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Putting the Dork into Dorking


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Hello all, 

After playing a LOT of FM over the years, i had a few years break when I no longer had the time to put into the game & the Laptop wouldn't support it................ Now that FM21 has come to Xbox I can now give my first ever career blog a go. 

As usual, I started Unemployed & gave myself no previous experience in the hope I can take a team from non-league all the way to the PL. After applying to every job going, I was eventually given a chance at Dorking Wanderers!!!

Season 1 - National League South

The Board was hoping to achieve a minimum mid-table position (I wanted promotion) & gave me around 30k transfer budget. 

So I set about my way getting rid of any deadwood & bringing in new players I thought would get me, at least, a playoff position. I used all the transfer budget on wages & brought in loads of free agents which meant having to go for youth. After signing pretty a entire new first 11, it was time to get the season underway. 

I opted to play a 4-1-3-2 formation with the aim of getting the ball wide as I knew my 2 strikers would bang them in given the service, & so it proved. Started relatively slow & hovered around the playoffs. After the halfway mark, we really started to get going. With my star striker & 2 solid CB's (see below) churning out fantastic performances we soon found ourselves in a 2 way fight for the title along with Ebbsfleet. This lasted until the final day of the season knowing that we only had to win (or match Ebbsfleet's result) to guarantee us the title.....

......We lost & Ebbsfleet won, giving them the title!!!

So Playoffs it was (well, lets do it the hard way then) where we ended up playing Chelmsford (who we had already beaten twice in the league) in the final but maybe this was their time....There was no need to worry though as we raced into a 4-0 lead at half time with us eventually winning 5-2. We had done it with my star striker finishing as the Leagues top scorer & now I had the job of trying to pin my trusted players down to new contracts & get a team ready for the National League!


  • 2nd in the league (promoted via playoffs)
  • Tommy Stevens top league scorer with 34 goals 
  • Finances weren't great due to the high wages of getting in Free Agents 
  • Knocked out in the 1st round FA cup 
  • Non-existent in the FA trophy 
  • New contract for me 

Notable Signings:

Tommy Stevens



Tyreece Kennedy-Williams


Simon Kozak


Ollie O'Dwyer


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Season 2 - English National League

The board expected this season to be a fight for survival (I thought that aswell tbh) & was only given a very limited budget of 12k which again I spent on wages for Free Agents & loans.

Simon Kozak wasn't very keen on signing a new contract so left that to the director who managed to tie him down for another 2yrs. I got all the other main players down on 2/3yr part-time contracts which completely wrecked the bank balance but hey, we'll get some money when we eventually become a League team.............hopefully

And so it started - keeping the main core of players from the season before & bringing in Chris Smith (CB from Kings Lynn), Enzo Robise (Winger from Southampton), Diogo Freitas-Gouveia (Winger on loan from Colchester), Ethan Ingram (Full back on loan from West Brom)

I opted to play the same formation as the previous season & see how we got on with my main man, Tommy Stevens up front with a loan signing. 

First match saw us play away to Ebbsfleet who had pipped us to the title the previous season & seeing how we had strengthened, I thought we would get a nice early 3pts to start the season....................

................I was wrong, we lost 2-0!!!

First half of the season was quite indifferent & saw us floating around mid-lower table but we did beat the top teams (Leyton Orient, Dag & Red, Eastleigh, Aldershot, Torquay) & although we were scoring loads, we were also conceding loads so I had enough...........spat my dummy out & changed formation. We were now going 4-2-3-1 with my Tommy Stevens (he'll be referred to as `my main man` from now on) up front on his own. 

Everything changed from this moment & we started to conceded less, win more & still score. With my 2 new CB pairing of Smith & O'Dwyer, my main man up top, Robise & Freitas-Gouveia on the wings - we were flying & fighting for the last playoff places with Aldershot, Torquay & Eastleigh. 

This was turning into a fantastic season - beaten Dag & Red, Leyton Orient twice (who went on to be the top 2) & went on a 8 match unbeaten run going into the final game of the season. It was now between Eastleigh & ourselves for the final playoff place with us only ahead on GD. This was it - final game against Stockport & we only had to match or better Eastleigh's result. 

We drew 0-0 in a drab affair with no in game highlights for the last 20mins..............I could now only hope that was enough so covered my eyes............opened them slowly & saw the Eastleigh result..............

They had won 2-0 & another last day disappointment for us!!!!

So another season in the National League for us & speculation around a takeover bid started 



  • 8th league finish (missing playoffs by 1 spot)
  • My main man top league scorer with 31 goals 
  • Forget the finances - we're 250k in the red but the board don't seem concerned 
  • Knocked out in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup
  • Non-existent in the FA trophy 
  • Runner-up for the manager of the year 
Edited by gooner01
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Season 3 - National League (The Start)

So - a disappointing end to last season left me thinking `Have I taken Dorking as far as I can?; Will I manage to gain league status?' but I stayed thinking that we might...........just might, do it this time. 

Board was happy to just become an established National League side but I wanted to push hard for playoffs/promotion. 

And so I set off about grabbing any decent Free Agents I could & releasing some deadwood who hardly played. I also remembered that I had an 18yr old AM signed last season following his release from Fulham so decided to put him into the first team this season with the aim of giving him a few games & manged to resign Diogo Freitas-Gouveia on a free from Colchester. 

Picked up Brad Jackson (Winger) on a free: 



Bernado Rosa (AM) - mainly because he was Brazilian so he must be good, right?:


Harry Warwick (ST) as competition for my main man:




Seeing how we finished last season, I started with the same formation - 4-2-3-1. 

This meant pretty much the same back 4 from last season with a change at RB (Luca Toole on Loan).

Felt pretty comfortable at CB with Smith & O'Dwyer with Kozac (Slvakia Under 21 International) & Tom Sams (Youngster) pushing hard for 1st team places 

Freitas-Gouveia & Brad Jackson on the wings 

Bernado Rosa would start as AM 

My main man up top 

Season start:

Finances were still 200k in the red so lined up Aston Villa in a friendly to bolster some revenue. Thought we'd get hammered seeing as they played a full strength team but we did well, only losing 2-1. This gave me hope for the season - surely we'd be beating Boreham Wood etc if we can do that against Villa?!

First up was Aldershot - We dominated the game but could only draw 0-0. This was swiftly followed by a nice 3-0 win then 2 defeats - losing 2-0 & 4-1! This put us at the wrong end of the table. 

I wasn't happy with that & the financial situation kept playing on my mind so I put Enzo Robise on the transfer list (seeing as he was earning 1.2k a week). I was certain I'd get some money for him - & it didn't take long before Tranmere came knocking with a 30k bid which I accepted & off he went. 

I also wanted new blood & went on the hunt - AGAIN!

I found Emyr Huws was looking for a club after his release from Ipswich - 28yrs old FL player with plenty of experience - surely I wouldn't get him? I DID & only on £400 per week!!!!


I couldn't believe it & things were on the up. Early on I could see him dictating the play & thriving in the DLP role. 

With him now pulling the strings in Midfield, it didn't take long before we were back 1 place outside the Playoffs where we find ourselves now. 



I'm never bothered about these when managing a small club & when we got drawn against Wigan in the FA cup 1st round, I thought we'd go out early & concentrate on the league.

We went 1-0 down inside the opening 10mins & i thought we were going to get a hammering...............BUT HANG ON........

We manged to grab an equaliser (surely we won't beat this ex PL side?)...............then they missed a penalty..............then we got a second................then a third - WE'D DONE IT!!! With 3k fans there to see it & 38k for winning, finances were looking a tad (just a tad) healthier. 

Just a shame Emyr Huws got injured in the process!


Round 2 - I was kind of hoping for another big home tie but we've been drawn an away tie against National League North side, Boston Utd - What a great chance to get to the 3rd round of the FA Cup & maybe a home tie against one of the big guns!

That's where we are at the moment - I'll update once we've played Boston (I know you can't wait)............tbc



Edited by gooner01
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FA Cup > End of Season..........

So here we are, FA Cup 2nd round away to Boston Utd. A game which gave us great chance to get to Round 3!

