COLUMN: NCEL Premier numbers are interesting, but title race will be played on a pitch, not a calculator

Worksop Town FC v Athersley Recreation FC, Worksop celebrate their first goal
Worksop Town FC v Athersley Recreation FC, Worksop celebrate their first goal

Sooner or later someone is going to have to make a break for it at the top of the NCEL Premier.

As it stands, there is no team picking up points at the same rate that secured any of the past five league titles.

The magic number appears to be just over 2.2 points per game – that’s the ratio that made both Retford and Farsley champions.

Last season’s promoted side, Shaw Lane Aquaforce, finished top with a ratio of 2.4.

With just under half a season left to play, Tadcaster Albion are the team with the best points per game ratio in the table.

The Brewers are picking up points at a rate of 2.19 per game, just shy of that championship winning ratio.

But they’re currently fifth, having played six fewer games than leaders Bridlington.

The table has a bit of a false look to it presently – Bridlington, although the form team with 14 points from 18, have played at least three more times than any of the top five.

You might expect Tadcaster, Handsworth and Worksop Town to make up the top three when all their games in hand have been played.

This, however, has been a season with plenty of shock results, and no one has yet stuck their hand in the air and declared themselves the champions elect.

Someone, at some stage, is going to have to go on a dominant run, beating at one or two of their title contenders, to distance themselves from the pack.

Current form makes for interesting reading.

Worksop have the least points of the top six when you look at the last half a dozen games.

But thanks to their recent resurgence, they join five of the top six in boasting an unbeaten four-game record.

Tigers sit at 2.13 points per game, andif we’re looking at 92 points as a potential title winning total, can only drop another 13 points.

Football, mercifully, is played on a pitch and not on a calculator, and the weather, additions to squads, injuries and suspensions and shock results could make this title run in more exciting than last year’s barnstormer.

Tadcaster’s flooded pitch woe, Handsworth’s managerial upheaval and Worksop’s apparent inability to win the big matches – Bridlington the only top six side to fall to Tigers thus far – might yet have a say.

Bridlington and Cleethorpes will bristle at the slightest hint of being written off, and have plenty of motivation, and ability, to crash the top three.

Staveley would be top four if they won their games in hand, while Albion Sports, Barton and Clipstone will all take points from contenders.

It all adds up to a thrilling title run in, and a thumbed nose to anyone overlooking this level of football when they seek entertainment, quality and drama.