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Everything posted by Amaroq

  1. Tuesday, 26th September, 2006. LDV Vans Trophy North - First Round, vs Rochdale. We'd beaten Rochdale in their stadium earlier this season, and they hadn't given us much trouble in that 1-0 victory, so I wasn't expecting real problems with a rested side in this match. It was a Tuesday evening, and a lesser competition, so we weren't expecting much in the way of attendance, but we'd been very tough at Bootham Crescent the last two seasons. My strongest XI returned to the pitch, well rested after ten days off. Alan Blayney stood in goal, with Joe Keenan, Liam Fontaine, Mark Wright, and Graeme Law across the back, Alan Navarro, Jon Paul McGovern, and John McGrath at midfield, Micah Richards and Robert Cousins the attacking midfielders, and Paul Edwards the lone striker. From the very beginning, we were the side in control, and Rochdale had their backs to the wall. In the 6th minute, Paul Edwards shot from 30 yards, and barely put it over, the shot just skimming the bar. Blayney made a fine save from Holt in the 7th, but then it was Edwards alone into the box, and Neil Cutler did brilliantly to tip his shot over the bar. Cutler saved McGovern's nineteen yard effort a minute later, and saved Wright's shot from the ensuing corner. After the tenth minute ended, our pressure slowed a bit, but Rochdale still weren't able to mount any attacks the other direction. In the 34th minute, Edwards came up the left wing, and sent a perfect cross over everyone to unmarked right wing Jon Paul McGovern. The Scotsman was just 12 yards out, and looked to have a sure goa, but somehow Cutler came up with the goal. In the 36th, he denied Robert Cousins' fine opportuntiy, but the pressure was on again. An incredible scramble in front of the Rochdale goal saw us get five chances in rapid succession, the best of which was Cousins' 15-yarder that beat Cutler but cannoned back off the cross bar. The 30-year-old keeper appeared unbeatable on the day. Ironically, it was a long ball by our goalkeeper Alan Blayney that caused him trouble in the 41st, as it was misplayed by right back Clarke. Cousins was there to capitalize, and rapidly dribbled into the area. Cutler rushed out, but Cousins coolly fired to the far post. Goal! His first-ever, and it gave us a 1-0 lead at halftime! A one-goal advantage was slim reward for outshooting the visitors 14-1, and we continued to push forward in the second half. In the 49th minute, Edwards broke through the defensive line and bore down on goal. Only an amazing save by Cutler kept Rochdale in the game. In the 55th minute, Micah Richards, who had had a quiet game to this point, played a nice forward ball. He'd spotted Edwards on a run that split two Rochdale defenders, and suddenly Edwards was clean through behind the defense. He was on the right side of the pitch, and cut his shot back for the lower-left corner from 16 yards. Cutler could do nothing about it, and Edwards' first goal for York gave us a 2-0 lead. It looked like we were in complete control, and Rochdale were growing frustrated, as attested by the fact that they took two yellow cards in the next five minutes. Perhaps that's why we grew complacent, but suddenly Simon Bull sent a pass ahead for Grant Holt. Holt dodged around Mark Wright, and suddenly he had a bit of space. Still 18 yards from goal, he laced a shot to the left post, and suddenly the margin was narrowed to 2-1. Another Edwards breakaway followed immediately, but again Cutler was able to deny our new signing. In the 67th minute, I brought Edwards off for young star Simon Roberts, who was eager for action, and I took out Mark Wright for Michael Staley. Wright had picked up a yellow, and I wanted to take no chances. Within two minutes, Joe Keenan sent a long pass forward to Robert Cousins. Ahead of him, Roberts was kept onside by the far side fullback as Rochdale's central defender challenged Cousins. He saw the opportunity, and played it forward ahead of Roberts. The speedy youth was free into the area, and with his confidence soaring was never going to miss, making it 3-1. That was Roberts' team-leading fifth goal of the season, and he almost added a sixth in the 75th minute. Captain Graeme Law's long ball put him free of the Rochdale back line yet again. He looked to have Cutler beaten, but this time he hit side netting from 12 yards out. After that, it was just a matter of defending. I brought Robert Cousins off in the 80th minute to a standing ovation from the crowd of 1,222. The last ten minutes went quietly, and we were through to the next round. York 3, Rochdale 1 Cousins 42, Edwards 56, Roberts 70; Holt 63 MoM: Cousins What a game from Robert Cousins! He certainly looked worth the transfer fee now, and in fact all three goals were from new players. It had been a solid victory, which should do wonders for our confidence, which had understandably suffered after two straight defeats. Sure, it was weak opposition in a lesser competition, but a win is a win, and our lads were celebrating in the locker room after.
  2. Monday, 25th September, 2006. "Mister Richards, I'm very concerned about your cholesterol." "What was it?" I was in the doctor's office, facing the music in the visit I'd promised Stacy. The doctor, a friendly, white-haired older gentleman, seemed likeable and trustable - and better, he'd listened to me, always an important trait! "Six point seven two." "What?" "6.72." I'd heard him right. It just sounded like he was crazy. "I'm sorry, isn't that .. impossible?" "No, its possible. Its just well above the desired level. I'd like to get you under five-point-two if we can." "Wait a moment, I'm used to cholesterol in terms like 150, 200, 300." "Oh, that's right, you're American. Uh, that would be .. miligrams per deca-liter, I think? We use moles-per-litre over here." "So what is it in .. American?" He hauled out a calculator from his desk. "Let me see.. That would be about 260." "Oh, that's not so bad. I have a family history of hypercholestemia(*)." "Parents?" "Yes, my dad's was 550 when he had his heart attack." "Oh, my condolences." "No, no, he's still alive. But it meant I got mine tested early, and it was 330 when I first had it tested. I've been bringing it down with a vegetarian diet." "Well, I'd like you to bring it down more. Diet alone can't do it, and you're, what, about sixty pounds overweight? You really ought to lose some weight, and exercise more. "I'm going to give you a perscription for Zocor, 40 miligrams, to take daily. There's a possible side effect.." "Yeah, the liver. I'm aware, my dad is taking it." "So you know you'll need regular blood draws, every three months or so, to monitor." (*- ed: Mister Richards presumably means hypercholesterolemia)
  3. Sunday, 24th September, 2006. I was given quite a bit of grief in today's papers for starting such a weak side, especially in light of the fact that I was clearly saving our strength for the non-prestigious LDV Vans Trophy. That, of course, is a minor tournament which our fans hardly care about, and the general consensus was that I had my priorities backwards. Following the match, Joe Foote left to join Guiseley, a small non-Conference side, on loan for three months. I had a number of conversations going about bringing in other loan players who could provide depth at attacking midfield with him absent, Theodore Whitmore was due back in a month, and Guiseley had agreed that I could terminate the deal if I needed to - but for a brief period, it would leave me with only two attacking midfielders, both recent acquisitions who were relatively untried.
