This is yet another Fantasy Football week that will live long in the memory. To say it was tense would be an understatement. To say it was at all easy would be a complete lie. Instead of the usual run down of players, let me tell you a story of a man who hates snow.
Wednesday evening began in a pub in Stafford, a quiet local that had failed to invest in BT Sport but had managed to get themselves a decent wifi reception which was much appreciated.
After my brother and I had dismantled each other’s lineups in our numerous leagues over a 6/10 pub meal (my Italian crispy chicken was so lukewarm that the cheese on top had refused to melt), we left the pub to be met by what could only be described as very, very heavy snow. Any hopes of being home in time to watch Alexis Sanchez destroy my opponent had evaporated (unlike the snow) as a 30 minute journey looked set to turn into one that would take hours.
And it did. I managed to find a sketchy commentary of my beloved (but faltering) Liverpool side and made the average of 20mph trip along the motorway, heroically battling the elements like a true champion.
I’d gone into the night 7 points down on my opponent Bryan Mackay, a very worthy adversary who clearly knows his stuff, but was confident of turning it round until Pep did a Pep and rested Leroy Sane. Disappointing.
As I continued my Bear Grylls style mission (in a car), my radio was telling me that my players were doing absolutely nothing but, oddly, neither were my opponent’s. Sanchez and Arsenal were being frustrated by a rejuvenated West Ham while his star man Eriksen was enjoying the freedom of Wembley without producing anything worthwhile.
After what felt like hours of trekking through the depths of Staffordshire motorway, I stopped off at a services to give myself a well earned rest and, more importantly, a score check.
Of course, my phone battery had days, causing alarm bells in my tiny, confused head? What if I get stranded on the M6 with no way of calling for help? Or what if I’m actually being left to eat Bryan’s dust as he pulls away from me in his (no doubt) much warmer and safer surroundings?
I ploughed on, heroically edging towards my goal of the sanctity of my phone charger, all the while imagining Fantasy Gaffer’s smugness as he crept above me to claim top spot.
At long last I reached my destination in one piece. After a token “hello” to my house mate, I gratefully grasped at the white wire which would tell me exactly what was going on.
I was ahead! With five minutes left of the 8 O’clocks, I’d somehow scraped together a lead of nine points. Glorious.
Anyone who plays Togga will know all about that green flash as the score updates, signalling dismay or delight. In my case it was the former as the Great Dane waved his magic wand a claimed an assist right at the death for my opponent. A healthy lead was now on a knife edge. In fact it now belonged to him.
As I watched Alexis trudge off the field, head bowed, my hopes seemed to be going with him, head bowed. My only hopes lay with the bus at Old Trafford.
As a Liverpool fan I tend not to pick Manchester United defenders because I enjoy watching them concede goals. This week I’d gone against all my principals and picked two. If they kept Bournemouth out I’d be in with a real chance of clinching a famous victory.
The scouser inside me was willing the Cherries to spoil United’s (and my) party whereas the winner in me was happy for Phil Jones to throw his head in front of everything to preserve that clean sheet.
As final whistles blew around the country, my victory was confirmed. I’d done it.
Thanks to picking out five clean sheets, I took the honours by an incredible 0.75 points.
Three quarters of a point. Nought point seven five. Ridiculous.
In real terms that’s an aerial win by a defender, a save by a keeper, a successful dribble or even a couple of dispossessions (Wilfred Zaha) between success and failure.
My opponent was extraordinarily unlucky and I’m gutted I couldn’t follow it properly. I hate snow.
The gap at the top of the table remains three points ahead of the tie of all ties this week where I take on the Gaffer himself.
My next article will either celebrate my six point lead at the top or mourn the end of my long stay at the summit. It really is that close. This is exactly why you should play head-to-head Fantasy football!
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