Much like a Cadbury’s Creme Egg, we all consume the annual release of the fixtures in different ways.
Some fans are largely indifferent, justifiably apathetic towards what can be perceived as a futile and premature attempt to rouse anticipation for the upcoming season.
Some fans keep a watchful eye, not overly concerned but keen to look out for the odd away day opportunity or what the idiosyncratically English footballing festivities may hold.
And then there are fans like me. Fans who view the announcement not so much a mere set of dates but as a calendar that will shape the next year of their lives, a bible of numbers, kick-off times and oppositions to be kept closely at hand for the following ten months.
In many ways, the excitement engendered by it exceeds that of the first day of the season.
And this isn’t just any old season. This is a Premier League season for Norwich City, a season where we can all reasonably believe we have a chance of not just staying up but doing so with comfort and a sense of verve, style and enterprise.
Such has been the intoxicating nature of Farkeball, navigating our club to the Promised Land in a Magical Mystery Tour of a season that will now see us grace the very city where those lyrics emerged. It has restored our faith, consolidated our trust, united a city in yellow and green fervour that became so tangible on that magnificent May morning outside City Hall.
And tomorrow at 9am, it all begins once again. Trains will be booked, plans will be arranged, weekends away organised and tickets and hotels set to be sourced. This is the start of our Premier League journey, initiating a seven-week ticking time bomb that will detonate at one of 20 top-flight grounds on August 10.
Who do we want first? That’s entirely subjective. Naturally, rationale dictates a winnable start at Carrow Road, a Sheffield United – that would be tasty – a Burnley – hardly one to whet the appetite – or a Southampton, a Bournemouth or a Brighton.
But then the romantic Norwich fan inside me craves a big away trip somewhere. The prospect of 3000 City fans descending on the Emirates, Old Trafford or Anfield on a sunbaked August day seems irresistible, creating a sea of yellow behind the goal and reminding other supporters, who are dismissive of our fanbase, that we do do things properly down in NR1.
What I believe is important is that we somehow avoid a perilous August. A tough start that goes badly could – and I’m not saying it definitely will – suppress that joyous unity and spirit that characterised last season, creating anxieties and opening up divisions that will be nothing but detrimental going forward.
I don’t think that will happen. The summer has been a profitable one so far for City both footballing-wise and beyond, with key assets renewing contracts and all at the club appearing merry. Patrick Roberts has signed. Onel Hernandez has got married. Teemu Pukki is still scoring. Kenny McLean still drinking? Quite possibly.
Whatever they are doing on Thursday morning, it will be impossible for these players to resist at least a cursory glance at the news that emerges from Premier League HQ. Players like Hernandez, Tom Trybull, Marco Stiepermann and Mario Vrancic would have dreamt about trips to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal for years, the culmination of footballing journeys that have seen them evolve into quality players.
And they will get their chance to flourish. What this summer has shown more than anything is that the Webber-Farke axis is committed to giving those who got us here an opportunity at the highest level; an admirable strategy that I’m sure any sensible fan would agree with.
Of course, reinforcements will be recruited. However, what that appears likely to constitute is a mere three or four new faces, bringing depth to particular areas – I’d like to see a full-back, a defensive midfielder and striker – where it may have previously been lacking.
But for now, all attention turns to Thursday morning. Who will it be on August 10? What about over Christmas? Away days in the snow or the home comforts of Carrow Road? Most importantly of all – what about the run in?
There’s not long left to wait. While our destiny remains uncertain, one thing is for sure: I can’t wait.