Next Saturday sees the 11th Kenna League fantasy football auction.
It’s a unique experience. Around 20 managers perched around a pub table, player lists at the ready, trying to make eleven signings in a 4-4-2 formation to win them the league.
In a process that takes up to six hours, alcohol, self-doubt, bluff and double bluff are just some of the challenges managers must overcome.
Where no manager can buy more than one player from each Premier League club, the Titus Bramble forfeit ruling lurks at every turn.
With many already paid up, here are the benefits of taking one of the few remaining places at the table.
1. ManYoo v Spurs and Chels v Swans will be on in the background
For the first time, the auction will take place on the opening day of the season. Managers will have to to decide whether a Carlton Cole brace means he’s a top, top, top, top, top, top player or just plain old CFC (Carlton effing Cole) on a lucky day. Hundreds of other mind-boggling permutations await.
2. You will only have to make transfers twice this season
As Ruud Gullit discovered, football isn’t all bars and discotheques. Expect for Kenna managers, it is. They are only required to visit the pub three times a season to stay in with a shot at the title: the auction and two transfer windows.
3. Proper champagne will be served before the bidding begins
Thanks to the generosity of last season’s cash winners, a toast will be made before the auction to The 1,000-year Kenna. Which is a damn sight longer than this Kenny Rogers wannabe, who looks like he wouldn’t last 1,000 milliseconds.
3. For the next nine months, you can smugly explain the Kenna to wide-eyed, envious simpletons still sucking from the teat of FPL/Mirror/Sky Sports fantasy football
Kenna managers past and present will tell you it’s the superior form of the game. Everyone else is just lining the pockets of media barons.
5. From midday you can start drinking. Heavily.
Your unfathomable thirst has a home. So long as you buy the chairman a drink.
6. The joy of watching other, less-informed managers sign injured players.
Sly glances shoot across the table. Wasn’t he was stretchered off in a friendly last week? He’s out for a few months, isn’t he? But now two people are actually bidding for him. Can everyone keep a poker face until the hammer goes down? The sale. The mirth. The pure relief you checked your initial instinct to bid. ‘He’s injured.’
7. The auction will take place on a balcony with an outdoor telly and a retractable awning so you can smoke without interruption to your bidding tactics.
The old days of crowding around a table bursting with pint glasses, player lists and hedgehog ashtrays are back.
8. At some point someone will Bramble themselves both hideously and comically.
Like the morning session of the first day of at Lord’s, the opening lots are a low key affair. Those assembled bubble quietly. Politely. A slow dramatic build up as managers begin to fill their team sheets and rounds of drinks appear and appear again. The moment will finally come when someone, somewhere buys an illegal player. The stumps clatter, bails fly and everyone shouts ‘BRAMBLE!’. All of a sudden it’s the evening session on the
third second day of Edgbaston.
9. Due to other commitments, the treasurer is sending a second who’s never taken part in a Kenna auction before.
Either by carelessness or design, the treasurer is unable to attend the auction in person. In his stead will be a second. A decent enough sort, but by all accounts a Kenna virgin who will spend the first hour wondering what the blazes is unfolding. It remains to be seen whether this recipe will improve on the two third place finishes the treasurer achieved in the last two seasons.
10. At £25, it’s cheaper to enter than most STD-free hookers.
How willing are you to prove this wrong?