Saturday 29 December 2012

Week 20: Following in the footsteps of Orwell.

Some projects can result in life changing experiences with devoted workers often given the opportunity to travel the world in search of essential information and fresh research to make said project a success.  The Grambler can now count itself as one of these endeavours.  Having previously been written from such majestic locations as 'my flat' and 'the Starbucks down the road', this edition is brought to you live from... the hospital!

Not just any hospital though (warning: history lesson due to commence) for it was this very hospital to which a Mr Eric Arthur Blair was admitted for treatment for tuberculosis back in 1947.  Blair was better known by his drag-queen stage-name name Big Barbara McBoobs but others may know him by his pen-name; George Orwell.  Orwell was already a well known novelist and satirist sadly nearing the end of his days as he arrived in said hospital.  He had made a name for himself with writings and essays based on his own experiences policing in Burma, living rough in Paris and Britain, fighting the war on fascism in Spain and encountering a farm run by a Stalinist pig.  But in the year 1947 in this very hospital, Orwell started work on his most famous and influential novel.  Based in a Dystopian future where governments had complete control over the population's every waking move and policed their thoughts, this book would go on to be used as a warning against officials gaining too much power the world over.  Orwell titled it 'Crazy Winston and the Great Mystery of Them People What Can Read Minds and Do Other Bad Stuff: With A Vengeance' but the publishers changed it to 1984.  So there you go, this blog is being written in the very same spot as one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time!  And by very same spot, I obviously mean that it was two miles down the road and demolished over 50 years ago, but let's not let facts get in the way of interesting nonsense.  Besides, I'm sure ol' George would have been ecstatic about the overpriced, PFI funded, already crumbling hospital full of failing equipment which has taken it's name.

And with that piece of satire which Mr Orwell would have been proud of, how's about some predictions?

Game 1: Fulham vs Swansea 
Prediction: Home win
Martin Jol's Fulham side were somewhat impressive last season as they finished the season comfortably in 9th place.  However, they have been hot and cold this season and currently languish in 14th.  A Boxing Day draw with Premiership strugglers Southampton angered Jol but he should perhaps have less offended by the result and more offended by striker Dimitar Berbatov.  The Bulgarian striker has been one of the most likeable strikers in the top flight for the past decade.  Often appearing lazy and always cocky with a 'couldn't care less' attitude and insane amount of skill, Berbatov has been a joy to watch.  However, he had to tarnish his image by celebrating with a 'keep calm and pass me the ball' T-shirt; a variation of the choice slogan of the brain dead, one which adorns every other item in Poundland...  Why Dimitar?  Swansea have enjoyed a good first-half of the season under Michael Laudrup and currently sit 9th in the table.  They failed to impress in their midweek game however, running out a goalless draw with relegation-fodder Reading at home.  Unfortunately for the Swans, top-scorer and bargain of the season Michu has been ruled out for this match, denting their chances of a win.  Laudrup will hope that Danny Graham can find his form from last season to provide the goals.  And also that crazed Ashley Williams doesn't go on another killing spree.
Odds: 11/10

Game 2: Morton vs Dunfermline
Prediction: Away win
The pick of the games from the First Division schedule today sees 2nd take on 3rd as both sides aim to remove Patrick Thistle from pole position.  There are now only two points separating the top three sides in the division as we head into the second-half of the season.  Morton fans will have been delighted by their sides recent form as they are now undefeated since the 10th of November.  On Wednesday they managed to pull of what seemed like the impossible by defeating Thistle at Firhill, thus ending the leader's impressive 100℅ home record.  Morton fans will be less delighted to realise that they live in Greenock.  Dunfermline had been impressive in the early stages of the season but have not won a single league game this month.  They were unfortunate to fall to defeat at home to Falkirk on Boxing Day, losing to a 90th minute Bairns goal.  Pars gaffer Jim Jeffries has described this tie as a 'massive' match in the race for the title, no doubt with his usual enthusiasm that makes him sound like he is about to throw himself in front of a moving freight train.

