost hunts at Ordsall Hall fall on 12 and 26 Oct, when Cambridge and Scunthorpe are the respective visitors to Salford City. A white lady and a womanising lord of the manor have been reported. It would be a pity if they missed each other.

Grimmfest Manchester Wolves City Film Festival
GrimmFest: Manchester enjoys a little Grim Up North joke

Manchester has a number of big events on matchdays in October. From 3-6 there’s GrimmFest, ‘Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Film’. Wolves are at City on the 6. On 20 Oct, when Liverpool are at United, ‘For the Love of Horror’ ill-advisedly calls Manchester ‘the Murder Capital of the World’.

There’s another horror film festival in Sheffield. Celluloid Screams, from 24-27 Oct, falls nicely for Everton fans making the trip to Wednesday for a cup-tie on 24 Oct.

The Lieder Festival, in Oxford from 11-26 Oct, looks like a very much more serious enterprise than the average Goulish Spookiness. With a full festival pass costing up to £730, you’d expect more than a few pumpkins and some colouring-in. Sure enough, the festival will explore ‘Tales of Beyond: Magic, Myths and Mortals [taking] us on a tour of life, death, and the mysterious areas between and beyond’. Sophisticated supporters of Doncaster (12 Oct) and Rochdale (26 Oct) should expect boggarts at the very least.

By late October the industry is really into its stride. Chelsea fans heading to Burnley on 26 Oct could take in the Pendle Witch Discoverie Tour and still have time for a pub lunch. That spelling of ‘Discoverie’ may fill you with dread, and not of a spectral kind. But children growing up in Lancashire were still being threatened with a visit from the Pendle Witches 350 years after the 1612 trial so the stories might feel surprisingly fresh.

Alien anniversary Portsmouth HMS Alliance Oxford United
40 years ago: Alien was released on 6 Sep 1979. See it in the claustrophobic surrounds of a submarine in Portsmouth on 2 Nov

In Portsmouth Halloween runs well into November, like one of those Celtic festivals that started 30 days ahead and finished 30 days after the focal point. That’s what I call a Bank Holiday. On 2 Nov, with Oxford United the visitors to Fratton Park, there’s a showing of Alien on board the Cold War submarine HMS Alliance. More films later in the month at the Pastel Wasteland on 16 Nov. This is a new project aiming to introduce you to “some of the best, unsung heroes of science fiction and horror filmmaking” from around the world. If that doesn’t make the trip from Fleetwood worthwhile, what would it take?

ToTH Awards to Traveling Supporters, Sept 2019

Most Festive Hosts Derby is a clear winner in this category. Three festivals coincide with the Rams’ two home games in September and none is what you might call run of the mill. From 9-15 Sep is the Derby SignFest, ‘celebrating and raising awareness of sign language, and the fact that Derby has the second largest Deaf community outside of London’. Cardiff City are in town on 13 Sep. On 28 Sep, when Birmingham City are the visitors, Derby Festé showcases ‘the talents within the city’s cultural organisations’; and WellFest East Midlands offers hygge among many other undoubted benefits.

Derby SignFest Pride Park Cardiff City Festivals
Derby SignFest includes a conducted, signed tour of Pride Park

Most Festive Visitors Doncaster Rovers have two away games in September: on 14 Sep, when Ipswich has its Gippeswyc Viking & Saxon Festival with re-enactments and axe-throwing; and at Coventry on 28 Sep, which happens to be when the city’s three-day Bridge extravaganza concludes.

Coals to Newcastle Crawley Town, the destination of choice for aviation enthusiasts, hit Northampton on 21 Sep in time for the Pistons & Props classic cars and aircraft show at nearby Sywell.

Carlisle United Brunton Park Oldham Athletic
Athletic at Carlisle in better days

Rainbow Lining Supporters of Oldham Athletic need something to look forward to more than most. The trip to Carlisle on 28 Sep looks a very good prospect. In addition to the regular and often undervalued attractions of Carlisle (and the rare opportunity to shout “Dirty northern bastards” at the opposition), they’ll find Cumbria Pride, the second day of the Carlisle Blues/Rock Festival and the Borderlines Carlisle Book Festival.

Educated Palates When Rotherham play at Bristol Rovers on 28 Sep, the city has a Cocktail Weekend and Avery’s Wine Festival in progress. In the Proletarian Boozers category, Cheltenham has its own Beer Festival in mid-September and the team visits Plymouth on 21 Sep in time for theirs.

Repeat Business Exeter City play at Newport County on 21 Sep in League 2 and on 8 Oct in the Football League Trophy. The round trip is about 200 miles which by Exeter standards is almost a local derby, but if they need any inspiration they’ll find an extract from the Newport chapter of the book here.

Towns of Two Halves Awards for Traveling Supporters, August 2019

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.

Wigan Athletic Leeds United Wigan Food Festival
Wigan: Food Festival for hungry Leeds fans, or Wigan tapas for discerning diners

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.