  4. Saturday, 23rd September, 2006. League Two - Game 9, at Scunthorpe United. A visit to 23rd-placed Scunthorpe, a clear relegation battler who had scored merely four goals in 8 matches thus far, followed. The side had been reasonable last season, qualifying for the playoffs with a seventh-placed finish, but had struggled mightily this season. They're a natural rival for York town, located a short distance south-east of us, just south of the River Humber, and their fans, at least, were up for this match. I selected a significantly under-strength side, resting many of our key players in preparation for our upcoming Vans Trophy match, and instead selecting a number of young players from our Reserve side. Paul Carruthers would make his professional debut in goal. Joe Keenan anchored the back line with Michael Staley. Jamie Cooper had his first senior match of the season at centre back, and would be captain, while Mark Dixon made his professional debut at right back. The defensive midfielder was Ian Bannister, making his York debut, with speedy loanee Phil Townley at left wing and 16-year-old Richard Fox in his York debut on the right. Joe Foote and Micah Richards were paired in the attacking midfield roles, while Jon Shepherd was the striker. All told, the entire squad was 19 or younger with the exception of Joe Keenan, and five players were making their first York appearance of the year. Perhaps hoping to solve their goalscoring woes, or perhaps hoping to take advantage of our weakened lineup, Scunthorpe came out for the opening kickoff with a 4-2-4 formation, stacking four forwards on our young back line. This kept my young squad on their back foot, and only eighty seconds in, Carruthers had to make a diving lunge to his right to clear Steve Basham's header away. Twice around the ten minute mark, striker Jack Watkins - on loan from Chelsea! - sent shots embarassingly wide of the York net, and though Scunthorpe were controlling play, I was lulled into a sense of security. Then Nicky Heywood dribbled past young Dixon on the left wing, and crossed in for Basham. He tried to shoot with a beautiful pivot, his left foot at full extension. It looked great, but the ball played him rather than the other way around. It came in past his foot, and kicked off of his right knee - the planted leg! It carombed crazily into the corner of the net, an impossible bounce for Carruthers to defend and a bizarre goal for Scunthorpe. Nonetheless, the Glandford Park crowd of 2,129 went delirious: they'd had so few goals to celebrate, and a lead over their rivals was heady stuff! In the 18th minute, Carruthers tipped a Watkins header over from 7 yards away, or it could have been 0-2. We began to mount some counter-attacks, but the 4-2-4 was still troubling our lads, who felt they had to defend constantly. In the 35th minute, Andrew Fox put one over from 20 yards. In the 40th, Watkins hit the post, and then at the other end, Fox raced unmarked into the box, but somehow managed to golf it over from close range. It wasn't working for us: the 4-2-4 was bedevilling my young lineup, and I had to make a change. At halftime, I moved Joe Keenan up to defensive midfielder, shifting to a 3-5-2 with two defensive midfielders. I told the wings to ignore the Scunthorpe forwards lurking behind them and go forward when we had the ball. It was counter-intuitive, and I got odd looks from the players as I described what I wanted, but it generated instant results. Without a real midfield, Scunthorpe couldn't get the ball forward to their four attackers, and we always seemed to outnumber them on our attack. In the 52nd minute, Phil Townley got free in the area, but his shot from the left wing was pushed wide by Saul Deeney. In the 55th minute, Deeney saved one medium-range shot from Jon Shepherd, and a minute later it was Shepherd again. This time the save looked bound for Micah Richards, but Nathan Stanton's desperation clear took it off the attacking midfielder's foot. With time slipping away, I brought on John McGrath and Simon Roberts, two stalwarts who should help our attacking game. To my astonishment, Scunthorpe continued to play their 4-2-4 all the way through the match, leaving us with plenty of 5-on-4, 7-on-4, and 7-on-6 rushes. McGrath fed an unmarked Richards in the 74th, but he blazed it over the bar from 15 yards. In the 80th minute, Mark Dixon's free kick from the right sideline put Roberts free into the Scunthorpe area, but Deeney made a great save from close range. Townley followed that with a great through ball that put Roberts behind the defense, but for the first time the youngster let us down, putting it over. It was a frustrating miss, and the youthful side were losing their patience. In injury time, when a call went against them, captain Jamie Cooper argued the call with referee Joe Taylor, who showed him a yellow card, then a red card. He blew full time as soon as a York player touched the ball following the restart, and that was it. Scunthorpe 1, York 0 Basham 15; ---- MoM: Deeney (Scunthorpe GK) It was a character-building loss for our youngsters, playing against an odd formation, on the road, and battling on after conceding a bizarre goal. I was very disappointed with Jamie Cooper for losing his cool - with his influence among the other youngsters and usual composure, I'd been playing him as captain of the Reserves, hoping to groom him towards a captaincy of the senior side in four to five seasons, and his display of temper gave me second thoughts about that plan.
  5. Wednesday, 20th September, 2006. On Sunday, Nick McDonald was the Man of the Match in a 0-0 draw between a mostly-amateur York Reserve sside and Accrington Reserves. The match was most noticeable for some awful refereeing, which saw numerous yellow cards awarded, plus two red cards that saw the match end as a ten-on-ten affair. Still, a point from the draw put York Reserves top of the Reserve Group 6 table. Through the early part of the week, I entertained numerous offers for the players I had put up for sale or loan. The biggest news on that was that League One side Stockport County had made an offer of £30,000 for 23-year-old attacking midfielder Ryan Ashington, our active career leader in goals-scored. For that price, I decided to let him go: he was unhappy playing as much as he had on the backup's wages I'd originally signed him to, but I didn't feel he was progressing enough, playing well enough, or talented enough to raise his salary to the level commanded by a Tappa Whitmore, which is what he was demanding. His play last year certainly supported his demands, but I just don't feel that he's making the jump up to League play well. At the Conference level, he had plenty of time to uncork those brilliant long-range shots, but at the League level, he doesn't seem to create any separation from the defense. With somebody in his face for every shot, he's really struggled to threaten the net. We only saw £24,000 of the transfer moneys thanks to a 20% sell-on clause I'd agreed when I purchased him from Lancaster last July, but it was a fine profit for everyone involved: for Lancaster, a total of £7,000 from a player they'd acquired on a free, for York a net profit of £23,000, and for Ashington the quality of contract his play last season had earned him. Win-win-win, I'd say! Ryan Ashington, AMC, 23: July 2005-September 2006: 2 seasons, 48 games, 16 goals, 4 assists, 6 MoM, 7.23 Another deal sent speedy youngster Daryl Peters to fellow League Two side Walsall for £12,000. He'd been with the club for over a year, and though he'd shown some reasonable improvement overall, he remained utterly abysmal - barely of professional standard - at his first touch, finishing, and off the ball runs. Daryl Peters, AMLC, 17: August 2005-September 2006: 2 seasons, 10 games, 1 goals, 6.70 With a senior Cup match coming up on the 26th, I'd decided to save my regular Reserve players for the League match on the 23rd, which left a nearly all-amateur side again to face Carlisle Reserves. They were already trailing 2-0 when Jamie Withe was sent off, and the final tally was 4-0 - I could only hope that sort of shellacking wouldn't negatively affect Colin Hart, as the 15-year-old had played well in goal no matter what the scoreline claimed. We further trimmed the wage bill at week's end by loaning out Malcolm Parker to tiny Ossett Town, down in the Northern Premier League. They would pay his salary for three months, which was all I could hope for.
