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The HolicsRopeyLeague!!

In accordance with the time-honoured traditions of the service here at GoonerholicsForever we are following up TTG’s excellent in-depth end of season review with a brief trip to the land of fantasy and wonder that was, if memory serves, the 93rd edition of the HolicsRopeyLeague. In this fantasy land there are only two rules, every team requires an Arsenal player and nary an elf spud must be seen. 

As mentioned in the title GHF once again outperformed every G7 economy as 14 runners were loaded in the stalls this time, an astonishing 40% increase from the 21-22 season!  The usual collection of highly-seasoned holics were joined this time by Depressed Gooner, Up4GrabsNow, Lonestar and Young Lonestar in the merry month of er.. August and we set off on our 38-week trek across more fences than the Grand National. A strained analogy perhaps, though one did suffer from hold-ups because of some absurd fanatics who wanted to promote their radical views and I heard the Grand National had issues too. 

Elbows flew left and right in the early season jostle before The Mikelin Stars dinosaured their way into an early lead. Now I know what you’re thinking – did dinosaurs even have elbows? But worry not, this isn’t Fox News and extensive research has shown they absolutely did. By the time of the World Cup hiatus however, the technical wizardry of ATG had seen Polonia Bytom FC posing the question to the pursuing horde of ravenous holics. We answered by turning the league off and then turning it on again in December. As Winter ground inexorably on and the old titans fell away it came down to the final few. High Bar had taken the lead in December and battled nip and tuck with ATG and an elite force of Kentish Vikings but just behind there was something stirring in the East.  Whilst not quite a sleepless malice, the beady, greedy eye of the Ovinae having set its sights upon the ultimate prize, hovered a while and then pounced in March (seriously? sheep do not hover or pounce, Ed.). A furious fight to the finish through April and May ensued before your writer, in the guise of High Bar, eventually triumphed by the slender margin of 9 points. Ultimate Sheep, managed by Young OM, made it a family one-two and that staunch Scandinavian, TTG, finished a respectable third. To finish off the season, as you may have already seen in the drinks, the first-ever HolicsRopeyLeagueConference Cup was won by Los Tejas Gooners after a thrilling stomp through fields of giants proved the truth of the golden oldie “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. It really was up4grabsnow. 

As a matter of tegriddy, I would note that as organiser of our august competition I felt it only right and proper to decline The Management’s kindly offered prize of a case of 1964 Chateau Petrus and a Peerage. We all know service is its own reward 😉

Cheers to one and all for a fun competition – the drinks are on the High Bar!

A new Predicatathon from GHF!!

From next season I am happy to say there will another opportunity to put your best wits forward against your fellow ‘holics in a new competition…..and TTG is here to tell you all about it below. Take it away, TTG!


We are introducing a prediction competition for ‘holics for next season. The object is to predict in which position the 20 Premier League teams will finish the 2023-24 season.

Ned will send you an entry blank in late July. All you have to do is rank the teams in the positions you think they will occupy at the end of next season. He must receive your completed entry before the first match kicks off on August 12. There is no opportunity to revise your predictions once you have submitted them.

We will score your predictions using a calculation based on squared differences between actual and predicted positions. The player with the lowest total score wins. We will produce regular updates to enable you to follow your fortunes over the season. 

The calculation methodology has been used successfully in a competition called ‘The Aficionados’, which has been running for 20 years (and involves several mathematicians and actuaries who are satisfied with the soundness of the calculation). 

The entry fee will be £10. All money collected will go to Willow via TTG, who will act as a banker. 

The Aficionados also have an additional competition (entry fee £5) which enables competitors to pick who will be the first Premier League manager to be sacked. If there is an appetite for this to be added, it will let us increase our donation to Willow by 50%! 

We hope all ‘holics will enjoy this new competition, which provides enjoyment and interest throughout the season.

33 Drinks to “The Drinks Are On The High Bar As GHF Outperforms G7!!”

  1. 1
    Ttg says:

    Well done Matt
    As I didn’t have the same conflict of interest I took the Petrus but I already have a peerage which cost me a fortune to acquire from Lord Lucan

  2. 2
    bathgooner says:

    A fine review of a keenly fought season, Matt.

    Congratulations also on a masterful season-long performance and a well deserved victory. As my journeymen finished almost 300 points behind yours, I can only bow in awe and look to sell my soul as a middle eastern potentate’s plaything for next season.

    Congratulations also to Fintan and the Los Tejan Gooners for a sterling cup run and triumph, slapping aside all comers no matter their league position.

    Here’s to next season’s contests! 🥃

  3. 3
    bt8 says:

    Top contesting and contest write-ups, OM and TTG. Congratulations to the winners. I’m in for all three of next season’s contests, and would be tempted to take a stab at which manager will be sacked first if only for the small impediment that the identities of next season’s 20 managers are not yet known in a definitive sense so will hold my horses. Thanks to all involved.

  4. 4
    Ollie says:

    Congrats, fantasists!

  5. 5
    North Bank Ned says:

    Congrats on a glorious triumph, OM, and a spirited write-up.

    TTG@1: No wonder Lord Lucan disappeared…

  6. 6
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks All.

    The close season has barely started and the fixtures are already out.
    Like Saka I need a break 🙂

  7. 7
    bt8 says:

    About that contest to guess the first manager to be sacked. I dunno when the official start date is but Bournemouth seem to have jumped the gun.

    Headline: Cherries sack Gary O’Neil and appoint Andoni Iraola as new head coach

    I suppose all clubs have the entire summer to sack their managers, but Super Mik seems pretty secure.

