The Wacky Races at the top of the Championship
The top half of the Championship is a ruthless arena, seemingly always populated by a wide variety of characters each season. As the jostling for play-off position continues to rage into the new year, the current eclectic assortment brings to mind a favourite of the past. But who will win the Wacky Race to Wembley?
Dick Dastardly and Muttley in the Mean Machine
The team everyone loves to hate. You could make a case for Millwall to fit the bill here without a doubt, but the high-profile nature of Dastardly and his sidekick demands, dare it be said, a bigger club. One that often receive the prefix of “Dirty”. And who else could truly take on the role of Dick and perform it so perfectly as Ken Bates?
Played by: Leeds United
The Slag Brothers in the Bouldermobile
Careful now. There might be a distinctly East Anglian flavour here but the treatment of women in football has never been under more intense scrutiny than at present. Direct your eyes not to the boardroom and good old Delia but instead to the way in which the marvellously-named Slag Brothers were forced to reconstruct their vehicle, using prehistoric creatures to help them along the way. Picture Paul Lambert as the man with the task of rebuilding. And the prehistoric creature? Poor Delia. You thought it, not me.
Played by: Norwich City
The Gruesome Twosome in the Creepy Coupe
Again, plenty of candidates. But, in the end, there can only be two. And you can even take your pick as to who makes up this horrific duo. If you are a Red, you may wish to select chairman Nigel Doughty and chief executive Mark Arthur for their endless, doomed forays into the transfer market. Ominous league form and the impending close of the January transfer window may come back to haunt that choice, though. Instead, if not a follower of the Tricky Trees, you might choose the scheming Scot, manager Billy Davies, and the creepy kerb crawler David Pleat – football consultant on the banks of the River Trent.
Played by: Nottingham Forest
Professor Pat Pending in the Convert-a-Car
Obvious one. Gleaming cranium forever focused on football, it has to be that lifetime student of the game – the one and only Sven-Goran Eriksson. Equipped with a multitude of gadgets? You betcha. His team are forever changing, taking on different identities throughout the season as a series of loan signings arrive and depart. And he has converted them from relegation favourites into outsiders for promotion.
Played by: Leicester City
Red Max in the Crimson Haybailer
Far more tricky. This particular contestant’s ability to leapfrog opponents is reminiscent of a side that started last season in terrible shape, only to perform a succession of overtaking manoeuvres over the second half of the campaign.
Played by: Reading
Penelope Pitstop in the Compact Pussycat
With Delia already occupied elsewhere, it is not so much the femininity of Penelope Pitstop that secures this role but instead a reputation for attractiveness. The Arsenal of the Championship. The Barcelona of the lower leagues. Call them what you like. Everyone knows that they play the pretty passing stuff.
Played by: Swansea City
Sergeant Blast in the Army Surplus Special
A formidable figure in charge of a well-drilled group of young men who fight for every point? No stars, but a team of hard workers punching above their weight and surpassing expectations? They’re pretty special.
Played by: Watford
The Ant Hill Mob in the Bulletproof Bomb
Casting no aspersions. There is no implication of illegal behaviour. But there are loads of them. Ecclestone, Paladini, Briatore, Bhatia… And that’s before you even mention Neil Warnock or his gigantic squad. Strength in depth. Safety in numbers. One angry mob if they don’t get promotion this year.
Played by: Queen’s Park Rangers
Lazy Luke in the Arkansas Chuggabug
One of the more tenuous connections on the list. A hillbilly who tends to drive while half-asleep, you say? How about a bunch of valley boys who should already be competing in the top flight but for a lack of staying power at the end of the last two seasons? Harsh, certainly. The languid playing style of Jay Bothroyd is an extra reason. A team packed with top talent but one that seems to suffer from narcolepsy during the big occasion…
Played by: Cardiff City
Peter Perfect in the Turbo Terrific
He’s the man of the moment isn’t he? Immaculate principles. Not a wrinkle in sight. Everyone wanted a piece of Eddie Howe, but he dealt with the whole saga in a dignified fashion. Whether he is indeed perfect may depend on how close his new charges go to promotion this season.
Played by: Burnley
Rufus Ruffcut in the Buzzwagon
There is more to this team than muscle, but the imposing presence of Steve Morison up top and a defence as strong as any, particular in their own tough corner of South London, means they cannot escape this label. The fans are generally not to be messed with either. Full Metal Jackett.
Played by: Millwall