  6. Saturday, 16th September, 2006. League Two - Game 8, vs Cambridge United. Ninth-placed Cambridge came to Bootham Crescent on Saturday, and their offense, fifth-best in the League, should be a real test for Alan Blayney's three-match shutout streak. They run a 4-5-1 as well, but it has a very flat structure in midfield, five across, with three of the five pushing forward to support the attack when they have the ball. Its different from the standard 4-4-2 we've seen all year, and judging from their results its effective. They also include three players that our scouts have been watching, plus former York goalkeeper Tony Caig, who started in net. The back half of my lineup was very stable, with Alan Blayney, Joe Keenan, Liam Fontaine, Mark Wright, Graeme Law, and Alan Navarro compirising the league's best defense. On the wings, Jon Paul McGovern returned to the starting lineup for the first time since his injury, opposite John McGrath. The attacking midfielders were my new pairing of Robert Cousins and - in his first ever competitive match - young Micah Richards. Up top, Paul Edwards made his York debut at striker. The referee called a strict match, and his whistle brought to a halt a number of moves - it was tough to get any rhythm going in the first 20 minutes. We looked to have a golden chance in the 25th when Richards's low pass put Cousins into the box between the Cambridge central defenders, but just before he could shoot, fullback Keith McCormack tackled it out for a corner. Late in the first half, Paul Edwards had his first chance for York, and dribbled around Tony Caig, but did it slowly enough that Caig had time to dive back and push the shot out for a corner. By the time halftime was blown for, there had been only five shots, and the crowd - a season high of 3,134 - were growing restless. In the 50th minute, Joe Keenan's precise long pass picked out an unmarked Edwards. He raced into the box, and shot from twelve yards, but Caig blocked it. The resultant deflection looked bound for the far corner, but trickled just wide of the post. Cambridge's best chances were two long shots by Neil McCafferty, who put them both over. Both managers started making substitutions up front, hoping to shake things up. Cambridge brought on striker John Turner in the 62nd, who I'd had my scouts watching these past four months, and had been one of the candidates to bring in in place of Levent Yalcin. For us, Edwards and Cousins gave way to Ryan Ashington and Simon Roberts - met with a great cheer - in the 66th minute. It took young Roberts only a minute to force a save from Tony Caig. In the 72nd minute, he showed his creativity with a great play up the left wing, sucking a fullback and a central defender towards him, then passing right for Micah Richards in the vacated area. Richards, who had been unimpressive all afternoon, launched a rocket to the top-right corner, but somehow Caig managed to tip it over. At 75 minutes, it was Turner with a dangerous 10-yard header, but he put it high and wide of the York goal. Yet again, we were in a match that could tip either way on a single play with ten minutes to play. Ashington tried his luck with a tremendous 25-yard cannon to the lower-left corner. Caig pushed it away, and Roberts looked set to capitalize on the rebound, but again McCormack made a fantastic last-moment challenge to knock it away. The 17-year-old was playing a tremendous game at right back for Cambridge. In the 82nd minute, Cambridge came the other way, with Cameroon central midfielder Kingsley Mbome receiving a pass in a threatening position about thirty yards from goal, our back four just a step into the area. Rather than leaving Mbome for defensive midfielder Alan Navarro, Liam Fontaine came out to play him. Mbome passed to McCafferty at the top of the arc, and he played a one-touch pass to the space Fontaine had vacated, where John Turner was making a perfectly timed run. With an incredible amount of space, Turner had an easy finish, and we trailed 0-1 with just 8 minutes to play. Of course I started to push forward, moving to our desperation 3-5-2 and letting Joe Keenan try his hand as a winger rather than a fullback. It was not to be, however - just after the 85th minute, Andy Duncan took a Cambridge free kick from the centre circle. He played it straight up the pitch, where Turner and Fontaine were isolated about 25 yards from goal. Turner outjumped Fontaine, and looped a header up and over Alan Blayney, who had come out to the spot. Blayney and Fontaine could only watch in despair as it bounced once and then into the net, Turner's second goal to cement an 0-2 final score. York 0, Cambridge 2 ----; Turner 82, 86 MoM: Caig (Cambridge GK) The large crowd trudged out of Bootham Crescent disappointed, and there was a lot of complaint about the refereeing in the York dressing room. I didn't agree - the players clearly think we're a bit better than we are. We hadn't finished our chances, Tony Caig had played very well in his return to Bootham Crescent, and Turner had schooled Fontaine. It was a simple as that. 17-year-old fullback Keith McCormack, on the other hand, was another matter: I couldn't see what he was doing down at League Two. Surely a Premiership side or two should be taking notice of the Irishman, but I added him to my shortlist anyways. If I find myself with any sort of transfer budget at all, I'd love to see him in red!
  7. Its always fun trying to explain bugs or missing features, like signing a grey player, with a reasonable in-story explanation.
  8. Friday, 15th September, 2006. With the acquisition of Cousins, I made the decision to trim two of my attacking midfielders off the roster, and started the process of seeing what I could get in return for Joe Foote, Daryl Peters, or Ryan Ashington. The latter, in particular, had suffered a significant drop in performance. I couldn't tell if that was a result of the jump up in division or his unhappiness with his contract, but failing to perform on the pitch while asking for a raise is never the best of strategies. I also placed defensive midfielder Malcolm Parker on the transfer list: I'd always intended to move him once I had another competent defensive midfielder, and I felt 16-year-old Ian Bannister fit that bill. Friday night, Colin Hart was again Man of the Match for the York U-18's, as a mostly-amateur side defeated Morecambe 2-0 on goals by amateur strikers Chris Simpson and James Smart. I tried to talk Simpson out of his amateur status - he's certainly been scoring plenty of goals for us this season - but he explained how he has to take care of his sick mum, and between that and working to pay her bills, he really can't afford to dedicate the time to a professional football career. Its a shame, but I can see why he has to make that decision. Twice this week, I've received amusing reports from my scouts, detailing more information about the players I'd signed back in August, each prefaced with a "Well, I guess you won't be needing this, but I thought I'd send it along.." note.
