football predictions since 1979
Part One: Dawn of the Predictions 1979-1982

In 1979 I started work in H.M. Naval Dockyard, Chatham (Kent) as a Clerical Assistant for the Ministry of Defence. The job was compiling statistics for the Statistical Management Group of P.S.T.O.(N.) or the Principal Stores and Transport Office (Navy) - some title. Margaret Thatcher was a fairly new Prime Minister when the Dockyard and Stores were still in a culture of strong unions, and time & motion studies. The building stood on the site of the current Canterbury Christchurch University, Medway Campus, in what is now Chatham Maritime. I sat next to a chap called Glen Grunwell and we started discussing football. We were just 16, and both football-mad.


The Christ Church University Building, Chatham Maritime, Kent, in the U.K. Technically in Gillingham, this building is on the site of the original PSTO(N) building, of Chatham Naval Dockyard, where Mike Phillips and Glen Grunwell worked from 1979-1981. This is where the FPA began in 1979-80. Image: Christ Church University (click map for location)


We worked with a friendly group of people who had mostly come through the stores career route into clerical positions. In this semi-working class, semi-clerical world the talk nearly always revolved around football, especially on a Monday morning when the men would come in and say things like "I could've bet on that being 2-0" or "I could've told you they were going to win away". This got me thinking - why not prove how good we all were at forecasting ('predicting') scores of football matches? So we started predicting games verbally to each other, before the weekend, in 1979, then seeing how we'd done when we came back to work on Monday morning,

This was an era before computers, before the Premier League, and before betting options on specific scores or results (called 'Tipping' in some other countries). Only the traditional Pools system existed, where punters tried to forecast scoring draws from the range of potential homes, aways and draws.

And so it began, with a trial period running for the last 10 weeks of the 1979-1980 season, including the F.A.Cup, which we predicted. I drew up a chart for names and points for each week (I still have that chart which has been scanned and will appear here soon). We gained 1 point for a correct result (home, away or draw) and 2 points for an exact score (known since then as a maximum score, or 'maximum'), and 3 points for anyone who got the F.A.Cup result exact. We used English First Division games, the equivalent of the Premier League now. To give us an extra game, and a local interest, we included the local league side Gillingham FC. The trial was a success, with 14 finishers.



This was also the beginning of a trend - wherever I worked throughout my life, I absorbed or 'persuaded' fellow work colleagues to get predicting our great game of football. Until I worked for a company based in London, may years later in 2008, all my jobs were local, so the link to Gillingham FC always gave that added interest.



Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham, Kent. 'The Home of the Shouting Men', Gillingham Football Club, known as 'The Gills' ('Jills'). One of the original wooden stands, only replaced in the 1990s, was built by workers from nearby Chatham Dockyard. Image: Gillingham FC


And so, the stage was set for the first ever FPA full season. We didn't know of any other system in existence, we just did it for ourselves, and for fun. For all we know, the FPA may be the oldest and longest running British predictions competition, possibly worldwide. The league began in earnest for 1980-1981 in an era of English dominance of the European Cup (Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa), Brian Moore and Jimmy Hill on TV, and players in shiny shirts, and short shorts. Most of the records from this era are lost, sadly. However I did keep some basic records, including the top four places and the highest scores of the season. We do know that the first proper season was won by John Burrluck, with Plymouth supporter Dave Evans as runner-up. Mark Grunwell was third and Mike Phillips fourth, two names that would both come to be regulars in the league. We don't know how many entrants were in that league but it was between 10-20 predictors. High scores of the year came from John Burrluck, Dave Evans and a nice, older chap called Bill Packer, who was the first person to rely heavily on 2-1 home scores. He used to say "if you put a row of twos and ones, many of them come up".

The 1981-1982 season saw a lot more interest in the league, with entrants now taking predicting as more than just fun but as virtually a science, or an art form. This year was also significant as it saw the introduction of competition in the form of a 'professional' forecaster: Peter Campling, representing The Sun newspaper. Since the newspapers used to give tips for the Pools, they needed pundits or tipsters. We took The Sun's forecasts and pitted his against the rest of us. At one stage the 1981-1982 season peaked with 21 people. Unfortunately, the league was about to suffer a double blow, in the guise of the word 'Trident'. Trident was the new missile system for Britain's nuclear deterrent submarine force, designed to replace Polaris. For Britain and the M.O.D. to afford this, so the argument went, the Navy needed to make cuts and the sacrifice was to be the Chatham Dockyard, as decided by a minister called John Nott. Although the Dockyard wasn't due to close until 1984, the M.O.D. started offering staff new positions in other parts of the Civil Service. Mike and Glen left in 1981 and for a while, Chris Clarke continued to organise things but once Chris left in March 1982, we lost 8 from the league; this was in the days before email and we can only guess as to what may have happened. Bert Dale, our boss, was 11 points ahead with a success rate (or 'results' percentage) of 53.28 - in other words, he was getting more than 1 in every 2 predictions right.

A few years ago, Glen Grunwell and I met for coffee in the Christ Church campus building, more than 30 years since we worked together on the same spot, and where the FPA was born. We did the draw for the Joyce Phillips League Cup.

The remaining 10 predictors soldiered on. Where many predictors had been based in the Dockyard office, the rest were a small band of brothers (and sisters) who used to meet at a Gillingham Church Youth Club on Friday nights: free snooker, darts, Subbuteo and a music system. We had a small school style exercise book to write the scores in, which I still own. That book has some funny entries in it, with predictors using such aliases as 'Ron Hillyard', the Gillingham FC goalkeeper of the time. This was the first year that anyone took notice of pure results, i.e. just points based on correct homes, aways and draws forecast, minus bonus points for maximums. Mark noticed that he had the best results performance, 10 results clear of Mike. The league actually produced a fabulous finish. Jamie 'Jeb' Muggridge came back from 11 points behind leader Mark Grunwell, and from 7th to 1st place, only to be pipped to the post by 2 points by Mark on the final week. Mark became the second winner of the league, and won the first of what was to be many title wins for him over the years. This season saw another new invention - a cup tournament where competitors went head-to-head with predictions based on the F.A.Cup, which we called (naturally enough), the F.A.Cup (and for a while the F.P.A. Cup). This was won by Brian Shrubsole, who also set a new high score record of 14 points in the league.


