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[FM21] A hotbed of talent? Hopefully we can find a few "Stars" - A North-East challenge

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Using a modified Level 10 database (didn't want to wait for a Level 11 database), I'm attempting to take a different Newcastle team to glory.


The Challenge

It's always said the North-East is a hotbed of talent, yet the region has had to put up with years of underachieving teams. My goal is to take Newcastle Blue Star as far as I can, using only players born in the North-East of England. 

The Rules

  • I can only sign players born in a city/town/village in the North-East of England. I've created a custom transfer filter to only show players born in the region.
  • The only 2 exceptions are non-North East players generated at the club and players from North-East clubs with their place of birth listed as "Unknown" (this defaults to London in-game, but it still counts)

The Team

Newcastle Blue Star were first established in 1930, but languished around the North-East amateur leagues, though they did win the F.A Vase in the 1975-76 season. They found some success just over a decade ago in the 7th tier of English football, although they couldn't secure promotion and pay off their debts taken out to get their ground up to code, and thus folded.

In 2018, the club was re-founded in the 11th tier of English football, and has enjoyed modest support as a community club. Former Newcastle United favourite Lee Clark was appointed as Director of Football, showing the club has ambition to once again rise up the leagues.



Despite being artificially put up 1 league, the board still think we have enough about us to win promotion within the first two years. Hopefully our new transfer policy allows for that.


I'm starting with the lowest reputation possible and no coaching badges, hopefully I can grow with the team


  • Get as far as possible only using players from the North-East of England (or generated at our club)
  • Attempt to establish ourselves as one of the better teams in the region
  • Hopefully don't get sacked
Edited by Rainbowz
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Pre-Season 2020-21


I didn't expect to win any of these and was pleasantly surprised to restrict Shields to 1 goal, then Gateshead and Chorley showed the gulf in class between the National League and the 10th tier. At least we scored a goal?



Lots of activity as I'm keen to bolster our squad, which only contained 5 players. Some great signings made for this level, some of which I'll highlight below

Key Signings


Ex-Sunderland youth Connor Slack is an excellent striker for our level and I expect him to bang in the goals. As a poacher, there's not really a weakness to his game, so I'm delighted to pick him up


Released from Newcastle United, Cole again looks an excellent striker for this level. He can finish, has a bit of quickness and is decent all-round. Definitely expecting some good returns from him.


Strange name but a great player, The Sunderland-born former Wolves youth provides a bit of quality out wide, something hard to come by at this level. I imagine he'll be up in the assist charts this season.


Formerly of Darlington and divisional rivals Durham, Stansfield looks insane for this level. His mentals are crazy good which is a rarity at this level. His technicals and physicals are unimpressive, but manageable. I expect him to run our midfield.



Our squad is pretty mixed going into the first few games. We have some players good enough to start in the league above us mixed with players barely good enough for teams below us. I'd definitely love to get some more quality in, but given my transfer limitations, it's proving difficult. There's a few players I have my eye on who aren't willing to join us yet, but I'm hoping they lower their expectations if they're without a club for a while

(Remember, players listed as "London" had their place of birth as "Unknown". I've researched them and they're definitely from the North-East.)

Pre-Season Predictions


Despite our recruitment, the media only have us at 4th. Tow Law and Durham both have very strong squads however with the latter having a worrying amount of foreign talent. And with only 2 promotion spots on offer, we could be in for a fight this season.

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Update - October 2020



As expected we've been a strong team. Besides a loss to shock leaders Carlisle City and a surprise defeat to bottom-half Washington, we're unbeaten in competitive games! This includes a surprising FA Cup run, knocking out Northwich and Gorleston, both who are a league above us with arguably stronger teams. Our next cup game is against Biggleswade Town though, a towering 3 leagues above us. However, they're struggling, so we could pull off an upset.

In the league, we could go top should we win our game in hand by 2 or more goals. However, we're yet to play some of the stronger teams in our division, which will be our true test.

The Squad


I've added a few new faces, but no-one to shout about. I'm constantly trialing new players, but they're either not good enough or want too much money. I'm hoping some lower their demands, as there are some quality players available who would be difference makers at this level.


My current tactic that would make classic English managers proud, a direct 4-4-2. With the quality we have, we can catch teams on the break and hit low crosses, which are poked home by our clinical strikers. Not pretty, but it gets the results.

