The Hedgebrew Fantasy League (Est. 2014) is, perhaps, the greatest fantasy EPL league ever to grace planet Earth a small corner of Northern Ireland.

Founded by @stupiddave and @petehuey, and later adding @inawildplace to the Admin Team, the league has run in recent seasons on Fantrax’s excellent platform, with a growing roster year-on-year of people who spend their weekends feverishly pressing ‘refresh’.

Hall of Fame

Season 1: 2014-15

Champion: David Miller

Review in Brief
The original HFL crest.
The original HFL crest.

Hosted on this very website, Season 1 used a cunning Java app to scrape player data from the official Fantasy Premier League website. Teams were selected by auction, and two transfer “windows” followed with subsequent pub-based bartering sessions.

Champions How I Met Your Mata ran away with the league early on, finishing over 200 points (about 10%) ahead of second-placed AndybXI. Although the remaining ranks remained competitive, the only real disruption was the inaugural HFL League Cup (a feature not to be repeated until Season 4). Divided into two pools of four, a round robin was followed by semi-finals and a grand final, with the shock winner, Desert Wanderers, beating the league champions in the final in an extremely low-scoring affair.

Full rankings:
ChampionDavid MillerHow I Met Your Mata
2ndAndrew BeareAndybXI
3rdJohn NixonPresident’s Men
4thPeter HueyDesert Wanderers
5thStephen GibsonBallygowan Rovers
6thDavid LowryThe Floundering Defence
7thRobin CrockettBlaireau D’Or
Prize AssGary BrownMotalee Mafia

Season 2: 2015-16

Champion: Gary Brown (Depay Day Loans)

Review in Brief

Season 2 saw the league switch to its own Java-powered minisite. Running again with two transfer windows, the league was also more compact. However, for much of the season it was also more competitive. Early on, 50 Shades of O’Shea led for the first part; but by Christmas, Depay Day Loans had taken top spot and would stay there until the season’s finale – something that would become a trend in HFL Champions. Perhaps the season’s biggest upset was to see the Season 1 winner fall away and almost finish last; fortunately for him, the honour of accepting the official ‘Prize Ass’ trophy would fall to the league’s early leader, 50 Shades of O’Shea.

2015 Champion Dave presents 2016 Champion Gary with his new (self-purchased) trophy.2015's Champion presents the 2016 Prize Ass with his trophy.
2015 Champion Dave presents 2016 Champion Gary with his new (self-purchased) trophy.2015’s Champion presents the 2016 Prize Ass with his trophy.
Full rankings:
ChampionGary BrownDepay Day Loans
2ndRobin CrockettHerr Scumberto
3rdJohn NixonOne Trick Bonys
4thPeter HueyBad Kompany
5thDavid MillerMurder Sacker
Prize AssStephen Gibson50 Shades of O’Shea

Season 3: 2016-17

Champion: David Miller

Review in Brief

Season 3 marked a greater shift in format and running for the HFL, as it migrated wholly to Fantrax’s fantasy league platform.  It also marked a return to the league for Andyb15, and the debut season for Monkstown Oaklanders (memorable, as Pete didn’t actually install the app on his smartphone until Christmas).

Season 3 also cemented one or two trends as gospel lore. In the first instance, Klopp Kulture hit the heights of 1st place in Gameweek 11, and remained until GW38 – lending credence to a ‘Top By Christmas’ mentality. This was even more remarkable as the eventual 1st and 2nd place teams had come second-last and last in Season 2, with Klopp Kulture’s predecessors How I Met Your Mata having been champions in Season 1 – yo-yo behaviour at its best.

Less remarkable was a third successive fourth-place finish for Glendale Nightowls’ manager.

Moving to Fantrax brought an end to the enjoyable, but logistically-nightmarish transfer window auctions, with transfers now possible in-game. This in turn introduced a high level of competitive focus for many players, and led to a higher level of week-by-week commentary.

