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Well, here we are again.
After an absence of a year, your grizzled old ex-Pres gets talked/bribed into once again casting his jaundiced eye over the detritus from the weekend’s auctions. As ever, it comes ahead of our first transfer deadline and near-as-dammit a month before the transfer window closes so there’s plenty of time for the picture to change – and dramatically – before we get into the meat of the season. But let’s see what hands we’ve dealt ourselves, shall we?
Always the hardest to call, the top flight promises to be quite tight once again. Rensenbrink op de Paal, though, look to have done well at the auction and have a balanced squad that should go close. There won’t be much in the way of fireworks but we should see a steady and regular Cliff Thorburn-style accumulation of points. Pushing them hard, I think, will be Knickson Meatballs who are currently just behind them on quality. There’s plenty more flash in the Meatballs ranks but a few more passengers, as well. The third of the podium-botherers may just prove to be A Load of Bull, with some decent depth to a squad that doesn’t need much of a tweak. There’s a little bit of everything about the Bullies … other than a truly convincing defence but there’s nothing wrong with it that a couple of smart moves in the transfer market won’t address.
At the wrong end of the table, it’s surprising to see reigning champions Dynamo Doetinchem looking to be in a little bit of bother and a tad light on numbers but it’s a difficult conclusion to avoid. There’s some talent there but it’s painfully stretched and additional signings will be critical. Also in trouble are Vemb Sh!tkickers, who will be desperately hoping Gareth Bale stays at Tottenham but may not have enough in the tank even if he does, despite the towering presence of Nicklas Bendtner in the ranks. And last season’s top points-scorer, of course. Doing their utmost to avoid joining that pair will be Arsene About Face, who’ve left themselves with quite a lot to do in the transfer market. That said, they could be okay if Ricky Lambert avoids second-season striker syndrome and someone else ends up with a team of crocks.
In the second tier, The Fascist Regime look to be definite contenders to finally achieve the rarified heights of the top division. It’s certainly not done and dusted but one or two more signings could see them prove very hard to catch. There’s a lot of promise about the Go Behind Seagulls squad, too. The back five might be an Achilles’s heel but there’s time enough to patch it up and the team looks strong enough elsewhere to mount a serious challenge. It promises to be a right old tear-up for that last promotion place but, despite there being cases to be made for both Levi’s Lizards and The Impresarios of Spank, my money would probably be on Willing But Unable FC to complete the triumvirate. If I was willing to lay money on it. Which I’m not. But they do have a nicely-balanced squad with points written all over it.
Down among the dead men, Aveebeck’s Wester Park Rangers’ professed intention to avoid signing a bunch of tea-drinking layabouts appears to have gone a bit tits up and a good third of the squad aren’t likely to be climbing off the bench all that often. There may be enough points forthcoming from the remainder but it’s a dangerous game to play. Waggling Nosferatu are unlikely to be able to coast this season, either. Struggling to amass loads of striker appearances and with limited goals in the rest of the squad, I think they’re going to need some canny purchases in the sales to avoid the drop. As usual, it looks like there’ll be a couple of sides fighting to avoid the last relegation place until late in the season but, right now, things are looking less than sunny for ClassactsUsingNorthernTacticS. They’ve got half a decent squad, which doesn’t always equate to a half-decent squad, and their shopping nous will need to come to the rescue.
It’s looking as if we may finally see some signs of hope returning at Grandstand FC, following years of mismanagement and despair. A couple of handy strikers, a solid-looking defence and a passable midfield should be a recipe for happy days at the Gramps. Behind the favourites, I can see there being a major tussle for the remaining two podium finishes with Quattro Stagioni finishing just ahead of their rivals. There’s certainly a little bit of work to be done still – finding at least some back-up for the side’s Cardiff City centre back probably the highest priority among them – but it’s a side that looks full of goals to this here pundit. Third among equals would look to be Marching On Together but it will be a close-run thing. The Togs are another side without any obvious imbalance and should be more than capable of keeping the score ticking over nicely, week on week.
Then we get into trap door territory and the standout candidates for this year’s wooden spoon have to beBoyd’s Left Boot. The heart has wrestled the head screaming to the ground with this ex-Posh boy-heavy squad and it’s easy to see the two Man City boys working a pair of lonely furrows for much of the season. If anyone’s going to prevent the Boots from taking the prize, it’ll probably be The Stuff of Legend, as the two Peterborough Poms battle it out for the dubious honour of finishing in the basement’s fifteenth spot. Only fellow Antipodeans Hot Shot Hamish FC look to be in with much of a shout of gazzumping them, in what could be an interesting local squabble. Both the Legends and the Hotshots suffer from a shortage of regular contributors, as far as I can see, and will need to ship out some dead wood if they plan to compete higher up the table.
So there you have it. The view from here. There’s no need to feel left out if your side hasn’t been mentioned. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re capable of bothering the movers at either end of whatever division you’re in but simply how I see things shaping up straight after the auction. Go ahead and prove me right/wrong, why don’t you?