Thoughts so far

We're playing brilliantly and could realistically get promoted if we keep this up. A nice cup run is giving us some well-needed money too. However, I'm desperate to improve the squad. We're lacking quality in key areas which could bite us against the better teams. If we do get promoted, we'd easily be the weakest team in the league, so I want to use this season to prepare for that.

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Wasn't expecting anything as our facilities are as low as they can be but damn, not even a false golden generation to get my hopes up?

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Posted (edited)

December 2020 Update


After a hard-fought loss to 7th tier Biggleswade Town in the FA Cup, we beat promotion rivals Tow Law and salvaged a draw against Duhram, only to struggle against 19th place Esh Winning and somehow lose to bottom place Brandon. Absolutely shocked, I decided to tweak our tactics and change our mentality, resulting in an unbeaten December, including a nice win over a strong Rugby side in the FA Vase. We also continued our progress into the Quarter Final of the Northern League Cup, beating Division One side Thornaby. We're current 2-0 against teams from the division above, so maybe I'm overestimating the gap in quality.


Despite a small blip, we're top of the league! Carlisle's surprise run of form has finally ended, but Durham and Tow Law have shaken off the early season rust and look like our biggest rivals. Seems like we're set for an exciting 2nd half of the season.



Newcastle native Josh Nearney has been brought in to add some defensive quality to the team. Spent a few months waiting him out to drop his demands and we finally have him. Walks into the team as our best CB.

Edited by Rainbowz
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Does anyone else have a problem that before every big game, some player decides to throw his toys out of the pram and complain about some menial issue? My 5th choice CB decided to tank morale right before an FA Vase game because he suddenly realized he wasn't being played :rolleyes:

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Update - February 2021


3 months unbeaten! Our squad is extremely strong for our level, and we're showing it on the pitch. The highlight has to be a 1-0 over Hashtag United, who are dominating their league a step above us. I honestly think we have a chance to win the FA Vase. There aren't any teams left who are realistically stronger than us, but they're all teams that are similar to us, so they could go either way. A 3-1 over Division One leaders West Auckland gives me a lot of positives for next season


It's safe to say we should be going up now. We and Durham are a different class to the teams in our league and if our squads stay the same, we'll both likely be fighting for promotion in the higher division too.



Ex-Newcastle youth Dan Lowther has been brought in to give us some more depth in midfield. He's nothing incredible, just a dependable option at this level.


4th choice CB Dan Gray left us to Winterton after complaining about gametime. Always sad to see a solid backup player go, but he was definitely expendable.


Our great performances are starting to attract a lot of unwanted attention to our better players. I've managed to convince our top stars to stay for now. but bigger and bigger clubs keep trying to poach them and I don't know how long I can hold onto them. Our finances are firmly in the red too, so I wouldn't be able to afford to replace players like Moan and Slack with equal replacements. I'm hoping to get promotion sealed before our squad gets picked apart.

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Was trawling around the youth intakes of local clubs to see if I could find anyone worth pinching, found this guy generated at South Shields :eek:


He's from Shields too. Definitely keeping an eye on him, if not to sign sometime in the far future, but just to see how he develops.

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Posted (edited)







Honestly shocked at this, I knew we were good, but I didn't think we were FA Vase finals good! This is definitely welcome for our finances, and perhaps we could even get our first "major" silverware!


Liversedge await us. They're a good team, but I wouldn't say any stronger than we've played before. I'm quietly confident, but this could go either way.


Edited by Rainbowz
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Youth Intake


Terrible. Considering a 4.5* potential player is an average player two leagues above us, I doubt we'll ever see any of these guys again. The amount of foreign players despite having 1 youth recruitment highlights why I'm allowing youth players for this challenge.

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It's time.


The team that will be attempting to achieve the glory.




I actually can't believe it. I swear I'm not cheating. I use instant result but I never save before games. A 90th minute winner sees a 10th tier side in the FA Vase for the first time in a while, maybe even ever!


But the board still won't let me gain my coaching qualifications. 


A Junior Coaching increase is very welcome though.

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End of Season 2020-21






What. A, Season! Considering I didn't even expect promotion this season, finishing as champions as well as winning the FA Vase is something I didn't even consider. I'm absolutely loving it!

