Rough guide to
About this season's guide
How our predictions went
'06-07 season index
Tomorrow's world, today
3 July 2007
Do you remember last summer? A new dawn was breaking over the Humber: Graham Rodgerseseses was constructing some flood defences made out of old sods found on the road to nowhere, and some crumbly Blackpool rock that was stuffed down the back of a sofa in a manky Sheffield warehouse. The massed ranks of Mariners were still mumbling about their May mugging, but Cod Almighty looked to the future, not the past. We donned a collective striped brown tank top, crinkled the fringe on our feather-cut, hitched up the drainpipes and waited for a cue from Raymond Baxter.
At the start of the season eight teams were predicted by the authors of CA's 2006 rough guide to be in the play-offs, with only one hint at relegation. What does that say? We're far too impressed with others? Oh, and two contributors 'forgot' to foresee the future. Fear: smells like Town spirit to me. Some were Danny Boshell, many were Gary Harkins. To protect the innocent, identities have been obscured through an alphabetical listing. The bored, the weary and the uninterested won't penetrate that security system, eh Miles? Miles?
"Let's say this season that Stanley will finish in a creditable tenth," said Miles Moss. OK, let's say it. Tenth! Doesn't mean it's going to happen, and it didn't. The innocent Stan finished 20th, 15 points off the Moss pacemaking. They stayed in the same division though. A result!
Here come da Judge: "Don't worry, be happy"
To quote from the shadowy footballing figure, so-called Mark Stilton: "So let's just say that at this moment in time it looks like they're heading back to the Conference. But there's time to make amends yet..." They were heading back to the Conference, then pulled themselves clear with some rollicking roisters in the spring. So Cheeseboy can be proud of his powers of fungi staring as Barnet finished 14th, a whole 13 points off relegation, even though they were pathetic against Town, again.
Here come da Judge: "Who da man? You're da man!"
The boy Simon Colin Wilson completely forgot to predict, droning on and on about a new ground and a new beginning, much like the Boston management. Like them, he lost sight of the important things and so we must go back a year for an accurate prediction. Delve into 2005–06 and we find a wish, a desire, nay a demand for Bust'un to be superdooperbottom and, yippee-kay-ay, they were 23rd and super-bottom of the popularity stakes. Well done me, not Simon Colin Wilson.
Here come da Judge: "Listen to Tony"
Ah, Chris 'Trago' Mills, you started so well. "My guess is they'll start poorly... The team will finish middle-bottomish and plummet back to square one." It must have been the excitement of the super skate zone that addled CTM's powers, for he was so right in 2006, so wrong on 2007. After fighting with Town for 16th place for so long the drizzly Brizzlers ended up sixth, 17 points off "middlish bottom", which is a small village nestling in the Malverns on the way to Hereford. Don't stay too
long in Middlish Bottom, you'll get flooded sooner or later; Upper Middlish is much safer.
Here come da Judge: "The path to righteousness is paved with good inventions"
A dedicated follower of Wilsonian fashion, Mike Worden forgot to predict, being too busy thinking about the old men of Bury. They ended up 21st, which is where he would have predicted them to finish. Just read between the lines.
Here come da Judge: "Snap out of it brother!"
Let's pluck out the relevant section from the gnomic ruminations of an accidental Mariner. "Like shampooing a lion, it will take time for things to gel and there will be more than a few snarls," wrote Pat Bell. "However, Chester will win more games than they lose, and finish ninth."
Are you sure Pat? Why did you think that? Like Miles Moss before him, he thought his dissected frog was twice as dangerous as it was, for the Deviants came 18th, with 13 wins and 19 losses. Perhaps he meant Charlie Chester's opponents will win more games.
Here come da Judge: "Paradise is half as nice: welcome to Amen Corner"
Shall we extend a little poetic licence towards the Bard of Blundell Park? "I'm gonna stick my neck out and say that Darlington are finally on the way up. The current squad should push that sun up and over the horizon, and they have the facilities in place to host the success," quoth the man Al Wilkinson. Put your neck back Mr Turtle, they're still here. The delightful darlings finished 11th with 65 points, a wholegrain 20 points off automatic promotion.
Here come da Judge: "Way off baby!"