The title returns to two-time winner Dave for 2017.The 2016 Prize Ass presentation.
The title returns to two-time winner Dave for 2017.The 2017 Prize Ass Presentation
Full rankings:
ChampionDavid MillerKlopp Kulture
2ndStephen GibsonDundonald Trump
3rdGary BrownMartial Law
4thPeter HueyGlendale Nightowls
5thAndrew BeareAndyb15
6thJohn NixonA Team has no Name
7thRobin CrockettBlaireau D’Or
Prize AssPeter GerardMonkstown Oaklanders

Season 4: 2017-18

Champion: Stephen Gibson


In preparing for Season 4, much soul-searching went on amongst the HFL administrators. Moving to Fantrax had been judged a success, but it was felt the scoring system was in need of revision. One clear indicator of this was coined “The N’Golo Kanté rule”: in the real world, but diminutive Frenchman had, for two seasons, been considered far and away the best midfielder in the league; yet, in HFL Season 3, he scored as the 132nd best player overall. How could this be rebalanced?

The answer was to intitiate a fully-customised scoring system, rewarding every player statistic available: from passes made, to corners conceded, to chances missed. Though it left a few managers feeling a little bewildered initially, it was deemed an overwhelming success.

(Kanté, by the way, came 15th).

In the league itself, one trend did continue: that of the early season runaway. A strong showing from Stephen Gibson placed his team, No Fuchs Given, in top spot by Gameweek 4 – and there he stayed throughout, despite a drastic dip in form in the second half of the season. Once again, the importance of the draft shone through; argued that his ascendancy can be most closed tied to the season’s only inter-league transfer in Gameweek 2, when he acquired Harry Kane in exchange for David Silva.

There was no doubt that the most improved team this season were Monkstown Oaklanders, managed by Pete Gerard: Season 3’s Prize Ass winner had a storming second half to the season, eventually climbing from 9th to 4th place, and winning the revived HFL Cup (played outside of Fantrax in early February).

Elsewhere, Glendale Nightowls bucked a trend by failing to finish in 4th position for the first time ever – climbing to the heady heights of 2nd after a tight back-and-forth with Andyb15 at the end of the season. Although in the end, Glendale finished only 100  Fantasy points (out of a total of 5066) behind champions No Fuchs Given, the gap of 12 league points overall only further illustrated Gibson’s dominance. Season 3 Champion Dave languished down in 8th, whilst his fellow league admin Robin finished 7th for the second season on the trot.

The other major change for Season 4 was the league’s expansion to 10 teams. With a tradition emerging whereby new managers would improve vastly in their second season, the stage was set for a fascinating Season 5.

Gibbo 2018 winnerPete G HFL cup
After a frustrating runners-up spot in Season 3, Gibbo ran away with the league trophy in Season 4.Pete accepts his winnings as HFL Cup champion.
ChampionStephen GibsonNo Fuchs Given
2ndPeter HueyGlendale Nightowls
3rdAndrew BeareAndyb15
4thPeter GerardMonkstown Oaklanders
5thJohn NixonShow me the mané
6thGary BrownHakuna Morata
7thRobin CrockettBlaireau D’Or
8thDavid MillerKlopp Kulture
9thAlistair MitchellAli’s in Wonderland
Prize AssMark McCaveryKanté touch this

Season 5: 2018-19

Champion: John Nixon

HFL Season 5 Logo

Season 5 was the first ‘settled’ season, where only a few tweaks were made following the previous year’s success. However, big changes were afoot in the outcomes.

The following two years had seen big leads opened early on, most notably with the reigning champs having gone top in Gameweek 4 and remained throughout. Not so this year: after some early dominance, a tightly-fought three-way race emerged half way through, which would run almost to the final gameweek of the season.

In the midst of chaotic opening exchanges, Peter Huey’s Glendale Nightowls landed in top spot for Gameweek 2 and would sit there for 18 consecutive weeks, maintaining a solid two or three win lead over the pack. But by the midway point at week 18, everything was about to change.

Dramatically, one of the closest rivals had been Gibson’s ‘No Fuchs Given’, as the champion seemed destined to break with precedent and challenge for back-to-back titles. But from second place in week 16, a bruising start to 2019 led to a dramatic fall from grace, sitting at the foot of the table for most of the back-end of the season, only to escape a second Prize Ass award in the final round of games.

That dubious honour instead fell to Ali Mitchell’s Sydenham Wine Team, recording just 12 wins out of 38 and the lowest Fantasy points total overall.

At the other end of the table, it was Blaireau d’Or who caught Glendale Nightowls as the former was caught after a blip in form at Christmas. Despite recovering to win seven-in-a-row by early March, Glendale’s time at the top was curtailed because a new power was rising.

