Fixture release day just before Christmas had the added benefit this year of saving me from another day of listening to the news from across the water; about Brexit and about Jose Mourinho’s imminent sacking from Manchester United.
I could have told United there was nothing special about Mourinho; when it’s all about the manager there is no room for anything else, like developing players or playing attractive football. I could have told Theresa May there would be no light at the end of the tunnel with regard to Brexit except that of an oncoming train, to quote Half Man Half Biscuit, but that’s politics and politics and sport shouldn’t be mixed so I’ll move on.
I was happy with the Bray Wanderers fixtures for our first season back in the First Division since 2004. It was inevitable that we would open proceedings away to Cabinteely, given the Pat Devlin and Eddie Gormley connection. We’ve since pulled them in the Leinster Senior Cup too. So 22 February in Stradbrook will mark the start of the next chapter in Bray’s history. The previous chapter wasn’t a pleasant one, to say the least, but one that had to be gone through to get to where we are now. I’m glad I stuck with; and for those who didn’t or couldn’t but are returning now – you are very welcome!
Our first home game will be against Limerick, who have travelled down in the elevator alongside us. That will be on 01 March, kicking off a 5-game month [3 of which are at home].
Other highlights of the season for me will be the game on 05 April between Shelbourne and Bray in Tolka Park, my closest League of Ireland stadium and my football home-from-home. Shels have made a lot of changes behind the scenes too during the close season. Owen Heary has departed; I felt sorry for him as he is a great guy and did quite well but perhaps paid the price for an over-cautious approach. They have recruited well and will aim aiming for automatic promotion.
May will be another 5-game month and the stand-out game for me here will be the visit of Wexford to the Carlisle Grounds on Friday 24 May. I’ll be turning 50 that weekend, and my son Blaise will be making his First Communion, so hopefully Wanderers will give us a win to celebrate!
Bray have signed some decent players and it was great to seethe club starting to put a squad in place during the 2018 side of Christmas. I remember last year when Dave Mackey had the impossible task of trying to assemble a squad from scratch in January as the start of the season loomed.
As if all the signings and the release of the fixtures wasn’t excitement enough, the icing on the cake for me was the announcement that Matt Britton Carpets will be on our jersey this season. Matt is Bray through and through, and played for the club during his glittering career.
So it’s all good in Bray. I hope you were happy with your club’s fixture schedule and preparations for the season. Best wishes for 2019!