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A new FM means a new journeyman save. It's something many have done before and many will do again in the future, however hopefully this will be a journey of success.

I'm sticking to the usual journeyman rules, start with no coaching badges and only having played at Sunday league level, it's very much like my own, real-life footballing experience.

Upon the beginning of the save, I applied for all available jobs, in the hope someone would take me on. Many of the clubs declined, however there were a few international jobs available, at a range of age groups. I decided to take the Zimbabwe post.

Zimbabwe Football Association.png

Zimbabwe is a country in Southern Africa and a member of CAF, with a population of approximately 15m. The capital city is Harare and is where the national stadium is based, cleverly named the 'National Sports Stadium' and with a capacity of approximately 80000, the multi-purpose facility houses the men's national team that I'll be taking charge of.

National Sports Stadium Zimbabwe.png

In real life, Zimbabwe have been banned from competing in international sport due to government interference, however on FM we are still competing in AFCON qualifying, so my first 2 matches in charge will be against Liberia and Uganda in our qualification group.

Zimbabwe boast some decent talent, with the likes of Tino Kadawere, Marvellos Nakamba and Brendan Galloway but to name 3 in their ranks.


My first two matches as a professional football manager were largely a success. We won against Liberia thanks to goals from Kadawere and Mukamba after falling behind. Our 2nd match against Uganda was a tricky one though. We found ourselves 2-0 down at half time then 2 goals in 4 minutes from Dube and Dzvukamanja meant we came away with a draw. This left the group looking like this.


With just 2 more matches to play, against Liberia and Mauritania we find ourselves in 3rd but only on goal difference. Liberia have been the so-called whipping boys of the group so far so I'm expecting another 3 points against them, then Mauritania who top the group are an unknown quantity to me, having not played against them yet. As you can see we did manage to beat them before I took over, however they've done better than us against Uganda, so will be a tough opposition. I'm quietly confident though that we can still get out of this group. I'm unsure that if we finish in the top 2 we qualify directly for the next AFCON, I doubt it, I believe there are more qualifying rounds that take place before qualification is confirmed, but we'll see.

In the meantime, I'm still looking for a club job, as Zimbabwe only pay me £250pw. I've applied for quite a few, some realistic, some not so, however were approached by a couple of different clubs in the lower divisions in Wales. Similarly to in England's Vanarama North/South, the 2nd division in Wales has a similar make up, the JD Cymru North/South. I was approached by Swansea Uni and Afan Lido for interviews, however the former didn't offer me the job, whilst Afan Lido did, so it was an easier decision to make having only been offered one of the 2.

Afan Lido FC.svg

Afan Lido FC are a semi-pro side based in Port Talbot, Wales. They play at the Marston's Stadium in Aberavon which has a capacity of approximately 4200.

Image result for marstons stadium afan lido

Having taken over at the end of October, the club had won just 1 league match prior to my arrival this season, so were struggling towards the bottom end of the 16 team league, I took over with them in 13th place, just above the relegation zone on just 8 points.

My first match in charge was against second from bottom club Pontardawe so I was hoping to get off to a winning start.


And that's exactly what happened. A late winner by substitute Jay Thomas was enough for us who finished the game with 10 men after Dima was sent off for a second bookable offence. We showed great character and determination to make sure we found the goal and came away with the 3 points.


This meant the table looked a little better following my arrival as we jumped immediately to 11 points and 3 points clear of the drop zone. As you can see, us and the 3 sides below us have had a difficult start, however I'm hoping to pull away from that relegation zone over the coming weeks and try to finish mid-table, despite only promising the board to avoid relegation. A couple of wins in quick succession can see you move up this table with ease considering the quality of the league, so hopefully we can find some form and keep up the winning start.

I decided to release a couple of players who were never going to be good enough to even be back ups for us, however this did leave us a little light at the back, so did need to replace them quickly.


Sam Matthew is a youngster who can play at RB or CB and made his debut in the match against Pontardawe. Nothing special, however I'm hoping he could become a first team regular in good time. Again, considering the lower quality of this league, we're not going to be signing the likes of Lionel Messi, so it's important to taper expectations when it comes to transfers. 


Also coming in was some more cover at LB, as the only player we had capable of playing at LB was actually naturally a RB, but is playing as an IWB, so cover for him is essential. Hopefully Liddy can grow into a decent cover choice as a minimum, but potentially a starter in a few years.

Finally, we'll take a look at the best prospect at the club according to the coaching staff.


Steffan Coles is just 16 but already has 9 appearances and a goal to his name. He has decent finishing and great movement off the ball, as well as having pretty good fitness levels too. He doesn't possess great pace however his finishing ability should mean he does well in this league. I'm hoping we can hang onto him for a couple of years to help him develop, but being a semi-pro side I know that may well not be possible.

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Another quick update, we signed 2 more players to bolster the defence, and provide more cover in the LB position as well as at CB too.


First in was Luke Jones who we initially took on trial and offered him a deal until the end of the season. He'll be a decent option for the remainder of this campaign as we look to ensure our place in the division.


Ioan Evans will also be joining us in January from Haverfordwest. A LB who as mentioned previously will help to provide cover in that position to ensure our defence is well stocked for the remainder of the season.

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November 22

So after a positive start in south Wales, the remainder of November was all about trying to pick up points.


The first piece of news however was bad. Daniel Dima, arguably the club's best player, will be leaving in mid-January to go back to his homeland of Romania. It's a blow for us as he's still pretty young and a star player, however this is the nature of semi-pro football.


The final 2 matches in November were a resounding success. A 4-0 triumph over Cwmbran Celtic resulted in 2 each for winger Chris Jones and young protoge Coles. That win was followed by another 3 points against Briton Ferry, Coles managed another 2 against them while strike partner Tyler Brock got one too.


This fantastic start has seen us pick up a maximum 9 points from 9 and also enabled us to move into 11th in the table, taking us further away from the danger zone. Hopefully we can carry this good form into December and beyond.


Youngster Coles won player of the month with 4 goals in 3 matches taking his tally for the season to 5.


And to round of the perfect first month and first 3 matches in charge, I was awarded the manager of the month award for November.

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December 22

After a perfect start, we entered the festive month with a spring in our steps and hoped to continue our good form.


December started brilliantly with a 4-1 win over Ynyshir which included a first senior hat-rick for our star striker Steffan Coles. Still just 16, Coles now has 8 for the season. We then embarked on 3 draws in a row beginning at home to Carmarthen, then away to Swansea Uni and finally back at home against Trefelin BGC. Coles managed a goal in each of the score draws, taking his tally to 10 for the season now, when I arrived he only had 1.


Again there has been steady progress up the table as we now sit in 9th. We're of course on a run of 3 draws currently, we really need to start turning those matches into wins if we're to find ourselves further up the table as the season goes on. Coles also now appears in the top 3 goal scorers too.

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January 23

The new year began with us in good form and we were hoping to continue this good form as we started against our final opponents of the previous year.


6 days after getting a draw against Trefelin BGC we managed to thrash them on their own patch 4-1. Coles managed another brace which was pleasing too. We then beat bottom club Abergavenny 2-1 at home and then impressively beat Ammanford, who boast a certain Lee Trundle (now 46), 1-0 away from home too. We ended the month with another draw, this time against Goytre United, meaning a total of 10 points from 12 to welcome in the new year which is fantastic, we're also still unbeaten since my arrival in south Wales.


So with just 8 games remaining this season we sit in 8th place, a far cry from where we were when I arrived. It's quite tight in terms of points in mid-table, therefore a couple of wins could see us move much higher up in the league if other results go our way, plus with us in great form there's no reason why that can't happen.


We also did some business in this January window, with everyone's favourite conspiracy theorist David Cotterill arriving. The former Birmingham and Wales winger went to the Euros in 2016 so that big match experience will prove vital for us. He also scored 2 on his debut against Abergavenny. He's obviously not quite the player he once was, however I'm hoping his undoubted quality will help propel us further up the league.


Due to the departure of David Dima back to his homeland, we needed a new starting RB, so in came Ben Jones. Plenty of room for improvement as there is with all players at this level, however I'm hoping he'll be a solid replacement for Dima whose departure will be felt no doubt.

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February 23

After what's been a great start here in South Wales for us, February came with the end of the transfer window at the beginning of the month.


We lost Bradley Flay who wasn't getting much game time at all so when Pontardawe came in for him it made sense to get him off the books, especially considering the relatively expensive signing of Cotterill.


It was a month that saw us stretch our unbeaten run to 13 before we met the league leaders Barry at the end of the month, but before that we drew with Pontardawe 1-1, then beat Cwmbran Celtic again thanks to a hat-rick scored by new man Cotterill. He has 6 goals for us in 5 appearances at that point, 4 of which have been penalties, so he's been a brilliant signing so far. My first defeat in charge as mentioned previously was to league leaders Barry. We did peg them back to 1-1 thanks to a Chris Jones goal but a stunner scored by their striker Gavin Beddard won it for them early in the 2nd half.


We're moving steadily up the table again, now up to 5th, which is in stark contrast to where we were when I arrived at the club down in 13th. It's been a highly successful spell in charge but with my contract up at the end of the season, and no indication of being offered another deal, it's anybody's guess as to whether I'll be here again next season. Just 5 games remain therefore promotion isn't possible this season, however if I were to remain, based on the form this team have shown in my time here, there's no reason why that can't be a realistic aim for next season if we can keep hold of some of our better players in the off-season.

Edited by danmcconnell1
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March 23

After losing for the first time against Barry, it was the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways, this time against 2nd placed club Llanelli Town to begin March.


And that's exactly what we did. A solitary David Cotterill penalty meant we handed the initiative to Barry at the top of the league and gave them a 5 point lead with just 4 games left this season. Next up was Taffs Well at home and we managed to beat them 3-0 in our final home match of the season. Tyler Brock got us going after 10 minutes, then Steffan Coles scored for the first time in 5 matches, going on to score 2 in the end. Finally we ended March with another win away to Llantwit Major, winning 1-0 with Coles scoring again.


We finished the month up in 3rd place, which is a great achievement at this stage of the season considering I arrived with the club down in 13th. There has been rapid progress under my tenure and with just 2 games to go we can't finish any higher, however I want to make sure we retain this position and hope we can better this next season with the right additions.


I also managed to gain my National C License coaching badge, then immediately began studying for my B license too.

Moving on, I have decided to take on the Under 23 matches for Zimbabwe alongside the senior team in Under 23 AFCON qualifying. The Under 23 side face Togo in a 2 legged qualifier.


Unfortunately, we lost the tie 4-2 on aggregate, losing the opener 3-1 then managing a draw in Togo.

Also, the senior side had 2 more AFCON qualifiers this month to secure a place at AFCON (after checking the qualification rules, if we finish in the top 2 of our group, we're off to the tournament!).

We had 2 more matches against Liberia and Mauritania.


And we won them both, not only securing a place at the next AFCON this summer but we also won our group with those 2 wins. 


Finally, I ended the month celebrating a new deal in charge of Afan Lido.


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April 23

The final month of the league season was upon us and while we'd had a bad start before my arrival, the resurgence in form since then has been meteoric. Just one defeat since my arrival has been testament to this group of players and there's no reason why we can't push on next season and try to achieve something special.


The season ended with another 2 wins away to Cambrian & Clydach, 3-0 there and on the final day away against Ynyshir, another clean sheet and 2-0 win.


This meant we ended the season in 3rd, stark contrast from where we were when I arrived. From the 19 matches I was in charge, we recorded just 1 defeat and 13 wins, picking up a total of 44 points in total from those 19 matche, when I arrived we had just 8.

Now the season is over, attention turns back to Zimbabwe and the upcoming AFCON.


We had been drawn in Group A alongside Morocco, Algeria and Congo. A tough group with Morocco and Algeria, however if we could manage a win against Congo I'd be pretty happy, however I'm not expecting much against the other 2.

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With the tournament, which is being held in the Ivory Coast, set to begin, let's see how we got on.


We managed an opening win against Algeria, who were supposedly one of the favourites to win the tournament. A crazy end to the match culminated in us being 1-0 up after 92 minutes, then Bentaleb equalised for the Algerians, before Chawapika scored a momentous winner just a minute later to give us the 3 points from our opening match. We then suffered back to back defeats against Morocco and Congo. This meant we were made to sweat down in 3rd place to find out whether or not we'd go through as one of the best 3rd placed teams. From 6 groups, 4 third place finishers progress, just as it works in the Euros. As you can see, we did go through thanks mainly to that win against Algeria.


Who incidentally had a really poor tournament and finished bottom of the group, despite beating Congo in their 2nd match, they were thrashed by Morocco 5-0 in the final match, meaning Morocco went through as group winners, Congo in 2nd after their win against us and we went through as one of the best 3rd place finishers.


Unfortunately, we were thrashed by Tunisia in our 2nd round tie by 4 goals to nil which meant our AFCON dream was over, however progress has certainly been made in seeing Zimbabwe make the knockout stage for the first time in a tournament since 2014 and only the 2nd time ever, the footballing future is bright for this nation who've had their troubles in the past.


In other news, just before the new season begins, I've bagged my National B coaching license, another step in my progression, and I've been rewarded with funding for my National A License, the highest National license before continental licenses become available.

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Pre-Season Update

So whilst I was off in the Ivory Coast with my Zimbabwe team, I had to make signings primarily via MS Teams this summer!


First in was Rhys Kavanagh signed from Penybont on a free. He's a winger who can play upfront too so provides a good option towards the top of the pitch, plus he's still pretty young so will hopefully be at the club for a while.


Alex Downes also came in from Colwyn Bay. He's a CB who can also play at RB too so again, quite versatile and will do a job if required. In order to sign him I had to promise improvements to the club's infrastructure, something I've asked the board about but nothing has been done yet, so I'm anticipating him being unhappy in the near future, however if the board won't do it there's not a lot I can do about that!


Charlie Taylor is a player I'm quite excited about. Coming in from Swansea Uni, he's a youngster who's got plenty of scope for improvement but my backroom team raved about him from the moment we first saw him, as did I, so decided to bring him in. He'll be getting plenty of game time this season in the centre of the park.


Rhys Sture was next in after being released from Pontardawe. They struggled in the division last season and after seeing Sture a couple of times in the games we played against them he impressed me, one with his versatility in midfield, but also his performances too. He'll be a backup in central midfield.


The most recent signing is Connor Young from Penrhyncoch. He's another CB however with a few youngsters being released we were still pretty short in that area, so Young coming in and being a starter will be vital for us.

As for outgoings, we lost a few players at the end of their deals, including Carlos Indjai, Liam McCreesh and number 2 GK Steve Cann. We also released a few players who, after 6 months or so at the club, it became clear they weren't going to make the grade. Sam Matthew, Ben Jones and Adam Liddy all left after other, better players came in.


Finally, we had an outstanding youth intake this summer, with a total of 16 players being signed. Some of these, including Nicky Turner, Ashley Evans and Jordan Jones will be in and around the first team this season to help provide cover and even potentially get a few starts themselves depending on injuries and suspensions. This has been a huge help in terms of boosting numbers as well as morale around the squad, plus having homegrown talent is always a bonus. I'm hoping a few of these lads can become first team regulars as we look to push on from what was a brilliant second half of the season last time out for us.

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July 23

The new season is upon us and we get ours underway with two matches at the end of July, the first in the Nathanial MG Cup, then our first league match.


We got off to the perfect start with 2 wins, firstly in the cup against Llantwit Major thanks to a brace for Coles. We then managed a comfortable opening day win against Ynyshir too, the goals scored by Cotterill from the spot and Tyler Brock with the second.


This meant after 1 league match we were in 2nd place, only a side we'd already beaten were above us on goal difference, which bodes well for our hopes of finishing higher up the table this time around.


As previously mentioned, Jordan Jones is a very highly rated prospect, therefore I gave him a start against Ynyshir, which in turn meant he became the club's youngest ever player, aged just 15 years and 301 days old. The record was also broken in our first match of this season by Charlie Taylor, who was just 16 years and 8 days old, which means we've broken our own record twice in the space of 2 matches, with young players who will hopefully give Afan Lido a bright future.


Moving back to AFCON, Ghana are the new champions after beating Mali in the final thanks to a penalty shoot out. Mali were 3-1 up at one point, but a 93rd minute equaliser for Ghana from Yakubu took the game to extra time where the teams couldn't be separated, therefore penalties was the difference and the Black Stars win the African title for a 5th time.

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August 23

After a perfect start to the new season, our credentials will be tested in August with ties against recently relegated Cardiff Met Uni, as well as the Steel derby against Port Talbot Town.


The month didn't start well with the first back to back defeats of my tenure in the league against Cardiff Met Uni and Pontypridd, managed by my former DoF no less. Things did turn around though back in the Nathaniel MG Cup where we progressed against Cambrian & Clydach thanks to a 2-0 there, we've been drawn against JD Cymru Premier side Aberystwyth at home so that'll be a tough tie The final match of the month was the aforementioned Steel derby against Port Talbot and we came out on top at Victoria Road thanks to a solitary Steffan Coles goal, his 4th of the season already.


We find ourselves in 8th place at this early stage of the season. I'm disappointed with the 2 defeats, however both of those sides were in the JD Cymru Premier last season, so they were always going to be difficult matches. I was pleased however with the derby win over Port Talbot town which will hopefully boost us going into September.


We did lose CB Toby Link-Jones to Mumbles Rangers who play in the North equivalent of our league. He was a talent however wasn't getting into the matchday squad with any regularity so although his potential will be missed, his impact on matches for us was minimal. We wish him the best.

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September 23

A busy month upcoming with matches in 3 different competitions, we go again this month.


A big win against Cardiff Draconians got us underway, with Tyler Brock scoring 4 and Coles getting the other 2, the month began brilliantly. We then progressed in the JD Welsh Cup with a win against Denbeigh. Lliswerry were next up and we managed to beat the newly promoted side too. Unfortunately, Swansea Uni knocked us out on penalties in the Tier 2 League Cup, then we lost for the 3rd time in the league against Goytre United. We managed a very impressive win against Cymru Premier side Aberystwyth in the Nathaniel JD Cup, sending us to the quarter finals where we'll face Penybont. The month ended with another defeat, this time in the JD Welsh Cup away at Newtown.


We ended the month in 6th place in the league, but were knocked out of 2 competitions this month.


Tyler Brock also won Player of the Month for September.

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October 23

After a difficult month last time out in terms of competitions, we're hoping we can steady the ship a little going into October to try and pick up some more points.


Unfortunately though, we only managed 1 win from 3. That came in the first game of the month against Briton Ferry, Brock scoring both of those. The remaining two league fixtures both ended in defeat, firstly against Swansea Uni, for the 2nd time in less than a month, then away to Llantwit Major, the side we'd beaten in our first game of the season in the Nathaniel MG Cup.


This meant we'd dropped down to 8th place in the league after 10 matches. We are still in a much better position compared to this time last season when I arrived, however we're already 9 points off the pace at the top, so need to hit a run of form similar to the one when I arrived if we're to do anything meaningful this season.


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November 23

After some poor results last month, it was time to get back to winning ways.


And that's exactly what we did. A fantastic month began with a brilliant win in the Nathaniel MG Cup quarter final over Penybont, Steffan Coles with the solitary goal to send us to the semi finals where we'll face Holywell in January. TNS have been knocked out of this cup competition too, so despite being a 2nd tier side, there's still a chance we could lift silverware this season. We then managed a slender win against high-flying Ammanford, David Cotterill scored a penalty which will help his confidence after not scoring for a while. He's also muting regarding possibly retiring at the end of this season which would be a shame as he's been brilliant for me, however those conspiracies won't write themselves on Twitter...

The remaining 3 matches this month were outstanding. We thrashed Cwmbran Celtic 5-0. Taylor, McCalmon and Brock all got one while Cotterill scored another 2, both penalties but they all count! Then came the best result of the season so far, a 7-2 win over top of the league Taffs Well, with all 7 goals being scored by the outstanding Steffan Coles. 4 of his 7 came direct from free kicks too, it was a day where everything he touched turned to goals. We rounded off November with another win, this time against Cambrian & Clydach away from home by 3 goals to nil, Brock, Hanbury and Coles with another saw us gain another 3 points.


These 4 wins in a row in the league saw us shoot up the table into 2nd and put us right back into the title race. Taffs Well still set the pace and are 2 points clear however we know, of all teams, how vulnerable they can be so they'll drop points, as will we no doubt, but I'm confident that with the form we're in we can potentially cause an upset this season.


In other news, I bagged my national A coaching license which was great news, plus the board agreed for me to begin my Continental C License too. This of course means that I may potentially be over qualified for this role with Afan Lido, should I get that license, and being out of contract this summer again means I may begin to look elsewhere depending on whether we can get promoted or not.


Unsurprisingly, Coles won player of the month this time out, with 8 goals in 4 matches, 7 of course coming against league leaders Taffs Well. 


I also won manager of the month which was nice!


November also saw some important matches with Zimbabwe. We'd played a few friendlies in the last couple of months with our form staying pretty consistent with wins against Burkina Faso, DR Congo and Eq. Guinea, with our only loss coming away to Cameroon. We faced Mauritania in a 2 legged affair in qualifying for the World Cup. As we won the tie 4-1 on aggregate, this meant we qualified for the group stage of qualification in Africa.


And we will be facing familiar opponents. We've already beaten DR Congo and Burkina Faso this year, however Angola will be another test. I'm confident we can beat all 3 of these sides, despite having the lowest world ranking according to Fifa.

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December 23

The festive month is upon us once again and with us in a great position in the league we need to continue this good form and try to keep us at the top end of the table.


Unfortunately, our winning streak has turned into a drawing streak. 4 on the bounce now after 4 wins on the bounce, 8 unbeaten sounds great but when you draw 4 in a row you can't help but be frustrated. Llanelli Town were first up and we finished 1-1 with them, which wasn't a bad result to kick off the month considering they're another one of the sides vying for the title. We really should have beaten Ynyshir considering we have already beaten them once this season on the opening day. Then came the most frustrating of them all, 2-0 up after 90 mins against Cardiff Met Uni, Andrew Green, who hadn't scored at all yet this season, scored 2 in stoppage time to rescue a point for the hosts and deny us all 3. We then drew 0-0 with Pontypridd in the final match of the month to round off what was a run of annoying matches to end the year.


Due to these results we've now dropped down to 5th, however it is still pretty tight towards to the top of the JD Cymru South, so as long as we can turn these draws into some wins again, I'm sure we'll be back towards the top of the table in no time.

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January 24 - Part 1

The see in the new year, I will divide January into 2 different updates, the first of which is below.


We've had a brilliant, high-scoring start to the new year. We kicked things off with another thriller against Cardiff Draconians, beating them 6-3 this time, Coles bagging himself another hat-rick wuth Brock, Kavanagh and Taylor also all getting on the scoresheet. We then got a momentous win over Holywell in the Nathaniel MG Cup semi-final, taking us to our first cup final under my tenure. Our two star strikers got the goals, Brock and Coles. The reason for the update being in 2 parts is because that cup final is upcoming very soon, and we'll face Cardiff Met Uni in it just 10 days after the semi. Our final league match before said final was against Lliswerry and we've managed another win, this time by 2 goals to nil with sub striker Charlie Roberts scoring a brace and Coles bagging his 26th goal of the season in 28 appearances already.


With one more league game to play this month, we find ourselves back up in 3rd place with 10 league games to go, the title, therefore promotion, is still very much a possibility with matches against the current top 2 still to come.

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January 24 - Part 2

With the Nathaniel MG Cup final looming large, we made our way to Coychurch Road in Bridgend, the former home of the club in the town, where the final was going to be held this year against Cardiff Met Uni. We'd faced our opponents twice in the league already this season and not had great success, losing in our first home match of the season then being pegged back in the last minute from 2-0 to a draw last month in the return fixture, so we're due a win against them.


Not only did we win against them, as you can see from the score line, we absolutely thrashed them in Bridgend, 7-0 is how it finished.


Steffan Coles showed everybody what he's about with another 5 goals to add to his tally for the season, taking him to 31 for the campaign in 29 appearances for us. David Cotterill and Michael McCalmon got the others for us on what was a momentous day not only in my career as I lifted my first piece of silverware, but the club as well who lifted the Nathaniel MG Cup for the fourth time and the first time since 2011.


I'm also becoming somewhat of a fan favourite in South Wales too, with the fans and former player and my DoF last season Mark Robinson praising me in the media which was nice to see.

Following the euphoria of winning my first trophy of this journeyman save, it was time to get back to the slog that is the league. We face local rivals Port Talbot Town again in the Steel Derby at home this time to see out the month and I'm expecting a win with them sitting down in 14th place, here's how we got on.


And win again we did against our local rivals, we ran out 4-2 winners in the end. Coles got another 2 to keep up his fantastic form, Cotterill opened the scoring from the spot and Tyler Brock got one too. We did concede 2 in the second half but all I'm worried about is the 3 points and that's what we got.


That win see's us move back up into 2nd however due to us playing earlier in the weekend than everybody else we could drop down to 3rd depending on the weekend's results, any lower than 3rd would be unlikely due to our superior goal difference. Coles is now joint level at the top of the goal scoring charts for the season with 19 in the league, he has 33 in total in all competitions, remember he's still just 17.

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February 24

So, once again after the brilliant, trophy winning exploits of January, we get back to league matters as we hope to keep pressure on the top teams vying for the league title, therefore promotion.


It was another month of what could have been with draws being our undoing in the league. The first came against Goytre United at home, however that was followed by a big win away at Briton Ferry, Coles with 2 that day, Kavanagh, Brock and Roberts with the others. Then back at home again we could only draw with Llantwit Major. Our unbeaten run now stretches to 17 in all competitions and with just 6 league matches remaining, there's still a good chance this form could continue going into the final stretch.


We remain 6 points off the pace down in 4th, but with league leaders Ammanford up next for us, we're hoping we can claw back 3 of those points at the next available opportunity. We still need to face Taffs Well and Llanelli Town in the final month, so there are still plenty of points to be won and lost around the top of the table, we hope that we can win more than we lose over the coming weeks.

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March 24

After the disappointment of dropping more points last month, it was really now or never if we were to make a title charge.


And we started brilliantly with a convincing win over, at the time, leaders Ammanford by 3 goals to nil. Young, Cotterill and Coles with the goals for us there. We then managed an important win against Swansea Uni too with Coles again on the score sheet. The final game of the month was the final nail in our title coffin though, a 2-1 defeat to Cwmbran Celtic away from home. We were 2-0 down within half an hour and despite Cotterill's late consolation we fell to another defeat.


That left the table looking like this and with 3 games to go and 3 team ahead of us, we still had to make up 5 points on all of them. It wasn't impossible of course, however highly, highly unlikely.


March also saw a return to international duty with Zimbabwe in AFCON qualifying and we got off to the perfect start with 2 convincing wins. The first came against one of Africa's top nations, Egypt by 3 goals to nil. Darikwa scored what would probably be his final international goal with his impending retirement coming this summer, Kadawere and Galloway with the others to give us the perfect start in qualifying. We then thrashed Lesotho in our second match 7-1 away from home. Takwara and Dube got one each, Chawapiwa got a brace and Kadawere completed a fantastic international break personally for him with a hat-rick. image.png.6d77755bf94ebf7f5d8cf3ae4a33c06b.png

This meant we top the group after 2 matches and I'm confident with Togo losing against Lesotho, after how we thrashed them, that we should be able to beat Togo as well.


Finally, I have also gained my Continental C License, another step forward in my progression. The Afan Lido board once again kindly allowed me to embark on my next period of studying by funding the B License course immediately after this one finished once again.

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April 24

The final month of the season begins and there is news to bring at the start.


Buxton, who play in the Vanarama National League North in England, offered me the chance to interview for their vacant managerial role. I took the opportunity as I'm out of contract with Afan Lido in the summer and with no contract talks on the horizon and the club bleeding money, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.


The final 3 matches were a bit of a disaster. We lost against Taffs Well which was the final straw in terms of our title hopes. Brock did give us the lead but we conceded twice before half time to allow them back in and they held on for the win. Our final win of the season came in our final away game at Llanelli Town. Rhys Kavanagh and Luke McDonald with the 2 goals there. Then the final match of the season away at struggling Cambrian & Clydach was a poor result and performance. We lost 3-1 with Charlie Roberts giving us the lead, but we conceded 3 after half time to compound out misery.


Despite that poor end to the season, we did in fact finish 3rd for the second season in a row, which in the grand scheme of things isn't bad at all. We've had a highly successful season again on the whole and even capped it off with some silverware back in January too. 


Here's how the squad did over the season. Aaron Jones was our number 1 goalkeeper and he played well all season with an average rating of 7.13. He also kept 13 clean sheets in the league, a feat that'll win him the Golden Glove. Connor Young and Stephen Morris were our best performing defenders, the CB partners on the whole were solid all season. Rhys Kavanagh had a good first season with us, scoring 3 goals and registering 12 assists from wide right. David Cotterill also had a great final campaign in football, scoring 8 times, 6 of which came from the penalty spot and also getting 15 assists. He'll be a big miss when he retires in the summer. Tyler Brock had a great season up top too, scoring 18 goals and getting 10 assists. But the jewel in our crown is Steffan Coles. The 17 year old had an outstanding season, scoring 38 times in 39 starts, very nearly a goal a game in all competitions. Despite this great record, he didn't even finish in the top 3 scorers in the league, which just shows the quality is improving in this division.


As we look back on the season, we remember the brilliant Nathaniel MG Cup run we witnessed, with an outstanding 7-0 win in the final against Cardiff Met Unit to see us to my first piece of silverware in management.


We broke the club record for the youngest player again this season, for the 3rd time, when recent academy graduate Jonte Robinson made an appearance on the final day against Cambrian & Clydach aged just 15 and 153 days, he beats Jordan Jones' record set earlier in the campaign by 148 days.


The Buxton board opted against offering me their managerial position, and in doing so the Afan Lido board did offer me another 1 year deal. I've rejected the talks initially as I want to see what else becomes available in the summer. If it means I stay in South Wales on a rolling month to month contract then so be it, or I may decide to leave when my contract comes to an end, we have a while to think about that though.

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Summer 24

So after much deliberation and unsuccessful attempts to renew quite a few contracts of first team players as well as a retirement of a key player, I've decided the time is right to leave Afan Lido.


I feel like I did a very good job at the club, taking over with them down in 13th place, fighting relegation, to leading the club to two 3rd placed finished in succession, with the 2nd season being in the title/promotion race until the final 3 matches. The board did try and offer me a new deal, however with no investment being put into facilities despite multiple requests, no increase in wage for myself despite lots of negotiation, I feel like I could be rewarded financially for my work here elsewhere. At the end of the day, money talks, and despite a largely successful almost 2 year spell at Afan Lido, I leave them hopefully in a much better place and with plenty of reason for optimism.

Moving on, I do still have the Zimbabwe post to concentrate on, as well as numerous interviews that have been attended with clubs in England which I'm waiting to hear back from, so I could be back in club management quite soon, but we'll wait for the right opportunity and the right project before diving into the next role.

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Job Update

So, after leaving Afan Lido, it was time to start the job hunt again.


The first club to offer me a role were Caernarfon in the JD Cymru Premier division. Their board were expecting European qualification this season while offering a shoestring budget, even for Welsh footballing standards. I decided to delay my decision for a week as I had attended another interview which, if I'm honest, I would prefer to join them, so I'll get to them later.

Meanwhile, I had the most recent Fifa rankings come through, therefore decided to take a look at how we'd progressed after 2 years or so in charge of Zimbabwe.


There certainly has been progress. I know many countries and people don't take too much notice of the Fifa rankings as the way they're generated can be seen as flawed, however there's no denying that progress has been made whilst in charge. When I arrived, we were 119th in the world, now we've risen 24 places to 95th, therefore into the top 100. I'm pleased with the advances we're making and if we can continue working well together there's no reason why we can't move further up the rankings.


Back to the job hunt, and the aforementioned other club I'd been interviewed by was Haverfordwest County, also in the JD Cymru Premier. As you can see, they're expectations are far more realistic for the budget they're offering, plus they're offering £10 per week more for my services, therefore the decision was made.


I am now the proud manager of Haverfordwest County.

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Haverfordwest County AFC are based in the west of Wales and play in the JD Cymru Premier division. They play their home games at the Bridge Meadow Stadium in the town and has a capacity of almost 2500.



The squad for the upcoming season is a little thin, so I'll be looking for some reinforcements before we get underway, but here are some of the players I'm most excited about working with.


Josh Gray looks to be a fine defender. Decent heading ability is always good for a CB therefore he has that in abundance, then his marking and tackling abilities both are decent for this level. Still aged just 22, I'm hoping he can be a rock for us at the back.


Jazz Richards was a member of the Euro 2016 squad with Wales, so we have international pedigree at the club just as I did back at Afan Lido too. A solid FB who can play either side, I hope Richards will be able to provide great experience as well as solid performances for us.


Finally, Ben Fawcett has a decent scoring record at the club and boasts some pretty good stats too for a striker at this level. His finishing ability of 12 and first touch of 11 means he'll hopefully be able to score with first time efforts for us, as well as being able to hold the ball up and bring others into play on the attack. He makes good runs and makes good decisions on the pitch too, so hopefully he'll be the focal point in attack for us.

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Pre-Season Update

After a summer that began with uncertainty, it ends with a new beginning in Wales, now with Haverfordwest County.


This is how the squad is shaping up for the new season. We're still not done with our transfer business, however there may be some familiar names in the side which I'll get onto shortly.


First in was GK Aaron Jones. He'd been released by Afan Lido this summer, so despite him being on trial at Penybont, I snapped him up. My scouts don't think he's quite as good as others in the league and whilst this is of course a step up in terms of quality of league, I still think he'll do a decent job for us. I am looking for another GK so Jones may well end up being the number 2, but if I don't get another, I'll still be happy.


Next in was another former Afan Lido player Charlie Taylor. The teenager was brilliant in the middle of the park for me last season and even managed a couple of goals too, so after I noticed he too had been released I pounced straight away to bring him in. 


The final player through the door so far was Nathan Wood. He's a winger who can play either side which I like, versatility is great in these lower leagues, and has undoubted quality. He's 27 now so probably getting towards his peak, I'm hoping he can be a good option out wide for us, plus he won a trophy last season with Flint Town, the JD Welsh Cup, so had pedigree just as I do for winning trophies.

As mentioned previously, I am looking at bringing more new faces in, but at the moment I'm confident this side will be able to mount a decent challenge towards the top end of the table. TNS are of course the overwhelming favourites to wipe the floor with the league, however the European qualification spots are anybody's. If we can challenge for them this season, then I think it'll have been a good campaign.

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August 24

The first month of the new season is upon us and here in Haverfordwest, my tenure begins in the Nathaniel MG Cup which I won last year with Afan Lido.


Unfortunately, we didn't get off to a great start. Ebbw Vale were our opponents in the 2nd round of the Nathaniel MG Cup and we were soundly beaten 3-1, with their striker Matt Bell scoring a hat-rick to knock us out at the first attempt. We did however get off to a winning start in the league against Bala, Wood, George and Eason with the goals for us. Our second league match resulted in another win, this time far more convincing as we thrashed Penybont 5-2. Youngster Ryan Murray got a brace, with Fawcett, Jones and Morgan completing the rout. The month ended with defeat though away to Barry, 1-0 was how it ended there.


All of this means we sit in 4th place as we enter September with 2 wins and 1 defeat. Any ground lost to TNS means you'll more than likely not make it back up, however at this stage we are just a point behind them and still have to play them twice before the league splits (similar to how it does in the Scottish Premiership for those wondering). If we're honest TNS are going to win the league, it's more of a race for 2nd this time around.


As mentioned before, Ryan Murray got a couple of goals against Penybont, and in doing so became the club's youngest goal scorer. I'm proud to keep breaking these types of records as it shows my commitment to bringing through younger players into the first team of the club I'm managing.

Speaking of bringing players in, here are the final 3 signings of the summer.


First in is GK Oliver Davies from Cardiff Met Uni. Davies is formally of Swansea City so has decent talent, however has never played for a professional club, only ever semi-pro. He comes in from Cardiff Met Uni who my Afan Lido side thrashed 7-0 in the Nathaniel MG Cup final last season and yes, he was in goal for them that day. He is by far the best GK that was available this summer so we took him and hope he can be the new number 1 for us.


Next in was Adam Orme who was one of two deadline day signings for us. Signed from Newtown, Orme will provide experience in the middle of the park as well as out wide, so I'm hoping he'll be a good option for us going forward.


The final player in was Danny Holmes from Connah's Quay. The experienced CB joins on a 1 year deal and will provide more cover at CB which is what we need, as well as an old head too. Experience is vital in a league like this if you want to do well, so I'm hoping his know-how will stand us in good stead going forward too.

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September 24

After a relatively decent start of the season, month 2 gets underway and we hope to continue the okay start.


We didn't continue that good start I'm afraid. It's been a terrible month in the league, just 2 points picked up from a possible 9, and the only win we did get was in the JD Welsh Cup, but we were out of that competition by the end of the month, knocked out by lowly Llanuwchllyn. 


There was a good piece of news that came out of this poor month in terms of the league table, as we managed to stay in 4th place despite only picking up 2 points.


And finally, I managed to gain my Continental B License and I was very glad that the Haverfordwest board funded me to study for the Continental A License too.

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October 24

After the car crash that was September, October is where we needed results to improve.


Fortunately, they did. We began with a convincing 3-0 win over Aberystwyth, Franklin, Fawcett and Eason with the goals there. We then welcomed Colwyn Bay, who in the summer has signed a certain Steffan Coles, and managed to beat them 2-1, Murray and Fawcett with another one there. Then came the biggest win of the month against Flint Town. A Nathan Wood hat-rick and 2 more added by Davies and Murray gave us a 5-2 win over the struggling side. We ended the month against the biggest club in the division TNS. We unforutnately lost 3-1, however it could have been a lot worse with Patten being sent off a minute before the break, we did well to keep it at 3-1 in the end.


This set of results sees us move up into 3rd in the table and into European contention. If I'm honest, considering the early season form, I'd be happy with a 3rd place finish, any higher of course would be great, but 3rd would mean a shot at Europe next season which is more than what the board were asking for.


Finally, my first manager of the month award was gained this month too, despite the defeat against TNS. It's recognition for a much better month in terms of results for us.

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November 24

Do excuse the lack of updates over the weekend, a bout of norovirus absolutely floored me and I'm still feeling the effects, it's great having a kid that brings back every single illness they possibly can from nursery.



The month was certainly a mixed bag. We began with a 1-1 draw away to Bala, Ryan Murray getting another one to add to his tally for the season. We then thrashed Penybont in a high-scoring 7-4 thriller. Murray and Wood got 2 each while Fawcett helped himself to a hat-rick. We then beat Barry in another high-scoring encounter, 5-3 this time on our own patch. Taylor, Wood and Eason all got one each while Fawcett got another 2. Unfortunately though, the good form and high scoring didn't continue as we lost the final 2 matches of the month, firstly away to Connah's Quay, then back at home to Caernarfon, in which Fawcett bagged his 6th goal of the month.


Those 2 defeats at the end of the month meant we dropped down to 5th, however just 2 points separate 3rd down to 6th, so we're still well in the hunt for European football next season, we just need to be a little more consistent with our results and pick up a few more points.

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December 24

Once again, December rolls by and the final month of the year signifies the midway point of what's been, on the whole, a decent season so far. We still need to pick up more points though if we're to finish in the European places come the end of the season, so a good December is called for to try and boost out points total.


Results have been much improved this month, despite the opening draw with Newton where we were 2-1 up after 89 minutes but conceded a late equaliser, Fawcett with both of our goals to continue his good goal scoring form. We then thrashed Aberystwyth 6-1 in our only home match of the month, Davies, Murray, Fawcett and Jones all getting one each while Nathan Wood helped himself to a brace. Another win followed against Colwyn Bay with Fawcett managing to get both again and we ended the month as we'll begin the next, against Ammanford. We also hammered them 4-0 with goals coming from Davies, Fawcett, Murray and Jones. I'm really happy with Fawcett's form as he won player of the month last month, plus he's continued his great form with at least one goal in every game this month too. Hopefully he can continue this brilliant form as the season approaches its conclusion.


All of this means that, with just 3 games left before the split, we sit in 3rd, but a point behind Barry who at one point this season were keeping pace with TNS at the top. Fawcett's great goal scoring form sees him move into 2nd place in the top goal scoring rankings, something I hope he can continue as the split approaches.

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January 25

Another new year rolls around and with us in very decent form, I'm hoping to continue this good form until the league splits at the end of the month.


We certainly did continue that good form. We beat Ammanford again just 6 days after beating them on their own patch. Fawcett got another one while Wood managed a brace. We then drew 2-2 with Flint Town in our penultimate match before the split, Wood and Fawcett on the score sheet again for us. Then came the best result of the season to date as we beat perennial league leaders TNS 2-1 away from home. We were behind after just 12 minutes but late goals from Eason and a very late penalty from Fawcett in stoppage time gave us a memorable win. Once the split had been confirmed, we were of course in the Championship Conference after ending the regular season in 2nd place. Our first game of this conference was at home to 3rd place Barry and we again thrashed them 4-0. Davies and Murray got one each while Fawcett bagged another 2.


As mentioned the split has now happened and we are sitting pretty up in 2nd, however still 10 points behind TNS. It's not impossible, however it'll be a very difficult task to overthrow the league leaders. Due to his outstanding last few months, Ben Fawcett now sits at the top of the JD Cymru Premier goal scoring charts with 20, despite us still having 9 games left to play this season, an fantastic achievement for him and I'm hoping he can win the golden boot come the end of the season.


And some quick personal news, another manager of the month award came my way after a successful month.

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February 25

After the outstanding start to the new year that we had, it was time to continue the Championship Conference with the same vigour and drive as we had begun it.


Unfortunately, the results didn't quite show how well we'd played. Usually after a difficult month I can be critical of the players, but not this time, they were brilliant and didn't deserve the 2 defeats we endured. Firstly, away at Caernarfon, we somehow lost the match despite having over 70% of the ball and with goals from Fawcett and substitute Eason we finished on the losing side, which wasn't great preparation for the trip to TNS next. We also lost there by the same result but again, were mightily unlucky to end up on the losing side. We took the lead through Murray but were then behind which needed an equaliser for us this time, which was scored by Fawcett. TNS then got a late winner with just 9 minutes to play to see us pick up back to back defeats for the first time since the end of November. Our final game of the month saw us get back on track which was pleasing to see against Flint Town back at home. A Ben Fawcett hat-rick and other by Nathan Wood saw us pick up the 3 points with relative ease.


Despite those 2 defeats this month we're still in 2nd and 5 points clear of 3rd placed Barry. Fawcett has added another 5 to his total this month and is now 4 goal clear at the top of the scoring charts in the division.


And speaking of those 5 goals, they've earned him the player of the month award for the 3rd time this season, following winning the award in November and December of last year.

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March 25

On the back of a relatively poor month last time out, we need to get back to winning ways and pick up some more points to help consolidate our 2nd place position.


However, it's been a very poor month this time around as we begin this monthly update with bad news. 3 more defeats taking our total to 5 defeats in 6 is really hurting our chances of finishing 2nd this season behind leaders TNS, a place we've held so easily for a few months now. Defeats to Connah's Quay, Barry and Caernarfon again have really deflated us.


And due to these defeats, we've moved down to 4th, outside of the European qualification places. 


There was, however, some pieces of good news, the first of which was regarding a future arrival and yes, it is the boy wonder Steffan Coles, who'll be joining us in the summer. At this point of the season, he's got 18 goals in 38 appearances for Colwyn Bay who did ask for a loan back as he would be signing a bumper 2-year deal with us, however that was immediately declined, and we'll have arguably the most exciting striker in the league with us next season. He'll be 19 by the time the new season rolls around so still a teenager, but I have no doubt he can absolutely tear up this league given the right service. Here's hoping!


One final piece of news is that I've been offered a new deal at Haverfordwest after what, so far, has been a largely successful season. There are a couple more bonuses and an extra £10 per week onto my salary, so the little increase is nice! 

Moving onto Zimbabwe duty which returned this month, we played 2 friendlies at the end of March.


We beat Zambia 4-3 in an entertaining match in at the Independence Stadium, Rinomohta and Takwara with one each while Talent Chawapiwa bagged a brace as we won by the odd goal in 7. We then however lost to Senegal 3-0 in Dakar. As these were both friendlies there are no league tables to look at. Our next 2 matches are also friendlies before World Cup qualification gets back underway in September.


