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About CFuller

  • Rank
    Third Team


  • Biography
    FM storyteller from Romford. Now blogging at fullerfm.wordpress.com

About Me

  • About Me
    28 years old, not your typical Essex man. Possibly an eccentric.


  • Interests
    Football (obviously), darts, snooker, indie/alternative music, video games... and cats.

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  • Currently Managing

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  1. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    *** Before the various England teams went off for the first of their November internationals, an injury forced Mark Catterall to rejig both the Under-21s and Under-19s squad. Chris Scott was set to enter the UEFA European Under-21s Championship Playoff encounter with Czech Republic in high spirits when the Leeds United striker scored his 13th goal in 17 Championship games against Bristol City. However, a collision with City defender Alfie Mawson saw the on-loan West Ham United teenager break a couple of ribs. That in turn forced him to withdraw from the Under-21s squad. Taking Scott's place on the flight to Czech Republic was another player who'd netted 13 goals in the second tier this season. Sheffield Wednesday's 18-year-old hotshot Willie Field - on loan from Liverpool - was promoted from the Under-19s as reward for his relentless goalscoring in the Championship. Field's promotion left a gap in the England Under-19s squad for the upcoming friendly in France. That place was filled by yet another exciting striker from the Liverpool conveyor belt. Agile frontman Ben Harvey, who'd joined the Reds from hometown club Derby County in July, was being strongly tipped to follow in the footsteps of Field and Lawrence Warner. Harvey's international debut didn't get off to the most auspicious start. Just seconds after kick-off in Décines-Charpieu, the nervous East Midlander tripped up France midfielder Abdou Gado, conceding an early free-kick. Following that early setback, Harvey settled down before roaring into life in the fifth minute. England playmaker Petros Mavros knocked the ball past French defender Philippe Marin to play Harvey clean through on goal, and a simple finish past onrushing goalkeeper Maxime Gomis stunned the home fans. Les Bleus looked for a swift equaliser after six minutes, when Toulouse striker Christian Boukaka saw his close-range free-kick blocked by Mavros. Two minutes later, attacking midfielder Anthony Lelevé - already a veteran of 39 Ligue 1 matches for Guingamp - unleashed a powerful effort that just missed the target. In the 17th minute, Lelevé was slide-tackled on the edge of the England penalty area by Henry Torpey. The Brentford striker's intervention only diverted the ball on to Boukaka, whose first-time strike came within inches of clipping the outside of Josh Vokes' right-hand post. Torpey was not having the best of England debuts, but another of his attacking compatriots threatened to double the away lead on 26 minutes. West Ham United's Andre Forbes - playing on the left wing - exchanged passes with left-back Ted Lapslie before driving a tame shot into Gomis' hands. Some brave defending from England then prevented France from equalising before half-time, with Joe Mooney particularly impressive at centre-half. In the 43rd minute, Mooney's partner Nick Ward clashed heads with French left-winger Ousmane Fall as he cleared a corner from Arnaud Kouame. Fall - a Real Madrid wonderkid who was playing regular Bundesliga football on loan at Wolfsburg - was concussed in the impact and had to come off. The first half hadn't been a classic, but the Young Lions had done an excellent job of limiting their opponents' scoring chances. The second period saw more of the same, though Les Bleus did momentarily look like equalising in the 58th minute. Boukaka played in Kouame, only for the skilful Rennes midfielder to curl a shot wide from the 'D'. Vokes was tested in the 63rd minute, catching a swerving attempt from Gado. That was only Vokes' second save of the match; his first had come in the 42nd minute from Fall, shortly before the concussion that forced one of France's key men out. France keeper Gomis produced a series of fine saves midway through the half. He narrowly tipped wide a 65th-minute strike from Harvey to deny his adversary a brace, while Ollie Elmes - yet another Liverpool forward with a bright future - was thwarted about a minute later. Gomis did make slightly harder work of pushing away a long-range drive from Anthony Hayward in the 70th minute. Gomis would later be replaced between the posts by Christian Arnal - another exciting Frenchman on Real's books. The 17-year-old certainly had plenty of potential, but a nervy cameo suggested that he was still a long way off being the finished product. In the 85th minute, just four minutes after coming on, Gomis was beaten by an England debutant who'd entered the fray at the same time. Tottenham Hotspur's attacking midfielder Peter Owen - on loan with Rochdale in League Two - clinically dispatched a right-wing centre from Hayward to clinch victory for the Young Lions. After more than a decade, it was perhaps refreshing to see an Owen score for England again. Moments after the restart, an excellent long ball from Owen presented Hayward with an opportunity to seal a 3-0 win. The Charlton Athletic striker was clean through, and Arnal was well off his line, so it looked almost a given. Alas, Hayward's shot was just inches off target, clipping the inside of the post before being hacked clear by Les Bleus' left-back Fabio Lambert. Despite that late miss, England's Under-19s had still registered another fantastic result - their ninth consecutive victory, and their 21st match in a row without defeat. If Kosovo could end both those magnificent runs in Doncaster four days later, it would go down as an almighty shock. 12 November 2020: Under-19s International - at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Décines-Charpieu France U19s - 0 England U19s - 2 (Ben Harvey 5, Peter Owen 85) ENGLAND U19s LINE-UP (4-2-3-1): Josh Vokes (Dave Booth); James Brown (Jordan Laing), Joe Mooney (Ray Butterfield), Nick Ward (Stephen Nugent), Ted Lapslie (Tony Vincent); Ashley Wells (Christian Smith), Petros Mavros (Darren Bennett); Ross Moan (Anthony Hayward), Ben Harvey (Peter Owen), Andre Forbes (Paul Hancock); Henry Torpey (Ollie Elmes).
  2. I've noticed that the month dividers occasionally disappear from my fixture list. This usually happens whenever I've continued through the game and then gone straight to my schedule once the game has finished processing. The problem usually corrects itself (i.e. the month dividers return) when I go to another screen and then return to the schedule, or simply when I scroll up in the fixtures (scrolling down does not fix this). This is a bug that comes and goes, and I can't recreate it consistently. It's more of a mild annoyance than anything, but I was wondering if you would still look into it.
  3. You will find that there are many more professional clubs in the National League in real life than there were 10-15 years ago, back when it was the Conference. Three-quarters of the league being professional sounds fine to me.
  4. CFuller

    House of Flying Daggers

    Dagenham & Redbridge - 2042/2043 Premier League champions: Part 2 Other First-Team Players 3. Thulani Mazibuko (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 211 apps, 8 goals (2037-present). THIS SEASON: 3 apps, 0 goals. POSITION(S): Centre-Back/Left-Back. HEIGHT: 6ft 4in. WEIGHT: 13st 12lb. AGE: 29. BORN: 29 September 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa. NATIONALITY: South Africa [60 caps, 1 goal]. Thulani was the most successful of our South African imports. Having arrived from Serbian club Banat Zrenjanin in January 2037, the energetic defender quickly inspired us to reach our first FA Cup Final later that year. A sensational solo goal against Liverpool in Round 5 announced his arrival at Rainham Road. He didn't score many goals for the Daggers, but when he did, they were often belters. One stunner at Old Trafford against Manchester United in 2039 immediately comes to mind. Though most natural at centre-half, Mazibuko initially played at right-back for us before moving over to the left in subsequent seasons. aerial abilities, strong tackling and physical power made him comfortable anywhere at the back, though he could occasionally do a job in a holding midfield role. He was a key player in the 2039/2040 season, though he later became a more peripheral figure who was mainly used as a backup option. Truth be told, I almost sold Thulani to Juventus for £20million in 2041, and I turned down another large bid from Bayern Munich the following summer. I hoped he would remain a regular this season, but a cruciate ligament injury sustained on international duty in September set him back hugely. He missed seven months' worth of action before making a short comeback against Liverpool on the night we won the Premier League. I fear that might be the last time we see him in a Daggers jersey. 7. Milen Danchev (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 96 apps, 11 goals (2036-present). THIS SEASON: 29 apps, 2 goals. POSITION(S): Right Midfielder/Right-Back. HEIGHT: 5ft 8in. WEIGHT: 10st 9lb. AGE: 22. BORN: 12 August 2020 in Sofia, Bulgaria. NATIONALITY: Bulgarian [11 caps, 4 goals]. Milen was a promising right-winger when we acquired him from Slavia Sofia aged 15 in the summer of 2036. He would make his senior debut that December during a comfortable away win over Tottenham Hotspur. He then spent the next three seasons out on loan at Ceské Budejovice, Blackburn Rovers and Guimaraes, with moderate success. By the time he turned 20, though, he was ready for regular first-team action at Rainham Road. Danchev has never really managed to hold down a regular starting place over the past three campaigns, as I rarely use wingers. His pace, work rate and crossing skills have enabled him to retrain as a wing-back, where he's seen a lot more action recently. There is little doubting that the young Bulgaria international is one of our most skilful players, not to mention one of our most frustrating. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if he finally emerged as a key player under the new regime at Dagenham. 8. Orlando Salvador (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 262 apps, 64 goals (2036-present). THIS SEASON: 13 apps, 2 goals. POSITION(S): Attacking Midfielder/Central Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 10in. WEIGHT: 11st 11lb. AGE: 26. BORN: 20 February 2017 in Braga, Portugal. NATIONALITY: Portuguese [24 caps, 5 goals]. I first took an interest in Orlando when he was very young, eventually nabbing him on a free transfer aged 19 when his contract at hometown club Braga expired. He needed little time to settle into our team and become a creative tour de force in attacking midfield. His sublime skill and exceptional flair made him one of the Premier League's most exciting young players, and he spearheaded our charge towards the top echelons. It was in 2039/2040 that Salvador took his game to another level, racking up 13 goals and 13 assists in all competition. He was named the PFA Young Player of the Year - an award he would retain the following season after registering 11 goals and 10 assists in the PL alone. He was a Portugal international and Dagenham's vice-captain by then. He would shortly be promoted to the top on-pitch leadership role, having captained us to victory over Empoli in the Champions League Final in his homeland. 2041/2042 was a mild disappointment for Orlando, who didn't quite match those outstanding statistics but was still our best attacking player on the pitch bar none. He also suffered a couple of minor injuries, though they were nothing compared to what he had to endure this term. A broken foot and a broken ankle resulted in our skipper missing most of the season, though he did lift the league title after scoring a last-minute stunner on the final day against Chelsea. Let's hope that is not the end of his glorious Daggers career. 10. Gianfranco Torre (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 141 apps, 49 goals (2040-present). THIS SEASON: 41 apps, 19 goals. POSITION(S): Forward. HEIGHT: 6ft 2in. WEIGHT: 13st 5lb. AGE: 28. BORN: 28 December 2014 in Sant'Antonio Abate, Italy. NATIONALITY: Italian [28 caps, 4 goals]. Gianfranco was born near Naples but grew up near Rome, where he broke into the Roma first-team before moving on to Empoli in January 2040. Four-and-a-half months later, we acquired the imposing and newly-capped Italy centre-forward for £7million. It would take him a while to settle in England, but he eventually finished his first Premier League campaign with eight goals and 11 assists. He also ended the season by overcoming his previous employers to win the Champions League. Torre's powerful shooting could be wayward at times in that first season, but he became more clinical later on. A strong end to 2041/2042 set him up for his best campaign yet, in which he secured 19 goals and 13 assists in all competitions. He had emerged as the Daggers' top scorer, and a top-class forward who could single-handedly turn a match on its head. Franco's long-term future at Rainham Road appears uncertain, as he is about to enter the final year of his contract and has probably reached the peak of his abilities. 11. Leonardo Arrieta (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 11 apps, 0 goals (2043-present). THIS SEASON: 11 apps, 0 goals. POSITION(S): Left-Back/Left Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 9in. WEIGHT: 11st 9lb. AGE: 28. BORN: 27 April 2015 in Vina del Mar, Chile. NATIONALITY: Chilean [9 caps, 0 goals]. My most expensive Daggers signing, Leonardo cost us £27.5million to buy him off Real Valladolid on the most recent deadline day. We got ourselves a dogged left-flanker whose work ethic made him just as effective a defensive winger as a full-back. The Chilean - who has a laughably low number of international caps - made one of our weakest areas into a strength and played a big role in us closing out the Premier League title. Leo has played 11 times for the Daggers and has thus far yet to taste defeat. 12. Frédéric Pereira (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 157 apps, 16 goals (2039, 2040-present). THIS SEASON: 32 apps, 2 goals. POSITION(S): Defensive Midfielder/Central Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 11in. WEIGHT: 12st 1lb. AGE: 30. BORN: 9 August 2012 in Saint-Paul-les-Daux, France. NATIONALITY: French [55 caps, 6 goals]. Frédéric started his career as a defensive midfielder for Monaco and then moved to Marseille, where he won the first of his France caps. Less than a year later, in January 2039, he was deemed surplus to requirements at the Stade Vélodrome. We took the opportunity to loan him in for the rest of that season, and boy did he make his difference. As well as having the bravery and stamina you'd expect from a typical Dagenham ball-winner, he also possessed sublime technical ability that could make a difference when going forward. Pereira briefly returned to Marseille the following summer but failed to regain his place there. As our fortunes declined without the fiery Frenchman, we forked out £10million to sign him permanently in 2040. Not only did he pick up where he left off, but he also began to add goalscoring to his list of talents. We had ourselves a fine player, and his first full season at Rainham Road - 2040/2041 - was arguably the finest of his career. He ended that campaign by becoming a two-time European champion at international and club level. Nicknamed Frédi by all at Dagenham, his ambition and desire embodies what this club has become about under my tenure. He has continued to shine on the pitch, even after celebrating his 30th birthday on the eve of this season. There are few players that I would trust with my life more than this marvel, who is contracted to the Daggers for at least the next couple of seasons. 13. António (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 7 apps, 0 goals (2041-present). THIS SEASON: 5 apps, 0 goals. POSITION(S): Goalkeeper. HEIGHT: 5ft 11in. WEIGHT: 12st 8lb. AGE: 19. BORN: 28 July 2023 in Guimaraes, Portugal. NATIONALITY: Portuguese [capped at Under-21s level]. António joined us in 2041 after quickly breaking into the first-team at Guimaraes. He has not yet made his Premier League debut for Dagenham, but he has had a few outings in domestic and European competitions, with mixed results. The Portugal Under-21s starlet commands his area well for a relatively small goalkeeper and looks like he could put serious pressure on Kayo Rowe's number 1 jersey if his development continues. 16. Daniel Murdoch (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 7 apps, 3 goals (2043). THIS SEASON: 7 apps, 3 goals. POSITION(S): Attacking Midfielder/Right Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 11in. WEIGHT: 12st 3lb. AGE: 27. BORN: 6 January 2016 in Edgware, London. NATIONALITY: English [capped at Under-21s level]. Ex-Chelsea midfielder Daniel joined us on loan from Valencia in January after captain Orlando Salvador suffered another serious injury. The flamboyant North Londoner scored in each of his first three Dagenham appearances and always did well whenever called upon in the Premier League. While his stay at Rainham Road will only be a short one, it has been a very sweet one as well, and he'll still be remembered by hardcore Daggers for years to come. 19. Juan Esteban Olvera (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 70 apps, 1 goal (2041-present). THIS SEASON: 30 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Left-Back. HEIGHT: 5ft 10in. WEIGHT: 11st 4lb. AGE: 24. BORN: 14 July 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. NATIONALITY: Mexican [39 caps, 0 goals]. Juan Esteban was the top-level left-back we had been crying out for, so I was delighted when I tied up a £17.5million deal with Ajax two summers ago. The magnificent Mexican often showed great anticipation and rarely mistimed a tackle during that first campaign, in which he starred in FIFA Club World Championship and FA Cup victories. If there was a slight weakness to his game, it was that his crossing ability was perhaps not strong enough for a wing-back. This season hasn't been quite so enjoyable for Olvera on a personal level. When I switched to fielding a 3-4-1-2 formation more regularly, his inability to play as a defensive winger saw him become less important. He did have his moments now and then, scoring his first Dagenham goal in our FA Cup exit against Arsenal - my final defeat as manager, no less. However, the subsequent arrival of Leonardo Arrieta has cast further doubt over whether Juanes will still be a Dagger in the long run. 20. Stevie Merson (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 44 apps, 10 goals (2038-present). THIS SEASON: 20 apps, 5 goals. POSITION(S): Forward. HEIGHT: 6ft 0in. WEIGHT: 12st 3lb. AGE: 21. BORN: 10 March 2022 in Barkingside, London. NATIONALITY: English [capped at Under-21s level]. Born and raised in Redbridge, local lad Stevie was one of our most exciting academy products when he emerged in 2038. Two years later, while still a teenager, the striker rattled Liverpool with two explosive substitute appearances - getting two assists in one game, and then bagging a late winner in another. He went on on loan, scoring 10 Championship goals with Watford before netting eight in the Premier League for Fulham. After impressing on his return to Dagenham in the first half of 2041, Merson went back to Fulham for the whole of the next campaign. A return of 10 PL goals in 33 games prompted me to put him in the Daggers first-team for good ahead of the 2042/2043 campaign. Often consumed by nerves, he has not yet fulfilled his immense promise, only scoring in three senior games this term. That being said, a dramatic winner at the Nou Camp against Barcelona tells me that it's only a matter of time before Merse proves just how great centre-forward he can be. 23. Lee Allen (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 165 apps, 11 goals (2034-present). THIS SEASON: 32 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Defensive Midfielder/Central Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 9in. WEIGHT: 11st 9lb. AGE: 24. BORN: 1 July 2018 in Enfield, London. NATIONALITY: English [1 cap, 0 goals]. Another of our youth graduates, Lee made his first-team debut as a defensive midfielder in 2036. He later emerged as a brave ball-winner during loan spells at Swansea City and Sheffield Wednesday in the lower leagues. Come 2039/2040, I decided to give him more action with the Daggers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he did not look out of place as we finished 4th in the Premier League that season and qualified for the Champions League. Allen has remained a semi-regular at Rainham Road and is often used to close out a match whenever one of our top holding or ball-winning midfielders is tiring. While nobody has ever predicted that he would be world-class, he is the perfect example of a player who makes full use of his skills. His work rate and strength even impressed England boss Marcus Appleton enough to give him an international cap against Uruguay this March. While I do fear for his Daggers future when I'm not around, he perhaps could be appreciated a lot more by the wider footballing public. 24. Raju Gomes (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 24 apps, 1 goal (2038-present). THIS SEASON: 24 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Centre-Back. HEIGHT: 6ft 4in. WEIGHT: 14st 0lb. AGE: 23. BORN: 8 December 2019 in Panaji, India. NATIONALITY: Indian [42 caps, 2 goals]. We bought Raju from Dempo Sports in India five years ago, and then loaned him to Sloboda Uzice and 1.FC Koln for a couple of seasons apiece. Having emerged as an imposing defender with excellent marking and aerial abilities, he joined our first-team squad last summer. Even though he was only our fourth-choice centre-back, he made 20 starts and enjoyed a career highlight in January, when a dramatic equaliser against Norwich City prolonged our unbeaten run. He later became the first South Asian player ever to win one of the so-called 'Big Five' European leagues. 25. Johnathan (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 22 apps, 4 goals (2042-present). THIS SEASON: 22 apps, 4 goals. POSITION(S): Forward/Right Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 9in. WEIGHT: 11st 2lb. AGE: 19. BORN: 25 March 2024 in Tremembé, Brazil. NATIONALITY: Brazilian [capped at Under-20s level]. Johnathan completed his long-awaited move to the Daggers last June, two years after we'd initially agreed a £1.6million fee with Corinthians. The Sao Paulo native has since shown incredible promise as either a skilful inside-forward or a 'fox-in-the-box' poacher. His Premier League record reads two goals and three assists in 13 games, but that's only the start of what could be a glittering career in East London. If he can bulk up a bit and become more composed, goodness knows what he'll be capable of. 27. Benjamin Guerin (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 39 apps, 2 goals (2040-present). THIS SEASON: 29 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Defensive Midfielder/Central Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 10in. WEIGHT: 11st 6lb. AGE: 21. BORN: 30 June 2021 in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. NATIONALITY: French [capped at Under-21s level]. France Under-21s anchor man Benjamin was a free signing from Nice in the summer of 2040. He made a few first-team appearances with us later that year before going on loan to Anderlecht and then Tottenham Hotspur to build up his top-level experience. Beni has continued his rapid development upon rejoining the Daggers this season, featuring in half of our Premier League matches. As soon as he brushes up on his marking skills, the club might just have its long-term successor to Kenneth Jorgensen. 