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[FM24] Supermarket Swap - A Tale Of Two Managements


anagain
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Part 1: An Amateur Coach And A Professional Retailer

Disclaimer: As some may have read in my beta started save of Torquay United, I've found it hard to get going in FM24. I'm finding it hard to get going in games, to be honest. Either I'm suffering a midlife crisis or my recent trip to Europe, for two months, has left me wanting more of that and less of sitting in front of a screen watching sensible soccer stars wander across my screen (I'm not really that tough on FM's graphics).

I do know I miss the travelling, and I certainly do not enjoy being back at work. I also am nearing 50, so maybe I am suffering a midlife crisis. I don't drive but I still nearly bought a Porsche last week. I also thought about having a moustache when shaving.

I want to get in to FM24, and I'm making an effort. I picked up a type of game I've occaisonally wondered about playing. The type of game was life sims and the game was My Time At Sandrock. At first I thought I was too old. I even asked. In the end I decided a change of direction and pace might be just what I need. It is cheesy, as I knew it would be. I went hunting lizardmen yesterday and my pardner's (it's western themed) horse suddenly appeared in the boss's den when he really needed to get moving. I didn't even know he'd joined us.

I am actually enjoying Sandrock though. I feel ready to get going in FM24 now. I'm just hoping the goalkeeper injuries really are fixed. I think that bug was a huge part of why I stopped enjoying the Torquay save. Having to get a new keeper each week got tiring.

I think that what I am trying to say is that there is always a chance this goes south. I don't mean south Wales...though there's always a chance.

I'll stop rambling and start managing...

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The Day Before...

I arrived at the door of a detached surburban home with my head baked by the warm summer sun. I should have brought a cap. I was sweating too. I always sweat too much. It's all those days locked up in a faraday cage masquerading as a supermarket. I wiped my brow with a handkercheif and rang the bell.

Bing-bong-bing-bong.

That was the door bell chime of a chairman whose wife stays at home and is house proud. He'll possibly have a pipe and slipper.

"Jake, I think it's for you, deary", rang out in a female voice from somewhere in the house. A wife in a pinny, baking cakes, too?

The door opened to a middle aged man, white hair not thinning, in a plaid shirt and what could be corduroys. Do they still make them?

"Nid", he greeted me. "Come on in. I'm so glad you could join me for this little chat. I hope you got here alright, I didn't really think it best to have this meeting in my surgery or at the social club. There are beady media eyes everywhere, you know?" He laughed, a colourful, throaty sound. It reminded me of Julius Hibbert.

"Thank you, Mr Owen", I said, walking past the man with now arms wide, and he closed the door.

"Let's have a seat in the conservatory, Nid". He beckoned me to follow him. "And call me Jake, please. I believe Helen has made some coffee. Or do you drink tea, Nid?"

"Errr, tea. Tea would be lovely...Jake." I tried it on for size. It felt strange. I'd much prefer Mr Owen.

Minutes later we found ourselves sat in a lovely decorated conservatory facing on to a picture of a garden. That was a place Mrs Owen - Helen - loved to spend her days. Surely...Jake...too. Two cats tussled on the lawn. A dog sat watching, puzzled. A plump lady in her middle years entered the conservatory, dropping off cups and saucers. She smiled, gave a quick "enjoy" and left to do whatever housewives do. That was a lady that was happy to be at home all day, not one with more away from home activities than Napoleon had war plans.

Jake beckoned me to my tea and a small jug of milk accompanied by sugar cubes. You really don't see sugarcubes much any more, do you? In my house the sugar is still in a Tate & Lyle bag. "You're likely wandering why I asked you to come see me, Nid."

I took a sip. Good tea. Better than we get at work. "I can only assume it's football related. I couldn't think what else really. Don't take this the wrong way...Jake, but we only know one another through the club."

Jake nodded, a doctor's nod. One that says more than the patient ever hears. "Indeed, Nid." He paused, contemplating something. I took another sip. Definitely nicer tea than work. Almost as good as the speciality tea I have at home. "You know of Michael Johnston's decision?"

Michael Johnston was Bangor 1876's manager, the man at the helm since the club's formation in 2019. The man who had become manager in 2022 and guided the club to promotion so that they would compete in the Cymru North this coming season. The second tier of Welsh football. "I heard he had decided to walk...at the social club the other day. I did wonder why, after all the work of the past few years."

"There was a disagreement. Minor. The what's and who's are not important, Nid. What is important is that we need a new manager. I'm offering it to you, Nid."

Even good tea can be nearly spat out. "Me?" I didn't really know what to say. "Am I really qualified?"

"You have coaching badges, Nid. You went 15 games unbeaten last season." Jake seemed pleased.

I wondered how much time Jake spent watching the lower levels. "With the under 10s."

"It's all football, Nid. I believe in you." Jake pointed a finger at me in as Alan Partridge a moment as I have ever witnessed. It was even a bit Mainwaring. This man could send people to war with confidence brimming. He'd believe he had anyway.

"I do sort of have a job. Not sure I can quit all that quick. Not sure the wife would see the plusses there."

Jake laughed. "Oh, we can't really pay you, Nid. Not yet, anyway. But, you can have your say on signings and we're all right behind you. 1876 all the way, you know?"

"Well, I'm willing to give it a go..."

I wasn't able to finish. "Good", Jake beamed, another chuckle, even more Hibbert-like. "Sign here."

I felt like a fish, dangling from a hook. But I was now a football manager at an elite level. Well, the Cymru South. Even Arsene Wenger started somewhere. Fergie managed East Stirlingshire. I allowed myself a little smile and drank some more tea.

 

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Profile

A little about me. Born in Poole, I moved to north Wales with my Welsh girlfriend after she had finished her studies at Bournemouth university. We spent the first 3 months living in her bedroom in her parent's home before moving into a small flat in Bangor. We married nine months later. Some said it was rushed...her parents mostly.

I had found a job at a local superstore (which will remain unnamed - it could be any - this is a story) and Cerys had a job as a PA for a local firm. She was using her degree well...

