Well it’s been a while since I have managed a preview or review. It’s been a rough few weeks for the Committee as a whole but I believe that apart from the results being delayed last week that in general it has not been too bad. It’s a sign how far we have come when I mentioned at last nights League Meeting that we used to have to wait a month to find out the results whereas now we try to get them on the site whilst some of you are possibly just settling down for a drink after your match.
Anyway, it’s 1am so it’s going to be a quick Kolumn for today.
Firstly, congratulations to Wednesbury Baptist Church on winning Division 2 and also well done to St Mary’s and Zion Athletic in reaching the League Cup Final, (to be played on Monday, 20th April). I would also like to add a big thank you to Pete Bennett and John Myatt from Rowley College and St Mary’s who have consistently sent Match Reports in…(it’s nice for me personally to see other input on the site rather than keep just seeing my stuff). Others have occasionally sent reports in but these 2 guys do it all the while, (really appreciated).
The Division One Title Race is now really between St Mary’s and Clarendon with Connect Sports slipping into 3rd although they do have a game left and could end up higher, I believe they will end up 3rd and that’s a tremendous performance after their promotion last year. St Thomas’ Aldridge ended their games and have finished bottom of Division 1. Having also completed their games, last seasons Division 2 Champions Chawn Hill Church look like they are going straight back down with St Thomas’ Aldridge. Barring a 22 goal defeat for Rowley in their last game against Clarendon, Chawn are down, although even if that did happen!!!!! City Church could still do enough to stay up. So realistically, it’s now between City Church and Rowley College as to who stays up. It’s a massive ask for City as they have to play 3 of the current top 4 sides in their last 4 games! Last place in Division 2 is a scrap between Sandwell United, Brierley Hill AOG and Corinthians SK. A win for Sandwell in their last game would really keep it interesting at the bottom.
So, onto the games to be played later….the Title chasers have tough games with Clarendon facing 4th placed Wolverhampton and Perton Churches and St Mary’s looking to have the slightly easier task against Charlemont Star. However, as Clarendon found out last week against Rowley College, there are not really any easy games anymore. Wolverhampton will be looking to push on and try and finish 4th with Halesowen Zion also aiming for that spot. These 2 teams have to play each other twice before seasons end and Wolverhampton could have a big say in the Title Race as they also have to play St Mary’s. I’m tipping Clarendon to come flying out of the blocks after last weeks result and win this one. Charlemont will be no pushover for St Mary’s though. When they last played St Mary’s won 4-0 but that was on the second week of the season and Charlemont were possibly still adapting to Division 1. I can’t see Charlemont scoring against the Leagues meanest defence though, so it’s a win for St Mary’s for me. Connect Sports come up against a City Church that desperately need 3 points but I’m sure Willis Mullin will have his lads fired up to try and end the season with 48 points and maybe hope that disaster strikes one of the two teams above them and they could end up as Runners Up. As stated above, I can’t see that happening but I can see Connect ending a tremendous season for them with a convincing win with maybe the Leading Goalscorer Richard Ricketts adding a couple to make it 30 for the season. The last game in Division 1 sees Halesowen Zion host Sheldon Community Church and whilst I mentioned that Halesowen and Wolverhampton were vying for 4th spot its just dawned on me that Sheldon could creep up and usurp both of them and finish 4th! Sheldon have informed myself that this will be their last year and maybe a 4th placed finish is still something for them to finish on as a positive reflection of their time in the League. We have the situation which we don’t really like where these 2 teams play each other 2 weeks running, but after last weeks 4-3 scoreline maybe there will be goals aplenty again! I’m going for a 3-3 draw!
On to Division 2….Champions Wednesbury face Zion City who could still pop up in a promotion place. Should Zion City lose then it guarantees Renewal Solihull promotion irrespective of the outcome of their particular game. The last time these 2 teams met in November, Wednesbury thumped Zion 7-1! Zion are going to have to perform better than they did that day. A Zion win would make it really interesting at the top end of the table but I can’t see it happening. A comfortable win for Wednesbury for me. However, this wouldn’t finish off Zions promotion hopes because if Monyhull then failed to pick up a single point the last promotion place would be decided on goal difference if Zion won their last 2 games. So every goal could be important!
Renewal Solihull have promotion in their own hands tomorrow with a fixture against Brierley Hill AOG who are languishing near the bottom.This should be such an easy shout to make…a Solihull win, but these 2 teams only played each other at the end of February and Brierley Hill won 4-2. The unpredictability of this Division has fascinated me this season. I don’t think I have ever seen a season like it before. In fact, when you look at the current bottom 3 teams you will notice that in at least a third of their games they have been unbeaten. This for me is a good thing as losing week after week can be demoralizing, but in the case of the teams at the bottom this hasn’t been the case. So, what do I see happening? I think Renewal will want to wrap promotion up in their last game and win. If they fail to do so and Zion get a huge win then Renewal will be looking over their shoulders at the remaining results.
So tight at the bottom and can Sandwell United make it even more interesting with a win over Maple Leaf Rovers? Well, I tell you what, if Sandwell end up anywhere else than bottom then it’s better than when WBA did the ‘Great Escape’ If memory serves me right, (the old grey matter is struggling nowadays), Sandwell only had 1 point at Christmas so what an incredible turn around. Can they get that 1 more win in their last game of the season away to Maple Leaf and then hope upon hope that they have done enough? Well Maple Leaf will not be easy to overcome and may be eyeing their record up for the season and thinking that if they can win their last game then their record will be won 9 lost 9 drew 4, a creditable season. Hmmm, which way to go? Well, Sandwell started their great run against Maple Leaf on January 3rd with a 4-3 win so blow it…Sandwell to keep it interesting at the bottom with a narrow win.
Last game of the day sees Corinthians SK host Selly Oak Methodist. Both teams having played 18 and only 1 point between them but that 1 point in Selly Oaks favour means they cannot finish bottom. Whilst mathematically improbable, Corinthians, could still end up there. They are in an awful run whereas Selly Oak, much like Sandwell, have found the knack of winning. I’m going for a Selly Oak win here.
Well, it’s the business end of the season now and for some the season has already finished or finishes today. I hope that you have enjoyed what has been a pretty turbulent season for the League. It’s not over quite yet and whilst at the start of this Kolumn I said that it had been tough on the Committee this season I just want to close today with a big thanks to all the players and officials who participate in hundreds and hundreds of games during a season and do so within the spirit that the League intends. I would also add my thanks to the rest of the Committee for the endless hours they put in behind the scenes. It’s been a bumpy ride so far this season, but you can trust me when I say the effort these people, (and that is most of them), have put in under the personal stresses they have faced is tremendous. For those of you who do see some of them around, maybe a handshake of gratitude wouldn’t go amiss. Without these guys, you would probably be shopping….perish the thought!
Well, to quote the great BB King….”3 o’clock in the morning baby, can’t even close my eyes” Wonder if my old buddy Pete Bennett remembers that one?
Enjoy your football folks and be blessed.