Is guessing better than 'fessing ignorance? "A good cup run here, a bad set of injuries there; a star player who wants to leave, a youth teamer who makes the grade," mused Miles Moss. They all make the difference between a good season and a bad one. Oh I don't know! Eighth." Oh, we do know! They finished second, 17 points better off than eighth.
Here come da Judge: "Close, but you're not right"
Where's that Enigma machine got to? "Last summer the club came out of its CVA," said Al Wilkinson, "so for the first time in ten years Hereford were allowed to buy a player and this summer they are back in the Football League. They say they are here to stay, and it would seem they do gotta wear shades, so do have a cow, man." Ah, here it is: 'they'll stay in the division without troubling anyone' is the literal translation from the original Meggie. Yeah, OK then, a prediction so vague you could shake a stick at its knee caps and no-one would notice. Hereford finished 16th on 55 points, nine points off relegation and 16 points off the play-offs in a bog-standard limbo between happiness and despair.
Here come da Judge: "When they get old, feed them lemons"
This was easy-peasy for Sam Metcalf: "Lincoln should make the play-offs again." C'mon, it's the law and a rhyme with reason: come April showers Imps will wail, for Cardiff calls and they will fail. They ended up fifth, of course: predicting that's like shooting peas in a barrel.
Here come da Judge: "The boy couldn't fail and he didn't"
After following the Rambling Sid Rumpo through some Sladian memories we finally arrive at the stile in the fence of prediction: "by the way, they'll finish mid-table and not really trouble the play-off picture," reckoned Mark Wilson. Well, Markster, you were right: they didn't trouble the play-off picture, but 22nd, two points off relegation, is mid-table only if we ignore the top 17. You didn't put that caveat in, or was it edited out?
Here come da Judge: "Although I'm over 80 now, my boggles still I clench" [Here come da editor: "Seriously though Butcher – what the fuck are you on about now?"]
An old lag when it comes to the prison of prediction, Mike Dunderdale's hedges are trimmed only at the end of the mating season. "Like many teams in this division, the Stags are capable of good things if they play to their potential. I'd anticipate at least a play-off place this coming campaign (with the option to edit these famous last words at the end of the season)." But the flowers never bloomed for our Percy Throwaway. The dunderachieving caravanners from Sherwood Forest dribbled to 17th, 17 points off the play-offs. There is no option to edit: look at the small print in your contract.
Here come da Judge: "Prune early to ensure an abundance of blossom next year"
An early rough guide from Richard B Dawson was stitched from the barest threads of fact after an evening of plum bread and Father Ted: "So the way forward rather depends on County getting a new manager. They have shortlisted four or five and have been haughtily interviewing them... Unfortunately Thordarson released about eight players
before he quit. A bit embarrassing really, as it sounds like the board might want some of them back. How will all turn out – not a feckin' clue."
The Piemen ended up 13th, on 62 points – slap bang in the middle. They couldn't make up their minds what to do and did nothing. Like Richard, they hadn't a clue.
Here come da Judge: "Stick to the B roads and slow down when there's mud on the track"
Was Sam Metcalf in thrall to the magical powers of route one football after a surfeit of lamping? "If they don't get to the play-offs, el Fry may well get even more miffed, mind. However, I think they will. What works in Lincolnshire usually works in Cambridgeshire – especially if we're talking about incest. So, as sure as your mother's your brother, Posh will finish sixth."
Woah, woah, hold that wild horse before Bazzer sells it to a geezer off the market. Big Keef departed and the Poshies surged into slightly higher mid-table, finishing 10th, a mighty seven points from sixth. They were closer to Town in the end. And in the end the love you make is equal to the love you take. We love Poshies stumbling.
Here come da Judge: "Trust your instincts, Luke"
Ah look, froglets. They should be indoors! Sorry, what planet is he on? Rochdale, you say? Not
Clangerland? "Their consolation will be to survive, again," wrote your independent reviewer. "It's Groundhog Day: they'll finish 13th. And if they don't, they should, and will in my universe." They were consoled, they did survive, they finished ninth, four points from 13th. Your independent reviewer is absolutely certain and absolutely sure, that this is a trifling difference. Absolutely. A bit.