Salem Church Youth Club, Salem Church of the Nazarene, Nelson Road, Gillingham. Second home of the 1980-1981 and 1981-1982 seasons. Image: M.Phillips


The second blow came at the end of the season. With the Predictors scattered around and starting or changing careers, new interests and distractions in the form of relationships and new hobbies, the FPA ended after only two full seasons.


Salem Church Youth Club football team 1981-1982 with some early predictors. Back row left to right: Pete Byatt, Dave Young (FPA), Johnny Young (FPA), Mark Grunwell (FPA), Charlie Young, Mike Phillips (FPA), Kevin Young, Reverend Jim Magee, Peter Young. Front row left to right: Dave Boston (FPA), Terry (?), Dave Webb (FPA), Graham Scott. Glen Grunwell (FPA) was also in the squad and taker of the photo. Image: G.Grunwell


Part Two: The Predictions Return 1987

In summer 1987, Mark Grunwell and Mike Phillips both lived in the same Gillingham Street (as did the Springates, hence the large contribution from the Grunwell, Phillips and Springate families over the years). It was probably during a game of Subbuteo football, and certainly during a conversation at Mark's house, on 'the old predictions competitions', that Mark suggested reviving it. Mike and Mark then determined to get the league going again, and set about recruiting new members.


The Mark Grunwell family home in Carlton Avenue, Gillingham, where the leagues were revived in 1987-1988. This was also the street where both the Phillips and Springate families lived. Images: M.Phillips & Google


In the intervening years between 1982 and 1987, we had lost, sadly, Jamie 'Jeb' Muggridge who passed away in 1985 aged nearly 19. Also passed on was The Sun's tipster Peter Campling, replaced by Roy Bentley who continued to predict exact scores and not simply 1-2-X (homes, aways, draws) for the Pools, like the other newspapers.

So now we were able to continue including a professional, and with 7 other amateur predictors the league resumed (see Records for a write up of the 1987-1988 season). The FA Cup ran that season for the second time.

Four of the founder members from the first full season were there for what was to be the start of the second, and permament era of the FPA: Mike Phillips, Glen Grunwell, Joyce Phillips, Mark Grunwell.


Part Three: A New Cup and a New League 1988 - Enter the Professionals

A 1987 article in The Sun singing the praises of their 'Pools Tipster', superstar predictor Roy Bentley, alerted us to an interesting statistic. It said that Bentley was top of The Sporting Life's Tipster league for draws, with a success rate of 34.35% across all his draws predictions.



Mark Grunwell noted that 'pure results' of homes, aways, draws may be a better measure of predicting skill than exact scores. Mark had studied the previous seasons and noted that we could see how successful a predictor was based on their success percentage - for example, predict 1 week's fixtures of 10 games and get 5 correct results, equates to a 50% success rate. Also, if we ran a league on that basis, we could include more professionals such as newspaper tipsters who only forecast 1-2-X results, not exact scores like The Sun.

So for the start of the 1988-1989 season, the Results League was born. We had 9 amateurs and an impressive 10 professionals: from the newspapers, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times (Geoff Whitten), The Sunday People (David Prole), The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, The Sun (Roy Bentley) and The News of the World. Finally, there were two TV teletext tipsters, Oracle and Ceefax. The Roy Bentley article was significant, as it helped FPA to set benchmarks for performance: 33.33% and above in draws was now considered a good performance, and 50% for homes and aways. An overall success percent of 50%, known as 'The 50% Club' was the gold standard for Results League predictors.



This was also the launch year for a second cup competition, The League Cup, based on League Cup games and a pre-Christmas cup to compliment the FA Cup in the second half of the season (see Records for a write up of the 1988-1989 season)


Part Four: The Black Horse Years 1989-2001


Mountbatten House, the large red building to the right, was the home of Black Horse Financial Services, Chatham. In the foreground is a branch of Lloyds Bank, the original owners of BHFS. Image: Google Street Map


From 1987 I was working for a subsidiary company of the old Lloyds Bank, Black Horse Life (later to become Black Horse Financial Services, or BHFS). Initially I didn't think to ask work mates to join, but after a couple of retirements from the 1988-1989 season, I asked two colleagues to join in 1989-1990: Mike Sherman (a Spurs fan) and Ian Humphries (a Liverpool fan who once got me a ticket for Liverpool against Man Utd in the League Cup, at Old Trafford). Their inclusion was innocuous at first but would soon lead to a BHFS league majority (takeover?) as by 1990-1991, nine of the 16 amateurs would be BHFS staff and their relations and friends (not counting me in any of these or subsequent BHFS stats). By 1991-1992, 13 of the 19 amateurs were BHFS-related, and that season would see an all-time peak of 20 Standard League predictors and 30 Results League predictors. BHFS would remain involved in the FPA until 2001, and between them would win 12 Major titles of four Leagues and eight Cups (see Records for all season write-ups). Sadly none of the great BHFS predictors from that era are still in the FPA; it would be good to have some of them back.

I then left BHFS in the summer of 1992, and Barry Roberts-Jones continued predicting and collecting predictions from BHFS regulars.


Note written by Barry 'BRJ' to those BHFS members needing to predict an extra game, when BRJ collected the predictions from the BHFS members of FPA. Image: M.Phillips


1992-93 turned into one of the strangest seasons ever. With Mike working abroad for summer and autumn of 1992, FPA competitions were run jointly by Mark Grunwell and Barry Roberts-Jones, but with a difference. They were not in contact much, so Mark ran a SL and RL with all the longer term predictors known to Mark (with Arron Springate as back up helper and checker of the league tables); while Barry ran a SL and RL for all the BHFS predictors. By the end of November, Mike had returned and the leagues were amalgamated, with Mark Grunwell emerging top of the SL of 18 predictors by 9 points, and he was also top of the RL of 29 predictors by 5 results.

But the season had another twist yet, with Mark's great rival of that time, Barry, closing the gap and by Christmas he was 3 points behind Mark in the SL and only 1 result behind him in the RL. By Boxing Day he had caught up, then early in the new year he missed a week, though he predicted - back then, FPA experimented with catch up games, no catch up games, and default games. This was a 'no catch ups' season and also a strict 2pm cut off for 3pm kick offs (no UK lunch time kick offs then) to allow the organisers to ensure all predictions were in on time. So now Barry was behind Mark again and wouldn't get those games back.



Barry then had a superb second half of the season and built a lead over Mark in both leagues, only for Mark to come back strong again and catch Barry by April. What a title race this was. Barry held out though, increased his lead again, and won the SL by 6 points from 8 fewer games than Mark; in the RL, he won by 4 results, from 8 fewer games (most people need all the games to beat Mark!). Barry was the only predictor to finish above 50%, and this was back in the days when that was hard to achieve, whereas today it has become quite normal. He also became the first person to finish with 50%, twice. More importantly, it was Barry's second league double of SL and RL in three years, so four league titles since his debut three years before.



That season also produced the strangest ever FPA cup. Mark, not in touch with Barry much (remember this was the age before email and Internet) didn't know who of BHFS was 'in' so for the League Cup, he made up the numbers from his league 'half' with friends from work. Paul Slater, a work colleague, became the winner in his one and only entry into an FPA competition. Sadly those records all appear to be lost now, so apart from two matches, we don't know how everyone else did in the earlier rounds.

One more interesting thing from that season. With the season starting on 22nd August and me not due to arrive home until 27th October (pre-Internet and email), I predicted the first nine weeks in advance, while working abroad (USA) and posted them home to Mark Grunwell. Needless to say not many points could be gleaned from such am ambitious ask (one of the weeks was nil points) but I managed to finish 6th and 7th in the leagues, with a large field.


Part Five: Two Divisions 1994-2002

As mentioned, I had left BHFS in summer 1992 but due to the hard work of Barry Roberts-Jones the link was maintained. Barry lived even closer to Gillingham's ground than me, a stone's throw away from Priestfield. In 1993-1994, there was a suggestion initially from Mike Sherman and then from others, that since the leagues were so large it would be better to split them into two: A Premier League and a Division One, where the top league would predict Premier League games, and the bottom league would predict Division One (now called the Championship) games. So the decision was taken and a system of calculations introduced to link positions in the Standard and Results Leagues so that one half of all the predictors would be relegated to Division One for 1994-1995. Sadly Mike Sherman was one of those who didn't make the cut and probably regretted suggesting it! The 1994-1995 season saw the first year of two divisions, with two amateurs and one professional per year being promoted and relegated.


Part Six: The Rise of the Machines 1990s

Mike Phillips, Mark Grunwell and Arron Springate all had personal/home computers in the late 1980s (Mark an Amstrad; Mike and Arron, Amigas. Barry Roberts-Jones was also using an Amiga). It had long been a dream of the organisers to use a computer to automate predictions and all the competitions, instead of writing in predictions, match results and league tables by hand. And gradually, this took place, little by little, as computing power improved.

The first phase was to get the league tables semi automated, whereby points gained by members (worked out by hand) were entered into an early version of a spreadsheet and the league table calculated and sorted that way.

How did FPA function without computers? The old way it was done for years was members could phone in their predictions or hand in a written note through the door of FPA HQ, which was then the home of three predictors, organiser Mike Phillips, and parents Joyce and Ted Phillips, at 71 Carlton Avenue, Gillingham (the same street that some of the Grunwells lived in for a while, as well as the Springates). This was possible with so many members living in Gillingham or close by. Mum Joyce took the phone calls also, and both Mike and Joyce collected the predictions and wrote them onto a master sheet, then added the final scores and points, finally compiling SL/RL tables by hand. Copies of the tables were sent out to those members living slightly further away, but most members dropped by to see Mike, Joyce and Ted and looked at the tables. They knew what they had scored personally and where they were the previous week, so they could check the table for errors. That was all before we used even a spreadsheet for the league tables.

The best way of describing the history of computers and the FPA is to reproduce here what was written in the end of season reviews during the 1990s. For those of you who were there, it's a bit of a trip down memory lane and you will have seen how our ideas were often ahead of the computing power we had.

For our younger members, grown up in an age of decent computing power and anything you need from the football world available online within a few seconds, you may think some of this is like a foreign language! Remember, this was before any of us had Internet at home or at work. It also shows the rapid development of computing power in just the last two and a half decades.

Here then, begins the story of the rise of the machines in the FPA. It would take until 2012 when the long time dream of a computer based FPA was realised, thanks to Naz Rajan.

From the 1992-93 Review:
Computers rescue Organisers of Predictions Competitions
"Last season the first steps were taken to realise a long-term aim: to have the predictions fully automated (i.e. on computer) and cut out all the manual paperwork. The following details will appeal to those of you who use computers. Initial tests with a 640K 386PC (using Lotus 1-2-3) and a 1MB Amiga (using VIP, a Lotus imitator) showed that the predictions would need a larger spreadsheet than 1MB. The Standard League alone uses less than 1MB and is semi-automated for the Amiga. This saves a lot of time and is hopefully just the start of computer run leagues. The problem with VIP software however, is that it does not use the 'VALUE' command - an essential spreadsheet function - as does Lotus 1-2-3. Because Lotus is the software that will be used for the spreadsheet, we hope to set up on Mark Grunwell's 4MB 486 66 MHz PC (with a 200MB Hard drive), or my 9MB Amiga 2000 (with a 20MB HD) with a 386 PC Bridgeboard/emulator. This is a BIG job though, but we hope to convert by mid 93/94."

