IT’S the big-kick off this weekend for us at Barnsley, and I honestly don’t know where the summer’s gone.
It seems to get earlier and earlier every year, and I know the Championship starts a couple of weeks earlier than the Premier League, but it’s still crazy.
Summer’s absolutely breezed by. That said, it’s good to be back and the lads can’t wait to get out there and show what they can do.
We’ll be one of the favourites this season, which will be a bit of a shock but it’s something we’ll have to get used to.
If you look at our squad, though, I can understand why people think we’ll be up there.
We know the Championship won’t be easy, but we’ll stick together and give it a real go.
There have been a raft of new signings coming in, a load of new faces we’ve had to get to know, but they all seem good blokes.
Most of them have played in the Premier League so that shows you the calibre of players the gaffer has been after, and it’s great for us that they’ve seen us as a good bet to get back in the top flight.
First up is a trip to Oakwell, and you can’t get much more old school than that.
I’ve played there many times, and I’ve got some good memories from my Rotherham days.
That was a big derby in those parts, only one junction up the M1, and the atmosphere was pretty lively.
It’s incredible that we’re playing Barnsley first up, because their gaffer, David Flitcroft, is a good mate of mine.
We were actually on holiday together in Rhodes with our families when the fixtures came out.
I remember us joking about what if it was Barnsley-Wigan on the opening weekend, and then it went and happened. Amazing.
They’ve also got Jason Scotland in their ranks, and he’ll love nothing more than sticking one in the back of our net.
I don’t know why but players always seem to find something extra in their locker when they’re playing against their old teams, and we have to be wary of that.
It’s a big game for our gaffer, too, and I’m really optimistic about the future under Owen Coyle.
Obviously I know him well with my Bolton ties, and I’ve always got on with him. The only problem I’ve got with him is when he joins in with us in training, and he’s chipping me from the edge of the areat.
He’ll join the queue for shooting practice and bend one just inside the post that you can’t get near.
The next time you’ll stand a little nearer that side, and he’ll stick it in the other corner.
He’s still got a cracking left foot, but he keeps winding me up which I’m not too happy about.
It’s another sign of the way he has become part of the group, and he’s been like a breath of fresh air.
I’ve also been continuing with my bike-riding over the summer, although I had a bit of a problem this week.
It felt like the wheels were buckling against the brakes, I’ll have to take it to the shop.
I first noticed there was something wrong when I was biking over Rivington and I hit a pothole.
I was in the middle of nowhere, in a world of my own, when BANG.
I’d love to blame someone else but I can’t.
User error – simple as that.