Well, on Sunday evening I watched, courtesy of Setanta (or is it Sultana?), the Blue Square Premier League contest between York City and Torquay United. My first reaction was simply this; why on earth is this fixture between two teams that are physically distanced by a total of 314.5 miles being played on a Sunday evening? That is a round trip of 629 miles for the Devon faithful. On a Sunday evening. Who in their right mind would schedule that?
Setanta, that's who.
It will come of little surprise that this caused some upset at Torquay. When the league fixtures were announced in the summer, this game was scheduled for a normal Saturday afternoon slot. Actually, scratch that. Nowadays Saturday afternoon slots are becoming less and less the norm. Anyway, good news for the travelling Torquay contingent. A 3pm kick-off on a Saturday. No problem.
Enter stage left Setanta. Game moved to a Tuesday evening. Displeasure amongst the Torquay fans; plans rearranged, weekend trips cancelled. New plans made. Exit stage right Setanta.
But hold on; enter back onto stage Setanta. A comedy entrance. The kind of "funny-if-it-wasn't-so-true" comedy entrance. They've changed their minds. The game will no longer be on that Tuesday, but now on a Sunday at 7pm. Yes, that's it, 7pm. Perfect. No one will mind. Rearranged plans rearranged again. Cancelled weekend trips now become cancelled Tuesday evening trips. More disgruntled Torquay fans. Many cannot now travel to historic York. A Torquay fan from Sheffield cannot even make it across the county because the last train from York to Sheffield on a Sunday evening leaves just before the game ends.
During the game Setanta even have the audacity to step in amongst the Torquay fans to interview them during the game. Needless to say one of the questions was not "What time do you think you will get back home tomorrow morning?"
TV schedules are controlling the game to such an extent that kick-off times are barely recognisable anymore. Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday teatime, Sunday lunchtime, Sunday afternoon, Monday evening, Thursday evening. But a Sunday evening? That is a new one on me. Fans will (and do) find it harder to travel to games at obscure times, particularly where long distances are involved. And when the nation's public transport system just isn't up to scratch it can be virtually impossible.
My trip to Eastbourne Borough on Saturday will be my furthest single trip so far, but will still take under 90 minutes, traffic permitting. I know that from the First Round Proper onwards I could have some big distances to travel as the regionalisation disappears. I am prepared to go the distance.
I just hope my First Round Proper game will not be covered by Setanta.