You won’t get a prediction out of me
BACK in the day when Saturday football columns came on broadsheets and the GFA had not reached its 100th, let alone this season’s 125th year, reading up on the club-by-club player registrations was an enjoyable late summer insight into the strengths of the clubs going into the new season.
And if you did not know, back then each club would have to register its strongest available 1st and 2nd teams, which meant that if you were in the 1sts you could not suddenly pop up and fill in a gap in the reserves. Not without de-registration, anyway.
In the end this annual palaver was kicked into the long grass as the purpose became outdated and no longer deemed right for modern amateur sport. It was a good decision, too, particularly for those clubs who had so many players of fairly equal ability that they did not know where to play them.
One such club today is Vale Rec, newly-crowned holders of the Martinez Cup, 4-0 winners over the league champions no less.
They have a large squad of players of roughly similar ability and what it allows them to do is to switch them in between their 1st and 2nd teams just about any day of the season. It makes them strong but strangely it also seems to hold them back, as for a few seasons now they have chopped and changed so much that the final product – the Priaulx League flagship team – is weakened.
And as there is no indication yet of that situation changing, it makes me a touch nervous to proclaim them as my tip for the title as we embark on a new FNB Priaulx League campaign today.
Call it a cop-out if you like, but I find it impossible to pick a favourite, such is the remarkable fairly even sprinkle of talent across the nine sides.
You can make a title case for Rec, Rovers, North and St Martin’s, but in each case none of them would be convincing arguments.
Add to that the likelihood of a stronger Bels, Rangers, Sylvans and Manzur – on paper anyway – and the chances of surprise scorelines become ever increasing.
As for Alderney, one expects they will be much of a muchness.
The ‘on paper’ comparisons suggest that North might just have the edge, but doubts remain about their depth of squad.
Rovers will undoubtedly miss Will Fazakerley, but not half as much as Sam Hall, if he is sidelined again.
Hall was terrific over a season-and-a-half of Rovers’ two title-winning campaigns, and it was no surprise that they began to struggle when he got injured in the last weeks of the 17-18 season.
St Martin’s could be better for having Dom Heaume around a good deal more but on the debit side, they might find themselves enjoying the availability of Kyle Smith less often if he becomes a GFC regular.
And back to Rec.
Were they to field regularly the side that won them the Rossborough FA Cup last season, I’d have no second thought about installing them as clear favourites.
In the spring Seb Skillen was flying, Nick Rumens was orchestrating in midfield and as a consequence Rec played some quality football.
But can they repeat it?
n WHILE you read this, the CI’s top cricketers are involved in an inaugural T20 tri-series.
It’s a mighty good idea – and so is the mooted expansion of the CI League to incorporate T20.
But, amid all this love-in with the bish-bash element of the game, I hope the GCB and JCB do not forget that the better test of cricket skills lies with – at our level – a 50-over game and bowlers armed with red balls, not these uncooperative white ‘pills’. Just what happened to red-ball cricket?