Church Langley is fizzing, bubbling and veritably popping its corks with excitement as the climax of the 2010 Season approaches.
The Chairman flings open the bedroom window to greet the shot-silk rays of a beautiful morning, and takes the opportunity to give a little tug on the bunting to check that all is nicely secure for the merriment to come.
An owl flies down to the kitchen window and, seeing Janet Roberts, hops inside. David Roberts, gazes out in the peaceful scene and smiles with contentment at a job well done, unaware of the shiny object tumbling through the crisp morning air and heading towards his left ear.
The Chairman is flung to the ground as a Nimbus 5000, screeching like a breaking steam train, plunges through the open pane and crashes into the Ikea book case.
â€˜Got it!â€™ Screams John Collins clutching the Predictorship Cup tightly in his fist. â€˜Itâ€™s coming home, itâ€™s coming home! Footballâ€™s coming home!â€™ Collins scrambles to his feet, his hair erratically woven with several Leylandii twigs from Davidâ€™s boundary hedging, just as the black form of Steve Dunlop smashes down through the conifers to land precariously on the laminate flooring.
â€™27 weeks Collins! itâ€™s had my name on it for 27 weeks. Donâ€™t think this is the end of this. itâ€™s definitely not the end of this.â€™ the Benfica manâ€™s eyes burn with fury and his shocking white hair flaps menacingly in the cool morning breeze as he stands over his rival.
â€˜No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us, we donâ€™t care!â€™ Collins chants, waving his prize crazily with the expression of a man overwhelmed by his good fortune.
â€˜I can still disqualify both of you,â€™ threatens the Chairman, immediately diffusing the volotile situation and stroking his rapidly growing beard. This Cup is about fair play and the reputation of Swinemoles and Church Langley wonâ€™t be sullied by your petty squabbling. Go down to the kitchen and wait for me there.
The two players hang their heads as they file out in silence.
â€˜Hey, how did it go?â€™ Stevie mood picks up instantly as he spots Rob Dimery whoâ€™s slouched in the lounge with his feet up on a crate of Guinness bottles, and strides over towards him. The bottle are curiously opening themselves one by one as the guests arrive.
â€˜Pretty good Stevie, pretty good,â€™ sighs Rob contentedly, picking up a cup cake as the icing instantly changes to an attractive red and white Cheltenham town colour, â€˜Bobbie D kept himself off the bottom â€“ Lady Luck and a well-timed joker helped me leapfrog over ‘you know who’, which is all that counts, my friend. So, I guess itâ€™s time for another beer!â€™ and a bottle of Guinness obediently popped itâ€™s top and bounces into his hand.
The lads break off their conversation as the TV suddenly blares out at full volume. Mark Young â€“ (just one point behind Sally Moon in the final table) has switched the set on and Lady Gagaâ€™s latest chart topper â€˜Moonerazziâ€™ blares out. Mark pushes his grubby black hair out of his eyes and hammers his umbrella angrily down on the remote to change channel.
â€˜Hate that songâ€™ the Baggie sneers, rounding on the sniggering Cup challengers.
â€˜And itâ€™s time you lot of over-confident chancers learned something worth knowing.â€™ He pushes the button on the remote and â€˜The Great Escapeâ€™ begins to play. â€˜Look and learnâ€™ Young threatens and slips on a baseball mitt to catch the Guinness bottle flying towards him.
Meanwhile, engrossed in a game of Subuteo in the corner, Ralph Hannah and Rob Molloy are mercilessly launching the small animated figures across the pitch in front of them, each flick elicits a variety of verbal and visual assaults from their tiny victims. Ralphâ€™s â€˜amazingâ€™ achievement, according to Statman Matt, was not only to achieve top scorer recognition in the final week with 11 points (and the only player with three correct scores – Bolton, Everton & West Ham) but ends 6 points above arch rival Rob (the first time heâ€™s been ahead of him all season…); Rob is intent on settling the score as another little chap on his team is the unfortunate recipient of his determined finger.
The lights flicker in the house and the air temperature drops suddenly. As the clouds darken outside, the Predictors begin to gather at the patio doors to gaze at the spectacle unfolding in the garden. A wild Moonerazzi and frightened-looking Pete Yoder, his mop of ginger hair lit up like a giant sparkler in the sodium lights, have begun their final dual. The FA Cup battle is underway and orange flashes fly from the Wolves manâ€™s claxon, blasting the Blackburn Rover backwards into the Clematis. The Moonerazzi pounds a large blue and white drum in return and with each beat a bolt of lightning flies at Peteâ€™s head, parting his Highland mop left, then right. The Moonerazzi weakens as the sound waves pin her into the foliage, but as Pete begins to smoulder, thereâ€™s no way to separate the two opponents.
Matt White prepares to hurl himself into the fray, just as the cloud split open with an Earth-shattering crack.
The huge green eyes of Normanetta No Mates peer down into the faces of the terror-stuck players.
â€˜So you think youâ€™ve defeated me do you?â€™ the icy voice slices through the hearts and aspirations of every quivering spectator.
â€˜Iâ€™ve seen whoâ€™s been loyal to me and whoâ€™s turned their back.â€™
John Collins feels an unimaginable pain sear through his head.
â€˜Next season will be a very different story…â€™
Janet Roberts walks carefully up to the window and as she slowly looks up, drops the beetroot soup.