Topsy Turvy Tables

POOLIE IN NOTTINGHAM looks at the league tables

This season is just about a quarter of the way through, but already things are starting to shake out a bit. Pools are pretty much where I expected them to be, although not in the way they have done it. Those first few games without a goal had me nervously glancing at the Conference tables to see some mouthwatering potential fixtures at Salisbury, Alfreton and Dartford, but since we remembered how to score we look far healthier.

In ours and the other leagues there are a few surprises. I'm not a big follower of the Premiershit, but it's nice to see both of the Manchester clubs way off the pace. I'm surprised that Arsenal are setting the pace already, but Southampton are the biggest shocker for me. I would dearly love them to finish in the top 4 and deny one of the 'big boys' a place in the Champions League, but I think they will peter out a bit as the season goes on. Down at the bottom there are no real surprises - you could have bet your house on Palace to go straight back down again, and surely the Mackems are due another season of embarrassment after their close shave last year.

The Championship is truly the most exciting league in the world, and once again there is no way you can predict which three teams will make it to the promised land in May. Realistically, at least half the teams in that division have a fair chance of promotion, as most teams can beat any of the others on their day and put a decent run together. And let us not forget the former high-flyers who have found their way out of that league in the wrong direction - maybe it's Bolton's turn this year? Sheffield Wednesday look like hitting another nadir, proving once and for all that they really aren't a big club."Venturing down to the Conference South, can anyone tell me just who the bloody hell Concord Rangers and Whitehawk are?"

At the top of what I now think of as our spiritual home, League One, I'm dead chuffed for Leyton Orient to be showing the bigger teams the way to do it. Hopefully they will be able to sustain the form, and not wither away like Tranmere did last season. Now Sheffield United have picked up a few points I expect them to pull away from the danger zone, but how much fun would it be to see Bristol City in the 4th tier next year? They are one of the many teams I love to see lose, in their case thanks to the antics of their 'fans' after that play-off semi-final at Ashton Gate.

League Two is still a massively open field, with only 6 points separating the top 13 clubs. The only really unusual position in there at the moment is Portsmouth - I fully expected them to be challenging this season thanks to their multi-million parachute payment from the Premiershit. The fact that they got this after doing over creditors yet again after another administration last season is subject matter for another article (as is the fact that their 10 points should have been deducted at the start of this season), and I take plenty of pleasure seeing them below us in the table.

The Conference is panning out as it usually does, with a former league team leading the way. I hope Cambridge make it back into the league, as it's a great away day with plenty of good pubs. Venturing down to the Conference South, can anyone tell me just who the bloody hell Concord Rangers and Whitehawk are? Neither of them are 'flying high' so it's unlikely they will trouble the real Conference next season, but I really think there should be a requirement for teams within the pyramid to have a sensible name.

Which brings me on to the last league which doesn't appear to be all going to plan, according to a few hardy souls. Darlington 1883 now play in the Evo-Stik First Division North. The league table takes some finding, even with the power of Google, and despite the expectation that they would charge their way up through the lower reaches like a cheetah with its arse on fire, they currently occupy the fourth spot. They recently lost to the mighty Curzon Ashton, who sit in second place, seven points ahead of them with two games in hand.

Now Pools may have been shite last season, but we salvaged a bit of pride here and there. Even on that long winless run, nothing can compare to playing second fiddle to a side who sound like they were named after the hero of an Agatha Christie novel.