As the nights quickly draw in and late afternoons disappear under a blanket of darkness, the scent of burning firewood can be detected at S&G Towers, where two pensioners in the winter of their lives get together from time to time to swap stories of yore over a glass of mulled wine. And if they’re still awake after 7pm they’ll be able to catch up on the EFL action and give us the highlights. It’s Saint and Greavsie’s monthly roundup.
Saint: And then what happened?
Greavsie: Well this porky looking Bobby slammed my head down on the table and started giving it all mouth. “Come on Greavsie, tell us where the money is! We know you know!” and I’m shouting “I’m no grass! You’d have to kill me before I told you” and he fires back, quick as a flash “If I killed you, you’d be dead, and that would be no use to either of us” and I said “You’re bang right, so don’t you let me go you fascist.” Then he let go of me, and they banged me in a cell for two weeks, eating nothing but a slice of dry bread everyday, washed down with a single glass of water. By the time I eventually got out I must have lost two stone. Oh it was ‘orrible, Saint.
Saint: Okay. I’m a bit confused because I thought you got taken it for sexual assault? And what you’ve just described sounds like some kind of underground crime ring.
Greavsie: Sexual assault? I don’t think so, mate. You wouldn’t find my silver tongue working its way into crevices that haven’t invited it, asleep or awake. Anyway, so they let me out of the station, I take one step outside and then I just drop and drop and drop and I keep falling. Then I woke up.
Saint: Have you just spent the last hour describing a dream to me, Jimmy?
Greavsie: Yeah, course. What else did you think I was talking about?
Saint: Well I thought we were addressing the matter of you being arrested last month…what happened there?
Greavsie: Oh, that. I just bunged the PC a wad of cash and he let me go on my way.
Saint: So why haven’t I see you in the last month?
Greavsie: I’ve just had other things on, Saint. My life doesn’t solely revolve around you, y’know.
Saint: (hurt) Oh, I see. Well, shall we take a look at the Football League action from November?
Greavsie: I see the second division is still being led by that team from the Black Country, or as I like to call it the br…
Saint: You can’t say that Jim! I’ve told you this before.
Greavsie: What? What did I say?
Saint: It’s called The Championship. It hasn’t been the second division since we were taken off the air by those money-grabbing bastards at ITV.
Greavsie: Oh, my apologies Saint. Anyway, Wolverhampton are top of the league I see.
Saint: That’s right, Jim. Nuno Santo’s team show no sign of letting up, with thirteen goals in November and an impressive 4-1 win over Leeds strengthening their hold on top spot. Ivan Cavaliero was Wolves’ star man last month with four goals and they’re now 7 points clear of the playoff places.
Greavsie: And who might we find in there, Saint? Anyone inside the M25?
Saint: I’m afraid not. Sheffield United continued their excellent season with two wins and a draw, while Aston Villa have continued their good form to work their way into fourth. Derby County are the new entries this month, taking seven points from three tough games, including an excellent 3-0 win away at Middlesbrough.
Greavsie: Any joy for Londoners?
Saint: Well its been another mixed bag of a month, with the highlights being Fulham’s extraordinary 5-4 win at Bramall Lane, which saw 17 year old Ryan Sessegnon bag a hat-trick. Can you believe that? I can’t even remember being 17.
Greavsie: I can’t even remember being 70, Saint. I didn’t take leaving my sixties well. Went out on the drink. Next thing I knew, I was 71. Lost a whole year. I couldn’t believe it.
Saint: Well that’s…heartbreaking, Jimmy. But perhaps we could save it for another time. Elsewhere there was a dramatic London derby on Monday at Loftus Road between QPR and Brentford who both needed the points.
Greavsie: Why not give them both the points, that’s what I say. A team in need is a team indeed.
Saint: That’s not really how it works though, is it? Anyway, in the 90th minute Brentford were leading 2-0 only to be pegged back by two quickfire goals. An incredible game!
Greavsie: I sometimes wonder what I could have done with that extra year. Could’ve learnt Chinese. We’ll all be talking Chinese soon, you know.
Saint: …And it was a better month for Sunderland, who appointed former Wales manager Chris Coleman as their new coach. ‘Cookie’, to his friends, managed to get a win in his second game in charge, away at Burton, earning Sunderland their first victory since August. Terrific stuff. They are, however, still in the relegation zone. But I tell you what, with a man in charge that can get to the semi-final of a European Championship with Ashley Williams in defence, they won’t be down there for much longer. Shall we move on to League One?
