Friday 28 September 2012

Week 7: Speeding towards the weekend like Andre Santos

(Insert laboured joke to get things started here)

Game 1: Exeter City vs Bristol Rovers
Prediction: Home win
(Insert derogatory comment about Mark McGhee here)

Reliability balls: 8/10

Odds on this result: 5/6


Game 2: Cardiff City vs Blackpool
Prediction: Home win
(Insert puns about Welshness and seaside holiday resorts here)

Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 13/10


Game 3: Oldham Athletic vs Coventry City
Prediction: Away win
(Insert terrible joke about dated meat products here)

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 7/4


Game 4: Nottingham Forest vs Derby County
Prediction: Draw
(Insert tree-based puns here)

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 5/2


Game 5: Ayr United vs Brechin City
Prediction: Draw
(Insert interesting fact about nicknames derived from Burns poems here)

Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 14/5


Game 6: Livingston vs Dumbarton
Prediction: Home win
(Claim that Livingston defender Jesus Garcia Tena is actually the messiah here)

Reliability balls: 8/10
Odds on this result: 1/2


Game 7: Aston Villa vs West Brom
Prediction: Home win
(Insert link to pretty awful French band called Aston Villa here)

Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 7/5

Total odds for this week = 554/1

(Insert claim that I will be on schedule with this week's post-match ramblings before ultimately failing to keep said promise)




Tuesday 25 September 2012

Week 6 results: You f#%!ing plebs!

A wee Andrew Mitchell MP quote there to help start this week's results.  Mitchell is, of course, in trouble for saying out loud what the Tories don't want us to know they are all thinking.  And in order to keep this vaguely football related, I should mention that Mr Mitchell does not support any team in particular but is a massive fan of Middlesbrough's André Bikey.  Because he rides a bike.  

This week's Grambling could have gone better, and genuinely looked like it would have at times on Saturday.  However, a few late goals here and there ultimately nullified the main bet.  Saving face, the doubles bet won a MASSIVE £2.53, which shall be added to the Bobby Moore Fund fund to give us a running total of £10.03!  Double-figures at last!


Here is a blow-by-blow account of the weekend's Grambling expedition.  Warning: May contain traces of nut.     

Game 1: Derby County vs Burnley
Prediction: Draw (
x )

The first prediction of the week came so very close to being correct, but the Rams will be feeling rather sheepish after letting a draw turn into a defeat in the dying minutes of this game.  Derby had raced into a twentieth minute lead when the Burnley defence failed to clear a corner, allowing Jamie Ward to score the opener.  Twelve minutes later and the Clarets had equalised through striker Charlie Austin.  Keeping on top of the action, this happy Grambler was rather chuffed as the game approached it's finale looking likely to end in a draw.  But evil Charles Austin decided that he did not like the idea of money going to charity, scoring with an emphatic header in the 89th minute to show his support for tumours everywhere.  It proved to be a good day for Austin, who only took up football as a side-job whilst not producing vacuum pumps.  It was not such a good day for Nigel Clough's men, who slipped below their opponents in the league.  It was a hard result to accept for the manager, who has a statue of his old man outside the stadium.  And that is not a euphemism

Game 2: Crystal Palace vs Cardiff City
Prediction: Home win (
 )
Cardiff squandered the chance to move top of the Championship despite making a fantastic start at Selhurst Park.  Palace started well, but Aron Gunnarsson scored against the run of play, slotting calmly past Julian Speroni.  Two minutes later and City had doubled their lead with a volley from Mafia farmer Don Cowie.  From then until half-time, Cardiff looked rather comfortable and could even have extended the lead further, with Craig Bellamy firing over from nine yards.  A renewed Palace side emerged in the second-half and instantly pressured their opponents.  Within six minutes of the restart, opening scorer Gunnarsson was adjudged to have handled inside his area and Glenn Murray scored from the spot.  Murray got his second on 62 minutes when a deflected shot fell to him and he shot past Cardiff's David Marshall.  And the fightback was complete ten minutes later when Heidar Helguson made a reckless challenge in the Cardiff box, forcing the referee to award a second penalty to the Eagles.  Murray stepped up to claim his hat-trick and seal the win, rounding off a mint performance (insert cymbal crash here).

Game 3: Liverpool vs Manchester United
Prediction: Liverpool 
x )
Two of the great rivals of English football squared up in typical fashion (football kits, mostly) in a day which started with more tributes to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.  And more importantly, two overpaid men SHOOK HANDS WITH EACH OTHER!!!  Liverpool dominated in the first half, but as usual failed to realise that scoring goals is a prerequisite of controlling matches.  Late in the first half, ridiculously named Jonjo Shelvey (is it John or Joe, make your mind up!) was shown a straight red for a mis-timed tackle.  Strangely, ten-man Liverpool went on to take the lead after the restart as Steven Gerrard volleying home just seconds after the interval.  But the lead was to last a mere five minutes as a neat move from United ended with Rafael Da Silva beating Pepe Reina.  United would go on to take all three points when Glen Johnson brought down Nuno Valencia inside the area, and Robin Van Persie slotted home the resulting penalty.  In the aftermath of the game, referee Mark Halsey has contacted police to report offensive comments on his Twitter feed.  Whilst not disclosed by the police, I can confirm that he was referred to as VARK Halsey (vark meaning pig in Afrikaans, obviously.) 

Game 4: Port Vale vs Gillingham 
Prediction: Port Vale 
x )
A battle of the big boys in League Two ended with Gillingham cementing their place as league leaders.  The visitors were in control for most of the game and took the lead on 11 minutes when THE Deon Burton headed in Robbie Findley's cross.  Did anyone know he was still playing?  I seem to remember at France 1998 everyone thought he was going to be the badger's nadgers but he ended up being... a bit crap.  The Gills (who take their nickname from celebrated nuclear physicist Piara Singh Gill) made it two when Chris Whelpdale fired home from a Joe Martin through-ball.  Onomatologists everywhere will jump at the chance to tell you that Whelpdale's surname means Puppyvalley, so that is how he shall be referred to should he ever appear in The Grambler again.  Following the game, Gillingham midfielder Danny Jackman said "The gaffer's tried to get us work as a solid unit, and once we all attack together, we all defend together."  Top clichés, sir! 

Game 5: West Ham vs Sunderland
Prediction: Sunderland 
x )
Sunderland have now drawn so many games that they may as well just get it over with and rename the club Sundrawland.  The perennial single-pointers started brightly with summer signing and Craig Levein ignoree Steven Fletcher scored the opening goal after nine minutes, dedicating his goal to his father who is currently incarcerated at Slade Prison.  West Ham responded by piling the pressure on the Black Cats, but could not break their resolute defence.  A number of chances went to waste as Sunderland sat in their own half for most of the second half, hopeful of defending their narrow lead.  All looked swell for The Grambler, as the game entered it's final minutes with an away victory in sight.  But cap'n Kevin Nolan had other ideas; in the dying seconds, the ball fell to him in the six yard box and he hooked the ball into the net.  A dramatic end to the game and another nail in the coffin for my coupon.  In tribute to home team's goalscorer, here is potentially the best joke I have ever come up with: Which West Ham player has problems when accessing the internet? Kevin No LAN! ThankyouverymuchladiesandgentlemenI'llbehereallweek!   

Game 6: Aberdeen vs Motherwell
Prediction: Draw 
(  )
Saturday afternoon.  Pittodrie, Aberdeen.  83 minutes on the clock.  Motherwell lead by three goals to one.  Stuart McCall shouts cap'n Keith over to the touchline.  "Psst...  I've just noticed that The Grambler has us on for a draw this weekend... Better tell the lads to ship two goals in the last seven minutes... You ain't seen me, right?"  McCall taps his nose and slinks back in to the dugout, his ginger mullet flowing in the wind.  It's the only plausible explanation.  It was Aberdeen who had opened the scoring, Gavin Rae heading into the net after six minutes of play.  Well's Michael Higdon levelled things before the break with his seventh goal in as many games (and yet, half of the East Stand still boo him... Yes, I'm talking to YOU exceedingly angry man with black baseball cap and senile father in tow who sits two rows in front of me!)  Motherwell took control after the break, Shaun Hutchinson heading them into the lead.  The win looked to be sealed on 82 minutes when Nicky Law scored from close range, but this is when the above conversation took place.  Niall McGinn proved that the game was not over with a header on 84 minutes as the away side let him score.  And McCall's brilliant plan came to fruition in the last minute of stoppage time as Josh Magennis scored in dramatic fashion.  So thank you Stuart McCall for sacrificing a comfortable lead at the top of the SPL just for The Grambler, much appreciated!

Game 7: Morton vs Raith Rovers
Prediction: Home win 
(  )
My 'Favourite Match Report of the Week' award (a new award celebrating my favourite match report of the week) goes to whoever writes the reports on the Raith Rovers website, who informs us of important match incidents such as 'the referee is a former cricketer' and 'the fans munched on bacon rolls.'  Raith appeared to have a number of chances to build on their recent good form, but could not find their finishing touch as Stuart Anderson, Scott Taggart, Jason Thomson  and Simon Mensing  missed the target.   The decisive goal came from one of the home side's few chances, when Stephen Stirling hit a thunderous 25 yard strike past former Raith keeper David McGurn.  The win pushed Morton up to third place in the First Division, much to delight of manager Allan Moore who, along with being a mediocre football manager, wrote the Watchmen and V for Vendetta.  Assuming of course that there could not possibly be more than one person with this common forename and surname combination.

So another mildly successful week, still waiting for the big win.  Inevitably it will come on the final round of games of the season, whereby I will win two grand setting me up nicely for a Danny Wallace-esque book.  

The next round of Grambling will start at 9 a.m. sharp on Friday (which translates roughly to 7.30 p.m. by my timing).  As I have won some money for a few weeks now, I am legally obliged to provide an inspirational quote about winning.  So take it away Mr Roy Castle:

"If you wanna be the best,and you wanna beat the rest.  Oo-ooh!  Dedication's what you need.  (Trumpet Solo)"

Saturday 22 September 2012

Week 6: Better late than never!

I did not get the chance to write the usual post-weekend analysis last week, so my apologies go out to the four people who are still reading.  It was a rather good weekend, with four of the seven results correct.  Thanks to the trebles bet I won £5.75, all of which shall be added to the Bobby Moore Fund collection.  So we not have a grand total of £7.50! Cancer beware, I am totally going to fund a cure with that money!

I am rather excited by this week's Gramblings... A total of 67 games to choose from and The Grambler has managed to select my two favourite teams in the same week, giving me all the more reason to be completely engrossed in this weekend's football action.  

The Almighty One has picked the following:  

Game 1: Derby County vs Burnley
Prediction: Draw

My old man is from Derby and gi old man is from Derby and his old man... well, that's all I know about my family tree.  When I was young 'un kicking a football about the school-yard at playtime, everyone wanted to be Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer or Gianfranco Zola.  I wanted to be Marco Gabbiadini.  Which is weird because not even Marco Gabbiadini wants to be Marco Gabbiadini.  I have always kept an eye out for them, and will be doing more-so this weekend whilst screaming "COME ON YOU RAMS, DRAW THIS ONE!"  Derby currently sit 12th in the Championship and have yet to lose at Pride Park.  Burnley are heading down the M1 (or A551 depending on which route the driver wants to take) without a single point away from home in three attempts this season.  Manager Eddie Howe has berated his side's lack of consistency this season, having watched the Clarets win two games comfortably and lose the other four.  Obviously, he does not understand howe this can happen.

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 12/5

Game 2: Crystal Palace vs Cardiff City
Prediction: Home win
Staying in the Championship and we are off to Selhurst Park, where Palace are looking to extend their unbeaten run to four games.  Having won, drawn and lost one game at home apiece this season, the Eagles will be hopeful of moving out of the bottom half of the table with a win today.  They will have to do so without frormer Cardiff player and Wales international Danny Gabbidon and the ridiculously Irish sounding Paddy McCarthy, who is so Irish that the Corrs wrote a song about him.  Cardiff have only been beaten only once this season and will be hoping to take advantage of Blackburn's slip-up last night to claim the top-spot with a win.  The BlueRedbirds won both league games between the two last season and also dumped Palace out of the league cup on penalties at the semi-final stage.  The Welsh boyos will have to make-do without one big-name summer signing as Nicky Maynard is injured but Craig Bellamy returns to action after missing out on Tuesday night as Cardiff defeated Millwall.

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 11/5

Game 3: Liverpool vs Manchester United
Prediction: Liverpool

Woohoo, we have a biggie this week!  And it appears to be a battle between the most unlikeable teams in English football!  All eyes will be on Anfield on Sunday for a number of reasons; a fierce and long-running rivalry extends into another season, the nonsensical furore surrounding Luis Saurez and Patrice Evra continues, Sir Alex Ferguson has issued a letter to United fans asking them to stop singing songs about tragedy, the same goes for Liverpool fans and yet another Hillsborough tribute will be taking place (no offence intended as it was a horrific incident, but many of these do we need?)  Sir has pleaded with his players to remain disciplined in what could be a melting pot, whilst Brendan Rodgers has said that he expects a 'peaceful game', akin to that seen in the trenches on Christmas Day during World War 1: First Blood.  So expect the players to trade cigarettes, make jolly japes and compare pictures of their loved ones back home.  Regarding the actual football, Liverpool have been awful this season but may be fired up for the reasons given above.  The home crowd may also help so this could be a possibility.

Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 17/10

Game 4: Port Vale vs Gillingham 
Prediction: Port Vale

Dropping down to League Two, and another exciting game as a top-of-the-table clash takes place over at Stoke-on-Trent.  Just three points separates the two teams who currently occupy 1st and 2nd place in the league.  Under Micky Adams, Port Vale have exceeded expectations and made an impressive start to the season in spite of financial trouble and uncertainty over the clubs future.  Still in administration, the club have only lost one game this season with five wins.  They are also undefeated at their imaginatively named Vale Park home-ground.  Gillingham have gone one step farther and remained unbeaten all season.  The Gills have only dropped two points this season in a home-draw with Chesterfield.  They have also strengthened their squad with the addition of Nottingham Forrest's USA international striker Robbie Findlay, who could start today.  Would you like to see him miss an absolute sitter for Forrest back in January?  Of course you would!

Reliability balls: 7/10
Odds on this result: 13/10

Game 5: West Ham vs Sunderland
Prediction: Sunderland

Many people had expected West Ham to struggle upon gaining promotion back to the big-bad world of the Premiership.  Although they are absolutely horrific to watch, as Sam Alardyce teams tend to be, they have actually adapted quite well to the pace of the top league and have managed two wins and a draw in their opening four games.  Andy Carroll has been reported to be back in light-training (as opposed to dark-training) but is not likely to feature this weekend.  Sunderland have neither won nor lost this season; in three games they have drawn three.  Martin O'Neill will hope that his side can manage a victory for the first time since March; in eleven games since their last win they have drawn a massive eight.  Adam Johnson may miss out through an injury sustained whilst playing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with Steven Fletcher.

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 13/5

Game 6: Aberdeen vs Motherwell
Prediction: Draw

Finally, the kings of football appear!  Currently running away with the SPL title, Motherwell are clearly the greatest team in Scotland and their lack of trophies is purely a result of many years not playing to their full ability as it would embarrass evceryone they played.  A great start to the season sees Motherwell sitting top of the table and undefeated.  A draw at Aberdeen would be a nice preparation for dumping Rangers out of the league cup next week.  They will be up against an Aberdeen side managed by a dishonest old twat.  Grandpaw Broon has not quite managed to transform the Dons in the way that the fans expected, with them continuing to float around the bottom half of the SPL table.  Their fans have yet to notice that this is the case however, as they all think it is still 1989 and their team is half decent.  I can't say that I'll be enturely disappointed if this prediction is incorrect and the Well pump the Sheepies.  

Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 9/4

Game 7: Morton vs Raith Rovers
Prediction: Home win

The final game of the week occurs in the Scottish First Division, as Raith visit the midden that is Greenock.  Rovers currently sit higher in the league table but only two points separate the sides.  Raith also finished one position higher in the league last season and the last encounter between the sides at Cappielow ended with a 3-1 victory for the away side.  But Morton manager Allen Moore has insisted that his side can make the most of their home advantage saying "I insist that we can make the most of our home advantage."  

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 13/10

That is our bet for this week.  Most of the games are approaching half-time just now because I am late in writing this, however the bet was placed on facebook.com/LetsGramble on Friday morning so be sure to like us over there for more up 

to date announcements.


Total odds this week are 1,817/1.  And I promise to update this on Monday morning with the results.  Honestly!

Friday 14 September 2012

Week 5: Assignment: Miami Beach

After an entertaining but disastrous international weekend, we get back to business this week with the wonderful world of league football, where it is actually possible to find a match report.

But before we start, here is a football related joke:

Q: Why was Cinderella rubbish at football?


A: Because she had no formal training.  From a young age, her sisters coerced her into doing all of the housekeeping meaning that she never even got the chance to try out for her school football team.  Besides, back in those un-PC days, the school team probably wouldn't have selected a girl.  There was also a lack of interest in the sport on her part; she often heard people making remarks about her 'running away from the ball' and thought to herself "when you put that into context, it really makes no sense as I have no interest and/or involvement in football and/or any other sport."  It wasn't until she found her prince that she took a mild interest in the game, following her new husbands favourite team - Coventry City.  And then the French paparazzi took long distance photo's of her topless...


Game 1: Stevenage vs Crewe
Prediction: Draw
We start our journey this week in Stevenage, a town famous for... being near Junction 7 on the A1? Also, apparently the King of Portugal moved there in the 1840s.  God knows why... Stevenage  made it to the play-offs last season with a 6th place finish and currently inhabit the third spot in the table.  Their three wins so far this season have all come away from home, and they remain unbeaten thanks to two draws in their home matches. Crewe won promotion from League Two last season via the play-offs and have had a strong start to life in League One.  They currently sit four points below Stevenage in League One, but have managed a win away from home suggesting that are capable of picking up points on the road.  One local celebrity is so desperate for his side to avoid defeat that he has promised to hold his breath until they have secured at least a point.  Hopefully Crewe can pick up something from this game so that he can breath again.

Reliability Balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 5/2

Game 2: Brighton vs Sheffield Wednesday
Prediction: Home win

This week's earliest kick-off, taking place at 7.45 tonight.  Brighton chairman Tony Bloom has ploughed a lot of money into the club over the past couple of seasons in the hope of his side will blossom and find that elusive promotion.  Manager Gus Poyet will hope that his players can keep up their good-form and improve on last season's 10th place finish.  Meanwhile, the media-circus has rolled into Sheffield following the release of restricted papers from the Hillsborough disaster (it turns out the politicians and high ranking police-officers are liars, who would have thunk it?)  Wednesday will be glad to get away from this with a pleasant day-trip to Brighton to visit the Ashdown Forest Llama Park, stroll along the pier and, most importantly, have a kickabout.  The two teams are neck-and-neck in the championship.  Each has two wins and draw to their name but the bonus in our favour is that Brighton are unbeaten at home whilst Wednesday have yet to win away.

Reliability Balls: 7/10
Odds on this result: 6/5

Game 3: Colchester vs Doncaster
Prediction: Away win
Back to League One...  It has been a tough start to the season for Colchester... In five games, the have drawn three, just not quite doing enough for the win.  The other two games resulted in losses so they are still searching for that first win of the season.  And on top of that, La Tasca in the town centre is set to close!  The U's sit in the relegation zone just now, not that that means much at this time of the season, and would get a confidence boost from a win tomorrow.  To help them along the way, fictional Irish stereotype John-Joe O'Toole has returned to training.  Doncaster sit higher up the table with wins in 50% of their games this season and a game in hand over their opponents.  But manager Dean Saunders has bemoaned his sides luck with injuries, and claims that he is struggling to scrape a side together.  Striker Chris Brown has three goals in three games, a streak that he will be hopeful of continuing.  Brown also has an... ahem... supplementary job as an aspiring commentator.     

Reliability Balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 9/5

Game 4: Inverness vs Aberdeen
Prediction: Home win
Inverness have not had the best start the season, with three draws and zero wins in their opening five fixtures.  In their last match before the international break, they were absolutely pumped at Fir Park putting Motherwell at the top of the SPL (YAAAAAAAAS!).  Terry Butcher has complained about his sides complacent defence, no doubt calling them mince.  He will expect a meaty performance and is willing to steak his reputation on a win.  Beef.  Grandpaw Broon's Aberdeen side are just one win better off and sit two places above Caley Thistle in the league.  Broon is aware of the Inverness threat, saying "they'll tighten up, particularly when it's Aberdeen. Aberdeen would constitute a fairly good scalp for them" whilst sucking on his falsers, lighting a pipe and reminiscing about the good old days.           

Reliability Balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 2/1

Game 5: Everton vs NewcastlePrediction: Draw
I really do hope this one is correct, not only for the sake of the bet, but also for the sake of my awful fantasy football team.  Preferably a 3-3 draw with hat-tricks for Jelavic and Cisse.  Everton have, for once, decided to start playing well from the start of the season instead of waiting until January.  Two wins in their first three games will have delighted fans, and if they can maintain this form, a finish above their substandard noisy neighbours could once again be on the cards.  Newcastle were a delight to watch last season and ended up as surprise challengers for the final Champions League spot last season and, having kept their team together over the pre-season, many expected them to pick up where they left off last season.  One win and one draw in their opening three has been an average start but they are certainly capable of more.  A draw could be a fair result.

Reliability Balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 13/5 

Game 6:  Cardiff vs Leeds
Prediction: Draw
Strangely enough, another two sides who are level with the aforementioned Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday, with two wins and a draw in their first four games putting them on seven points.  Since their 3-1 win against Wolves a fortnight ago, Cardiff manager Malky McKay has been full of praise for Craig Bellamy saying that he had been 'immense' in training.  McKay was also full of praise for David Bellamy saying that he had been 'immense' in gardening.  Leeds have strengthened their squad further over the past week with the loan signing of Stoke's Michael Tonge who has told the club that he is so good that Neil Warnock will have to hand him a start tomorrow.  I believe he was being Tonge in cheek though...  Neither team is a stranger to The Grambler with both appearing in Week 3, and in that case both predictions were incorrect.  Based on this, I am convinced that a draw is exactly what will happen here... 


Reliability Balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 5/2

Game 7: Barnsley vs Blackpool
Prediction: Home win
Our third Championship game of the week, and the one that I'm least confident about... Barnsley have made a modest start to the season with two wins and two losses.  Having finished a lowly 21st in the table last season, manager Keith Hill is one win away from making this season Barnsley's best league start since 1977.  Here's what he had to say on Twitter: "I love bacon. Each morning I sing about my beloved bacon, I even do my bacon ritual. I endeavour to be bacon man. I guess I just love bacon."  I have an inkling that it might be a fake account.  Blackpool are as high as a tower at the top of the league.  Ian Holloway will not want to sea the Tykes rock the boat, and will certainly not give in to pier pressure by changing his starting line up.  But when Blackpool are at their best, it can be a pleasure (beach) to watch.  Barnsley have a 100% home record this season, whilst Blackpool's only loss came away from home as they visited Leicester.  I remain hopeful.  


Reliability Balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 13/5


The odds for this bet are the highest received for any Grambler bet thus far; a humongous 2,933/1!!!  I have also put a cheeky trebles bet on this week as three correct predictions seems to represent a good Grambling week.

As the Everton vs Newcastle game takes place on Monday evening, the results shall not be here until sometime on Tuesday.    

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Week 4.5 Results: Happy Day of Conception to all our Russian readers!

The first midweek Grambling session did not end well.  In spite of what looked like a reasonable bet, only two results of the five turned out to be correct.  I think I might just stick to the weekend's from here onwards as I cannot handle the agony of losing twice weekly.

Without further agadoo, here is how my bet went wrong this time:


Game 1: Slovakia vs Liechtenstein
Prediction: Home win (Woohoo!)
This had to happen.  It would have been ridiculously embarrassing for Slovakia to lose to a team 104 places below them in the FIFA rankings.  I suppose this could have been considered a bit of a grudge match considering Slovakia once attempted to steal Liechtenstein.  And it certainly was not the friendliest of matches with the referee producing seven yellow cards.  But Slovakia won this game reasonably comfortably with a goal in either half.  Marek Sapara scored the first with a tap in after most of the Steinies' defence fell over whilst trying to clear a cross.  The second came from subsitute Martin Jakubko, who raced through onto a Miroslav Stoch through-ball to beat the onrushing keeper and seal the victory.  Following the match, the Slovak's coach Stanislav Griga said "they ruled their universe with absolute power. Well that football field out there, that's our universe."  Oh wait, that was Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans...

Game 2: England vs Ukraine
Prediction: Home win (D'oh!)
England, supreme rulers and inventors of football, played host to Ukraine in their second qualifier and took a point,  as many of today's newspapers decided that their campaign was doomed due to failure to win one game.  Yevgeni Konoplianka gave the visitors the lead in the first half with a splendid long-range strike and it looked like Ukraine would be taking all of the points home, along with one of the corner flags that goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov pinched for a laugh.  But much to their disgust, England won a penalty in the closing minutes as the referee forgot that Ukraine had 'any-man-save' and penalised Yevgen Khacherdi for a handball.  Fat Frank Lampard calmly placed the kick into the net to give England a point.  Their was still time for some late drama as violent thug Steven Gerrard received a second yellow card for his usual violent thuggery, but it was too late to affect the game in any way.  Roy Hodgson will probably be pleased with the point and even more pleased that the Flower and Produce Show is almost upon us in The Archers.  For some reason, I think he may be a big fan.

Game 3: Cyprus vs Iceland
Prediction: Home win (Woohoo!)
For the first time in the history of this tie, Cyprus have defeated Iceland!  Granted, that history only equates to five matches... Iceland created a host of chances with Spurs' midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson in fine form, but the Cypriots dug their heels in and defended well and their hard-work paid-off in the second half when Konstantinos Makridisn scored from 12 yards.  Iceland could have equalised just minutes after this goal, but Alfred Finnbogason's effort crashed off the crossbar.  With five minutes to go, desperation and frustration got to the visitors as Solvi Ottesen was given his marching orders for using foul and abusive language toward the referee.  It has not been widely reported exactly what happened during the exchange of words, but I can confirm that Ottesen said to the official "mamma þín er með rusl ketill", which roughly translates to "your mum has a shit kettle".  

