N&R Conference – Final Table
The £140 1st prize and a glittering N&R Conference trophy goes to Dan Duboux, who ended the season top of the table, and bounces back after being relegated last season.
It took Dan a couple of months to get going but by week 12 he had edged his way into the top 8 and didn’t look back hquickly hitting top by week 17. He slipped back a bit but stayed with the other challengers Mark Sterry, Ashley Blake and Harry McCarthy.
With the collapse of Harry’s title hopes, who had an incredible downturn in fortunes around week 17, it became a four man race and although Ken Cobbett and Ashley never got on top although stayed in contention, it was Mark who chased Dan all the way to the line, with eventually the gap being 19 points. Congratulations Dan.
Mark had an incredible 2nd half to the season. Floundering in the lower reaches through the early months, he made a couple of changes to his line up and gradually started to move up the table. At week 21 he appeared in the promotion group and a week later moved to 8th.
Then there was a steady run of form keeping him in the prize group before going 4th in week 28, and 3rd in week 30 before he got on the heels of the leaders. Mark’s rise reached a crescendo in week 40 when he went top and no one was going to bet against him finishing the job except for Dan of course, who took the lead back a week later to run out winner. Take nothing away from Mark though, it was storming 2nd half of the season and he too bounces back after relegation last season.
Ashley’s final week moved him a place higher to 3rd ending 42 weeks of continuous top 15 places. He was top during the early months but pretty owned 3rd and then 4th with the rise of Sterry, but after 12 weeks in 4th he nipped up a place to increase his final prize money in the final week.
Ken Cobbett was relegated last season but goes back to the N&R Championship after a season where he barely put a foot wrong. For all but 7 weeks Ken was in the top 15 but he too had a sterling second half of the campaign and never looked in danger of dropping out of the pink zone, but then around early April made his move into the prize money. Some late transfers pushed him further up the table finishing 4th.
John Button spent 41 weeks in the top 8 and had a great season. I am sure John will be disappointed not to have made more of an impact at the top but out of all the managers promoted he was one of the more deserving.
Likewise Joe Harding who never left the top 8, was top for 7 weeks but ran out of steam, but had enough points on the board to grab a prized spot in 6th. Spare a thought for Harry McCarthy, who may have Expected Toulouse but he was a winner for so much of the season but simply ran out of gas and in all honesty transfers. Harry clung on though ending in 7th place and gets a few quid for his efforts.
Millwall fan Steve Johnson makes it to the 2nd tier for the first time, and Johno played cat and mouse for a long time for the final prized place but kept Rob Smith at bay in the end by 24 points.
Rob makes it to the Championship for the first time as does Duncan Gorton, Oliver Robinson, Tony Martin and William Knowles.
Michael Stout had a very good season with 37 weeks in the top 15 and he moves back up a level as does Ian France, who not for the first time had to hire a caretaker manager during the season as he pushed himself upstairs to Director of Fantasy Football. So, well done to firefighter Jim Bristow, who deserves all of the credit for Francey’s promotion. Do yourself a favour Jim, like others before you, ditch the boss and go it alone.
Poor luck to Tom Mallindine who spent many weeks in the pink places, Megan McLeod actually didn’t but still finished well placed in 17th. Muddy had a great start and a decent middle but a poor end. A transfer or two Al perhaps next season??
Same can be said of Doyley, who was top for two weeks in October. Sheps had an encouraging first season and we hope to see him back, Glenn Francis was quick out of the blocks but failed to make changes. Paddy Fyson and Paul Collins did, just obviously the wrong ones. Okay, we agree, it ain’t that simple.
We are disappointed in Richard Richards. The old N&R FL timer should have done better after being top for two weeks in September and in the promotion picture at Christmas.
Aaron Barden after going down last season, did not make any real impact on the Conference, and nor really did Barry Paull, who has been around since the beginning but has been in the N&R FL doldrums in recent years.
Andy Dewar started on fire but it was quickly extinguished. Huw Thomas had a mid-season flourish but that was just about that, Rutts didn’t flourish at all, nor did Tony Murray, although despite some well deserved stick Neville White did actually improve as the season progressed but overall he must do better as must one of our other casualty friends James Bird.
One manager who must be looking at himself in the mirror is Paul Long, who had his worst ever N&R FL finish in 31st, and this after spending most of the first 2/3rds of the season in the top 15. Wasted transfers again Mutts?
And finally just one manager failed to reach 1,000 points for the season. Daniel Keehan was his name and he had a truly wretched 2nd half of the season. Mind you the first half wasn’t much better.