Dylan was born a year later and Clara two years later. Dylan was the midfield dynamo in my U10s team. I'm sure he'll cope without Dad as boss. I worked hard at the job, alongside managing local youth football and doing coaching badges, rising to department head. It's not a glamorous life working 9 to 5, or whatever hours I'm told, in a superstore, but it pays the bills.

As I've said, Cerys likes her social activities away from work. Her mother does a lot of the child minding. She's rising well in her job. A real business woman in little Bangor. It does tend to give her delusions. We only live in a semi.

You have to be content in life...and I wonder if I am. The Cherries are still Premier League, so there's good. Dylan is the only kid in north Wales in red and black. He loves Dom Solanke.

Maybe one day I can be a well paid manager on the south coast. Oh wait...I'd have to give up work at the shop.

S**t happens. :onmehead:

 

The Club

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Bangor 1876 are an amateur fan club in the north Wales city of Bangor. Only formed in 2019, this became a thing because fans of Bangor City were disgruntled at the way their club was being managed into obscurity. Bangor 1876 are flying up the leagues and Bangor City are pretty much no more, as of 2023.

1876 play home games at Nantporth, the 3G pitch on the banks of the Menai Straight. It can get a bit windy, so hold on to your pies.

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As stated, 1876 are a fan owned club. The chairman is the previously mentioned Jake Owen (it's not in the real world, but it's better we don't use real names if I'm to use artistic license here) but there is also a board of old Bangor City fans to appease. Regardles sof the fact we're amateur, the board want a top four finish in the Cymru North this season. They also want to be a Cymru Premier team as soon as possible.

We need to step up to the plate and get Bangor back in Europe. Mr Owen...Jake's words. Not mine. Spoken over a second cup of tea and a cake supplied by Helen. She made it herself.

I wish Cerys made cakes. She buys them.

We sometimes get cake at work. When they pass their sell by date.

 

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I know the premise is deep. I think long and hard about why I'd suddenly appear in football. Whilst I'm not a retail manager in real life...or married to Cerys...I do like to make my save sort of realistic. Nid is a real man, trying to havigate the ladder of football success.

That was a Jake statement too. Our chairman is fond of "big it up" statements. Yes, that was his too.

As for what Nid is short for, or where it is a name from. I have no idea. It's just a name I use, based on a moniker. I prefer it to Anton Nagain; the other name I use.

 

Where should this save take me? Well, for starters, we'll see how quick I play. I've already played the first league game. I wanted to see how I was feeling before I started this write up. A 30 game season might see me get through the years quicker. I play detailed though, with all of Europe loaded, but top leagues for much of it and view only below.

Shall I make it my goal to manage the mighty AFC Bournemouth? Or just to be successful? Goal one is to earn a wage and get out of the faraday cage*.

I'll come back with some pre-season shenanigans and we'll meet some players. I think I'll introduce them slowly. We're amateur so players can leave any time. There may be a lot of turnover. Right now I am desperate for some U19s. Welsh football likes U19s on the bench and I have none.

I probably should have checked the rules earlier, but it's always fun to have a greyed out goalie on your bench. Right?

 

*If you don't know, a Faraday Cage is a scientific thingamyjib that stops radio signals...or something. Someone once said to me that phone signals are bad in a shop because it's a big Faraday Cage. I'm a head of department in a national supermarket chain, not Albert bloody Einstein.

I should know more really. I did A-level physics in real life...for three months.

 

Gifs are not in abundance for Bangor 1876, so here's a nice video of seven players being sent off in a Bangor 1876 versus Rhyl 1879 match. The 1870s derby?

"You ain't the manager" That's not Dylan.

 

 

Edited by anagain
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Day One

I had a chat with Dylan before bed last night. I told him that I wouldn't be managing his side any more. He's brighter than he sometimes acts, saying that'd be because he'll be in the U11s soon. When I said it was actually because I had a new management job he asked if it was AFC Bournemouth. Upon hearing it was Bangor 1876 he displayed a cockiness I hadn't realised was so deep when he said he'd be playing for me again soon then.

Is that his mother's influence? She's always been big on the idea of climbing the ladder of success. I find myself using it sometimes. I said it to Gareth the other day, a new lad just out of school that's on trolley duty. He looked at me and asked if that meant one day he might move cars about in a garage, or something. I just said I was sure he would. He only got two GCSEs. A D in Geography and an E in Maths. I'm not sure he turned up for the rest.

I suppose he might actually move cars around in a garage, but not working there.

I was late for my first session of training. Busy day at the store and the night shift have six workers off with a bug. Store manager wanted us to fill. I said I needed to meet the lads I'd be managing on the turf and he said they were a bunch of amateurs playing football, instead of being in prison. So he'd heard about the Rhyl game then? Still, a bit harsh.

When I got there my new assistant manager had the lads running about like headless chickens, and, in the case of one or two, larking about like a headless chicken. Sean Eardley played for Oldham once, but he spent most of his career at Llandudno. He then spent a season in New South Wales and says "g'day mate" alot. I think he just likes the sound of it.

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"G'day mate," said Sean. I've been putting the bozzo's through the paces a bit. Hope you got the snaggers filled. Having a barbie at the weekend." I looked at him with puzzlement writ so large on my face that he turned and said. "Just playing with you. I spent a year in Oz."

"G'day to you too then," I said, with a chairmen-esque finger.

"You've met Jake then?"

"He does the finger a lot?"

"Everytime you see him. Let's set the lads on a run and you can meet the coaches." He set about sending the lads on a run, to a chorus of boos, and I was joined shortly by a couple more tracksuit wearing coaches. "Gareth Williams, jack of all trades and curry officionado. Ben Heald, was playing football in Wales before you moved here, I believe. Still plays in goal, I excused him a run."

We exhanged pleasantries over the next five minutes and had a quick chat about the strengths in the team. Les Davies was, all agreed, our star man. 38 years old, Les was playing for the old Bangor City before I arrived in Wales. He scored 27 goals in 25 games in the North Wales Coast West Premier League a couple of seasons ago.

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In goal, Ben said he rates 29 year old Carl Jones and thinks he'll do a sterling job for us between the sticks. Gareth recommended Kian Owen at left back, a good youngster also once at Bangor City.

