Saturday 23 February 2013

Week 25: Scratch and sniff edition!

It has been an eventful week in the world of football, which in spite of it's name is not actually a planet but a metaphoric term used to encompass all of the happenings in football town (similarly, not a real town).  FIFA has announced that goal-line technology shall be in place at the next World Cup, which is obviously hugely important because Frank Lampard once scored a disallowed goal at a tournament in a game which was soundly lost anyway, didn't you know?  It's not like the media mention it often or anything... 

Meanwhile in the Champions League, Arsenal were outclassed by Bayern Munich, much to the surprise of ITV's football 'expert' Andy Townsend, who failed to realise that the Bundesliga leaders and last year's Champions League runner-up might actually be a bit good and didn't know that they might stand a chance against an Arsenal side who have failed to do anything of note since 2006... How do these people get a job in punditry?

And finally, the news that everyone has been talking about as the messiah returned home.  Yes, that's right... James MacFadden has re-signed for Motherwell.  After speculation across the globe, the Chosen One agreed one agreed to play in the sacred claret and amber until the end of the season, football fans from far and wide expressed their joy.  Potential Bolivian presidential candidate for 2014 Garcia Linera said "I'm buzzin' to see Faddy back at the Well.  He's pure magic!" 

If you continue to read below, you will notice that there are predictions for this weekend.  It may have been said before, but I am full of confidence that this week will be the one.  I think that you should put all of your personal savings on this coupon as it is 100% guaranteed to be correct*.  We have 66 games for The Grambler to Gramble on this weekend, including the season's first major cup final as Swansea take on underdogs Bradford at Wembley for the Capital One Cup.  Also, can I smell a bonus Both Teams to Score bet?  Possibly.  read on, my good man (or lady (or ladyman)).

I'm running late again this week for various reasons so no time for the usual award-winning analysis.  I'm sure that you will be glad of this development.  

*Please note: This guarantee is void and I do not recommend putting any more than a £1 stake on this bet (and even that is not highly recommended) as it will definitely be wrong.  Refunds are not available.

Game 1: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Burnley
Prediction: Home win
Odds on this result: 11/10

Game 2: Fulham vs Stoke City
Prediction: Home win
Odds on this result: 11/10

Game 3: Montrose vs Annan Athletic
Prediction: Home win
Odds on this result: 10/11

Game 4: Reading vs Wigan Athletic
Prediction: Draw
Odds on this result: 12/5

Game 5: Sheffield Wednesday vs Crystal Palace
Prediction: Draw
Odds on this result: 12/5

Total odds on this week's bet are 96/1! Yipeetastic!

And as promised, have a Mega Fantastic Extra Value Bonus Bet!:

Game - Both Teams to Score? - Odds
Cowdenbeath vs Raith Rovers - Yes - 8/13
Celtic vs Dundee - Yes - 13/8
Shrewsbury vs Stevenage - No - 5/6
Peterhead vs Queens Park - Yes - 8/11
Blackburn Rovers vs Leeds United - No - Evens

Total odds for the Grambler Super Exciting Mega Bonus Bet! are 26/1! Fantabulous!

Happy Grambling!

Saturday 16 February 2013

Week 24: With 32% extra indifference!

It's Saturday morning once again, time to sit down with your feet up, a nice big cup of tea/coffee/Um Bongo and get stuck into this week's edition of The Grambler.  Last week did not go too well but then again, if you view it with the same endless optimism as Brendan Rodgers, it was an almost flawless performance!

And it should be an exciting one this week.  The glamour and romance of the FA Cup returns with some exciting ties taking place; non-league heroes Luton take on Millwall, Brentford have the chance to cause an upset at Chelsea and fallen greats Leeds take on Manchester City.  So which of these exciting games will The Grambler choose?  Em, none of them actually.  It's a ridiculously dull week and even at that, the predictions look unlikely.  But I am due some good luck so maybe this could be the week?

Game 1: Fleetwood Town vs Burton Albion
Prediction: Home win
This could be an important tie in the race for a the League Two  title.  The two teams are 5th and 6th respectively, separated by goal-difference alone.  However, Fleetwood have one game in hand over their opponents and a win today could take them into an automatic promotion spot.  Graham Alexander's men have exceeded expectations on their football league début and a promotion this season would be a massive achievement.  Burton have improved dramatically from last season, where they only managed a 17th place finish in the league.  They will be hopeful of making it five games without defeat today at the Highbury Stadium.
Odds on this result: Evens