The draft dates are on different days this year – please note the following:
Div 1: Saturday 3 August @ 1 pm Amsterdam time
Div 2: Sunday 4 August @ 2 pm Amsterdam time
Div 3: Saturday 3 August @ 9 am Amsterdam time
If you can’t make the draft you will need to notify the committee as soon as possible. Also it would be advisable to get someone else to draft for you if you can to save hassle for others
I’ve posted up the photos from the 2013 AGM as well as the Summer AGM to Kiev as I was lucky enough to attend both, camera in hand. You’ll find them under the socials button just up there on the right – enjoy!
After a very successful 2013 Summer AGM to the beautiful city of Kiev (photographs to follow) we are happy to announce the picking order for the 2013/2014 draft. Dates are still being thrashed out but once confirmed this is the order you will be selecting in. Best of luck one and all!
1 Peter Kjaer
4 John W.
8 Mike C
11 Peter R.
14 Paul C.
16 Jon & Paul
1 Paul S
6 Pat & Steve
9 Mark & Ivo
1 Liam & Simon
9 Mike D.
13 Mark & Amy
15 Pete S.
Expect the runners and riders, money lists and other business documentation to be forthcoming. Thanks to all for a great season and here’s looking forward to another fun year – cheers!
Four brave individuals responded to the challenge to join Prof. Statto in offering their AMNAS prognostications for the season. As three of them have the title League Champions on their CVs, they must know something about what makes a good team; the fourth is a recent arrival, already upwardly mobile according to the form guide otherwise known as the 2012-13 Runners & Riders.
Judging by the appearance of 41 of our 48 teams on the ballot papers, the power is evenly spread around AMNAS. No team in any division was mentioned by all the tipsters at either end of the table, but I’m looking forward to Per and James meeting at an AGM. They foresaw Team A finishing 2nd and 15th repectively, and Team B ending up 15th and 1st!
General agreement about the fancied teams, but confusion at the bottom. Of the total 15 votes for success, four teams – the ‘Nanas, Knicks, Rowdies and Hawks – had three each, with the ‘Nanas ahead on first-place votes. Two of our tipsters backed their own teams, and why not, given their histories? There’s no uniformity at the other end of the scale where 10 names were mentioned, including five different bottom-feeders and three who are also among the Top Tips. Fans of German Expressionist cinema of the 1920s will be familiar with F.W. Murnau’s classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, which neatly sums up the opinion of Alan’s team from three of our judges.
Only 12 nominations at each end, but overall, 13 teams featured. At the Wrong End, one appeared three times. Those of you accustomed to driving in the UK will know the term M.O.T Fail. Those who aren’t will get the idea with a glance at the table. Five had a pair of votes at the Right End, where Vemb were the crème, but two vigilantes were anti-Danté. Are their points expectations scanty? Calypso, formerly residents on the Down Escalator in the Chairman’s Tips, also featured….and Vemb were there too. Something’s got to give.
No confusion here. There was clear water between seven expected to contend, and a less-magnificent seven who were seen as potential Wooden Spoonists. Consensus? It’s an Allstars-Bubbles title race with the Lizards in the Arsenal role. New boys Ron and Hamish are expected to gain their experience the hard way, looking upwards from the bottom, with the Boatmen for company.
Per – Knicks
F. L’E. W.
Mike – Rowdies
James – Stags
Mark – Elines
Per – Knicks
James – Stags
Mark – Elines
Per – Knicks
James – Stags
Mark – Elines
Statto will provide a mid-season update as to who shows signs of having the All-Seeing Eye, and who’d be better off closing his eyes and sticking a pin in a piece of paper. The season’s best / least-worst will be announced to tumultous indifference in May.
Here’s the AMNAS version of the old pub argument – who are going to be the top dogs, and who’s for the drop?
Every paper or website you see in August has it’s Prem previews and assessments. Our pal Prof. Statto has his own ideas too, but he’s the first to admit that predicting the future is a tougher game than analysing the past. He has no idea if any promoted team is going to go goal-crazy like Blackpool ’10-’11 or reveal a tidy defence like Swansea ’11-’12. He’s guessing which of the imports will turn in Sigurdsson-type performances rather than Chamakhs. He’s flipping a coin as to which of 50 players will be regulars on their manager’s team sheet, and what effect the managerial changes will have. He’s waiting to see where Adebayor, Modric, Dzeko etc end up and who is smiling after the Window shuts.
One thing he does know: while Prem teams have 11 players on the pitch, AMNAS finds that a challenge. Only one team managed it in each of the last two seasons. Piling up the appearances is usually the difference between our table-toppers and the rest. Witness 2011-12 champs the Meatballs: they were #1 in appearances. Div. 2’s Ballweavers? Two appearances short of the most. Div. 3’s Willing? All-AMNAS apps leaders. Watch out for those crocks, gents!
Here we go then:
After assessing the potential points for each of the 16, the Prof reckons you could chuck a blanket over 10 of them, all currently within the 350-360 spread. One decent addition or high profile crock/departure would make the difference between success and mid-table obscurity. Two or three either way will be the difference between podium and relegation. All six tipped teams could easily fail to feature, such is the competiveness of Div. 1. A points spread of less than 100 between champs and chumps is quite conceivable.
Three teams appear marginally better equipped, at least they did on the afternoon of Aug. 16. The Rowdies have bulked up on Sts again and avoided defensive liabilities in the process. If they can make the leap to getting say nine players a week onto the pitch (vs. last season’s atrocious 7.34) they’re a good bet for the upper echelons. Chink in their armour? Half their budget has already gone. There are bags of goals in the Hawks squad, and if any of their questionable Fbs shine, they will have a say in the honours too. There’s not much between those two and the Meatballs.
Following Collier family precedent, the Dark Knights have overdosed on Sts. At least four of their six are going to see plenty of action in the area. The technical area. From behind. And a serious injury to Joe Hart would come in handy for them. At present, The Old Razzle look unlikely to Dazzle, with a disparate mix of unsettled, uncertain and new arrivals among the quality. The Brinks are the Knights in reverse. Their defence contains an unhealthy quotient of onlookers/makeweights which the arrival of Michu may not compensate for. With most of the rest of the D1ers having full wallets and defenders being at a premium, a couple of Cb fatalities on Sep. 2 when Liverpool meet Arsenal would be ideal for Rens.
1. Disco Bay Rowdies
2. Stortebeker Hawks
3. Knicksons Meatballs
14. The Dark Knights
15. The Old Razzle Dazzle
16. Rensenbrink Op De Paal
There’s a bit more variety in the second tier. Dynamo Speedo have a potent squad. Just one good addition will put them in potential-400 pts territory….and their budget is intact. The Fascists are mustard upfront and the Favorites have a cracking defence. It’ll take the vagaries of fitness and transfers to separate them.
If Adebayor and Dzeko remain Prem regulars this season, then On My Own Turf and Djanis Utd will have nothing to worry about. Until that happens, the Prof has them on his Doubtful List….like Greece and Portugal are to Standard & Poors. If Prem subs benches were still of the pine variety, there would be several arse-splinter candidates in the Forest squad. Instead, they’re destined to renew acquaintance with monogrammed padded bucket seats in dugouts up and down the land, though the outcome is the same – not enough appearances.
1. Dynamo Speedo
2. (equal) Fascist Regime / Eline’s Favorites
14. Djarnis Utd.
15. Forest Forever
16. On My Own Turf
The Bubble Blowers have blown their wad early and appear well set, at least until replacements are needed. Levi’s Lizards look likely leadership laterial loo. Sorry, material too. If RvP’s new life at MU works out well, they’ll be contenders. The signing of Michu has temporarily put Saedding GA among the elite, at least in the Prof’s eyes, but as they too have a bank balance of nuppence until Christmas, he’s expecting the Legends to become the more likely podium material by the time the Window shuts.
At the bottom, Hot Shot Hamish and Ron Zacapa have that first-season-learning-curve look while Grandstand are relying on Modric and Adebayor being in the Prem come Sept. 1 to produce anything like a respectable total.
1. Bubble Blowers Deflated
2. Levi’s Lizards
3. The Stuff Of Legend
14. Hot Shot Hamish
16. Ron Zacapa
Now….how about YOU having a go at this tipping lark? Mail your tips, for any division or all, to Andy by midday CET Thurs. Aug. 23. The Committee are scrabbling around down the back of the AMNAS sofa to come up with some prize money, so even if your team is worse than Portsmouth’s, the season might not be a total write-off.
Not long now until Draft Day. Anyone hoping to pick a few pointers out of the ashes of last season might find something of interest here…. Failing that, there’s an opportunity for a chortle at the gaffes and misfortunes of others – ‘cos it ain’t funny when it happens to you.
The divisional comparison.
An explanation for any first-time visitors: all the divisions have the same player pool to choose from, but they utilise it with varying degrees of efficiency. To date, the Div. 1ers have always managed to land the best catch due to a combination of knowledge and making the effort.
Note there’s a change in my table this season: I’ve broken down appearances into Defence and Mf/Sts to see what it tells us about team selection habits. Key to the other right-side columns: Ben = pts gained/lost by players on bench. Tfrs = transfers Sqd = number of drafted players retained. £ = budget unused, in millions.
2011-12 G A CS GA Pts Def. apps Mf/St apps. Total apps. Ben Tfrs Sqd £
Division 1 838 727 714 2531 5049 2184 3206 5390 -10 248 135 12.7
Division 2 826 715 711 2486 4997 2153 3083 5236 -115 199 142 71.8
Division 3 778 668 670 2470 4620 2080 2834 4914 -311 155 158 110
The D2ers ran the Big Boys closer than ever before, with Bench expertise the only thing separating them. For the first time in years, every Div. 2er was a full-time competitor; not so in D3, where five managers adopted what are known in government circles as laissez-faire policies, going absent with inevitable loss of points. More about that below.
The Div. 1ers are still the most likely to throw their draftees overboard, use their budgets and lose less points when it comes to choosing subs. They also used the lowest percentage of defenders. The D3ers were the opposite in all those categories, leaving the D2ers neatly in the middle. (Do your ideas about tactics and formations change as you go up/down the divisions? I’d be interested to know.) Despite giving D1 a hundred points Bench advantage, the D2ers actually came out best in in points-per-appearance, but in our game, quantity beats quality.
