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21 amazing things you'll learn in FourFourTwo’s Season Preview issue

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12. Could have been ruff

Bury, demoted to League Two, launched their promotion bid by unveiling a new arrival who promises to add some bite, hound opponents and – look, it’s a dog, all right? Their new mascot is a dog.

Peeler the police dog has replaced Robbie the Bobby after the club finally realised that all human mascots look creepy and weird. The friendly hound is monikered after Bury-born Sir Robert Peel, who introduced the first police force and whose name inspired the terms ‘Bobbies’, ‘Peelers’ and ‘The Filth’ (we think). But Bury got lucky: in a vote to choose the mascot’s name, ‘Peeler’ received 387 votes while the runner-up, with 386, was ‘Giggles’. Giggles? The Filth would be turning in his grave.

13. The joy of six

Taking Bury’s place in League One are Coventry, after they recorded one of 2017/18’s happier statistics: their first top-six finish in any division since 1970. Say what you like about owners SISU, but… no, just say what you like.

14. Palace on repeat

Roy Hodgson led an extraordinary transformation at Crystal Palace last season, as the club ended on level points with the top half despite having lost their first seven games without scoring. But maybe we should have seen it coming.

The Eagles’ five Premier League placings since their most recent promotion have been 11th, 10th, 15th, 14th and 11th – yet they’ve been in the bottom four on New Year’s Day in four of those five seasons. The one year Palace weren’t having an unhappy hangover on January 1, they were sat as high as fifth… before posting their lowest finish of 15th. Go figure.

15. "There's only twoooo..." 

In a) the 25-year-old former non-league winger, and b) the 22-year-old Welshman signed from Liverpool, Rochdale have two players called Jordan Williams. What’s the betting that both are nicknamed Williamsy?

16. Scotland: mind the gap

Nobody would be surprised to learn that there’s a difference between the playing budgets of the Old Firm giants in Glasgow and that of Hamilton Academical 12 miles down the road. However, the scale of that pay gap within the Scottish Premiership is pretty shocking.

At the top you have Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic, whose average weekly wage for a player last season was over £14,000. On the second rung, only just within reach, are Rangers and their average weekly wage of £6,300 – less than half what their rivals pay. And then there’s Hamilton, clinging on to the bottom of that same ladder with an average weekly wage for one player of – wait for it – £798. They’re clutching at the ankles of Motherwell (£820) above them. One league, three different worlds.

17. Life ends at 30

In the 1976 sci-fi film Logan’s Run, our future is a hedonistic utopia (or is it?) that is maintained by the ritualistic murder of every citizen the moment they turn 30. Look on the bright side: in the book, it’s 21. Anyway, the famously forward-thinking recruitment gurus at Brentford are apparently big fans, because the Championship side don’t have a single outfield player older than 29. The exception in goal is old man Luke Daniels, who is 30 and can remember when Griffin Park was all fields. Irish midfielder Alan Judge must be feeling very nervous about entering his fourth decade in November.

We’re joking, of course. Isn’t it weird, though, how Lasse Vibe suddenly disappeared last season aged 30, having just scored seven goals in eight games? And how first-choice centre-back Andreas Bjelland was released this summer, the week before his 30th birthday? Still – nothing to worry about, Alan. Probably.

18. Dave of all trades

David Artell has a degree in forensic and analytical science, another degree in forensic biology, a PGCE in biomedical science, seven caps for Gibraltar and 400-odd league appearances to his name  – plus he founded a tax consultancy firm for footballers. Oh, and he manages Crewe in League Two. No one likes a show-off, Dave.

19. Parallel universe

At the end of the 1931 season, Wycombe played their final two league games on the same day, against the same opposition, at different grounds. On May 2, Kingstonian beat Wycombe 2-0 at home. Also on May 2, Wycombe beat Kingstonian 4-0 at home. Win some, lose some.

20. If only they'd known 

Last season, Brighton’s Premier League survival was mathematically confirmed on May 4 when they beat Manchester United 1-0. Avoiding relegation with two games remaining represented a job well done, if a little close to the wire.

Yet Brighton were actually safe a whole two months earlier. A 2-1 win over Arsenal put the Seagulls on 34 points as early as March 4 – and 34 points would’ve been enough to stay up at the season’s end. Of course, Brighton weren’t to know that, and three points from their next six games ensured a much nervier spring than they’d have liked. Oh, how they must laugh, looking back.

21. Make ours a Merlot

Although Macclesfield’s miracle-working manager John Askey has left to manage Shrewsbury, having taken Macc back into the Football League, we profoundly hope one tradition will continue.

Askey regularly found himself positioned in front of a cheese board, a snifter and the effusive Nick Bianchi of shirt-sponsoring furniture company Arighi Bianchi, who, his hand on Askey’s shoulder, asked him about the day’s game for his ‘Red Wine Interview’ series. Special guests have included Shay Given and a cheeky Malbec from Alderley Edge. More of this in 2018/19, please.

Get your hands on the September 2018 of FourFourTwo magazine – our famous Season Preview special, complete with 98-page supplement – in shops from Wednesday, August 1. Or go one better: subscribe!

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