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32 "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn"


  • Biography
    Hi, the real name's Mark but I'm known as hockeybhoy due to the fact I'm a Celtic fan and I'm also really into my ice hockey. Been playing football manager type games since I was about 8, over 40 years ago. Work in the financial industry trying to help people not being scammed, and when not playing games on PC/Console I listen to music, travel, walk my dog and spend time with my fiancée as well as trying to fit in the odd game live.

About Me

  • About Me
    I'm like Marmite, love me or loathe me...ideally the former!


  • Interests
    FM, creative writing, most other sports, console gaming, music, reading books.

Favourite Team

  • Favourite Team
    Sunderland, also Celtic.

Currently Managing

  • Currently Managing
    Werribee City...for starters

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  1. Chapter 55: COOK-ed to Perfection After Werribee's home game against Dandenong City, Basil didn't hang around to speak much with the media. A couple of questions and he was away in his car, and off to the airport. Basil's destination was Auckland International Airport and then onto Ranotonga as there were no direct flights from Melbourne, for that read also no direct flights from Australia, to the Cook Islands. There was 5 hour wait between flights so Basil would sit in the lounge, headphones on and tuned to his music in the meantime. The Cook Islands was somewhere Basil had never been to before, not exactly number one on his holiday plans for sure but it was somewhere he was going to experience. The second flight was just a shade over four hours long, equivalent to Basil taking a flight from Manchester to Dalaman in Turkey back home. Therefore that Spotify playlist Basil created a few nights previous was being to put some serious usage. As he eventually disembarked the flight in Ranotonga, Basil looked up at the skies and typically the heavens opened with a downpour. "Just like being at home in the UK", Basil said to himself. "Nothing ever changes." After collecting his suitcase from the carousel, Basil made his way to the arrivals concourse. There he met Tokoa Newnham for the first time, the assistant manager. "Pleased to finally meet you Basil." Newnham said. "Thank you, and likewise to you." Basil replied. "Sorry about the weather, I wish I could make the sun shine for our new national team manager." "No need to apologise Tokoa, am used to it. I come originally from the UK, and from a city that's used to its fair share of rainfall." Newnham laughed. "I like you already Basil, you have an incredible sense of humour." "It's what makes me what I am. Now I think we best get me checked in at the hotel, yeah." "Yeah, sounds good Basil. Sounds so good." The two made their way to a black Ford, and clambered inside: Head Coach and assistant ready to start their adventure. For the next couple of days, Basil put the 23 players he had named in that initial squad; through their paces. Putting them through professional drills he had been through himself as a player and observed as a coach. The players were unused to this kind of regime so seeing a few of them blowing as they completed yet another circuit of the pitch, represented some kind of achievement for Basil. As the players passed him, Basil barked out: "Keep going lads, this will be of benefit in the long run for you. You'll become better players for it." Eventually, game day came and it was time to test himself on the international stage. Basil opted for the same formation that he was using at Werribee even though the players were far from adept at it. The rain was still teeming as the players emerged from the tunnel, and a warm round of applause greeted Basil as he was announced to the sparse crowd. He leant forward from his dugout, and shook the hand of Micronesia's player manager Alex Panuelo warmly. The game itself was a classic case of a game of two halves, The Cook Islands dominated the first then Micronesia had the best of the second. The home nation took the lead in the 37th minute when Harlem Simiona fed the ball into Maro Bonsu-Maro who placed his shot out of the reach of the Micronesia keeper for his fifth goal in as many internationals. Simiona scored the second four minutes later with a nice angled finish from a deep cross from Lee Tereu. Then with half time just a couple of minutes away, The Cook Islands scored a third when Rhys Ruka arrowed in his first ever international strike from the edge of the area and right into the top corner. Basil couldn't have wished for anything better as the teams came off at half time. Panuelo made changes at the interval and Brush did likewise, after all it was only a friendly. And Micronesia seemed to respond to their changes better than the home nation as they made it 3-1 just three minutes after the restart. Kenneth Suldan was the scorer, a low shot from 25 yards out that skidded off the wet turf and in. Basil saw it as a goal that shouldn't have happened. Second choice keeper Tahiri Elikana should have at least got a hand to it Basil rued. That goal seemed to breathe a new life into Micronesia, and they got within one with a second goal on 66 minutes when Panuelo powered in a header. Twitchy times for Basil and his new squad, they needed to get a goal to settle any nerves which were become all too apparent. Thankfully for Basil, it came with 15 minutes to go when Ruka netted from the spot after Arus Sem had been fouled whilst challenging for a free-kick. Micronesia pushed to get back into the game after the goal but The Cook Islands defence held firm for a win on Basil's maiden international game. It hadn't been pretty, it had been nervous in places but at least Basil had an idea what his new charges were like. He smiled, and walked down the tunnel a happy man. Half an hour later, he walked out of the stadium and into the car bound for the airport. Time to go home, and go back to Werribee whilst the Cook Islands FA planned the next friendly out. Team: Inia (Elikana); Manate-Cox (Hallin), Joseph (Aiturau), Barringer-Tahiri (Karika), Nazeem (Tautu); Sem; Areai, Ruka; Tereu (Sila), Simiona; Bonsu-Maro Scorers: Bonsu-Maro, Simiona, Ruka 2 (1 pen) Man of the Match: Rhys Ruka (Cook Islands) Attendance: 648