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April 25

With the final month of the season here, it's time for one final rally to push us into the top 3 and bring European football back to South Wales next season.


I'm afraid that we couldn't manage to do that in the end. Our dreadful run continued with 2 more defeats to start the month against TNS and Flint Town ensued with us finally stopping the rot of 5 defeats in a row and 7 defeats in 8 with a final day win over Connah's Quay, youngster Luke Fitzgerald and another academy graduate Ryan Murray with a late winner, however that was not enough for us in terms of our league position.


We finished the season in 4th despite being in a commanding position just a couple of months ago up in 2nd. I'm very disappointed with the end to our season as I genuinely feel going into the split we could have made up more points on TNS, they were always going to be champions but bridging some of the gap was my aim and we failed miserably.


There was one piece of good news at the end of this month though. Ben Fawcett won the golden boot with 26 goals in 32 league appearances.

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Pre-Season Update

After a very disappointing end to last season, we will gather our thoughts and reassess the season as a whole which, apart from after the split, was largely successful. A few more additions on top of Coles coming in and I'm sure we'll be back challenging for those European places this coming season.


This is the team I'm hoping can take us into Europe. As you can see we've already played one match and Murray scored in it, we'll get onto that in the next update. We've made a few signings and even spent money on transfer fees for the first time in my career this summer which again we'll get onto shortly, as well as keeping some of the old guard here at the club too.


We begin, again, with Coles. An absolute goal machine for me back at Afan Lido, he'd already joined Colwyn Bay before I took the job here at Haverfordwest, so couldn't tempt him to join me in January, but we have him now, and he has improved since his time with me back in the 2nd tier. He still loves a free kick, has improved his first touch and his finishing ability has stayed very decent for this level. He is great off the ball making very good runs and despite not possessing anything like decent pace, his positioning makes up for that.


Gabriel Ortelli is another GK that's come in from Matlock Town in England and he was the first player that I'd spent a transfer fee on, a whole £3.7k. He'll immediately become our number 1 and will hopefully be able to keep some more clean sheets for us.


Finally, Wesley Frimpong came in from Cirencester. Another transfer fee was paid for him, a total of £6k, taking our total spend this summer to almost £10k. We're very well stocked at RB now with the likes of Ryan George, Robbie Marshall and Jazz Richards, although the latter is very versatile and can play at LB and CM too, so it's more than likely Marshall who we'll try to loan out as he has a very bright future at the club.

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August 25

The first month of the new season brings new opportunities and new expectations of my young squad and we're hoping to get off to a solid start.


The solid start did come in the league; however, we began in the Nathaniel MG Cup 2nd round, and we were drawn against the same team we played at this stage a year ago, Ebbw Vale. They once again come out on top, this time on penalties, so it was a much closer affair this time around, however it's still a huge embarrassment to be knocked out at the same stage of this competition by the same lowly team for the 2nd season in a row.

We got the league campaign off to a start with a 1-1 draw away to Penybont with young defender Henry Gethin getting on the score sheet for us. The first home match of the new season was against Bala, and we thrashed them 4-2, young protégé Coles bagging his first goals for the club with a hat-rick and Gethin getting his second for the club in as many games. We also ended the month with another win, this time away at newly promoted Llandudno, Coles getting another and Eason securing the 3 points deep into stoppage time.


This means that after 3 matches so far we top the table, level on points with champions TNS, so it's been a good start in the league. Coles tops the goal scoring charts already with 4, 1 clear of the chasing pack.


The final player to join the club this summer was David Lyon from Newtown. We are a little short out wide on the left so decided to bring in another face to bolster that position. As you can see he's made an impact already in his 2 appearances with an assist, so with his very good physical attributes I'm hoping he'll be someone we can rely on this season.

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September 25

After a decent start to the season, I was hoping we could continue this form and put ourselves in a good position early on.


And that's exactly what we did. Although we were knocked out of another cup competition early, our league form has begun well. A win against Connah's Quay got us underway, Franklin with the only goal. Then came said defeat in the JD Welsh Cup 2nd round at home to Bala, Coles did get us back to 1-1 but Davies scored a brace to send us out. We bounced back well though with another win in the league, this time away to Flint Town 4-1, young strikers Murray and Coles both got 2 each. Then came another win against Colwyn Bay, Murray and Franklin this time with Coles getting one over his former club. We ended the month with a goalless draw away to Caernarfon. 


This meant we ended the month in 2nd but level on points and goal difference with TNS, just goals scored separated us after 7 matches. Coles, as you can see, has had a good start, scoring 6 league goals and is the joint top goal scorer in the league, as well as having the 2nd best average rating and also level for the most amount of man of the match awards already with 3 in 7 matches.


Right at the end of the month, Newport County, who are currently in the Vanarama National League in England, offered me the chance to interview for their role. They were very recently a football league club, so this would be a huge opportunity to further my career should the job be offered to me.


Finally, I won the manager of the month award for October after dropping just 2 points in the league all month.

Edited by danmcconnell1
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October 25

After a largely successful month last time out, I was hoping we could continue our good form as we look to put early season pressure on TNS as we look to challenge them for this seasons' league title.


And that's exactly what we did, again. Just 2 points dropped all month from 4 matches saw us win against Barry, Franklin getting the only goal, Newtown with youngsters Fitzgerald, Coles and Murray with the goals there and then against my former club Afan Lido, Gray and Wood with the goals there saw us enter the final game of the month where we could only manage a draw against Penybont, Fitzgerald with another from midfield and Coles with the other.


We ended October 3 points clear at the top of the table with TNS having played a game less than us at this point, however psychologically this is huge for us as we look to try and challenge them this season. Coles added another 2 to his tally this month, leaving him in 2nd in the goal scoring rankings.


Soon after being interviewed for the Newport job, Dagenham & Redbridge also came in for me. They also play in the Vanarama National League and are a familiar name to most football fans in England, the east London outfit would be, again, a great opportunity.

Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in both of these opportunities, so would be staying with Haverfordwest for the time being.

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Job Update

After being turned down for 2 jobs last month, I was approached again in November.


As you can see from my inbox, York City approached me for an interview on the 11th, then just a day later offered me the job. York are another club struggling in the Vanarama National League and despite them offering significantly more in terms of wage budget and a big pay rise for me, I've taken a look at the squad and don't feel like I would want to leave my current position for this particular role, so will be turning down the chance to manage York in the hope of a better opportunity in the future.

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November 25

We enter November flying high at the top of the table as we look to try and extend our lead at the top.


We have remained unbeaten in the league so far this season with another 5 matches where we avoided defeat. We began the month with a win away to Bala, Fitzgerald and Murray with the goals for us. A goalless draw followed against Llandudno but we then followed that up with a win away at Connah's Quay, FItzgerald and Murray once again on the score sheet. Then came the best result of the month at home to Flint Town as we thrashed them 5-1, Coles got a hat-rick while Davies and Murray got one each. We ended the month with a 2-2 draw away to Colwyn Bay despite being 2-0 down, Davies and Murray with another one to steal a point for us.


All of this meant that we remained at the top of the table. TNS had dropped points a couple of times this month, including a defeat which means that despite them having played the same amount of games as us, we're 5 points clear of them. We will face them twice before the end of the regular season, then home and away again after the split, so there's still a lot that can change, however having beaten them last season with what I would class as a weaker team on our part, I'm optimistic we can give them 4 good games before the end of the campaign. Coles is the top scorer in the division still with 11 goals now and he also has the 2nd highest average rating still. He has 5 MOTM awards to his name too.