28. Josh Beadle (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 25 apps, 2 goals (2040-present). THIS SEASON: 14 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Attacking Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 10in. WEIGHT: 11st 4lb. AGE: 18. BORN: 29 June 2024 in Dagenham, London. NATIONALITY: English [capped at Under-19s level]. Josh has been labelled 'the next Paul Gascoigne', and there's certainly a bit of the unpredictable about this creative homegrown talent. A debut first-team outing at the end of 2040/2041 was followed by five Premier League appearances the next season, and nine in the campaign just gone. He's scored twice in that time but could have been even more productive if he wasn't so greedy. Mind you, time is very much on his side, and I'm confident that he will knuckle down and really kick on over the coming years. Players Out On Loan 22. Andrija Marjanovic (Forward, age 18, Montenegrin) - On loan at Coventry City. Strong centre-forward scored 14 Premier League goals, despite slow start. Set to become an incredible goalscorer. 26. Michal Twardzik (Attacking Midfielder, age 22, Czech) - On loan at Roma. Missed three months with calf muscle tear but still had productive season. Very creative Czech Republic international. 29. Giorgio Facheris (Right-Back, age 18, Italian) - On loan at Sunderland. Struggled in Championship but still an exciting talent. Incredibly determined to realise his potential. 30. Bruno Rommel (Goalkeeper, age 22, German) - On loan at Greuther Furth. Conceded 54 goals as club were relegated from Bundesliga. Probably won't make the grade at Dagenham now. 31. Jimmy Cullen (Centre-Back, age 21, English) - On loan at Burnley. Had an average season as Clarets missed Championship play-offs. Tends to make too many mistakes to reach the top. 32. Matty Gilligan (Centre-Back, age 20, English) - On loan at West Ham United. One of Hammers' stand-out players. Could be Daggers' long-term replacement for Nathan Guppy. 33. Peter Mikkelsen (Forward, age 20, Danish) - On loan at Espanyol. Eight goals and four assists in 15 La Liga appearances. Excellent finisher who is making strong progress. 34. Paolo Zoppe (Central Midfielder, age 19, Italian) - On loan at Valenciennes. Regular starter in VA side who finished 4th in Ligue 1. Playmaker might be loaned out again next term. 38. Kurt Walker (Central Midfielder, age 20, English) - On loan at Corby Town. Played in Championship Play-Off Final defeat. Development has been seriously set back by injuries. 40. Dan Carr (Central Midfielder, age 20, English) - On loan at Cardiff City. Made six assists in Championship for Bluebirds. Very fit, but probably not up to Daggers standard. 42. George Beadle (Right-Back, age 21, English) - On loan at Ceské Budejovice. Couldn't save club from relegation out of Czech First Division. Contract expires in the summer. 47. Alex Ketchell (Right Midfielder, age 22, English) - On loan at Nottingham Forest. Some discipline problems, but still got six goals and eight assists. Could break into Daggers first-team next term. 48. Alfie Blackburn (Forward, age 18, English) - On loan at Swansea City. Excellent start to spell in League One before fading late on. Tireless and enthusiastic deep-lying forward. 53. Terry Brightly (Goalkeeper, age 18, English) - On loan at Swansea City. Five clean sheets and 12 goals conceded in 14 appearances. Has a bright future, if you'll excuse the pun. 71. Kingsley Musa (Forward, age 20, Nigerian) - On loan at Genoa. Struggled to hold down starting place but still scored seven Serie A goals. 12-cap Nigeria striker's long-term future is uncertain. Reserve & Under-18s Players 35. Matty Maddison (Left Midfielder, age 21, English) - Progress has stalled after brief loan spell at Ceské Budejovice. Will be released in summer. 36. Ebenezer Agyemang (Defensive Midfielder, age 17, German) - Already made four league appearances. Destined to be an outstanding holding midfielder. 37. Trond Christian Bjorknes (Left-Back, age 17, Norwegian) - Struggled in one League Cup outing this season but still highly-rated. Fierce determination bodes well. 39. John Bond (Left-Back, age 19, English) - Had decent half-season at Millwall before breaking his ankle in November. Struggled to fulfil his potential since then. 41. Gary Bannon (Centre-Back, age 18, Scottish) - Played twice in League Cup and once in Premier League. Raw talent who could benefit from loan spell next season. 43. Gareth Sainsbury (Right-Back, age 16, English) - Exciting wing-back with a very professional attitude. Future captaincy material if his rapid progress continues. 44. Martin King (Goalkeeper, age 19, English) - Loaned to Doncaster Rovers earlier this season but struggled. Overshadowed by younger, more promising keepers. 45. Bradley Douglas (Centre-Back, age 19, English) - Composed and resolute defender. Returned from Northampton Town and made senior Daggers debut at Nou Camp. 46. Lucky Moloi (Defensive Midfielder, age 18, English) - Signed his first professional contract at end of season. Has potential if he becomes more of a team player. 49. Ken Burton (Central Midfielder, age 19, English) - Marked Daggers debut with free-kick assist on final day against Chelsea. Previously on loan at Wrexham. 50. Altino Schramm (Attacking Midfielder, age 16, Swiss) - Diminutive but dynamic talent. Has scored and assisted many goals at youth and reserve level. 51. Bertie Gerken (Left Midfielder, age 18, English) - Hard worker who has improved a lot over past 12 months. Top scorer in Under-18s league this season. 52. Liam O'Leary (Defensive Midfielder, age 16, English) - Strong tackler who's been tipped as future first-teamer. Inconsistency is a minor concern. 54. Pat French (Forward, age 16, English) - Rated highly by youth coaches despite mediocre goal return this season. Quick off the mark but very aggressive. 55. Robert de Jong (Centre-Back, age 16, Dutch) - Rock solid in UEFA Youth League and with Under-18s team this season. Current Holland Under-19s international. 56. Nicky Barton (Central Midfielder, age 18, English) - Determined box-to-box midfielder. Could make the grade at a high level, if not at Dagenham. 57. Allan Cullen (Right Midfielder, age 16, English) - Comfortable on right wing or in attacking midfield role. Needs to become a lot braver to reach potential. 58. Odain Allen (Forward, age 17, English) - Talented striker with bags of pace and ability. Also a fine athlete who possesses an excellent fitness record. 59. Troy Woodward (Forward, age 17, English) - Budding target man is strong in the air and has great off-the-ball awareness. Looks to have a promising future. 60. Noel Walker (Forward, age 17, English) - Very quick, but finishing is simply not up to scratch for a striker. Set to be released at end of season. 61. Joe Caton (Goalkeeper, age 16, English) - Most exciting keeper to come out of our academy. Very agile and flexible, and is a reserved character. 62. David Kasungu (Central Midfielder, age 17, Angolan) - Ambitious playmaker has good first touch and passing abilities. Other parts of his game are lacking. 63. Jimmy Cleary (Right-Back, age 17, English) - Versatile defender who can play anywhere across the backline. Perhaps a little too weak physically. 64. Grant Schulz (Right-Back, age 17, English) - Has not developed quickly enough in final youth season. Unlikely to have a future at top level. 65. Jack Spiller (Central Midfielder, age 16, English) - Average midfield playmaker and occasional full-back. Needs to be more than a utility player. 66. Chester McKenzie (Central Midfielder, age 18, English) - Has a lot of stamina but little technical ability. Has also been let go after youth scholarship. 67. Stelios Kalogeris (Defensive Midfielder, age 17, Greek) - One of our most disappointing youth players this term. Needs to improve hugely over coming months. 68. Ross Porter (Central Midfielder, age 16, English) - A sporting midfielder with a positive attitude. Perhaps lacking on the creative side of things. 69. Jacob Newton (Forward, age 17, English) - Centre-forward has struggled to make his mark so far. Lack of pace or work ethic does not look promising. New Under-18s Scholars Darren Cochrane (Right Midfielder), Justin Eames (Left Midfielder), Wayne Finch (Left-Back), Rob Hollis (Forward), Marc Holmes (Right Midfielder), Simon Johnson (Left Midfielder), Scott Keevil (Central Midfielder), Wayne Kewell (Central Midfielder), Andre Leacock (Centre-Back), Macaulay Lucas (Right-Back), Will Moyses (Right-Back), Robbie West (Centre-Back)
