Season 9 Game 01 (6-9 August)

THE ‘Doing the Tango with Wai Lin – But Is It True?’ HEAD-IN-HANDS LEAGUE

Oti Mabuse (32), Michelle Yeoh (59) and Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales (55) are this week’s birthdays.

They return like a new COVID strain.

Barney: ‘Kelty go 3-0 up – there’s a run on Stirling’
Chris: ‘Reading equalise a minute after conceding – that’s a ‘Swift’ response from the Royals’ midfielder’
Howard: ‘Sutton’s striker scores their first EFL goal but will Bugiel blow his own trumpet?’

You can imagine how busy our acquainance has been over the recent few months, dispensing all kinds of malady throughout most of the planet. Clearly enthused by the results of getting out more, the being has decided to spread its fingers, become rather more sociable and look to get more involved in the worlds it lives in.

But it has indicated some things won’t be changing and Paul Mullin at Wrexham, Joe Piggott at Ipswich and Conor McAleny at Salford City all blanked as the lifeform of uncertain origin clearly started as it means to go on.

The categories are usually chosen at random but Make Ya Ma Proud is almost always selected for the opening day for two reasons. These are they’ll always be a few players ‘who endured a nightmare debut’ (trad arr. Sue Thearle, EFL on QUEST) so it’s like shooting fish and also to avoid a complete blank on first blush. We’ll save those for later when the realisation that we haven’t got any better 8 or 9 seasons in has set in.

The early winner was Port Vale’s goalie, Lucas Covolan, who has eschewed the Brazilian top flight with Athletico Paranese for the bright lights of Whitehawk, Lewes, Torquay United and now the Staffordshire outfit. Straight red on debut after fetching down Northampton Town’s Nicke Kabamba when he was through on goal.

But what’s this? Kristian Dennis at St Mirren? Bought on in the 77th minute for his debut when his team are 2-0 down? ‘The Buddies’ fetch a goal back on the 85th? And Dennis elbows Hearts’ Haring and gets an early bath on 86, 9 minutes after coming on? You love to see it. Unless you’re Jim Goodwin, the St Mirren boss, who in 2021 strongly resembles a ‘before’ to Rylan Clark-Neal’s ‘after’ in a Just For Men advert.

Liam Boyce got the winner for Hearts. Cliftonville – Ross County – Burton Albion – Hearts? That’ll do nicely, as they used to say on the American Express ads of the mid 80s. Josh Magennis and his previous parishes at Kilmarnock, Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and now Hull City would be a rather apt alternative.

Barney – called Rotherham United v Plymouth Argyle at 2-0 at 45 min – Finished: 2-0 – FAILED!
– called Stirling Albion v Kelty Hearts at 0-3 on 65 min – Finished: 1-3 – FAILED!
– called Wycombe Wanderers v Accrington Stanley at 2-0 on 20 min – Finished: 2-1 – FAILED!

Previous denizens Fred Oyedinma and Harry Cornick at Luton Town are present and correct (they certainly were against Peterborough United but that’s not too tough when you’re facing Dan Butler at leftback…) but are joined by Swindon Town’s Harry Parsons. I’m sure his goal was appreciated by team-mates Kevin Horlock and Paul Bodin, who are also looking forward to their first season in the Premier League under Glenn Hoddle’s management.

Ooh look, it’s a new category and it might not be the only one if we can think of a title for the other two potential newbies.

So it’s a case of a dominant (in stats) team ‘throwing everything, including the kitchen sink’ (Nick Halling, EFL on QUEST – that’s now two more credits than the show deserves) at the opposition and the defending team coming away with at least a point, maybe more.

Your scribes don’t have to travel too far to locate a most appropriate example of the above as Bramall Lane welcomed fans back for the first time for a long old time. Those fabled vibes powered Sheffield United to a 0-1 reverse against Birmingham City, who had 24% possession and scored with their only shot on target.

Remember, it was the lack of the fans at t’Lane which saw Sheffield United’s rapid decline, not a £20m striker scoring zero Premiership goals and a £22m midfielder racking up the injuries.

A blank for its’ season debut? It appears so.

Rotherham United’s Freddie Ladapo score against Plymouth Argyle at the weekend. This constitutes a double whammy as the ‘nomadic’ striker’s on his 16th team at just 27 and one of those former teams is the Devon outfit. It Don’t Mean Nuthin’ as he collects his Claridge Clock via zoom.

Some debate over this one as Sky had Northampton Town’s goalscorer as Bernard Ashley-Seal whilst the BBC claimed his first name to be ‘Benny’. If Sky are correct, he should’ve qualified for Old School but either way he’ll be only eating biscuits from the packet whilst making the toast after hearing the rhetorical question ‘Are You My Fag?’ whilst learning the ropes from one of the regulars in Hull City’s Keane Lewis-Potter.

Elgin City’s defender Darryl McHardy scores quite a few goals for a non-striker. He netted at the weekend and would be described by Scotsport as ‘Quite the character’. We would describe him as Known To The Authorities and there’s been a few… [this section is long enough as it is so for further info, see the Police Gazette].

Historic moment for Sutton United as they notched up their first ever goal as part of the 92. Omar Bugiel, who’s been one of their more frequent goalscorers over the past couple of seasons got the accolade. The Berlin-born striker represents Lebanon in international football and that’s easily enough to be a Local Boy Makes Good.

Finally, Kelty Hearts are a reasonably new Scottish team who have quite a bit of money behind them and are now in League Two. Kelty made some waves when they announced they were turning professional in the 2021/22 season and doubled down on this with the signing of former Hibs and Dundee centre-back Jordan Forster on a pro contract. They marked their league debut with a convincing 3-1 away win at Stirling which was made more auspicious when one of the original Born Under Burberry types, Kallum Higginbotham scored plus Forster enjoying a Day Trip To Brighton and scoring at both ends. Forster clearly was delighted to have got out of Dens Park [CLICK LINK]. Though given his debut, one would also hope the residents of the former mining heartland are rather more enlightened than this rather illuminating missive would suggest: [CLICK LINK].

Queens Park Rangers v Millwall was the definition of an Unpleasant Local Derby. Let’s say no more there.

And finally – Buckie Thistle 10-0 Keith in the Highland League, which saw Keith go in with seven players unavailable and 12 players full stop, of which only 9 saw the full 90 minutes. Three games into the Highland League, Buckie are top with 18 goals scored and 0 against. Keith are bottom, having scored 0 and conceded 16. This has to be the earliest Darwinism Incarnate we’ve recorded yet.

Aiden McGeady (Sunderland)
Callum McManaman (Tranmere Rovers)
Conor Grant (Rochdale)
Rhys McCabe (Airdrieonians)

Danny Lloyd (Gillingham)
Gwion Edwards (Wigan Athletic)
Jason Naismith (Kilmarnock)
Matt Stevens (Forest Green Rovers)
Mohamed Eisa (Milton Keynes Dons)

Aiden McGeady (Sunderland)
Josh Magennis (Hull City)
Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest)
Macauley Bonne (Ipswich Town on loan from Queens Park Rangers)
Naby Sarr (Huddersfield Town)
Tony Watt (Motherwell)

Marc Bola (Middlesbrough)

Alex Baptiste (Bolton Wanderers)
Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion)
Conor Sammon (Alloa Athletic)
Joe Ironside (Cambridge United)
John Brayford (Burton Albion)
Kyle McFadzean (Coventry City)
Lyle Taylor (Nottingham Forest)