Thursday 22 June 2023

The 2023/24 fixtures have now been released and an opening day match with West Brom means that the Baggies will be visiting Ewood in August for the third successive season. Rovers also faced them in the Premier League opener back in 2004 – the one where Souness had lost the plot and fielded three left backs…

14 Aug 2004       Rovers 1-1 West Brom

21 Aug 2021       Rovers 1-2 West Brom

14 Aug 2022       Rovers 2-1 West Brom

05 Aug 2023       Rovers v West Brom


Some fixtures just have a habit of turning up in exactly the same spot as in previous years and therefore help to immediately bring back memories – good or bad! Rovers travel to Stoke in late November, which is now settling in to be a frequent pre-Christmas trip for the away support…

26 Nov 2011       Stoke City 3-1 Rovers

30 Nov 2019       Stoke City 1-2 Rovers

27 Nov 2021       Stoke City 0-1 Rovers

25 Nov 2023       Stoke City v Rovers


Results at Stoke have improved in recent years, but the late-December journey to Huddersfield doesn’t bring much hope with a couple of gutting late goals conceded here…

31 Dec 2016       Huddersfield Town 1-1 Rovers

29 Dec 2019       Huddersfield Town 2-1 Rovers

29 Dec 2020       Huddersfield Town 2-1 Rovers

26 Dec 2023       Huddersfield Town v Rovers


Thankfully though, Rotherham come to Ewood on New Year’s Day because January trips to Yorkshire don’t bring happy memories: Rovers conceded a late equaliser in the League One campaign while there was a horror show this year…

01 Jan 2018        Rotherham United 1-1 Rovers     

14 Jan 2023        Rotherham United 4-0 Rovers

01 Jan 2024        Rovers v Rotherham United


I first became aware of such peculiarities in 2005, when staying with a friend in Middlesbrough on the exact same weekend as the year before when Rovers were also in town. The early-February away day at the Riverside is perhaps the most frequent of repeat fixtures this century, but it’s a wait until March next season…

16 Feb 2002        Middlesbrough 1-0 Rovers (FA Cup)

07 Feb 2004        Middlesbrough 0-1 Rovers

05 Feb 2005        Middlesbrough 1-0 Rovers

08 Feb 2014        Middlesbrough 0-0 Rovers

06 Feb 2016        Middlesbrough 1-1 Rovers

01 Feb 2020        Middlesbrough 1-1 Rovers


Meanwhile, the short trip to Deepdale has settled in as a semi-regular late November one in the calendar in the last 10 years, although late April is a recent challenger and it’s going to be February in 2024.

21 Nov 2015       Preston North End 1-2 Rovers

24 Nov 2018       Preston North End 4-1 Rovers

24 Nov 2020       Preston North End 0-3 Rovers


There are probably a few others with similar stories, and supporters will have their own memories of when they’ve felt a sense of déjà vu about certain fixtures.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of ascribing these coincidences to something bigger – such as a glitch in the ‘fixtures computer’ or a dodgy ‘fix’ when an inconvenient match pops up somewhere. 

But the truth is that it’s simply a matter of probability: with a total of 46 league matches being put down on paper, it’s inevitable that 2 or 3 are going to land in exactly the same spot as recent years.

“And it is in the humble opinion of this narrator that these strange things happen all the time…”


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