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Blow by Blow – N&R Championship

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Alastair Bigg: Too Bigg to Fail
League position: 2nd (promoted)
League Cup: 2nd Rd
N&R Cup: Semi Final
Prizes: 2nd in League £80
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Moving to the Big Apple but still superbly navigating promotion to the N&R Premier League

Back in the big time for Alastair who is now happily ensconced in New York City. Alastair got off to a flyer top after week 2 and then all the way through to the end of October when he was bounced by eventual champion Matt Pini. A straightforward return to the elite though when all said and done, although sadly he couldn’t add the N&R Cup, getting knocked out of the semi-final.

Lee Blackman: This is my year
League position: 16th (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: 1 MoW £5
Transfers left:
Season highlight: His week 15 MoW

Lee will be disappointed to finish 16th and get relegated. It’s a tough division, when so much is at stake. Lee was 3rd in week 2, saw a drop in form, but bounced back to 8th in weeks 15 and 16. And then in the home straight he looked the most likely to survive but left himself with no FA Cup finalists in his team for the last week and was relegated.

Peter Clark: Nice Tan
League position: 21st (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Despite the English winter Pete still kept up a his lovely tan.

A double whammy for Clarkie as his beloved Tractor Boys were knocked out of the play-offs by their big rivals and Pete was unceremoniously relegated to the N&R Conference after coming up last year.

Ken Cobbett: Borussia Teeth
League position: 14th
League Cup: 2nd Rd
N&R Cup: 3rd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Safety

In the end Ken will be pleased to stay up but that 14th place is also so close to the N&R Premier League you can smell it. Ken spent a long time in the top 13, and many weeks in the top 8 including a high of 3rd. In the end though, he was closer to the drop than the rise. 24 points from promotion, 9 from relegation.

Brett Davey: Chelski’s Champs
League Position: 27th (bottom and relegated)
League Cup: 2nd Rd
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: 0 MoW
Transfers left: 12
Season highlight: Moving to Singapore to further his career. Sadly he got his priorities wrong and his N&R FL team was terrible.

Brett did pick his team name very well, but that is when the luck ran out. Admittedly moving halfway around the world into a big new job does take your eye of your N&R Fantasy team, but Brett never got out of the gate and was bottom from week 2 and that is where our Singapore based previous champion stayed. Better luck next year Brett.

Peter Doyle: FC Sheriff Ginger
League position: 22nd (relegated)
League Cup: Quarter Finalist
N&R Cup: 3rd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 9
Season highlight: Another cracking team name unearthed from the bows of the European leagues

Surprisingly decent in the Cups, the Ginger Rabbit was relegated despite a very impressive start. He was 13th after week 11 but it was all downhill from there.

Trevor Fairweather: Twins88
League position: 20th (relegated)
League Cup: Quarter Finalist
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Flying high after some good transfers, but keeping none back for a rainy day.

A lesson learnt here. Trev looked to be running a good campaign after a horrid start. By November however he was up to 8th but inexplicably he burnt through all of his 12 transfers using them all by December 16th. Still he was in 8th again in mid-January and followed this with a reasonable spell in the ‘pink places’ until injuries and lack of form from his remaining players started to tell. Unable to stop the decline Trev was relegated.

Glenn Francis: Lamb to the Slaughter
League Position: 18th (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 4
Season highlight: Probably despite some poor form, he was always within a shout of safety

One season at the higher level then and back to whence he came. Glenn was quick out of the blocks but fell into the bottom 13 in week 3 and stayed there despite making transfers.

Tim Harris: Bale Madrid
League Position: 13th (promoted)
League Cup: 2nd Rd
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: A late surge to grab the last promotion place

Back in the big time for Tim after dropping last season. It was a season of thirds really. Up to week 11 Tim was in the promotion race, then from November to March he was fighting relegation but then with the help of some transfers and Benteke’s change in form Tim stealthily moved back into the top 13 and ended finishing in the last promotion spot.