Looking Ahead


Despite winning the FA Vase, the board aren't expecting heroics from me next season, and rightly so. There are no pushovers in the league above us, so it'll be interesting to see how we fare. Combine that with the fact bigger teams are eyeing my best players and that we don't have the greatest finances means we could actually be a worse side next season than we were this season. 

If we can add some good players and keep the ones we've got, I absolutely back us for another high finish. However, if we lose our top players and I can't afford the replacements, we could be looking at a season of survival rather than success.

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Pre-Season 2021-22


A mixed pre-season as I played around with different sides and tactics. A narrow loss to Dunston, a strong team in the division above gives me a lot of hope, as does a strong win over Palace's u23s. The less said about the Crook and Morecambe games the better though.



1 defender out, 1 defender in. Nearney complained about us not having enough strikers, I agreed. Then he wanted one brought in within a week. I couldn't get anyone to agree a deal in that time, so he kicked up a fuss. He'll be a miss, but we can do better.


Released by Newcastle United, Brannen is our first signing. Solid mentals and okay physicals/technicals for this level. My scouts seem to think he's got a bit of potential too, hopefully he can realize it here.

Pre-Season Predictions


We're 2nd favourites to go up, which I'd say is debatable. Of the entire league, we probably have the most talented overall squad, but other clubs have key players who are way better than this level, and could be difference makers, something we lack.

I'm still looking to bring in a few first-team players and perhaps find a game-changer of our own. Unfortunately, recently released players either aren't interested or want far too much money. Hopefully I can wait a few out.

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September 2021 Update



A solid start to the season. We're not winning by much, but we tend to be the better team, which is promising. Our only defeat came to Sutton Common, a team in London who I assume are in our league due to boundaries not being set properly. Hopefully we don't end up in a similar situation if we get promoted.



3 new faces, all solid squad options in case of injury/suspension. Teams are still constantly bidding for our players, so having capable replacements is getting more important. Backup keeper Pocklington has left, he won't really be missed.


Newcastle-born Errington gives us some solidity at the back. As long as he doesn't have to run, he'll be fine. At this level though, he's a superb backup CB.


Ex-Bedlington defender Burn impressed in Division Two last season and gives us even more stability at the back. At 20 he has some room to grow too, so he could be with us for some time.


Durham-born Dorward looks an excellent all-round midfielder for this level. Can play pretty much any role I need him to, so is the perfect backup option. Like Burn, he's young too, so perhaps has room to grow.

Manager's Thoughts

It's a strange time at the club. We're doing excellently on the pitch and look set for another promotion, but off the pitch, I'm scared. We're constantly getting bids on our players, and since I can't offer them proper contracts, they can leave at any time. All it takes is for a team 2 leagues above us to want a squad player, and we could lose a key man. Our finances are once again about £15,000 in the red and I have no idea how to sort it. A major re-shuffle could be in the works within the next few seasons as I look to bring down the average bonuses of the players. For now, I'm going to aim for promotion and take stock later in the season.

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November 2021 Update



Oh dear. Safe to say we've had an absolute nightmare. After a strong showing against 2 divisions above Nantwich Town in the FA Cup, we picked up a few injuries, then had our starting and backup left-back poached. With a threadbare squad and players played out of position to fill gaps, teams smelled blood in the water and gave us our worst run in a long time. We're recovering now, but hopefully this hasn't derailed our title momentum.

Transfers In



Murray-Burgess joins us as our first regen signing of the save! My scouts are really high on him and he looks pretty okay. Definitely more of a "one for the future", but can definitely do a job when called upon.


My personal favourite signing, South Shields icon Robert Briggs joins us! I was desperate for more quality and Briggs provides it. He's played and succeeded at levels way above ours, so I expect big things from him. Definitely a cut above our midfield.

Transfers Out



Laidler had been in demand for a while, but had rejected all offers, even from higher-up teams. That's why I was shocked when I saw the news he'd left for divisional rivals Newton Aycliffe. He was our starting LB, so it was annoying to lose him, especially in the middle of an injury crisis. I don't think he's a huge loss in the long run, but short term it definitely hurts.