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"Let's just set up some small games and see what people have." I suggested, and my staff made it so. It felt good to think of these men as my staff, and not spotty nosed hoodlums like Gareth the trolley boy.

"Can do, mate," came the reply from the dingo and the lads were quickly coralled into teams. For the next hour we had a good kick about and I learned a fair bit. I learned we have barely enough defenders for a six a side, but we have enough forwards to spread them out to the whole league...almost. I liked the versatility of Luke Steele and Craig Whelan is a leader who will be a valuable asset playing across the four in midfield. That is, if we go with a four.

Jamie Petrie is another experienced former Bangor City man in midfield and I found myself thinking he could fill the hard man role. Who would be our more attacking midfielder is anyone's guess right now.

We need new faces and I'd need a meeting with the scouting team.

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We were all having a drink and hearing a few tales from the older lads when Mr Owen pulled up in his little sports car. It was just what I'd imagined him driving. I'm no car expert, but I think it was a Mazda. He had driving gloves on. "I see our Cymru North winning side is getting to know one another," he called out. I saw one or two sideways glances from the lads.

"Now, now, Mr Owen," I cautioned him. "We're just getting to know one another and having a kickabout."

"Jake. Call me Jake. We're all friends here." Jake beckoned me to him and grasped me firmly around the shoulders as I joined him. "How're you settling in, Nid? Good bunch of lads, aren't they? Any thoughts?"

"Some good players...Jake. I'd like to think about some reinforcements though. Can you put me in touch with the scouting department?"

Doctor Hibbert laughed again. "I can do better than that, Nid. I can get you a scouting department!"

Well, it's a start.

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Pre-Season

Jake did as he promised and gave me a scouting team. Well, a scout and a board member with a football passion appointed as director of football. They set about scouring footballer databases and watching games to find players who might play for our little club. Defenders would be key, but anyone who improves us would be fair game.

I lost track of the number of triallists we got in over the two weeks I had before our first league game. It seems the departure of Michael Johnston, however it happened, and Jake's subsequent appointment of me was done late in the day.

Two friendlies followed. We drew 0-0 with Llangefni, on Anglesey, and then beat Rhyl 1879 3-1. Yes, there was a sending off in that game. Les Davies got a goal but Craig Whelan impressed me most, playing wide right but moving central a lot.

Joe Sullivan won the battle of the 'partner to Davies' among our plentitude of strikers, but Sam Jones pushed him close. I'd been told to watch Corrig McGonigle closely, with my coaching team saying he'd be the one to bang the goals home this season. Corrig didn't really impress me though. He played a bit lazy, to be honest. I see a lot of that at my day job, so I know lazy. Corrig is also a Manchester United supporter!

Just kidding, I don't rule anyone out. Okay, maybe if they play for Watford.

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The last thing I want to do is be hasty when it comes to signing players. I've scrutinised the triallists that have arrived and feel we'd be worse off just signing anyone that can kick a ball. That meant two players arrived before the first game. We also lost one midfielder.

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Whelan, Hughes and Cox were signed by Johnston's team. We'll meet the original squad throughout the season.

Daniel John; Daniel is a reasonably pacey winger that has never played a first team game, but he's just 19 and impressed me when on trial. He can provide good back up to Whelan but can also play on the left.

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Jayden Major; Jayden could be quality, having started his career at Liverpool and then moving to Burnley. He never played a first team game but the fact he was there says to me that he had talent. Jayden will give us width on the left and be given license to get forward. Let's hope he can find something of the talent he obviously showed at a young age.

Climb that ladder of success, Jayden.

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We'll leave it there and get to the football next time. One game in August and seven in September (and I have run out of uploads, or I'd post the fixtures).

Let's hope we climb the ladder of success...

...oh god, just ignore me...

 

 

 

Edited by anagain
proof read a bit late
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Season's Eve

After a gruelling couple of weeks pre-season I had given the lads an easier final training session before our opener at home to Llanidloes. Our chairman had invited myself and the coaching staff, along with our director of football, chief scout and head physio to The Skerries for a bite to eat and a discussion of our chances in the upcoming season. Joining Mr Owen, sorry Jake, were three other directors of the club. They were all fans, of course. Bangor 1876 is a fan owned club, an entity created when Bangor City were being led down the garden path to financial ruin by the Vaughans. I'd been a bit of a part time fan of Bangor FC in my earliest days in the city, after having moved up here with Cerys.

The Vaughans had left, eventually, and the club had been taken over by Italian born and South American influenced musician, Dominico Serafino. He appointed former Argentina superstar Pedro Pasculli to manage the side. Many refer to this time as the Italian era of the club but it didn't work out and Bangor City withdrew from the Cymru North in February 2022. They have since been inactive in footballing circles.

1876 had sprung up in 2019 as a reaction to the troubles at Bangor City. Jake Owen, and his fellow board members are all Bangor City fans. Bangor 1876 have since taken over the mantle as the footballing representatives of Bangor, the 1876 being the date the original club was founded, an homage to history.

"Your drink, Nid," said Jake, reaching over with a tantalising pint of Guinness. I'd been given license to enjoy myself tonight by Cerys, who was looking after the kids. Not really her style and not often I get to relax in the pub, even if it is with my boss...or at least one of them. Jake had said it was all on the board tonight. I would enjoy my black gold and the pie and mash on its way from the kitchen.

"Thanks, boss...Jake." that prompted the finger point.

"I don't know why people so struggle with my name." Our chairman pondered.

"Perhaps because you can get rid of any of us with a snap of your fingers, Jake," joked Chris Jones, the club's head of youth. This was, of course, met with the usual salute, and subdued chuckles.

Our chairman turned the conversation to the main reason we had gathered. "So where are we going to finish this season, Nid?"

"Well, if we don't finish top four then I'm apparently out of a job," I quipped. This had been the job I was tasked with in earlier conversations with Jake.

Jake seemed less sure now. "Oh, I know that's what I said, but I wondered if things had changed. You've had a pre-season to build a squad."

"Two weeks, Jake. Yeah, we've been busy. I've held more trials than the Bangor courts, though they don't all work out."

