Going into Christmas, we have a good idea of who the likely promotion and relegation teams will be. Division Three, however, lays bare such pontificating.
Last season was a five-horse race right up to the tense, final evening. This season’s two promotion berths are, somewhat incredibly, still open to nine of the eleven teams – a mere six points separating them.
The crucial question in weighing up the prospective candidates is: Do we have a team strongly anchored by one individual or are there solid performers across the board?
I don’t believe it is possible to get out of a division with just one star player and for that reason I am writing off Hilton ‘J’ / John Barker and Lostock / John Nuttall. Apologies!
My money has to go on Hilton ‘I’ (Brian Hall, Graham Wilson, Rovimil Dato) provided Dato continues to play and Farnworth Social Club ‘B’ (Carl Bennett, John Rothwell, John Ainley) on the condition that Rothwell plays to the level I know he is capable of.
Dark horse, Heaton ‘D’ (David Bevitt, Greeny Greenhalgh, Melvyn Brooks, John Hilton) can get in amongst it only if Brooks stays off the Raki and avoids jetlag.
Boyzone (Jeremy Grimwood, Matthew Brown) remain one player short of consolidating their place in Division Three and so will have to endure another miserable season in Four, and Irlam Steel (David Yates, Matt Hood, Neville Singh) look to have finally bowed to relegation following a mediocre season from Yates, their usual saviour.
The Premier Division is dominated once more by Flixton and Ramsbottom ‘A’. One gets the impression that the form of Ram’s no.3, Andrew Jackson will be pivotal in trying to win back this hallowed title from bitter rivals, Flixton.
The likely fallers in the top flight are Ramsbottom ‘C’, unless Thomas Ryan can inspire his teammates and Burning Desire with their deep and ragged squad.
Division One is a slightly clouded picture in the scrap for 2nd place after the undefeated Coburg (Derek Watmough, Robert Bent, James Hewitt). Hilton ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ along with Heaton ‘A’ continue to show desire in an effort to play with the Premier giants in 2014/15. Heaton’s Ward brothers – Matthew (working abroad), Paul (broken toe) – should clear the way for Hilton ’B’ or ‘D’.
Division Two – Hilton ‘E’ and ‘F’ are both vying with Little Lever ‘C’ for the top spots. At the other end, it is a dogfight between Bolton University ‘B’, Harper Brass ‘A’ and Ladybridge ‘B’ (John Birchall’s return timely).
Division Four – Harper Brass ‘B’ all the way.