And now the time is near, and so they face their final curtain. Having enjoyed one final swansong looking over the Football League, Saint & Greavsie’s final column is here. They’re back to cast an eye over the action in April, and give us a preview of what to look out for in this weekend’s final EFL fixtures of the season. That’s Liquid Football would like to extend their thanks to both Ian and Jimmy, and congratulate Saint on his new job with P&O. So, for one last time, here’s Saint & Greavsie’s EFL Roundup.
Greavsie: Please, Saint. Please tell me it isn’t so.
Saint: Jim, come on. Don’t be like this. Everything’s going to be fine.
Greavsie: I really don’t think it is. Everything’s going to change. You know I don’t cope well with change.
Saint: Hey, come on. Look at yourself. Look at everything you’ve achieved. You’ve adapted to life in the 21st century, despite growing up in the post-war years. Nothing can hold you back, Jim.
Greavsie: I just don’t know how I’m going to go on.
Saint: It’ll be fine. Things will feel different for a couple of weeks, but before you know it you’ll have forgotten that things changed at all.
Greavsie: I just don’t see the point anymore, Saint.
Saint: Jimmy. Everything comes to an end. Life must go on.
Greavsie: But Boyzone have been a constant for so many years. Those little Irish scamps with their infectious pop tunes. Sure they haven’t been very prolific in recent years, but how can they throwaway something that was…So Good.
Greavsie: I honestly thought Ronan and the lads would be going long after I was six feet under. I thought they’d stick together…No Matter What.
Greavsie: Those radio-friendly songs were often great company for me. Many’s the time where I sat there and thought ‘this is…All That I Need’. But I guess, When The Going Gets Tough, Keith and Mikey’s promises to carry on making music were just empty…Words.
Saint: You’re upset about Boyzone?
Greavsie: Isn’t It A Wonder they’ve chosen now to announce it, right at the end of the season. Strange really.
Saint: Bloody Boyzone?
Greavsie: You know, latterly they were the Key To My Life. I suppose I’ll have to find someone else to enjoy. What are Westlife up to?
Saint: Err, I think they broke up years ago. I thought you were upset because I was leaving?
Saint: I got the job on the cruise ship! I’m going to be a singer!
Greavsie: Oh right, well. That’s a turn up for the books isn’t it.
Saint: You don’t seem too bothered?
Greavsie: Well, I’m still feeling pretty low from the Boyzone news to be honest, Saint. I can only process one loss at a time, you know.
Greavsie: I tell you what, let’s cheer each other up – how about we have a look at what’s going on in the football league.
Saint: For one last time?
Greavsie: I should think so, yes.
Saint: Ach, go on then.
Greavsie: Those sneaky little Wolves have done it!
Saint: Indeed they have. The Black Country will have a representative in the Premier League next season, after Nuno Santo’s side confirmed their promotion and the title win with a crushing win at Bolton. To be fair it was never really in doubt – Wolves have lost just six times this season, and look certain to break the 100 points barrier on the final day. Regardless of the criticism they’ve received for courting Jorge Mendes and breaking the bank for talent, it still takes plenty of nous to win this league, so they deserve plenty of credit.
Greavsie: And it means those bloody Welshies didn’t get their dirty mitts on the trophy!
Saint: Ah, no. However the second promotion spot is still up for grabs, and Cardiff are in pole position. April wasn’t the most straightforward of months for Neil Warnock and the Bluebirds, and the bizarre end to the game against Wolves suggested things might be starting to unravel…
Greavsie: What happened there then, Saint?
Saint: Well Ruben Neves has given Wolves the lead in the second half, but all hell broke loose in stoppage time when Gary Madine was bundled over in the penalty area by Conor Coady, and Cardiff had a chance to score a dramatic equaliser from the spot.
Greavsie: And did they?
Saint: No, Madine himself got up and hit a penalty towards the bottom corner, but John Ruddy was able to save it.
Greavsie: Gordon Bennett!
Saint: Oh, but it got worse. Three minutes later – and we’re now into the sixth minute of stoppage time – Ivan Cavaleiro fouled Aron Gunnarsson, and the Bluebirds had another penalty!
Greavsie: You’re joking!
Saint: I’m not. Now, you can probably guess what happened. Junior Hoilett stepped up and crashed the ball against the crossbar.
Saint: It really was. Even then the drama wasn’t over as, when the full time whistle went, Santo was too busy doing a jig of delight with his players to notice Warnock coming over for a handshake.
Greavsie: I bet old Colin didn’t like that.
Saint: Indeed he didn’t. Next thing he was filmed effing and jeffing as Santo tried to shake his hand. Quite the palaver!
Greavsie: Sounds like the kind of thing that can cause your season to collapse.
Saint: Indeed it does, but Cardiff rallied, and despite losing to Derby County all they have to do on the final day is beat Reading – themselves needing a point to ensure safety.
Greavsie: And who else is fighting for second?
Saint: You’ll be pleased to hear it’s a side from the capital, Jim.
Greavsie: Oh thank gawd. It’s not Leyton Orient is it?
Saint: Err, no, no it’s not. It’s old Fulham!
Greavsie: Ohhh, old Fulham. Marvellous.
Saint: Indeed, the signing of Aleksander Mitrovic in January has propelled the Cottagers to within touching distance of a Premier League return, but even with a remarkable 23 game unbeaten run behind them, their fate lies in the hands of Paul Clement’s side. All they can do is win their final game, away at Birmingham City – who also need a point to guarantee safety – and hope for the best.
Greavsie: Blimey. It’s all very exciting innit. What about down the bottom?
Saint: Well Sunderland have been relegated and are assured of bottom spot, and Bolton Wanderers have hit an atrocious patch of form just at the wrong time, which has seen them sink into 23rd. The final spot looks like being between Burton Albion and Barnsley. Now, Burton looked dead and buried a month ago, but three wins on the spin have brought them level on points with the Tykes. All they have to do is better their rivals result on the final day in order to achieve an unlikely great escape.
Greavsie: Any chance of that?
Saint: Well, in a remarkable twist of fate, those two sides will face off against the teams contesting the other key position on the final day. Barnsley travel to Derby County, who have been trying their best to fall out of the playoffs in recent weeks. As it is, a draw on the final day will be enough to secure sixth place. Meanwhile, Burton go to Preston, who know only a win gives them any chance of a place in the playoffs. Whatever happens, these two games are going to be unmissable on the final day.
Greavsie: Strike a light! I’ve never seen such drama. Any more available in League One?
Saint: Well there’s the small matter of the league title to be decided, after Wigan and Blackburn both secured promotion in April. It’s the Latics in the driving seat, but they’ve spluttered a little in recent weeks, with last weekend’s draw at home to relegation threatened Wimbledon a massive chance to win the league blown. They travel to Doncaster Rovers on the final day, who’ve nothing to play for – though Darren Ferguson won’t waste the chance to poop a party.
Greavsie: Well his Dad did have form for that. I remember being at one of Lee Sharpe’s barbecues once, and Alex walked in and literally pissed on Lee’s bonfire. The Scot produced a remarkable amount of liquid to be fair.
Saint: …Blackburn, meanwhile, host Oxford United who, would you believe, sit just a point ahead of Doncaster. With the talent at their disposal I’d expect Wigan to get the job done, but you never know.
Greavsie: You certainly don’t, Saint. You certainly don’t. What’s the relegation picture looking like?
Saint: Well Bury were buried a while ago, and MK Dons joined them last weekend, meaning they’ll be appearing in the fourth tier of English football for the first time in their history.
Greavsie: Oh, that’s a shame.
Saint: Ah pish is it! The franchise have been on a collision course for failure ever since they first dragged the Crazy Gang outside of the M25. Now, in a remarkable twist of fate, AFC Wimbledon – the phoenix team necessitated by MK Dons very existence, will be playing at a higher level than the club that usurped them.
Greavsie: Are Northampton Town staying up? You said last month that Hassleback would keep them in the league. Which is why I went and put a pony on it.
Saint: How much is a pony exactly? Twenty quid? Fifty?
Greavsie: No, I put an actual pony on it. Stole it from my granddaughter. I’m due to win twelve ponies back – she’s going to be ecstatic!
Greavsie: I’ve even started building a paddock for them. Reckon I might be able to race them you know.