  9. Wednesday, 13th September, 2006. The conspiracy theorists notwithstanding, Jon Shepherd had only suffered a bruised thigh, and would be fit to return to duty by our next match on the 16th of Steptember, and possibly even in time for our next Reserve match on the 13th. Brutally hard tackling by the Boston United U-18 side saw them injure four of our players, accepting a red card and numerous yellows, to earn a 0-0 draw on Sunday. Our goalkeeper, Colin Hart, was Man of the Match. Ahead of him, the squad couldn't get off a single shot on target, leaving him to do most of the work. Of the four injuries, only 16-year-old fullback Kevin West's injury would keep him out for more than a day or two, and he'd be back by the following weekend. Mid-week, the Champions League started. Tuesday, in Group A, Newcastle United were on the road against Hungarian side Ferencvaros, and won 2-0, keeping pace with Real Madrid, who beat Weder Bremen by the same scoreline. In Group D, Arsenal slaughtered Dinamo Bucharest 8-0 to the delight of the Highbury fans, six of the goals coming in the second half after Bucharest were reduced to ten men. That gave them a clear group lead over Fenerbahce, who had defeated PSV Eindhoven 3-1. Wednesday's matches saw Chelsea eke out a 1-0 win at Sportni Park in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, keeping pace with Maccabi Haifa, who had continued their amazing Champions League run with a 1-0 victory over Valencia. In Group F, Liverpool held a one-goal lead over Roma when a red card and a late injury reduced the Italian side to nine men; Liverpool added two more goals to make the final 3-0. Swiss side Basel stunned Ajax 2-1 in the Alps to take second in the group. In our Reserve league, it was an unfortunate first half for the York Reserves in Hartlepool, as left back Adam Eckersley was injured, and winger Richard Fox was sent off for arguing a call, leaving them with ten men. The defense held tight, however, and in the second half Daryl Peters scored on a deflected free kick, and Jon Shepherd, back from his bruised thigh, scored on a counter-attack, bringing them a surprising 2-0 victory. Central defender Jamie Cooper was Man of the Match. Eckersley's injury turned out to be a strained calf which would keep him out for the rest of September.
  10. Saturday, 9th September, 2006. League Two - Game 7, at Torquay United. Torquay is on the Devonshire coast, the sout-west peninsula of England, on the English Channel side, south of Exeter and north of Dartmouth. They have only one victory all season, so its unlikely that either fans or players had much hope of beating us. Its about as long a drive as we'll make all season to get there, and we'd actually driven down Friday evening to avoid the cramped-legs-coming-off-the-bus syndrome. After ten days of rest, our starting XI was in very good shape. Alan Blayney remained in goal, with Joe Keenan, Liam Fontaine, Mark Wright, and captain Graeme Law left-to-right across the back four. Alan Navarro was the defensive midfielder, with John McGrath on the left wing and Phil Townley on the right side. The attacking midfield included new signing Robert Cousins debuting alongside free-kick specialist Ryan Ashington. Despite the fine performances of young Roberts, Jon Shepherd started at striker. The match had a very strange start, as perhaps seven minutes in Jon Shepherd and Michael Keane slid for the same ball, colliding heavily. Shepherd was too injured to continue, but Keane was also taken out - with no apparent injury, and no yellow card. Conspiracy theorists in the Yorkshire press would argue afterwards that Keane had been ordered to injure Shepherd, but would Torquay really have wanted me to bring on young Simon Roberts so early? The York fans had been clamouring to see him in action over a full match, and now they would get their chance to see him for 80 minutes at least. The Gulls had the best of chances before the half-hour. Torquay left winger Kevin Hill sent a beautiful cross in for Jo Kuffour in the box. Kuffour outleaped Mark Wright to get a head on it, but put it over. A few minutes later, Martin Gritton found space in the box, missed badly, well wide with a left-footed shot. In the 25th miunte, Gritton rose to place a wicked header to the top-right corner, but Alan Blayney got up to tip it over! Our chances came near the end of the half, when Cousins, in his York City debut, broke into the area. Woods was the last man, and made a fine tackle to prevent him from getting the shot off. Half our bench thought it was a penalty, but that might just be wishful thinking: we were sixty yards away. In the 45th, Cousins fed Roberts with a beautiful pass that got the young striker to the spot with no challenge, but he blazed the shot over. In injury time, Martin Phillips sent a beautiful long cross over for Hill on the left wing. 3,347 fans began to cheer in excited anticipation, but somehow Hill put his shot high from the corner of the 6-yard box and turned their cheers to groans: it would stay scoreless at halftime. I made no changes. In the 53rd minute, Alan Navarro sent a long low pass forward from the midfield circle, finding Roberts, who slipped past one defender and into the area. He dribbled around goalkeeper Alan Main to create an open goal, but he didn't put enough on his shot! Main was able to scramble back in time to push it wide. It looked like anybody's game, as in the 57th minute Phillips just narrowly missed, and then Ashington broke the offsides trap with a fantastic chance, but Main denied him. It was too close a contest to risk a more attacking formation, and I was getting to the point where I'd actually be happy with a draw. Then, in the 68th minute, Phil Townley took a throw-in from the right side of the Torquay half. He made a long throw to Roberts, who was just inside the corner of the penalty area with his back to goal. He chest-trapped it, but before he could turn, Alex Russell clipped him from behind. It wasn't much contact, but the youngster is so much smaller than the hard man that he went sprawling. Though the fans bemoaned their fate, referee Tony Horton wasted no time pointing to the spot - penalty!! Navarro stepped up confidently, and buried the spot-kick to the top-left corner. It was his first ever goal for York, and gave us a 1-0 lead. I brought on Joe Foote and Alan Eckersley as substitutes, and pulled back to a very defensive outlook. This doesn't stop my three attacking players from looking for goals, but I did make it clear that the other seven outfield players should concentrate on defense rather than venturing forward. In the 75th minute, Ashington's pass put Foote to the edge of the area. He shot from the edge of the box, and Main saved it, but the rebound looked to be heading back out to Roberts. Just before the youngster could shoot, Jermaine Darlington sliced the ball clear. In the 83rd minute, Navarro, from the forward edge of the centre circle sent a long ball forward for Roberts. The striker had beaten both central defenders, and though he looked offsides, he was actually held on by both fullbacks. He couldn't control it with his first touch, but Main misplayed it as well, and suddenly the speedy sixteen-year-old was past the keeper with nothing but open net in front of him. His team-leading fourth goal made it 2-0, and from there it was a simple matter to weather the half-hearted effort Torquay gave in the final ten minutes. Torquay 0, York 2 ----; Navarro pen 69, Roberts 84 MoM: Ashington The lads were quite content with a 2-0 victory, and those who had made the trip celebrated with those who had played afterwards. For myself, I saw that we'd played a weak opponent, but had given them plenty of chances in a close game which had turned on a very soft penalty - hardly a convincing performance.
