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Repairing the broken wheelbarrow: A Notts County tale


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Afternoon all. 

I'm in a celebratory mood. For the last six months, I feared my club would become extinct over the course of this summer. Indeed, it's not unfair to say that we were just five days from liquidation when the club was taken over on Friday, thanks to irresponsible owners and terrifying levels of debt. As a result, it's little wonder our luck finally ran out on the pitch, which is why we find ourselves outside the Football League for the first time in the club's history at the start of the coming season. However, the dark days are hopefully now all behind us, and because I currently can't stop thinking about the club, I figured it was a good time to take them on in a new save. 

Unfortunately it will be a retro save, but I *will* be buying FM20, simply so I can take this challenge on again from the bottom. For now though, I'll have to make do with starting in League One in FM13. 

The aims of the save are pretty straight forward, it will be a one-club save until I feel I can take the club no further, but I want to both take on and beat the big boys wherever possible. Ideally my transfer policy will focus on signing and developing young players, but there are no specific rules as such. 

While I'm not a fan of using the editor, I have made one correction to the game's database - in 2012 Notts' Meadow Lane home had a capacity that was restricted to 16,947. I have altered that to the stadium's official capacity of 20,300. Other than that, everything remains the same. 

Game details: FM13, medium database, 25,000 players. Leagues from England (BSP & above) Scotland (Third Division & above) Germany (Third Division & above) Ireland (First Division & above) Norway (second division & above) and Sweden (second division & above) Holland (Jupiler League & above)

The manager is a fictionalised version of myself in 2012 (he even shares my first name), a 32 year old born in England from a Scottish family, but unlike me he managed to play the game professionally. He retired injured at 30, and gets his first crack at management at the club his career began at. 

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A strange title, you say? Yes, yes it is, but here is why.


(Full disclosure: this isn't my video, if it's yours and you want me to remove it, no problem at all)

Where does it come from?

There are many different stories about where the song started. Some believe it was when a groundsman was on the pitch at half time with a wheelbarrow. As he cut the corner of the pitch near the corner flag, the wheel fell off and he spoke to both County fans and a terrace chant was born, sang from one end of Meadow Lane to the other like a giant game of vocal ping pong. Another version is the song derived from an interview with Neil Warnock in the local press. Which Neil stated that 'When I first came to Notts County all I had was a wheelbarrow...and the wheel fell of that' hence the song was born.
However, a more realistic version, believed by many supporters who were present at the game is that it started at a match back on Tuesday April 17th 1990. Notts County were playing away at Shrewsbury Town's former home, Gay Meadow. The Magpies were trailing to two Dean Spink goals and looked to be losing, with less than ten minutes left.

The Shrewsbury Supporters were happy and singing On Top of Old Smokey. But because of their strong accent, it sounded like "I had a wheel barrow, the wheel fell off," to the Notts County fans. The magpies fans then sung it back as a way of taking the mickey out of them. This had an amazing effect on the team who managed to pull back two goals in the last ten minutes to draw the game. The song then accompanied the Notts County team all the way and on into the following season, with another trip to Wembley Stadium and another glorious victory, with 25,000 people singing it beneath the twin towers. It has remained a firm favourite at the world’s oldest professional club ever since.


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Notts County FC
(With thanks to Wiki)

Notts County Football Club is a professional association football club based in Nottingham, England. At the start of 2012/13, the team participates in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. Founded in 1862, they are the oldest professional association football club in the world, and predate The Football Association itself. The club became one of the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888. They are nicknamed the "Magpies" due to the black and white colour of their home strip, which inspired Italian club Juventus to adopt the colours for their kit in 1903. After playing at different home grounds during their first fifty years, including Trent Bridge, the club moved to Meadow Lane in 1910 and have remained there since. Notts County hold a local rivalry with city neighbours Nottingham Forest, as well as with other nearby clubs such as Mansfield Town. 

Notts County's first known colours were amber and black hooped shirts, dating from the 1870s. This was followed by short spells playing in amber, then chocolate and blue halves. In 1890, the club adopted black and white striped shirts, and have played in these colours for most of the rest of their history.

The club have won the FA Cup once, the second tier three times, the third tier twice and the fourth tier three times. They also won the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1995. As of 2012, with a total of 13 promotions and 15 relegations, no club has moved between the divisions of the Football League on more occasions than Notts County.


(With thanks to FM)

The club plays its football at the 20,300 all-seater Meadow Lane, which is rented for £15,000 per season. The club has average training and adequate youth facilities, and a level 3 academy. The club has 3,000 season ticket holders, and rivalries with local sides Forest, Mansfield, Chesterfield and Lincoln. 

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My first assessment of the squad is that the squad is very....mixed. There's some really good talent for this level, but there is a lot of dross, too. 


There are five players who are nowhere near good enough who I need to move on, but I'll need to generate some funds in order to sign replacements. The most saleable asset at the club is winger Alan Judge, who the club criminally allowed to leave on a free in real life. I'd hope we can get a very substantial fee for a player who is out of contract next summer. 


