Ships Ahoy. Plymouth FC. + Into the Pyramid. The Play Offs
Politics should play no part in sport, but that’s not today’s landscape with the termed WOKE movement ‘Alert to racial prejudice and discrimination’, having called out the ships depicted on the club badges of the two Manchester clubs, City and United. Manchester historically, some would suggest, played a part in the slave trade with ships being the transport to impose this. Heritage cannot be brushed away, but can the connection be made to club’s badges? Is that right, and should it be spoken about on the accusations that have come to the forefront? Should football take the hit for the perceived rights and wrongs?
League One Bristol Rovers club badge depicts a pirate, with the City of Bristol facilitating transatlantic slave trade and becoming home to the pirates who would ransack and sell on. Again, some would suggest this term has to be used, to suggest that the club was not aware of any linkage, but society’s goalposts have moved to create the movement’s mindsets. The pompy chimes of Portsmouth FC wear their badge with the City’s natural historical value being depicted, the coat of arms. Portsmouth was a major entry point for the slave ships, to reiterate, of any pre-conceived linkage not to be the case. The movement have not angst in the direction of the club’s mentioned, their platforms to provide the WOKE’s hyperbole, Manchester City and United can provide the markers they like to impose and lay in front, to be breached? Time to jump ship onto the good ship ‘Mayflower’ depicted on Plymouth Argyle FC’s badge, famously known as the ship that transported the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ to America in the 16th century, which has religious overtones. The WOKE movement has not called out Plymouth Argyle, to tread into this area would require big britches, they are not attired. To reinforce, football should not be a target for their mish mash idealistic mumbo jumbo. They have to be the target to address society’s ills.
Plymouth Argyle FC
The Pilgrims are the League One Champions 2023, having amassed a staggering 101 points, eclipsing Ipswich Town by three points, who will join them in the Championship. An Evertonian, Liverpudlian, confused? Manager Stephen Schumacher guided the club with one of the League’s smallest budgets. Sixty of Argyle’s points were tallied at home, the most of any club in the top four divisions, with the club not losing two games on the bounce during the entire season. Last season the Pilgrims lost 5 to nil v MK Dons in a 2022 playoff encounter coupled with another heavy defeat 4 to nil v Bolton Wanderers, in the Papa Johns final this season with the team possessing strong bounce back resilience. The loss of goal scorer Mike Cooper, who suffered a knee ligament injury, was a further setback. A 3 to 1 win v Port Vale at Vale Park sealed the deal. Second placed Ipswich Town broke their club record points tally with ninety eight points. Third placed Sheffield Wednesday missed out on an automatic slot with ninety six points, a season ending 23 match unbeaten run just failed to propel the Owls into second position. Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and Peterborough United, alongside the Owls will go head to head in the playoffs. MK Dons, Morecambe, Accrington Stanley and Forest Green Rovers fell through the relegation trap door. In League Two, Leyton Orient were crowned Champions, with Stevenage and Northampton Town joining the promotion party. Stockport County, Carlisle United, Bradford City and Salford City to contest the playoffs. Into the non-league sphere went Hartlepool United and Rochdale, with Crawley Town paddling above the drop by a mere three points, phew. Wrexham to enter the football league alongside playoff winners.
Into National League North, where the curse of the payoffs reared its ugly head, with Kings Lynn Town and Chester FC having finished 24 points and fifteen points respectively ahead of their playoff rivals, were both eliminated on any given Sunday May 7th 2023, gloom day. The drop off into step 3 of the pyramid came with Kettering Town, Leamington, Bradford Park Avenue and AFC Telford biting the dust. Into the National League South with Ebbsfleet United being another club to bust gut through the one hundred point barrier, resting on 103 points and crowned champions. Dulwich Hamlet, Concorde Rangers, Cheshunt and Hungerford Town became the relegation fodder.
The playoffs (A)
Onto the PO final North, Kidderminster Harriers ended their season with six straight wins, continuing their form into the playoff final defeating Brackley Town two to nil on promotion to the National League being one step from football league status, the Harriers have been outside of the FL for eighteen seasons. In the NL Southern playoff final, Oxford City plundered Saint Albans 4 to nil. In the National League playoff final, Notts County defeated Chesterfield in a penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium to secure their return to the Football League alongside champions AFC Wrexham.
In the championship, Sheffield United joined Burnley into the Premiership, with Luton Town, Middlesborough, Coventry City and Sunderland to contest the last automatic slot. At the rear end, Reading, Blackpool, and Wigan Athletic drop zoned into League 1.
The Playoffs (B)
Time to carpe diem in the playoff semi-finals with Luton Town operating on a shoestring budget, defeating Sunderland three to two on aggregate scores over the two legs to reach the playoff final. The Hatters will match up against Coventry City, who defeated Middlesborough one to nil over their two matches. In League One Peterborough United crushed Sheffield Wednesday in their first leg encounter, with Bolton Wanderers playing out a one to one draw v Barnsley in the other match up. At League Two level, Salford City hold a one to nil lead over Stockport County and Bradford City, likewise v Carlisle United at the time of writing. The playoff finals will be played at Wembley Stadium over the weekend 27th May.
In the Premier League Manchester City can set sail to be crowned English Champions, with the treble looming large having reached the Champions League final in Istanbul, to play Inter Milan on June 10th, a smashing of Real Madrid four to nil in the semi-final confirms City’s status as the World’s number one club side. The remaining jigsaw piece in City’s treble quest is the FA Cup final v Manchester United on June 3rd. City became the first team in 67 years to reach an FA Cup final without conceding a goal alongside Everton. Prior to this Bury in 1903 achieved the same accolade.
In the Premier League, Arsenal seem destined for the runner’s up slot, with Liverpool’s winning streak set fare to challenge Newcastle and Manchester United in the top four dome. Brighton and Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa contesting the Europa and Conference League qualification positions. The Prem’s relegation battle as covered in March’s edition with the Manero on prediction looking to hit the bullseye on two of the relegation predictions. The never ending story will come to its conclusion on May 28th, the Premier League.