Well, hello there.
Been a fair old amount of time but here we are again, ready to crack on with this last stretch of the season. Not really fair to call it the second half as we would usually do, as we have already played twenty four of our thirty eight league games, due to the League’s decision to concentrate on the this and leave our local Cup competitions to the end of the season. Pretty wise move if you ask me.
It means that it feels like we have had something like a proper stretch of football after two badly disrupted years, which has allowed everybody, players, fans and clubs to get right back into the week by week swing of things.
So where are we and where will we finish? Chance of a bit of speculation. Given the huge amount of change at the start, new manager, many new players, lots of old hands moving on or rapping in, our ambitions must have been fairly conservative for the season, so I’m guessing most people are pleased with how it has turned out so far, and how far we seem to have come. Good start, then a lot of injuries and a few sloppy defeats, then a real solid period of development, with a couple of new players, up to the Christmas break.
Ninth at the minute, good work, so what is realistic? Top six? Maybe a big ask but not impossible with a fair wind. Top eight? Got to be the minimum target, even if it will still be tough, with a lot of decent clubs around us and one or two on a big upswing. Haven’t West Allotment done well? Terrible start, and then a real run got going, excellent. And also well done Whickham, who have improved markedly and are steadily rising through the ranks. And also hopefully a little bit of a run in the County Cup. Tough trip up to Crook next week, but winnable I think, then who knows? Fingers crossed.
So it will be tough, but it is good to see the Northern League being so competitive despite the loss of clubs to promotion, and good to see so many ambitious clubs coming to the fore. Makes life hard for little old happy bands in the back streets of Ryhope, but why would you want it any other way?
Anyway enough of our local issues. Across the water Sunderland’s excellent run came to a bit of a shuddering halt the other night, by no means terminal, still in a good place, but so are a few others. It will be interesting. And the Mags are recruiting for a bash at staying up, though whether recruiting wisely or not remains to be seen. Derbies next season? About 60/40 in favour by my reckoning..
Down under a big controversy about Mr Djokovic. I am too fond of my windows to get involved in the vax/antivax argument, but anybody who knows anything about Aussies knows that they hold a couple of things very dear, one, that everybody deserves a fair crack, but two, nobody is special or deserves special favours. Which is a canny attitude to have. And they also have an election coming in a couple of months time. Which I’m guessing means that old Novak will find himself on a flight out by the time you read this..
Oh, and Happy New Football Year of course!