  8. 8
    bt8 says:

    One item of interest in that story:

    Before joining Bilbao’s youth academy, Iraola got his football education at the renowned Basque club Antiguoko alongside Mikel Arteta and Xabi Alonso

  9. 9
    North Bank Ned says:

    Anyone who’d like to take part in the 2023-24 prediction completion and who hasn’t yet registered their interest can do so here in the drinks. Sixteen have stepped up so far, but the more, the merrier.

  10. 10
    Trev says:

    Ned, I only registered my interest with a “count me in too” in here.
    Is that enough or is some formal action / payment required at this stage ?

  11. 11
    Ollie says:

    More bad news for Silvers for next season:
    Silvers / Reds that are successful in the Silver or Red ballot will not be able to choose their seat – this will be allocated via the ballot process.

  12. 12
    North Bank Ned says:

    Trev@10: Nothing more to do at this point. You are counted and in.

  13. 13
    North Bank Ned says:

    From out where are they now dept: Dan Crawley, tagged as the new Jack Wilshere when at our Academy, has signed for Notts County, newly promoted to the Football League. Now 25, Crawley left as a teenager for Willem II in the Dutch Erdevise before playing for Hull, Birmingham, Cheltenham and most recently, Morecombe. Making it at Arsenal is hard.

  14. 14
    Sancho Panza says:

    Can I also have a piece of the action if allowed. Merci.

  15. 15
    bathgooner says:

    Ollie @10, that’s a crock of shit. With this ballot arrangement I don’t expect to attend more than a handful of games next season. I’ll continue to support Arsenal by watching live broadcasts or streams but I’ll probably start watching Bristol City for a live Saturday football experience. At least I’ll also know that the playing field hasn’t been skewed by oil-riggers.

  16. 16
    OsakaMatt says:

    Havertz seems to be close – not a player I was expecting us to buy and I struggle to see him in Xhaka’s place as I have seen suggested in a couple of places.
    TP5 being sold to a Saudi club? Rice is an obvious replacement I suppose.

  17. 17
    Ollie says:

    Sounds good, bath. I’ll go to PSG games…joking! 🙂
    Yep, I have no idea what my attendance is going to be next season, now it’s going to partly be out of my hands. But I was at least hoping to be able to have some choice in seat selection.

  18. 18
    North Bank Ned says:

    SP@14: We’ll add you to the list.

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Another of our Academy alumni is on the move. Julio Pleguezuelo has signed for Plymouth Argyle, newly promoted to the Championship, from Twente Enschede, which he joined after leaving us in 2019. As with Dan Crowley, there were high hopes for Pleguezuelo, who is now 26, that ultimately went unfulfilled. Neither played a first-team game for us, despite playing more than 100 times between them for the U-21s.

  20. 20
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@16: If Partey is sold to the Saudis, it might provide sufficient spondulicks to give Sullivan the nominal £100 million he wants for Rice.

    I agree with you about Havertz not being a replacement for Xhaka. At Bayer Leverkusen, Havertz operated on the right as an attacking midfielder or winger and only occasionally as a centre-forward (where the Chavs mostly played him, to his detriment). He seems more of an option to share the playing load of MØ8 and Saka, which would push Vieira down the pecking order. ESR seems a more likely Xhaka replacement. I have wondered if Arteta is doing to ESR what he did to Martinelli, keeping him on the sidelines for a season, both to heal from injury but also to foment a desire to get into the team.

  21. 21
    OsakaMatt says:

    @20 that seems more likely to me too Ned.
    I could certainly see Havertz on the right and might be useful to have like Trossard.
    We signed Reiss again so I think that may be it for attacking players coming in.

  22. 22
    Trev says:

    Cheers Ned ! and more good drinks from you just above. A shame work stops me from joining in more often.

  23. 23
    Trev says:

    Aye Matt.? I’m looking forward to seeing more of Reiss – often steps up to change a game, or at least it’s momentum.

  24. 24
    OsakaMatt says:

    Not sure what the future holds for Reiss really. A couple of great moments last season but not much football. Fantastic for us that we have lots of competition across the front three but tough love for some of the players.

  25. 25
    bt8 says:

    Re: Ned @19. Hoping we get to face Argyll in one of the cups so we get to see Pleguezuelo but we aren’t plagued overly by Julio’s play.

  26. 26
    bt8 says:

    The chances of Rice to Arsenal are sounding reasonably positive at the moment according to the Guardian.


  27. 27
    bt8 says:

    In light of the seemingly over the top sum of cash we are about to spend on buying Havertz, I was trying to remember a surprisingly big money signing who turned out positively for Arsenal. It depends how you define the phrase “surprisingly big money” I suppose but other than to say I mean surprising purely from an Arsenal fan’s point of view, the first name that came into my head was Ben White. I imagine there may be many others but they don’t come to mind at the moment.

  28. 28
    bt8 says:

    As a counterbalance to the Guardian story linked @26, there’s this somewhat less sanguine story from Sky: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11095/12907523/declan-rice-manchester-city-to-enter-race-for-west-ham-captain-after-arsenal-bids-rejected

  29. 29
    North Bank Ned says:

    bt8@27: Ramsdale, perhaps?

  30. 30
    ecg says:

    Maybe Saliba?

  31. 31
    OsakaMatt says:

    Yeah, I thought the Saliba buy was kind of crazy when we did it, and to be honest I still suspect there was something iffy financially about that deal. Course it looks like a stroke of genius now 😃

  32. 32
    OsakaMatt says:

    I have to shamefacedly admit I thought we had overpaid for Thierry when we bought him…

  33. 33
    Bathgooner says: