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Slovenia (GEORGE + MATILDA) 0 - 1 England (CARLA)
Well, after a nervy start, CARLA finally started to show what she can do. Once she took the lead, save for a couple hairy moments, she ran the show, performing with style and grace. Quite how she didn't win by a more rampant result is beyond belief. But a terrific performance and outcome. but will she regret not getting the bigger margin of victory....?
Hard luck to GEORGE & MATILDA, who put up a good display, and in the end were unlucky not to qualify. They just need another goal in one of their games. A desperately thin line between success and glory or failure and total dejection. But that's the nature of the BJC sweepstake. It's a hard, tough and uncompromising event.

USA (BETH) 1 - 0 Algeria (MARK)
BETH joined CARLA in the second round, courtesy of a very, very late winning strike, although fortune wasn't been with BETH in the last game, so it was well deserved.
MARK proved stubborn opposition and seemed determined not to cave in. But BETH plugged away, determined to get the break-through she needed. One goal would send her through. Failure to score and she would crash out, and GEORGE & MATILDA would get a reprieve. But BETH was determined that SHE was going to claim a place in the next round. And so it was. Just before the end, MARK collapsed under the strain. It looked like he would remain strong and rigid. But he wilted under the pressure. This meant BETH took top spot in the group, and CARLA finished second, both going through to the next round. but who would they meet....?

Ghana (IZI) 0 - 1 Germany (NATASHA)
An epic contest, between regular poster IZI and occasional poster (though not for ages) NATASHA. IF the game was a draw, IZI would qualify. NATASHA would only qualify if the other result went her way. If IZI wins, she goes through top of the group and it's dark days for NATASHA. If NATASHA wins, she goes through and IZI is left praying the other result favoured her....
In a hard fought contest, both competitors fought bravely. If you thought the tennis match that went to 59-59 in the final set was an epic energy sapping event, then you didn't see these two in action. What a battle. There was enough fight in the pair of them to win two world wars. After endless end-to-end action, NATASHA managed to make a breakthrough. SHE claimed victory - just. She tops the group, she is through to face CARLA. Now all IZI can do is wait, and hope....

Australia (STEVE + CLAIRE) 2 - 1 Serbia (STELLA)
So IZI's result means that STEVE & CLAIRE need to win by 4 goals or more, or STELLA needs a draw. Either outcome sends them through, and send IZI crashing out of the competition.

STEVE & CLAIRE took the initiative in the second half, suddenly storming to a 2 goal lead. Can they do it? They need 2 more goals to qualify. Can they pull off a historic, massive, against the odds victory. They piled forward desperately, but the third goal wouldn't come.
Then came heart-ache for them - STELLA fought back and she pulled a goal back. That was it for STEVE & CLAIRE, a noble effort finally put to rest. But this gave STELLA a chance. If she could somehow level matters SHE would qualify at IZI's expense. Now it was her time to charge forward, and again IZI could only watch and pray. STELLA through everything she had into it. EVERY last ounce of energy she could muster.
But sadly, despite all that she put in, the next goal didn't come, and in the end, IZI joined NATASHA in the next round. Ecstasy and relief for IZI.

For STEVE & CLAIRE, and STELLA - sheer despondency. Both so, so close. Either one of them could have qualified, but events conspired against them. Perhaps because they were both aiming for the same target meant they hindered each other in the end, which helped IZI.

So there you go, sheer excitement and drama unfolded in front of our very eyes. Tears for STEVE & CLAIRE, STELLA, GEORGE & MATILDA and MARK

Cheers for BETH, CARLA, NATASHA and IZI.

And so to the future: in the next round, at the weekend, BETH will face IZI, and NATASHA will face CARLA. Big big mammoth clashes. This weekend will be rocking with tension.....

And if you think today's events were too exciting to handle, well you'll just explode with excitement tomorrow!

The do-or-die encounters tomorrow:

Paraguay (ROSIE + LILY) v New Zealand (HEN + JESS)
Slovakia (PETER) v Italy (ANYA + BEN)

Cameroon (JONATHAN TODD) v The Netherlands (LUKE)

ROSIE & LILY v HEN & JESS - former house mates do battle for a place in round 2. Everyone in this group can still qualify. But This game is also about pride. Once, ROSIE & HEN lived together. ROSIE could have mercilessly thrown HEN out of her house whenever she wished to. Now can she throw him out of the BJC sweepstake. One thing's for certain, after this grueling encounter, they'll never share a house again....

And what about the other group? It's all happening, although JONATAHN can't qualify, it's wide open for everyone else. Luke is through, but the real battle is HEATHER & LIVIA v GARRY & HANNAH - winner takes all! Literally. One of these two will claim the second qualifying spot. The other will be plundered into darkness and despair - they will be knocked out of the competition. If HEATHER wins, she goes through. If it's a draw - HEATHER goes through. IF GARRY & HANNAH win, THEY go through. It's all or nothing. This is what it's all about, a total fight to the death. to add spice to the already red hot occasion, it's personal too. How many times have GARRY & HANNAH babysat for HEATHER IN THE PAST? How many times do they go to visit each other. Close friend? NOT ANY MORE! They are now bitter rivals, deadly enemies. In order to progress, one must destroy the other....

Phil - you're household is not a safe place to be tomorrow night!
Well yesterday didn't disappoint!

Paraguay (ROSIE + LILY) 0 - 0 New Zealand (HEN + JESS)
OK, so this game was a bit dull. In fact it was EXTREMELY dull! Maybe ROSIE & LILY and HEN & JESS actually value their friendship more than winning a sweepstake. Maybe some things are more important in life?
NONSENSE! Come on guys, where was the vicious battle we were expecting? This was an eagerly anticipated clash, which didn't deliver in the end. But will the result have an impact on the outcome of who qualifies for the next round?

Slovakia (PETER) 3 - 2 Italy (ANYA + BEN)
Now THIS is where the drama was! A MAJOR, MAJOR upset. ANYA & BEN took over Italy from the winner of the world cup sweepstake in 2006. But sadly she put in 3 desperate performances, and against PETER, who quite frankly has been extremely limp, they put in an even worse one!
This time round, PETER was back on top form. He could smell victory. He could sense ANYA & BEN were there for the taking. And this time, he showed no mercy. He took them apart easily and destroyed any hope they had of getting through to the next round. This ANYA & BEN's first sweepstake. Let's hope the beating they received today hasn't put them off trying again next time...

So, in the end, glory for PETER and ROSIE & LILY, who against the odds both managed to qualify.
Despair for HEN & JESS - so close to qualifying. But three draws wasn't enough. They lacked the killer instinct they needed.
Humiliation for ANYA & BEN


In this group, two games of contrasting proportions. LUKE is through to round two already, REV TODD is out. Nothing much to play for.
BUT - HEATHER & OLIVIA and GARRY & HANNAH can both qualify. A draw sends HEATHER through, a win for either team send them through....

Cameroon (JONATHAN TODD) 2 - 1 The Netherlands (LUKE)
This one went rue to form - LUKE easily saw off JONATHAN. He was no match for the old pro LUKE. JONATAHN played like a broken man, already defeated. And it wasn't long before LUKE started to deal him some hard blows. JONATAHN collapsed to the floor, and LUKE saw him off. A valiant recovery from JONATHAN saw him level matters, but LUKE was just playing with him. And not before long, LUKE again took the lead, killing JONATHAN off for good this time.JONATAHN boasted before the tournament about his team. Now he leaves the playing field with 3 defeats out of three. The BJC sweepstake is tough. And JONATAHN found out just how tough it was.

Denmark (GARRY + HANNAH) 1 - 3 Japan (HEATHER + OLIVIA)
So this was it - do or die, winner takes all. One step from sheer glory, once slip from total devastation. Both competitors needed to be at their best, their sharpest.
But GARRY & HANNAH definitely weren't at their best. HEATHER stormed out of the starting blocks, and two fine strikes sent GARRY & HANNAH tumbling to the floor. A late comeback was in vain, as HEATHER easily kicked them down again, and sent them tumbling out of the competition, heads bowed in shame.