  11. Wednesday, 6th September, 2006. We got back Wednesday, just in time for the Reserves match. Ironically, given that we'd soon face their senior side, it was Rochdale Reserves who came to Bootham Crescent. We had a an unusually strong side, as a number of first-team regulars were 'ringers' on the day. New signings Paul Edwards and Micah Richards there to gain match fitness, Jon Paul McGovern was in on a rehabilitation assignment, and several others who had been seeing first-team time were selected. Michael Staley was one of these, there just to keep himself in match rhythm as I didn't anticipate starting him on Saturday, and he scored the first goal on a McGovern corner kick just forty-five seconds after kick-off. Right before halftime, I saw a combination I hoped to see much much more of: McGovern's aerial cross headed in by Edwards - a thing of beauty! In the 70th minute, the winger got his third assist, feeding Richards in the area for a 3-0 final, and McGovern deservedly earned Man of the Match honours for his strong performance. The only downside was an injury to Malcolm Parker: he'd sprained his wrist in the first half and come out at halftime, and would miss at least a week. It would give Ian Bannister a chance to show what he's made of, I suppose. The other matches for the day were the first games of European Championship qualifying. In Group 1, Spain demolished Estonia 7-0!!! to take the early lead. Ireland looked uncomfortable away to Bulgaria, but did secure a 1-1 draw on Robbie Keane's goal. Turkey sat atop Group 3 after a 3-0 victory over Scotland: the Scots looked disorganized and flustered in the face of the hostile Istanbul crowd, and never got any sort of rhythm going. Wales were in complete control against Northern Ireland, romping to a 3-0 victory in Cardiff. That's got them atop Group 9, but they've a tough draw that includes Italy. A 2-0 victory over Russia sat the Azzuri in second. England had a home match against Denmark at Wembley. They got off to a shaky start, conceding a sixth minute goal to Thomas Gravesen. After that, however, England dominated posession, controlling the ball for most of the match. They equalized before halftime through Wayne Rooney. Two goals in a three-minute span at the 71st minute thanks to Shaun Wright-Phillips and Andrew Johnson put them ahead, and a late own-goal by the Danes made the final score a convincing 4-1. The Three Lions led Group 7, but its early days yet.
  12. Tuesday, 5th September, 2006. Four glorious days off! I'd left the side in Viv's hands, and let my wife take me to Wales for my birthday. I'm sure you don't care for details of our holiday, but we did have two long conversations. In the first, she extracted a promise that I go see a doctor - its been over two years since we left the States, and I haven't gotten in for a physical. That natural male resistance to it, I suppose; I hadn't even realized I was doing it. The other was about my stress level: Stacy remained concerned that the job is eating me alive, with all the long hours, and pointed out that our relationship was really wilting for lack of conversation. I guess I do tend to get home exhausted, and her schoolwork has kept her busy as well. Maybe if I hadn't focused so extensively on the World Cup, things would feel different, but .. its the World Cup! Unvoiced by either of us, the spectre of divorce haunted the conversation. Some things you just can't fix with success on the pitch.
  13. Saturday, 2nd September, 2006. The amount of work the last week and a half of August had been, constantly calling managers, players, and agents, had been entirely too exhausting, and I was quite looking forward to putting my heels up on my desk and letting my coaches and captains settle the new players in. Maybe I'll even see my wife this week! Imagine that! One piece of work I did was the monthly review of our players' training progress with Viv. Our defensive midfielders were the ones showing the most improvement: Alan Navarro and Malcolm Parker both took big strides forwards, though it mainly put them both back up to the point they'd been four months earlier. July signing Jon Shepherd was responding very well to our training regime, and Jamie Cooper continued his meteoric improvement. Kevin Butler, on loan, was showing more improvement than he had here in camp - obviously competitive football was what he needed. Graeme Law and Adam Eckersley both made small gains that put them at their best-ever shape. Some big names were stagnant: Ryan Ashington, despite his contractual demands, was showing no improvement over the past six months, and Liam Fontaine wasn't improving either. Joe Foote still seems to have reached his peak, and with two new attacking midfielders in camp, I imagine he'll go on the transfer list. Two young fullbacks, Mark Dixon and Kevin West, were being overworked, so I placed them on a less stressful training regime. Of most concern was Viv's report that big goalkeeper signing Alan Blayney was not training as hard as he should do. The rest of the coaching staff agreed: though only 24, he had taken a step backwards, and was in fact worse today than he had been the day we'd signed him, losing ground in almost every physical department. That's very distressing, and I may find myself tweaking my goalkeeper training to put some more physical workouts into it. In other news, Saturday afternoon was the draw for the first round of the LDV Vans Trophy North. This competition includes sides from the Conference, League Two, and League One. We drew a home match against fellow League Two side Rochdale, dodging the twelve League One clubs amongst the 28 teams.
  14. Friday, 1st September, 2006. The board remained delighted with my performance on the pitch - we hadn't been expected to do more than battle relegation, but with four wins from six matches, we found ourselves in sixth place, which would merit a playoff berth if we could hold on to it. I did receive jocular chastisement from Sophie McGill for immediately blowing the entire transfer-budget windfall that I'd been granted from the sale of Levent Yalcin, and incidentally blowing the club's wage bill well beyond the budget she'd laid out. I asked, equally light-heartedly, how I was supposed to 'rebuild the squad' without signing a few players, and demended to know if she'd rather I give any of them back. She avowed that no, they probably needed to season for a few years. I could see her point, though - despite the tremendous income from selling Yalcin, which the board had kept half of, we'd only managed a profit of £45,000 for the month. My my spending had put us right back to break even. Our wage bill, in particular, was enormous, fully £175,000 per-annum over the £450,000 limit which she'd set: we were likely to loose money unless I could slash that to some extent. Ian McAndrews spoke next, and said that after discussing the investment in Robert Cousins with the other board members, they wished to instruct me to value the young attacking midfielder at £1.3M, if any teams should come calling. If he could truly fetch that on the open market, it would represent quite a return on our £50,000 investment! Terry Doyle is the Director in charge of merchandising and sales. He noted that the fans are delighted at Nick McDonald's signing, and feel he is definitely one for the future. The Club Shop, he reported, has had lots of kids asking for the name McDonald to be put on the back of their shirts, such is the youngster's growing reputation. I'm a bit surprised its not Cousins the supporters fancy, to be honest. Jon Paul McGovern, just returned to the training ground after the completion of treatment for his groin injury, was nonetheless voted third in the League Two Player of the Month voting for his performances in the early half of the month. He'd surely have earned the award outright, I told him, had he not come injured. Young left wing Adam Corbett also made his return to training after surgery, and should be back to full strength by October.