Game 3: Sunderland vs Tottenham
Prediction: Home win
Sunderland have, for the most part, been unimpressive this season.  In the early stages of the campaign they became known as draw specialists prone to throwing away leads whilst manager Martin O'Neill became one of the bookies favourites for the sack.  But the Black Cats gifted their fans with a seasonal stocking filler in the form of a 1-0 win over current champions Manchester City thanks to a goal from Adam Johnson.  The Wearside team have now won three of their last four league games, having kept a clean-sheet in each victory, and will be hoping to continue this resurgence.  Spurs fans seem to slowly coming to terms with manager Andres Vilas-Boas' methods.  The boss was booed by sections of the Spurs support after a sloppy start to the season but with his side now eyeing up third-spot in the league the boos have changed to sighs at the Portuguese's rugged features.  Tottenham recorded their biggest victory of the season against current Premiership whipping boys Aston Villa on Boxing Day, inspired by hat-trick from simian-lookalike cheat Gareth Bale (nope, I've still not forgiven him for that dive against Scotland).  Spurs have not allowed their defender Danny Rose, currently on-loan at Sunderland, to turn out against them today resulting in Rose reportedly telling his dad on them.
Odds: 11/4

Game 4: Brighton vs Watford 
Prediction: Home win
Brighton are currently placed a respectable 10th in the Championship but lead the way in two unwanted areas in the league; they have drawn more games than any other side in the division this year, with 10 draw in 23 attempts, and they have failed to score in more home games than other side.  They have yet to record a win in December, although last week's match against the Comedic Imploding Chicken Factory XI was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.  The Seagulls have made several sacrifices in the name of Aztec rain God Tlalec this week to ensure that the Falmer Stadium is fit for some footballing action today.  Brighton welcome back midfielder Gary Dicker from injury... Nope, can't think of any jokes about his name.  Watford have shown their intent to return to the Premiership following a takeover from The Mafia the Pozzo family and find themselves 6th and challenging for a playoff place.  The Hornets have won twice and drawn once in their last four but like their opponents, their last match was a washout.  Unlike their opponents, manager Gianfranco Zola performed ceremonies to the Inuit rain God Asiaq.  One of them has to have picked the right deity.    Whatever the outcome of today's game, don't expect Watford to park the bus.  It's something that they have trouble with.
Odds: 1/1

Game 5: Aldershot vs Torquay
Prediction: Home win
Damn you Torquay, where were you last week when I needed a turkey pun?  It's useless showing up now, at least 350 days before anyone is likely to even contemplate eating turkey!  You deserve to lose for crap timing alone.  Not that it matters anyway as this game is this week's Game What Has Been Called Off Because Of The Bloody Typical British Weather Of The Week.
Odds: 8/5

Them are some swell predictions!  And should they all be correct, £102 shall be added to the Bobby Moore Fund fund.  Worth mentioning that the reason for my hospitalisation is linked to the marauding bastard that is bowel cancer, so here's a thought seeing as it's the season of goodwill and giving... You know that lovely wee granny of yours who gave you £20 for Christmas? Show her how kind you can be by nicking her purse and giving the contents to the Bobby Moore Fund.

Have a good New Year all, we shall return for some more Grambling in 2013!

Saturday 22 December 2012

Week 19: Merry apocalyptic Christmas!

"Debris Snow is falling, all around me
Children fending for themselves in a wasteland comparable to Mad Max II 
playing - having fun,
It's the end of the world, we're doomed! Swallow the cyanide now to avoid the horrible pain!
season for love and understanding,
Merry apocalypse Christmas everyone!"

And so it appears that the end of the world never came to fruition... yet again.  Perhaps I should ask The Grambler to predict when the apocalypse will genuinely come and then lead a band of obsessives into a mass suicide... Anyone up for it?

I was all set for saving my money and time and avoiding doing a Grambler this week on the basis that we'd all be dead anyway.  But unfortunately, this is not the case.  So I suppose I'd best force as many contrived Christmas puns as possible into the following to appease our festive overlords. 

Game 1: Snowmanchester City vs Rudolph the Reading Nosed Reindeer
Prediction: Home win
City aim to keep the pressure on rivals Manchestnuts United who currently sit 6 points ahead at the top of the Premiership.  They have not been in the best of form of late with only two wins in the last five matches.  The current champions will have to make do without midfielder Santa Nasri and controversial striker the Virgin Mario Balotelli.  Reading have lost six games on the trot and have the divisions worst away record, with just 2 points from a possible 27.  The Royals are currently the Premiership's stocking fillers and Brian McDermott may have to be queueing outside of Debenhams on Boxing Day morning in the hope of finding that bargain striker to keep his side up.
Odds on this result: 1/7

Game 2: Tottenham Hohohotspur vs Stoke the Log Fire City
Prediction: Home win
Spurs are level on points with Chelsea in the chase for third place in the Premiership.  The White (Christmas) Hart Lane side have developed a habit of conceding late goals this season, Andre Villas Boas will hope that his side do not offer any gifts to the opposition attackers today.  Striker Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel Adebayor faces a late fitness test.  Stoke have proved to be a hard side to defeat this season and currently inhabit 9th place in the league.  However, the Potters have won only one away game this term.  Midfielder Charlie Adam will miss out today as he has been granted compassionate leave.  
Odds on this result: 8/13