Simmonds was one of our youth prospects I kept on. His stats were okay, but he was never near the first team. He was attracting a bit of interest from slightly better teams despite my coaches not seeing much in him and moved to Bacup. Doubt he'll ever become anything, so not too sad to see him go.


A really annoying loss, Groves was my ultimate utility man. Any injuries or suspensions, he could fill in so there were no gaps. Losing him and Laidler days apart crippled my team as seen by our poor form. He was never a standout player, but he'll be difficult to replace.

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Upgraded our junior coaching and got in a much better HOYD, but that's probably the worst preview I've ever seen. Our "best" player isn't even English, let alone from the North-East :( 

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January 2022 Update



Ugh, we've had an absolute nightmare. After a great December, we were given the Christmas gift of having our only goalkeeper bought by Carlisle City, with no time to sign a replacement. Because of this, we struggled against relegation fighting Thornaby and were dumped out of the FA Vase. With morale down, we struggled even more, losing a key game to leaders Bishop Auckland. We're bouncing back now, but we've lost some critical points in our promotion hunt.

Transfers Out



The transfer that damn near killed us. Lawrence, despite being our only keeper and starting every game left for Carlisle City in the division below. Absolutely mystified why he made that move but it couldn't have happened at a worse time. He's not the greatest goalkeeper, but anyone is better than no-one


I'm so sad to see Alderson leave. He's developed so much here and became a great non-league full back. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested in discussing a contract so I knew it'd be a matter of time before he left. Can't complain as I knew it was coming, and I can only hope we can bring him back down the line. Considering he's considered an Important Player for a team 2 leagues above us, it speaks volumes on the gap he's leaving in our squad.

Transfers In


Newcastle-born Armstrong has been brought in from divisional rivals Hebburn, where he was warming the bench. I desperately needed a goalkeeper and he was one of about 3 from the North-East who'd join me, the others being poor quality regens. He's not a bad keeper, but can't help but feel he's a step down from Lawrence. Hopefully he can do a job.

State of the Squad


All in all, our squad is good, but needs work. Our depth in midfield is immense, but everywhere else we're lacking. There are players earning far too much who I'll definitely be looking to move on and replace with cheaper alternatives. Slack, Cole and Moan continue to absolutely carry the team, as I reckon they'll do for a while yet. I'm hoping to have a much-streamlined and more efficient squad for next season, but it'll depend on who I can buy. I'll be keeping a sharp eye on the released lists come the end of the season.

Edited by Rainbowz
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Is there a known issue with regens not generating from towns near their club? Just when I'm searching local clubs for regens, so many are from random places in England and not from the North-East. Seems weird that teams like Sunderland RCA and Hebburn are generating players from near London.

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Holy hot garbage. Not even going to bother signing anyone from here, they all look terrible stats/personality-wise too. Turns out 1 junior coaching upgrade has little effect.

Also, my preview said there was nothing good aside from a Jamaican goalkeeper, yet he's the worst player in the intake? Something is definitely wrong there.

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March 2022 Update



That's a bit more like it. Two months unbeaten sees us go top, though Bishop Auckland have a game in hand. They've dropped in form recently however, so I'm confident we can get promoted this season.

Transfers Out




Healy was a pretty poor youth player who never even saw the first team. Not a miss at all and doubt he'll become anything


Another defender leaves, this time Errington joins Glossop one league above us. It's a shame to lose him, but we have numbers at CB to cope, even if he was one of our better ones. I'd still like to get a replacement in though.


This one hurts me as he's one of my favourite players irl, but Briggs just wasn't cutting it here and was regularly outperformed by our other centre mids. That combined with the fact he was on over £100 a game meant I had to cut him loose.

Transfers In



Local lad Noble joins us to replace the outgoing Alderson. He's not as good, but is still more than capable of filling the role at this level.

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With Bishop Auckland losing their game in hand, it gives us a nice cushion to see out the season. With an easy run-in too, I'm confident we're going up this season. Sunderland RCA could be a potential roadblock, but we're good enough to see them off.

Edited by Rainbowz
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Does anyone know when I can start offering semi-pro contracts to players? We're a semi-pro team, but the best I can do are amateur deals. It'd be nice to stop the daily contract offers my players get from other clubs.

