Napoleon and Hitler learned to their peril that cold winters can put paid to even the best-laid plans. Similarly, last weekend’s sub-zero conditions stopped a highly competitive league firmly in its tracks.
As things stand, James are favourites to take the crown, given that they are, like the Manchester-based pop band in the 1990s, topping the charts. Led by enigmatic talisman Matt Smith, they hold a one point lead with two games to play and fresher James Offord’s prolific finishing has him favourite for the college ‘Golden Boot’.
One point behind are defending champions Alcuin, boasting a central midfield with FA Cup experience in flaxen-maned Bad Taste mogul Jake Delaney. But a sparse fresher intake and the loss of fading stars Henry Smith and Myles Preston last summer have left a team full of grizzled second and third years. Even so, Alcuin have been a strong force in the league so far, with only one defeat, albeit heavy, to James.
Just below them sit Halifax, Derwent and Goodricke all on level pegging having notched 7 points apiece. With Halifax’s vaunted ‘Golden Generation’ jettisoned out into the real world of 9 to 5, mortgages and finding school for the littl’un, it has taken the leadership of metrosexual art historian Joseph Harrison-Davis to blend the new blood of rotund-ladies man (the ladies being rotund) ‘Lundy’ with some veteran paramedics like jive-talking Geordie Joe Brennan.
Boasting one of college football’s strongest squads, Derwent’s positive start has been compromised by a disappointing turn of form. But a much-feared attack, led by the flamboyant Anton Murphy – famous for ruffling delicate campus feathers with his catchphrase ‘Mo Money Mo Hoes’ – makes them impossible to write-off.
Goodricke have looked less impressive, rarely fielding their strongest eleven and dropping unnecessary points – their 4-aller with Langwith a prime example.
Meanwhile, a seriously underachieving Vanbrugh languish in sixth. Head-honcho Tom Sheldrick has claimed that the college league is more heavily rigged than an ornate Spanish galleon after some dodgy refereeing decisions, but it matters not: his team have been way off the pace.
Bringing up the rear are a Wentworth side with more beards (6) than points (0) and the woeful Langwith. But the sorry pair, routinely thrashed every Sunday, still play the game in the right spirit and after all, isn’t that what college football is all about? The five teams still hunting for the victory bacon in this league might disagree with that as the race hots up; it’s sure to be a scintillating denouement for the neutral.