  2. Chapter 54: Home is where the heart is Basil poured himself a glass of wine after submitting his first ever international squad list to the Cook Islands FA public relations team so the media could be informed. Since he was in Australia, Basil delegated to job of letting the players to Tokoa Newnham: Newnham, despite having no coaching qualifications to his name, had been given the role of being Basil's number two. An advertisement had been put out for a proper number two with qualifications prior to Basil's appointment, but sadly this attracted very little in the way of interest. So Basil had to deal with what he had. There was no scout either so getting an insight on the opponent would be very limited. It was like stepping into the dark and trying to find the light switch. At least at club level, Basil did have some kind of network in place. The advertisements would be re-submitted into the job centre in the next week. Even at international level, it was important to have the right structure and if that meant expanding the management team for such a small nation: then it would have to be. As he relaxed, there was suddenly a knock on the door. Basil arose from his comfy chair and opened the door to John Waddell, panting as if he had just completed a marathon. "Wads, come in. Take a seat mate." "Thanks, thanks Basil." "You look shattered Wads, everything OK?" "Yeah grand, I've just been out for a wee 5K run and had to call in..." "Sure everything's OK?" "Yeah. Here, take this..." Waddell thrust a piece of paper into Basil's hand. It was the fixture list for November. "They had a computer glitch down at the FA mate, so I had to phone up and get our fixtures that day. Apologies for the terrible handwriting, you multitasking and that..." "Aye, and they say us blokes can't multi-task." "Yep, exactly." Basil looked at the paper: Saturday 7 November 2020 - Dandenong City @ Home Saturday 14 November 2020 - Altona Magic (Away) Saturday 21 November 2020 - Avondale FC @ Home Saturday 28 November 2020 - Green Gully SC @ Home Three home games, that would boost the Club's coffers a bit and if the team could get a winning streak then maybe the crowds would go up as well. Seemed like a win, win situation to Basil. If only...
  3. Can't seem to string a decent week together yet, but given time I hope to improve. Of course, everyone else will think otherwise.
  4. Chapter 53: Naming the international team After celebrating his birthday quietly, Basil sat down with a list from which he would name his first ever international squad for the Cook Islands. This would form the side for the friendly against Micronesia on 11 November 2020. He chose the following names, following on from a recommendation. GOALKEEPERS: Tahiri Elikana (10 caps /0 goals), Keegan Inia (12/0), Manaariki Pierre (0/0) DEFENDERS: Don Aiturau (5/0), Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri (15/0), Spoon Hallin (4/0), Sunai Joseph (9/0), Roimata Karika, Samuel Maoate-Cox (2/0), Ishaq Mohammed Nazeem (12/1), Arus Sem (13/0), Manu Tautu (2/1) MIDFIELDERS: Daryl Areai (6/0), Tereapii Moutiaki (3/0), Gustav Raiora (7/0), Rhys Ruka (3/0), Rua Samuel (0/0), Harlem Simiona (15/1), Lee Tereu (3/0) FORWARDS: Maro Bonsu-Maro (4/4), Emiel Burrow (13/1), Darren Hall-Batty (3/0), Gustav Sila (4/2) Tyrell Barringer-Tahiri has been named as captain, with Arus Sem as vice-captain at present.
  5. Chapter 52: Boom, bang a bang! Basil knew there was no way to deal with the unhappiness which had enveloped both Nathan Elasi and Lisandro Paz. To deal with the striker, one final central midfielder whilst Paz would only be content if he was played on the left as an inverted winger, and even if it meant that Michael Holden would be used as an impact player to begin with then if it did it's trick then it could only benefit the Club. So when a recommendation came through to sign a quality midfielder, Basil literally jumped at the chance. Dion Kirk - M C: Free Transfer Dion is a quality central midfielder that fits right in with what we want at Werribee. He was once on the books of A-League side Adelaide United, and although he didn't make the grade there, he's trained at a high level. A great passer of the ball and with equally good technique, he will add more quality to our midfield options. He has also very good leadership skills so we can count on him to make others accountable if they are not pulling their respective weight. Last season he was at Campbelltown City who nearly made the end of season play-offs, and has also played for South Melbourne and Bentleigh Greens in our division. He might be the final piece of the jigsaw. He will allocated squad number 29 for the season. Then