With the dust settling on another engrossing Cellcard Fantasy League season, the Post sports editor Dan Riley grabbed an email interview with its triumphant winner, 28-year-old Sabina Lawreniuk of Bradford, England, who clinched the title on Sunday with her team Why always me?
Congratulations. How does it feel to finish top of just over 700 teams in the Cellcard Fantasy League?
I feel relieved after the stress of watching the results come in [on Sunday] afternoon. I wasn’t very confident heading into the final week and thought that Matt [Culis’s] PPFC might pip me to the post.
He’s been such an outstanding rival that I actually feel a bit bad for winning – he deserved it as much as me.
You are the second female to scoop the top prize of a 3.5G iPad and T-shirt after Brenda Wade. What do think makes a good fantasy manager?
Dedication – I have spent far too much of my time this season scouting players and plotting transfer strategies.
What is your connection to Cambodia?
I have a long association with Cambodia. I first visited back in 2005 and haven’t been able to keep away, returning every year since.
I moved over in 2008 to do some research with the Royal University of Phnom Penh, looking at the work and life of labour migrants – garment factory workers, motodops, street sellers, and garbage pickers, etc. That has turned into a PhD, so I now split my time between London, where my university is based, and Phnom Penh, where I do my research.
What football team do you support and which player do you currently admire the most?
I’ll always be loyal to my hometown team, Bradford City. But of the Premier League clubs, I have an affection for Arsenal.
Top player has to be Aaron Ramsey – what a season. And it’s not over yet. Hopefully, he’ll continue his fine form into [this Saturday’s] FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Who were most treasured squad picks of the season?
Ramsey, Suarez, Yaya. The latter particularly after Matt (briefly) binned him in the January wildcard.
Who did you gamble on to most affect and who did you regret fielding?
Taking the armband off Suarez in gameweek 27 felt genuinely frightening. Captain Sturridge repaid the decision that week but burned me the next.
I can’t say I regret fielding him, because his goal on final day won me the league, but it was difficult being a de facto Nasri fan over the last few gameweeks, given the Arsenal connection and the manner of his departure.
What advice would you give fantasy managers for next season?
Don’t take hits [gambles on players]. I haven’t taken many but I’ve regretted almost every one. They have rarely paid off.
What will you be doing with your winners prize of an iPad?
Preparing to mount my title challenge for next [Cellcard Fantasy League] season.
Who do you think will win the FIFA World Cup this year?
I wish I could say England, but I don’t want to destroy my credibility. I’d like it to be hipster tip Belgium but I think one of the South American teams, probably hosts Brazil, is a safer bet.
Meanwhile, fellow Englishman Matt Culis expressed his thoughts at losing to Lawreniuk.
“Congratulations from me, it was an exciting battle,” he told the Post by email. “Like Liverpool, I’ll be back next year and trying to go one better.
“I’m really happy to get a top [1,000] finish – my first time. I sneaked number 1 in Cambodia on the final day too.
“In FPL geekiness (I spend WAY too much time on it), it was actually pretty exciting.
“I enlisted my main rival from home for transfer advice over the last few weeks as I’d sewn up our money league about three months ago.
“I didn’t take any of his advice, but it was good to have someone to bounce ideas off.
In the final week, I picked the right captain and made the right transfer to make up 15 points, but the rest of [Lawreniuk’s] team was too strong.
“I didn’t fancy it going in, but it was close in the end. Jason Puncheon . . . I’ll never forget or forgive him.”