Game 2: Forfar Athletic vs Alloa Athletic
Prediction: Away win
And from the excitement of League Two to the excitement of the Scottish Second Division, as the Loons play host to the Wasps.  Forfar currently sit 5th and are still in with a shout of a play-off place.  They have only lost three of their ten home games this season and top scorer Gavin Swankie already has 12 goals to his name.  Alloa are ten points clear of their opponents and sit in 2nd place following a good start to the season.  However, they have virtually no hope of catching runaway division leaders Queen of the South, who are 18 points clear at the top.  Alloa have only lost two games in their last ten and will be looking to continue this good form.  
Odds on this result: 11/8

Game 3: Bury vs Coventry City
Prediction: Home win
Bury are facing the threat of relegation to League Two after a poor season and manager Kevin Blackwell has said that expects his team to put up a fight to the very end.  In a disappointing season, the Shakers have only managed five wins in 31 attempts.  In their last ten games, they have mustered just one win.  The club recently had a transfer embargo lifted and have brought in former Hull and Derby striker Craig Fagan, who could get his first start today.  Coventry still have aspirations of promotion and are not too far from the play-off spots.  However, they have been plagued by managerial uncertainty this season and are now looking for their third manager of the campaign.  Mark Robins had taken the Sky Blues from the bottom of the table up to 8th, but his success caught the eye of Championship side Huddersfield who appointed him as manager midweek.  Caretaker Lee Carsley will be in charge today but could the change affect the teams performance?
Odds on this result: 12/5

Game 4: Hearts vs Kilmarnock
Prediction: Away win
Despite paying some of the highest wages in the SPL (when they actually remember to pay them), Hearts currently sit 10th in the table.  The top and bottom spots in the SPL are all but decided but the rest is incredibly open and the Jam Tarts could still be in with a chance of 2nd place.  They added Scotland international Danny Wilson and promising youngster Michael Ngoo on loan from Liverpool in the transfer window and both have made an immediate impact.  Kilmarnock have had mixed fortunes throughout the season and have drawn a few more games than they would have liked.  A fine win against reigning world champions Motherwell last weekend was followed by a good draw at Inverness midweek, they will be aiming to build on this form.  Manager Kenny Shiels will be watching from the stands after a sending off in the Inverness game.  His reaction was to climb on top of the dug out.  He appears to be a bit of a mental. 
Odds on this result: 3/1

Game 5: Ipswich Town vs Blackpool
Prediction: Home win
Ipswich make their second Grambler appearance in a row.  In a rare correct prediction, they lost to Blackburn last weekend.  Could the Tractorboys remain Grambler friendly with a victory this time around?  Ipswich may see a home game against managerless Blackpool as a good chance to move clear of the relegation zone.  They will also be encouraged by the fact that Blackpool have never won at Portman Road.  Blackpool started the season well but have been hampered by managerial change, with both Ian Holloway and Michael Appleton head-hunted by fellow Championship clubs.  The latest name to be linked to the vacancy is former England international Paul Ince whose son Tom currently stars for the Seasiders.  However, Ince has not exactly had a breathtaking managerial career and Blackpool may instead continue to pursue their number one target, Owen Coyle.  In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Blackpool thrashed Ipswich 6-0.
Odds on this result: 8/5

It's not a great bet this weekend but not entirely inconceivable.  With a few away wins in there, the odds have risen to a respectable 167/1.  Or to put it in terms that we all understand, a £1 bet will get you 13.91 Grambler t-shirts!

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Week 23 Results: Straight from the horse's mouth.

Something is not right.  As I understand, whenever a retired figure returns to their field of excellence, it results in miraculous success with many scenes of joy in slow motion backed by a Westlife or Snow Patrol soundtrack.  It worked for Lance Armstrong.  Oh wait, hang on... 

The result could have been very different this week though.  Three of our five predictions were correct, which is not all that bad.  The other two games were both going swimmingly.  Both Inverness and Leicester led by a goal and it looked like some money could be heading our way.  Or it least it would have looked like that had Inverness not blown my coupon by lunchtime, deeming the rest of the afternoon a waste of time.

Ah well, at least it's not as embarrassing as the revelation that BBC Football 'expert' Mark Lawrenson has a lesser knowledge of football than Hulk Hogan.

The results in full were:

Blackburn Rovers  1 - 0  Ipswich Town
A messy goal from a goalmouth scramble was the only difference in a scrappy game at Ewood Park.  Scotland striker Jordan Rhodes has claimed the goal as the last Rovers player to touch the ball but Ipswich keeper Stephen Henderson is probably due credit too.

Inverness CT  1 - 3  Celtic
Celtic fielded a relatively weakened team ahead of their Champions League clash with Juventus but, despite taking the lead, Inverness failed to take advantage of this.  Second half goals from Rami Gershon and Miku ensured the visitors left with three points.