as soon as Kirk had signed on the dotted line, Brush got a text from Elasi. The message was short and succinct, a thumbs up emoji. Moments later, a second text came through: this time from Paz. Paz's text said: "Happy with everything boss, no need to cause a fuss now." So all was fine and dandy for now. But with the squad having cover everywhere now, Basil knew he couldn't play everyone. Players might have to be moved on, but nobody was wanting to at present. It would be a case of horses for courses as Basil's grandfather used to say to him. Matchday 3: Werribee City 1 - 2 Hume City (0 - 1) , Attendance: 522 Werribee City slipped to their first loss of the season as goals in each half enabled visitors Hume City to walk off with the three points. The Bees gave an immediate debut to new signing Dion Kirk and dominated their opponents from start to finish but failed to make their opportunities count. The visitors took the lead six minutes from half time when Stratis Tsoukarellis crossed from the right to the far post, and winger Thierry Iradukunda peeled away from Tom Lakic to drive a low shot home. Midway through the second half, the visitors went two goals to the good when Mark Ochieng blasted in an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area that simply rocketed into the roof of the net. Brush's response was a double substitution moments later, and one of those substitutes halved the deficit with 16 minutes to go. Skipper Matteo Ballan played a ball into Lachlan Scott who spun away from his marker and drilled a low effort into the far corner. However, that was as good as it was and Werribee suffered their first loss in 25 games under Brush, Team: Baird; Lakic, Abbott, Dillon, Bavcar; Gonano; Kirk (Gaspari 66), Ballan ©; Ammache, Paz (Holden 60); Elasi (Scott 66) Man of the Match: Mark Ochieng (Hume City) Position After Game: 12th The new week started with a Zoom call for Brush on the Monday morning. Calling him was Domenico Serafino, the new chairman of Bangor City. Bangor, who had won the Welsh Cup three seasons in a row in the late 2000s, were having a wretched start to the new season with four points from 13 games and had recently sacked former Argentinian internationalist Pedro Pasculli. Pasculli had been a teammate of a certain Diego Armando Maradona when La Albiceleste won the World Cup in 1986, so had the pedigree. But winning in Mexico wasn't as easy as a wet night on the Menai Strait. The discussion went well but Brush sensed a sticking point, what the prospective new chairman was demanding. Whilst they seemed to agree that avoiding the drop in 20-21 was paramount, Serafino was targeting winning the league the following season. Talk about a jump in expectations. Brush was more conservative in his judgement, and he told Serafino such: "If the Club survives the drop, you should be looking at a mid-table finish the following season. And then, only one, should you target the title." Serafino's reaction said it all, speechless. Aside of that, Brush received a call from Michael Jessup: one of the senior players at Werribee. Jessup announced he was going to end his career at the end of the season, and he thought it would be considerate of him to give Brush and Werribee a fair of advance warning instead of just dumping on them. Brush appreciated it, and hoped the season would end up a decent one and give the midfielder a happy finish, Yet the next game was another test, Werribee were off to the J L Murphy to face a Port Melbourne side that had won three out of three so far. No pressure, right? Well considering the Sharks had been tipped to finish 10th, they were certainly punching above their weight. Could Werribee stop them? Matchday 4: Port Melbourne SC 0 - 1 Werribee City (0 - 1), Attendance: 453 Port Melbourne saw their unbeaten record disappear when Werribee City took the spoils at the J L Murphy Reserve on a windy Friday evening. After losing to Hume City the previous Saturday, Werribee made three changes to their starting line up. Out went Alex Baird in goals, winger Omar Ammache and striker Elasi; and replacing them were Jordan Thurtell, Holden and Scott. The changed line up certainly didn't perform like a struggling side as they controlled the leaders with ease and took the lead after just four minutes when William Abbott sent Paz away down the right and his cross was thumped into the net by Scott for his second goal in successive games. Werribee went close to a second and almost did so six minutes after the restart. A goalmouth scramble saw Scott hit the post from close range. Then the home fans thought their team had equalised in the 57th minute when Milos Lujic found the back of the net from a Evan Christodoulou pass, but those celebrations were soon muted by a linesman's flag. And deservedly so. Yet with Thurtell proving to be a barrier on his debut, Port Melbourne couldn't get back on even terms and Werribee celebrated a well earned three points. Team: Thurtell; Abbott (Pistininzi 78), Dillon, Lakic, Bavcar; Gonano; Kirk (Zaffina 65), Ballan ©; Paz, Holden (Ammache 70), Scott Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz Position After Game: 8th As he got on the team bus post-game, Brush received a text: Bangor had not appointed him and he knew it was because of what he (Brush) had perceived as regards the team expectations. "Ah well," he said to himself. "Their loss." Soon enough it would be time to pick an international squad for the first time; that would be interesting and a challenge as well.
