What a weekend of Cup action.
In the battle of the haves and the havants, non-league Havant & Waterlooville score two goals against Liverpool and lead their Premier League opponents twice at Anfield, Derby and Manchester City (the latter magnificently hindered by stray balloons) are humbled by lower league opposition to leave just six top-flight teams in the last 16, and there are no less than 15 casualties in Round 1 of The Predictorship Cup, where league champions elect Jersey United come crashing down at the first hurdle, a Bunch of Losers rip the form book to shreds with their bare hands, Everton put a disappointing league campaign behind them to make Chelsea blue and several teams are left with foul-smelling egg on their collective faces.
In fact, itâ€™s been such a busy weekend that thereâ€™s no time to discuss why on earth England full-back Ashley Cole would want to play â€“ and throw up â€“ away from home (allegedly) when heâ€™s married to Girls Aloud hottie Cheryl.
Tabloid fodder aside, Nigel Birrellâ€™s Charlton Athletic overcome Mike Dufficyâ€™s Jersey United 7-8 to claim the biggest scalp of the weekend. Eight points help Nigel up to fourth in the league while Mike, who has to concentrate on the league now that his Cup dream has faded, remains 10 points clear at the top. Some consolation.
Dave Taylorâ€™s high-flying Chelsea are also out of the Cup, ousted 9-7 away to Hope Arnoldâ€™s Everton â€“ despite Hope predicting wins for both Newcastle and Peterborough. Another sizeable pinch of salt is deposited on Daveâ€™s already stinging wound by Christine Buttersâ€™ Manchester City, who sees her team climb to second in the league, their highest placing of the season, on their way to deflating Iain Starrâ€™s Starsenal 7-8.
Michael Whittyâ€™s Bunch of Losers, meanwhile, bring a ray or two of light shining down on their wretched league campaign with a surprise 7-10 victory at Saleel Satheâ€™s Liverpool Reserves. Itâ€™s the stuff dreams are made of.
Elsewhere in the Cup, Joe Zalewskiâ€™s Liverpool suffer a fate worse than being â€œcut in halfâ€ by Robert Huthâ€™s flailing boot. The Reds quite literally fail to turn up and fight for their Cup survival, going down 0-11 at home to Wendy Nathanâ€™s West Ham. Congratulations to Wendy, whoâ€™s the weekâ€™s top scorer with 11, consisting of perfect scores for the games at Portsmouth, Wigan and Sheffield United, but she really didnâ€™t need to try so hard.
Stewart Newportâ€™s Wycombe Wanderers also get a drubbing at the south coast hands of Tom Palmerâ€™s Southampton (8-0), while Marion Wallerâ€™s Queens Park Rangers bang in 10 at Trevor Morrisâ€™ Sunderland with the assistance of NINE correct results. Derby 2 Preston 1 was Marionâ€™s only wrong turn.
Incredibly, every one of the weekendâ€™s 16 FA Cup ties was decided one way or the other in 90 minutes, without the need for any replays. In The Predictorship Cup, just one tie will be re-contested this coming weekend: the Goliath vs. Goliath encounter between Dave McAleerâ€™s Crystal Palace and Cathryn Harkerâ€™s Clapton F.C., which finished 9-9.
Predictorship Statto carried out some more eye-opening research this weekend, totting up the goals predicted for and against Liverpool for their anticipated rout of Havant & Waterlooville at Anfield. Forty predictors forecast 154 goals for Liverpool (average score 3.85) and seven goals for the part-timers. In a gallant attempt to bring back some high-scoring excitement to the predicting process, yours truly went for 8-0, with only Trevor Morris (7-0) coming along for the ride. You were offered a rare chance to bring your high numbers out of the closest. You didnâ€™t.
The Predictorship Cup: Round 1
1. BLACKBURN ROVERS (Sally Moon) (9) 9-8 WATFORD (David Roberts) (17)
2. SOUTHAMPTON (Tom Palmer) (30) 8-0 WYCOMBE WANDERERS (Stewart Newport) (29)
3. LIVERPOOL RESERVES (Saleel Sathe) (10) 7-10 BUNCH OF LOSERS (Michael Whitty) (41)
4. PETERBOROUGH UNITED (Steve McHugh) (20) 8-5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (Simon Gold) (19)
5. SUNDERLAND (Trevor Morris) (34) 8-10 QUEENS PARK RANGERS (Marion Waller) (36)
6. JERSEY UNITED (Mike Dufficy) (1) 7-8 CHARLTON ATHLETIC (Nigel Birrell) (5)
7. LIVERPOOL (Joe Zalewski) (21) 0-11 WEST HAM UNITED (Wendy Nathan) (7)
8. CRYSTAL PALACE (Dave McAleer) (6) 9-9 CLAPTON F.C. (Cathryn Harker) (8)
9. TRICKY TREES (Alex Iskandar Liew) (16) 8-7 WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (Pete Yoder) (28)
10. STARSENAL (Iain Starr) (33) 7-8 MANCHESTER CITY (Christine Butters) (3)
11. EVERTON (Hope Arnold) (32) 9-7 CHELSEA (Dave Taylor) (2)
12. DARTMOOR ROVERS (Jill Taylor) (12) 8-9 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Gabe Bevilacqua) (15)
13. SEATTLE GOONERS (Maziar Sattari) (14) 9-8 BENFICA (Steven Dunlop) (18)
14. NOTTINGHAM FOREST (Matthew White) (4) 7-6 NORTHAMPTON TOWN (Ben Wallis) (23)
15. NEW ENGLAND (Anuradha Shenoy) (11) 9-8 FC SQUAN 1980 (Patrick Bevilacqua) (13)
16. WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Mark Young) (22) 8-7 IPSWICH TOWN (Nick Watson) (24)
* Figures in brackets show league position on 26th January.
Round 1 Replay (2nd-3rd February)
1. CLAPTON F.C. (Cathryn Harker) (8) v CRYSTAL PALACE (Dave McAleer) (6)
FA Cup Round 4 Results (Week 26): Mansfield 0-2 Middlesbrough (12); Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle (1); Derby 1-4 Preston (0); Liverpool 5-2 Havant & Waterlooville (0); Peterborough 0-3 West Bromwich Albion (0); Portsmouth 2-1 Plymouth (8); Watford 1-4 Wolves (0); Wigan 1-2 Chelsea (9); Manchester United 3-1 Tottenham (4); Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester City (4).
* Figures in brackets show the number of correct predictions for each game.
Highest Score (Week 26): 11 â€“ Wendy Nathan.
Average Score (Week 26): 7.55.
Predictions of the Week (Week 26): Hope Arnold, Wendy Nathan, Marion Waller and Michael Whitty (Sheffield United 2-1 Manchester City); Gabe Bevilacqua, Rob Molloy, Trevor Morris and Nicola Savage, who all predicted a win for Preston at Derby.
Top of the Table (Week 26):
1. Jersey United (Mike Dufficy) â€“ 194 pts
2. Manchester City (Christine Butters) â€“ 184 pts
3. Chelsea (Dave Taylor) â€“ 184 pts
4. Charlton Athletic (Nigel Birrell) â€“ 182 pts
5. Nottingham Forest (Matthew White) â€“ 182 pts
6. West Ham United (Wendy Nathan) â€“ 181 pts
7. Crystal Palace (Dave McAleer) â€“ 180 pts
8. Clapton F.C. (Cathryn Harker) â€“ 179 pts
9. Blackburn Rovers (Sally Moon) â€“ 177 pts
10. New England (Anuradha Shenoy) â€“ 176 pts