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.    

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