With wild winds whipping round the Whitstable Day Care Centre, what better way to escape the cold by popping a blanket on your knee, sliding your feet into your favourite pair of slippers and sitting down with a nice hot cup of tea and catching up on October’s EFL action. Flirting with the nurses and arguing over the draughts board are Saint and Greavsie.
Greavsie: Nurse! Nurse! Would you like a trick or would you like a treat?
Saint: Och, put that away Jimmy, for goodness sake.
Greavsie: Oh come on Saint, it’s not like they’ve not seen it all before. Nurse!
Saint: Aye, only because you get it out every time we come here. If you keep flashing that thing about you’ll get us barred from the tea dance. And if we’re barred from the tea dance how am I expected to get my leg over?
Greavsie: Oooh Saint, you rotter. You dirty old man.
Saint: That’s rich coming from you! I mean it’s not as if that thing is anything to be proud of.
Greavsie: Fine, fine. But if you had a World Cup winner’s medal you’d be showing it off as well.
Saint: Shall we get going with our round up of October’s action?
Greavsie: Well would you look at that! Those bluebirds have been knocked off their perch! By the grace of St Georgie’s Cross! Viva England! Allez Anglaterre! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it John Charles!
Saint: Err, yes, well. Cardiff City have been knocked off the top of the table by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Greavsie: Good old Wolves. A proper English club, them. Billy Wright, Steve Bull. Does Bully still play for them?
Saint: No, Jimmy, I think he retired about twenty years ago. In fact they’ve built a very impressive side with a heavy Portuguese influence.
Greavsie: Oh that’s typical. We beat them in the Semi-Final so now they’re invading our football clubs. Classic Portuguese tarts.
Saint: Yes. Well, in October Wolves notched up four wins out of five, including an impressive win at Norwich. The driving force behind their success has been the tactical nous of manager Nuno Espirito Santo, and their Portugese contingent of Diogo Jota, Helder Costa, Ivan Cavaliero, Roderick Miranda, and the excellent Ruben Neves have formed the backbone of an exciting team that are currently the top scorers in the league, with 27 goals in 15 games. They’ve also got their Brazilian striker Leo Bonatini to thank. The 23 year old is on loan from Al-Hilal, and has shown that he’s more than capable of mixing it in England, as his five goals in October lifted him to the top of the scoring charts.
Greavsie: Well that’s all very good for Wolves, but who else is challenging for promotion?
Saint: The surprise package so far this season have been Bristol City. Rumours were abound that Lee Johnson was due to lose his job in the summer, and without Tammy Abraham leading the line the Robins were predicted to struggle. So far that hasn’t been the case. Three wins and a draw from October is an excellent return, and the goals of Bobby Reid have been the cornerstone of Bristol’s success. Ironically, Bristol City’s only defeat of the month came at home to Leeds United who, after being one of the early pacesetters, have badly fallen away from the top of the league. With four defeats this month, including losing to both Sheffield teams, Thomas Christiansen’s side will certainly need to find a bit of form if they’re to maintain their promotion hopes.
Greavsie: So what about…
Saint: The London clubs? They’re the embodiment of inconsistency. Queens Park Rangers in 12th are the highest placed London side in the league, with two wins from five, closely followed by Fulham with one win in October, Millwall with one win, and Brentford who have recovered from a terrible start to the season to go five unbeaten.
Greavsie: What a load of pony and trap!
Saint: Absolutely, but the other big story from the Championship is Sunderland. Manager Simon Grayson received his marching orders this week having failed to win a game since 13th August. The Black Cats are sitting in 22nd place, but are still in touch with Birmingham and Reading who are also struggling. They actually boast one of the league’s top scorers in Lewis Grabban, but their shocking defence has been letting them down – only Burton Albion have conceded more than the 30 Sunderland have let in. Two 3-3 draws in October were the real killer for Grayson, particularly given that his side were 3-1 up at Brentford, and drew at home against a hapless Bolton Wanderers.
Greavsie: My my. I bet Simon’s hair has gone gray, son.
Saint: He’s bald as a coot, Jimmy.
Greavsie: Oh. Well it’s not going well for him at all is it.
Saint: It’s not, no. Poor bastard. Shall we look at League One?
Greavsie: Charlton in fourth.
Saint: Yes, another excellent month for the Addicks, with three wins and a draw from their four games, including a win against fellow London side AFC Wimbledon, who are struggling down in 20th position. Though many of the faithful at The Valley might be putting ‘a bit more entertainment’ on their Christmas list, as Charlton scored 4 and conceded one last month. At the top, it’s still Shrewsbury Town…
Greavsie: The Shrews!