Paul Hodges: Anfield Bites Back
League position: 8th (promoted)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 4th Rd
Prizes: 8th in League £30, 1 MoW £5
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: The Yo-Yoing continues after snatching the last prized place

Just one season then in the 2nd tier for Paul who won promotion back to the top table, where he will hope to halt his yo-yo club image. It was a mixed start for Paul, but by December he was a regular feature in the top 8. He did drop out of the prized places but battled back in the last month to take 8th.

Ian Kennett: I’m Brian, and so’s my wife
League position: 23rd (relegated)
League Cup: Quarter Finalist
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 12
Season highlight: Raising thousands of pounds for Walking with the Wounded by the doing a 70 mile walk from London to Folkestone, a 66 mile mooch over the North Downs, the incredible Marathon Des Sables, which is 250k in 6 days across the Sahara Desert and the stroll which is the London Marathon. Not all in one day however, that will be next time!

Gallivanting around the world running marathons and a job change appeared to blighted Ian’s season. But not really he always starts well but then just falls into deep invisibility.

Nick Kociuba: Atletico Hoxton
League Position: 10th (promoted)
League Cup: Finalist
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: A Finalist in the League Cup, but going one better in the League by winning promotion

Another that enjoyed a far more successful second half of the season than the first. This is included a nice run to the final of the Championship League Cup final where he was just beaten. Promotion was concluded after 23 weeks in the pink zone.

Ray Legg: Legg’s XI
League position: 3rd (promoted)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 4th Rd
Prizes: 3rd in League £55, 1 MoW £5
Transfers left: 1
Season highlight: A simple stroll to promotion to the big time

Ray’s misfortune is that since he joined us, he has always been in the same league as Matt Pini. Ray was runner up to Matt last year in the N&R Conference and he has done exactly the same again. Will we see this trend occur next year in the N&R Premier League we ask ourselves? One strange quirk to report is that in 82 weeks as 2nd to Matt, Ray has only been top himself for a fortnight.

Ian MacDonald: Bermuda Royals
League position: 24th (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 12
Season highlight: The first 6 weeks.

Hmmm, a bit of a nothing season from our Bermuda reinsurance man. Big Reading fan, but like the Royals it didn’t really happen this season. The Cups were rubbish and his league form was bleh, this despite a good start. Some transfers would’ve undoubtedly helped but it is back to the Conference for Ian.

Geoff McCormack: We are the Darts
League position: 4th (promoted)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 3rd Rd
Prizes: 4th in League £50, 2 MoW £10
Transfers left: 9
Season highlight: Weeks 11 and 22 when he was MoW.

Rock bottom of the N&R Premier League last season but an immediate return for the Darts man. Geoff was one of only three leaders of the table and this in week 1, he then struggled dropping down as low as 23rd but he entered the transfer market and oversaw a change in fortunes pushing himself back into promotion contention in November and then never swaying. One is left to wonder what he may have achieved if he went into the transfer market again. Geoff also won two MoW’s and had a decent N&R Cup run.

Chris Minchell: Not Gooner Sleep
League Position: 26th (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 9
Season highlight: Finding another manager that was actually worse.

Pretty dismal from Chris. Rubbish in the cups, rubbish in the league only saved by the fact that Brett Davey was worse. Back to the basement for Chris after promotion last season.

Rob Munden: To Elland Back
League position: 17th (relegated)
League Cup: 2nd Rd
N&R Cup: 1st Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Probably not having the Leeds United chairman as a boss, otherwise he would’ve been out on his ear months back.

Another drop for Rob, who will join other fantasy old timers Nobby, Doyley and Brett in the basement. It was a mixed first half of the season but Rob still had his head above water in week 31 but fell into the grey and was not able to climb out.

Simon Newport: Chicago Addick
League position: 15th (relegated)
League Cup: Quarter Finalist
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: A good League Cup run and little else.

Nobs put up a brave battle to stave of relegation. He sand bagged some transfers, and had a couple of FA Cup Final players in his team but he had left it too late and was left holding the last relegation place. Oh the embarrassment of playing in the bottom division.