SO HEATHER and LUKE go through. GARRY & HANNAH and REV JONATHAN TODD bow out. At least GARRY & HANNAH manged a win. TIDDLES managed nothing, except to show the world his incompetence.
Yesterday's results:

North Korea (KATY) 0 - 3 Ivory Coast (ELLY)
Well, with no real chance for ELLY to get through to the next round (she needed NING & OLIVIA to lose, and by 6 goals or so!), she at least put up a decent performance, and earned bragging rights over her friend KATY. Whether they are still friends after this high tense game is another matter. It was an easy victory for ELLY, she hardly broke sweat to see off poor KATY, who exits the competition head bowed in shame.
Pride in tact for ELLY.
KATY is in line for the highly undesired 'most useless competitor in the sweepstake' award.

Portugal (NING + OLIVIA-ROSE) 0 - 0 Brazil (TOM RAMLI-D + DAD)
A draw enough for both teams in this one, they would both qualify. Chef Steve RD didn't live up to expectations, as everyone served up poor fare in this encounter.
It was as flat as pancake, as much sparkle as a lemonade bottle left unopened for a few days. This game was as hot and spicy as an ice-cream, as exciting as bread and water, instead of a feast of football promised, turned out to be a cheesy biscuit on it's own on a huge plate instead.
Obviously both teams were saving themselves for the next course...

Chile (AMY) 1 - 2 Spain (AMELIA + KITTY)
A decent battle this one. Defending BJC sweepstake champion AMY looked to be in big trouble - 2 down with a man sent off. Although she fought back admirably in the second half, somehow she never looked like haveing enough to get back into it. AMELIA & KITTY easily into the next round. After leading the group for so long, AMY faced a nervy wait to see if the other result had gone her way...

Switzerland (ANNABEL) 0 - 0 Honduras (JOSH + DOM)
So, with the other esult as it was, it left ANNABEL with a chance - win by 2 or more goals and she would go through. Anything less and she was out, AMY would take second spot.
ANNABEL had a great chance of doing this - JOSH & DOM have been next to useless so far - two defeats no goals scores. Well, they kept that bit up. But could ANNABEL break them down? Could she get the two goals she needed to save her tournament?

Well, in a word, no. Hardly renowned for her attacking displays so far, she lumbered to a goalless draw, never looking likely to get the goals she needed. JOH & DOM kept resolute, and in the end ANNABEL limped out of the tournament, probably kicking herself that she blew a good chance by playing defensively. Maybe a more positive approach would have helped. But it's tough in BJC sweepstake land, and maybe it's a valuable lesson learned for next time.
JOSH & DOM had a poor tournament, but a thread of respectability was gained by getting a draw. It at least ruled them out of contention for picking up the undesirable 'wrst player of the sweepstake' award.

AND SO we go to ROUND 2 - the KNOCKOUT round!

BIG MONEY time -the group stages are over, it's winner takes all time:

Teams in the second round play each other in a one match knock out affair.

Uruguay (THE RUMSBYS) v South Korea (AMELIA + KITTY)
USA (BETH) v Ghana (IZI)
Germany (NATASHA) v England (CARLA)
Argentina (MADDIE + EUAN) v Mexico (ELENA)
The Netherlands (LUKE) v Slovakia (PETER)
Brazil (TOM RAMLI-D + DAD) v Chile (AMY)
Paraguay (ROSIE + LILY) v Japan (HEATHER + OLIVIA)
Spain (AMELIA + KITTY) v Portugal (NING + OLIVIA-ROSE)

Some interesting ties here (though none as interesting as Malcolm Broomhead's pink tie last Sunday)

HEATHER her mum helps babysit LILY from time to time. How will they face each other now? Will HEATHER turn against the little girl she helps look after in an act of cruel betrayel? Will LILY shun HEATHER's kindness in babysitting by sending her mercilessly crashing out of the sweepstake?