  5. CFuller

    House of Flying Daggers

    Dagenham & Redbridge - 2042/2043 Premier League champions: Part 1 Since 2011, the Premier League had been won on 31 out of 32 occasions by Arsenal, Manchester City or Manchester United. It would take an outstanding team to break the dominance of the 'Big Three'. Dagenham & Redbridge had never finished higher than 4th in the PL before the 2042/2043 season. We did, though, have plenty of experience of bloodying the giants' noses. It was perhaps only a matter of time before we toppled them; I just didn't expect us to do that quite as soon as we did. With an impenetrable defence, a world-class midfield, and quality depth in attack, we certainly had the makings of a great side. Our players also possessed bags of stamina and immense spirit, and they all worked tremendously together to be even greater than the sum of their parts. After a shaky start to the season, we went on a run of 32 consecutive league matches without defeat, which saw us scale up the table. We took top spot from Arsenal in February and eventually finished seven points clear to win our first league championship. Let's now have a look at the players who'd achieved what even the most optimistic Daggers fans would've thought was unimaginable not that long ago. Ladies and gentlemen, these are your league champions... (All information is correct as of 31 May 2043. All appearance and goal records include first-team matches only. Essex Senior League records are not included.) Fans' Team of the Year 1. Kayo Rowe (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 182 apps, 0 goals (2036-present). THIS SEASON: 49 apps, 0 goals. POSITION(S): Goalkeeper. HEIGHT: 6ft 0in. WEIGHT: 13st 3lb. AGE: 25. BORN: 30 May 2018 in Bootle, Merseyside. NATIONALITY: English [37 caps, 0 goals]. Kayo was a raw but promising goalkeeper when we signed him from boyhood club Everton aged 18. He would make his senior debut just a few months later, helping us to beat West Ham United at the Olympic Stadium in November 2036. He finished that campaign on loan at our Czech feeder club Ceské Budejovice and later enjoyed a couple of half-season stints at Huddersfield Town in the Championship. Rowe became a first-team squad member in 2039, originally serving as Ben Perk's deputy. The latter's decline in form saw the youngster get an extended run in the team, and some composed performances established himself as our new first-choice goalkeeper. At the end of that season, he was immediately elevated to the England squad, becoming the first Dagger to represent the Three Lions at senior level. He went on to keep goal for his country at UEFA Euro 2040 and the 2042 FIFA World Cup. The number 1 shirt came Kayo's way in 2040/2041. The agile shotstopper kept 26 clean sheets in 52 senior appearances during our Champions League-winning campaign, though he struggled with injuries and inconsistency the next season. It wasn't until this term that emerged as a truly elite goalkeeper, proving himself to be mentally as well as technically strong when he played every minute of our title charge. He will surely remain a key player for both Dagenham and England for at least the next decade. 5. Nathan Guppy (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 42 apps, 4 goals (2042-present). THIS SEASON: 42 apps, 4 goals. POSITION(S): Centre-Back. HEIGHT: 6ft 5in. WEIGHT: 14st 0lb. AGE: 31. BORN: 3 January 2012 in London. NATIONALITY: English [103 caps, 8 goals]. After over 400 Premier League appearances for his beloved West Ham United, Nathan would probably have never contemplated signing for Dagenham & Redbridge. The legendary central defender rocked East London to its core in January 2042, when it was announced that he would join us on a free transfer for the following campaign. With his desire to win the league becoming apparent as he entered the second half of his career, crossing over to Rainham Road proved to be just the right move for him. Guppy was originally going to be our vice-captain, though he led the Daggers through most of his first campaign at the club due to Orlando Salvador's injury woes. The giant Londoner and future England centurion went on to put in some consistently strong performances, which saw him named as the PFA Player of the Year and the Dagenham Fans' Player of the Year. He was the last major piece of our league-winning jigsaw, and I honestly think we'd still be awaiting that elusive title if we hadn't brought him in. 18. Michael Walters (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 126 apps, 11 goals (2037-present). THIS SEASON: 45 apps, 5 goals. POSITION(S): Centre-Back. HEIGHT: 6ft 2in. WEIGHT: 12st 12lb. AGE: 21. BORN: 17 August 2021 in Port Talbot, Neath Port Talbot. NATIONALITY: Welsh [30 caps, 0 goals]. Michael played in five Welsh Premier League matches for Afan Lido at the age of 15 and quickly caught the attention of our scouting woodwork. The budding ball-playing defender steadily made his way through our youth and reserve teams after moving to Rainham Road, and he was first capped by Wales just before his 17th birthday. After winning promotion with Blackburn Rovers during a loan spell in 2040, and then helping his country reach the European Championship Final, I felt he was ready for more first-team action. Walters was a semi-regular during the next two seasons, as he brushed up on his tactical knowledge and ironed out the flaws in his game. 2042/2043 was when he really kicked on, usurping the great George Darvill to become one of the first names on my teamsheet. He is already regarded as one of Europe's top covering defenders at such a tender age, and I can only see him getting even better and becoming a true Daggers legend. 6. George Darvill (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 494 apps, 34 goals (2029-present). THIS SEASON: 31 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Centre-Back. HEIGHT: 6ft 4in. WEIGHT: 14st 2lb. AGE: 30. BORN: 19 May 2013 in Dagenham, London. NATIONALITY: English [capped at Under-21s level]. The son of an engineer at the Ford Dagenham automotive factory, George had a humble upbringing but became a Daggers deity. The tall central defender made his first-team debut as a 15-year-old in 2029, when he came off the bench against Charlton Athletic in our final match as a League One club. That began a rapid ascent up the ranks, which culminated in him becoming a regular starter and a Fans' Player of the Year winner before he was out of his teens. I've always wondered how things would've turned out for Darvill if I had gone ahead with my plans to loan him to Bristol Rovers in 2030. Instead, he stayed at Dagenham and became a true one-club man. He was undroppable in our Championship Play-Off-winning campaign and ever-present during our Premier League debut, and it wasn't long before he'd obtained legendary status at what is now Rainham Road. Our supporters have subsequently handed him an incredible EIGHT Player of the Year awards over the seasons. King George's form did drop off a little bit this season, as he was knocked down the pecking order and was no longer assured regular starts. That being said, he is still very close to reaching 500 Daggers appearances as well as breaking Chris Lewington's club record of 446 league games (he's currently on 421). Pitifully, he has never been capped by the England senior team, though he was an unused squad member for several years. 