This is the story of Stephen Smedley, or 'The Chief' as he is known for the local Sunday League club. A tough tackling, commander in the centre of the park, he is the player manager(albeit a self given role) of his band of rag-tag footballers but wants more from life.
By day he works in a menial office job, 9 til 5, Monday to Friday, playing 'Football Manager' whenever his boss isn't paying too much attention to him.
One day he gets bored of the monotony of life and decides he wants something new, something exciting. He wants to manage the English National Team. He tells his team mates around the bar after the hard fought win against the Nag's Head's band of All Stars (crediting himself with the victory), and he all gets is laughter and mockery from his team mates. No-one believes in him, no-body believes he has what it takes.
Stephen has now vowed to prove everyone wrong, standing atop the table, number 12 by the window to be precise, telling everyone who wants to hear that he will be taking England to World Cup glory. But at this time of the night everyone in the bar is already too drunk to pay attention to the fool's empty promises.
The Next Weeks (and Months)
Starting from the Tuesday after the incident at the bar, the Monday was a write-off he was suffering from such a headache which may or may not be a result of falling off the table the previous night, he began polishing up his CV, and detailing what he believes to be a wonderful covering letter, that he will be sending off to all Football Clubs up and down the Country hoping to get his foot in the door.
It wasn't until 4 or 5 months down the line when he got his first response, he had sent 100's of letters to football clubs, every time the manager got sacked or left his job, lately even when the manager wasn't performing well, informing the clubs hierarchy this wouldn't happen if he was in charge.
The response as somebody would probably imagine was only a paragraph long, no more no less, and it read,
Devastation hit, especially after Stephen saw that Harrogate had hired someone called 'Simon Weaver' no doubt Irving's Son he thought.
Is The Dream Over?
He couldn't be bothered anymore with this silly pipe dream, he saw himself now as the foolish person everyone else had been saying these past few months.
His performance at work had slipped recently too and on Friday morning he got called into the Boss's office. Stephen thought nothing of it, it would be a slap on the wrist, or at worst a written warning. He had one of those before, back when he used to turn up as when he felt, he got the work done he would tell the boss.
However, as he left the room at 9.51am that morning, that time now permanently etched in his mind, with the knowledge that he had been 'let go' in the words of the boss.
Devastation no longer described his feelings he was desolate, and alone, all he had at home was his pet Betta, not really something that would comfort him in his time of need. So he went to the pub, and ended up spending most of the weekend there, he was getting 3 months of severance pay so he was in no immediate rush to get a job.
The following Wednesday, after spending Monday and Tuesday on 'Football Manager' winning back to back Champions League titles with his Derby County squad now in 2025/26 season, he went to get his post from the hallway.
Bills and more bills, he begins to think he should begin looking for a new job when the last letter stick out to him, it doesn't look like a bill. Nonetheless he takes it all back to his flat and sits back on his dilapidated sofa and tears open the letters seeing how much he owes on his collection of credit cards.
Its not looking good, more money going out than he has coming in.
The last letter, however, is an invitation to an interview the following week at the newly promoted Histon FC. They admired his desire and drive, neither of which he personally felt he had had recently.
The interview was the following week, the day after his 26th birthday, Wednesday 7th June. He went out immediately to buy a new suit, made himself look smart, even bought a new red and black tie as these were the colours of Histons home shirt.
He researched the club night and day and felt as prepared for the interview as well as he could.
At the interview he saw another man leave just before him, twice his age, looked grumpy as could be possible. He wasn't feeling confident.
In the interview he was asked about coaching techniques, man management, tactical knowledge and he answered all the questions as thoroughly as he could, even bringing paperwork he had already done detailing tactics Histon had used the previous season in getting promoted.
The last question asked was if he wanted the job long term as the previous manager who got them promoted got his head turned by another team in the Vanarama North league, where Histon were now positioned. Stephen didn't tell him of his desire to manage England, or hopefully one day manage Derby County, he told the Chairman what he wanted to hear, that he was here for the long term, wanted prolonged success, wanted to see Histon enter the professional ranks of the Football League.
After he left the secretary told him he would hear back in the next few weeks and thanked him for turning up as some people didn't because they believed themselves 'too big' for Histon.
Stephen was now more excited than he had been since he received that PS2 for his 13th birthday. He rang his friends immediately and told them what had happened.
Nobody believed him, thought he was winding them up as he had been spending his time playing video games and not actively seeking work.
On the way home from Cambridgeshire his outdated Vauxhall Corsa broke down, sending up a smoke plume. Stephen wasn't especially superstitious but this felt like a bad omen if ever there was one.
He managed to get the number for a local mechanic and arranged for the car to get picked up and repaired, it wasn't cheap, Stephen wasn't a car man but it didn't sound like it was something that should be fixed cheaply.
Now with only £500 in savings after this expensive transaction, Stephen didn't plan any more potentially expensive trips such as this one.
After he managed to get home the following day, the repair took longer than thought and Stephen spent more money on a B&B for the night which didn't impress him, or his bank balance much, he thought he would find Histon on his trusty 'Football Manager' game.
On his save with Derby County, Histon were currently fighting relegation from the Vanarama North in 2027/28, he decided to up sticks and apply for them. The press on the game couldn't believe it, why would a multi-title winning manager of Derby County, who have been unbeaten in 2 seasons, want to join such a small club as Histon.
It didn't matter to him, it was just a game, something to pass the time. He had gone from a staff of 20+ at Derby county to having 6 part time members of staff at Histon. He decided to be more hands on, took most of the training himself, instilling his determination and work rate on the team.
After spending hours each day for the next week he took the relegation threatened Histon from the depths of Vanarama North to the top of the Premier League, feeling the high times of promotion as well as a few relegations and nearly going bankrupt in his third season whilst in the Vanarama National League. He and Histon survived however, and were thriving in the season 2039/40, it had taken him 13 seasons to accomplish this and was quite pleased with the outcome, however slightly disappointed in himself for spending so long on the game in just 7 days.
That's when he got the phone call.
It was Histons secretary, she said the Chairman would like to speak to him about his interview. Stephen was suddenly aware of how nervous he was, he felt the butterflies fluttering around in his stomach.
The wait felt eternal whilst the receptionist put him on hold, was it good news, why would the Chairman want to speak to him otherwise? Or did he find out that Stephen had lied in his interview, that he embellished some of the 'facts' that Stephen had told him.
He was now sweating and felt the air closing in around him.
That's when he realised the Chairman was on the phone,
'Stephen? Stephen are you there? It's Russell Hands. Are you alright there Stephen?'
He snapped back to the real world and responded. They had a bit of a conversation before Russell offered him the job.
Stephen couldn't believe his ears, only £550 per week, we're a bit tight financially at the moment it's all we can afford, he managed to mutter thats fine and they decided his first day would be June 24th.
This is it, thought Stephen, the real journey begins now.