Sean Eardley decided to put his two eggs in, giving me a chance to drink some more black gold. "I've liked what we've seen so far. Early days, but an unbeaten pre-season has to give us confidence. New lads are bedding in and there's promise of more recruits."

I agreed somewhat, but I do have a tendancy to be cautious. "That's true. I'd like to see us score more goals and there's still positions I'd like more cover in. There's rumours of clubs sniffing around our star assets too. Les Davies won't be going anywhere at his age. He's a Bangor man too. Doesn't mean we won't be spending a season constantly look for replacements."

Chief scout, Ken Edwards, piped in at this point. "Plenty of reports to send you. Wales is ripe with players looking for a chance to just play football."

Jake was less optimistic. "But are they good enough to meet our ambitions? I'm an ambitious man...ahh, this will be our food arriving. Football can wait, gents. Let's enjoy some grub."

I never expected him to say 'grub'. The grub was good though. I crawled in about 12, finding Cerys had already gone to bed. I had work at 8am*. I'd better join her. We'd know how well we'd do soon enough.

 

*It's Thursday and we play on Saturday...so I may have flourished a bit by calling this the eve. Shoot me!

 

A More Promising Start Couldn't Have Been Wished For

Just that. We are on fire and looking like real promotion contenders. I'll preempt complacency, though, and say we've not faced any of the early favourites yet. Our matches all seem to have been against teams struggling at the time we have met them. To be fair, Denbigh were fancied, but they've started poorly. Airbus and Flint are the teams that were relegated from the Premier. We've not met them yet.

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As you can see, we're scoring plenty of goals and being stubborn at the back. Joe Sullivan has proved the man of the season so far. Corrig McGonigle was predicted by all to be our star striker but I went with Joe after a great pre-season. He thanked me with the first goal in an opening day victory over Llanidloes. Craig Whelan, doing great in his narrow right wing role, got the second goal from the penalty spot.

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The formation I had settled on was an attacking 4-4-2, with wide right playing narrower and the left winging bombng forward aggressively. I wanted to stick Luke Steele in midfield but a lack of central defenders at the start of our campaign forced me to use different players.

The squad stayed mostly the same for our second game, just a few days after we played Llanidloes, and we triumphed 2-0 over Denbigh, with two excellent goals from Dan Cox, playing a very attacking midfield role. I say mostly the same because we lost Kian Owen, one of our star men, as he surprisingly quit Nantporth for West End. That's a club in a lower division and he's still earning no wages. Kian was a Bangor boy too. Only Kian knows the reason for leaving. Maybe he just didn't like me.

It leaves us very short at left back.

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Next up would be our first away game, at Ruthin, followed shortly after by a trip to Llandudno. I remember that town well for the place where a seagull nicked a sausage roll out of my then girlfriend, Cerys', hand on the seafront. Memories.

Before the game we added to our squad with a new arrival in midfield. Ricky Owen is an experienced midfielder who has played for many years in the Bangor area whilst working in the city. Ricky certainly has talent and I do wonder why he hasn't played more football at a higher level before.

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Ricky would not be fit for the trip to Ruthin but he did start against Llandudno. The Ruthin match was our toughest yet, The Town actually holding a 2-1 advantage early in the second half. Joe Sullivan had scored his second of the season, to get us off to a good start, before Ruthin's double. An own goal got us level in the second half before new signing Daniel John announced himself to the Cymru North with a late winner that saw me leap out of my seat and race along the touchline. The goal was a belter from the middle of the box, after Ruthin had completely failed to clear their lines. A good moment.

Daniel John got his second goal to open the scoring in a 3-0 demolition of Llandudno a few days later. Joe Sullivan wouldn't be left not the outright top scorer for the club as he completed the scoring late on. The best moment, which you thought I'd forgotten (hadn't you?), came on the brink of half time. We'd been dominant but were failing to put the ball away. With fitness an issue, when games were coming thick and fast, I had started Harry Galeotti in an unfamilar right wing role. Harry is more of a forward player than a traditional right winger, but he scored a lovely battling goal after winning the ball in the box. It made the second half a lot easier. And my team talk.

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A few days after the Llandudno game came the first of August's cup games, and we had the first round of the Welsh Cup a week later. I'll come to the cup games later though. I'll talk league games, and the trip to Mold Alexandra that was sandwiched between the cups, before that. However, first, there were more new faces before we travelled to Mold. Three of them.

First up was central defender Luke Jones. Formerly with Gresford, in this division, Luke is a capable defender that fills a much needed gap in our squad and allows me to play Luke Steele in midfield.

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Jonathan Evans is a right back who, at a pinch, could fill in at centre back. Jonathan is 5'8" though, so I'd rather not rely on him as a central defender. Spending most of him career at Carno, this league is a step up for Jonathan, but I'm sure he can cope.

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There is a rule in the Cymru North that says you must have two under 19s in the match squad. As a new club our youth set up is not flourishing and I've not been happy with the young players, from the club's contacts, that have sat on the bench. I've been looking for young players for the future but have had little success. In the end I turned to our neighbours, and Cymru Premier club, Carenarfon. Harry Hughes joins us on loan from Caernarfon.

This move would end up being contentious after some Caernarfon rivalry creating...

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The Mold Alexandra game was another easy victory. Ben Owen, the man forced into the left back role, was the star performer with an assist and a goal. Craig Whelan opened the scoring from the spot before Owen set up his second. Owen then banged in a header from close range to seal the win. The cup game was soon after the Mold game - see below - but we had a nice break before the last match of the month, as we welcomed bottom of the table Prestatyn. They gave us a good game, opening the scoring. I begged more from the lads at half time and they delivered. Joe Sullivan and Harry Galeotti the second half scorers.

And, yes, that is an unbeaten month to start our season. I can't believe it! We've been so good.

And here's the end of August table.

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The Cups

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And now the one day rivalry. The game at Caernarfon, in the Cymru Premier League Cup, became my new greatest moment so far, passing Daniel John's late goal against Ruthin. We were being touted to lose heavily, and I feared just that when we conceded an early first half penalty. Carl Jones was our hero as he saved Dion Donohue's weak penalty. We then took the lead 15 minutes later as Les Davies ran on to Daniel John's defence splitting ball.