Saint: That’s right Jim, the Shrews. Despite losing at Peterborough last weekend, they’re still top by a point, though they’d have been disappointed to come away from struggling Plymouth with only a point. They’re being closely followed by Wigan Athletic, who posted impressive wins against Scunthorpe, Southend and Blackpool, but could only muster a goalless draw against Blackburn Rovers. The top two are already looking hard to catch, with a six point gap being opened up between Wigan in second and Bradford in third, though the Bantams travel to both the DW and New Meadow in November and will be looking to narrow the gap in those games.
Greavsie: Anything of note happening at the bottom of the table?
Saint: Well Northampton are slowly but surely creeping their way out of the relegation zone under new manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Greavsie: Hasselbaink potatoes. They’re my favourite. Nice and crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and you can stick your fork in them and just pop them straight in your mouth. Lovely.
Saint: Don’t you mean hasselback?
Greavsie: You say hasselback, I say Hasselbaink, let’s call the whole thing off!
Saint: (murmers) I wish we could.
Saint: Why don’t you see if you can get us a drink, Jimmy? I think I saw Phyllis carrying a bottle of brandy around under her blouse.
Greavsie: You leave it to me, Saint (leaves).
Saint: Anyway, in a month that started with a 6-0 thrashing at home to Bristol Rovers, Northampton managed to earn seven points, with a particularly impressive win at Gillingham worth shouting about. The Cobblers’ renaissance has left Plymouth bottom of the table, while Bury’s four defeats in October have put them right in the brown stuff.
Greavsie: (in the distance) OI! COME HERE YOU STRUMPET! GIVE ME THAT! NURSE! NURSE! SHE’S GOT CONTRABAND!
Phyllis: Keep your hands off me you dirty old man! That’s my bag! You can’t have my bag! I need it to do a wee!
Saint: Oh dear. Let’s move on quickly…
Greavsie: You stitched me right up there, Saint, you mug.
Saint: It was a genuine mistake, Jim. It really did look like a bag full of brandy.
Greavsie: Why would she be carrying brandy around in a bag, you nincompoop.
Saint: I thought it might just be a Whitstable thing, I don’t know what you English folk do to get your kicks. Anyway, League Two. Notts County are going great guns at the top of the league, using their Magpies connection with Shola Ameobi leading the line for Kevin Nolan’s team. A 3-0 win against Newport County asserted their dominance at the top, but they’re in good company with Accrington Stanley sitting in second, and Luton Town, the country’s second highest scorers after Manchester City, sitting in third. The Hatters scored an amazing 13 goals in their first three games in October, but followed that up with a 0-0 draw and a 3-0 home defeat to Crawley and Coventry respectively.
Greavsie: Remember Catchphrase, Saint? (terrible Irish accent) ‘Say what you see! If you see it, report it!’
Saint: Yes, I remember Catchphrase, Jim. I’m actually quite good pals with Roy Walker. Often’s the time we’ll get together and have a few glasses of Blue Nun and reminisce about the crazy 80s.
Greavsie: How’s his boy Des getting on at Forest?
Saint: I, er, I think you might have…he’s doing well yes. Graham Taylor’s thinking of picking him for the World Cup.
Greavsie: Marvellous, he’s a good old boy is Des. Lovely moustache.
Saint: Indeed. Anyway, you probably want to know how Barnet are getting on, don’t you?
Greavsie: Why’s that?
Saint: Well didn’t you used to play for them?
Greavsie: Hmm. I don’t think so, Saint. Tottenham, Chelsea, AC Milan, England, West Ham, Brentwood, Chelmsford City, Woodford Town. That was my career. 357 career goals in the first division. How’s about that. One of the best in the world during my time. (Starts to hum an indistinct Vera Lynn song)
Saint: Aye, well. Memories, eh. Anyway, Barnet have slipped down to 21st position, having failed to win during October. The real ‘M People’ of League Two are Forest Green Rovers who, after a difficult start to life in the Football League, are now ‘Moving On Up’ after three straight wins. Chesterfield, meanwhile are rooted to the bottom of the table on nine points, and face an uphill struggle if they’re to avoid back-to-back relegations.
Police Officer: Excuse me, are you James Peter Greaves?
Greavsie: Here we go…go on then, have you got a pen? Who shall I make it out to?
Police Officer: No Mr Greaves, I’m afraid you’re under arrest for sexual harassment.
Saint: Oh no, officer. I’m afraid there’s been a mistake.
Police Officer: You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.
Greavsie: Oh stone the crows, Saint! I can’t get banged up, not at my age!
Saint: Jimmy, stay calm. Just remember – do not implicate me in this. I’ve got mouths to feed at home. We’ll sort this out, don’t worry. In the meantime, readers, join us next month to find out how Greavsie wriggles out of this one.