From the 1993-94 Review:
Computers to help run the Leagues
"For our predictors interested in computers - work is under way on the major project of converting the Leagues to full computer automation. Mark Grunwell spent a large part of last season designing an advanced spreadsheet with Lotus software. Trials will be continuing into the start of the 1994/95 season, with the programme eventually running on two 486 PCs. Otherwise, we will continue to operate a semi-automated system with new spreadsheets for an Amiga 500 and 2000, both with large memory upgrades. For those of you predicting in Division One, you will be competing against Poolswinner Gold, a computer forecaster" (this was the first ever computer predictor we used - Mike ).

The 1993-94 Review was also the first use I could find of my usual weekly sign-off: "Good predicting"

From the 1994-95 Review:
Computers to help run the Leagues
"Trials are complete on the major project of converting the Leagues to full computer automation, thanks to work by Mark Grunwell. The Leagues should be running on 486 PCs with a semi-automated system on Amigas as backup"

Nothing was mentioned in the 1995-96 Review, except for acknowledging those organisers who had helped, and had pledged to help, for the new season in 1996-97. I'd like to thank Mark Grunwell here again, for all the time he put into the computer work back then. Also Arron Springate who did a lot of the administration. I could never have run the leagues alone, and here are the other organisers I listed in that review:

"Arron Springate - Amiga printing, close season stats, PC spreadsheets, cover design, ideas
Mark Grunwell - work on PC spreadsheets, ideas
Barry Roberts-Jones - collection and organisation of BHFS predictions
Joyce Phillips - taking scores in on Saturdays, ideas
Glen Grunwell - witty comments
All predictors - without you there would be no competitions!"

By the mid to late 1990s, Arron and Mike ran a spreadsheet for entering the points so that the league tables were updated and stored on Arron's PC running Lotus 1-2-3 (pre-Excel), and Mark Grunwell took on this job at the end of the decade when I was busy having become a 'mature student', and Joyce Phillips collected all predictions and worked out the points manually, with Mark updating the tables with his own PC and spreadsheet. I took this back on when I returned from Norway in 2005, with Joyce still collecting the predictions and painstakingly filling in the sheets and points each week, as well as doing the cups though was helped out by Mark, Glen Grunwell and myself.


Part Seven: The Adventures of Eddie Endsleigh (Glen Grunwell)

In that last section I mentioned I had thanked Glen Grunwell in 1996 for 'witty comments', and banter has been a fun part of FPA since the early days, with some great rivalries building up. Glen took this to extremes in the 1990s, and both I and Mum Joyce would look forward to Glen's hand written notes, with his predictions, arriving on the doormat every week. I kept all of those and will be reproducing some of them here for your amusement, with mention of the rivals he took aim at, and sometimes their replies too.

First though, Glen's alias of 'Eddie Endsleigh' came about in the year 1994-1995 when Glen had been relegated from the Premier League to our old Division One the previous season. In that year, and in 1995-1996, he took on this new persona based on the sponsor of what we know now as the English Football League (EFL), the three divisions below the Premier League. Since he was down in our second tier he decided to take on the sponsor's name, which became shortened to just 'Eddie', a la Iron Maiden's iconic figure. Eddie would make a series of funny comments, cartoons and stories on almost a weekly basis, until the early 2000s, that gave us all much amusement and pleasure, especially in the Phillips household of Mum and Dad (Joyce and Ted) and me.

Every sport or competition, given long enough, builds great rivalries. One of the earliest and best ones in FPA was between founder member Glen, and upcoming young member and already doing well in predictions Arron Springate. This would produce a long time rivalry and some of the first and funniest series of comments by Glen, with some good Arron retorts. In January 1990, Glen drew Arron in the Quarter-final of the F.A.Cup. Within a few days the Phillips household had a piece of paper delivered with the following cartoon



A reference to Arron being quite a big chap, and Glen also had the last laugh in that head to head which was a tight affair, with Glen shading it 2-1.

But Arron only had to wait to get his revenge though, in October of the same year where he drew Glen in the Quarter-final of the League Cup, and beat Glen 17-16. That resulted in the following cartoon, from Arron to Glen ('Ay-ran' was Glen's other name for Arron, along with 'The Blob')



Much more to come on the Eddie theme.


Part Eight: The Joyce Phillips Years 1997-2011

In 1997 I was in full time study and finding the running of the FPA difficult. We were now up to four leagues (Premier and Division One for Standard League and Results League), and four cups (the Group Trophy had been added in 1990-1991 and the European Cup in 1995-1996). Mark Grunwell and Arron Springate had helped me run things, with help sometimes too from Glen Grunwell, but my Mum Joyce Phillips offered to take it on, and so she did for the next 13 seasons. The year she became ill in 2010 I took it back over, but she continued to predict until her passing away in April of 2011. If not for Joyce Phillips the FPA would probably have stopped again for some time, or even folded.

For the write up on Joyce Phillips and her work for, and achievements in the FPA, go to the MEMBERS page and scroll down to FPA Honour Roll: Members Remembered.


Part Nine: Reunification, and More New Leagues 2002-2016

By the late 1990s the number of amateur predictors tailed off again, with the loss of various BHFS members and other retirements. In 2001-2002 it was decided that we would reunify the two divisions into one, as promotion and relegation with so few no longer seemed such an exciting prospect. Additionally it made the work easier for Joyce Phillips who had been collecting two sets of scores in each week, with predictions from both the Premiership and Championship games.