  6. Chapter 51: Unbeaten in two! There was a real buzz enveloping the Galvin Park Reserve on the second Saturday in October, Basil could literally taste it as he arrived in the car park. Despite the media saying that the Bees would have a great season, Basil was content to consolidate and stay alive. That was something he made clear in the shed before that first game against Bentleigh Greens. "Guys, we're up against a higher standard of class here. No disrespect meant to Manningham United Blues and Bulleen Lions but this is as good as it will get for a club of our standing. It's the pinnacle." "Yeah, and it's imperative we come out of this first month with some points on the board eh boss?" Matteo Ballan said. "Exactly Matty, exactly. We need to get points on the board as that might just make a difference. I'm targeting a top half finish here if we all pull together. Anyone think otherwise?" The shed fell silent as the players looked at each other, nodding as if to say "Yup, with you on that boss." Could the Bees achieve what their manager wanted? Brush had confidence in them, whether they wanted it as well was a different proverbial kettle of fish. Matchday 1: Werribee City 2 - 2 Benteligh Greens (Half Time 0 - 0), Attendance: 545 Werribee City staged a remarkable comeback from two goals adrift to secure a point on their return to the NPL Victoria. Both the Bees goals came in the final minute, something that Basil Brush's mentor Sir Alex Ferguson would have applauded and left former Hibs midfielder Grant Brebner wondering what had happened. Brush gave debuts to four of his summer signing spree whilst sticking by a number of his title winners. The visitors had the better of the game for sure and took the lead after 57 minutes when Marco Jankovic lashed in an unstoppable effort from just inside the box after Werribee failed to clear their lines. Six minutes later, they doubled their lead when James Xydias crossed for Matt Thurtell (older brother of Werribee's Jacob to power a header towards goal. Alex Baird parried that but unlucky for him and Werribee, the striker snaffled the rebound home. Brush's response was a double change with Michael Holden, such a goalscoring sensation in pre-season, entering the fray alongside Josh Gaspari. Then as time ticked on for six minutes of added on time, Brush urged his players forward in the hope they might get something and cause jitters for Bentleigh. And as soon as that fourth official disappeared with their board, Werribee and their fans were rejoicing as the Bees halved the deficit. Lisandro Paz sped down the right, leaving the defender for dust, before crossing to the back post where Holden volleyed in. Keep pushing was the message, we can get something. And in the fifth minute of six, it became 2-2. Oskar Dillon opted to go route one from a free kick deep inside the home half, and Nathan Elasi was onto it before slipping it past the advancing keeper. Absolute scenes! Team: Baird; Lakic, Abbott, Dillon, Bavcar; Gonano; Zaffina (Gaspari 67), Ballan ©; Ammache (Holden 67), Paz; Scott (Elasi 57) Man of the Match: Marco Jankovic (Bentleigh Greens) Position After Game: 5th The week between the games was eventful as well. First was the good news that Werribee had sold 132 season books for the new campaign, a 20 per cent increase on last season. Hopefully if the crowd was a decent as the opening day, granted there was 308 away supporters though, then the Club's financial situation might improve and maybe some off-pitch investments could be made. The biggest surprise came midweek when Julyan Collett phoned Brush up to apologise for his pre-season outburst. Brush was dumbstruck but accepted the defender's words with the dignified good grace he had shown all along. But as soon as the dust settled on that, Elasi was whining about depth in central midfield to him. Obviously having six players to fill just two slots wasn't on. Maybe one last shopping trip.... Matchday 2: Oakleigh Cannons 0 - 0 Werribee City (Half Time 0 - 0), Attendance: 581 Werribee secured a hard fought point from their first away game of the new season with a goalless draw with an Oakleigh Cannons side that finished runners-up to South Melbourne last season. Both sides created many a chance but neither could get that all important breakthrough to edge ahead. For Werribee, Brush will see this as a point gained rather than two dropped whilst the Cannons will feel that they could have, and should have done better given they were at home. Team: Baird; Lakic, Abbott, Dillon, Bavcar; Gonano; Zaffina (Gaspari 80), Ballan ©; Ammache (Holden 54), Paz; Elasi (Goodwin 63) Booked: Elasi (1st) Man of the Match: Tyson Holmes (Oakleigh Cannons) Position After Game: 9th
  7. Chapter 50: Can you smelll what the Brush is COOKing? Basil was enjoying a relaxing Sunday morning with the tunes blasting from the Alexa, absolute bliss. Then suddenly, his mobile rang. It was an unknown number. Being sceptical as always, Basil answered it with a degree of trepidation. "Hello?" "Hello, is this a Mr Basil Brush? "Yes, and this is?" "Hello, my name is Kayva Tauira and I'm calling on behalf of Mii Piri." "Sorry but I haven't heard of either name. Are you sure you have the right person?" "Oh yes, I have. I work for the Cook Islands Football Association; and we would be honoured if you will be the national team's new Head Coach." "Really?" "Yes, we have seen your achievements with Werribee City in Austraila. They speak for themselves Mr Brush, we think you can help improve the team's national standing." "Just a moment..." "Sure." Now this was a call out of the proverbial blue, an international job. Basil texted Stewart, telling him was unfolding and Stewart's response was positive: "If they let you manage Werribee too, take it. It's a real development opportunity." The nation stood 189th in the world rankings out of 211, not exactly a world force, there might a potential to grow them Basil thought. He released the hold. "I have one question Kayva, before I give you a decision." "Sure." "I have a club managerial commitment here in Australia, and I would like to continue with that." "No problem, we can commit to this." "You can?" "Of course." "I, well, accept then." "Welcome on board then Mr Brush. Your first international will be on 11 November 2020, a friendly against Micronesia. We will expect you a few days beforehand, a reception party will meet you at Rarotonga Airport. Goodbye for now." "Goodbye." So Basil's fledging managerial had taken another step forward with his first international role. Granted it wasn't with a big nation but from small acorns grow. He was going to combine club and international management for the new season ahead, and then take stock afterwards. Nothing big was expected at the Cook Islands, Basil just wanted to grow the nation as a footballing force and make them little bit more respectable in the Oceania confederation. The following day, Basil was sat in the hotel restaurant, enjoying a nice mixed grill, when he received his now complimentary copy of the Herald Sun newspaper. It was talking about the new season ahead, and had a preview of the new NPL Victoria season. The Werribee preview was very heartening: Of course South Melbourne were the favourites at 4/1, but to see the Bees listed as 4th favourites was pleasant in itself. Basil smiled, he really couldn't wait for the new season to start. Was it Saturday the 10th of October yet? The days couldn't be ticked off quick enough now.
