Swinging higher than Burt Lancaster on a trapeze Marek Phillips flies merrily over his fellow predictorsâ€™ heads with a walloping 20 joker-enhanced points. According to Stat man Matt, thatâ€™s the second highest score of the season (and ever) after Roger Taylorâ€™s joker-enhanced week 4 score of 22. The circus really has come to town!
The brass band strikes up to herald the arrival of the Big Top and itâ€™s not only Marek whoâ€™s parading around in a day-glow leotard this week; fellow jokers Nick Watson and Joe Zalewski. have slipped into their iridescent Lycra too following The Chairmansâ€™ call to arms and wave gaily as they receive the applause of the waiting crowds. But thereâ€™s still all to play for with 15 jokers still to be laid down before the end of the season â€“ and all the talk is of when table topper (of 20 weeks) Steve Dunlop with pop his head out of the pack.
A decision not to be taken lightly and 37th placed Ralph Hannah is less than impressed at Ring Master Robertsâ€™ whip cracking antics:
â€˜No joker yet – waiting for a time when Arsenal, Utd and Chelsea are all at home (24/25 April seems to be the weekend)â€™. postulates Ralph as he tempts his sea lion with a tasty fish, but a little more faith in Master Roberts may have been prudent given his 10 point score at the weekend.
Mark Young too, puffed up with a top non-joker score of 11 points, goads the Chairman from behind his bars â€˜I see youâ€™re up to your old mind game tricks, trying to lure people into playing jokers with tales of an easy Predictorship week. You’ve clearly been watching too much of the Tony Blair hearing… But I’m sitting on my balcony looking out at the Caribbean and not caring too much about jokers, wild cards or deuces being wild.â€™
There are fears among the troop that Mark may be going a little doolally so heâ€™s been locked in with the lions and an electronic parasol for his own safety. Fellow 11 pointers Wendy Nathan and Dave Breeze (3 correct scores) offer their consolation by passing a bowl of beetroot soup through the bars.
However, the main attraction today is the female tumblers with the Moonerazzi and Janet Roberts flick-flacking their way across the sand in celebration of their Quarter-final replay victories over Compeer Matt White and fellow tumbler Nicola Savage. Janet has decided to gel down here beehive for the occasion lest it fly off into the crowd, but it does seem to be picking up a fair amount of dust on the way.
Now bring on the clowns! Celebrating 9 correct scores they stumble into the lights toppling one over the other: leading the way is second placed John Collins sporting a blue and white frill and tossing a cuddly lion, Ralph Hannah joins in, juggling a couple of the sea lionsâ€™ balls, Mark Lawrenson doesnâ€™t seem to have bothered with the make-up but looks pretty funny all the same and Mark Young crawls in behind Wendy Nathan (who appears to have used the soup bowl as a vessel to conceal a key), only given away by his purple topper.
The drums roll and Ring Master Roberts calls for silence to announce the Predictors of the Week:
Dave McAleer, Rob Molloy and Mark Young for Birmingham 2 Everton 2; Hope Arnold (her third POTW in the last 3 weeks!), Wendy Nathan and Maziar Sattari for Burnley 1 Wolves 2. Also, an honourable mention for the 7 predictors who thought Tottenham 3 Blackburn 1 was a good idea.
The Predictors take their bows and the crowd goes wild!