The Plastic Hippo

April 6, 2013

Walsall fantasy football

Filed under: Birmingham,History,Media,Sport,Walsall,Wolverhampton — theplastichippo @ 2:47 am
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Image via

Today, Walsall Football Club celebrates 125 years of history, triumph, disaster and survival; year number 126 might just prove to be the best yet.

In 1888, when Walsall Town Football Club merged with Walsall Swifts Football Club to become, unsurprisingly, Walsall Town Swifts, Queen Victoria was on the throne and the Marquess of Salisbury was Prime Minister. The year brought to the world T.S. Eliot, John Logie Baird and T.E. Lawrence and witnessed the passing of Matthew Arnold, Edward Lear and Louisa May Alcott. The Financial Times was first published, Jack the Ripper was doing his worst in and around Whitechapel and Van Gogh cut off a piece of his own ear. More importantly, the Football League was founded. The first 12 clubs included Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Walsall Town Swifts would become founder members of the Football League Second Division in 1892 and would be renamed as Walsall Football Club in 1896.

The more recent and financially troubled past has been thoroughly documented elsewhere and given the current economic turmoil affecting Cyprus, it might be best to look forward rather than back. The delightful mathematic permutations of the closing of the season offer some tantalising possibilities. Saddlers, instead of the familiar white-knuckle stresses and sheer good luck required to avoid relegation, are actually in a position of safety and, astonishingly, are just three points away from a place in promotion play-offs. Today`s home game against Sheffield United, currently in fourth place and four points ahead of Walsall is the definition of the mythical “six-pointer”. If top of the table Doncaster beat Tranmere and arch-rivals Shrewsbury put one over on Yeovil, Saddlers could be in the play-off zone if they win five nil. Look, in mathematics, anything is possible.

With four games to go against three weaker sides, Walsall could actually be knocking on the door of promotion and that opens up all manner of consequences. Leaving the troubled Coventry City languishing in League One, next season could find Walsall travelling to Derby County, Birmingham City and, if they survive in the Championship, Wolves. Add to this the distinct possibility, and only dare whisper this in the streets of Aston, that Villa might be relegated from the Premier League and we have the perfect set-up for a West Midlands super league. West Brom will miss the party as they remain safe in the upper echelon.

Just imagine Walsall supporters being able to Tweet: “Nigel Kennedy, Tom Hanks, David Cameron, HRH Prince William…your boys took one hell of a beating.” We can dream, can`t we?

If the fortunes of Walsall are to wax as the fortunes of the Villa wane, the ugly monster of sponsorship, television rights and corporate interest is bound to raise its three heads like Cerberus defending the entry slip roads to the M6. The solution is simple. Walsall FC move to Witton and Villa move to Bescot. The excellent rail and motorway links between the two stadia will make the travelling time inconsequential to loyal supporters and it makes economic sense in the current financial climate to make the best of available facilities. The Baggies, if they so wish, can have a kick around on the Arboretum extension, it`s in better nick than the pitch at the Hawthorns.

Allowing the imagination to run wild and assuming that the Saddlers can shake off the history of directors that are a bit weird, perhaps success on the field of play could attract investment from even weirder but more wealthy business consortiums with an interest in Far East betting scams. If this were to happen, then Walsall FC would spend only a year in the Championship and be promoted to the Premiership under the captaincy of Lionel Messi and the goal scoring talent of most of the Brazilian World Cup squad. A year after that, Saddlers would be running out to fireworks and anthems at the San Siro, the Nou Camp and Old Trafford with a good chance of bringing back the Champions League Trophy to a muddy field in Chuckery where the whole thing started.

Happy birthday Walsall Town Swifts and good luck today. First we take Sheffield, then we take Scunthorpe, Bury and Crewe.

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