Time to display those club colours again
After a summer with no European championship and no World Cup, the English season resumes today. You can share the excitement by signing up with your local supporters' club, reports Simon Parry
Supporters' Club's pre-season prediction last year: 'We boldly predict the top five to be the same again this season but with the Blues on top followed by Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle.'
How they finished: Champions, League Cup winners, semi-finalists in Champions League.
Membership fee: $50.
Meeting venue: Windsor Arms, Causeway Bay, and Champ's Bar, Charterhouse Hotel, Wan Chai.
Predictions for the 2005-2006 season: Exactly the same as last season - i.e. Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool in that order.
Pre-season prediction last year: 'We think Arsenal will win all the trophies. Arsenal will be stronger in the coming season because we have bought some good players and kept most of our original squad.'
How they finished: FA Cup Winners, second in Premier League.
Membership fee: $100 per year.
Match day venue: Champs Bar, Charterhouse Hotel, Wan Chai.
Predictions for the 2005-2006 season: Arsenal will regain the Premiership title and will win the Champions League, too.
Pre-season prediction last year: Winners of the league by April, with Norwich putting up the toughest challenge. Kevin Keegan to be sacked as Manchester City coach.
How they finished: Third in Premiership, losers in FA Cup final. Norwich were relegated but Kevin Keegan did lose his job.
Membership fee: Cheaper this year than last year (when it was $400).
Meeting venue: Red Buddha in Wan Chai and the White Stag.
Who to contact to join: Chairman Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Predictions for the 2005-2006 season: 'I believe we will give Chelski and the cockneys a run for the title, Liverpool will live up to their own expectations of a top-five finish . . . maybe.'
Pre-season prediction last year: 'Liverpool fans will expect progress and I think runners-up will not be beyond this team.'
How they finished: Fifth place in the league, runners-up in the League Cup to Chelsea, winners of the Champions League.
Membership cost: No charge.
Match day venue: Dublin Jack (staying at the old venue until November).
Who to contact to join: Russell Green, email@example.com or 2858 7176.
Prediction for 2005-2006 season: Liverpool to bring the Premiership title to Anfield.
Pre-season prediction last year: 'A realistic target would be seventh or eighth place.'
How they finished: Ninth, level on points with eighth-placed Manchester City.
Membership cost: Nothing.
Match day venue: Delaney's in Wan Chai.
Prediction for 2005-2006 season: On the field Spurs do appear to be slowly improving under Martin Jol with some good young players maturing. Despite all the calamities of 2004-2005, Spurs fans are generally optimistic regarding the club's slow improvement on the pitch. We are still building a young squad and are not yet ready to challenge for a regular Euro spot. Finishing sixth would be good, but it would be even sweeter with a cup trophy in the cabinet.
Pre-season prediction last year: 'We will win the Championship.'
How they finished: They won the Championship, finishing seven points clear of second-placed Wigan.
Membership: Currently about four, but we have a season ticket waiting list of 35,000, a bit like Newcastle.
Membership Cost: You don't have to pay to be a 'Mackem'. This rollercoaster ride is free.
Meeting venue: This season will be fantastic as we'll be on the TV at least 10 times - Arsenal twice, Chelsea twice, Manchester United twice, Newcastle twice and for some unknown reason, that little Yorkshire team called 'Boro' twice. Venue TBC but more than likely a bar capable of holding four people. Don't hold your breath that we'll get many points bar six from these games though.
Who to contact to join: Nick Park on 9199 6852.
Prediction for 2005-2006 season: 'It is probably the easiest prediction that can be made, we'll finish in the bottom three. With a bit of luck this will be one place above Newcastle who do not recover from the damage caused from Souness's bad buys and lack of people skills.'
WEST HAM UNITED
Pre-season prediction last year: There wasn't even a supporters' club last year.
How they finished: Sixth in the Championship but winners of the play-offs, beating Preston North End for the final berth in the Premiership.
Membership: One so far. Fortune's been hiding these last few years and so have the Hong Kong Hammers supporters. If there is a Hammers Hong Kong supporters club, it must be a 'word of mouth' secret society kind of thing as I couldn't find it anywhere. Where are you Hammers fans? Let me know.
Membership cost: The cost of a few beers to begin with. Once Hong Kong membership levels pick up, given the amount of money here, annual membership fee could be levied to mount a takeover if ever the lovely Mr. Brown decides we'll sell all our crown jewels again.
Meeting venue: Open to offers but even though I'd rather take my custom to Club 71 as I don't want to make Allan Zeman even richer, it would have to be Club 64 as 1964 was the first time West Ham won the FA Cup and marked the beginning of the West Ham 'Academy of Football'.
Who to contact to join: Martin Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org 9014 5259.
Prediction for 2005-2006 season: 15th. 'Although our young, inexperienced side will undoubtedly struggle at stages I think they'll gain confidence and do enough to finish just above the relegation zone. Then we need to build to stay longer term and to believe that we can break into the 'elite club' band. West Ham have always had the tradition, the belief in good football and a rich vein of local talent to tap. To move on, the club's board and management need to be much more ambitious and to realise what a big club we are. The club can draw on the 'feel good factor' from the area's awarding of the 2012 Olympics. It is only then that the players we develop will stay with us and we can build for the future. No West Ham supporter wants to see another #50 million ($691 million) sell-off of locally developed talent go to other clubs, especially Chelski or Spurs.'
Pre-season prediction last year: 'We hope for a better season. The assistant manager to Eddie Gray, Kevin Blackwell, has taken over and to some extent he is an unknown quantity never having managed a club before.'
How they finished: 14th in the Championship.
Membership: Around 30.
Membership cost: Nothing.
Match day venue: Varies as we are not on TV much nowadays.
Who to contact to join: Jonathan Midgley, email@example.com.
Prediction for 2005-2006 season: In the play-offs and hopefully promoted and with luck some good football along the way.
Pre-season prediction last year: 'I predict a top six finish in the new Coca-Cola League One.'
How they finished: 14th in the new Coca-Cola League One.
Membership: Between one and four. An appearance in the last two annual South China Morning Post Supporters' Club guides has done nothing to boost membership.
Membership fee: $0. For this princely sum you can get to watch highlights of some of Walsall's greatest games - such as the defeat of Arsenal (No, not the 1933 match.) At last year's first meeting all members received a Walsall first team shirt entirely free of charge. Unfortunately only one other member turned up.
Match day venue: Various Hong Kong locations. Details on website. We had our first meeting in New Zealand on December 30. Members are also able to attend Saddlers Nights Out in the UK, which usually take place at Fan's Cantonese restaurant in Cannock followed by drinks in the Stumble Inn.
Who to contact to join: Pete Lee via petelee.tripod.com Here you can also view almost two minutes of the Saddlers' finest hour (finest two hours in fact, at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, in 2001).
Predictions for the 2005-2006 season: 'If we had signed Julian Joachim from Leeds, I would have confidently predicted promotion. As it is, I think we can still make the play-offs. Mind you, I said that last year.'