2. Enrique Álvarez (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 154 apps, 5 goals (2039-present). THIS SEASON: 38 apps, 3 goals. POSITION(S): Right-Back/Right Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 9in. WEIGHT: 10st 12lb. AGE: 23. BORN: 10 August 2019 in Castellón, Spain. NATIONALITY: Spanish [26 caps, 0 goals]. Right-back was a traditional problem position for us until Enrique arrived from Valencia for a club-record £19.5million in 2039. Mind you, that large fee did seem to be a burden on the energetic Spaniard at first. He had real teething problems in his first couple of seasons on English soil, often freezing in high-pressure matches and struggling to control his discipline. Álvarez seemed to turn a corner in 2041, when I chose to limit his continental appearances and instead told him to focus on the Premier League. He became a much more solid defender as well as a more productive wing-back, especially in the season just gone. The fact that Manchester City are strongly rumoured to want to sign him after my departure shows how highly he is rated in the footballing community nowadays. Personally, I hope we keep hold of him for what should be the best years of his career. 4. Kenneth Jorgensen (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 283 apps, 6 goals (2036-present). THIS SEASON: 43 apps, 3 goals. POSITION(S): Defensive Midfielder/Central Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 11in. WEIGHT: 11st 13lb. AGE: 30. BORN: 23 November 2012 in Ribe, Denmark. NATIONALITY: Danish [65 caps, 7 goals]. Kenneth was playing semi-regularly in the centre of Pescara's midfield when we acquired him for £9million in 2036. It was the highest fee we'd ever spent on a player at the time, but in retrospect, we got an absolute bargain. The ice-cool Dane became the epitome of consistency in a holding role, instantly transforming us from a middling Premier League club to strong contenders for European places. Always strong in the tackle without ever going over the top, Jorgensen soon proved himself to be more than a mere holding midfielder. His pinpoint passing accuracy and quick-thinking made him an excellent deep-lying playmaker, which was especially useful whenever we needed to go more direct. Though some so-called fans would bemoan him for his lack of creativity compared to other midfielders, true Daggers supporters fully appreciated what he brought to the table. Kenny played in less than half of our Premier League matches in 2040/2041, but that was largely because I was saving him for our ultimately successful Champions League push. He went on to take the domestic scene by storm again over the next couple of seasons, when he widened his horizons and became more adept at covering for marauding wing-backs. After winning the league, he signed a new contract that will keep him at Rainham Road for at least two more years. 17. Eric Knox (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 55 apps, 9 goals (2038-present). THIS SEASON: 28 apps, 6 goals. POSITION(S): Central Midfielder/Attacking Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 7in. WEIGHT: 10st 12lb. AGE: 24. BORN: 26 March 2019 in Kingston, Ontario. NATIONALITY: Canadian [48 caps, 0 goals]. Eric was a low-risk £150,000 purchase from Montreal Impact in 2038, just prior to representing Canada at that year's World Cup. The midfielder went on to spend two seasons on loan at Sloboda Uzice, and one at Celtic, before obtaining his British work permit in 2041. Initially, I saw him as an advanced midfield playmaker, but he perhaps didn't have enough flair to carry out those duties effectively. Mind you, he did have a brief golden patch midway through his first season in the Daggers' senior team. It transpired early this season that Knox's stamina and versatility made him more suited to a box-to-box role. He thrived in that new position, scoring an unforgettable first-half hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in November before going on an assist spree in early 2043. Only three players contributed more Premier League assists this season than the Ontario native, who has almost instantly become a fan favourite. He's also renowned for his humility, having just agreed to a new four-year deal worth a mere £30,000 per week. 14. Hicham Martin (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 97 apps, 3 goals (2040-2043). THIS SEASON: 27 apps, 1 goal. POSITION(S): Left-Back. HEIGHT: 5ft 11in. WEIGHT: 11st 13lb. AGE: 27. BORN: 19 April 2016 in Manchester. NATIONALITY: English [2 caps, 0 goals]. Hicham joined us from Rochdale in 2040 as a decent left-back option who would also help us fulfil our quota of English players. The Mancunian started on that unforgettable night in Lisbon, but appearances thereafter became more sporadic. A hamstring tear in early 2042 set him back greatly, though he still featured in half of our Premier League matches during our title-winning season. That was the perfect way for him to bow out before he leaves Rainham Road in the summer and moves to... West Ham United. 15. Kamil Lewandowski (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 33 apps, 9 goals (2042-present). THIS SEASON: 33 apps, 9 goals. POSITION(S): Attacking Midfielder/Central Midfielder. HEIGHT: 5ft 10in. WEIGHT: 11st 6lb. AGE: 34. BORN: 16 February 2009 in Witten, Germany. NATIONALITY: Polish [54 caps, 10 goals]. I turned down the opportunity to sign Kamil from Paris Saint-Germain for peanuts in 2040. The ex-Poland attacking midfielder was a tad more expensive when he did arrive two years later, but the experience he gave to our championship challenge was priceless. He went on to finish the season with nine assists and nine goals, including a treble during that one-man fightback against Manchester United in March. That victory was perhaps the most significant one of all, so I'll always owe a debt of gratitude to the evergreen magician. 21. Antonis Siafos (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 140 apps, 67 goals (2040-present). THIS SEASON: 31 apps, 16 goals. POSITION(S): Forward. HEIGHT: 6ft 2in. WEIGHT: 13st 3lb. AGE: 26. BORN: 18 May 2017 in Kordelio, Greece. NATIONALITY: Greek [57 caps, 19 goals]. Antonis was the player I originally spurned to acquire £17.5million bust Alun Harding in early 2039. 12 months later, I went back to APOEL Nicosia and got the fresh-faced Greek hotshot for a more modest £4.9million. A promising return of seven goals in his first 21 appearances suggested that I probably should have signed 'Tony' instead of Alun in the first place. Originally acquired as a centre-forward with strong aerial ability, Siafos quickly switched to a more advanced role in our attack. He surpassed the 20-goal mark in the 2040/2041 and 2041/2042 seasons, topping our scoring charts in the former campaign. He wasn't quite so prolific this term, but his increasing selflessness was no detriment to the team at all. Whether he'll stay at Rainham Road for the long haul after I'm gone is doubtful, though there'll be no shortage of takers if the new regime decides to sell. 9. Elliot Cook (PROFILE) DAGGERS RECORD: 143 apps, 79 goals (2035-present). THIS SEASON: 29 apps, 18 goals. POSITION(S): Forward. HEIGHT: 6ft 0in. WEIGHT: 12st 6lb. AGE: 24. BORN: 25 March 2019 in Dagenham, London. NATIONALITY: English [5 caps, 3 goals]. Dagenham boy Elliot made his senior debut on an emotional afternoon in May 2035, when we lost heavily to Manchester City in our final match at Victoria Road. That was also the last fixture of our maiden Premier League campaign. The jet-heeled poacher didn't play for us the following year, as he instead honed his craft in the Under-18s before being farmed out to Plymouth Argyle. Sadly, the 16-year-old tore his calf muscle on his Plymouth debut - the first of several troublesome injuries he would sustain over the course of his career. After a difficult loan spell at Leighton Town in late 2037, Cook returned to Dagenham, scoring his first top-flight goal against Brighton & Hove Albion in February 2038. That gave him the confidence to find the net nine times for Ipswich Town when he was loaned to the newly-promoted Suffolk club in 2038/2039. By the following summer, he was ready to break into Dagenham's senior team and showcase his finishing abilities to our fans on a regular basis. 'Cookie' was our top scorer in 2039/2040, though most of his goals came in cup competitions. He then turned his guns back to the Premier League, scoring 13 goals in 20 games, 15 in 23, and 16 in 22 over the next three seasons. Had it not been for that injury record, he would surely have played in a lot more matches, including the 2041 Champions League Final. Even so, the future looks tremendously bright for a man who made his senior England debut last August and will hopefully head his country's attack at Euro 2044.