At the start of December, Gameweek 15 saw John Nixon’s ‘Enter Shaqiri’ sitting 7th after a two-game losing streak. He would lose again in week 22, but had climbed to fourth; after that, Enter Shaqiri went on an unstoppable 16 week winning streak that would run all the way to the season’s climax. Ultimately, Blaireau d’Or were pushed back in to third place by Glendale Nightowls based on their head-to-head record, but Enter Shaqiri beat them both by 6 points.

A lively HFL Cup also saw Glendale and Blaireau d’Or face off in the final, with Glendale Nightowls again the victor. Perhaps most notable about that second competition were the semi-finals, where a bizarrely poor game week saw an average score of just 55.8 across a four contestants – less than half of the usual gameweek average.

John, a ChampionPete H, a Cup WinnerAli, a Prize Ass
After an amazing winning streak, John comes out on top.Pete H settles for second in the league, but wins the cup.Ali swoops in on the last day to be crowned a Prize Ass.
ChampionJohn NixonEnter Shaqiri
2ndPeter HueyGlendale Nightowls
3rdRobin CrockettBlaireau d’Or
4thMark McCaveryWillian Dollar Baby
5thDavid MillerKlopp Kulture
6thAndrew BeareAndyb15
7thGary BrownUnited Oui Paul
8thPeter GerardMonkstown Oaklanders
9thStephen GibsonNo Fuchs Given
Prize AssAli MitchellSydenham Wine Team

Season 6: 2019-20

Champion: David Miller

Review in Brief

Season 6: 2019-20

HFL Logo 2019-20

As was the case globally, the 2019-20 season will be primarily remembered for the dramatic suspension of play – both real and fantasy – for months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The HFL was dramatically impacted as the EPL’s ‘Project Restart’ saw a flurry of action as the final nine gameweeks were squeezed into June and July.

The previous August had seen an animated start to the season. Newcomer Steven McCollum’s Pathetico Madrid well and truly bucked the trend for debutants by getting right into the mix early on. Previous two-time winner David Miller staked a claim early on for first place, with Klopp Kulture gaining top spot twice before settling in by Gameweek 12 for a long run. Would the general pattern (only broken the previous season) of the champion being top at Christmas hold firm? It certainly seemed to be the case until lockdown hit.

Play resumed in Gameweek 30, and by 32 McCollum had finally pushed Miller into second place. The league collectively held their breath – could the rookie pull it off?

A freak collapse in Gameweek 35 said otherwise. Miller was crowned the league’s first three-time champ in Gameweek 37 – officially the latest outright win yet.

Elsewhere, a strong season from Mark McCavery in his third year saw a push into the prize spots in the final weeks of the campaign to take third. In doing so, he pushed the perennial nearly-men of Peter Huey’s Glendale Nightowls into fourth – and returning Huey to a position he had previously made his own, with a record that now stands at 4-4-4-2-2-4 for the six HFL seasons thus far.

The middle of the table was dominated by a group of veterans, with all of the HFL’s other former champs grouped together, just ahead of a disappointing result for Robin Crockett’s Blaireau D’or. Despite topping the table in Gameweek 5, reigning champion John Nixon saw the league slip away as he fell into the bottom half of the table five weeks later, never to reemerge. Whilst not quite the full seesaw from top to bottom that has befallen previous champions, the ‘curse’ of the title-holder remains alive and (un)well.

The gap to the bottom two was more of a chasm, with a gap of 10 wins separating Crockett from Peter Gerard’s Monkstown Oaklanders in 9th. At the foot of the table, Alistair Mitchell’s Sydenham Wine Team set the unenviable record as the first team ever to retain the Prize Ass award. However, Mitchell’s joy at the return of Leeds United to the EPL for 2020-21 may see the wooden-spoon holder energised to avoid the dreaded three-in-a-row.

Punctuated by lockdown, the HFL Cup ran from GW25-32. Reigning cupholder Huey was knocked out by Miller in the semi finals, but was able to take some comfort in some revenge-by-proxy as former champ Stephen Gibson denied Miller an unprecedented double by winning a narrow final 123.55-117.3.

In closing, some miscellaneous factoids: debutant Steven McCollum set the HFL’s highest ever GW points total with 215.15 FPts in GW10; John Nixon topped the ‘Andy Got Screwed’ index, with the outgoing champion losing 4 times by fewer than 5 FPts. Glendale Nightowls set a record for the highest number of successful claims at 75 (a quarter of the entire league’s business).