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The board are looking for a mid-table finish, which depending on which league we're put into is very optimistic. However, in the 5 year plan, they just want to become a midtable 8th tier team and sort out the club finances. I'm definitely looking to cut down on our spending, and have actioned that with some recent transfers

Transfers In


5 transfers when I'm trying to cut the wage bill may seem like madness, but there's method here.


Durham-born Vaulks replaces Errington and what a play he is for this level! So happy we could get him in.





I'm grouping these 4 together as they're all North-East born regens. I'm hoping I can replace the bulk of my squad with players like these on cheap £5-20 a week wages. It's hard to tell whether they have potential to be future stars for us, but they can certainly be able deputies and if they grow, we could have a few bargains on our hands.

Transfers Out




Colquhoun leaves as he was taking up a massive £130 for every appearance and his stats weren't reflective of one of our top earners. Crawford was a youth player I'll likely never hear of again.

Manager's Thoughts

Next season is going to be interesting. I'm hoping moving on some of our hefty earners as well as the increased attendance from playing against better-supported teams will fix our finances. I wouldn't expect any more promotions for a few years, but anything can happen in Football Manager. I'm mainly focused on developing the squad I've got rather than diving into the transfer market, but if the right player becomes available, I might have to take a punt.


Our squad looks like this now. The only players earning over £100 per appearances are my two star strikers who are nigh-on irreplaceable and Brannen, who I may look to move on should a better left-back become available.

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Pre-Season 2022-23


Some excellent results against some teams far stronger than us, though I won't get carried away. Pre-season was mainly about getting some funds in, but that didn't really work as we're still £35,000 in the hole.


We've been placed in the Northern Premier League South. I'm just glad we've not been randomly sorted into a London league. There are some extremely tough teams in this division, such as Worcester, Sheffield and Bury. The media expect us to finish 10th, which I'd be more than happy with. I don't expect promotion or anything close this season. We do have 1 player, Connor Slack in the media dream 11 however, which is a positive.

Transfers Out



Once again our defence has been crippled as teams continue to poach our defenders. I've no idea why defenders are leaving me so often, yet I've kept a hold of my midfielders and strikers who are way better.


Brannen went to Ramsbottom at the end of last season. For our level, he was an excellent defender who'll be missed. He was one of our highest earners however, so getting that £130 per game off the finances is useful.


Similar to Alderson, Burn developed a lot at Blue Star, going from a backup option to a key player. Losing him definitely hurts, especially to one of our strongest divisional rivals. Hopefully he goes easy against us.


The last defender to go, Parker was a capable backup player who looked set for a starring role this year, but decided to join Newton Aycliffe a division below as a fringe player. Absolutely baffling,

Transfers In



Defenders are getting harder and harder to find as more leave me, but I've managed to find a couple who aren't asking for stupid money.


My scouts wouldn't shut up about this guy and seemed to think he had some amazing potential. Then I signed him and he's CA-wise our worst player. Still, I'm desperate for North-Eastern defenders and his stats aren't god awful. I'm praying my scouts see something my coaches don't however.


Newcastle-born Ord joins us from Tadcaster. I'd love to say he was an inspired signing, but really he's one of the only North-East born defenders who'd join me for an appearance fee that wasn't over £200. Still, he looks solid and has a bit of potential. Hopefully he doesn't leave once he reaches it like the other Judases we've had.

The Squad


Our squad definitely looks more like a squad now, we've got a nice amount of depth. We've also slashed our monthly outgoings, with the only players earning over £100 being our two strikers who definitely deserve it. I'll be watching our finances like a hawk this season as I look to steady the ship and prepare us for longer-term success. Or maybe I should go all-in and dive deeper into the red and sign some absolute star players and hope we reach the big leagues before we go bankrupt. What do you reckon?

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Honestly, I'm tempted to give up with this challenge. I don't know what to do anymore. I'm getting about 7-10 offers a week for my players, with the odd one leaving and me having fewer and fewer replacements because I'm still hemorrhaging money despite slashing my outgoing and having a threadbare squad. I don't know if it's a problem with the DB I'm using, something I've personally done wrong or what, but it's just not sustainable. I'm somehow £45,000 in the red and increasing despite having the lowest outgoing of any club in my league and one of the highest attendances.  I'll keep on with this challenge if people really want me to, because it's hard to find motivation at the moment. I'm willing to listen to ideas to help my situation, however.

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