Game 3: Notts Countying Down the Days 'til Xmas vs Sleighton Orient
Prediction: Home win
Getting into the true Christmas spirit, Notts County have confirmed that this game is off as a result of flooding at Meadow Lane.  
Odds on this result: 11/10

Game 4: Celturkey vs Cranberry Sauce County
Prediction: Home win
It has been a big week for Celtic as they drew European giants Yuleventus in the next round of the Champions League, but it's back to SPL duty as they aim to keep the pressure on inevitable champions Motherwell.  Injured forward duo Kris Kringle Commons and Anthony Stokes will be playing charades in the stand.   County started the season brightly but now find themselves slipping towards the bottom spot.  They will be outsiders today so will hope that fellow Highlanders Inverness can do them a favour by beating bottom side Dundee.
Odds on this result: 1/6

Game 5: Coventry Once In Royal David's City vs Preston North Pole
Prediction: Draw
Just one point separates these two sides in League Two.  Coventry were impressive last week in their 4-1 demolition of Little Donkeycaster, whilst Preston managed to take a single point away to Portsmouth.  Sky Blues manager Mark Red, Red Robins faces a dilemma over his striking choices as stand-in Adam Barton impressed in last week's win.  Preston's Christmas Robertson returns from suspension and could go straight back into the starting eleven in place of Shane Cansdell-Sherriff, who starts a two match ban.
Odds on this result: 12/5

Slim pickings this week, the draw is not too far-fetched and one cancellation leaves us with a poor 14/1.  But we are surely due a win, maybe Santa will make it my present this year?

That is all from the apocalyptic Christmas special, as one famous philosopher once said "have another rock n' roll Christmas".

And an old classic joke to finish on:

Darth Vader: "I know what you are getting for Christmas..."

Luke Skywalker: "What is Christmas?"

Vader: "Nevermind that, you're ruining my punchline."

Skywalker: "But seriously, you appear to be referencing a religious tradition from an insignificant planet many millions of light-years away, one of which no one in this series has ever suggested any knowledge of it's existence, why would we be celebrating this event?"

Vader: "Just shut up for a minute and play along with the joke!"

Skywalker: "Okay then..."

Vader: "I know what you are getting for Christmas, Luke..."

Skywalker: (feigning surprise) "What? How could you?"

Vader: "Because like any good parent, I have paid close attention to your hobbies and interests and used this holiday as a time to show my love for you through thoughtful gifts."

Skywalker: "Aaaaaw, I love you dad!"

(title music)

Friday 14 December 2012

Week 18: Preparing for Billy Crystalmas!

Tis the season to be jolly, falalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!  Or so the old song goes, but it's hard to be jolly when The Grambler insists on presenting me with ridiculously inaccurate predictions!  With one game cancelled due to the weather last weekend, only four needed to be accurate.  And the bet was not unreasonable as such.  It was the best chance in months to win a wad of dosh for the Bobby Moore Fund.  But what happened?  A measly ONE out of four results came up, that's what happened!  And it was probably the one in which I had the least confidence... Liverpool winning?  That's just absurd!

This week sees the return of the SUPER MEGA GRAMBLER BONUS BET!!! so we are all but guaranteed a winner.  And to quote famous footballing personality Peter Beardsley, "I trust The Grambler to the extent that I sold my house and all of my possessions so that I could place the proceeds on this bet.  Also, I'm well chuffed with my It's A Wonderful Life tee shirt available now at RedBubble..."

Game 1: Bolton Wanderers vs Charlton Athletic
Prediction: Home win
Bolton have won just one in seven games under Dougie Freedman and a quick return to the Premiership is looking increasingly unlikely.  Currently languishing in 18th place in the Championship, Wanderers also have the worst shots to goals ration in the division.  Charlton are currently three points ahead of their opponents and just four from the play-off spots.  Celebrity fan Charlton Heston said of the away team's fortunes so far this season "I've played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses - and that's probably enough for any man."  Exactly. 
Odds on this result: 10/11

Game 2: Peterhead vs Annan Athletic
Prediction: Away win
Peterhead and Annan inhabit 6th and 7th places in Division Three respectively.  A win for the home side would double the gap between the two but Athletic could draw level on points with a victory.  Celebrity fan Kofi Annan said of the away team's fortunes so far this season "we have the means and the capacity to deal with our problems, if only we can find the political will." Indeed.
Odds on this result: 11/4

