An ominous calm hangs over the Predictorship Stadium this week as dark forces gather in dimly lit corridors.
Ted Warland, still â€˜frozenâ€™ and out in the cold on a deserted pitch, beds down for the night, dropping down the table like mercury in a thermometer. But Ted is not without friends…
Stealth is the name of the game and Mark â€˜John Jâ€™ Young is waiting for his opportunity. Skulking furtively between the pie stands and dangerously slippery toilets, his tactic is to lie low (with an inconspicuous three points). His target? The Moonerazzi â€“ sitting on the comfy seats in the Executive box, clutching six well-earned points and schmoosing with the â€˜big boysâ€™ of the week: Chairman David Roberts, Saleel Sathe and â€˜Predictorship Cup Chairmanâ€™ Matt White â€“ all celebrating a masterful nine points each.
With only eight scoring fixtures following two postponements due to the icy blasts traversing the country, their achievement is quite remarkable and they richly deserve their big fat win bonuses (David Roberts and Saleel Sathe both picked up three correct scores to accumulate their points).
Meanwhile, striding up to shake the chairmanâ€™s hand is Hope Arnold who receives this weeks Man of the Match for a startlingly skilful display. Hopeâ€™s point total consisted of just three scoring games (three correct results, three correct scores) â€“ the games at Arsenal, Everton & Wigan being her salvation.
Oblivious to the menace waiting below the stands, the hospitality suite is a-buzz with excitement ahead of the â€˜medals of honourâ€™ presentations for seasonal highs recorded by Saleel Sathe (3rd), Cathryn Gregory (4th), David Roberts (14th) & Alex Iskandar Liew (20th). As the dignitaries assemble Chairman Davidâ€™s crack squad, forever vigilant to danger, slip unobserved past the canapÃ©s and out onto the gantry.
Although thereâ€™s little to celebrate with the weekâ€™s average score reaching staggering only to an unexceptional 5.44, the debate among the assembled predictors is a lively one with Norma No-mates trying to nudge her way into the tightly-huddled groups who chatter animatedly about current form: PCC Matt White holds forth to one particularly attentive assembly discussing the weekâ€™s events, â€˜…with 51 correct scores, including 12 for Middlesbrough 1-1 Sunderland and nine each for Arsenal 1-0 Bolton, Villa 2-1 West Brom & Everton 2-0 Hull – you could say it was a predictable week in the Predictorship!â€™. If only that were true.
As the presentation ceremony draws near, Predictors of the week: Dave Breese (Stoke 0-0 Liverpool); Patrick Bevilacqua and David Roberts (Newcastle 2-2 West Ham) begin to hastily scribble notes for their acceptance speeches, unaware of the danger that lies beneath.
Davidâ€™s chief scout leans into the graffiti-strewn stairwell below as the party continues.
â€˜Can you hear me Mark? Come in John J. Everything will be OKâ€™.
The deeply gravelled voice bounces through the concrete pillars searching for an audience. Silence.
He makes an exploratory circuit of the public waiting area below but nobody is there and, satisfied there is no imminent danger, prepares to return to the gathering above. Then, barely audible in the still, hanging silence a deep voice rumbles through the darkness like distant thunder. There is no mistaking the speaker or the meaning…
â€˜She drew first bloodâ€™.