  8. Chapter 49: Preparations complete Two more Saturdays remained before Basil and Werribee could determine that their pre-season preparations were completed. After turning down Madang in the week, Basil got his focus back. What John Waddell had said, had really hit home. Yeah, the Club couldn't go any further than the league they were in at the moment so seeing out his contract seemed to be the correct choice. That was unless there was an offer that Basil found too hard to resist. Pre-Season Game 10: Eastern Lions 1 - 1 Werribee City It was a sloppy performance that Basil experienced in the penultimate friendly as Werribee laboured to a draw against Eastern Lions. After a goalless first half, it was the home side that grabbed the lead in the 53rd minute when Jordan Tsekenis crossed from the right for Ziggy Razuki to volley home past a static [b]Thomas Dunn[/b]. Brush's response was almost immediate as he changed his entire line up six minutes later, giving concern that he was seeing a probably defeat as an embarassment. Thankfully for him and the 119 visiting fans out of 156, Werribee equalised ten minutes after that goal. The goal came when Brandon Zaffina teed up Michael Holden to hammer an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net. It was so fiercely struck by the winger that Keegan Coulter in the home goal didn't try to get a hand to it in case it broke said hand; Holden really put some venom into the shot. Neither side could manage to get a winner after that and the teams shook hands on a draw, Brush looking far from pleased as the teams left the field. Team: Dunn (Thurtell 59); Abbott (Collett 59), Dillon (Karvelis 59), Lakic (Petrov 59), Bavcar (Parkinson 59); Gonano (Pistininzi 59); Gasparis (Gaspari 59), Ballan © (Zaffina 59); Davis (Ammache 59), Paz (Holden 59); Scott (Elasi 59) Scorer: Holden Basil resisted the temptation to delve back into the transfer market after the Eastern Lions draw. He had got an astonishing 45 players registered for Werribee for the season ahead. Granted he obviously couldn't play them all but he sat back and reflected on that there was more than enough cover now to see the team through the season ahead. It was at that time that he also received an email from David Sharpe, telling him that Chesterfield wouldn't be taking Basil's application any further for the position at the Proact Stadium. The Werribee chief would later learn it had been given to Paul Tisdale, the former manager of Exeter City and MK Dons. "Their loss," Basil reflected, "I'll go and prove a point elsewhere." Basil said to himself. Back to Werribee business. Pre-Season Game 11: Werribee City 2 - 0 Northcote City Two goals in the late stages ensured that Werribee City would finish their pre-season schedule with a win and a clean sheet. It was particularly satisfying for new central defender James Karvelis who had played for Northcote City last season and gave Brush reasons for optimism that his reshaped squad can hold their own this season. Despite creating the best of the chances, it seemed for a long period that Werribee would rue missed chance after chance. That was until 11 minutes from the end when they were awarded a penalty when Dunlop obstructed Lachlan Davis in the penalty area and right under the referee's nose. Marinos Gasparis stepped up and coolly placed the resultant spot kick low and into the bottom corner. Then in time added on, the victory was secure when Josh Gaspari produced a sublime curling effort into the corner from range. It was a goal that was worthy winning any match, never mind a pre-season one. Team: Baird (Dunn 60); Wilkes (Abbott 60), Karvelis (Petrov 65), Dillon (Parkinson 60), Lakic (Bavcar 60); Gonano (Pistininzi 60); Zaffina (Gasparis 60), Ballan © (Gaspari 65); Paz (Davis 65), Holden (Ammache 65); Goodwin (Elasi 60) Scorers: Gasparis (pen), Gaspari So the pre-season record stood at played 11, seven wins and two draws and losses apiece. A win percentage of 64% which pleased Basil no end but as Basil reminded the players in the shed after that last game; pre-season means nothing to what the real stuff is like. The following morning, Basil would receive a surprise call. One he hadn't seen coming for sure.