In 2002-2003 the Premier League and Division One became one Standard League and one Results League again. However Joyce's work was not all done; Mark Grunwell had noticed that due to increasing demands on the fixture schedule by Sky TV, fewer games were appearing on the Pools coupon each week. This meant we had fewer games to predict for the Results League, so a new (Minor award) league was introduced that year, the Amateur Results League (ARL). This was a league of results percentage performance based on ALL games predicted by amateurs from the Standard League. This gave some healthy extra competition to the leagues and an additional title to win, but by 2009-2010 it was felt it had run its course with more Pools coupon games returning, and it was replaced in 2010-2011 by a trial test including predictions from Mark Lawrenson of the BBC. This was a Standard League and a Results League without Gillingham FC, purely based on Premier League games, and introduced officially in the 2011-2012 season as the 'Lawro' leagues.

In 2012-2013, the long time dream of a computer based FPA was realised, thanks to Naz Rajan and the excellent website he created. This was also the season that the UEFA-based European Super League was introduced.

In 2014-2015 the Members' Challenge League was introduced, where regular weekend predictions are used in a season long head-to-head league.

We had some new members from my former employer Exprodat Consulting, from which two members are still in the FPA (Ian Milligan and Mark Lewis); and from the 2016-2017 season onwards, new members from my workplace Saudi Aramco (Matthew Starling, Khalid Aldhamen, Sami Almudaris and Sami's friends Khalid Mowad and Moteb Hayas). FPA now also has Alan Foster predicting from Saudi, since 2017-2018.

The FPA was now truly international, with members predicting from three countries and three continents - the third being Australia, where member Ian Milligan had permanently moved to.


An FPA cup draw at work, KSA, 2018. Left to right: Sami Almudaris, Mark Lewis, Matthew Starling, Mike Phillips, Khalid Aldhamen.



Part Ten: Streamlining and a Return to Tradition 2018-2019

Members had voted in 2017 to keep Gillingham FC, but had The Gills gone, so too would have the original/traditional Standard and Results Leagues. And although Mark 'Lawro' Lawrenson of the BBC though did once win a title (though just one in 14 attempts), he turned out to be not as good as the FPA expected.

We had also missed the quality of those UK newspaper professionals. So instead of ways of looking to drop the traditional leagues and The Gills, the newer Premier-only, or 'Lawro' leagues were dropped, along with Lawro himself.

Due to continuing poor performances, the BBC's Mark Lawrenson is dropped from the FPA thus not requiring the two additional leagues to accommodate his Premier league only predictions.

This now meant the FPA could bring back some newspaper tipsters who had far better track records than Lawro. Also, the Results League could return to its original format and reason for design: to only predict the same as the UK newspapers predict - i.e. the traditional UK 'football pools' - where all Results League competitors, amateur and professional alike, forecast the same number of games.

The Sun, and the returnees of The Sunday Express and Sunday Mail (or Mail on Sunday as it was renamed), now had an equal chance of winning a Results League title again.

Premier Standard League (formerly Lawro Standard League) and Premier Results League (formerly Lawro Results League) were dropped. Previous title winners remain title winners though, in FPA history.

In the current season, The Sunday Express and The Mail on Sunday have been dropped due to poor performances, in favour of their mid-week counterparts, The Daily Express and The Daily Mail. Let's see if the amateurs can continue to beat the Professionals.

In recent seasons, we have dropped some leagues (PSL/PRL) and streamlined others: for example, restricting the MCL to just 16 entrants so that we can fit in 30 fixture weekends; reducing the number of mid-week UEFA predictions to 12-13 (depending on UK club participation) from 18-19; and making the RL more competitive, as described above.

I feel that with four leagues and four cups, two of the cups either side of year end, we have just about the best balance for FPA - and eight titles on offer for around 20 members (25 with the professionals in the RL), everyone has a chance of winning something.


Mike Phillips
September 2019

All maps © Google Maps


Key Dates:
All Title Winners and Key Events, Season by Season


1979
Mike Phillips and Glen Grunwell meet at work; trial predictions season 1979-1980

Start of the H.M. Naval Dockyard, Civil Service connection and the first phase of FPA history


1980-1981
First full season of the Standard League won by John Burrluck

SL: J.Burrluck



1981-1982
Founder member Mark Grunwell wins the second full season of the Standard League

First FA Cup, then called the Predictors Cup, won by Brian Shrubsole, in May 1982

FPA stops after two full seasons; end of the H.M. Chatham Naval Dockyard era

SL: M.Grunwell
FA: B.Shrubsole



1982-1987
FPA not run


1987-1988
FPA returns after five year gap

The two titles are won by founder members Mark Grunwell and Mike Phillips. This would be the first of many seasons that these two family names would win all titles

SL: M.Grunwell
FA: M.Phillips



1988-1989
Introduction of the Results League, won by Mark Grunwell

Dave Boston wins the Standard League on his debut

Introduction of the Charity Shield

Introduction of the League Cup (then called the Amateur Cup), won by Joyce Phillips

FA Cup was called the Predictors Cup and in the Qualifying round, only results were predicted. Arron Springate wins it for his first title

SL: D.Boston
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: A.Springate
LC: J.Phillips



1989-1990
Start of the Black Horse connection

Mark Grunwell becomes the first person to win the double of Standard and Results Leagues and the first person to win back to back Results Leagues

Arron Springate takes over running of FPA during the time Mike Phillips is abroad and members raise a question over his improved performance. This leads to the first ever FPA inquiry and all Arron's predictions are retrospectively adjusted

Glen Grunwell wins his first title, the FA Cup

One family name wins three titles in one season for the first time, the Grunwell family

Mike Phillips wins the League Cup and stops a clean sweep of titles going to Grunwells

Second time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: G.Grunwell
LC: M.Phillips



1990-1991
Introduction of the Group Trophy, won by Mark Oliver

Barry Roberts-Jones wins the double of Standard and Results Leagues on his debut

SL: B.Roberts-Jones
RL: B.Roberts-Jones
FA: M.Phillips
LC: A.Springate
GT: M.Oliver