  15. Thursday, 31st August, 2006. <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">York Sign Six At Deadline Ian Richards went on a tremendous shopping spree at the transfer deadline, re-investing fully £134,000 of the fee York City received for Levent Yalcin to revamp the squad. The headline acquisition, of course, was yesterday's acquisition of 17-year-old midfielder Robert Cousins, a widely regarded prospect from Welsh side Newport County. Though he had played just six matches for the Exiles, he impressed with a goal and two assists, and for a season-high transfer fee of £50,000, he will be expected to slot into Ian Richards' starting lineup alongside Ryan Ashington. The other player expected to make an immediate impact is striker Paul Edwards, brought in for £40,000. The leading scorer for Ithsmian Premier League side Hitchin Town last season, with 15 goals, the 23-year-old provides an aerial target for wingers Jon Paul McGovern and John McGrath, which had been sorely lacking previously. Cousins is also good in the air, which should instantly make the Minstermen more threatening on corners and free kicks. The other four transfers were young prospects for the future, who shouldn't be expected to start immediately. The most promising of these is versatile winger Richard Fox, 16, who was brought in from fellow League Two side Walsall for a fee of £24,000. He impressed in five appearances late last year, scoring his first career goal, and turns seventeen in October. He is expected to spend most of the season on the substitutes' bench, as a backup who can play either side. The other three players should see only sporadic action this season. Mid Wales League club Rhayader Town have been struggling against bankruptcy, and that allowed Richards to sign goalkeeper Nick McDonald for well under his true value. The lad has lots of promise, and manager John Morris was reportedly hard-pressed to sell him, but £10,000 will pay the club's bills for another two months, and in the end that proved more important than success on the pitch. McDonald celebrated his 17th birthday by signing a contract with the Minstermen, but will have to battle a corps of young goalkeepers already established at the club. Ian Bannister, a 16-year-old defensive midfielder, was purchased from from Welsh First Division side Ely Rangers for £10,000. He is expected to pressure Malcolm Parker for the limited action available as Alan Navarro's backup. The final signing was attacking midfielder Micah Richards, who has impressed on trial with some good performances in the Under-18's. </div></BLOCKQUOTE> SC Paul Edwards, 23, English: 42 games, 15 goals, 0 assists, 2 MoM, 6.79, for Hitchin Town, non-League - Hitchin's leading scorer last season, I expect him to become our first-choice striker - he'll wear the coveted number 9. He's reasonably quick, but has excellent stamina and teamwork, and very good aerial skills. He can finish both from close range and long, and he shows flair and creativity with the ball. He's definitely an improvement over Yalcin up front, and I expect he should settle straight in. AM RL Richard Fox, 16, English: 5 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 5.80, for Walsall, League Two - I look for three things in a young winger: pace, crossing and dribbling. This youngster has those attributes, plus incredible anticipation and very good concentration. His decision making, first touch, and ability to shoot from range are also reasonable, he seems very trainable in other areas. With our shortness at winger, it seemed wise to bring in another one, and Spencer thinks Fox has a tremendous upside for the long term. GK Nick McDonald, 17, English: 28 games, 29 conceded, 3 clean sheets, 6.36 for Rhayader, Mid-Wales League - No single attribute truly stands out for this talented goalkeeper, but he has plenty of potential. I particularly liked his concentration, decision-making, and anticipation, all well developed for such a young player. He celebrated his 17th birthday by signing with us. I didn't expect him to challenge Blayney right away, but he should certainly make things crowded for Carruthers and Butler. D/DM C Ian Bannister, 16, English: 36 games, 2 goals, 6.44, for Ely Rangers, Wales First Division - Another player who is solid all around, this youngster has the pace, positioning, and fitness to fill the defensive midfield role in our usual tactic. I'm particularly impressed with his composure, though he could use some work on his anticipation and decision-making. He's currently out for about a week with a strained wrist, but should be back to full health by our next Reserve match. AM RC Micah Richards, 17, English: Schoolboy - A determined and hard-working player, he doesn't have the explosive pace that Cousins brings, and his concentration wanders, but other than that he is reasonably well equipped, and provides some more depth which had been sorely lacking from our attacking midfield. All in all, the sale of Levent Yalcin had been enough for us to bring in six talented young players, two of whom would be immediate starters. As the transfer deadline closed, I had to consider myself well satisfied with our moves.
  16. Wednesday, 30th August, 2006. The deal I'd been working towards since selling Levent Yalcin was finally completed this evening, just one day before the transfer deadline. Newport County attacking midfielder Robert Cousins was Spencer Field's most highly rated prospect, and we signed him for "just" £50,000 - the most I've ever spent on a single player! AM C Robert Cousins, 17, English: 6 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, for Newport County, non-League - A solid player all around, fast, strong, with incredible concentration, this promising midfielder has all the tools necessary to develop into a Premier-League quality player. He's been on my short list for a year, and demanded 'key player' status before he'd agree to join, but he looks well worth it. I'm particularly impressed with his decision-making, and he has everything I could think of for my attacking midfield role: he can pass, he can get up to win headers, and he has the creativity to spark other players. I feel like I've acquired a promising young version of Tappa Whitmore - in fact, Tappa himself got down to see the lad play, and added his recommendation to the high praise of Spencer Field and Dave Colley. Cousins arrived at the club in time to make today's trip to Crawley with the Reserve side, and played in 80 scoreless minutes. He led the side in shots, but struggled to find the target. The match's only goal was an in injury time shocker by amateur James Smart, who intercepted a wayward backpass at the near post, tapping it in ahead of the unlucky Crawley goalkeeper. Young fullback Mark Dixon injured his foot during the 1-0 match, which would keep him out for most of our upcoming week-and-a-half layoff.
