The Predictorship Week 31 – Smokin’ Joe

Players: 38 out of 49. Points scored: 222. Highest score: 10 (Joe Zalewski). Average score: 5.84. Total correct scores: 38. Predictions of the Week: Rob Dimery, Tom Palmer and Joe Zalewski (Sheffield United 1-2 Newcastle United) and anyone who predicted an Aston Villa win at Blackburn.

Results: Arsenal 0-1 West Ham United (0); Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Aston Villa (0); Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (7); Middlesbrough 4-1 Watford (0); Portsmouth 2-1 Manchester United (0); Reading 1-2 Liverpool (14); Sheffield United 1-2 Newcastle United (3); Wigan Athletic 1-3 Bolton Wanderers (0); Celtic 1-0 Motherwell (4); St Mirren 0-1 Rangers (10).

Current Top 10 …

Pos. – Team – (Predictor) – Week 31 Points – Correct Results – Correct Scores – Total Points

1. MANCHESTER CITY (Christine Butters) – 6 – 166 – 43 – 209
2. MANCHESTER UNITED (Hope Arnold) – 6 – 167 – 41 – 208
3. CHELSEA (Dave Taylor) – 8 – 166 – 41 – 207
4. LIVERPOOL RESERVES (Saleel Sathe) – 8 – 153 – 44 – 197
5. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Mark Young) – 3 – 157 – 37 – 194
6. IPSWICH TOWN (Nick Watson) – 7 – 152 – 41 – 193
7. BENFICA (Steven Dunlop) – 5 – 155 – 36 – 191
8. ANKARAGÃœCÃœ (Matthew White) – 5 – 161 – 30 – 191
9. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) – 7 – 152 – 38 – 190
10. JERSEY UNITED (Mike Dufficy) – 7 – 155 – 35 – 190

Ten-point troubadour Joe Zalewski (Liverpool) climbs eight places, Stuart Claxton (Reading) clambers out of the bottom two and Paul Dolan (MetroStars) teeters on the brink of an unenviable record. And there’s more high drama at the business end of the table.

Dave Taylor (Chelsea) comes up trumps as the biggest mover and shaker in the top three, with more 1-0 jiggery-pokery landing him eight points. The observant among you will notice something interesting, if not totally amazing: Dave has the same number of correct results (166) as Christine Butters (Manchester City) and the same number of correct scores (41) as Hope Arnold (Manchester United) as he claws his way to within two points of leading the pack for the first time since week 16.

Joe Zalewski’s double-figure delight includes four correct scores (the games hosted by Chelsea, Reading, Sheffield United and St Mirren), allowing him to top the next best total for the week by a whole two points. That’s some achievement.

Nobody can remember the last time Stuart Claxton was not bothering the league’s lowest two rungs, so it’s a minor miracle he’s shuffled up to 47th with a vastly improved attendance record.

Conversely, the Predictorship roll call has long since dispensed with the services of Paul Dolan, runner-up just two seasons ago, who has now been MOA (missing out of action) for 19 consecutive weeks, equalling Stuart’s marvellous display of absenteeism from week 5 to week 23 inclusive. If you know where Paul is hibernating, now’s the time to give him a forceful nudge.

The 11 predictors who failed to show their faces this week are looking as conspicuous as Joleon Lescott at a Bolton free-kick as there were no draws, let alone scoreless draws, to speak of. So whilst you’re busy spotting the big fat zeros littering the lower half of the table, there’s just time to tell you the semi-finals of the Predictorship Cup take place this weekend: Living the Dream (Paul Bentley) v Sheffield Wednesday (Janet Jones) and Watford (David Roberts) v Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker). The best of luck to all four Cup survivors.

Where Are They Now? (Part 2) …

Carlos Valderrama, aka “The best Colombian footballer of all time” and the country’s third finest export after cocaine and Shakira: The frizz-tastic Valderrama disappointed millions of fans by failing to do the obvious (run his own hairdressing salon in deepest Bogota) following his retirement in 2004. Carlos is now busy being a father to his five children, although it’s rumoured several teams have tried to tempt him into semi-professionalism, amongst them Colombian sides Deportivo Cali, Once Caldas and Centauros Villavicencio … and Unibond Northern Premier League outfit Leek Town.

Peter Beardsley, square-jawed Newcastle United (1983-1987 and 1993-1997), Liverpool (1987-1991) and Everton (1991-1993) striker with a memorable pudding bowl haircut: After bowing out of football in 1999 with Hartlepool United, Doncaster Rovers and the Melbourne Knights, “Beardo” now finds himself on the coaching staff at the Newcastle Academy, but he dreams of one day opening an ice cream shop in the Staffordshire town of Tamworth. Peter once claimed he would like to press the button at a pelican crossing all day if he was invisible for 24 hours. (Do pelican crossings have buttons?) During the twilight of his career with the Melbourne Knights, he also got booked in injury time for playing a whole match with his shorts on back-to-front.

Football – what a crazy game.