Things got even better five minutes before half time as the ref awarded us a penalty. Craig Whelan did his duty and dispatched the spot kick to give us a deserved 2-0 lead at half time.

Caernarfon were a very different side after the break. The Cymru Premier side pulled a goal back in the 61st minute, Dion Donohue making us for his penalty miss. It was then pretty much one way traffic, but we held on for a great win.

 

In the Welsh Cup, Llay Miners Welfare were heaved aside with braces from Les Davies and Joe Sullivan and goals from Daniel John and Harry Galeotti.

 

We drew Churchstoke in the Welsh Cup and Flint Town in the Cymru Premier League Cup

 

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Two final transfers in to look at. Ryan Maclean is a left back that has been looking for regular football since Watford released him in 2020. The youngster can play in midfield and maybe even central defence too. Ryan is a talent and I'll make sure Watford regret giving him the heave ho!

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And finally, Iwan Roberts is a young striker released by Liverpool. What were you thinking, Jurgen? Iwan is only 18 and covers that U19s rule too. There's ability here but Iwan will have to fight Joe Sullivan for a starting berth. I can't drop our top scorer.

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I probably should have mentioned that Corrig McGonigle left for Cymru Premier Penybont. Cameron Barry also left for more regular football at Porth.

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Next...

September is a month of cup games, with the League Tier 2 Cup starting. We face our closest league challengers Caersws in that. We also face Caersws in the league.

 

Jake will be pleased!

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Edited by anagain
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July/August Stat Pack

I'm going to do this monthly, starting with something I'm going to put a bit of effort in to creating...

It's...

Manager Nid's Team of the Month

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Probably doesn't mean a lot as an amateur club.

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I'm manager of the month.

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But only Tomos Clarke made the Cymru North team of the month.

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Has Jake seen the table? B?

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The fans didn't like the Harry Hughes signing, but they don't udnerstand the rules I have to follow. I'd rather have an U19 on the bench who might make a difference.

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Squad Stats for July/August - includes cups and a spoiler of a new signing

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One last thing. I thought I'd just point out that we're the only amateur club in our division.

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  • 2 weeks later...

September 2023

First...yes, been a while between posts. I put this down to three factors. Firstly, I don't get much time to play mid week anyway. Secondly, I picked up a game called My Time At Sandrock because I thought a different type of game might help get back some of the fun of gaming for me. I've been enjoying it and it takes up some of the time I get midweek. I was playing very anti-social FMer but decided to be more bold and romance Amirah. :eek: Thirdly, I picked up COVID at the end of last week, just before a weekend in which I planned to get some more games in over. Feeling better so loaded up FM24.

The Chairman...Jake...Pays Us A Visit

Jockstraps, damp towels and soggy espadrilles lined the floor. I keep telling Harry to take his boots off before he jumps in the bath. I was sat with Sean, having a chat about the performance in the game we just witnessed, when our chairman wandered in the changing room, beaming. "Well done, lads! Another win. We're flying this season!"

Craig Whelan wandered past him, dripping, his thumbs up and a smile on his face. "Thanks sir. We're having a good time. Better than Everton have been of late, to be true."

"Jake, Craig. Jake." Jake looked over my way. "Ahhh, Nid. I want to shake your hand. I knew I made the right choice in appointing you."

I stood and took Jake's offered hand, tutting as a towel whipped my leg. "Bloody hell, Dan!"

Jake laughed, patting me on the shoulder. "I like it, Nid. Looks like you're all getting on fabulously. So? Prestatyn dispatched. What's next?"

"Well, we keep on winning, Jake. Got a few days off now, and there's a lot of cup games this month coming. Got to keep the league form going though. Myself and Sean were just going over a few things we've noticed. We'll bring the lads in next if you want to sit around and listen in." I looked around for a chair.

Jake looked pleased to be invited. He is, I suppose, a fan, first and foremost. "Thanks, Nid."

I sent one of the lads to grab a chair. "Can't be too late though, Jake. Work early in the morning."

Jake sighed. "We all have to make a living, Nid. I hope your boss is understanding you're a top manager leading a team to glory?"

"Not sure he's a fan, Jake," I whispered. "Just sad I don't see quite as much of the family, but we make sacrifices for moments that matter. When we win this league it'll all be worth it."

Jake slapped me hard on the back in another display of pally chairmanship. I think it will always be hard to get used to the ways here at Bangor. "That's what I like to hear, Nid."

 

Cup Games Abound

I think I'm going to depart from the fixture image and do this match by match. Felt strange talking about scorers when I'd already posted them in a graphic. It's more work but I think it looks better.

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September started with a signing, and one prompted by the signing of Ryan Maclean about two weeks back. Ryan wanted me to improve the goalkeepers at the club. I wasn't sure it was needed but if we want to progress then keeping players like Ryan happy is a must.

After some trials I settled on a man from out Nefyn way. Deio Brunelli is keeper that doesn't really have a lot of history in the game but he impressed in the two weeks he spent here on trial. Deio is a keeper that has a strong presence in the box and he's a big man. I think commanding is the word.

Deio Brunelli may be a rugby player as well. I looked for an image of Deio and the only Deio Brunelli I could find on google played rugby for, I think, Nefyn, or somewhere near there. Deio Brunelli can't be a common name, and he might be a bit of a local sportsman of many creeds.

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A week later we travelled to the English border for a Welsh Cup game against Churchstoke. There were more sheep nearby than there were fans as we kicked off a game I fully expected us to win. It proved tougher than I expected though. Maybe it was cockiness. Probably a lot of complacency created by our great form, but I picked a side heavy on rotation. Brunelli would start in goal, a week after signing, Les Davies and Joe Sullivan would get a rest and I gave a first start of the season to Gethin Thomas. Iwan Roberts would get his first start too.

We opened the scoring early, Liam Morris getting his season up and running as he headed in Ryan Maclean's right wing cross. We did seem to get complacent after this strong start though, and Churchstoke took belief from this. The amateur side equalised just before half time and took the lead right after the break.