Greavsie: I think I’ve got the wrong table here, Saint. Must be Rugby League or something. Wigan Athletic, top? No, no. This can’t be right.
Saint: It certainly is, Jimmy. After weeks of threatening to, the Latics have knocked the Shrews of their perch and taken pole position in the league. And all that despite losing at home to Bradford early in the month. Shrewsbury, too, were beaten by the Bantams, which along with their defeat at Bury saw them drop valuable points. Bradford now find themselves within touching distance of the automatic places.
Greavsie: I think you’ve mixed up your metaphors there, Saint. You don’t find a shrew on a perch. Perches are for birds. You’d find a shrew in a hole, I would assume. It’s like a mouse isn’t it. So rather than the shrews being knocked off their perch, you could say they were…I don’t know, chased back into their holes. Could sound a bit rude though.
Saint: Fair point.
Greavsie: Who else has had a good month?
Saint: Well Blackburn Rovers, who many expected to storm this league but have so far struggled, managed to go unbeaten in November, posting three impressive results away at Bury and Oxford and at home to Bristol Rovers. Wigan might be looking over their shoulders.
Saint: Still in the playoffs, but a defeat at third-placed Scunthorpe has put the knockers on them a little bit. There’s still a wee gap between them and the chasing pack, but Portsmouth have shot up from mid-table looking to crash the playoff party.
Greavsie: Who’s had it all go wrong?
Saint: Rotherham managed to go through November picking up only a point, which has seen them drop to twelfth. Last year’s promotion contenders Fleetwood haven’t done much better either, with only two points from four games. Things are certainly hotting up towards the bottom though.
Greavsie: They usually do, Saint. Ask my wife.
Saint: Steady on, Jim. Rochdale have dragged themselves out of trouble with a win over Peterborough, but everyone stuck in the mire is picking up points. Six points apiece for Plymouth and Gillingham haven’t been enough to get them out of the drop zone, but Bristol Rovers, with one win in five, are dropping like a stone.
Greavsie: They’re called ‘The Gas’ aren’t they?
Saint: Bristol Rovers? Aye that’s their nickname.
Greavsie: Where did that stem from then?
Saint: Well there used to be a gasworks next to their old stadium, and rival fans of Bristol City used to use ‘the gas’ as terrace insult. Seeing as they hate City so much, and just to antagonise them, the Rovers fans took it on
Greavsie: Fascinating. Nothing to do with Nazis then?
Saint: No, Jimmy. Shall we swiftly move on?
Greavsie: I’m sorry to tell you, Saint. But Barnet are in the bottom two.
Saint: Yes it doesn’t look good for the Bees does it. I suppose you’ll be disappointed with that?
Greavsie: Well it’s a shame, but I doubt I’m as disappointed as you.
Saint: Why would I be disappointed that Barnet are in the bottom two?
Greavsie: Well you used to play for them didn’t you?
Saint: No, YOU played for Barnet. You mention it every month. You’re always asking about them, always looking out for their results.
Greavsie: I was sure you used to play for them.
Saint: No, Jim. I never played for Barnet.
Greavsie: Nor did I.
Saint: YES YOU DID. Look, forget about it. Barnet are in the bottom two, along with Chesterfield, though they have managed to make up some ground on the teams above them, having survived November unbeaten. There’s a cluster of teams only three points ahead of the Spirites, and you’d fancy perhaps Crewe to be dragged into trouble given their current form. One win and three defeats will not get you to safety.
Greavsie: Less of this talk about relegation to non-league. It’s making me depressed.
Saint: Well how about the joint leaders at the top of the table. Notts County have been reeled in by the excellent Luton Town, who’s midfielder Olly Lee scored from his own half this month! Fun fact for you Jim, the two sides of Luton’s ground are actually at different addresses, so Lee managed to score from a different postcode! Isn’t that amazing?
Greavsie: What’s a postcode?
Saint: I’ll explain later. Luton have now scored an extraordinary 48 goals already this season, helped tremendously by a 7-0 win against Cambridge, and you wouldn’t put it past them to register treble figures come the end of the season.
Greavsie: How are the playoffs shaping up?
Saint: Well, Coventry’s fall from grace looks to have been halted as they sit in sixth, and Mansfield Town are the big risers this month as three wins and a draw have brought them bang into the top 6. Great starts by Newport County and Swindon Town are now a distant memory, with both slipping out of contention.
Greavsie: Anymore for anymore? Or can I get started on this whiskey?
Saint: Fill your boots, Jim. NO NOT LITERALLY. For goodness sake. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you in the new year!