Say no more! The battle of Park Close part 2! After PETER failed to hold onto his lead against HEN & JESS, will be exact his revenge on JESS's little brother LUKE? Will LUKE keep up the Drummond run against the Kemps?
It's the battle of the screen operators! These two are the main operators of the screen on Sunday mornings. They are fighting for pride as well as glory and bounty.

Argentina (MADDIE + EUAN) v Mexico (ELENA)
Our young guns go head-to-head! They'll need every ounce of ecperience they've picked up on the way to gain victory in this epic encounter.

So some glorious ties to look forward to!

For the winner - a place in the quarter final, and the gurantee of least a massive £3 in prize money!

For the loser, it's all over, they are out of the competition. Heart break and obscurity
There must be a winner - even if it means going to a tie breaking penalty shoot-out.

Uruguay (THE RUMSBYS) v South Korea (AMELIA + KITTY)

About to kick off - a one-off knock out game 0 for the winner, a place in the quarter final, £3 prize with the possibility of more to come...

Who will rise to the occasion? Who will hold their nerve?

Will AMELIA & KITTY, who have played with no fear so far, be able to combine their might to destroy the so far invincible RUMSBY machine?

Or will PHIL galvanise his crew for one more fight for glory?

It's very tense, one slip, or one moment of magic can determine the winner over a very thin line between glory, and disaster.....
Uruguay (THE RUMSBYS) 2 - 1 South Korea (AMELIA + KITTY)

Exciting stuff as our own BJC messageboard regular guides his team into the quarter finals of the BJC sweepstake! The RUMSBYs fought out a hard earned win over a spirited AMELIA & KITTY in dramatic circumstances.

Phil has drummed his family into a hard to beat well organised outfit. Nicknamed the lean-mean-Rumsby-machine, they have played three and not conceded a goal. There superb organisation is down to the now famous "Canal Boat" Training schedule before the tournament started. It has paid off.

The contest started of evenly. AMELIA & KITTY gave the RUMSBYs a fright with a shot that crashed off the post. A good start.
But PHIL is a master tactician. And he cleverly changed their gung-ho approach. What seemed like a soft shot across the bough proved a masterful move. It caught AMELIA & KITTY unexpectedly, and the RUMSBYs followed up with a quick and powerful blow to knock AMELIA & KITTY down.

But the RUMSBYs seemed to sit back after that, relying on their so far impenetrable defensive line up. It was a mistake. For they suffered a momentary lapse of concentration. One small slip up. But it was all AMELIA & KITTY needed to pounce, and hit the RUMSBYs back. Level pegging and the RUMSBYs for the first time were against the ropes.

But PHIL pulled off another masterstroke, out of nowhere, with a beautifully executed attack to send AMELIA & KITTY down, and crashing out of the tournament.

So hard luck on AMELIA & KITTY who fought with enterprise and flair throughout the tournament. Now they have to concentrate on their other team, Spain.

But the RUMSBYs go on. With dreams of further glory, they are now fancied to go a long way.

but they have already reached the quarter finals now and are guaranteed £3 prize money, which they will share between the 5 of them.

What are you going to do with your 60p, Phil?

So, next up, this evening:
USA (BETH) v Ghana (IZI)

The battle of Heath Lane, where IZI resides, and BETH frequently visits. A real battle of Bladon. And more than that, a battle for £3 as well!

BETH did well to win her group, a very impressive display. IZI sneaked through, but must now fancy her chances of getting to the quarter finals.

It will be an almighty battle. Heath Lane has been declared a no-go zone.
USA (BETH) 1 - 2 Ghana (IZI)
Joy for IZI who has managed to recoup her £3 by guiding her team into the quarter finals.
BETH started as slight favourites, but IZI started with the higher tempo to the game. And after only a few minutes, she dealt the first blow. A quicker, devastating counter attack caught BETH wanting. IZI was on top, and looking very good for the next round.
But BETH staged a ferocious comeback, and with every bone in her body, managed to claw it back to make the score level.
Extra time was required to separate these two titans, and, again with speed and fleetness of foot, IZI managed to force herself in front again, with a moment of determination and desire.
This time IZI held on, and book her place in the quarter finals to book herself a quarter final clash with...the RUMSBYs!