Luke Patey: Tanks Tinkering Tankers
League position: 6th
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: 6th in the League £40
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Mr consistent. 40 weeks in the top 13.

The first two weeks in the bottom 13, the next 40 in the top 13. A high of 4th, Luke adds this promotion to the one he achieved last season and we look forward to him starring in the big time.

Matt Pini: Sticky Toffees
League position: Winner
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 4th Rd
Prizes: N&R Championship Winner £120 plus trophy
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Winning the N&R Championship at a canter

Matt continued on from where he left off last season when he won the N&R Conference title. In fact over two seasons, 82 weeks, Matt has spent just one of them outside a promotion place. Without a single MoW Matt pissed the division and we worked out that he could have stopped playing 5 weeks from the end of the season and still won the League. Great achievement and he deservedly takes his place in the top tier next season. Congratulations Matt.

Jonathan Poole: AMEXican Wave
League position: 19th (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 3rd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 12
Season highlight: Up to 9th on Guy Fawkes night

Relegation tolled for JP. No transfers made and thus a failure to build on a good autumn when he was up to 9th. There was a good N&R Cup run but that was ended by Alex Byatt. Still, it was our pleasure having JP back among us after a long break.

Neil Reynolds: Gooner win League
League position: 5th (promotion)
League Cup: 2nd Rd
N&R Cup: 3rd Rd
Prizes: 5th in League £45
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: The turnaround in December

Another manager straight back up. Quickly out of the blocks but then Neil struggled as his players either lost form or were injured. He made a few changes in October and from then on it was all systems go and improved gradually to make 3rd in week 35, but ended up in 5th.

Richard Richards: Team Name
League Position: 25th (relegated)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 12
Season highlight: Not so good despite naming him twice!

Very disappointing from Rich. That is his second consecutive relegation, this after impressing in his early outings. Judging by the selection of his team name, and the fact Rich made no transfers we would presume something more pressing got in the way!

Mark Simmons: Howard Webb – Retire in Peace
League Position: 9th (promoted)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Promotion, but our statistical master will be disappointed in not winning a prize.

The last four years for Mark have seen promotion, relegation, promotion and relegation! He doesn’t know if he is coming or going! A quick start then spun into a lower bottom half attrition, then there was some see-sawing between promotion and relegation until around week 23 when it all fell into place and apart from a dip into the top 8, it was 9th where Mark finished the campaign.

Martin Singleton: Sir Tom Finney
League Position: 12th (promoted)
League Cup: 1st Rd
N&R Cup: Quarter Finalist
Prizes: None
Transfers left: 1
Season highlight: A double promotion

Martin named his team after one of Preston and the game’s greats and his boys had a terrific season that was rounded off by promotion, not just Martin but his beloved PNE as well. Martin will mix it with N&R’s top boys next season. He also had a very good N&R Cup run.

Andi Turner: Never mind My Skinny Legs, Whoop it up me Sailor
League Position: 11 (promoted)
League Cup: Semi-Finalist
N&R Cup: 2nd Rd
Prizes: 1 Golden MoW £25
Transfers left: 10
Season highlight: Managing to keep the origination of that team name away from Nobby & Ready!

Another who will bounce back to the N&R Premier League after getting relegated by just 6 points last season. Andi, who also had one our silliest team names, made it to the League Cup semi’s and was in the promotion places for 40 of the 42 weeks. Also a Golden MoW winner

Stuart Wolstenholme: Dodgy Saffa’s
League position: 7th (promoted)
League Cup: Winner
N&R Cup: 3rd Rd
Prizes: 7th in League £35, Championship League Cup £40, 1 shared MoW £2.50
Transfers left: 0
Season highlight: Promotion was a great achievement, but Stu also won the Championship League Cup

A little bit slow out of the gate, but the South African found his tempo and was soon in the promotion places. 3rd in week 8 and again in weeks 21, 22 and 24. Promotion was never in doubt despite slipping a few places during the final weeks. In March Stuart beat Nick Kociuba 60-52 to win the Championship League Cup.

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