City face judgment night in the North East
This weekend sees Leicester City's most glamorous away game of the season, outside of the usual East Midlands rivalries. For those wishing to make a weekend of it though, a Bank Holiday Monday night kickoff is not what would spring to mind. We have, of course, had this arrangement dictated to us by those ever-helpful, fan-friendly fun-lovers at Sky Sports.
For many Leicester fans who are unable to attend the fixture, or who would rather have watched on television anyway, this is a godsend and they can happily view our exploits at St James' Park with minimum hassle. It would be wrong to underplay how important this is, especially to the many City fans living or working abroad who will be able to see a game that will be a huge test for our newly-promoted side.
For the majority of those travelling to the North-East though, the return journey will stretch well into the early hours of a working Tuesday morning. Many Newcastle fans will recognise this inconvenience with depressing regularity and are able to count on empathy from supporters of Plymouth, Carlisle, Norwich, Swansea and the like. That should not form any sort of excuse though. This game could clearly have been played at a better time. Speaking from personal experience, evening kick-offs at Macclesfield, Sheffield United and Preston have already eaten into my annual leave allowance and Newcastle is yet another addition with the season not yet a month old.
Recently, City fans were charged thirty-one pounds for the league game against Ipswich Town at Portman Road. The game was entertainingly competitive in its own low-key way but nevertheless ended goalless with few chances at either end. Many made the choice to save their cash for the cheaper and shorter trip to Bramall Lane the following Tuesday as City faced Sheffield United in a far better game.
If Nigel Pearson's side continue their rapid improvement then it may not be too long before inflated prices, television coverage and the accompanying inconvenience of re-arranged fixtures is a regular occurrence. Established Premiership sides are used to it. What price success, though? Would the average home-and-away City fan rather have to settle for watching an expensively-assembled team garner success from the comfort of their armchair? I think I speak for the majority when I say no. There is no substitute for being there and attendance can become addictive. Being a part of it, whatever it may be, is more important than the pursuit of victory at all costs.
Once the trip to Newcastle is out of the way, City face two eminently winnable home games in the space of four days with the visits of Blackpool and Peterborough United. While the Championship is already living up to its media reputation of a league in which anyone can beat anyone else (what other kind is there?), these are the kind of games which Pearson's side will have to win if they are to achieve the self-appointed target of extending their season by at least two further games in May. Whether the next three games bring no points, nine or something in between, City fans will certainly have a much clearer picture of how close we are to the Premiership dream. Dependent on events at St James' Park, some may yet distance themselves from the desire to achieve that dream while wearily working away on Tuesday.
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