Either we all drafted a little more astutely, or the Free List was bare: compared with 2010-11, we kept 10% more of our draftees.
With the exception of a couple of words, last season’s comment still applies:
‘All three divisions maintained their transfer profile of the two previous seasons: D1 managers were the most frequent visitors to the Thursday sales, while D3’s were the opposite. D2’s managers sat in the middle, though for the first time, they were the biggest spenders. The lack of defenders worth buying led to a big reduction in the number of transfers and an inflation in player values.’
The only change from that is D1 returned to their customary position as the biggest spenders.
The 2011-12 transfers totalled 602, as against 2010-11’s 663. The reduction was mainly due to an outbreak of bidding paralysis in the nether regions of D3, but more on that later. The total was a long way from 2009-10’s 1342, when there were more defenders worth a punt, and the Chairman was handling 40+ moves some Thursdays.
In every division, the arrival of Mata triggered bidmania and full-wad outlays reminiscent of 2004 and a certain Newcastle signing from Madrid, as recalled by Mr. Finch of Liverpool near Sweden. In the same week, a cumulative £32.6m was frittered away on Lukaku, and further £2m later after he’d been dumped, for an eventual cumulative reward of zero (0) points for any manager. Mata’s 48 pts were a reasonable return, but the bargain of the season has to be 56-pt Yakubu, picked up by Ernst of Fancy L’Estartit Warriors on a free – an overdue compensation after years of wasting fortunes on dark horses who turned out to be carthorses.
The all-AMNAS Maxi Award for transfer misfortune goes to D1’s Dark Knights. After Andy Johnson had gone pointless for the opening six games, they dumped him, at which point he instantly knocked in an 11 pt hat-trick. The Knights splashed out £4m to get him back, and waited for the benefits….. He never scored again.
“Does it matter?” We’ve had this discussion before, and the consensus has usually been No; divisions have been won by the 16th team out of the hat (Yay, Willing!) but in a season where there are a few players with monster points, maybe it does. RvP’s 114 pts was the highest total for years. The teams who owned him finished 1st, 2nd and 2nd.
Here are the top 4 scorers and the positions of their owners.
Pts Div 1 Div. 2 Div. 3
Van Persie 114 1st 2nd 2nd
Rooney 91 2nd 3rd 13th
Aguero 87 3rd 7th 5th
Adebayor 75 4th 1st 1st
Even when you’ve got lucky and bagged a points machine, managerial negligence can devalue it. That was the case with Rooney in D3. He spent months on the bench.
With the Prem goal total creeping up in recent seasons, I see this as a good time to have an early draft pick – provided, of course, that you grab a top St who isn’t nearing the end of his contract, agitating for a move to Spain, or disagreeing with his manager about the way Arsenal should move forward. Mentioning no names of course.
The Chairman’s Tips
After four seasons of keeping up an average of a hit in each category, the Chairman slipped a notch, with 5 hits from 18 shots. (He scores if a Tip For The Summit finishes 1, 2 or 3 and a Tip For The Plummet 14, 15 or 16).
He did well in nailing the D2 strugglers, except for the FL’EW ‘grab-bag of Punter’s Delight’, which happened to include a couple of unexpected aces. These, with the addition of the aforementioned bargain Yakubu became an unlikely success. Bear in mind that the Damonometer readings are taken around the end of July.
Even when a team has title potential, it needs to be managed. In D3, the Tips were undermined by a manager with a Tevez-style attitude to turning up for work and a habit of leaving heaps of points on the bench.
Not for the first time, it was in his own D1 where the Chairman had most trouble separating the Hot from the Not. His assessments of two expected failures (DBR: not many appearances. 6 Sts and not much else. Giants: good defence but not much else) were spot-on, though the pair of them somehow prospered. If bemedalled veterans can miscalculate outcomes in this fashion, there’s hope for everyone else.
Racehorses? Finished Carthorses? Finished
D1 Bananagem 13th Sleeping Giants 7th
D1 Chumming for Willy 12th Disco Bay Rowdies 2nd
D1 Biggy Smalls 10th Stortebeker Hawks 11th
D2 Djarnis Utd 5th Dinkum Dubstars 16th
D2 Rooftop Ballweavers 1st Fancy L’Estartit Warriors 3rd
D2 Forest Forever 11th Skull & Crossbones 15th
D3 San Marco Utd 7th Yeung Boys Brum 9th
D3 Impresarios of Spank 2nd Athletico TFC 10th
D3 Sons Of God 14th Mountain View Muppets 15th
Meanwhile, in the Prem….
In 2011-12, the total goals scored moved up a smidgeon, to a record 1066. Clean Sheets were up too (or at least, recovered from the previous season’s all-time low). If that sounds contradictory, it’s because more teams were goal shy – one man’s Fail To Score is another’s Clean Sheet. In 2010-11, three teams failed to score 13 times. This season, there were two 15s, a 14 and five 13s. (Those of you who are ScoreFivers might also want to note more scores above 5 occurred, but less 2s).
