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)
Towns of Two Halves might have been written with international breaks in mind. You watch England on the box on Friday night, and then the weekend yawns vacantly in front of you. What are you going to do on Saturday afternoon? How can you get out of going shopping?
The answer lies in Football Tourism. It even sounds respectable. All it means is “going somewhere you wouldn’t normally go, to have a look round and watch a match”. It’s up to you how much gawping you do, and where, but you’re sure to find something unusual and you might actually look forward to the next international break.
Mancunians have Doncaster Rovers at Rochdale, a town that offers a heritage divi; a little further away, Crewe Alex against Bury should appeal to rail enthusiasts. In Northeast Lancs, Accrington Stanley host Bradford and the Haworth Gallery hosts Europe’s largest collection of Tiffany glass.
For Londoners the options are very limited. You probably won’t get into Kingstonians’ snug ground where AFC Wimbledon play Portsmouth, but an afternoon in Kingston is never a bad idea. Go to see where Saxon kings were crowned; admire some wacky street art; enjoy the river.
Newport County fly the flag in South Wales, with Stevenage the visitors; allow plenty of time for the Roman camp at Caerleon, the Chartist memorials, the ceramics and the Transporter Bridge.
Fans living in East Anglia have a choice. Cambridge United are at home to MK Dons, and the city has more weird and wonderful diversions than you could shake a stick at; Colchester, home to a zoo, Roman history and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, will also welcome Crawley Town on Saturday.
From the East Riding head south to Scunthorpe for the Peterborough clash and a zoo, a Pink Pig Farm and other attractions. In the fictional South Riding, Barnsley are at home to Luton (noon kick-off); take the kids to Cannon Hall Farm or, in the town centre, Experience Barnsley.
In the East Midlands, Burton Albion play Bristol Rovers and you might sniff out the National Brewery Centre. Mansfield’s kick-off against Grimsby is at 1pm, so you will hardly have time for Lord Byron’s gaff, a pit and country park, and a fine local museum. Forest Green are the visitors to Northampton, which has a treat for admirers of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Notts County are at home to Oldham, and Nottingham itself has a variety of alternative attractions, from heritage to video games.
In the West Midlands, Coventry City play Wycombe Wanderers; the Cathedral is breathtaking, there’s always something on at the Herbert (a TS Eliot-related exhibition at the moment) and specialist museums cater for musicians and transport enthusiasts. Port Vale, where you can throw in all the Potteries have to offer, play Lincoln.
For more details on these and all other football towns, order Towns of Two Halves from firstname.lastname@example.org, £8.