Game 4: Paraguay vs Venezuela
Predication: Home wins (D'oh!)
Venezuela boosted their chances of appearing at the World Cup by moving up the South American table and leaving Paraguay trailing at the bottom.  Of the table, obviously.  It now looks like the home side will not be going to Brazil, at least not on official business.  I suppose some of them might go on holiday or to visit their Great Aunt 
Milagros.  Paraguay had looked like the better side for most of the first half, but moments before the break, Venezuela's Cesar Gonzalez played a perfect pass through the defence for Jose Solomon Rondon to open the scoring.  And he got his second after half-time when Paraguayan keeper Justo Villar spilled a long range free-kick, allowing him to tap the ball into the net.  Interesting fact about Man of the Match Rondon; his name is an anagram of Sod Loners Mojo Noon.  So there.   

Game 5: Serbia vs Wales
Prediction: Away win (Hahahahahahahahahaha!)
The less said about this the better.  So to keep it short and sweet; 6-1, Wales were crap, Grambler was wrong.  Boyo.

On a side-note, we all know you're reading this Craig Levein!  So come on now, do the honourable thing...  Go to the Bobby Moore Fund website and give them some of that massive wage that you are doing nothing to justify!

Things get back to normal at the weekend as league football returns.  And a win is definitely forthcoming, I can feel it my ovaries!  Please come back on Friday; I'll be your best friend!  Until then, consider this quote to help us through these losing times:

"Winners have to absorb losses"
 - The great philosopher that is Ice-T (Mr T's son)

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Week 4.5: More Grambling vicar?

With a major win over the weekend, I simply could not wait a full week to place the next bet.  For the first time, I have decided to Gramble during the week!  This ranks alongside man walking on the moon, Colonel Sanders inventing chicken and the assassination of Jedward in the most important moments in the history of history.

There are 38 competitive games taking place, mostly this evening with a handful tomorrow evening.  I have removed the friendly games as there are some odd ties included there (Belgium Under-23s vs England C Team anyone?) and to reflect the lowered number of games, I have cut the coupon down to five matches.

Our survey says...

Game 1: Slovakia vs Liechtenstein
Prediction: Home win
Since the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Slovakian national team seemed to mope around Europe, thinking of their former lovers.  Calls were not answered, letters were returned and restraining orders were issued.  But after a particularly bad alcohol-fuelled binge in 2009, Slovakia looked at himself in the mirror and said "right, it's time I forgot about that bitch, the Czech Republic.  I need to sort myself out and live my life!  Eye of the tiger!"  And so, Slovakia qualified for the World Cup for the first time.  And they were not just there to make up the numbers; they qualified for the final 16 after knocking out holders Italy at the group stage in a game that all the cool kids called 'epic'.  Slovakia's attempts to emulate this in Brazil started with a mediocre draw at Lithuania and they will hope to pick up their first win tonight.  And what can we say about Liechtenstein?  Not a lot actually... Sitting at number 149 in the FIFA rankings, the Steinies as they are better known (by me)  have suffered a number of embarrassing defeats over the years.  But I'm sure they don't care as they sit with their croissant and a copy of the Financial Times laughing at the fact that every other country in the world has a lower GDP than them.  The Steinies kicked off their qualifying campaign with a humiliating 8-1 defeat at home to Bosnia and it is highly unlikely that they will be leaving Bratislava with anything.

Reliability balls: A massive 9/10
Odds on this result: A pitiful 1/50

Game 2: England vs Ukraine
Prediction: Home win
Apparently England actually won the World Cup sometime back in the 1960s, but you very rarely hear about it as the media are so humble and restrained in Britain.  In a shocking exposé and top-notch piece of investigative journalism, The Sun today confirmed that since this victory, England have not won a tournament.  This will be devastating news to the England players, management and fans, so I expect that it will spur them on to victory in tonight's game.  England won their opening qualifier comfortably with a 5-0 win in Moldova to set them up nicely for this game but have a number of players missing out through injury and illness, including influential defender and (alleged) massive racist John Terry.  Ukraine did not play at the weekend and will be hoping for a win in this opening game to help their World Cup hopes.  As co-hosts of Euro 2012, Ukraine only managed one win resulting in an early exit at the group stage of the tournament.   Their elimination was sealed after a defeat to England, during which Ukraine's Marko Devic was denied a goal after (alleged) massive racist John Terry hooked the ball out of the net and the inadequate officials failed to notice. The Ukrainians may well be out for revenge tonight.

Reliability balls: 7/10
Odds on this result: 1/2

Game 3: Cyprus vs Iceland
Prediction: Home win
Cyprus make their second Grambler appearance to confirm their status as the Blackburn Rovers of international football.  They were supposed to draw with Albania on Friday but failed to do so, losing 3-1.  Vincent Laban scored the consolation goal for the Cypriots but they have landed at the foot of their group and it is a position that they are very familiar with from previous qualifying campaigns.  Iceland are currently 114th in FIFA's rankings, which is not too bad for the staff team of a discount supermarket captained by a washed-up Aussie actor.  However, they had a pleasant start to the qualifiers with a 2-0 victory over Norway, their own Neighbours (yes, that's another Jason Donovan reference.  I'm struggling here)... This is the second time in as many qualifying rounds that Cyprus and Iceland have ended up in the same group.  In the Euro 2012 round, the two teams took up the bottom places of the group, with the Cypriots being the worst off.  The two legs played for that competition are the only competitive matches ever played between the teams; Iceland won at home and the match in Nicosia ended in a goalless draw.  

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 8/5

Game 4: Paraguay vs Venezuela
Predication: Home wins
Home wins seem to be the flavour of the week!  In South America, the qualifying for the World Cup is well under-way... And Paraguay are rooted to the bottom of their table.  with only a win against Ecuador and a draw against Uruguay from their first six games.  Having qualified for the last four World Cups and reached the final of last year's Cop America, Paraguay's fans will be expecting more from their team.  They also have an amazing national anthem which I can imagine being used to soundtrack a show about a retired drug-lord adapting to life in Somerset in comical fashion.  Venezuela have faired slightly better.  Two draws and two wins, including one against Argentina, has left them just five points from the top of the group.  Having never before qualified for a World Cup tournament, the chance to hop across the border to Brazil in 2014 will be a huge incentive to keep up the good form.  A win for Venezuela would also help them to celebrate the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora del Valle which appears to be some kind of festival where they eat a lady who lives in a valley.

Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 4/7

Game 5: Serbia vs Wales
Prediction: Away win
Meanwhile in Belgrade, Serbia will be hoping to embark on a successful whaling trip.  Which would make sense if 'whaling trip' was a euphemism for winning at football.  And Serbia wasn't landlocked...  Siniša Mihajlović's side managed a goalless draw with the mighty Scotland on Saturday.  Serbia had a few chances in this game and defended well, but probably would have lost by at least eight goals if Craig Levein would actually realise that Kenny Miller is past his best.  Serbia, in spite of having only existed for two years, have been reasonably successful, qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and coming within a whisker of the play-offs for Euro 2012.  The Welsh lost 2-0 at home to Belgium at the weekend, and their defence looked fairly leeky.  After the game, manager Chris Coleman said that he was "delighted with the effort" sheepishly.  Unfortunately for Coleman, the Wales team making it to the group stages of a tournament is very rare(bit).  He will expect his team to bounce back from this defeat against a Serbia.  Boyo.

Reliability balls: 4/10
Odds on this result: 7/1

The first game has just kicked off in Cyprus and the last kicks-off after midnight tonight in Asunción so I will have a sleepless night wondering about the outcome of Paraguay vs Venezuela.  Odds are poor once again but my £1 bet could possibly bring in £48 and I also have a three-folds bet on in the hope of winning something.

Results will be available at precisely 14:46 tomorrow afternoon.

Monday 10 September 2012

Week 4 Results: The sweet, sweet taste of (infuriatingly mild) success!


Yes, you did read that right... A successful weekend for The Grambler!  Not only did I manage to reach a new record for correct predictions, but I also won a grand total of £1.75! I had previously stated that I would half any winnings with the Bobby Moore Fund this week but I'm feeling so darn generous that I'm just going to give the whole lot to charity.  That makes the grand total for the season so far... £1.75!  

Obviously, the only way that I won anything at all was by changing the rules slightly to place a different bet from the usual seven-folds coupon.  I think that this may be something that I shall do for the rest of the season following of a few hours of mathematical contemplation during which the following complex equation was formed:

(£1.75>diddly-squat)x
x

(Note: X=football)

Them resulty things:

Game 1: Lebanon vs Australia
Prediction: Draw (Nope)
The main bet was lost as early as Thursday night, as Australia eased to a victory over Lebanon.  This proved to be the perfect warm-up for the Socceroos as they begin their World Cup qualifying campaign against Jordan this week.  I wouldn't imagine that they would need too much practice to beat Katie Price at football... There is also a joke in there about her taking on eleven men but I intend to keep this blog family-friendly.  Tim Cahill opened the scoring early on; a man of many talents, Tim has a writing credit for a television show called 'My Gym Partner's a Monkey' amongst many other classics.  Matt McKay doubled the lead before half-time and Archie Thompson sealed the win in the dying minutes of the match.  Following this tie, Thompson went on to prove the importance of Twitter by informing the world that he was watching Cable Guy and that it was 'funny shiz'.  I shall sleep well knowing this.  Lebanon do not get much of a mention in any available match reports but they deserve credit just for having a manager called Theo Bucker, whose name can be turned into a cracking spoonerism suggesting someone lacking in the personal hygiene department...

Game 2: Albania vs Cyprus
Result: Draw (Nope)
I have found one minor problem with The Grambler tackling International games... When a tie like this pops up, it is virtually impossible to find a match review.  Albania's goals come from Sadiku, Çani and Bogdani with Cyprus given some hope via a Laban goal... That's all I know.  To fill you in on the rest of the details, here is some Albanian guy filtered through Google translate: "Good beginning of Albania's national team 2014 World Cup Qualifiers, which will be held in Brazil, as well as the first victory against Cyprus Country Team with favourable outcome 3-1 must be satisfied result for the Albanian national team and fans himself let us guide you around with such victories during the 2014 world Cup qualifiers will probably have the opportunity to be able to qualify for Brazil during 2014, for the first time and we enjoy all of the worldwide Albanian nation."

What he said.

Game 3: Holland vs Turkey
Prediction: Home win (Yep)
As James Hetfield once sang, "we're off to Nether-Netherlands."  Both teams had their chances in this game but Holland found their finishing touch (Or should that be Dutch?  No, it shouldn't.) that had clearly deserted them during this summer's European Championship.  The Oranje took the lead from the goal-machine that is Robin Van Persie as he headed home Wesley Sneijder's cross after seventeen minutes.  In what appears to have been quite a close match, Turkey had a number of chances to equalise and Holland had a number of chances to increase their lead.  It wasn't until stoppage time that Holland's PSV winger Luciano Narsingh sealed the win with a good finish on the counter-attack.  The most entertaining moment of the match must have come at this moment however (taken from goal.com): "Martins Indi stamps on Martins Indi's foot after the defender gives him a push in midfield".  The highlights of that incident must be hilarious!


Game 4: Russia vs Northern Ireland
Prediction: Home win
(Yep)

The luck of the (Northern) Irish was absent on Friday evening as they returned from Russia with love (in a tennis sense)...  Russia had been favourites going into this match and proved why with a solid performance and a 2-0 win.  The Russians took the lead on the half-hour mark as Viktor Fayzulin put the ball into the corner of the net, therefore giving sports journalists everywhere the opportunity to stick the word Viktor-y into their headlines.  Northern Ireland never created any meaningful chances and Russia failed to make the most of their possession until the 74th minute when Alexander Kokorin fell over in the vicinity of Craig Cathcart and a penalty was awarded in spite of the visitors protests.  (Incidently, it is never to early to think about Christmas shopping and what better way to let your children know how much you love them than with a jigsaw of a photo of Craig Cathcart taken seven years ago?  Yours for just £15.32!)  Roman Shirokov, who is not really a Roman, sent Roy Carrol the wrong way to finalise the Viktor-y for Russia, who then presumably danced the Trepak from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.    

Game 5: Andorra vs Hungary
Prediction: Away win
(Yep)

In another match that seems to lack any kind of report in English, Hungary proved that they were more Hungary for the win.  You can either watch the highlights here or enjoy my slightly fictional account.  Hungary took the lead on twelve minutes when Roland Juhasz cleared the ball from his own line with an overhead kick only for the ball to find the net at the opponents end of the pitch.  Captain Zoltan Gera (as in football captain, not pirate) scored a penalty to the double the lead after some Andorran player did something naughty inside the box, to put the visitors 2-0 at half-time.  After the break, Adam Szalai kicked the ball really hard and it went waaaay up in the air and bounced off of an aeroplane and did a goal on the way back down.  The referee then suffered an LSD flashback in which he imagined that Tamás Priskin had scored a goal by picking the ball up with his teeth and flying into the net whilst rainbows shot out of his ears, and so awarded a goal much to the confusion of the Andorran players.  For the last ten minutes of the game, the Hungarians sat in the centre circle drinking tea.  As Andorra's Josep Gómes took a goal-kick, the ball bounced off Hungarian tea-lady Vladimir Koman and ended up in the back of the net to complete a perplexing victory.