For success in FFL, it helps to keep an eye on changes in the real world. Two seasons back, the sizeable reduction in Clean Sheets (221 > 191) came as a surprise to us – note the 376 total pts drop between 2009-10 and 2010-11, as we watched our defenders getting shafted by relegation candidates taking points off the Prem royalty like never before. (I’m using here the D1 numbers, but the same principle applied to the other divs.)
PL goals PL CS D1 defs apps D1 Mf/St apps D1 total apps D1 GA D1 pts
2011-12 1066 206 2184 3206 5390 2531 5049
2010-11 1063 191 2333 3031 5364 2824 4701
2009-10 1053 221 2411 2980 5291 2650 5077
A year on, and Clean Sheets have recovered half their losses, but all three of our divisions reduced their defender numbers fearing the worst. Result, 293 less Goals Against, and 348 extra points scored, about half coming from the increased Mf/St appearances you get when you cut down on your defenders. It’s great, this 20/20 hindsight, innit? Next season? I haven’t a clue.
Here’s the Home-Draw-Away breakdown, showing a continuing drift towards the Aways.
Home wins Draws Away wins Home goals Away goals Goals per game
2011-12 45.00% 24.50% 30.50% 1.59 1.22 2.81
2010-11 47.00% 29.00% 24.00% 1.63 1.17 2.8
2009-10 51.00% 25.00% 24.00% 1.7 1.07 2.77
Let’s move on to the highlights of each division. Note that the best and worst in most columns are identified in bold and with a ! respectively. The numbers next to managers names are their Draft positions.
DIVISION 1 G A CS GA Mth Pts Def. apps. St/Mf apps. Total apps Ben Tfrs Sqd £
1 (115) Knickson’s Meatballs Per Akesson 2 72 58 70 183 26 466 177 219 396 2 11 9 0.4
2 (601) Disco Bay Rowdies
Mike Collier 1 90 47 30 103 19 411 90 189 279! -4 22 11 0.1
3 (2652) Premier Inn
Pat & Steve Finch & Close 9
65 45 48 214! 16 333 166 213 379 10 29 6! –
4 (1991) The Dark Knights
Robert Collier 15
61 48 38 143 24 331 119 207 326 -3 7 9 –
5 (2514) The Great Danes
Thomas Kristensen 3 52 28 59 166 17 321 157 190 347 -2 14 11 –
6 (2798) A Load Of Bull
Andy Wright 11 59 45 38 157 22 314 128 229 357 -5 13 7 –
7 (3221) Sleeping Giants
John Wright 7 35! 34 64 164 26 310 173 189 362 1 21 7 –
8 (3575) Rensenbrink op de Paal Rens Smit 14
43 43 56 179 3 309 161 148! 309 4 27 8 –
9 (3253) RedCross Refugees
J. Cross / P. Reddy 13
47 48 42 152 7 304 135 183 318 -8 16 8 –
10 (3502) Biggy Smalls
Biggysmalls 4 50 56 25! 101 15 298 87! 212 299 -6 17 9 2
11 (3853) Stoertebeker Hawks
55 50 40 190 16 297 142 218 360 -13! 21 9 –
12 (3705) Chumming For Willy
Alan Hill 5 39 42 50 160 21 287 146 233 379 -2 11 9 –
13 (3969) Bananagem
Kamiel Bouw 10
36 57 37 129 14 286 119 220 339 -2 13 8 0.9
14 (4328) Eline’s Favorites
Mark and Ivo 6 49 45 37 149 14 271 109 175 284 10 10 7 –
15 (4694) Arsene About Face
Paul Charlton 8
41 32! 47 163 15 259 141 184 325 10 10 7 4.5
16 (4800) Dynamo Speedo
Jon Waldron 12 44 49 33 178 -1 252 134 197 331 -2 6! 10 4.8
838 727 714 2531 5049 2184 3206 5390 -10 135 12.7
It was always a two-horse race for the D1 title, but what different approaches they took! Having drafted a crock-free squad (always handy) our crafty Swede made a couple of killer early transfers. For a measly £400k, he added fifty-odd defender pts, which proved to be the Knicksons Meatballs margin of victory. The Knicks accumulated good points from every position and bucked the attacking trend by keeping spare defenders the whole season: D1’s top defensive performance with 167 pts – and they had only two Sts from Feb. onwards. D1 appearance kings, H2H winners, three MotMs, and all-AMNAS top points scorers as well. All-AMNAS Manager Of The Year, says Statto.
If the team who led in the early stages (DBR) are looking for some consolation beyond the Intertoto Cup for their second place, they can point to their unfeasibly high points-per-appearance figure of 1.47. They retained 11 draftees but still had D1’s lowest appearances total, despite experimenting with 13 defenders. Their mid-season signing of the better Cissé enabled them to sustain a challenge that would have otherwise petered out. Verdict on their 75-goal six-St formula? It’s not enough if you’ve no full-time Mfs or defenders.