  17. Tuesday, 29th August, 2006. League Two - Game 6, vs Kidderminster. Despite the rampant transfer speculation and intense negotiations on my part over the last five days, there were still no changes in the York squad by the time of our Tuesday evening match. Fortunately, it was against the 23rd-placed Kidderminster Harriers, a side whose defense was conceding more than three goals per game this season. They'd come 11th last season, but without a dramatic turnaround they looked relgation-bound this year. Luckily for us, every assist they'd had all season came through right wing Glen Little, on loan from Reading, and he would miss today's match with a broken nose. We needed that luck: with more injuries, and more exhaustion, my lineup was in the classic "okay, who do we got?" style common to a rec-league manager. We'd have ten days off after the match, and it was clear just how much we needed that break already. Alan Blayney remained in goal, with Joe Keenan, Liam Fontaine, Michael Staley, and Graeme Law his back four. Alan Navarro has been a stalwart defensive midfielder, and Adam Eckersley got a fill-in start at left wing opposite Phil Townley. Daryl Peters would start with Ryan Ashington up front, and Jon Shepherd again lined up at striker. It was another crisp, cold evening at Bootham Crescent, and 1,759 fans had shown up to cheer us on. Kidderminster came out in a very vanilla 4-4-2, and though they kicked off, it took us only 47 seconds to get posession and spring Jon Shepherd free on a breakaway. Goalkeeper John Danby made the first of many saves on the evening to tip it over. Speedy attacking midfielder Daryl Peters had a similar breakaway in the 2nd minute with the same result, and then Phil Townley's long ball sprang Shepherd in the 3rd. He put his effort wide. In the sixth, Ryan Ashington's 20-yard free kick went just wide, and then Peters hit side netting from sixteen yards. Could we keep up this shot-a-minute pace for ninety minutes? The answer was no, in part because Kidderminster fell back into an even more defensive stance, dropping their midfielders back to help defend, and abandoning any real pretense of threatening to counter. This slowed our onslaught, and the Harriers even had a few chances of their own, three times earning free kicks, each of which were deflected wide by our wall. Halftime came and went, still scoreless, and it remained that way through the 60th minute. I'd seen enough of our conservative tactic, and made the change to start sending our wings and fullbacks forward. I also brought off Shepherd, and as Simon Roberts took the field, the crowd roared their approval in the loudest cheer of the evening. In the 71st minute, Roberts's effort from 18 yards was saved by Danby, but in the 72nd a lovely ball by substitute John McGrath played Roberts free of the defenders. He dribbled around Danby, and fired, but his shot hit the side of the net. In the 74th minute, Ashington played it to the youngster in mid-park. A quick touch, and Roberts burst past central defender Peter Ramage, racing free of the defense. From 18 yards out, the sixteen-year-old shot to the lower-left corner, beating Danby, and making it 1-0!! It was his third goal in two games! The crowd were still mid-celebration, and Kidderminster were trying to adjust to an attacking stance for the first time in the match, when Roberts took control in mid-field. Playing provider, he dribbled up the left, and then found winger Adam Eckersley overlapping centrally. Eckersley, too, skipped past the hapless Ramage and into the box, to the corner of the 6-yard box. He fired a low, left-footed shot across the goalmouth to the far post, and in! 2-0! It was Eckersley's first ever goal for York, and he was making a real case for consideration at left wing with his performances over the past four days. York 2, Kidderminster 0 Roberts 74, Eckersley 78; ---- MoM: Blayney The reggae was flowing in the York locker room afterwards, as the side seemed to have righted their problems - though it would take a match against better opposition to be certain. In an odd choice, goalkeeper Alan Blayney was named Man of the Match despite being called upon for only three saves: I'd have chosen either of the goal-scorers, myself.
  18. Sunday, 27th August, 2006. Saturday was also a double-header, as we Americans would call it, back at Bootham Crescent. The first game was the York Under-18's, with the second match the Reserves. A nearly entirely amateur youth side took a 1-0 victory over Mansfield U-18's. Ian Black scored the goal in the first half, and then a red card sealed the victory as 10-man Mansfield were never going to get back in it. Our Reserves won 2-0, with amateurs featuring as well. Jon Prior converted a penalty, defenseman Kevin West missed one, and substitute forward Keith Spencer made it 2-0 in injury time. Luckily, despite all of our injuries in Carlisle, only Joe Foote would miss a match. He'd strained a quadriceps and would require a week to recover. Physio Jeff Miller actually recommended he take a month off for physiotherapy to prevent a recurring thigh injury, but I couldn't afford to lose the youngster for that amount of time. The newspaper the next morning was full of Minsterman news - the match, the spectacular debut of Simon Roberts, a statement from Steve Beck saying how delighted the board were, and rampant speculation about who I might be bringing in. I was impressed with the reporter - he'd gotten two of the names right, and I was past negotiating with the club and on to negotiating with the teams. Unluckily for his career as a prognosticator, he also got two names wrong, and concluded that Roberts's performance might convince me not to purchase a striker. Nationally, the papers were full of the stunning transfer of Michael Owen - for £20M! - from Real Madrid to Barcelona. Barça already have Tevez, Saviola, Larsson, and Eto'o. They hardly seemed to require another threat up front, and Owen's place in the England lineup would seem to be in doubt if he sits on the bench in Catalunya.
  19. Oh, and yeah, I don't trust my story to Word, either. I've been using nothing but WordPad in plain-text mode - it encourages me not to rely on visual effects.
  20. Thanks! Yeah - debuts don't get much better than that, eh? The mechanics of writing makes a great question, actually. I store files by month - text files, usually, with names like "06-08-York.txt" - 2006, August, currently managing York. By putting year/month first, a 'sort alphabetical by filename' gets me everything in date-order. Within the file, I use seven "-", to separate posts, like this: <pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">Last sentence of previous post. ------- Saturday, 26th August, 2006. First sentence of new post.</pre> .. I typically write each post three times - once in a note-form when it happens, and once more a couple days later as I layer in 'story' to go with the information, (and reorganize, so we don't jump from topic to topic too much). The match descriptions, especially, I spend a fair bit of time watching replays for, and trying to describe what I see as best as I can. I wanted people to be able to visualize every goal! Finally, I get back a day or three before posting it to add foreshadowing and edit it again - my style has actually changed enough over the time of writing it that some of these older posts required quite a bit of polish. I was prone to ultra-long paragraphs when I first started, and I've noticed that that loses the eye in other stories. One last scan for markup and spelling after I've got it into the new-post window, and that's usually it. Keeps me from making too much of a mess of the 'Mod Requests Thread'