We had found ourselves 2-1 down despite being much the fancied side. I made wholesale changes throughout the second half, replacing the injured Jayden major and many underperforming forward players. I had a bench full of regulars and they all came on. We were still struggling to find a second goal though and it took until the 95th minute, at a time when I had started to accept we'd lose, to find an equaliser. Craig Whelan pumped a cross in to the box from deep and Joe Sullivan got his head to it.

The match would go to penalties. Eight penalties were taken. Eight were scored. Tomos Clarke would take our last. The Churchstoke keeper got a hand to Tomos' effort, their final player scored...and we were out the cup.

I won't underestimate opposition again.

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Our next game was in the cup too. This time it was the first round of the Tier Two Cup, and the first of two matches against Caersws, a team of whom a lot is expected this season. I put out a strong team and we dominated our opposition, recording a stunning 4-0 win. We were 3-0 up by half time thanks to a first club goal from Iwan Roberts and a brace from Les Davies. We were less dominant after the break, but Luke Steele got his first goal under my tenure to seal the rout.

We would draw Chirk in the next round of this cup, to be played next month.

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Another New Face

I will never stop looking for ways to improve the squad, and I still felt we were short in central defence. My scouts had found a young lad out of favour at TNS and, with the board's permission, we offered him a loan spell. Ben Woollam is young and so this is mainly cover, but it is a chance for a youngster to hopefully get some game time. There are some gaps in Ben's game but some quality time on the training pitch can do wonders, and even more so if Ben feels happy with the bunch of good lads we have.

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Back to the league, and our second match against Caersws. I knew they wouldn't be the walkover they were in the cup and we prepared for a tough game. It proved to be that as the mid Wales team struck early to give us a scare. Half time would see us back level though, as Les Davies slotted home a great cross by Joe Sullivan.

The second half was just as equal in what was an enthralling game. Caersws took the lead again, this time from the spot. Ryan Maclean was, I felt, harsh to have a foul called against him in the box. Craig Williams had no sympathy though, as he fired home the spotkick.

We got our equaliser late again. It was more great work from supersub Harry Galeotti. Harry raced down the left and got his head to a great cross from right back Jonathan Evans.

I decided I was happy with a point in deepest, darkest mid-Wales.

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In a busy last week of the month we then travelled along the coast to face Flint in the Nathaniel MG Cup, otherwise known as the Premier League Cup. This was the cup in which we had defied expectations to knock out Caernarfon last month. Flint are in our league and are challenging for the top spots. This would not be a simple task.

For our league game I had kept Carl Jones in goal. Carl was jointly responsible for our dominant league position and I felt it only fair to keep him in goal. He'd not been grat though, so Deio Brunelli came back in for the cup game. He played a blinder in a game for which the final 2-0 scoreline was clear despite us being pushed all the way.

Craig Whelan got us off to a flying start, turning in a lose ball from a corner, but it took until the 84th minute for us to make things secure. The goal was a combination effort by our wingers, Harry Galeotti playing a cleared corner ball back in for Daniel John to finish.

Two cups out of three navigated. We would face Taffs Well in the Quarter Final.

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And to finish the month off we would welcome Gresford in the Cymru North. The team from near Wrexham are fancied to finish mid table and have started just that. We hoped to win but it ended up being a frustrating 0-0 draw. Frustrating because we completed a reported 23 efforts at goal. Only three of those efforts demanding action from the Gresford keeper.

There are some games where we just don't fire in midfield. When that happens we fall flat. Even supersub Harry Galeotti couldn't click us in to top gear against Gresford. I do find we have a lack of options on the bench to really push us on when our main men can't seem to get the creativity going. I am not sure there is much we can do about that this season either. Maybe someone will pop up on our scouting radar.

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And so, the table for September sees us still top by five points. Two draws in September seems to have allowed an air of pessimism to creep into the club though.

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Next...

Another five games in October, but this time it's three league games and just two cup games. We will get to see how we fair against Cymru South opposition when Taffs Well come a calling.

We can't be too disapppointed with how things are progressing. A quarter final cup appearance is a nice talking point.

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Edited by anagain
I can't read the difference between Liam Morris and Iwan Roberts!
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September Stat Pack

Manager Nid's Bangor 1876 Team Of The Month - September 2023

Harry Galeotti doesn't play too many minutes but he got the nod on the right for me this month. Craig Whelan will start most matches there, in a less attacking role, but he gets the central midfield role for me in this month's team of the month. This is one of my two main variations. I will either start us with our attacking impetus out left and on the left of midfield, or I will start with two advanced wingers and both central midfielders sitting back a little.

Iwan Roberts gets the nod over Joe Sullivan up front and Iolo Hughes gets the defensive plaudits because he can play either right back or in the centre. Truth be told, I am least happy with the right back position. Joe Culshaw is our most right back-ish of players at the club but his training has been appalling. I value hard work from my players.

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Still rated a B. The board didn't mention being knocked out of the Welsh Cup, and I think that result is my biggest disappointment of September.

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Much the same from the supporters, though also no mention of the Welsh Cup exit. The supporters still are not happy with the acquisition of Harry Hughes, it seems. I hope the lad can ignore the social media scrutiny that may be in evidence.

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Our social media following is not the bggest though, will it have much bearing on Harry? We're a family friendly club really, but I'm sure Chris Birch knows many fans.

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I thought I'd look at the club dynamics this months. We have a good atmosphere going and the lads seem to like me.

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Squad Stats for September

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And...to finish the September Stat Pack...a look at the top scorers in this early stage of the Cymru North. Joe's shot count makes his position look a little less great, doesn't it?

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October 2023

The end of the month can be busy in retail. With the shop floor heaving, I was happy to be in a meeting with the heads of departments. Jimmy, our store manager hadn't shown his face yet, so I sat with the other heads contemplating our beloved jobs.

"It's always a grab for checkout operators." Kate was head of checkout, a department that grabbed from everywhere.

"You wanna hear my theory?" This was Dion Jenkyns, a young man newly installed as a senior manager. Dion was always one for a radical theory, and man for whom the whys of why he was in this role always mystified me. He was very anti work so often. "The powers that be. Them at the top, sitting in their plush offices with secretaries to get their coffee, they run the stores down to see what they can get out of us. Anyone who falls by the wayside gets swept under. You gotta be blasé to get through it. Think of it as a big snow plough, sweeping all..."

