This summer, players will come from far and wide to compete at the highest level in a tournament full of quality, drama and glamour. That’s right, the College Cup is back.
And so too is Start ‘em Sit ‘em. Newly improved, (well I’m sure you’ll agree my face is far more pleasing on the eye than Dan Hyde’s) this blog will not only keep you up to date with all the action in Nouse Fantasy Football but will bring you all the views, analysis and sideline gossip from the university’s biggest and best loved (sorry netball) college competition.
So where to start? With the tournament beginning tomorrow and most of you having already picked your teams, it might be a bit late in the day to point you in the direction of that fantasy football super-signing. Those needing advice could do worse than casting an eye over David Ambrozejczyk’s comprehensive guide to the competition. I have a feeling that these early stages will surprise many; now that both sides in a game are given a man-of-the-match regardless of the result, expect your thirds and seconds players to pick up a few more points than last year. Also be wary of the influence of team members and captains on our timid and easily swayed reporters when it comes to picking MOTM; in my experience they are far more likely to recommend highly improved or usually ‘unsung’ players than the six-goal-a-game striker.
All of this means that the user leading the rest at the end of the group stages will probably be the one that, rather than filling his or her team with college football BNOCs, has studied the LNOCs, astutely recognising those players that keep the weaker teams ticking. Also look closely at the draw – it might not be a great idea, for example, to fill your team with James thirds players when they are likely to enjoy a torrid tournament in the so-called ‘Group of Death’.
So who have proved popular fantasy football picks so far? Unsurprisingly Parris Williams, last year’s Nouse Player of the Tournament, is the most picked forward and, at 7.2m, he does seem slightly better value than higher priced strikers such as Dan Cox and Conor Brennan.
Elsewhere Miles McDermott’s goal scoring potential as a defender has no doubt made him attractive and users might have noticed James’ relatively easy group fixtures when catapulting Don McMahon to the top of the most-selected goalkeeper charts.
Jack Fisher and Harry Shaw are perhaps the surprise inclusions, playing for James and Goodricke thirds respectively. I wonder if those who picked Shaw in defence will regret their decision when he has to deal with Brennan and Ragan against Halifax on Tuesday, and the much-hyped Fisher might struggle to pick up points in the ‘Group of Death’, where even the most optimistic pundits will put James thirds as whipping boys.
Putting aside fantasy football, what do we think about the overall winner of the tournament? A lot of the discussion so far has been centred around Halifax and Derwent, but this is likely to be an extremely open competition that a number of teams could win. Halifax have looked good so far this year, and have a few university team reinforcements entering the side, but some have questioned whether two terms of disrupted play on poor surfaces can really give a good indication of each team’s current level. Defending champions Alcuin play a style of football suited to the Astroturf and will definitely be one of the favourites; Goodricke have real quality in midfield but have looked poor at times this year, with an obvious lack of goalscoring options. James firsts could also be contenders, with a reasonably easy group and some handy additions from the university first team.
Either way, we’re in for a cracking term of football. Forget the World Cup, it’s all happening here on campus. Start ‘em Sit ‘em will be there to guide you through it.