  9. Chapter 48: The numbers game For the next couple of hours, Basil and John Waddell started to discuss numbers. Not financial numbers, but squad numbers for the new season ahead. The players would be notified in the team meeting before travelling for the next friendly against which was a matter of just four days away. And this was the final list: GOALKEEPERS: 1. Alex BAIRD 13. Jordan THURTELL 21. Thomas DUNN DEFENDERS: 2. Tom LAKIC 3. Nicholas BAVCAR 5. Julyan COLLETT 6. William ABBOTT 14. Oskar DILLON - on loan from Western United (A-League) 15. Daniel PETROV 20. Jordan WILKES 22. David PARKINSON 23. James KARVELIS MIDFIELDERS: 4. Brendan GONANO 7. Brandon ZAFFINA 8. Matteo BALLAN 12. Mark PISTININZI 16. Amanze KESSIE 25. Josh GASPARI 26. Omar AMMACHE 33. Michael JESSUP 34. Marinos GASPARIS FORWARDS: 9. Alec GOODWIN 10. Lisandro PAZ 11. Michael HOLDEN 18. Nathan ELASI 19. Lachlan SCOTT 28. Lachlan DAVIS
  10. Chapter 47: Thanks but er, no thanks Basil waited for the call to be answered and continued to pace the hotel as if he was desperate to go to the toilet and couldn't find one. After about eight rings, the call was answered but picked up by Kanake's voicemail: "Hi, this is Matheson Kanake. I'm sorry I can't get to the phone but if you kindly leave me a message then I'll get back to you later." then a beep. Basil disconnected, he had a pet hate of leaving voicemails. "Damn voicemail Wads, " he bemoaned to John Waddell who was relaxed in the armchair and helping himself to a bottle of Bundaberg Ginger Beer which Basil had a stock of in the fridge. Waddell shook his head, and carried on drinking. He tried again, voicemail again. And so the charade continued for the next half an hour, Basil was getting rather annoyed as each minute passed. "I'm going to give him one more try Wads, you hear me?" Waddell shrugged his shoulders and sighed. And so he did, this time Kanake answered. Success at last. "Hello Basil?" "Mr Kanake, oh it's so good to get in touch with you." Basil responded, tongue firmly in cheek. "I'm sorry Basil, I had a board meeting with my company. You have to excuse me." "It's fine, I do understand." "Anyway, how can I help?" "I'm just phoning back to advise you that I won't be taking the job. I thought long and hard and whilst you made me a great offer, for personal reasons I just can't accept it. I'm sure you'll find a new and willing candidate to offer it to in my place." "That's a shame Basil, but of course I do accept this. You will be good manager in the future, I wish you the best." "So no hard feelings?" "None." "Thank you for the understanding, and good luck to Madang FC." "And to you, goodbye." The call ended, the deed had been done. Now it was time to focus for the next friendly against Eastern Lions as well as work out the squad numbers for the new campaign. That said, Basil was unaware that he had been earmarked elsewhere and would need to decide again. Waddell got out his notepad from his tracksuit pocket, ready to write.
  11. Chapter 46: Stick or Twist It was a sunny morning when Basil awoke from a decent night's sleep, and he had only been awake for less than five minutes when the mobile rang. On the other end of the line was Kanake, probably telling Basil the result of the interview. "Morning Basil, Matheson Kanake here." "Oh, good morning Mr Kanake." Basil replied. "I was just calling to say the manager's job at Madang is yours. I was very impressed in your interview, you are very passionate football man." "Oh right, thank you." "You don't have to tell me straight away. Call me back when you've made a decision but it's yours." "Appreciated, I'll be in touch." That call now left Basil with a dilemma, the first real one of his rookie managerial career. It was a case of stick or twist as his late father would have called it. Stick with Werribee or twist and move on, that was the conundrum. Basil fired off a text to John Waddell, he needed to speak to his able assistant. The text was short and to the point: "John, come to the hotel ASAP. Need to chat." Whilst he awaited the arrival of the likeable Victorian, Basil showered and shaved. Eventually he arrived. "Wads, good morning. Take a seat." "Sure mate, what's up?" "Wads, I've been offered a managerial role at Madang FC in Papua New Guinea." "Woah, really?" "Yeah, and to be honest I don't know what to do. I really don't." "Well, you follow your heart buddy. That's the best thing I can advise." "Yep." "You're happy here, and I know you want to progress. But why not see this season through mate then take stock after that. Challenge yourself one more time and then leave with your head held high at the expiry of your contract." "Um.." "Yeah sure we can't go further than this but let's enjoy this ride Basil mate. The players, despite Collett's outburst, appreciate what you've done in such a short space of time." "I guess." "But that's how I see it, and what I'd do. You make your own choice though. Look after number one." "Thanks Wads." "Anytime, anyway here's the opening month's games." John handed over a sheet of A4, on it was the opening month of games. Two at home and two away: Saturday 10 October 2020: Bentleigh Greens @ Home Saturday 17 October 2020: Oakleigh Cannons - Away Saturday 24 October 2020: Hume City @ Home Friday 30 October 2020: Port Melbourne SC - Away Waddell had said his piece and Basil respected the honesty. What a decision to be left to make. Whatever Basil chose, someone was bound to be upset but then again this is football management. He paced up and down the room for a good ten minutes, Waddell looking on, before picking up his mobile and dialled Kanake's number. Time to give a decision.