Peterborough United  2 - 1  Leicester City
A much needed win for the Posh to keep their survival hopes alive.  Leicester blew the chance to close the gap on Cardiff as a late Grant McCann strike sealed the win for the home team. 

Swansea City  4 - 1  Queens Park Rangers
Michu remembered where the net was to bag a brace in a fine win for the Swans.  'Arry's QPR are adrift at the bottom of the Premiership, four points from 19th placed Wigan (although if you take a look back at the Lawro link, you'll see that they are 7th going by his predictions.)

Queen of the South  2 - 1  Stenhousemuir
The Doonhammers moved 18 points clear at the top of the Second Division following a narrow win.  Derek Young and Chris Mitchell had given the home side a comfortable lead but Mark Corcoran pulled one back for the visitors.

One new betting market has appeared this week, namely the installation of a new Pope.  I decided that it would be worthwhile to somehow allow The Grambler to give a prediction on this, so I painstakingly compiled a list of every man on earth for His Randomness to choose from.  I can confirm that my money for the next Pope is on... Keith Gillespie.  You heard it here first!

I shall return next weekend, hopeful as ever of lifting the curse which has stopped us from winning the megabucks thus far.  On an unrelated note, are you looking to gain the respect of your friends, relatives, enemies or another miscellaneous grouping of people?  Click here for the answer to your prayers!

Saturday 9 February 2013

Week 23 (although we missed a few...): The much heralded return of The Grambler!

There comes a point in every player's career where they decide enough is enough, hang up the ol' boots, take off the ol' shin-guards and air out the ol' jockstrap.  Tradition stated that footballers would invest in a pub.  Or in Paul Gascoigne's case, drink the contents of several (oh shut up, it's topical!)

But for some players, the call of the beautiful game is too alluring.  Stanley Matthews played on until the age of 50.  Romario came out of retirement to go on to claim a (disputed) 1,000th career-goal.  More recently, Paul Scholes came out of retirement to prove that he could still trot around the midfield looking fat and ginger whilst occasionally scoring a screamer.   

So whilst injuries and ailments have curtailed what was a most promising Grambling career, there is no reason why I should throw in the towel just yet.  I have been in talks with my various agents who have all begged me to re-consider my knee-jerk retiral and I have decided to continue for the time being.  So watch out bowel cancer, I ain't done fighting you yet!  That massive multi-hundred pounds windfall for the Booby Moore Fund could be just a weekend away!

Oh, and did I mention the Grambler t-shirt?  I'm pretty sure that I mentioned the Grambler t-shirt.  You should buy a Grambler t-shirt!  A few people have already bought a Grambler t-shirt.  The Grambler t-shirt in question looks very nice too!

Game 1: Blackburn Rovers vs Ipswich Town
Prediction: Home win
Remember the days when Blackburn would appear here every week?  Well since then, they have apppointed approximately 143 managers.  Currently enjoying his 15 minutes in the hotseat is Michael Aplleton, who joined Rovers after a spell of five games in charge of Blackpool.  But his knowledge of chicken based products earned him the trust of the Ewood Park bosses and he has guided Rovers to a towering position of... em.. 13th in the Championship.  Rovers could give a début to new loan signing and popular entertainment act at children's birthday parties throughout Lancashire, DJ Campbell.  Ipswich have also been affected by managerial change this season.  Paul Jewell insisted that he could turn the Tractorboys' season around but was relieved of his duties back in October with the side dead bottom.  Mick McCarthy has since brought some stability but the club are only four points outside of the relegation zone.  They will also have to make-do without their top-scorer who bagged ten goals in the first half of the season only to return to his parent club in January.  The man in question?  Loan signing and popular entertainment act at children's birthday parties throughout Lancashire, DJ Campbell.
Odds on this result: Evens

Game 2: Inverness Caledonian Thistle vs Celtic
Prediction: Home win
It's a top of the table clash at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium where 2nd will play host to 1st on a chilly Highland Saturday morning.  Exciting stuff!  Or it least, it would be if the championship was not already a foregone conclusion.  But ignoring top and bottom in the SPL, it's actually a rather exciting season.  Honest!  Just nine points separate 2nd top from 2nd bottom and the the race for second place in the absence of one half of the Old Firm (who are busy releasing some bizarre paranoia-fuelled statements about the media, so cringeworthy that anyone would think that they were written by Jim Traynor...) is wide open.  Terry Butcher has voiced concerns over the fitness of forwards Richie Foran and Andrew Shinnie, but if it comes to it, I'm sure he'll find some fresh meat.  Celtic will be favourites to win this match, without a doubt, but two things may stand in their way; 1) they have slipped up in this fixture in the past and 2) they may have one eye on a particularly bigger tie on Tuesday.  Namely, the Conference Premier battle between Cambridge United and Alfreton Town.  Celtic will be without Efe Ambrose who is either representing Nigeria at the African Cup of Nations or at a sales conference for creamy Devon Custard products.
Odds on this result: 9/2

Game 3: Peterborough United vs Leicester City
Prediction: Away win
Poorly Peterborough currently prop up the Championship table with a meagre 27 points.  One win in the last five attempts will have given the Posh faithful little to smile about, but it's not all bad news; they have only lost 60% of their home games this season.  Oh wait, it is all bad news.  To top of a miserable spell for the side, club captain and notable prankster Gabriel Zakuani has been charged with animal cruelty for stapling a blindfold on to George Boyd's guide dog.  Meanwhile, Leicester are riding high and sipping champagne-substitute in the lofty perch of 2nd place.  Despite a 10 point gap between the Foxes and top-side Cardiff, Leicester are the only team in the league to have managed a 100% record for their games played in 2013.  Can they hold their nerve for an automatic promotion spot?  According to this source: Maybe!  The sides have met already this season, Leicester emerging victorious thanks to goals from King and Morgan.  Or some guy called King Morgan, my records are a little jumbled.
Odds on this result: 7/10

Game 4: Swansea City vs Queens Park Rangers
Prediction: Home win
For the past two years, Swansea have been everyone's Yeah, I Don't Really Support Them But They're Nice To Watch And I Like To See Them Win As Long As It Is Not Against My Own Team team.  Their blend of stylish football under Brendan Rodgers has been replaced by a blend of stylish football under Michel Laudrup and let's face it, everyone currently has a bit of a man-crush on Michu.  But stylish football only counts for so much and the Swans have only won 2 in 10.  In 5 of those games, they failed to score a single goal.  With Laudrup selling Danny Graham in the transfer window without replacing him, and Michu going 6 games without a goal, can they maintain their top-six status?  QPR have had a tough season.  I would have liked to have seen them turn it around and survive, I really would.  But then they appointed Harry Redknapp.  (Alleged) tax-evader, (alleged) bribe-taker, player tapper-upper, best-buddies-with-the-media, smug, 'England's saviour', wheeler-dealer... He really is the most unlikeable bawbag in football, isn't he?  Coming in as QPR manager, he promised new tactics and a fresh outlook... Of course he didn't!  I was just kidding!  He waited for the transfer window, hung out of his car window all day chatting up the journos and threw piles and piles of cash at players!  £12 million for Samba?  I'll take three!  Loic Remy wants how much a week?  Double it!  With any luck they will go down, but loveable 'Arry will jump ship, blame the chairman and find a bank account in a dead pet's name full of cash to enjoy, whilst Henry Winter and the other dinosaurs in the football media push for him to get a knighthood.  As for QPR?  Financial ruin.  Players leaving for minimal fees.  Wage promises that cannot be fulfilled.  How are Portsmouth doing these days?  Top, top lad, that 'Arry is!  Summary: I don't like him.
Odds on this result: 5/6

Game 5: Queen of the South vs Stenhousemuir
Prediction: Home win
And this week's Grambler fizzles out there, with a trip to the Scottish Second Division where league-leaders Queen of the South take on a Stenhousemuir side which has faltered around the table's midway point for most of the season.  Queens' manager Allan Johnston has his side playing with mucho confidence at the moment and this is shown in their record of eight wins and a draw in the last nine games.  Surprisingly, Johnston is a) The Alan Johnston who was capped 18 times by Scotland (mostly by Berti 'everyone gets a cap!' Vogts) and b) Still playing despite being 56.  With odds of 9/1 to take all three points from this game, the visitors may not fancy their chances.  But fans may be placated purely by the fact that their team has a player called Daniel Exposito-Hepburn.  Seriously, read that name again... It has everything!  I can imagine a Bond villain, Hollywood star, royal family hanger-on and corrupt African diamond mine owner rolled into one.  See what your missing out on, BBC?  Stay tuned for more expert analysis courtesy of The Grambler!  
Odds on this result: 2/7

Which brings us to a grand total 44/1 for this weeks proud return to the Grambling arena.  Not a bad bet really, the main cause for concern is obviously our trip to the Highlands for the SPL game but Juventus beckon for Celtic and a hiccup would be understandable.

With that over and done with, it's time to take of the ol' boots off once again and pour a nice cuppa to reflect upon a glorious career... One which may now continue into the twilight years (or months(or weeks)).