Game 3: Celtic vs St Mirren
Prediction: Home win
Celtic are momentarily four points clear of SPL title favourites Motherwell, much to the surprise of the nation.  The home side narrowly defeated Arbroath during the week in order to progress in the Scottish Cup.  Meanwhile, the Buddies find themselves uncomfortably close to the relegation spot in the SPL, but are still six points clear of bottom side Dundee.   
Celebrity fan Helen Mirren said of the away team's fortunes so far this season "flesh sells. People don't want to see pictures of churches. They want to see naked bodies."  Precisely.
Odds on this result: 1/5

Game 4: Norwich City vs Wigan Athletic
Prediction: Draw
Norwich have surprised many this season with some strong performances under Chris Hughton.  The Canaries were victorious in a seven-goal-thriller last weekend at Swansea but fell victim to former boss Paul Lambert's Aston Villa side during the week.Wigan have only won one of their last six games and currently sit in the relegation zone.  Celebrity fan Bradley Wiggins said of the away team's fortunes so far this season "I can’t account for where anyone else is at.  I'm better than I've ever been."  Absolutely.
Odds on this result: 12/5

Game 5: Queens Park vs Elgin City
Prediction: Home win
This game pits 3rd against 2nd in the Third Division and the winner could emerge as the main contenders to Glasgow Franchise Scheme FC for the title.  The home side defeated Annan 3-2 last weekend whilst Elgin were also winners at home to Clyde.  Celebrity fan The Queen said of the home team's fortunes so far this season "the British Constitution has always been puzzling and always will be."  Amen.
Odds on this result: 11/10

There is your main bet for this weekend and with odds of 60/1, we could all be £60-aires by Sunday!  You could be like me and donate said winnings to a good cause.  Or you could use it to kickstart a fund for your very own John Motson monkey. 

Also, seeing as it's nearly Christmas, here is a SUPER MEGA GRAMBLER BONUS BET!!! 

Game;Both teams to score?;Odds
Blackpool vs Blackburn; Yes; 4/7
Dunfermline vs Hamilton; Yes; 4/7
Birmingham vs Crystal Palace; No; 6/5
Oldham vs Swindon; No; 1/1
Dagenham & Redbridge; Yes; 8/13

Only 18/1 on that one, but a nice wee Brucie bonus if it comes off. 

Now go forth, and spread the good word of our almighty Grambler in peace. 

Saturday 8 December 2012

Week 17: Lying next to a wayside for some reason

You may have noticed that this 'ere website has fallen by the wayside a little over the past few weeks.  Two things worth pointing out: 1) I have been rather busy in other aspects of life and have not been able to commit the same amount of time to typing gibberish for the benefit of four or five people who remain loyal Gramblers and; 2) What exactly is a wayside? And how/why does one fall by it?  

A quick look back at last week's result first of all.  I lost.  Only two out of the five correct, which seems to be the standard these days.  I'm starting to think that I'd be as well just making a list of everyone who has ever worked for the BBC and allowing the Grambler to select a handful each week to be outed as sex-offenders.  Think I'd be making more money that way...

Anyhoo, here is this week's bet with very little in the way of commentary.  

Game 1: Sheffield Wednesday vs Bristol City
Prediction: Home win
An early 'relegation battle' with both teams sitting uncomfortably close to the Championship's trapdoor.  A win for either side could take them out of the relegation zone.  Could go either way, really. 
Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 11/10

Game 2: Port Vale vs Chesterfield
Prediction: Home win
Port Vale are flying high in League Two so the home fans will be expecting another victory.  Chesterfield manager Paul Cook hopes that he has the recipe for success so that his side can serve up a win.
Reliability balls: 7/10
Odds on this result: 11/10

Game 3: Southampton vs Reading
Prediction: Draw
Another clash between two sides in the relegation zone, both started the season as contenders for the drop and have failed to disappoint.  Reading won 3-1 at St Mary's back in April but the Saints have been the better side in the Premiership (just).
Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 13/5

Game 4: West Ham vs Liverpool
Prediction: Away win
West Ham have been solid at home this season but Liverpool have been showing signs of improvement in recent weeks.  I wouldn't choose to bet on Liverpool but Jordan Henderson scored a goal on Thursday, so surely anything is possible?
Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 11/8

Game 5: Brechin City vs Ayr United
Prediction: Home win
Match already postponed due to a frozen pitch.  Scottish weather, eh?  
Reliability balls: 0/10
Odds on this result: 11/10

Only four games to get correct for a win this week then.  Is it possible?  Yes.  Will it happen?  Probably not.  Total odds for the five games this week was 78/1 but since that last match has been frozen, we are down to a mere 38/1 by my calculations.  Which may be wrong.

And I am solemnly making the promise that normal service shall resume next week.  I have far too many puns to get out of my system.