Dion didn't get a chance to finish as Jimmy walked in, his usual Starbucks cup in his hand, fingers yellowing from the chain smoking. "You being fantastical again, Dion?"

"You know Dion, boss. It's the snow ploughs." I joked, to a scowl from Dion.

"We getting more staff then, Jimmy?" Dion ploughed on, regardless.

Jimmy laughed. "Why would you think that? COVID happened, Dion. Tories happened. We gotta make do with what we got."

"I need to fill checkouts."

You will, love". Jimmy called all the ladies love. I could see Kate didn't like it. "Gotta get 'em from where you can. I need a fag." Jimmy leant over to a small cabinet and grabbed some papers. He chucked them to me. "Management rotas, Nid. Let's go through 'em."

I gave them a quick perusal. "You have me down to do Saturday afternoons. You know I can't do them now."

"Football," Dion tutted.

"Yes, football, kiddo." It was my turn to scowl. Dion hated kiddo about as much as I presumed Kate hated love.

"You have a job, Nid, a position of responsibility." This had become a battleground between myself and Jimmy. I'd negotiated mines and mortars until now, but I knew October was going to be busy on the park. There'd be two away games over Wrexham way. I couldn't work till 1 on a Saturday and get to Chirk for 2.30.

"It was never a problem when I wanted the day for my kid's football."

"That's family, Nid. Look, we have a visit planned for Saturday 14th. I need you to do that one." Jimmy's hands were out, pleading. "They'll be gone by 1."

"Chirk's a long way to get in an hour and a half. Might be doable. They never stay till 1, these big guys. Too eager to get down the town and have the slap up lunch they get on expenses." This sarcasm came from Aled. Not really a senior manager but he looked after the warehouse. Dealt with lorries when we didn't have a poorly paid junior employee to do it. Today we did. I liked Aled. I know he liked the footy. Not so much a Bangor fan. He was Liverpool in his bloods. Born up the road near Flint, he spoke a scouse accent.

Jimmy seemed negotiable. The nicotine cravings were taking hold. "Look, you can go when they go. I know you like your new life, but we got to look good for this visit. I thought you was flying anyway?"

Kate spoke without looking up. "Nid was always a people manager. He gets the best out of people." Kate gave me a one-eyed glance. Not the first time I'd heard words like this from Kate. Last week she'd criticised my wife.

Jimmy didn't give anyone else a chance to butt in. "He is," he said, in an unconvincing way. "That's why I need him here. Get better fast, Nid. When you're managing Liverpool you won't need this job." Jimmy stood, the cravings obviously too much. "Think of us when you're famous, Nid. I need a fag.

That wasn't the end of the meeting. Just one of Jimmy's frequently needed breaks. He'd be back with caffeine too. Dion popped out with Jimmy, he was starting to smoke like the boss. Two minutes later Aled's phone went off and he was needed for a bread delivery. "Today's cover is at lunch. Enjoy the boss." He smiled knowingly and was gone. I looked up to see Kate smiling. I thought she was married.

"Family well, Kate?"

"My boyfriend's having an affair." She didn't seem to care too much. I said sorry anyway.

Can I take that Liverpool offer now? I love this new management role. Just wish it was my only management role. I bet Jurgen can spend all day with his players.

 

Goals Galore - An October Goal-fest

Goals are great, they just raise the blood pressure when they're not only your team's. The fans love it though, and Bangor games have gained a reputation as the place to be if you want to see entertaining football. Les Davies is on fire. Not bad for a 39 year old. He's only a little younger than me. I can't run like that anymore. And, no, I didn't take an arrow to the knee.

 

October began with two league games, two actually make for three league games in succession. Rare in a couple of months dominated by cup games. We'd finished September with two league draws. I wanted to get back to winning ways as we welcomed Holywell and we got off to a flier, Dan Cox opening the scoring in the second minute and Les Davies, racing in to beat the Holywell defence to a Daniel John cross, after nine minutes. Dan Cox's opener was a similar sort of goal, and a position I want to see Dan getting in to more often.

Holywell finished the game the brightest and we conceded late on to make things nervy. It wasn't to be for Holywell though.

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A week later was the first game at Chirk, and the day of the work visit. Aled was right, and the visit was gone by 12. I'd left Sean with instructions but I made it with about 15 minutes to go before kick off. A few words with the lads and we were off.

We were one down within two minutes, Chirk surging forward and my defence not on the same planet at that point. It woke the defence up though. We were level two minutes later through Daniel John. He found his role reversed with Daniel Cox and was in the middle when Coxxy put a perfect ball in. THis was the consistency I wanted from our midfielder.

We turned the game right around in the 11th minute. Les Davies getting his head to another cross, this time from Iolo Hughes. The games was end to end though, and Chirk levelled through a thunderbolt seven minutes later. Chirk send a lot of men forward when they attack and it was making for an entertaining, but nervy, game.

The first half scoring wasn't done. A deep ball was swung in and my defence seem paralised and unable to jump. Ed Baker got his head to a looping effort that Brunelli was unable to get to. I watched it bounce slowly in off the far post. We'd been good so far but we'd go in a goal down at half time. More of the same, but tighten up a bit in defence.

We were outstanding after the break, my lads listening to every word of mine. Les Davies got another 15 minutes in to the half and we were 4-3 up a few minutes later as Luke Steele's shot deflected off Matthew Parry for an own goal. Just as I was thinking the game was tightening up and the scoring would be over we found ourselves level again, Matthew Parry making up for the own goal with a near post header from a corner ball. 4-4!

Queue Daniel John to win the game, and it came from great build up play. Dan Cox was involved again. We just needed to hold on now, and we did.

What a game! The two brace men get the plaudits but spare an applause for Dan Cox. Can he maintain the consistency?

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Consistency is key for Daniel.

 

A week later we travelled to Chirk again. I had this Saturday off, my boss being nice. Though it meant working other shifts I'd rather have missed. Sean was the main man at twice weekly evening training. The lads understood though. They had jobs too. Meanwhile, I wondered if this game would be the goal fest we'd seen a week before.

