Pools face long journeys in League One

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HARTLEPOOL United will learn their opening-day opponents for the new season next week – and boss Neale Cooper cannot wait.

The fixture list for the 2012-13 campaign will be released on Monday.

And Cooper says it is the first indicator that the big kick-off is drawing ever closer.

“It’s a longer-than-normal summer this time around because of the Euros and Olympics,” he said. “But the day the fixtures come out is always an exciting one for everyone involved.

“It’s probably the time a lot of fans start making travel plans and the like and work out which games they’ll be going to, which is exciting.

“The opening day is always the big one which you look for first though.

“I think by the time it comes around, whoever it is, we’ll be raring to go because of the length of time we’ve been without it.

“We’re all in football because we love it – so we can’t wait for it all to start again.”

As ever, there are seven clubs new to the division – Coventry City, Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers dropping down from the Championship, with Swindon, Shrewsbury, Crawley and Crewe promoted from League Two.

That means a total of more than 5,000 away-day miles ahead of Cooper and his boys, 500 more than last term.

The longest trip of the season will be to Yeovil Town’s Huish Park, some 335 miles from Victoria Park. But Portsmouth (327) and Bournemouth (326) aren’t far behind when it comes to long-distance treks.

The shortest journey of the year remains the 90-mile cross-country trip to northern rivals Carlisle.

But Cooper has no problem with those south-coast stop-overs.

“Even as a player I enjoyed some of the longer trips,” he said.

“It’s a great chance to have a bit banter with the lads and that, I think, is so important.

“We’ve a good bunch here as well who get on with each other, so a few extra miles shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”