Youngster Ryan Murray won player of the month with 4 goals in 5 matches for us, as well as an assist. Davies also had a good month finishing runner up for that award.


And finally, I won the manager of the month award again for the 2nd month running.

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Job Update



After some interviews in recent months, I was offered the role of the Moroccan national team, which meant leaving my role with Zimbabwe. I was very happy with my time in the sub-African nation, I believe we made good progress and did well in the AFCON tournament we did play in.

Morocco plays their matches in various locations around the country in cities like Rabat, Marrakech and Casablanca.


My first matches with the side in the new year will be in AFCON qualifying before a trip to Canada/USA/Mexico for the World Cup. Morocco are a significantly better footballing nation compared to Zimbabwe so I'm hoping we can spring a surprise or two at the upcoming World Cup as we face the Republic of Ireland and the mighty Argentina who'll be without Lionel Messi for the first time in 5 World Cups.


Finally, one piece of news from Haverfordwest is that former Wales international and club captain Jazz Richards will retire at the end of the season. The 34 year old full back who can play either side or in central midfield has been our number 1 LB this season so we'll need to replace him next time around as he will be a big miss not only on the pitch but off it too.

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December 25

As we enter December top of the table, we face TNS twice this month in back to back matches so we'll be tested.


We began the month with another win, this time against Caernarfon with Davies and Murray getting the goals again. Next up were Barry away from home and we could only manage a 3-3 draw against those in an entertaining game. Murray, Fitzgerald and Taylor scored our goals. Then came the first of two meetings against TNS which unfortunately we lost, our first defeat in the league this season. Steffan Coles scored our goal before we met them again 5 days later and recorded our second 3-3 draw in a row away from home, Fitzgerald, Murray and Coles with our goals again to rescue a point this time and ensure we stay well and truly in the title race heading into the new year.


Due to the defeat in the first match against TNS, we now sit in 2nd place, although we are level on points with them, only being separated by goal difference currently, there's being +3 better than ours. Coles remains top of the goal scoring charts, now sharing the accolade with Malkin of Connah's Quay on 13.

We play 2 more matches before the split in January against Newtown and Afan Lido so I expect wins against those to keep us at a minimum level with TNS in terms of points, however hopefully they may drop a point or 2 in those 2 remaining matches before the split which would allow us to go into the Championship section top of the table.

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January 26

As we enter the new year, we find ourselves in a much better position than we did this time last season. 


The end of the regular season saw us pick up, as anticipated, another 6 points with wins against Newtown by a goal to nil, Fitzgerald scoring another penalty, then away to Afan Lido after a 3-week break, my first visit back to the Marston's Stadium, where we won 3-1, Milani, Fawcett and Franklin all getting on the score sheet. Our final game of the month was the first after the split and I'm hoping we don't have another post-split collapse as we've begun with defeat at home to Connah's Quay 3-2. Davies and Coles scored our goals but I'm concerned after last season's record after this point.


We did get a stroke of luck however as TNS could only draw their first match post-split meaning they only hold a 1 point advantage with 9 games left to play, 2 of which will be against us, so there's still plenty to play for. We hold a 8 point advantage over 3rd place Barry and 10 point advantage over 4th place Caernarfon so I'm pretty confident we'll be playing European football next season, whether that be in the Champions League as league winners or the Europa Conference League as runners up or 3rd placed finishers remains to be seen.

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February 26

One game into the post-split Championship Group of the league and we need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible to keep the pressure on TNS.


Just the 2 games this month and it may well be happening again. We could only manage a 1-1 draw with Barry, Ryan Murray with our goal, then followed that up with a 4-2 defeat at home to title rivals TNS. Murray and Fawcett both got on the score sheet for us however they were just too strong for us on the day and we gave up more points to them.


Thanks to that defeat and no more matches in February it meant that TNS extended their lead at the top of the table to 9 points, however we do now have a game in hand and need to play them again, so there's still hope, however faint. 

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March 26

With our form worryingly starting to dip post-split again, I really hope we can get back to winning ways sooner rather than later to ensure we secure European football next season at a minimum.


However, the month couldn't have gone any worse. 3 more defeats as our season looks to be collapsing before our very eyes again. Caernarfon beat us 2-0, then 2 away trips to Llandudno and Connah's Quay ended in 3-1 and 5-0 defeats respectively. 


These poor results firstly have meant we've dropped down to 3rd in the table, just 2 points clear of Barry down in 4th, but more disappointingly, TNS have been confirmed champions already as they've stormed clear at the top by 15 points with just 4 games left, they win another league title.

In other news, my tenure in charge of Morocco has also begun.


We got off to the perfect start against Zambia in my first match in charge with Munir, Abde and recently coaxed out of international retirement Hakim Ziyech all getting on the score sheet. Unfortunately, our 2nd match of the international window ended in a 2-0 defeat to Guinea-Bissau.


Our qualifying group for the next AFCON currently sees us sitting in 2nd after just 2 matches, however I'm confident we can still progress to the tournament proper.

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April 26

As we enter the final month of the season in, once again, terrible form, all I can hope for at this point is that we stop the rot and attempt to qualify for some sort of European football next season.


The terrible form continued though. 8 defeats in 9 and 7 defeats in a row has resulted in yet another post-split collapse. We were so optimistic heading into the split and in great form, level on points with leaders TNS, however the pressure of trying to keep pace with them has clearly taken its toll on my players and they've crumbled spectacularly. There is one, small crumb of comfort though as we now head into a European place play-off. This didn't occur last season in the division as at this point the season was over, however European play-offs have been introduced this season, so we do have a 2nd chance to get our ducks in order and, rather undeservingly, get ourselves into Europe. It'll be tough considering our atrocious form, however it's still possible.


After our awful run of form, it eventually saw us drop down to 4th again. To compound our misery, post-split we picked up just 1 point from 30 available.

As mentioned above, the play-offs for Europe begin next month and we'll find out our opponents for the semi-final shortly.

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May 26

With one final chance to qualify for European football next season, we would face Newtown who ended the season in the Relegation group following the split in the league but won that group.


Our form however was our downfall and we were thrashed 3-0 at home by the side who finished 7th in the league in the end, which in turn brings our sorry season to an end.

With a World Cup on the horizon with Morocco, I now have big decisions to make as to whether to stay with Haverfordwest despite collapsing at the end of the season for 2 years in a row or seek a new challenge post World Cup. My contract with the Welsh outfit is coming to an end so I have options, one of which is to remain here on a rolling monthly deal, however I don't feel like that gives the club, players, fans and frankly me much stability, so am not keen on the idea.

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Job Update

So, as another season came to a close, as mentioned before, it was decision time. I did chance my arm prior to making any decisions to see if the board would sponsor me in order to do my Continental Pro License, the highest License available to a manager and the board agreed.


It'll take approximately a year to complete.


Then, after gaining this funding, I decided, rightly or wrongly, the time was right to leave Haverfordwest. I'd spent 2 years in charge of the South Wales outfit which had largely been successful. I was disappointed at not being able to bring a trophy home, however the end to both seasons in charge had taken their toll on me and I felt the time was right to leave. I feel I have left the club in a better place than when I arrived, something I feel I've done at both clubs I've managed, so I can be proud of the work I did overall, despite the endings to both seasons not being how we'd all wanted.


As mentioned previously, there is a World Cup fast approaching so all of my effort will be put into the Moroccan national team ahead of the tournament. We have 2 friendlies against Scotland and the Dutch to play before the tournament gets underway, where we will be facing the Republic of Ireland and Argentina, who'll be without Lionel Messi at a World Cup for the first time since 2002.

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