On the 24th January 2007 John Wright sent an email:
This email would reverberate throughout history and change the world for the better, forever. John couldn’t possibly have realised what he had done and single handedly incepted the greatest game known to Man.
Little has changed in the format of the game since that original game, aside from the cup competitions and now in its 8th season the game is going from strength to strength with 4 leagues and 70 participants stretching from Blackpool to Hamburg to Papua New Guinea and ages ranging from 5 years old to over 70!
Final standings for the first, short season haven’t survived but it was won by John’s future wife, Stephanie Davies, with his brother in law Andy Bennett in second place.
Season 2 began in August 2008 with 23 taking part made up mainly of work colleagues, family members and friends. The full season saw John taking the prize money, pipping Paul Clarke into second place, a few fell by the wayside during the season, hence the pitiful scores at the bottom. The previous season’s winner, Steph had slipped down to 5 and second place Andy was enjoying mid table obscurity.
The final table:
Season 3 kicked off with the start of the Championship season in true Predictions Style, with the Charity Shield between Chelsea and Manchester United guest starring along with pre-season friendlies between Aston Villa and Fiorentina, Liverpool and Athletic Madrid, and who remembers fallen giants Portsmouth and Glasgow Rangers?!?
The now standard 40 game season was completed with a record points haul from Paul Clarke on 352, with David ‘Butch’ Butcher pushing John back down to third after the previous season’s victory.
Season 4 was the last season in the original format of a single league and saw an impressive 29 taking part. The season kicked off in week 2 of the championship and the first week of the Premiership with a clash of the titans seeing Blackpool travel to Wigan to start their first season in the top flight since 1971.
The usual suspects were pushed back this year as Sean Crowley took the gloves off and came out fighting. Not satisfied with 13th position in 2010, Crowlstains came of age growing from boy to man and notching up his first victory with 344. Noob of the season award was handed to Jon Gleave who kicked off his first season with an impressive 2nd place finish. Let’s hope this wasn’t beginners luck!
By the time the fifth season kicked off the number of subscribers had rocketed to 40! John made the decision to split the game into 2 leagues, offering weekly prizes for both Division 1 and Division 2. Division 1 contained the ‘cream’ of the predictions world, with Division 2 housing the new starters. The shake up was radical – whoever finished in the top 3 of Division 2 would be automatically promoted at the end of the season – they would replace the bottom three of Division 1. It was all to play for!
Alan Kettlewell topped the inaugural Division 2 with what would have been the best season score ever in the predictions of 356 in his first season.
This season saw a new Goliath in the Predictions world emerge. Stan Mossop began his domination of the top of the table with an almighty score of 362! Sean Crowley kept up his good form to claim second spot by 2 points from John Wright.
The first relegation battle was definitely one to savour, with Jen Bellamy and Carl Stevenson rooted to the bottom of the table, it was left to the last five minutes of the season to see Jon ‘One Season Wonder’ Gleave fall foul of a late Antolin Alcaraz goal for Wigan Athletic and fill the final drop spot.
The predictions finally came of age when in August 2012, it grew to 4 Divisions and went international!
Buoyed by his Division 2 victory of the previous season, the Scottish contingent spread the word to Papua New Guinea (?) and an independent league for 20 of our foreign friends commenced.
Meanwhile back in Blackpool, the word had spread and we now had 3 divisions to play for.
The website was also launched which showed the live scores and tables updated on match days by John and the rest of the backroom staff.
Stan Mossop got motoring after Now Then Mick’s early form and took the lead in week 7 which he looked to have utilised and everyone thought he had the league title sewn up again, the bookies were rumoured to be considering paying out in week 36 when Stan was 6 points clear and home and dry. It was his to lose.
And lose it he did! 3 poor results in the last 3 weeks saw Stan finish in 4th position, with Matt Bennett pulling off a blinder to come from behind to win the trophy. At the other end of the table, Dave Royle and Luke Wright were happy to see a miserable season end while Butch and Stewart Cole lost out to John Bennett and Paul Clarke to slip into Division 2. Speaking of which Joe Bennett romped home for the Division 2 title after a strong finish to the season. He was joined in Division 1 by Jon Gleave’s son Dominic King, and we saw a welcome return to the top flight by Jen Bellamy after a single season in the second tier. Jonny Moss also climbed into the upper echelons with a victory in the Division 2 play offs.
At the other end of the table mother and daughter combo Ellie Bennett and Jeannie Bennett both waved goodbye to second tier football while Steven Coles and Ashley Kennedy bowed out of the predictions completely!
Alex Rogan won the first Division 3 title and will be joined in Division 2 by Pete Louth and Chris Peel.
Over in Papua New Guinea, Tommy Alltask stormed the division with an impressive 303 (They didn’t start until week 5) and easily walked away with the international title.
As season 7 began, gasps could be heard around the globe as a 5th league was incorporated into game! The band of ex-pat engineers who sunned themselves grafted in Papua New Guinea had made the decision to set up a new ‘Mega Bucks’ league with each of them paying £5 a week, and the prizes increasing accordingly, a bold step but proving to be a highly profitable move for Colin Stephenson who won 8 weeks on his way to an excellent score of 370! This eclipsed any score previously recorded in Football Predictions history, what a fantastic first season for a noob!
In Division 1 a fierce relegation battle was being fought all season long, with a merry band of 7 combatants threatened with the drop at any one time. Now Then Mick, Joseph Bennett and Jen Bellamy lost the war and ended up in the red, while Chris Snell, Paul McDowell and Nick Royle all breathed a huge sigh of relief as they joined the newly crowned Predictions Cup winner – Greg Ashworth – in Division 1 safety. Paul Clarke went AWOL throughout the season and will find himself playing Division 2 football next term. At the top it was a one horse race with Alan winning the division with an all time record haul of 397, gaining the top spot as early as week 20 and never letting go, despite a mini slump at the end of the season when he lost the European Cup to Stan Mossop and The Predictions Cup to Greg. Will the 10 point a week average ever be broken?
Over in Division 2 Kate Remblance stole the show with a remarkable 379! She had a tough battle to keep Jenny Rigby at bay, but led the way as early as week 20, only dropping behind Jenny in week 23 before regaining the top spot in week 24 and never letting go. Stewart Cole sees a welcome return to the top flight after grabbing the third automatic promotion placing. The play offs ended with the return after a 4 years absence from the top flight for Emma McStevenswell.
Elsewhere Mark Yates topped division 3 ahead of Carl Riley and Kristian Stephens. Mark’s final score of 380 was another great first season and sees Mark bowing out as champion as he has elected not to proceed any longer. When asked about his glorious victory, Mark has been quoted as saying of his victory: “Eh? Football what?” Well Done Mark! The fourth promotion spot was taken by Andrew Graham as he stopped an end of season slump which saw him drop from the third automatic promotion spot to scraping into the play offs. At the other end of the table Jeannie Bennett finished rock bottom. Thankfully there’s no relegation from Div 3!
Over in the Papua New Guinea league there was only ever going to be one winner of the main pot with Richie Clarke scoring an admirable 362 and after taking the lead in week 9 he never really let go. Richard Wiseman finished the season in second after an exciting battle with Lucky Sanghera and Alan ‘Daddy Bear’ Kettlewell Senior the First throughout the second half of the season. A search party was sent out looking for Leon Smart and his predictions, but they never returned.
To be continued…
History Greg Ashworth