A long way adrift of the leaders, there was always a tight competition for the final podium place. From mid-season onward, there was never more than a handful of points separating Premier Inn, Dark Knights and Great Danes until April, when a big haul saw PI put some daylight between themselves and the other pair. It wasn’t a decisive gap, and the Knights clawed their way back in the first week of May. The final day began with PI just one point ahead of them, 327-326.
Team selection proved vital, as the 6-St Knights, for the only time in the season, left Yakubu on the bench. Sod’s Law decreed that he must score, and he did – three points that would have given the Knights third place by a point. Instead, it was PI who prevailed, with Aguero’s last-gasp goal giving them a double celebration as they also grabbed the Worthy Cup from the doomed Elines Favorites.
We didn’t see much in the way of table position changes after mid-season, apart from one spectacular collapse. After taking the January MotM with 52 pts, Dynamo Speedo collected three TotMs and only evaded four in a row with a 15th place in April. In four months they went from mid-table respectability to dead last, picking up less points than they did in Jan. After months among the dead men, Sleeping Giants awoke with five rounds left and cobbled together an unlikely 88 pts to escape and take Speedo’s former place in the top half of the table.
Winter cellar-dwellers Eline’s (relegation) Favorites resisted the inevitable with a spring resurrection (March-April 111 pts), making up 40 pts on the teams around them, but fell short on the final day, becoming the first team with more than 270 pts to be relegated. Bizarrely, they took the FA Cup with them on the back of that Spring run, and almost made it a Cup double, losing the Intertoto Final. They departed as #3 in the D1 money winners list. Their history suggests they’ll be back.
DIVISION 2 G A CS GA Mth Pts Def. apps. Mf/St apps. Total apps. Ben Tfrs Sqd £
1 (211) RoofTop Ballweavers
Paul Spencer 13
66 61 59 161 21 438 161 218 379 4 10 10 –
2 (687) Dynamo Doetinchem
Erik Kleinpenning 6
71 46 59 186 23 406 169 166 335 -9 25 7 –
3 (743) Fancy L’Estartit Warriors
Ernst Hanouwer 2
72 48 50 166 14 387 141 165 306 -6 9 9 –
4 (1100) Vemb Shitkickers
Peter Kjaer Jensen 10
78 50 31 121 14 371 96 251 347 -15 14 11 14
5 (1600) Djarnis United
Christian Ove Sorensen 4
62 46 42 158 8 343 139 233 372 -5 7 11 2
6 (2418) On My Own Turf
Peter Ruston 1
44 59 49 196 27 322 170 211 381 3 12 9 1.2
7 (2559) Calypso United
Mark Maguire 5
57 34 42 133 15 313 123 166 289 -7 7 10 15.7
8 (2904) The Fascist Regime
Ian Bardwell 15
44 64 39 161 4 309 132 244 376 -14 13 7 13.7
9 (2974) Marching On Together
Julian Hanouwer 11
40 46 42 94 11 299 97 217 314 -32! 5! 11 –
10 (3705) Jim’s No Nonsense XI Rob Barkaway 8
58 50 33 178 29 287 125 197 322 -9 11 8 –
11 (3818) Forest Forever
Morten Engelstoft 9
44 32 48 128 17 282 118 172 290 -17 8 8 7.6
12 (4328) Grandsons of God
Guido Mascini 16
38 41 57 217! 8 279 186 193 379 -20 17 9 –
13 (4502) Classacts Using NorthernTacticS
Darren Holt 3 49 35 30 103 17 267 93! 162 255 0 13 8 –
14 (4987) Go Behind Seagulls
37 37 58 199 19 264 162 200 362 2 23 9 0.6
15 (4729) Skull & Crossbones
Jens Henze 12 47 37 29! 111 16 256 94 157 251! -4 8 9 17
16 (6819) Dinkum Dubstars
19! 29! 43 174 8 174 147 131 278 14 17 6! –
826 715 711 2486 4997 2153 3083 5236 -115 199 142 71.8
An estate agent, realtor or Dutch makelaar would promote D2 as a desirable suburban location – a nice place to retire to even. Get away from the hurly-burly, dog-eat-dog conflicts of D1. Avoid the downmarket stigma of D3. Enjoy the broad vistas of D2 and spend your days in pleasant company with a bit of gentle FFLing thrown in. People do tend to stay awhile.
Of the 40 managers with a D2 address at some time in the last six seasons, 10 have stayed four in a row or longer. There’s usually at least one resident who embraces a retiree lifestyle to excess and sits back, allowing the grass to grow around the feet of his on-field XI while his subs bench becomes festooned with cobwebs – but not this year. We had 16 genuine competitors.
The mysteriously-monikered Ballweavers complemented a stellar defence (189 pts!) and tidy midfield by adding the bargainiferous Adebayor (75 pts for £100k – eat yer hearts out, D2ers) and Bendtner (34 for £2.2.m). By mid-season, they had established a comfortable lead, and barring a New Year hangover when they slipped off the top spot for a couple of weeks, they kept their rivals at arm’s length. Four MotMs bolstered their charge to the title, H2H, and Worthy Cup win. The Roofers ginger supremo thus collected his first title and trousered the year’s top AMNAS paypacket, necessitating another call for the removal van. That’s seven times in his eight seasons he has changed divisions, including three one-year visits to D2.
As we moved into the New Year, the St-obsessed Vemb Sh!tkickers, in second, were the team threatening to unravel the ‘Weavers. They actually reached the summit during February, then promptly collapsed, as Ba stopped scoring and defensive points dried up. Even some of the bottom feeders outscored them in the final three months.
Maybe the Dynamo Doetinchem team were at the Ballweavers New Year party. Their unlucky 13 pts in January earned, if that’s the right word, that month’s rancourous runcible culinary implement to leave them in fifth place before they sobered up to outscore the rest of the division with a strong finish. Alka Seltzer? No, one P. Cissé tablet did the trick. And when you have a strong finish, the Sepp Twat Plat is a bonus. That’s two successive promotions for the men from Gelderland, who overcame the departure from the Prem of four draftees. When the going gets tough, etc.
While those around them were yoyoing, the lopsided Fancy L’Estartit Warriors were quietly accumulating a Tips-defying points haul, despite having no ‘keeper, one decent Cb and only two proper Mfs. They did, however manage to snare half of the Prem’s productive Fbs and sagely rotated four of them for 92 pts, with only one left on the bench. Promotion was sealed with 54 goals from their three top Sts.
In the nether regions, it was a season to forget for the not-so-Dinkum Dubstars. In other years, Fabregas, Owen, Anelka and Downing would have been the basis of a good squad. Despite wholesale restaffing, the Dubs never got off the ground. Their one ray of sunshine was to achieve the title of D2 Benchmeisters, mainly by keeping (pre-Chelsea) Gary Cahill on the sidelines for three games in which Bolton were caned for 16 goals.
Joining the Dubs on the Down escalator were the Skullies, who flirted with respectability until New Year (when they were 12th) but thereafter were gradually undone by a defence in which only one player made more than 15 apps. and only one had points in double figures. Silver lining? Their eight transfers were achieved at a total cost of nuppence, which is exactly what most were worth. If you know the German for You pay peanuts, you get monkeys, please pass it on to our St. Pauli loyalist, who was probably more concerned by his Hamburg heroes missing the Bundesliga D2 playoff on goal difference.
The occupants of the final relegation place were unknown until late on the season’s final day. A valiant post-Christmas struggle had seen the Seagulls inching towards safety after six months among The Doomed. In the second half of the season, they picked up more points than any other team in the lower half of the table. They went into the final week level on points with the 13th-placed ClassActs, who crucially had scored more goals.
The decision to play Ivanovic (-3) at Liverpool in the Wednesday game backfired, and as Everton and Newcastle traded goals on the Saturday, three more defender points conceded dealt a losing hand to the only AMNAS team flying the red dragon of Wales. Their total of 264 pts would have seen them safe in any previous season. Ironically, they would have been safe by a couple of points if gaffer Clive hadn’t left six Cb points on the bench earlier in the season – points belonging to Ashley Williams, a Welshman. There’s tragic for you, boyo.
Nevertheless, that spirited second half also brought the Gulls the FA Cup (thanks especially to Branko) and a runners-up spot in the Worthy Cup, which they lost 9-8, cursing Branko. Echoing D1’s Elines, they departed as #3 in the money list.
DIVISION 3 G A CS GA Mth Pts Def. apps. Mf/St apps. Total apps. Ben Tfrs Sqd £
1 (111) Willing But Unable
Fred Impens 16
83 70 54 195! 24 464 162 270 432 -21 11 9 –
2 (391) Impresarios of Spank
Wayne Charlton 3
71 52 59 187 26 417 169 190 359 -9 12 9 –
3 (506) Old-House Divided
Neil & Antha 6
65 61 53 165 24 407 149 209 358 5 12 10 3
4 (655) Saedding Guld. Allstars
H B Kristensen 10
70 54 52 181 14 395 154 220 374 -3 8 10 –
5 (1600) Boyd’s Left Boot
Jay Crisp 12
47 47 60 177 22 345 167 199 366 -5 9 8 10
6 (2269) Quattro Stagioni
James Lambert 9 59 38 49 177 19 330 156 184 340 -6 15 8 –
7 (1959) San Marco Utd Guido Bouw 2
51 41 54 159 20 330 146 208 354 -3 6 9 11
8 (4868) Aveebeck Wester Park Rangers
Andrew Watson 5
46 48 46 166 9 290 130 203 333 -1 37 6 0.1
9 (4075) Yeung Boys Brum Ian Watkins 11
50 34 35 143 21 266 121 160 281 -28 0! 15 17
10 (5848) Athletico T.