1991-1992
The League Cup becomes a results based cup instead of a maximums based one

Default predictions are tried for the first time, where members preselected a score to be entered in case of missing predictions

Members pay an entry fee used for purchase of cups with names engraved

Mark Grunwell achieves the league double, for a second time. He also becomes the first person to win three titles in a season

Arron Springate wins back to back League Cups

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: M.Oliver
LC: A.Springate
GT: M.Grunwell


1992-1993
For the first half of the season, Barry Roberts-Jones runs some FPA competitions, due to Mike Phillips working abroad until the Autumn when Mike picks it up again. Others run the cups: Mark Grunwell, League Cup; Glen Grunwell, FA Cup

With Mike abroad, Barry and Mark don't have contact with each other so a strange situation occurs where for the first time, some of the FPA league members (BHFS) are not in a cup. Mark tops up the numbers for the League Cup with work colleagues, and the eventual winner, Paul Slater, wins the cup, never to have appeared before, or again, in FPA

Barry Roberts-Jones achieves the league double, for a second time. He also becomes the second person to win three titles in a season

SL: B.Roberts-Jones
RL: B.Roberts-Jones
FA: B.Roberts-Jones
LC: P.Slater
GT: P.Burch



1993-1994
A rule is introduced that restricts the total number of 2-1 predictions to 75% of the total number of games

Final league places determine who will predict in the Premier League and in Division One the following season. Two founder members, Joyce Phillips and Glen Grunwell, drop to Division One.

Mark Grunwell achieves the league double, for a third time

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: D.Springate
LC: D.Sherman
GT: T.Williams


1994-1995
A Professional wins an FPA Premier league for the first time. UK newspaper The Sun, represented by Gerry Skinner, wins the Standard League

Two league tiers begin with promotion and relegation. Joyce Phillips becomes the first Division One Standard League Champion and returns to the Premier League

Arron Springate returns to FPA after two and a half years in brief retirement; he is promoted from the new Division One as runner up

Poolswinner Gold, a predictions computer programme, is entered in Division One; becomes the first Division One Results League Champion and is promoted

The 75% rule restricting the total number of 2-1 predictions from the total number of games is changed to any identical predictions making up more than 75%

A series of incorrect newspaper predictions from 8 professionals leads to the second FPA inquiry. These predictions were collected by various work colleagues of Mark Grunwell, and the inquiry found they usually didn't bother buying the papers as pomised but made up the predictions. All 8 professional predictors are removed for the season, as their past predictions are unreliable

SL: The Sun
RL: M.Grunwell
SLD1: J.Phillips
RLD1: Poolswinner Gold
FA: M.Phillips
LC: G.Grunwell
GT: D.Boston



1995-1996
Introduction of the European Cup, won by Arron Springate

Mike Phillips wins a first league title, the Standard League

First time two titles won by a family name other than Grunwell or Phillips, when father and son team Dennis and Arron Springate win two of the cups

A vote is taken with the decision to increase league maximums from two to three points

SL: M.Phillips
RL: The Sun
SLD1: M.Wallbank
RLD1: News of the World
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: D.Springate
GT: R.Wellings
EC: A.Springate



1996-1997
A Professional, UK newspaper The Sun represented by Gerry Skinner, wins the Results League for the first time

This was the first time since 1980/81 (10 seasons) that neither Mark Grunwell nor Barry Roberts-Jones won a league, and the first time that neither Mark Grunwell nor Barry Roberts-Jones won the Results League (won by The Sun; the Standard League won by Mike Phillips)

Mike Phillips becomes the first person to win back to back, consecutive years Standard Leagues; Mark Grunwell had won two Standard Leagues before, but straddling the gap seasons between 1981/82 and 1987/88

Mike Phillips achieves his first league double. He also becomes the third person to win three titles in one season

SL: M.Phillips
RL: M.Phillips
SLD1: K.Morgan
RLD1: N.Keohane
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: B.Roberts-Jones
GT: M.Phillips
EC: M.Grunwell



1997-1998
Joyce Phillips takes over running FPA

Mike Phillips wins the European Cup thus becoming the first person to achieve 'classic status' by completing the set of the six 'classic' titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT). He also wins a second cup in the season, the Group Trophy

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: D.Boston
SLD1: R.Wellings
RLD1: (to be added)
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: J.Phillips
GT: M.Phillips
EC: M.Phillips


1998-1999
The first time a family other than the Grunwells: the Phillips family, win three combined titles in a season (Mike, Ted and Joyce). Mark Grunwell still flies the Grunwell flag though with three titles himself

SL: M.Phillips
RL: M.Grunwell
SLD1: D.Springate
RLD1: T.Phillips
FA: M.Wallbank
LC: J.Phillips
GT: M.Grunwell
EC: M.Grunwell



1999-2000
Mark Grunwell wins the League Cup and becomes the second person to win the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT). He also wins a second cup in the season (European Cup)

Barry Roberts-Jones no longer collects predictions from work; end of the Black Horse Era. Barry will go on to predict for one more season

SL: M.Phillips
RL: The Sun
SLD1: E.Grunwell
RLD1: News of the World
FA: M.Wallbank
LC: M.Grunwell
GT: D.Boston
EC: M.Grunwell



2000-2001
A league title is shared for the first time. Glen Grunwell and Mark Grunwell are joint winners of the Results League

Mark Grunwell achieves the league double, for a fourth time

Glen Grunwell wins the Results League and Group Trophy, but the final of the Group Trophy turns into a controversial and bitter dispute between brothers and long term rivals Mark and Glen over a ruling disagreement

Matt Willing wins the League Cup and stops a clean sweep of (top flight) titles going to the Grunwell family

