|Well what a season.....
without doubt the closest of all time, and not just at the top.
At the end of the day Marek finally clinched his first championship by 2 points from the perennial runner-up (some might say loser!!) Simon. Now we have had a two point championship before but what made this season so close was the closeness of the whole league, at the end of the season less than 80pts separated top from bottom and coming into the last few weeks that gap was less than 60pts.
There were many reasons why Serie H was special, the fact that everybody felt they had a chance at some during the season, Julian finally climbing up the table to a very honourable 3rd, Kevin dropping down the table from 3rd in March to 9th in May, that usual over achiever Mad Dog being caught with the wooden spoon for the first time.... and of course a very well deserved Championship at last for our very own 'rouge trader' Marek...
So how did it all happen I hear you ask, well...
The first half of the season saw the tussles for the top spot centered around Kevin, Marek & Simon, with all of them taking there turns at the top. Come November time Kevin had made a break and opened up a 15 point lead with both Marek and Simon in pursuit, although by Christmas this has gone and Marek was back on top. Others having good early months were Graham (top briefly in August) and generally lurking close behind the leaders, also up there was Mad Dog (as high as 3rd in late October) but from there his season fell apart badly enough to see him bottom of the league by Christmas. Nigel too was keeping touch with the leaders. Down at the bottom Julian and Graham R were fighting over bottom spot with the odd appearance by Paul.
The second half of the season saw Marek & Simon take turns at the top of the league. By March Marek's lead had stretched to 19pts (the biggest of the season) only to see a fight back by Simon who cut his lead back to nothing by the middle of April and a John Hartson inspired Easter saw Simon back on top. On transfer deadline day Marek made changes and perhaps the stroke of genius required to win the title was his gamble on Nico Dabizas (9pts in 4 games). Anyway coming into the last week Marek had a lead of 13pts, however by half time on the last Saturday of the season was on again, with Mav's lead down to 2pts points. Anyway the rest is history Marek hung on with an assist here and a clean sheet there to take his fist title by 2pts and leave Simon runner up for the 2nd year in a row. Although only Marek and Simon were actually top in the 2nd half of the season, Graham, Nigel and Julian were all in serious contention of the title at various points during the run in. Julian's move from bottom at Christmas time to 3rd probably the most dramatic (and unexpected), in 4th place finished Nigel having his best season in the League since Serie D and Graham finished 5th giving a good defence of his title although just fading away towards the end.
Taking about fading away brings us to the biggest collapse since the Roman Empire. Super Kev was toasting his alleged championship victory at the Christmas do, only to find himself bottom by April. A couple of smart moves in the last couple of weeks saw him escape the wooden spoon by the skin of his teeth. But ending 8th after being top in December!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On to the others at the bottom, after a shaky first half Mr Robbo senior moved up the table after Christmas in to relative mid table safety and finished 6th and had a good run in the League Series. Paul (possibly pre-occupied by impending wedded bliss) had another disappointing season finishing 7th, maybe staying sober at the Auction so you can leg it home for a sh*g doesn't really bode well for the season???
This only leaves us to laugh at the Wooden Spoonist. If others had collapses or disappointing seasons, what happened to the Mad One?? All time top scorer before this season, only manager to win two championships and only person who would consider using 'Plonker' in his team name... well from the heights of 3rd in Oct he fell to earth and was bottom by Christmas, never really recovering his poise and spent the second half of the season trying unsuccessfully to get out of the Wooden spoon zone. Now was he unlucky with injuries?? or was having to play defenders to much for him?? or was it just his turn??? who knows and (to quote Barry Davies) "who cares"...... we should enjoy his demise whilst it lasts..... cos I doubt it will ever happen again!!!
The League Series was the closest run of all time. Nigel taking the trophy on points difference from Graham R. It was tight all season with Marek top until Feb when Nigel took over. Into the last game of the season any 3 of them could have won with only 2 points separating them. The rest of the managers never really challenged. Graham Y finished bottom.
In the cups... the Ken Bates Memorial Trophy was won by Nigel beating Paul in a close final. The Coupe de Perry Groves was won by Mad Dog (even in his poor seasons he wins silverware) beating Julian in the final. The FA (to play for) cup was won by Julian beating Marek in another close final.
The FA Cup League was walked away with by Marek, 24pts ahead of his closest rival Graham Y. The Dog was bottom of this league too...
Page updated on - 14 August 2003