  12. Chapter 45: Wake me up when September ends... Basil opened the curtains that Saturday morning and was greeted with incessant rain and grey skies. He showered, shaved and changed into his suit which he would normally wear on a matchday but with one exception to the rule: the Werribee City blazer was cast aside for a basic black one. The lift arrived in the main hotel lobby, and the staff advised Basil that Kanake was in one of the hotel's conference rooms waiting for his respondent. Kanake was a well dressed and well spoken man, and immediately thrust out a warm and welcoming handshake the moment Basil opened the conference room door. Nothing like creating a good impression straight off the bat. Basil sat across from his host, his eyes focused on what was being said. The interview actually started with Kanake waffling on about the City of Madang like it was a salesman's pitch on Dragons Den. All this went in for a good 10-15 minutes and Basil was struggling to keep his focus. Kanake then asked Basil if he had a female partner. Taken aback, Basil responded in the negative to which Kanake then went about crime in the country and that violence against women was particular rife as well as carjacking. "Don't worry about this Basil, it's under control." Kanake added, causing Basil to shift a bit uneasily in his leather backed chair. As regards the interview, once it got going then it was about bog standard as an interview as you could have. At 10:00am, the two men shook hands and Kanake advised Brush he would be in touch with a decision in due course. The conference room opened and the men went in their separate directions: Basil back to his room to change into his Werribee blazer before the bus would pick him up for Bendigo in half an hour, and Kanake to a waiting car which would take him back to the airport and a flight to Port Moresby and home. There had been no word from Chesterfield though, and Craig Adam had been kept in the dark with these covert movements. "Just looking after my own interests." Basil said to him as he finished getting ready and headed back to the lift so he could await the arrival of the team bus. Focus back on Werribee now. Pre-Season Game 8: Spring Gully United 1 - 7 Werribee City Basil selected a fairly strong squad for the game in Bendigo, and told the lads he wanted plenty of goals to help boost the team morale. The team provided the perfect start, scoring in 25 seconds when Lachlan Davis crossed for Michael Holden to loop a header into the far corner. The encouragement was for more, and the players responded with some excellent attacking movement which left the home team chasing shadows in the sunshine and rain. Goal number two came in the 14th minute, Papadimitrou upending Holden as the winger advanced into the area. skipper for the day Matteo Ballan converted expertly. Two minutes later, Ballan had his second and Werribee their third when a Holden corner was nodded down by newcomer James Karvelis and the central midfielder rifled the ball home. With the home side struggling to match Werribee, the game was as good as over so it became a glorified training session from then on with the visitors hardly getting out of first gear. Two minutes from half time, Werribee had a fourth. Once more Holden tortured Papadimitrou on that left flank like the defender was standing in treacle before measuring his cross onto the head of the attacking Josh Gaspari for 0-4. The home support had a rare moment of happiness five minutes after the restart when Werribee failed to clear their defensive lines and Lukas Durand scored, Brush was furious and took his frustrations out on a water bottle whilst berating his team for conceding a sloppy goal. The team knew they had to put that right. And they did so with a fifth in the 55th minute, and it came when a Ballan corner found its way to the far post and Nathan Elasi headed in unchallenged. Five minutes later, it was 6-1 as Werribee were awarded their second penalty of the game when Holden was baulked in the area by Sevin. With Ballan off the pitch taking a deserved breather, substitute Marinos Gasparis stepped up and made no mistake. The goal fest was complete in the 73rd minute with goal number seven for the Bees, Lisandro Paz with a sweet half volley following some more less than convincing defending at a set-piece by the home side. Team: Dunn (Thurtell 66); Abbott (Wilkes 57), Karvelis (Petrov 57), Dillon (Parkinson 57), Lakic (Bavcar 57); Gonano (Pistininzi 57); Gaspari (Jessup 63), Ballan © (Gasparis 57); Davis (Ammache 63), Holden (Paz 63); Elasi (Goodwin 63) Scorers: Holden, Ballan 2 (1 pen), Gaspari, Elasi, Gasparis (pen), Paz With no word from either Chesterfield or Kanake, it was business as usual in the week leading up to the penultimate away friendly of the season. That would see the Bees go play Moreland City, a team that Werribee had swept aside last season. Moreland fancied their chances, which had become a bit of a friendly slanging match on social media between the relevant sets of fans, but Brush was out to prove a point and to show that the title win was far from a fluke. Pre-Season Game 9: Moreland City 0 - 3 Werribee City Three goals in the first 25 minutes proved to be the difference as Werribee picked up another win in their pre-season schedule. The game itself was just four minutes old when the first goal arrived. Wearing their white away colours, Werribee made the initial run and were rewarded when Paz attacked the left wing before pulling the ball back for Lachlan Scott to finish with a low finish from six yards out. Midway through the half and Werribee put some daylight in the game with two goals in three minutes which had Brush purring with happiness. These had come after both Omar Ammache and Scott had efforts chalked off for offside. In the 22nd minute, Munn sent Scott tumbling with a reckless challenge and referee Adam Kersey pointed to the spot. Ballan stepped up and made no mistake. The teams had just regrouped when Werribee added a third in the 25th minute and it was a move right off the training ground. Ballan swung in the free-kick and new signing Karvelis powered in a header that went in via a tickle off the post. Whatever Moreland attempted, Werribee repelled with confidence, Still there was time for a third disallowed Werribee in second half added-on time, Davis this time having the effort chalked away for another offside decision. Team: Thurtell (Dunn 74); Lakic (C,Holmes 65), Karvelis (Abbott 60), Collett © (Dillon 65), Bavcar (Parkinson 60); Gonano (Pistininzi 60); Zaffina (Jessup 65), Ballan (B.Holmes 65); Ammache (Kessie 60), Paz (Davis 65); Scott (Goodwin 65) Scorers: Scott, Ballan (pen), Karvelis
