The smell of Brussels sprouts may continue to linger into the Spring, and the large consumption of brandy shows no sign of letting up, but on the bluster of a New Year’s Day, what better way to start 2018 in style than checking in on our Football League experts Saint and Greavsie, and getting the lowdown on December’s action?
Saint: (singing) Should Old Acquaintance be forgot, and never thought upon; The flames of Love extinguished, and fully past and gone: Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold, that loving Breast of thine; That thou canst never once reflect on Auld Lang Syne. Altogether now, Jimmy!
Greavsie: (groaning) Ohhh…what day is it? Is it Christmas Day?
Saint: Hohoho. No. That was over a week ago now, Jim. Did you have a good Christmas?
Greavsie: A WEEK? I’ve been passed out for a whole week? Stone the bleedin’ crows, Saint.
Saint: Are you being serious? You slept through both Christmas and that week in between Christmas and New Year and New Year’s Eve? That doesn’t sound like you.
Greavsie: Are you ‘avin a giraffe? You know full well that’s the 25th year on the trot that I’ve slept through Christmas. Bleedin’ hell, Saint. My head don’t half hurt. My mouth’s as dry as Gandhi’s flip-flop. And I’ve gone and missed bleedin’ Christmas! What a melt I am.
Saint: Ah, nevermind Jim. You didn’t miss much. Same old rubbish on telly. Queen’s Speech. Turkey roast.
Greavsie: I love a turkey roast, Saint. And the Queen. She might be in her nineties but she still looks a sort to me. She’s what you’d call a GGILF.
Saint: Does that mean what I think it means?
Greavsie: Yeah, of course. Gorgeous Girl I’ve Loved Forever.
Saint: Hmm. Right you are. Shall we see what happened in the Football League during December?
Greavsie: You might have to help me out with the last week or so…
Saint: Not a problem, Jim. I’ve got your back.
Greavsie: Wolves still flying at the top I see.
Saint: Aye, but the biggest story of the month has been Bristol City’s surge up the table. Four wins in December, and they even knocked the mighty Manchester United out of the Milk Cup.
Greavsie: Cor, I bet Fergie weren’t happy about that. I bet he gave Paul McGrath and Norman Whiteside a right old mouthful at full time.
Saint: Err, well we can only hope. The goals of Jamie Paterson, nine so far this season, has propelled the Robins into automatic promotion contention, though a defeat at home to Wolves on Saturday saw them drop to third. The team spirit fostered by Lee Johnson has played a massive part in the team’s leap up the table and they’ve also seen their goal celebration GIFs go viral!
Greavsie: Their what?
Saint: Goal celebration GIFs. They’ve gone viral.
Greavsie: What the hell’s a GIFs?
Saint: A GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format if you ask those boffins down at Google HQ, is like a small moving image you can post on the internet.
Greavsie: What, like the talkies?
Saint: No, no. There’s no sound, just a moving image. Look here’s one.
Greavsie: That’s just a computer generated naked baby dancing around. Are you allowed to be looking at that, you nonce?
Saint: It’s okay…it’s not. It’s just a picture. I downloaded it for research. C’mon Jim. There’s nothing illegal going on here.
Greavsie: If you say so.
Saint: Anyway, uh, shall we see how the London clubs are doing?
Greavsie: Don’t tell me, load of all Toshack?
Saint: Well, pretty much yes. Fulham and Brentford are both midtable, having won three times each in December, while Millwall have started to climb the table after edging out QPR at The New Den. Rangers are in danger of falling towards the relegation places, having won only once this month.
Greavsie: But there’s a load of old rubbish down there, surely they’ll not catch the mighty hoops?
Saint: Well you might be right there, Jim. Sunderland looked to have turned a corner when they recorded their first home win in 364 days against, of all teams, Fulham…
Greavsie: Oh for gawd’s sake.
Saint: And a win at Nottingham Forest on Saturday took them out of the relegation zone, at the expense of Burton Albion. The Brewers are joined by Bolton Wanderers and a Birmingham City side that looked destined for the drop.
Greavsie: What’s gone on there, then?
Saint: Well, the new owners have come in and replaced what was a very competent and promising manager in Gary Rowett – who’s Derby County side are sitting pretty in the playoffs – with consecutively worse ones. Gianfranco Zola was a bizarre appointment and didn’t last six months, and Harry Redknapp was out on his ear after a poor start to the season. Steve Cotterill has won only three of his first 13 games in charge, including Saturday’s win over Leeds. It’s a bleeding mess.
Greavsie: Oh dear, oh dear. Shall we take a look at the league they’ll be competing in next season then?
Saint: Well, if they do go down, Birmingham City are unlikely to come up against Wigan Athletic as they currently have a comfortable lead at the top of the table, and haven’t conceded a league goal in December. They also went to Oxford and won 7-0, which is no mean feat.
Greavsie: How are “The Shrews” getting on?
Saint: Still in second, Jim, and holding off the challenge of Blackburn Rovers who’ve won four of their last five and surged into third after a tricky adjustment period in the third tier. The goals of summer signing Bradley Dack from midfield have helped Rovers hit over 40 already this season, and they boast the second most potent attack in the league.
Greavsie: Any other success stories from December, Saint?
Saint: Well the two P’s – Peterborough and Portsmouth – both leapfrogged Charlton to take their places in and around the playoffs. In Jack Marriott and Brett Pitman they possess two of the best hitmen in the league.
Greavsie: Oh you can’t go around killing people just to win football matches.
Saint: No, it’s just a metaphor Jim. They’re not actual hitmen.
Greavsie: I was a hitman once, you know.
Saint: Of course I know, you’re Tottenham Hotspur’s greatest ever goalscorer!
Greavsie: No, I mean an actual hitman.
Saint: What…you killed people for money?
Greavsie: Well, I never killed anyone and I didn’t get paid. But still, the thought was there.
Saint: Oh, right. Anyway. Yes, Charlton have had a bad month, going five without a win and dropping out of the playoffs. Down at the bottom, Bury and Rochdale now prop up the league after Northampton’s form picked up, while AFC Wimbledon occupy the third play-off position. A win against Peterborough at the weekend lifted MK Dons away from the relegation scrap.
Greavsie: Weren’t Plymouth bottom not so long ago?
Saint: That’s right, Jim. But an excellent month for the Pilgrims – three wins and two draws – has lifted them out of the relegation zone and four points clear. A great time to be from England’s tail!
Greavsie: You’re disgusting sometimes, you know that? Let’s just move on.
Saint: Luton Town and Notts County are still flying high at the top of League Two, but the remarkable story of the month has been the rise of Lincoln City.
Greavsie: Little old Lincoln City?
Saint: Aye, little old Lincoln City who were only promoted back to the football league this season.
Greavsie: Little old Lincoln City who got to the FA Cup Quarter-Finals last year?
Saint: Aye, little old Lincoln City who knocked out Brighton and Burnley on their way to the sixth round.
Greavsie: Never heard of ‘em.
Saint: Hoho, well, if you hadn’t heard of them before then you will have now.
Greavsie: Why’s that?
Saint: Because I’m literally telling you about them. Five wins in December has put them in a great position to earn back to back promotions, and they’ve got a sturdy backline to thank having conceded just two goals all month. Combined with the goals of Harry Anderson, manager Danny Cowley will be hoping this exceptional run of form continues into the New Year.
Greavsie: What else has been going on?
Saint: Swindon haven’t had it all their own way this month with three defeats, meaning they drop out of the playoffs and are currently marooned in mid-table. Accrington Stanley, who’d been up near the top of the table since the start of the season, endured an awful December, but redeemed themselves with a win over Grimsby that saw them cling on to a playoff place.
Greavsie: And down the bottom?
Saint: That vegan friendly club Forest Green Rovers have fallen to the bottom of the pile after failing to win a game last month, which has meant Chesterfield and Barnet are now both one place higher in the league.
Greavsie: Well that’s what you get for refusing protein in your diet. Those players will probably be wasting away living on carrots and rabbit droppings.
Saint: I’m not sure rabbit droppings are vegan friendly, Jim.
Greavsie: Well what is these days? Can’t people just be normal? It’s health and safety gone mad.
Saint: Any comment on Barnet?
Greavsie: To be honest, Saint, that joke has more than run its course and I’ve got five kilos of leftover turkey to get stuck into, so if you want to pontificate any further on the football league, do it in your own time.
Saint: Ah, oh, well. Right you are. Enjoy your turkey, you rotten old soak. And we’ll see you in a month’s time to find out what the new year has brought to your club. Any resolutions, Jim?
Greavsie: Piss off.