Saint: The thing is, Jim, days after I made that bold prediction, Hasselbaink was sacked. And now, barring a miracle, Northampton are down.
Greavsie: Oh dear…
Saint: Yes, quite. But Rochdale and Oldham are still in the mix, with the other Latics heading to Northampton while the Dale host Charlton. It’s a tricky one to call this, but I quite fancy Rochdale to pull it off you know.
Greavsie: Are you sure?
Saint: Well it’s a gut feeling.
Greavsie: Brilliant, I’m off down the bookies. I need to win this horse back pronto.
Saint: Shall we finish this before you go?
Greavsie: (sighing) If you insist…
Saint: Well most of the business towards the top end of the table has been sewn up in League Two. Accrington Stanley…
Saint: …have won the league, while Luton Town and Wycombe Wanderers take the two other automatic promotion spots. There’s a modicum of peril surrounding the last playoff place, with Lincoln City needing to avoid defeat at home t Yeovil Town to guarantee an extension to their season. If they don’t, then Mansfield Town may well steal in ahead of them, with the Stags hosting Crawley Town.
Greavsie: So that’s it then? Right, I’ll get me coat…
Saint: Hold on! There’s one more matter to be decided in the Football League this season, and I think you’re going to be interested.
Greavsie: Really? What’s that then?
Saint: Well, remember when we thought Barnet were destined for relegation?
Saint: Well Mad Dog Martin Allen has only gone and resuscitated the little blighters hasn’t he? The Bees now sit two points away from safety, thanks to a run of three wins and a draw, and they face already relegated Chesterfield on the final day.
Greavsie: Oh my word! So who’s standing in their way?
Saint: Well the side they’ll be hoping to leapfrog are Morecambe, who head to Coventry having failed to win a game throughout April. The Shrimps have got goal difference on their side, so unless Barnet absolutely wallop Chesterfield, a draw will do for them. Plus the Sky Blues have been inconsistent at the Ricoh Arena recently – though they too will be looking to secure a playoff place with a point. Either way, it’s all to play for.
Greavsie: Did I ever tell you about the time I played for Barnet, Saint?
Saint: Oh for…(pauses). Actually, no you didn’t Jim.
Greavsie: Well it says on my Wickedpedia that I played for Barnet. But I can’t remember it for the life of me. I do remember being bald at the start of the 1980s though. Just goes to show, life isn’t always Barnet Fair is it?
Saint: Hohoho, very good Jim.
Greavsie: Well I spose that’s it then, Saint.
Saint: Yep. It’s been a pleasure old boy.
Greavsie: I wish you the best of luck, sailing the seven seas and partaking in the juiciest of clams.
Saint: Hmm, a bit coarse, but I appreciate the sentiment.
Greavsie: Come on you daft old sod, let’s have a cuddle.
Saint: Och, go on then.
Police Officer: Mr Greaves?
Police Officer: Mr. James Peter Greaves?
Greavsie: That’s me.
Police Officer: I’m arresting you under suspicion of fleeing legal custody on a charge of sexual assault. 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: This is a wind up isn’t it? Saint?
Greavsie: Surely not. They let me go! Come on, where’s Beadle? Beadle! BEADLE?!
Police Officer: And you, sir. Ian St John is it?
Saint: That’s correct aye.
Police Officer: I’m arresting you for harbouring a fugitive.
Saint: Och, you’re joking.
Police Officer: I’m afraid not, sir. Please if you’d like to accompany me down at the station for questioning.
Saint: I…I can’t! I’m supposed to be getting on a cruise ship this afternoon! I’ve got a new job! I’m going to meet Jane McDonald!
Police Officer: I’m afraid you’re going nowhere Mr St. John. And you’re certainly not leaving the country.
Saint: This can’t be happening. Jimmy! You said they’d let you off scot free!
Greavsie: Well I got back here didn’t I?
Saint: You stupid ******* ****! I can’t ******* believe this! I’m going to ******* kill you, you ******* *******, you complete ******!
Greavsie: Well there’s no need for that kind of language. Anyway, thanks for reading this season! And enjoy your summer, boys and girls!
Police Officer: Who are you talking to?