1. ITV Report

Football Fixtures: 'A day to hope for the best'

The full football fixtures list has been published Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

Sports Editor Simon O' Rourke takes at North East teams' fixture list for next season.

Today the football world looks to Brazil. Today is all about Manaus, Porto Alegre and most of all Rio, where Spain, the fallen world champions, attempt to stay alive against Chile.

But who cares about that, when there is a Christmas Derby to look forward to!

Yes, the World Cup shares top billing. International football can just budge up a bit, because domestic football will also be occupying hearts and minds.

Next season's fixtures were released at 9am this morning. The bread-and-butter timetable of your football life from August onwards is now available.

The immediate standout fixture is Newcastle United v Sunderland on Saturday the 20th of December. The last shopping weekend before Christmas. Gook luck with that Tyneside.

Derby Days are landmarks in this part of the world, so the date of Saturday April 4th 2015 will also get a big red (and white) mark in next year's calendar. That is Sunderland v Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light. It is late in the season, so by then both teams will be fighting for a European place and juggling Premier League games with their thrilling FA Cup runs. Or it will be a grim relegation six pointer.

But that is a world away. Before we do derbies, we do opening days, weeks and months, and here is where the fixture-list fun starts. Here is where fans let their expectations and fears run away with them. Here is where any random link or coincidence leads to a knowing look and a raised eyebrow.

Already we can look forward to Alan Pardew saying that a home game against reigning premier league champions Manchester City is "the perfect way to start the season", when in fact the Newcastle Boss would have been much happier at home to someone bland and beatable, like Villa, West Ham or Hull.

Today we can imagine Sunderland's new signing Billy Jones being wheeled out for all the pre-match stuff ahead of a return to his old club, West Brom, on the opening day of the season.

Then you set your own stall out and predict how your team will fare over the first six games. Newcastle's opening fixture is clearly a ticking time bomb of Geordie discontent, but after that it actually looks alright for the first couple of months, with plenty of winnable games.

Sunderland fans will have the opener at the Hawthorns marked down as an away win, but then it gets a bit rocky. Next up is Manchester Van Gaal at home and the Black Cats have to travel to two of the newly-promoted clubs, QPR and Burnley, in the first couple of months. As we all know, you never want those fixtures early while the newbies are still hopeful and full of enthusiasm. You want them when they've had their spirit crushed by thrashings at the Etihad and the Emirates and a soul-destroying home defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace.

But never mind. Today is really a day for hoping for the best. Middlesbrough fans will daydream of an opening day Championship win at home to Birmingham, followed up by a heart-warming victory at Leeds, setting up a glorious promotion season, culminating in a trophy presentation party at home to Brighton next May.

York City fans will head to freshly relegated Tranmere on League Two's first Saturday in bullish mood after last season's play-off push. Hartlepool also travel to a downcast, demoted club, Stevenage, and Pool fans will hope they'll be partying like it's 2003 by May 2015.

So once the wonderful, but slightly unreal stuff in Brazil is all done and dusted, these are the dates that matter. Anyway, the Netherlands and Germany might look sensational at the moment, but you have to ask yourself how they'd do away at Stoke City on a Tuesday Night.

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