The Predictorship Week 24 – Manchesters United on Top

Players: 43 out of 49. Points scored: 255. Highest score: 9 (Hope Arnold, James Bradley and Neil Hayes). Average score: 5.93. Total correct scores: 48. Predictions of the Week: James Bradley, Janet Jones and Nicola Savage (Preston North End 1-3 Manchester City); Hope Arnold and Jill Taylor (Plymouth Argyle 2-0 Derby County); Paul Bentley, Simon Gold, Ronan L’Heveder and Michael Whitty (Middlesbrough 2-2 West Bromwich Albion); Norman No Mates (Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn Rovers).

Results: Arsenal 0-0 Blackburn Rovers (1); Chelsea 4-0 Norwich City (5); Watford 1-0 Ipswich Town (11); Preston North End 1-3 Manchester City (3); Plymouth Argyle 2-0 Derby County (2); Manchester United 1-1 Reading (0); Middlesbrough 2-2 West Bromwich Albion (4); Fulham 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur (0); Aberdeen 1-2 Celtic (14); Rangers 2-1 Falkirk (8).

If you’ve been distracted by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson co-piloting Rangers to their UEFA Cup encounter in Tel Aviv, a cheeky Bolivian footballer getting the sack for turning up at a press conference stark naked or the Queen having tea with the Arsenal, you’ll be surprised to learn the race for the Predictorship title has taken a new, exciting and indeed unexpected twist.

A remarkable week for the red half of Manchester (except for the Reading result, of course) sees Hope Arnold devour Christine Butters’ erstwhile five-point lead with an additional dollop of relish. All that now remains of the lead is a correct score difference of +3 and a few crumbs on the plate.

So how did it happen? Hope scored nine points in week 24 – hitting the jackpot with the encounters at Watford, Plymouth and Rangers – while Christine brought her ‘B’ game to a pitch littered with bobbles and divots and only delivered a rather pathetic four points.

The weekend’s action leaves the title on a knife-edge with both contenders on 161 points and, perhaps more significantly, seven points clear of John Collins and Dave Taylor (both 154 points), who are themselves five points better off than fifth-placed Baggies fan Mark Young (149).

After shamefully consigning Hope’s chances of lifting the coveted Predictorship trophy to the trash can of runner-updom last week, I will sink my teeth into some humble pie, but not before uttering five words, which you can arrange in any order you see fit: “horse”, “two”, “a”, “race”, “definitely”.

But hang on, who’s this coming up on the rails …

After 19 weeks in the footballing wilderness (think of the wilderness as a 300-mile round trip to Grimsby Town on a wet and windy Monday evening for a first round Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie), Stuart Claxton has decided to make a late bid for the title. Stuart’s third week of predicting this season yields seven points and condemns Norman No Mates to a third week at the bottom of the pile. Next week: Stuart storms into mid-table.

The Predictorship Cup …

Bitten nails and jangled nerves were features of Round 2 of the Predictorship Cup, which saw Bengal Mumbai F.C. (Haresh Mirani), DC Adunited (Patrick Bevilacqua), Living the Dream (Paul Bentley), Manchester United (Hope Arnold), Sheffield Wednesday (Janet Jones) and West Bergholt Wanderers (Jodie Kemp) progress to the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) host Peterborough United (Steve McHugh) and Watford (David Roberts) take on Tottenham Hotspur (Simon Gold) next weekend in the two replays.

Here are the full results:

1. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) 5-5 CLAPTON F.C. (Cathryn Harker)
2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Gabe Bevilacqua) 6-8 WEST BERGHOLT WANDERERS (Jodie Kemp)
3. MANCHESTER UNITED (Hope Arnold) 9-8 BUNCH OF LOSERS (Michael Whitty)
4. SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (Janet Jones) 8-6 HORNETS FOREVER (Mark Davies)
5. MANCHESTER CITY (Christine Butters) 4-7 LIVING THE DREAM (Paul Bentley)
6. NEWCASTLE UNITED (Basil Bradley) 4-5 BENGAL MUMBAI F.C. (Haresh Mirani)
7. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Simon Gold) 8-8 WATFORD (David Roberts)
8. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Mark Young) 3-6 DC ADUNITED (Patrick Bevilacqua)

Quote of the Week …

“It was a continuance of what we have seen most of the season – that is, various clubs beating each other” – Ron Noades, the former chairman of Wimbledon (the club he led into the Football League in 1977), Crystal Palace and Brentford and multiple golf course owner.

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