College Football Preview
With the college football season about to get underway TOM CLARKE looks ahead and assesses this year’s teams.
With the college football season rapidly approaching The Tab looks ahead to term that promises to be a feast of football.
Champions Downing will be confident of clinching the title again this season. Although they finished last season unbeaten they snuck home by just one point and the coming season promises to be just as tense and exciting.
Trinity, who beat Downing in the Cuppers final, will fancy their chances this year. Having fallen short by a single point they have as good a chance as any of pipping Downing to the post.
Jesus will be desperate to bounce back from a season in which they thoroughly underperformed, while perennial contenders Fitz could suffer following the departure of key players.
Mid-table obscurity beckons for many of the remaining teams such as Christ’s, Emma, and Girton who all finished well below the top two last season.
Girton found the net just 11 times and will need some fresher firepower up front if they are to stay out of trouble this year.
Catz only maintained their Division 1 status on the last day of the season and are again tipped to struggle. With a defensive record as dodgy as Titus Bramble on night out, it could be another tough season for them.
Watch out for the two promoted teams, Homerton and Caius. Homerton proved their credentials last season with impressive Cuppers wins over Girton and Catz, while Caius should have more than enough about them to ruffle a few Division 1 feathers.
Division 2 is a notoriously scrappy league, with a significant disparity between top and bottom.
Pembroke and John’s, the two teams relegated from the top tier, will both be strong favourites to bounce straight back.
John’s only missed safety by one point and are strong favourites for the title, while Pembroke know this league well having strolled to promotion two seasons ago.
Long Road will probably again be the best team in the division. They were unbeaten last year but could again struggle to get promoted due to an appearance record as unimpressive as an Emile Heskey highlights package.
If as expected they fail to play all nine games, it leaves the door wide open for a number of sides such as Queens’ and Churchill.
Selwyn may feel their cup run, which saw them reach the semis, has given them the confidence to make a real challenge in the league this year.
Despite being a thoroughly unpredictable division, you can be sure that Darwin and Tit Hall will be floating around the dreaded dotted line for most of the season.
The two teams coming up from Division 3 are Jesus II and Corpus. Both are likely to suffer a swift return.
The former are the only second team in the top two divisions, while the latter were promoted from third place since – Long Road II won the league but were denied promotion as this would place them in the same division as their firsts.
Clueless Corpus captain Jonny Roman had no idea his side were promoted and told The Tab:
“I can’t believe it. We were looking forward to steamrollering the second teams in Division 3. Now we’re going to be the whipping boys.”
Long Road II should win the title again. But unless their firsts can ensure their own promotion, they will end up stuck here again leaving room for two other teams to get promoted.
Any of last season’s mid-table sides such as Magdalene, Sidney, Catz II or Churchill II could make a run for the top but it’s hard to look past King’s and Clare who both dropped down from Division 2.
King’s failed to win a game last year but they probably only need to finish in the top 3 to go up. The gulf between Division 2 and the middle of Division 3 should ensure this is simply a formality.
Clare’s end of season revival showed they were getting used to life in the higher league, albeit too late. Expect an immediate return for them.
With three teams coming up from Division 4, it should be a right old scrap at the bottom. Downing II may find themselves out of their depth as second teams often struggle in this league.
Homerton II and Emmanuel II need to quickly adapt to life in a higher division. Robinson need to improve on last year’s poor showing. But who gets relegated may end up being a bit of a lottery.
Last year’s table
[standings league_id=3 template=extend logo=true]