SL: M.Grunwell
RL:
G.Grunwell/
M.Grunwell
SLD1: (to be added)
RLD1: (to be added)
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: M.Willing
GT: G.Grunwell
EC: E.Grunwell



2001-2002
Matt Willing is promoted from the SL Division One to the Premier League, and will go on to be a multiple title winner. He is also the first person other than a Grunwell or Phillips, since Barry Roberts-Jones in 1992-1993, to win two titles in one season (Standard League Division One and the Group Trophy)

Fiona Grunwell wins her first title (European Cup); Elliott Grunwell wins his first title (FA Cup)

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: M.Phillips
SLD1: M.Willing
RLD1: (to be added)
FA: E.Grunwell
LC: J.Phillips
GT: M.Willing
EC: F.Grunwell


2002-2003
Premier Leagues and Division One Leagues are reunified into just one SL and RL

Joyce Phillips achieves her first league double

SL: J.Phillips
RL: J.Phillips
FA: F.Grunwell
LC: G.Grunwell
GT: F.Grunwell
EC: M.Willing



2003-2004
Fiona Grunwell wins her first top flight league title (Results League)

Matt Willing wins his first top flight league title (Standard League) and also takes the Group Trophy

SL: M.Willing
RL: F.Grunwell
FA: J.Phillips
LC: M.Grunwell
GT: M.Willing
EC: G.Grunwell



2004-2005
Mike Phillips becomes the first overseas winner of a league and a cup, living in and predicting from Norway

Joseph Grunwell wins his first cup title (Group Trophy)

Third time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles. The Grunwell and Phillips families share out the six titles between them:

Mark Grunwell (2)
Joseph Grunwell (1)
Mike Phillips (2)
Joyce Phillips (1)

SL: M.Phillips
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: J.Phillips
GT: J.Grunwell
EC: M.Phillips


2005-2006
Joyce Phillips wins the Group Trophy and becomes the third person to win the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT)

Joyce achieves her second league double and becomes the first person to achieve a 'Grand Slam' season (four of the classic six titles)

Joseph Grunwell wins the FA Cup and stops a clean sweep of all titles going to the Phillips family

Fourth time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles

SL: J.Phillips
RL: J.Phillips
FA: J.Grunwell
LC: M.Phillips
GT: J.Phillips
EC: J.Phillips



2006-2007
Glen Grunwell wins the Standard League and becomes the fourth person to win the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT). He also achieves his first league double, and by winning the FA Cup, three titles in one season

Joyce Phillips wins the European Cup and stops a clean sweep of all titles going to the Grunwell family

Fifth time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles, and for the thrid season running

SL: G.Grunwell
RL: G.Grunwell
FA: G.Grunwell
LC: F.Grunwell
GT: M.Grunwell
EC: J.Phillips


2007-2008
Sixth time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles, and for the fourth season running

Mark Grunwell (2)
Elliott Grunwell (1)
Fiona Grunwell (1)
Joyce Phillips (1)
Mike Phillips (1)

SL: J.Phillips
RL: E.Grunwell
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: M.Grunwell
GT: F.Grunwell
EC: M.Phillips



2008-2009
Start of the Exprodat connection

The Results League is a three-way tie for the title, for the first time. Matt Willing wins the title along with two UK newspapers, The Sun and The Sunday Express. Matt also wins the Group Trophy so picks up two titles in the season

Fiona Grunwell wins the Standard League and becomes the fifth person to win the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT). She also becomes the fifth person to win three titles in a season

SL: F.Grunwell
RL:
M.Willing/
The Sun/
Sunday Express
FA: F.Grunwell
LC: F.Grunwell
GT: M.Willing
EC: M.Grunwell



2009-2010
Mike Phillips wins the FA Cup and stops a clean sweep of titles going to the Grunwell family

Seventh time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: G.Grunwell
FA: M.Phillips
LC: E.Grunwell
GT: M.Grunwell
EC: F.Grunwell



2010-2011
Passing away of founder member Joyce Phillips

Introduction of the Lawro Standard League (later renamed Premier Standard League, PSL), won by Mike Phillips; and the Lawro Results League (later renamed Premier Results League, PRL), also won by Mike Phillips. Both were EPL-only leagues, featuring predictions from the BBC's football pundit and former Liverpool player Mark Lawrenson

Mike Phillips achieves the league double for a second time, and wins both the new Lawro leagues, and dedicates all his wins to Mum Joyce Phillips

The Grunwells take all four cups, Fiona two of them

Eighth time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles

SL: M.Phillips
RL: M.Phillips
FA: G.Grunwell
LC: M.Grunwell
GT: F.Grunwell
EC: F.Grunwell
PSL: M.Phillips
PRL: M.Phillips



2011-2012
Matt Willing wins the F.A.Cup and becomes the sixth person to win the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT). He also stops the Grunwell and Phillips families taking all the titles again

Standard League renamed Joyce Phillips Standard League

League Cup renamed Joyce Phillips League Cup

SL: M.Phillips
RL: G.Grunwell
FA: M.Willing
LC: F.Grunwell
GT: M.Phillips
EC: M.Grunwell
PSL: M.Phillips
PRL: G.Grunwell



2012-2013
FPA moves to online predictions with a website designed by Naz Rajan of Delta Consultancy Services

Introduction of the European Super League, won by Mark Grunwell

Daniel Grunwell announces himself as a serious predictor, winning the Joyce Phillips Standard League, the Group Trophy and the Lawro Standard League (renamed the Premier Standard League). He becomes the sixth person to win three titles in a season

The BBC's Mark 'Lawro' Lawrenson wins one of the leagues named after him, the Lawro Results League (renamed the Premier Results League)

A Professional, UK newspaper, the Sunday Mirror, wins the Results League

Dennis Springate comes out of retirement for one season, and wins the Joyce Phillips League Cup