Game 6: Luxembourg vs Portugal
Prediction: Away win (Yep)

A surprisingly narrow victory for Portugal at the Stade Josy Barthel (I initially read this as Stade Joey Barton and was slightly confused) placed them second behind Russia in Group F.  Luxembourg shocked the Portuguese by taking the lead in the 13th minute as  Daniel da Mota put a sweet strike into the top right-hand corner of the net.  Somewhat ironically, da Mota is in fact Portuguese but has Luxembourgian or Luxembourgish citizenship.  The underdog's lead was only to last for fifteen minutes however as Joao Moutinho took advantage of some comical defending to set-up Cronaldo for his 37th international goal.  The 'bourg would have been pretty chuffed at the break to be holding the 'guese to a draw, but a tactical change by Portugal for the second-half resulted in more confusion for the home side's defence.  Winger  Silvestre Varela was introduced to make the away side more attacking and it paid off in the 54th minute when Hélder Postiga scored an easy goal from yet another Joao Moutinho assist.  Luxembourg never really recovered after this and did well to prevent a higher scoreline.  This seems far too normal, here is a funny old man singing a song in Luxembourg.      

Game 7: Latvia vs Greece
Prediction: Home (Nope)

In spite of being poor (and not just in a footballing sense), Greece managed to do the job in Riga as they won 2-1.  However, it was Latvia who looked more determined from the start and were rewarded when they took the lead after forty minutes of play.  Aleksandrs Cauņa (pronounced [t͡sɑu'ɲɑ]) scored from the penalty spot with a penalty after Greece were penalised with a penalty.  A hungrier Greece appeared for the second-half, largely because they couldn't afford any biscuits for the break, and Nikos Spyropoulos levelled the match just before the 60th minute with a long range drive.  If I ever write a novel about a detective struggling to find the truth in a Dystopian future, it will definitely be called Spyropoulos.  Following this goal, Greece appeared to be in control of the match but were weakened when Giorgios Samaras was taken off injured shortly afterwards, probably a result of 'falling over under minimal contact whilst gesturing to the referee to inform him that every time he falls over it is a definite foul' one too many times.  But this set-back did not stop them from seeking a winner as Greek geek Theofanis Gekas literally waltzed into the box before literally rifling a shot into the net.  Literally.  Manager Fernando Santos was so pleased with the win that he passed a bag of Mini Cheddars around the dressing room for all to share.

Four out of seven results correct to set a new record for The Grambler!  Despite this, and actually winning money, I am money down this week as I did not get the full stake back from my Super Heinz.  However, as promised the winnings will go into my collection to be be presented to The Bobby Moore Fund at the season's end, hopefully via a giant novelty cheque.  I am learning more about the world of betting each week and will hopefully soon have a method that will guarantee the occasional decent return.

There are a number of international games taking place in the midweek so I am tempted to have The Grambler pick another coupon.  Mostly because I have nothing better to do with my time.  Keep an eye on this page, the Facebook page and that Twitter thing tomorrow afternoon for the outcome!


Thursday 6 September 2012

Week 4: The Grambler goes international!

And so we reach the first international break of the season.  In the original Grambler framework, I forget to consider such weekends and so have had to make up the rules on the spot.  If I stick to the British league football this weekend, it will only include League 1 and League 2 and be ridiculously boring.  If I opt for the international games, we shall all have a far more exciting weekend, as we nervously await the score for El Salvador vs Guyana.

I shall not be including the under-17/19/21 matches are taking place, only full internationals.  There are a handful of friendlies taking place so I have included them in the count because... well, why not?  I am also Grambling a day early this week as some matches are taking place on Thursday evening and the majority are arranged for Friday evening, so I am giving you all a chance to place your winning bets.

If Blackburn Rovers make an appearance, I swear I am going on a killing spree...

Game 1: Lebanon vs Australia
Prediction: Draw
We start of with two countries not exactly renowned for having successful football teams.  As a country,  Lebanon has a history rife with sectarian violence and killings.  Just like Glasgow!  And they are currently living in fear of the civil war in Syria spilling across the border.  Just like Glasgow! The football team currently sit at number 124 in the FIFA world rankings, sandwiched between those other footballing behemoths, Botswana and Kenya.  They have qualified for just one major tournament, the Asian Cup in 2000, and I think it's safe to say that they won't be booking flights to Brazil in a hurry.  Australia have a national team that will be slightly more familiar to most of us.  Managed by Michael J. Dundee, the Socceroos are 99 places above their opponents in the FIFA rankings and have already attended three World Cups.  Premiership fans will be familiar with a number of squad members including Mark Schwarzer, Tim Cahill and Lou Carpenter.  Australia are clearly the superior team here, but here's the catch; it's a friendly!  Hopefully the Aussies will send out an experimental eleven who are told to avoid injuries.  And hopefully Lebanon attempt to restore some pride for their recent poor form whilst playing on home turf... A home win would be far-fetched but a draw?  Perhaps.

Reliability balls: 4/10
Odds on this result: 7/2  

Game 2: Albania vs Cyprus
Result: Draw
Interesting fact of the day: Fantastically named Zog, the founder of the modern Albanian state, is the only known monarch to respond to an assassination attempt by chasing the attackers and shooting back whilst wounded.  Albania will be looking to channel this mentalist's fighting spirit as they start their qualifying campaign against Cyprus.  It has certainly rubbed off on current captain Lorik Cana, who may be remembered by some Makems after spending one season at Sunderland.  In thirty-one games for the Black Cats, he was booked ten times and sent off once.  Albania are currently 84th in FIFA's rankings and finished second bottom of their Euro 2012 qualifying group.  But this was a damn sight better than Cyprus who finished dead-last with a total of two points.  They have never qualified for a major tournament but have been known to pull off the odd shock, for example a 4-4 draw with Portugal in their Euro 2012 qualifiers.  Top scorer Michalis Konstantinou scored a brace against the Albanians in a friendly back in 2004, a game which the cypriots won 2-1, so a draw could be a possibility. And in the interest of equality, here is an interesting fact about a Cypriot leader: Catherine  Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus from 1474-89 was married to a guy called 'James the Bastard'.

Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 12/5

Game 3: Holland vs Turkey
Prediction: Home win
Now we're talking!  One of the great teams of International football, Holland play host to Turkey.  A disappointing showing at Euro 2012 from the Dutch was not expected following their assault (literally) on the World Cup two years earlier.  Louis van Gaal will be expecting a good performance from the Oranje to make up for this.  Football fans will be familiar the majority of the Holland squad, but one fact that is less widely reported is that their back-up keeper is earmarked to become a Hollywood star in a remake of a 1999 drama classic.  It will be called 'Krul Intentions'.  Turkey, whilst not having the illustrious history of their opponents, have always been able to hold their own against bigger teams.  They have qualified for three World Cup tournaments, although withdrew from one.  In 2002, the Turks were the plucky underdogs in Asia as they finished in third place, eliminated by eventual winners Brazil in the penultimate round.  The most capped player in their current squad is Emre Belözoğlu, a solid goal-scoring midfielder who would be infinitely more likeable if he wasn't such a racist twat.  Ironically, Emre prefers chicken.

Reliability balls: 7/10
Odds on this result: 4/9

Game 4: Russia vs Northern Ireland
Prediction: Home win

Since the break of the USSR in 1992, Russia have qualified for two World Cups and four European Championships.  FIFA currently rank them as the thirteenth best team in the world and new-ish manager Fabio Capello should be confident of a win in Moscow.  Capello has picked a squad entirely from the domestic league giving erstwhile captain Andrey Arshavin a rest.  He will instead spend the weekend having excess hair removed from his posterior.  A lot will be expected from forward Aleksandr Kerzhakov following a good showing at Euro 2012, but I'm sure he won't be russian to take the lead.  'Badum' and indeed 'tish'.  Northern Ireland are pretty poor, and that's coming from someone who follows Scotland's fortunes.  Ranked 129th in the world, that puts them below the previously mentioned Lebanon.  Perhaps if their youngsters played more football instead of marching in the name of sectarianism and painting murals in homage to terrorists, they'd be better at it (it was a joke, don't shoot me!)  In spite of their patchy competitive record, Northern Ireland do have some reasonable players capable of playing good football.  They also have Kyle Lafferty.  Nireland have in the past produced fine performances against better opposition, such as the famous 1-0 win over England in 2005, so Russia should beware of taking the challenge to lightly and not put all of their oroshka into one basket.

Reliability balls: 8/10
Odds on this result: 1/5

Game 5: Andorra vs Hungary
Prediction: Away win

Hailing from the fictional moon in James Cameron's Avatar, Pandora have never qualified for a World Cup. Hang on, I read that wrong... Hailing from the non-fictional South-western Europe, Andorra have never qualified for a World Cup.  In fact, they have won just three games out of a total of 104.  In their last two qualifying campaigns, they lost all ten games.  They are ranked as the 199th best team in the world by FIFA and to compound their misery, four of their squad are so crap that they don't even an entry on Wikipedia.  Hungary on the other hand have been runners-up in two World Cup finals and won the Olympics football gold three times.  However, this success was more than fifty years ago and the last time I checked, Ferenc Puskás had retired.  And died.  Hungary's success is more modest these days, and qualifying for a tournament would be a good achievement for them.  They are captained by West Brom stalwart Zoltán Gera, who appears to be names after Dracula's dog.  Hungary will be eyeing the play-off spot in Group D and a win here would be a grand start.  You might even say... no... I can't do it... must resist... can't fight it any longer... THEY ARE HUNGARY FOR THE WIN!!!

Reliability balls: 8/10
Odds on this result: 1/16


Game 6: Luxembourg vs Portugal
Prediction: Away win
In spite of being the second richest nation in the world, Luxembourg are not all that great at football.  But they are better than Northern Ireland, going by the FIFA World Ranking table in association with Coca Cola - "Whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you may be, when you think of refreshment, think of ice cold Coca Cola."  Football?  Too commercial?  Never!  Luxembourg has a population of just 500,000 so it is hardly a surprise that the national team has yet to qualify for a major tournament. However, football is the most popular sport in the country and there are a number of up-and-coming youngsters, such as 20 year old Elversberg striker and son of Cruella, Maurice Deville who has scored twice in four starts for his country.  Portugal have already been to five World Cups and will hope to ease to qualification for 2014.  The highest ranked team of The Grambler's selection, Portugal performed well in Poland and Ukraine this summer, reaching the semi-finals only to be knocked out by the champions Spain.  They are known to perform well as team, despite the general focus on Cristano Ronaldo (who has nothing on fat Ronaldo), and should ease to a win here.  If you would like to hear the greatest joke ever told involving Portugal striker Nélson Oliveira, I highly recommend clicking here.

Reliability balls: A massive 9/10
Odds on this result: A pitiful 1/33

Game 7: Latvia vs Greece
Prediction: Home
And so we are off to Riga for a bottle of Zelta and some kliņģeris, as Latvia take on the cast of Grease.  Latvia have been to just one major tournament, Euro 2004 in Portugal, and with the draw of Group G they may have a shot at a play-off place.  Scraping inside FIFA's top 100, Latvia have an experienced squad captained by Kaspars Gorkšs who helped Reading to the Championship title last season but has yet to make his Premiership début.  Unfortunately Jurijs Žigajevs, who wins the highly-coveted Grambler Awesome Name of the Week award, has not been selected in this squad.  Greece have had a lot of success by their standards, and they owe a lot to an unlikely European Championships victory in 2004.  But then again, Greece owe a lot to everyone (hooray for satire!)  In spite of reaching three Euros and one World Cup since the turn of the millennium, they are still unbearably boring to watch.  During one televised Greece game of Euro 2012, I chose to clean the toilet.  Tactics for this game will probably involve having ten men behind the ball whilst Giorgios Samaras falls over a lot up front.  In case you can't tell, I'm not a fan.  Hopefully, Latvia will thrash them, but it is unlikely.

Reliability balls: 4/10
Odds on this result: 14/5

As a result of some games having very poor odds, the overall return on this coupon is rather low.  From the usual 2,000/1 shots, we are down to just 116/1 this week.  I have stuck fifty pence on the seven-folds outcome but I have also chosen this week to play about with my bets to see if I can actually win something.  As I am a little clueless, I picked one based entirely on the name... The Super Heinz!  This seems to involve placing 120 individual bets and is named after beans, so I am happy with that.  It also means that I have spent much more than I intended on bets so if I get nothing back, I will be a bit grumpy on Saturday night.  As the bets are different from usual, I will go halfers with the Bobby Moore Fund.  If I have any success, I may continue with strange bets and actually learn something.

Some games are taking place tonight, some are tomorrow and a few on a Saturday so we will meet back here on Sunday morning for a cup of tea, a custard cream and the results!