So how do you make a season-long prediction league contest that little bit more interesting? The lads at OTT Towers wondered just that as they prepared for the forthcoming League of Ireland Premier Division season to commence.

Yes, we’d all played the prediction league game before. It’s fine in itself, a bit of fun to make otherwise forgettable fixtures a bit more relevant, especially if you don’t support either of the sides involved in a game. However, we wanted to find a way we could “use” it for something more than some light-hearted fun amongst ourselves.

Then the suggestion was made that we each nominate a local charity that we would ‘play for’ all season, with everyone contributing an agreed wager (£10) to the victor’s charity. It was a suggestion that deservedly received unanimous support.

For myself, there was only one charity that I could nominate. My father had early symptom prostate cancer a few years ago (which he thankfully made a full recovery from), and during that period he got involved with and collected donations for Marie Curie Cancer Care (www.mariecurie.org.uk). They are a fantastic organisation who provide care and support to people living with a terminal illness. They provide informational support, hospice care, and nursing assistance to those who wish to live out their last years in their own home.

The other lads selected a variety of worthy organisations to represent as well, and we were ready to begin the season. Despite having limited knowledge of the players in the League of Ireland Premier Division (as a Linfield fan, I am primarily interested in the Irish League after all!), I had done well in previous incarnations of the competition. I was hopeful of doing Marie Curie justice, at the very least.

With two lads (Liam and Keith) who follow League of Ireland clubs in the running, I knew it would be stiff competition to get to the top and stay there. That’s exactly how it turned out, with Liam (representing the Irish Cancer Society) surging into an early lead, and indeed threatening to run away with the whole competition at one stage!

However, as the campaign wound ever onwards, the clubs’ form in the Premier League became somewhat more predictable. It sometimes seemed to be a case of predicting how many goals Shamrock Rovers would win a match by, or alternatively, how many goals Cork City might suffer defeat by!

Liam seemed to have a firmer grip on those margins than the rest of us, as he led the prediction league by nine points by mid-October. My priority was to hang on to the second position I was then sitting in, with Keith and Richard putting me under severe pressure.

Then, somehow a swing in form for a few clubs matched my predictions, and the nine-point gap was reduced to three, with a single round of games remaining. Such is the random nature of prediction leagues!

On the final day of the season, Derry City grabbed only a single point in Cork, Bohemians won 2-1 at St. Pat’s, and Shamrock Rovers couldn’t grab the third goal which would have matched Liam’s 3-0 prediction for them at Shelbourne.

That was enough to see me snatch the title from Liam by two points, 54 to 52. To be honest, having pretty much given up on catching him a few weeks ago, it was a pleasant surprise!

However, that wasn’t the real purpose of the exercise. The reason for persisting all season has been to do our best for the charities we chose to represent, and I think we can all look back with satisfaction in having achieved that aim.

I’d like to sign off by thanking Cameron for taking the time to organise and administrate the competition this season; I think I speak for all of us when I say it has been an enjoyable pastime which has made the League of Ireland Premier League season more enjoyable for all of us.

OTT League of Ireland Premier Division Prediction League 2020 – Final Table:

1. Rodney (Marie Curie Cancer Care) 54
2. Liam (Irish Cancer Society) 52
3. Keith (North-West Hospital) 49
4. Darren (Cancer Research UK) 44
5. Richard (The National Autistic Society) 43
6. Cameron (Prostate Cancer UK) 37
7. Adrian (Alzheimer’s Society) 34

 

By Rodney McCain