Six titles out of nine are won by Grunwells

SL: D.Grunwell
RL: Sunday Mirror
FA: G.Grunwell
LC: D.Springate
GT: D.Grunwell
EC: F.Grunwell
PSL: D.Grunwell
PRL: M.Lawrenson
ESL: M.Grunwell


2013-2014
Mike Phillips achieves the league double for a third time. He also becomes the second person to win four titles in a season, and the first to win five titles in a season

Ninth time Grunwell-Phillips names win all titles

SL: M.Phillips
RL: M.Phillips
FA: F.Grunwell
LC: D.Grunwell
GT: M.Phillips
EC: E.Grunwell
PSL: M.Phillips
PRL: M.Phillips
ESL: M.Grunwell



2014-2015
Introduction of the Members' Challenge League, won by Mike Phillips

Official end of the Exprodat connection with Mike leaving the Company but some key members remain (Ian Milligan, Danny Thompson; Mark Lewis would return in 2017-2018)

The Results League title is again shared, by Elliott Grunwell and Glen Grunwell

Elliott Grunwell achieves his first league double. He also wins three titles in the same season

Two league titles for Daniel Grunwell

There are three first time title winners: Danny Thompson (League Cup); Jason Blackford (European Cup, FA Cup); and Ian Milligan in Australia (Group Trophy)

SL: E.Grunwell
RL:
E.Grunwell/
G.Grunwell
FA: J.Blackford
LC: D.Thompson
GT: I.Milligan
EC: J.Blackford
PSL: E.Grunwell
PRL: D.Grunwell
ESL: D.Grunwell
MCL: M.Phillips



2015-2016
Long time member (since 1988) Dave Boston passes away. Group Trophy renamed after him as Dave Boston Group Trophy, which Dave won twice.

Fiona Grunwell becomes the second person to win five titles in a season

A first league title for Danny Thompson in the Premier Results League though he has to settle for sharing it with Fiona Grunwell, Glen Grunwell and Mike Phillips

By jointly winning the Premier Results League, Mike Phillips and Danny Thompson stop a clean sweep of titles going to the Grunwell family

SL: F.Grunwell
RL: G.Grunwell
FA: F.Grunwell
LC: F.Grunwell
GT: M.Grunwell
EC: M.Grunwell
PSL: F.Grunwell
PRL:
F.Grunwell/
G.Grunwell/
M.Phillips/
D.Thompson
ESL: M.Grunwell
MCL: G.Grunwell



2016-2017
Head-to-head points for a win increased from 2 to 3 in the European Cup and Dave Boston Group Trophy group stages

Start of the Saudi Aramco connection (KSA). With Ian Milligan in Australia, predictors are now based in three continents and three countries

Mark Grunwell achieves the league double, for a fifth time

Elliott Grunwell wins the DB Group Trophy and becomes the seventh person to win the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT)

Mark Grunwell wins the MCL and becomes the only person to have won every major FPA competition: the six classic titles of two leagues (SL, RL) and four cups (FA, LC, EC, GT); the ESL and the MCL: this is Super Classic Status (Mark had also won the less well known Amateur Results League)

Mark also becomes the third person to win five titles in a season but breaks that record by two, winning seven out of ten titles in one season

For the first time in FPA history (not counting the first season 1980-81, when there was only one title) - 30 seasons - one family name, the Grunwells, makes a clean sweep of all ten titles, from three family members: Mark (7); Elliott (2); Fiona (1)

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: M.Grunwell
LC: F.Grunwell
GT: E.Grunwell
EC: M.Grunwell
PSL: M.Grunwell
PRL: M.Grunwell
ESL: E.Grunwell
MCL: M.Grunwell



2017-2018
Lawro Standard League becomes the Premier Standard League; Lawro Results League becomes the Premier Results League

The European Cup is no longer seeded based on past performance, but becomes a fully open competition in line with the other cups.

Members vote on whether to drop Gillingham FC games, thereby reducing the number of leagues and having Premier League-only leagues. The vote comes down overwhelmingly in favour of keeping 'The Gills' and a historic link back to 1979 and the origins of predicting.

The Results League title is again shared, by Glen Grunwell and Mike Phillips.

Mark Grunwell becomes the first person to win a second 'Combo Grand Slam', a mixture of four or more of any major titles, classic or otherwise (SL, GT, EC, PSL, ESL, MCL = 6)

A first title each for Khalid Mowad (FA Cup) and Sami Almudaris (Joyce Phillips League Cup)

An the end of the season, long standing member and record oldest member, Ken Morgan, retires. He joined FPA in 1996. FPA presents him with a lifetime achievement award and for services to the FPA.

SL: M.Grunwell
RL:
G.Grunwell/
M.Phillips
FA: K.Mowad
LC: S.Almudaris
GT: M.Grunwell
EC: M.Grunwell
PSL: M.Grunwell
PRL: G.Grunwell
ESL: M.Grunwell
MCL: M.Grunwell



2018-2019
Mark Grunwell becomes the first person to win three consecutive league titles in both the JPSL and MCL

Daniel Grunwell wins his first FA Cup

Sami Almudaris becomes the third person after Arron Springate and Fiona Grunwell, to win back to back JPLC titles

Mark Lewis wins his first title, the ESL

SL: M.Grunwell
RL: M.Grunwell
FA: D.Grunwell
LC: S.Almudaris
GT: S.Almudaris
EC: M.Willing
ESL: M.Lewis
MCL: M.Grunwell


2019-2020
The Sunday Express and Sunday Mail are dropped for The Daily Express and The Daily Mail to take their places

Fiona Grunwell wins a fifth European Cup and moves clear of Glen Grunwell in titles tally 21-20. That makes Fiona the all-time 3rd highest winner of titles in FPA history, with Glen 4th.

Khalid Mowad wins his second title, the JPLC

SL:
RL:
FA:
LC: K.Mowad
GT:
EC: F.Grunwell
ESL:
MCL:




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