“Sings a different [song] every year. It’s got to be a pretty boring life, hasn’t it, being a hat? I suppose it spends all year making up the next one.” — Ron Weasley.
The ginger one from Harry Potter is talking here, obviously, about the sorting hat, the pointy piece of wizard’s apparel that’s brought out at the start of every school year to sort newly arrived aspirants into their different houses.
The English Premier League’s very own version of the sorting hat, the fabled ‘fixture computer’, was wheeled out today and with only 55 days to go until the first set of fixtures it’s about time too.
Fixture Announcement Day is a big one. It contains within it a glorious cocktail of wistful nostalgia and excitable anticipation.
The second is obvious, and Sky Sports News will break excitability levels on half-hourly cycles for at least the rest of today, and you can click here to see what to be excited about first (United have three games against top six sides in their first five fixtures, Arsenal play Liverpool and United in their first three).
The first is perhaps less clear – although the phrase ‘fixture computer’ is wonderfully anachronistic, imagine if they did have an ancient Amstrad that spent all year enacting algorithms, that would be superb even if ‘Scudamore’s iPad’ is probably a more accurate name for the piece of kit responsible. Anyway, take another quick look at that fixture list (it’s OK, I’ll be right here when you come back). Look at those kick-off times: 15:00! 15:00!! 15:00!!! 15:00!!!! Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! Yes!!!!
For one day of the year (DO NOT turn on channel 405, I guarantee Jim White will ruin it) football is back in the dark ages. It doesn’t last long enough for on-terrace racism, moustaches or Admiral kits to come out of retirement, but it is pretty sweet nonetheless.