Here come da Judge: "Be very careful what you plant. Some things grow very large and very loud"
Was it the spreadsheet that did it? Andy Holt, the man of many stats, waited for his wife to go to bed before mulling over his parameters and intoning: "This season is Shrewsbury's third back in the Football League: 21st, 10th... I foresee further improvement and the play-offs next May." As the Shrews finished seventh and lost the play-off final, there isn't much scope to peel away the layers of dignity to reveal a hollow man. Lucky. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
Here come da Judge: "BINGO, you win a stuffed aardvark"
Is Richard B Dawson an accountant? A prediction that was just a brought-forward figure from the previous set of Stockport accounts, the sly old duck of Cod Almighty dashed off, before dashing out to mow the lawn: "an irresistible springtime surge into the play-off positions". So near, yet so far away from the promised land. The Maddening Hatters slunk to eighth, 11 goals off the play-offs after a late-season collapse. If he was bothered he'd have been bothered. Why bother? Are you bothered?
Here come da Judge: "Always look at the bottom line, it's lower than you think"
A cheeky confection with red herrings and sub-plots aplenty all ended up in a maze of spinnery as your independent reviewer predicted: "Remember your pencil sharpener, Dennis, and all will be fine. You demand a prediction? At this stage I plead the fifth."
Was this silence or a prediction? There's a number there, so if it's good enough for you, it's good enough for me. The Wiseless Swindon ended up third, 11 points above fifth. Not bad, but a little out of focus. The ego didn't quite land with a bump, more a little thud and a slightly bruised bottom. Good job the pencil wasn't in the back pocket then.
Here come da Judge: "You're a big Lee Marvin fan. Bark little doggy, bark"
Even at the age of ten, smart boy Andy Holt was a smart boy then. Crank out the old Babbage, Torquay's your greatest predicto-challenge: "My money says yes – definitely a top-half finish for Torquay next season. Looking further forward, history suggests they're where they belong... They seem on the face of it to be financially stable, though well, as stable as any fourth division club can be today and that is surely a firm foundation from which to build."
Which bit was most wrongest? The galloping Gulls melted to 24th, a full 17 points off the confidently predicted 12th. Shrewsbury was a blip, a statistical oddity, the exception that proved the rule. Wholly wrong, wrong, wrong. Never go to Torbay, they'll have your head on a pole.
Here come da Judge: "Deport the prisoner now"
The grand vizier of Cod Almighty, playing his mighty Wurlitzer behind his green curtains and writing his letters in green ink, deigned to speak. "Walsall will keep mooing at the milk lorries and we'll keep gazing dreamily at the
trawlers out on the estuary. Next year they'll finish mid-table," wrote Pete Green. No they didn't – they finished first, 27 points off mid-table. You're rubbish, you are, at this, you are. You really are. His words are wisdom and we shall call him Norman. Perhaps he's feeling a little green now?
Here come da Judge: "You may be a big man in Albania, but you're not in shape for the West Midlands"
What did you see, Miles Moss? You saw the sea? Or a see-saw? "The broader future looks good for Wrexham though; once out of administration, there's no reason they can't have a worry-free period of success under their new owners, and with returning players and the supporters' trust all genuinely wanting the very best for the club, I can see a play-off spot at least."
If this was a union conference you'd stand up here and say the motion speaks for itself. Wrexham ended up 19th, 20 points off the play-offs, only saving themselves on the last day. Perhaps Milesy Mossy means next year? He's the Martin Peters of prediction: 10 months ahead of his time.
Here come da Judge: "Ha. Ha-hah. Ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha"
C'mon, you must
admire such certainty: "A team doesn't become poor overnight though (unless they appoint Mike Lyons as manager) and Wycombe are due some luck. They will finish seventh and get promoted through the play-offs." Pat Bell forgot that Tommy Mooney can become old overnight, for the Buckinghamshire Belles rang out for a while, but their ropes snapped sometime around Christmas, as it always does. They crawled to 12th, nine points off seventh, the assertive instance of PB. Not a Personal Best there, but maybe a season's best.
Here come da Judge: "Ding-dong!"
At the end of the day Brian...
Don't listen to us, what do we know? Except cheeseboy Stilts, the cooler king. And the occasional good guess. Who knows what tomorrow brings? It's just another day and I don't give a damn.