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Meridian Pull Challenge
at 21:02 23 Jun 2017

Dear U'suals

Over the years I have been humbled by the incredible generosity shown by Col U fans towards so many fantastic causes, and not least my personal pleas for sponsorship donations on behalf of (amongst others) Cancer Research, the British Heart Foundation, Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Next Wednesday (28th June), a team of six colleagues are entering the Meridian Pull, an 8.5 mile row on the River Thames from Battersea, past the Houses of Parliament, through the centre of London, under Tower Bridge and finishing at Greenwich. I'm providing much-needed support, and we are raising funds for the AHOY Centre (who organise the event, and where the race ends). The AHOY Centre run courses and training programmes to help disadvantaged children, young vulnerable people and those with disabilities gain qualifications and essential life skills needed for employment - a cause that many of you may know is very important on a personal level.

The AHOY Centre may not be a big name charity, but I was there with our team yesterday evening for their final training session, and I could see first-hand just what a fantastic job they are doing. I could also see just how much difference even small change will make to the incredible work they do.

There's a link below for donations, and thanks for anything you can spare - you are all beautiful people!
U'sual Champions League - final
at 23:01 10 May 2017

Without further ado, the semi-finals have finished as follows:

Despite a spirited rearguard action from Kev with outcomes for both Juve's home and away wins, Burnsie has battered his way into the U'sual Champions League final with 8pts, courtesy of Real's home win outcome and Ronaldo's hat-trick in the first leg, Mbappe's goal last night, and in excellent form Atletico Madrid's 2-1 win spot-on tonight.

Similarly, MFB's blistering form in all competitions continues, also with Real's first leg home win outcome and Ronaldo's hat-trick, backed up by Juve's first leg away win outcome plus two goals for Higuain, and Juve's home win outcome last night, for an equally impressive 8pts. Particular commiserations for Gate though, as his spot-on for Juve's 2-0 away win in the first leg, their home win outcome for the 2nd leg match yesterday, and Griezmann's goal tonight, kept matters very close right to the end with 5pts.

So, the U'sual Champions League final is between:

And the 3rd place match is between:

The final is Juventus v Real Madrid on Saturday 3rd June 2017 (kick-off 1945).

As usual, there are nine categories to predict, so please PM me your predictions for the following: 
(A) Result - 3pts spot-on, 1pt for the outcome; 
(B) Goal scorer - pick one, get 1pt for each goal they score (including own goals); 
(C) Attempts on target - 2pts for spot-on, 1pt if within one; 
(D) Attempts off target - ditto; 
(E) Corners - ditto; 
(F) Fouls - ditto; 
(G) Yellow cards - ditto (a straight red is not two yellows); and 
(H) Red cards - ditto (two yellows will count as two yellows and one red). 
(TB) The tie-break is the minute for the first substitution, closest (either side) wins. In the unlikely event that there are no substitutions, this will be 0 (zero) minutes.

Note that for the final alone, a spot-on result will not count towards the tie-break.

As usual, all predictions will be for the normal time match stats as provided by BBC Sport online, extra-time or penalties will not count. The only questions you can't match exactly on are (A) and (TB), so whilst there is no other advantage to predicting first, predicting last may mean having to change one or both of those predictions. Assuming I have time, I will warn anyone of this situation, but if you send your predictions too close to kick-off, I really can't guarantee I will be able to respond in time.

...and finally, as a tie-break wasn't required, I can now share your predictions for the U's v Yeovil attendance, as follows:
Actual attendance = 6,565
Burnsieespana = 7,084 (519 off)
Colukev = 5,997 (568 off)
Gate16 = 6,781 (216 - well done sir!)
MFB = 6,245 (320)
You are all to be collectively praised for this, because your average of 6,527 was just 38 off the actual attendance!
Play-off contenders
at 22:56 6 May 2017

So, now all is said and done, who do we want to say cheerio to in the play-offs? With apologies to our Northern Branch, Carlisle are front and centre as my preferred team to be victorious in the play-offs...
U'sual Champions League - Semi-finals
at 20:49 25 Apr 2017

Firstly, my apologies for the delay in providing the update, I was in Newcastle all week at a conference, and then Colchester all weekend for the U's followed by a school reunion. Still, a fascinating conclusion to the quarter-finals to report on.

Group 1
1} Burnsieespana 0/3 3pts
=2} Ethicsgirl 0/2 2pts
=2} Colukev 0/2 2pts
4} Gsy163 0/1 1pts

With slim pickings all round from the second legs, and particularly with the Real Madrid home win counting as an away win for Bayern Munich at the end of normal time, there were just solitary points for Burnsie, Ethics and Kev. Burnsie wins the group by one point, Ethics and Kev go into sudden death play-off for the second qualifying place, which given my tardiness getting back on to the U'sual will mean predicting the attendance for Orient v U's on Saturday (a heads-up that me and my youngest will be there, so +2 on your predictions). Congratulations for now to Burnsie, and commiserations to Guerno.

Group 2
1} Gate16 1/1 4pts
2} MFB 0/4 4pts
3} Wessex_exile 0/2 2pts
4} Jonestones 0/0 0pts

Well I said me and Gate would have to be separated by a spot-on result, and congratulations to Gate for getting exactly that with the Monaco 3 Dortmund 1 result. He finishes the group top on spot-ons, with the MFB prediction league juggernaut easily claiming second spot with a mightily impressive four outcomes (out of 8). That left me in third, and JT bringing up the rear after unfortunately missing the first leg predictions.

So, well done to Burnsie, Gate and MFB who are already in the hat for the semi-finals, and Ethics and Kev may I please have your attendance predictions for Orient vs U's at Brisbane Rd. Posting them here is fine, but if you'd rather then do PM them to me. I will make both public once I have them, and should either fail to make a prediction, they will be assigned an attendance prediction of zero. Winner will be closest to the actual attendance (obviously: this isn't Price Is Right chaps, you can't go bust).
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U'sual Champions League - Quarter-finals
at 12:41 20 Mar 2017

The draw has been made, and the fixtures (all 1945 kick-offs) are as follows:

Tuesday 11th April 2017
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco
Juventus v Barcelona

Wednesday 12th April 2017
Atlético Madrid v Leicester City
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

Tuesday 18th April 2017
Leicester City v Atlético Madrid
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich

Wednesday 19th April 2017
Barcelona v Juventus
Monaco v Borussia Dortmund

Usual rules apply, first to post is not a factor, but you may only have one exact match with each of your fellow group members throughout all eight games. Top two from each group go into the hat for the semi-final draw, and if a play-off decider is needed, it will be predicting the attendance at the next U's game (currently set to be U's v Plymouth on Sat 22nd April).

As a reminder, the qualifiers in each group are as follows:
Group 1

Group 2

Good luck everyone!
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at 21:04 27 Feb 2017

I can't vouch for the intel from the OMB, but if your thinking about a trip to the Shabby, get your tickets asap, as it's reported we'll only get 1,400 and not the overspill terrace. Bought mine this morning, and we'd already sold over 900.
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