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 d├ębut 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)).

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