  13. Chapter 44: Agents and another arrival Basil still couldn't get his head around that email from the Chairman, it was like he was expecting things from season one to be almost as good in season two. The standard was higher and there was more games to play. Werribee were the new kids on the block and Basil knew that he couldn't rely upon the same names that had done so well for him in that unforgettable opening season, this was why he had to buy, buy, buy in the close season. Make sure, there's more than adequate cover in every position in case there's injuries or suspensions. That was why Basil decided to bring 13 new players, and not because Collett's outburst had forced his hand. But there was something gnawing at the back of Basil's head, that was whether to jump ship or not. As it stood, even if Werribee won a second successive title (highly unlikely) then there was no way they could advance to the A-League. Therefore, even if Basil saw out his contract, he would have taken Werribee as far as it was genuinely possible in the Victorian football structure. So he contacted his agent, and asked for updates on managerial vacancies worldwide. Stewart Smith was a man that Basil had used as an agent since those heady days as a young professional, and was someone that Basil trusted implicitly. The days before the latest friendly were spent thinking things over whilst welcoming yet another new face to Galvin Park Reserve. Meet arrival number 13: James Karvelis - D C: Free Transfer Another centre half to take the number of centre halves on the first team books to eight, now that's called having strength in depth in a position. James is aged 25, and joins Werribee after spending last season at Northcote City. He has experience of the new division with South Melbourne and Oakleigh Cannons, both whom Werribee will face this season, so this should help those lesser experienced names out. James provides height and presence to the defensive corps and his 6'3 frame should be something to look out especially on set-pieces. That same day had been a busy day off pitch for Basil as Stewart had come back with a couple of possible options for future destinations. Option number one was Madang FC, who featured in the exotically sounding Kumul Petroleum Resources National Football League in Papua New Guinea. The city, as Basil researched, was on the Eastern side of the country and 308 miles north of the capital Port Moresby although the two cities were just a 30 minute flight apart. Option number two was a bit closer to home though; as in closer to home back in the UK. Former Crystal Palace defender John Pemberton had been given his departure cards from Chesterfield, a town not far from Mother Brush's and of course famous for its crooked spire which dominated the town centre skyline. That would be a step up in standard. Pemberton had, whilst Basil was doing remarkable things in that rookie season, taken the Spireites into the National League play-offs. They were unable to regain their league position as they slipped to a penalty shoot out loss to eventual winners Dagenham and Redbridge but were one of the favourites this season. Yet the new season hadn't started well, Chesterfield picking up just three points (all draws) from their nine games so far which had left them bottom of the National League. Thus David Sharpe, the grandson of Dave "JJB Sports" Whelan had seen enough and Pemberton's tenure was ended. Basil knew this would be a challenge he'd relish should Chesterfield offer him the job. Smith had sent Basil's CV to both sides and it was now the waiting game. The night before the friendly, Basil got a call from Stewart. Madang's Chairman, Matheson Kanake, was flying into Melbourne in the morning and wanted to talk about the job. With the Bees playing in Bendigo later that day, it was going to be an early morning meeting. Basil decided to have an early night, a good night's sleep would do just the trick.
  14. Chapter 43: New Season, new expectations There were four more games to come and the preparation work would then be all complete. Three more away trips before finishing off with a home friendly against Northcote City. In the meantime, John Waddell would get the fixtures sent to him and that meant the regular email to be forwarded onto Basil. 26 games for the new season, an increase of four on last. The board had already emailed Basil though with their plans for the season ahead. Basil read through it a couple of times, then looked at his squad list which he had spent the last couple of months or so building. He next looked at the finances which got updated to him every week. Yeah, Craig was talking a great deal of nonsense Basil thought. "Does he know that this is not NPL - Victoria 2 anymore? And what does he know about footballers themselves?" Basil asked himself. Then Basil remembered something that his grandfather told him when Basil just a little boy. In 1956, a former England internationalist called Len Shackleton released his autobiography and one chapter was more famous than anything. That chapter was entitled: "The Average Director's Knowledge of Football" and was simply a blank page. That summed up Craig Adam and his footballing philosophies and practices, so Basil sent him a quick reply back in two words: "Yeah OK" before deleting the Chairman's email. If he didn't achieve what Adam was asking for then it would be tough. Basil knew it was a different challenge ahead and the team wouldn't find these opponents as easily to dispose of as the teams last season. The feet were getting itchy, it was time to have a peruse of the job market and see if anything took Basil's fancy. Now if Angus hadn't sold the Club in the summer, Basil was sure that the expectations would have been different. That passport might come in useful soon...
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