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Season preview (2012/13) - League One

Media expectation: 8th
Board expectation: finish in the top half

Transfer budget (remaining): £22,500
Wage budget: £47,000p/w (£2,300p/w under budget)

Not far off ready to go then for my first season at the club. I'm quite happy with the board's expectations for the season, I'd like to think we can challenge for the play off places, although this season is mostly about getting settled in. I'd like to get some training and youth upgrades done as soon as possible, but the club isn't swimming in cash and there's still lots of work to do with the squad, so that might just have to wait a few years. The board also expect us to get to the Third Round of the FA Cup, which would be lovely, but I won't worry about it too much. 

Looking long-term, it's important to get a few players who are homegrown at the club in the first team squad. Currently, not a single player fits that criteria, so I'll be looking to bring in some youngsters over the next few weeks to try and help with that down the line. However, all but six currently count as homegrown, so that's something. I should perhaps point out that I won't be scouting outside the British Isles at all while I'm a Football League club, and where possible in that time, my signings will be British or Irish unless they've spent some time in the UK beforehand. 

In terms of transfers, it's been a little hectic trying to build a squad with the depth required for the EFL season. Unfortunately, that meant I had to sell Alan Judge, and the fans weren't impressed when the buying club turned out to be Nottingham Forest. The Irishman did bring in a transfer fee of £2.2m however, which has gone a long way towards improving the squad. Young full back Jake Wholey also left the club on a permanent basis, he joined Cambridge United on a free. We've also sent three players out on loan to help clear the wage bill: Tom Williams joined Wrexham, Carl Regan went to Luton, while Curtis Thompson is off to Kidderminster, all three for the entire season. 

In terms of transfers, we've spent a total of £575,000 this window, and while I wish the board were a little more generous with what they made available from the Judge deal, I'm happy enough with what I have so far. The biggest deal was for a striker (and a familiar face for me on FM), as Shane Sutherland joined from Inverness for £350,000. He'll start the season as first choice alongside Francois Zoko in a 4-4-2, and if he settles and develops, he'll be a steal. We also spent £200,000 on Aaron Sinclair from Partick Thistle, and £24,000 on goalkeeper Kyle Letheren. Full back Thomas Piermayr had been at Inverness last season and was our only Bosman deal of the window so far. We've also brought in  five players on loan deals for the season. Kevin Long joins from Burnley, Simon Lappin from Norwich City, Chris Whelpdale from Gillingham, Bradley Pritchard from Charlton, and Ben Davies joins from Swansea City. 


I also have at least half a dozen players who are out of contract in the summer who I'd like to keep, so I may yet have a little more work to do in the transfer market to offer new deals and stay in budget, but we'll see how we get on. 

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13 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Good luck at County Withnail.

I remember many years ago when somebody stole the o of County from the stand's gable.


12 hours ago, john1 said:

Good luck :) 

Cheers lads. 

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One more deal. On the eve of the season, midfielder Joss Labadie picked up a knock that will see him out until at least mid-September. We entered the loan market one more time:


The former Ajax & Dundee United man is perfect for us. 

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11 minutes ago, Deisler26 said:

Good deal IMO

He's very handy. If the board release some cash, I'll probably try and get him on a permanent deal as he looks like he could do a job in the Championship, too. 

We are a little reliant on loan players this season, although Bauben is the only one who starts if everyone is fit. I can cope with that. 

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Really chuffed with the way the season has started, we've looked strong in our home games and shown resilience away from home. We were two down at Preston with 10 men and rescued a point, while the defeat to Wolves was with a second string side as I'm really not fussed about the League Cup. A handy start.

Also, Gavin Mahon has become the latest player to leave Meadow Lane, freeing up wages to get winger Jeff Hughes tied down to a new contract. 

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Unbeaten after 10 league games. I'd certainly have taken that, although injuries are beginning to add up. We're a little short in the centre of defence and midfield, and so I expect us to fall away in the next few weeks. 

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Successive defeats to start the month saw us drop off the top spot, but we've found the resilience to get solid results since then, even if I'm not overly convinced by performances. Zoko's form is outrageous, he's already scored 17 times this season!

Still a few niggles in the side, key midfielder/defender Gary Liddle is out for three months, while I've had to make another loan signing as we're short on defenders, so Liam Cooper comes in for three months from Hull City. 


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8 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Just found this thread. Great idea for a save. Best of luck

Thanks, man. It's always nice to manage your own club, I haven't done it for years. 

This is probably a secondary save for the time being, though. I still have things to do in Sweden. 

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Interesting save considering the current situation and the new owners. 

I think it could be a popular choice in FM20, but possibly liked to a "moneyball" strategy or at least something stat driven. 

I have a soft spot for a number of players in your squad due to them playing for Barnet either before your current game-date or since.

Krystian Pearce was with us on loan in his earlier days and was phenomenal.
Neal Bishop was brilliant for us, (and then you), and I think he is up to about 650 league appearances now and still playing in League 2 at the age of 37. 
Andre Boucaud is at Barnet now and finally regained fitness at the beginning of the year. He makes us much better when he plays. Very intelligent player. 
JCR is a really frustrating one. If he would just do 6 stepovers rather than 7 then he would destroy the opposition.  

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