With the season lurking menacingly round the corner, like a knife-wielding teenager, I feel it’s only fair to don the hat of punditry and run down our likely opposition for promotion out of the NPL and in to the Elysium Fields of the GM Square Vauxhall Blue Conference North.
Some may say I’m being rather presumptuous in suggesting we will be challenging for promotion, given our inexperience at this level, and the loss of Rory Patterson. To these naysayers I have nothing but scorn. We’ll be up there at the end of the season. We might not get promoted, but muscle memory alone will see us there and there abouts, even if you don’t factor in the exciting and talented (and sickeningly young) squad Margy has assembled.
So without further ado…
Boston United – Boston were playing Champions League football last season, before NATO and the UN conspired to relegate them the seventy divisions down to what their fanzine impstalk are calling ‘the tinpot snooker league’. They’ve managed to keep most of the squad together that finished 10th in the Conference North last season, which combined with their large, ferocious and intimidating support (seriously, the Ali Sami Yem stadium has nowt on York Street) should see them up at the end of the season.
Coral reckon: 8/1
It’ll Be Off reckon: Rather them than BPA or Leigh
Mark Lawrenson reckons: “Arguably, Blackburn have got the best forward line in the Premiership. There’s no denying that.”
BobBlackburn Park Avenue – Ah, the non-league Chelsea, being run by the non-league Peter Ridsdale. I’d laugh at this ridiculous situation if they didn’t irritate me like a non-league eczema. Bob Blackburn is throwing money at the club like a man without a clue – £450 a week for Rory Patterson – and even sees fit to fabricate an entire preseason tour to Spain, just to impress his half-witted army of sycophants. Avenue fans boast that their support is growing, and thus Bob’s zany financial plans are workable, but they don’t like to mention the fact that the increased gates are down to an offer whereby season ticket holders of pretty much every other sports team in West Yorkshire get in for free. Even so, they’ve a good enough squad, and a big enough budget to see themselves challenging for the title come April/May.
Coral reckon: 11/2 joint favourites
It’ll Be Off reckon: Second
Mark Lawrenson reckons: “Michael Owen isn’t the tallest of lads, but his height more than makes up for that.”
Leigh Genesis – I’ve got to be careful what I say here, I don’t want a legion of furious Genesisonians pounding down my virtual door, screaming with fury at my idiocy and bad language. No sirree, not after last time. So I’ll tiptoe through this part very delicately, like a mouse in a room full of traps. I’ll not mention the stupid new name and ‘re-branding’. Nor shall I point out how the figures don’t add up and they’re set for a nasty surprise. I’ll just point out that they’re a pro team in a semi-pro league, and have significant financial backing.
Coral reckon: 11/2 joint favourites
It’ll Be Off reckons: It barely matters, they wont exist in five years time.
Mark Lawrenson reckons: “He can be as good as he wants to be; that’s how good he can be.”
Witton Albion – Cruelly denied promotion on the last day of the season for the past two seasons, Witton’s players have all had enough and fucked off, leaving them with an empty squad full of broken dreams and tattered promises. But not to worry, at least they’re not BobBlackburn Park Avenue or Leigh Genesis. I mean, they may not get promoted, but at least they aren’t be run by an unspeakable fuckwit*.
*Disclaimer: No research whatsoever went in to this article. It’s entirely possible that Witton Albion are run by an unspeakable fuckwit, I just haven’t heard of him. Which, given the strides others are taking to get noticed, seems unlikely.
Coral reckon: 20/1
It’ll Be Off reckon: Challenging our lot for the last play off place.
Mark Lawrenson reckons: “England are numerically outnumbered in the midfield.”
Ilkeston Town – Ilkeston remains one of the grimmest places I’ve ever been to. And that was before the American Adventure Theme Park was closed down. There is nothing there save grinding poverty and bleak, endless depression. But wait? What’s this? One of Britain’s richest men, Chek Whyte, star of Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Millionaire’, part of their ‘patronise the poor’ season of programming, has bought Ilkeston Town, and wants to turn them in to ‘more than a club’.
Whyte, an Ilkeston lad, got involved in drugs and crime as a youngster, before making himself an obscene amount of money. Whyte wishes to use Ilkeston as a community club, with an emphasis on youth development, in order to bring hope and options to the poor and down-trodden of his home town. Which is laudable, and sounds a bit like something from a biblical parable.
Whyte is also planning on building Nottingham’s first Sky Scraper, called Chek Whyte Tower, to show that despite his good, kind heart, he hasn’t lost his Millionaire’s ego.
Coral reckon: 33/1
It’ll Be Off reckon: Who cares? If Chek Whyte is good to his word about his intentions, I wish him all the best.
Mark Lawrenson reckons: “If Plan A fails, they could always revert to Plan A.”
Eastwood Town and Guiseley AFC – Both highly rated by the bookies, and who am I to argue with experts, considering my alarming lack of knowledge, but here at It’ll Be Off, we’ve decided to lump these two together, to try and hide the fact we know nothing remotely interesting or funny about them. Nor do we have any particular axe to grind with them (yet – give us time, mind. Our small-mindedness knows no bounds). But we couldn’t not mention them, as come the end of the season, when one or both of them are going up, we’d have looked even more foolish than we already do.
Coral reckon: Both on 6/1
It’ll Be Off reckon: Hang on, isn’t Guiseley near Leeds? Great. That’ll be another fun away trip.
Mark Lawrenson reckons: “These managers all know their onions and cut their cloth accordingly.”
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