It was not a league game. This was the Second Round of the Tier Two League Cup. It was a competition we could win and I went with a strong side.

And there were goals again. Chirk kicked things off again, their side getting forward en mass, much like they did a week before. It was hard to deal with. I actually felt for my defenders. Tomos Clarke and Luke Jones were having a torrid time deal with with it all. After Dale Davies made it 1-0 to Chirk I had Luke Steele try to help out more. The first half was quieter than last week and we went in 1-1 at half time thanks to another Les Davies goal, a header from a corner.

The second half was another Chirk vs Bangor goalfest and the sides exchanged goals to see it 3-3 at 90 minutes. Craig Whelan equalised from the penalty spot and Harry Galeotti came on to score our third equaliser of the game in the 76th minute. It was a wonderful goal as Harry picked the ball up on the halfway line, drove past the entire Chirk defence and slammed the ball in the back of the net. The keeper might have done better, but who am I to complain?

I was ready for penalties, or maybe just extra time. I never found out what would happen with the scores level. We got a corner in the 5th minute of stoppage time and Les Davies piled in to the box to make it 4-3. We'd done it to Chirk again.

 

We would play either Mold Alexandra in the Third Round, but not until December.

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Our super-sub! He can't cross so he just runs at defenders.

 

It was back to Cymru North action a week later and we welcomed relegated Airbus UK Broughton to our little ground by the sea. I thought this would be a tougher game. Liam Morris had been my first discontented player this month, coming to me to say he had wanted more first team game time. I'd started him in the first three games of October but he had failed to impress. Joe Sullivan had started the season in great form, but had dropped off. Iwan Roberts was young and needed time. Sullivan was back in against Airbus and I hoped he could get back to scoring ways.

Thatw as a convoluted way of saying I had poacher role problems. I neededn't have worried though as Les Davies continued to defy his age. The match against Airbus was his best game yet. We found ourselves 3-0 up at half time, Les Davies getting two, sandwiched around a Craig Whelan header on the half hour mark. Les was bullying the Airbus defence, with both his first half goals coming from in the box. Our wingers were finding their mark with their crosses.

The goal that signalled Les Davies' hattrick was the most archetypal number 9 goal one could see, Les rising above the defence to power his header home.

Airbus got a late consolation but it didn't really matter. We had just stuffed one of the division's favourites 4-1.

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With just a cup game to end the month, let's look at the league table. We sit nine points proud and I really can't believe things are going so well.

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So, just the one game to finish the month. It would see us welcome Cymru South side Taffs Well in the Quarter Final of the Cymru Premier League Cup, the Nathaniel MG Cup.

Taffs Well were languishing near the bottom of their division and we were strong favourites. After a slow start we got going on the half hour mark, Iwan Roberts stealing his way past the Taffs Well defence to slot home a poacher's finish. Luke Steele made it two just three minutes later with a rocket finish from outside the box. Taffs Well got one back before half time and my half time message was against complacency.

The game was all over by the 58th minute. Les Davies got another goal just four minutes after the break but Taffs Well pulled one back almost immediately. That seemed to buck the team up and two goals in seven minutes, from Daniel John and a first of the season from Tomos Clarke, made it 5-2 and a resounding position. The game fizzled out after that.

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Tomos got his first of the season in the cup.

The semi-final of the Nathaniel MG Cup would not be until January. Our opponent would be decided at a later date and would be either Llandudno or TNS. I expect it'll be TNS and that'll be a match that will tell us just how far behind we are. TNS are by far the best side in Wales.

 

How about Les Davies in October then? Nine goals.

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Nine Goal-Les!

 

Next...

November is all Cymru North. By December we'll be halfway through the season.

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I'm still surprised we're doing so well, but let's keep it going.

 

Transfers Edit

I completely forgot we signed two players in October. Morgan Davies is a 24 year old who's not had the most football. He's free and provides extra cover on the wings. He's not up to speed on fitness yet and hasn't started since joining on 4th October. That needs work.

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Luke Owen is the right full back I have wanted. Luke is a local lad and has played a bit of football for local teams. He's never played at this level but I believe he has the ability. Seven goals in 15 games for Llanfairpwll a few years ago is a great stat for a full back and something that suggests he is better than has been seen. Maybe his work gets in the way too.

Luke didn't join until late in the month but has already had a couple of sub appearances.

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Edited by anagain
Forgot transfers
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October Stat Pack

Les Davies has been our star man this month but the man to fill the role of his strike partner is very up in the air. Joe Sullivan looks best when he plays even if he has lost the knack for scoring he started the season with. Liam Morris had a chance to impress this month but failed to take it.

Daniel Cox showed he has conistency in him at the start of the month but injury forced him to miss the end of the month. Daniel John has become Less Davies favourite provider, I suspect. When Daniel is on fire his crosses are hard to deal with.

Our defence is pretty set. Ryan Maclean has made the left back role his own but Iolo Hughes may lose his position at right back to Luke Owen. I'd prefer someone able to get forward and link with Craig Whelan. That is not Iolo's game. Joe Culshaw is still not training as I'd like. I told him I can't accept that and we had a falling out.

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We continue to be outstanding in attack.

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We are way ahead on chances created.

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And Manager of the Month again...

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We finally get that A. I guess the board like goals.

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The fans still don't like Harry Hughes. Just drop it, guys. They're also not happy with the recent performances of Ben Owen or Jayden Major. Neither have played much. Have they been watching training games?

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Squad Stats for October

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To finish this October Statpack we'll take inspiration from Aled and Jimmy's suggestions of whom I should strive to manage. We'll look at the English Premier League as it stands. I always have one eye on my Cherries anyway.

It's been a mixed start for Bournemouth, with just one win from Andoni Iraola's first ten games. The Cherries are through to the Quarter Finals of the EFL Cup though. Liverpool are emulating our own record and are seven points clear. A 100% ten wins out of ten is a stunning start.

Erling Haaland is top scorer for a Manchester City side that keep drawing.

Manchester United are two points off the relegation places!

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Edited by anagain
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