Yorkshire’s EFL clubs facing early TV screen tests

Barnsley players celebrate promotion after the Sky Bet League One match against Bristol Rovers.
Barnsley players celebrate promotion after the Sky Bet League One match against Bristol Rovers.
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REUNIONS in August, intrigue in September and illumination in October.

When it comes to analysing the early EFL fixture list for Yorkshire’s teams, it has the lot.

The early reacquaintance theme will see Barnsley striker Cauley Woodrow line up against his former employers on the opening weekend when Fulham visit Oakwell for the Reds’ Championship return – in a game which sees Alfie Mawson also face his old side for the first time.

For Middlesbrough, a first trip to Luton Town since 1994 will kick off the EFL season under the cameras on Friday, August 2, where there are sure to be butterflies in the stomach of new Boro head coach Jonathan Woodgate in his first match in charge.

For the second successive season, Yorkshire clubs are involved in all three televised games in the opening round of the season, ending with Huddersfield Town’s home game with Derby County on Monday, August 5.

As for most unexpected development of the opening weekend, it arrives in the sight of the cameras ensuring that Leeds United’s opening game – a 4.30pm kick-off at Bristol City – is destined for the opening Sunday following previous Sunday dates to start their last three campaigns.

The notion of nothing being as certain in life as death, taxes and Leeds kicking off their league season at some ghastly hour will not be lost upon Whites followers.

The second weekend will also be a nostalgic one for ex-Rotherham United captain Lee Frecklington, who makes his first return to the Millers with Lincoln City on August 10, where he is guaranteed a warm ovation.

By contrast, there will not be much benevolence in the first high-profile derby of the season on that day when Barnsley make the trip to Hillsborough.

The welcome that Danny Andrew will receive seven days later when he makes his first return to Doncaster Rovers with new club Fleetwood – after recently rejecting Rovers’ contract offer – is unlikely to be convivial either.

Plenty more spice arrives during the following month with Rovers’ home derby with Rotherham on September 7 being the appetiser.

The main course arrives a week later when Barnsley and Huddersfield host Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday respectively in a mouth-watering double date.

Elland Road and Hillsborough will stage the reverse games on April 18 – when Rovers also visit the AESSEAL New York Stadium for just the second time in what promises to be a compelling late-season derby triple-header.

But back to September, where there’s a fair chance that the attention of all of Leeds gravitated towards the September 21 home game with Derby – with memories of the ‘Spygate’ binocular celebrations of jubilant Rams players after their play-off triumph in mid-May unlikely to have faded.

The illumination arrives on October 12 when Millers fans hope the annual light spectacular will not be the sole attraction when they visit Blackpool – with Bradford due in at nearby Morecambe.

Another dual derby date worth noting sees Wednesday host Leeds and Town welcome Barnsley on October 26, – the reverse fixtures providing a fillip to the January blues on January 11.

December is also a noteworthy one for Town, who resume their rivalry with Leeds, who visit Huddersfield on December 7.

As for the season of goodwill, the pick of the Boxing Day action sees Town head to Boro, with Owls followers unlikely to be full of festive cheer towards ‘pantomime villain’ Neil Warnock when Cardiff visit on December 29.

New Year’s Day starts with an all-Tyke affair as the Owls host Hull and February 26 is a midweek date to be circled in the diary as Boro host Leeds and the Tigers welcome Barnsley.

After travelling to Teesside, Leeds visit the KCOM Stadium on February 29 and entertain Huddersfield on March 7 in a key run of fixtures ahead of the run-in.

Meanwhile, that date in March 7 will take precedence across West Yorkshire at Bradford, when the Bantams make their first ever trip to Salford City.

Bradford will also be embarking on new territory when they visit the New Lawn for their maiden appointment at Forest Green on Good Friday (April 10).

As for the final weekend of the regular season, two potentially definitive fixtures which pit South Yorkshire with the North East have the portents for drama.

It starts on the lunch-time of May 2 when the Owls welcome Boro and the next day, the Millers end their season at home to Sunderland in a high-noon meeting.

A spot of posterity also arrives at the season’s finale, with Barnsley being the final ever league visitors to Griffin Park before Brentford move to their new Lionel Road Stadium.