  21. Saturday, 26th August, 2006. League Two - Game 5, at Carlisle United. Carlisle United were the other side that had earned promotion from the Conference National last season, placing third but earning promotion through the play-offs. It had been a dreary, winless campaign for them thus far, and we'd defeated them in each of our three meetings since I'd taken control at York. I figured they were the medicine we needed to right our listing ship, after three straight defeats of our own. My choices were very limited - I was down to only twelve or thirteen players I would want to start, given our injuries and recent sale. Alan Blayney remained in goal despite two poor performances in succession. The back four was bolstered with Mark Wright and Graeme Law returning alongside Joe Keenan and Liam Fontaine. Alan Navarro would cover the defensive midfield, with John McGrath and Phil Townley on the wings. Ryan Ashington and Joe Foote remained the attackers, with Jon Shepherd getting the start up front. Though 4,807 fans had braved gale-force winds coming off the Irish Sea to get to Brunton Park, it was clear from the start who the dominant side was. In the third minute, Joe Foote made a spectacular one-touch pass with his back to goal to send Ryan Ashington into the area past Foote's defender, but Kieren Westwood made the one-on-one save. He also saved Foote's effort from 18 yards in the 8th minute, but there was nothing he could do in the 12th. John McGrath sent a sizzling corner kick into the 6-yard box, were it was met solidly by the head of Mark Wright. He directed it back to the near post for his first goal of the season, and we had a 1-0 lead. Ashington had a 25-yard shot saved in the 20th minute, but by the 33rd, he came limping off - the pitch was in poor shape, and his was not the last injury of the afternoon. Daryl Peters replaced him, but the miserable conditions were really limiting to any ideal of The Beautiful Game: this was much closer to Man Versus The Elements. It was still 1-0 at halftime. Carlisle began to think more aggressively in the second half, and correspondingly, holes opened up in their defense. Just past the hour, we had a five-on-three rush, which was only diffused by Matthew Mills accepting a yellow card to bring down the speedy Peters. He was the last man, and I thought it was red card worthy - I bellowed my opinion of the officiating, but fortunately for me, the wind whipped my words away. In the 73rd minute, Jon Shepherd's diving header went just wide, and I was beginning to worry. We just couldn't seem to put them away. Foote, McGrath, and captain Graeme Law were all limping with various leg injuries, so I made my final substitutions. Adam Eckersley came in to play left wing, and I moved Shepherd back to Foote's place, and brought on young Simon Roberts, just six days past his 16th birthday, for his competitive debut. It worked almost immediately, as the fresh-legged Eckersley broke up the left wing to start a 5-on-4 breakaway. There had to be somebody uncovered. When the fullback came out to challenge him, he sent a low pass in to Peters, who played it to his right for Shepherd about 30 yards from goal. Shepherd sent it forward on his first touch, picking out the unmarked Roberts, who sent home a beautiful shot from 17 yards! It nestled into the left-side netting: a debut goal for the 16-year-old!! That looked to clinch it at 2-0, and the fans began to head for the exits, clutching their hats and huddling away from the biting wind. Carlisle gave a brave effort at trying to get back in it, but deep into injury time it was Eckersley again on the counter-attack up the left wing. This time he sent a long centering pass for Shepherd in the penalty arc. The striker headed it forwards into Roberts's perfectly timed run, and the youngster drilled it home from seven yards out to make the final score 3-0! Carlisle 0, York 3 Wright 12, Roberts 80, 90 MoM: Roberts It was a dream debut for young Simon Roberts!! His first-ever professional game, and in just fifteen minutes, the 16-year-old had two goals and a Man of the Match award! He had also set a record as the youngest player in the post-War era to play for York, though he could not rival Reg Stockhill's record of 15 years 281 days set in 1929.
  22. Friday, 25th August, 2006. Transfers take time, of course, and even with the urgency that the close of the transfer window gives, I wasn't able to lock anybody up in time for our Saturday match against Carlisle. I did have a few promising contacts by Friday night, and felt very excited by our prospects. There were some mundane pieces of news, however. The Under-18's Cup match had been played Wednesday evening, against Hartlepool United U-18s in Billingham. Despite completely dominating the match both in terms of time of posession and shots, our youth side lost 0-1, with John Lowe's goal coming against the run of play when he slipped between two of our young defenders to take a cross. We have a plethora of talented youth, so I'd really hoped we could go a lot further in the competition - winning our undervalued Under-18 Group seems scant reward for the lads. With a senior match and Under-18's Cup match concurrently, the York Reserves consisted almost entirely of amateurs for their match on the same day. They managed a dull 0-0 draw on the road against Blackpool Reserves. The only bright spot was goalkeeper Paul Carruthers, who played well to earn the shutout. Jamie Cooper came off injured during the U-18 match, a thigh strain which would see him out of the weekend's action. John McGrath and Jon Shepherd had both come off injured in the second half of the senior match, which concerned me, but neither was suffering particularly in the morning, and Jeff Miller said they should be able to play by Saturday. Our worst injuries, actually, came in training this morning, as enthusiastic young centre-back Kevin Eaton dislocated his shoulder. Unfortunately, he suffered a subluxation: it was only partially dislocated, and there was risk of damage by just popping it back in. He had to be taken off for treatment, and would be out for about 2 months. Midfielder Malcolm Parker bruised a rib, which would keep him out of Saturday's matches as well. In Champions League qualifying action, Newcastle United defeated Pyunik again, 2-1, for a 5-2 aggregate, and Liverpool beat Siroki Brijeg 1-0 in Bosnia for a 6-0 aggregate. Both English clubs would be advancing to the group stage. Celtic, though they beat Maccabi Haifa 2-1 in Glasgow, crashed out on a 2-4 aggregate. Bayern München added another trophy to their cabinet with a 1-0 win over UEFA Cup winners Real Madrid to claim the European Super Cup at Stade Louis II. The German side look well poised to defend their Champions League title this year: what an all-star lineup they've assembled!
  23. Friday, 25th August, 2006, sometime after midnight. "You told me to find you a Premiership player," Spencer told me. "We've got one on the shortlist." I took another sip of coffee, now half-cold, before answering. We'd been discussing prospects for hours, with all the scouts and coaches together, before Spencer and I retired for some private consulation. "I know, I know," I said with a sigh. "You've been touting him for a year." "I think its time. You're going to love this kid: he's seventeen, and he looks for all the world like another Tappa." "Yeah, but we're not Manchester United. Can we really afford to splash out most of our transfer budget on a kid?" "Its at least worth talking to the club, find out how much it would cost." "I don't know, Spencer." "I do. Call them." "Okay, okay. Now, about this passel of strikers. Do you have one you like? One older than fifteen?" That won a chuckle. "Yeah, I think so. Serviceable, doesn't have the upside of Levent or Simon, but he's certainly good enough for this level." "How much?" "Well, between the two of them, most of the budget, I'm afraid. But if we can squeeze out a little bit more, I know you've been needing a winger, and I think I've found a 16-year-old with Premiership potential. "Some Premiership clubs have been following him, anyways, and if we can lock him up before they do, we might be able to sell him on at a profit."
  24. irishregan - Hey! Glad to see you're still enjoying it! Yeah, that triple-offer (three e-mails, one after the other) was really jaw-dropping. It definitely unlocked some of the players I'd been squirreling away onto my shortlist over the past two years. I didn't want to sell McGovern for his 'face' value, given my shortage of wingers already. Damien77 - Thanks! I did - it was brilliant. Something like 36 relatives spread over four generations and two massive beachhouses. I'm altogether too relaxed! SamCCFC - Welcome to the tale, new readers always welcome! The current date on my save-game is February 1st, 2015, and yes I do have most of the tale written that far. So long as you all are willing to read, I'm willing to keep posting it! One neat thing about having it written that far in advance, I'm able to offer plenty of foreshadowing. Aside for Panpardus - and yes, though he's long since retired by that point, Tappa remains a recurring character.
  25. That's where we're going to leave it for the next week or so - you'll have to wait until around the 10th of July to find out who we bring in! Have a good week, and thanks for reading.
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