Chris Gould 15
36 34 41 154 10 234 130 157 287 -12 23 5! –
11 (5534) Grandstand
Nigel Reid 13
40 33 22 72 14 223 65! 141 206! -12 1 14 2
12 (6059) United On A Boat
Stephen Lau 4
41 28 20! 88 4 206 75 175 250 -27 4 11 16.5
13 (6157) B&L Exiles
Mark Bakker 1
33 27 35 148 8 197 122 93! 215 -68! 0! 15 17
14 (6484) Sons of God
28! 19! 42 136 10 186 116 118 234 -64 6 9 16.4
15 (6430) Mountain View Muppets
Steve Young 14 29 37 24 128 5 183 102 151 253 -30 0! 15 17
16 (7033) Buffalo Soldiers
Paul Hughes 8
29 45 24 194 7 147 116 156 272 -27 11 5! –
778 668 670 2470 4620 2080 2834 4914 -311 155 158 110
In tune with the western world’s economic zeitgeist, D3 divided into the Haves and Have Nots, with 8th-placed Aveebeck straddling the chasm. They were the only team to finish within 20 pts of the division average.
An outsider who saw the United Colours Of AMNAS table would probably conclude that D3 is where the real expertise resides: they accounted for four of the top eight and seven of the top 16 – they must be class! Every credit to the D3ers who took the chances that came their way, but that’s the point: chances aplenty did come their way – all served up by some of their neighbours.
Three teams went through the season with the entire squad they drafted, and another with only one change. This was not because they had chosen the FFL equivalent of Brazil ’70: it was plain ol’ loss of interest or idleness. This meant the other 12 teams had better opportunities during the transfer windows and at the Thursday squabbles over reinforcements. Those four, and another who mentally chucked in the towel before Christmas sometimes aided the oppo further by refraining from setting their subs, thus leaving a cumulative 190 pts on the bench. Politicians, economists and sociologists could have a field day analysing the causes of their points poverty.
The wasted opportunities of the names-withheld Feckless Five (as in ‘I couldn’t give a feck’) did provide us with some amusing titbits. One manager kept a player (Senderos) from draft day to season end and never played him, and another (Carrick) he played for one game. Just as baffling were those he kept in. Shagger Bramble stayed on the team sheet for the seven months he was crocked, and Darren Bent for three. In all, four of this team’s players never made an appearance, including one who was injured the whole season and another exiled to Blackpool.
Another decided in early December that he’d done enough, and left his team on autopilot with a subs bench of Sagna-Cahill-Pilkington-Mackie (cost, 61 pts) while sticking with Roman Pav (Lokomotiv Moscow from Jan).
Best of the lot was the manager who kept faith the whole season with Salcido and Malbranque, who only troubled the OPTA statisticians concerned with the 2011-12 Mexican and French leagues. He compounded this lunacy by leaving Rooney and Bellamy on the bench for three months at a cost of 50 pts, during which time his preferred Dong Won-Dembele St partnership mustered a whole five.
I’ve some sympathy for the Wooden Spoonists Buffalo Soldiers, who did at least make the effort. I don’t know who invited Paul H. in, but they could have done him a favour by explaining how this FFL lark works, especially regarding transfers.
The biggest beneficiaries of all that ineptitude/negligence were the upwardly mobile Willing But Unable, who started with a promising squad and added 110 pts via transfers, including a couple of rather ept frees. And virtually crockless too! Their AMNAS-topping 432 appearances was 36 ahead of the next best, and over a hundred ahead of the average. They overhauled the early pacesetters Impresarios Of Spank in February and thereafter pulled clear, for their first title at their fourth attermpt. And out of Trap 16, to boot. Respect!
The Spankers, with quality in every position, chased them all the way to the finish, but Willing’s advantage from transfer dealings proved decisive, as it did in the FA Cup, where £15m-man Mata’s 20 pts were vital in securing the Double, again at the expense of the Spankers.
At New Year, Old House Divided trailed the third-placed Saedding Guldager Allstars by almost 40 pts, and didn’t look like promotion candidates. That changed when they made a few speculative January signings including P. Cissé for a giveaway £3.3m. (In the other divisions he went for £8.1m and £7.8m). This lit the blue touch paper for a scorching run in which they were always MotM candidates. From February to May, they finished 2nd – 3rd – 2nd – 3rd collecting 183 pts in the process (second only to Willing’s run-in), to pass the Allstars and threaten the Spankers for second spot. The Allstars, canny operators at the sales themselves, had to settle for the H2H and Intertoto runners-up as a consolation.
AMNAS has a habit of imitating real life. In the 2011-12 Championship (formerly Football League Div. 1 / Ye Olde Div. 2) West Ham started the season like a train and topped the table by September. They were overhauled by Southampton before New Year, and then found Reading coming from nowhere to catch them on the run-in. If we substitute Willing for Southampton, Old House for Reading and the Spankers for West Ham, we have the story of the D3 toppers too. And as many of you will know, the Impresario himself is a Hammers nut, to the extent that he turned up at an Amsterdam Winter AGM many years ago wearing full West Ham kit, shorts’n’all!
The final day provided some Worthy Cup Final drama, as mid-tablers Athletico TFC and San Marco played out a 7-7 draw, with the Teds taking the trophy on goals scored….as SMU left scorer K Davies on the bench. Doh!
All in all, it was an entertaining season, particularly in the basement, if not always for the right reasons.
Good luck in the forthcoming hostilities, chaps!