Things started brilliantly & we raced into a 3-0 lead after 20min & stayed that way until half time. I thought now would be a good time to rest some players & made 2 subs thinking this was in the bag.............Boston had other ideas & were absolutely destroying us & pulled it back to 3-3 to force extra time (maybe I shouldn't have made those subs). We were actually lucky to be drawing 3-3 as Boston had turned into Barcelona (vintage Barcelona, not that rubbish these days). 

I thought we'd get beaten now & Boston would get an amazing trip to a top PL side but luckily we had another chance which was taken in ET & meant us holding on to win 4-3. I have a bit of a soft spot for Boston now!


So I was now excited to see who we'd face in Round 3 - would it be a trip to Anfield or maybe a home tie against Man Utd.......

Neither - it was a home tie to Forest Green Rovers!

Again we started brightly & had a goal ruled out after 2mins but took the lead on the half hour mark despite being 2nd best.

It wasn't to last though & Forest Green scored a last minute winner to win 2-1 & shatter our dreams.



So now it was back to the league & I was starting to get a bit annoyed with 1, the amount of goals we were conceding & 2, the amount of space in the midfield. We have spent pretty much all season floating just outside the playoffs. After trying a few different formations/tactics with not much success (we did have 2 great results with 433) I changed again & went with 4232 Wide & started to see some improvements 

I had 1 CB pushing on to get tackles in. 1 DM putting himself about with the other (Emyr Huws) a ball playing DM. Pacey wingers & strikers to cause panic & a skillfull AM. 

We started improving & the opposition wasn't really getting behind the defence & resorted to scoring worldies but we were still being completely outplayed but also winning & went on a 7 match unbeaten run to leave us 2pts off playoffs with 2 games to go............

  • Away to Kings Lynn who were occupying the last relegation spot & needed a win to have a chance to stay up 
  • Away to Hartlepool who had nothing to play for 

So off to Kings Lynn we went knowing we had to win to stand a chance of playoffs...........again, we were completely outplayed & were 2-0 down at HT. I rang the changes but it was little too late & lost 2-1. All those above us won which meant another season in the National League for us. 

Forget Hartlepool - I rang the changes & lost 2-0 

I've now gone to the transfer market for freebies & looking to overhaul the squad 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Season 4 - National League

I'm starting to get increasingly impatient at my inability to mount a title challenge in this league. 

I've decided I'd now go more attacking & opted to start the season with the same formation but playing a more direct, passing game instead of the patient play that has so far failed us.........

Dipping into the transfer market, I picked up some more freebies:

Pick of the bunch was James Henry from the EFL - great stats for this league & can play in various positions (although he is 34)



Picked up Abu Ogogo (another experienced league player)



Samuel Okoka (released by QPR)



Re-signed Charles Clayden (had him on loan from Charlton & he helped fire me to to promotion from National League South)



And so we began with pre-season with some impressive results against teams we were expected to beat & a narrow 2-1 loss to Palace reserves

With Oldham & Port Vale getting relegated to our league I knew playoffs were probably our best shot at promotion. 

Season started with a 1-1 draw with Bromley & a 2-1 home win against Dulwich............then 4 defeats on the spin left us sitting just outside the relegation places:



Starting slowly, I began to think about resigning & finding another team.............but I continued & changed formation.

Now going with 1 up top with  2 wide attacking wingers

We then had to face Port Vale who were favourites to win the league......oh, & it was an away game - nevermind!


We started well..............racing into a 2-0 lead after 17mins but sure enough Vale came back to draw the game 2-2 


This result gave me hope & we started to grab some wins & climb the table (slowly)........

With not much separating the playoff places & us, we still had a chance to do it so I kept the faith & we now found ourselves sitting just outside the playoffs


Little did I know that Rochdale needed a manager & was surprised to see a job offer in my inbox

Just relegated into League 2, decent squad & healthy finances.........


I declined haha

Thought now we'd started performing a bit better, we'd have a good shot at promotion 

What followed was an FA Trophy tie against NL South side Havant & Waterlooville............started a weakened side & got utterly destroyed!!!!!!

Also lost Huws to injury to make matters worse (not that he'd been starting in recent weeks)


Maybe I should have taken that job offer from Rochdale - oh well, at least we can concentrate on the league 



Edited by gooner01
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