5 August ~ The bottom position in WSC's prediction table for last season's Championship sheds some light on the big story in the division. Many supporters of other teams really did expect Blackpool to be relegated. Instead they will kick off their first season in the top flight since 1971 a week on Saturday.
Our Blackpool correspondent, John Secker, did hint at positive mood in suggesting a smell for his club: "Cod and chips with a sprinkling of vinegar. Like the town itself the club has been run down steadily over the past three decades but there is a hint of optimism in the air, both for BFC and the town as a whole." But he must have been as surprised by events on the pitch as everyone else. Last summer he predicted: "We'll still be one of the smaller and poorer clubs. Safe from relegation with two weeks to go."
Champions Newcastle were in a major state of confusion this time last year, shown by more fans tipping them for relegation than promotion. Newcastle fan Alistair Ellesbury was similarly downbeat, though maybe things would have been different last season had certain ex-England striker been more involved at St James' Park: "'Bookies' favourites' tag is a joke even if we avoid administration. The Second Division has rarely been kind to this club save for legends of the past grasping what is required – so Shearer or bust (literally)."
The WSC prediction table got West Brom's automatic promotion right, but then again Chris Atkin, our Baggies representative, had expected to be "knocking on the door of promotion". For the smell of West Brom he suggested: "Shake and Vac – our chairman's housekeeping is good and while we may not have the best carpets, they smell nice."
As Middlesbrough meandered to 11th, Harry Pearson would at least have been cheered by downfall of Phil Brown, "who looks like the sort of ambitious and irritating sales rep who'd push into the breakfast bar queue at the local Best Western". Elsewhere in mid-table, Roger Titford's suggested smell for Reading – "Something as powerful and distinctive as, ooh, Tupperware" – was probably justified by a disappointing season, redeemed by a winning eight games out of nine from the end of January.
Matthew Barker foreshadowed a difficult season on and off the pitch by the proposing that the smell of Crystal Palace would be: "A queasy combination of suntan lotion and bullshit." Meanwhile, Barnsley supporter Richard Darn may have been cheered by his club finishing a good seven points clear of the drop having predicted: "We have been bobbing in the Championship's basement and we won't dodge the bullet this year. I feel full of unbridled pessimism."
Only Plymouth fan Steve East seemed to expect relegation among the bottom three "There has only been one exit route for Argyle from this division" – with a detailed smell suggestion: "The aromas of a West Country cider-drinking binge. An initially enticing and crisp apple aroma draws in the thirsty drinker, which, after a few pints, is superseded by the distinctive smell of vomit as the cider effect kicks in."
It's wrong to mock the afflicted and unexpected relegations hurt the most. But Darren Fletcher, a supporter of bottom club Peterborough, was bullish: "I think we'll shock a few teams – we're hardworking and the Holy Trinity up front will score a few. Play-offs." While our Sheffield Wednesday fan Jon Hockley, smelling "A brave new world", was also was looking towards the top six: "Mid-table, hopefully with a shot at the play-offs."