It wasn't the end-of-season do we wanted... but we made the best of it!
It wasn’t the end-of-season do we wanted… but we made the best of it!
ChampionDavid MillerKlopp Kulture
2ndSteven McCollumPathetico Madrid
3rdMark McCaveryWillian Dollar Baby
4thPeter HueyGlendale Nightowls
5thGary BrownWan v Juan
6thStephen GibsonNo Fuchs Given
7thJohn NixonAlisson Wonderland
8thRobin CrockettBlaireau d’or
9thPeter GerardMonkstown Oaklanders
Prize AssAli MitchellSydenham Wine Team

Season 7: 2020-21

Champion: Stephen Gibson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to shift and change throughout 2020, at least football fans had something to cheer with the EPL resuming – albeit, behind closed doors – only a little later than would be the norm. For the first time, the HFL draft moved fully online; and whilst the comraderie of the in-person draft (and the associated evening out, to be fair) was much missed, the competition was as intense as ever.

Once again, the league had grown to 12-strong, with the return (again) of founding member Andy Beare added to with a debut for Andrew Hiles. The stage was set for a new challenge too, with the number of subs being cut from four to just two. No more stacking the bench with injured icons; managers were forced to think ruthlessly about squad management like never before.

Drafting up a storm: Zoom on one screen, Fantrax on the other.

A new trophy was added to the roster (perhaps Peter Gerard’s greatest contribution to the HFL): the HFL Belt. Starting with a random team, the Belt match each week sees the Belt at stake in a routine fixture. Whoever still holds it at the conclusion of the season wins the prize. The Belt would go on to change hands no fewer than 19 times in the course of the season – adding an extra dimension to matches every week.

Reigning champs Klopp Kulture came out of the gate strong at the start of the league season, winning their first five fixtures at a canter. Might this be the season the curse would finally be broken? Losing 8 of the following 12 meant otherwise, David washing up in 6th place when all was said and done.

Steven McCollum continued a ridiculous pace in his sophomore season, never falling below 3rd place from GW4 onwards: might he be able to get it over the line after going so close last time?

But the story of the league season was from a different veteran, Stephen Gibson. After losing 5 of the first 8 rounds, his Prisoners of Verdansk side found themselves languishing in 9th. Then, in a run not far off John Nixon’s a couple of years prior, a remarkable 13 win streak through the crucial winter period saw a meteoric rise turn into a icy grip on top spot.The remainder of the season turned into a tussle between him and McCollum’s Pathetico, constantly nipping at Gibson’s heels and even briefly displacing him; but it was not to be. Gibson earned a second star, holding Pathetico off by just a win’s difference, and demonstrating the combination of grit and luck needed to win this league.

For outgoing holders Klopp Kulture, David would find some solace in pulling things together for a strong cup run in the middle of the season. After dominant displays throughout the knock-out rounds (the less said about the group stage draw, the better) Klopp Kulture and fellow admins Glendale Nightowls faced off in the final, which KK won convincingly to take home the newly-inaugurated cup trophy.

McCollum too would find some comfort, snatching the belt from Andrew Beare’s grasp on the last day of the season to become the inaugural Belt holder. Those two would renew rivalries in Season 8.

It was generally acknowledged that a level of competitiveness had been achieved throughout the season, with even Prize Ass retainer Mitchell winning 10 GWs through the season, and a tight bunch in the middle of the table routinely knocking lumps out of opponents. Could this level of competition be maintained as the world – and sport – edged closer to ‘normality’?

ChampionStephen GibsonPrisoners of Verdansk265482.30
2ndSteven McCollumPathetico Madrid255611.30
3rdMark McCaveryFinding Timo245185.00
4thPeter HueyGlendale Nightowls225597.75
5thJohn NixonAlisson Wonderland215194.60
6thDavid MillerKlopp Kulture215187.60
7thGary BrownBest VAR None175159.60
8thRobin CrockettBlaireau d’or174943.05
9thAndrew BeareBleary Wanderers165047.3
10thPeter GerardMonkstown Oaklanders154253.6
11thAndrew HilesRookie FC134318.4
Prize AssAli MitchellGame of Throw Ins104188.45