  6. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    *** Wednesday 4 November. A typical cold and wet midweek morning in Stoke-on-Trent. Premier League mid-tablers Stoke City had just spent the morning working hard on the training ground, in preparation for a weekend home game against 3rd-placed Manchester City. After training, manager Ryan Giggs called his players over to deliver their feedback. "That was great stuff, lads," the Welshman began. "You're looking sharp and focussed for Saturday. We may not have won in three matches, but if you carry that focus into the Man City game, anything could happen. Let's call it a day there and hit the showers." Giggs then turned to Peter Turner - the teenage right-back who'd enjoyed a strong start to the season while on loan from his boyhood club Chelsea. He smiled, "Great work again, Peter. You've really impressed me... and I'm not the only one." Giggs' assistant Roy Keane told Turner, "There's someone who wants to speak to you in the players' lounge." Turner asked, in a soft west London accent, "For real? Who is it?" "That would be telling," Keane smirked. He then called goalkeeper Jack Butland over, "Jack! Can you take Turner here to the players' lounge once you've changed?" "Sure thing, Roy," Butland nodded. "Alright, lads, off you pop," Giggs smiled, before cryptically adding, "And congratulations." Half an hour later, Turner and Butland - now showered and changed - entered the players' lounge. Upon seeing the sight of a bald, bespectacled middle-aged man on one of the settees, Turner whispered to Butland, "That can't be... can it?" "That's the big man, all right," Butland nodded. "Afternoon, gentlemen," England manager Mark Catterall called out in his broad Lancastrian accent. "Take a seat with us! Don't be shy!" The players shook Catterall's hand before sitting down either side of him - Turner to the manager's right, and Butland to his left. Catterall then put his arms around the pair and said, "It's not going badly for you two, is it? 10 games, 10 goals conceded, 10th place... only two defeats!" Butland said, "Yeah, we've been mid-table for a few seasons now, and it's looking that we're going that way again. I'm not complaining, mind." "I'm having a great time here, Mr Catterall," Turner smiled. "Jack and all the other lads have really helped me settle quickly. It's been a massive learning curve." Catterall nodded, "So it has, son. You were sent off on the first day of the season, weren't you?" Turner shuddered a little as he recalled Stoke's opening Premier League match at Leicester City. He was 73 minutes into his top-flight matches when he took leave of his senses and hacked Foxes forward Patrick Roberts to the turf with a two-footed challenge. Stoke still went on to win the match 3-0 without Turner, but the teenager wasn't let off the hook. "Roy gave you a right good bollocking after that, didn't he?" Butland recalled. "So did some of us senior players. But you learned a lot that day, didn't you?" Turner agreed, "Yeah. I don't want to do anything stupid like that again. Got me banned for three games, it did." Catterall asked, "So you've had eight games since then, and you've started... seven of them, I think?" As Turner nodded affirmatively, the England boss continued, "And I don't seem to recall you making too many mistakes. You've matured really quickly, if I may say so myself. David Byrne from the Under-21s says the same as well." Turner, who'd won three caps for the Under-21s, said, "Cheers. I always want to impress my coaches, and I'm gonna give my all in the play-offs next week." Catterall sighed, "Well... here's the thing, lad. You won't be in the Under-21s squad next week." Turner felt his heart sank, only to hear Catterall add, "You'll be with the seniors instead." Butland beamed, "Oh my God, mate! Congratulations!" Turner asked unbelievingly, "The seniors? For real? But... I'm only 19!" Catterall said, "Luke Shaw was 18 when he made his England debut. If you're good enough, you're old enough." "I... I don't know what to say, except... why now?" Catterall explained, "To be honest, son, there aren't many English right-backs playing regularly in the Premier League. There's you, and Calum Chambers at Everton, and then we're really scraping the barrel. [Nathaniel] Clyne's not played for Liverpool for weeks, and [Kyle] Walker's basically finished at Spurs. Their best days are behind them, but yours are way ahead of you. "When it comes to the Under-21s, you've got Trent [Alexander-Arnold] who's above you, and they're gonna need Trent's experience against the Czechs. That's why I'm promoting you; you'll learn a lot more sitting on the bench with the senior players than you would sitting on the bench with the other kids. Who knows, if you work hard enough, maybe I'll give you a few minutes against the Ivory Coast." Turner gasped, "Wow. Thanks, Mr Catterall. Thanks for this opportunity." Catterall firmly grasped Turner's hand again and nodded, "You're welcome, son, but please... call me boss." He then turned to his left and asked Butland, "And now we come to you, Jack. How are you feeling right now?" Butland said, "I feel like I'm getting better and better as a goalkeeper every season, boss. I'm 27 now, and I'm starting to come into my prime." "You've kept at least 10 Premier League clean sheets in your last three seasons. You're on four already for this campaign. Only [David] De Gea at Manchester United and [Shinobu] Kodama at Arsenal have got more, so you're in good company." "In all fairness, boss, clean sheets don't mean everything. The whole defence do their bit; they really help me out." "A strong defence is nothing without an excellent goalkeeper, and that's what you are. You're agile, you're confident in the air, and you have a fantastic attitude. You are living proof that you don't have to play for a so-called big club to be considered one of Europe's best." Catterall then added, "And that's why - as things stand right now - you are gonna be my number 1 goalkeeper for the World Cup qualifiers." "Thank you, boss," Butland said. "I can't say it's gonna be easy taking over from Joe [Hart], but I'll do my very best. What about the other two lads - Freddie [Woodman] and Jordan [Pickford]?" "Freddie's a brilliant young talent, but he's not as consistent as you are right now. As for Jordan... again, he's not bad, but he hasn't got that proven quality in big matches with Sunderland. We'll see where they are in a few years. Right now, I have complete faith in you." "Cheers. I won't let you down." Turner then told Catterall, "And neither will I... boss." The following day, Catterall announced the senior England squad for their final UEFA Nations League group match in Belgium, along with the home friendly against the Ivory Coast. Also of interest to many was the Under-21s squad for their two-legged European Championship play-off with the Czech Republic. ENGLAND squad - for matches vs Belgium (A) and Ivory Coast (H) NAME POSITIONS D.O.B. (AGE) CLUB CAPS GOALS HEIGHT WEIGHT VALUE Jack Butland GK 10/03/1993 (27) Stoke 13 0 6'5" 14st 13lbs £19.75M Jordan Pickford GK 07/03/1994 (26) Sunderland 0 0 6'2" 12st 1lb £7.25M Freddie Woodman GK 04/03/1997 (23) Everton 4 0 6'1" 11st 2lbs £4.9M Calum Chambers D (RC) 20/01/1995 (25) Everton 21 0 6'0" 11st 6lbs £16.25M Mason Holgate D (RC) 22/10/1996 (24) Everton 4 0 5'11" 11st 13lbs £22.5M Michael Keane D (RC) 11/01/1993 (27) Man City 35 0 6'1" 13st 3lbs £31M John Stones D (RC) 28/05/1994 (26) Man City 49 1 6'2" 12st 3lbs £35M Peter Turner D (RC), WB/M (R) 09/03/2001 (19) Stoke 0 0 5'11" 11st 11lbs £2M Eric Dier D (RC), DM, M (C) 15/01/1994 (26) Tottenham 58 6 6'2" 13st 7lbs £37.5M Ben Chilwell D (LC), WB (L) 21/12/1996 (23) Liverpool 1 0 5'10" 12st 3lbs £24M Brendan Galloway D (LC), DM 17/03/1996 (24) Man Utd 5 0 6'2" 14st 0lbs £26M Luke Shaw D/WB (L) 12/07/1995 (25) Man Utd 43 2 6'1" 11st 11lbs £37M Lewis Cook DM, M (C) 03/02/1997 (23) Bournemouth 3 1 5'9" 11st 2lbs £10.75M Jordan Henderson DM, M (C) 17/06/1990 (30) Liverpool 77 4 6'0" 10st 7lbs £15.25M Rolando Aarons M/AM (RL) 16/11/1995 (24) West Ham 24 8 5'9" 10st 5lbs £15.5M Nathan Redmond M/AM (RL), ST (C) 06/03/1994 (26) Southampton 18 4 5'8" 11st 6lbs £17.75M Dele Alli M/AM (C) 11/04/1996 (24) Tottenham 61 6 6'1" 12st 1lb £34.5M Ross Barkley M/AM (C) 05/12/1993 (26) Everton 39 4 6'2" 11st 13lbs £30.5M Jack Wilshere M/AM (C) 01/01/1992 (28) Arsenal 72 11 5'9" 10st 3lbs £20M Marcus Rashford AM (L), ST (C) 31/10/1997 (23) Man Utd 14 5 5'11" 11st 9lbs £29.5M Daniel Sturridge AM (C), ST (C) 01/09/1989 (31) Valencia 52 27 6'0" 12st 6lbs £7M Harry Kane ST (C) 28/07/1993 (27) Tottenham 60 29 6'3" 13st 0lbs £34.5M Callum Wilson ST (C) 27/02/1992 (28) Chelsea 39 13 5'11" 10st 7lbs £27.5M There were four changes to the England side that had completed the last international window. The big news was that - after just three appearances for the Under-21s - Stoke City's on-loan Chelsea right-back Peter Turner had suddenly been promoted to the senior squad. Turner had shown great maturity while at Stoke, cementing his place as a regular starter for Ryan Giggs' side. If the Londoner was to be awarded with a first senior cap, he would be the first player born in the 21st century to represent England at the highest level. He would also be the first teenager to do so since Marcus Rashford in 2016. Another player in line for a maiden cap was Sunderland's goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. The 26-year-old Wearsider had been England's third-choice gloveman for some time, but it looked like his long wait to pull on his country's jersey would finally end in the home friendly against Ivory Coast. Three players - defenders Michael Keane and Mason Holgate, and winger Rolando Aarons - were recalled after recovering from injuries. Manchester United forward Rashford was also back in the squad by right, as Jesse Lingard was still recovering from the shin injury he'd sustained in that first UEFA Nations League match with Belgium in October. Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne was ruled out of contention a few days before the squad announcement, having damaged his foot in training. Mind you, Clyne would probably have been dropped by Catterall anyway, as he'd not played for the Reds since making a substitute appearance at Sunderland on 3 October. Norwich City's Lewis Dunk and Callum Gribbin were dropped, with the latter returning to the Under-21s for their crucial European Championship play-off. There was also no room for Newcastle United midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, while Tottenham Hotspur trio Danny Rose, Kyle Walker and James Ward-Prowse remained out of favour. ENGLAND UNDER-21s squad - for matches vs Czech Republic (A and H) NAME POSITIONS D.O.B. (AGE) CLUB CAPS GOALS HEIGHT WEIGHT VALUE Brian Farrell GK 14/02/2001 (19) Bury 1 0 6'2" 12st 6lbs £150K Will Mannion GK 05/05/1998 (22) Huddersfield 12 0 6'2" 13st 5lbs £6.5M Aaron Ramsdale GK 14/05/1998 (22) Luton 0 0 6'4" 10st 7lbs £110K Alistair Rattray SW, D (C) 17/02/2000 (20) West Brom 4 0 5'10" 11st 4lbs £1.4M Jordan Williams D (RLC) 22/10/1999 (21) Reading 3 0 6'1" 12st 12lbs £4.3M Joe Rankin-Costello D (RC), M/AM (RLC) 26/07/1999 (21) Burnley 14 1 5'10" 11st 6lbs £7.25M Ben Sheaf D (RC), M/AM (C) 05/02/1998 (22) Sheff Wed 7 1 6'0" 12st 6lbs £5M Adam Mingay D (C) 19/04/2000 (20) West Brom 5 0 6'0" 11st 9lbs £825K Reece Oxford D (C), DM 16/12/1998 (21) West Ham 14 0 6'3" 11st 11lbs £3.9M Trent Alexander-Arnold D/WB (R), DM 07/10/1998 (22) Derby 22 1 5'6" 9st 10lbs £7M Josh Tymon D/M (L) 22/05/1999 (21) Arsenal 12 0 5'9" 11st 2lbs £15.25M Ryan Sessegnon D/M/AM (L) 18/05/2000 (20) Leeds 6 0 5'11" 12st 6lbs £425K Tom Davies DM, M (C) 30/06/1998 (22) Watford 28 3 5'10" 11st 0lbs £7.75M Sam Field DM, M/AM (C) 08/05/1998 (22) QPR 14 2 5'10" 12st 1lb £8.25M Jonathan Leko M (R), AM (RL) 24/04/1999 (21) Brighton 9 1 6'2" 11st 2lbs £6.75M Reiss Nelson M (L), AM (RL) 10/12/1999 (20) Leicester 15 4 5'10" 11st 11lbs £5.25M Calum Wilson M (L), AM (RLC) 07/04/2001 (19) QPR 1 0 6'0" 12st 3lbs £525K Neil Campbell M (C), AM (RC) 23/05/2001 (19) Wolves 7 1 5'10" 11st 4lbs £2.9M Callum Gribbin M (C), AM (RC) 18/12/1998 (21) Norwich 6 1 5'11" 11st 13lbs £14M Stuart White M/AM (C) 12/10/2000 (20) Newcastle 7 1 5'10" 11st 4lbs £7.75M Lawrence Warner AM (RC), ST (C) 28/12/2000 (19) Brighton 8 6 6'0" 12st 6lbs £12.5M Eddie Nketiah ST (C) 30/05/1999 (21) Cardiff 11 6 5'10" 11st 6lbs £7M Chris Scott ST (C) 23/01/2001 (19) Leeds 1 1 5'11" 12st 12lbs £1.4M Some familiar faces returned to the England Under-21s fold ahead of the all-or-nothing European Championship play-off matches. Most notable among them was Gribbin, who rejoined David Byrne's Young Lions with two senior caps to his name. The on-loan Manchester United midfielder had recently come into form for Norwich after a somewhat slow start to his season. Arsenal winger Reiss Nelson also returned just in time. The flamboyant Londoner's second loan spell at Leicester City had been badly disrupted by a groin muscle tear, which he'd sustained in mid-September. Also back in the running was Reading right-back Jordan Williams, who was the beneficiary of fellow Chelsea loanee Turner's unexpected promotion. The two players to be cut from this squad were Championship widemen Jadon Sancho and Chris Willock, both of whom had been edged out by Gribbin and Nelson. These Young Lions weren't just battling to secure qualification for the 2021 European Under-21s Championship in Italy. Some top-flight players had the chance to put themselves in contention to follow Gribbin and Turner into the main squad for March's opening FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Catterall had already earmarked Brighton & Hove Albion winger Jonathan Leko as a potential senior player in the near future. The West Midlander had shown great improvement in recent months, even though Brighton were bottom of the Premier League. Leko's team-mate Lawrence Warner and Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Neil Campbell were also being talked about in terms of being fast-tracked. ENGLAND UNDER-19s squad - for matches vs France (A) and Kosovo (H) GOALKEEPERS: Dave Booth (Man Utd), Jackson Stevens (Chelsea), Josh Vokes (Tottenham) DEFENDERS: James Brown (Liverpool), Ray Butterfield (Oxford), Jordan Laing (Peterborough), Ted Lapslie (Watford), Joe Mooney (Barnsley), Stephen Nugent (Burnley), Tony Vincent (Colchester), Nick Ward (Arsenal) MIDFIELDERS: Darren Bennett (Carlisle), Paul Hancock (Hull), Ross Moan (Man Utd), Petros Mavros (Hull), Peter Owen (Rochdale), Christian Smith (Derby), Ashley Wells (Reading) FORWARDS: Ollie Elmes (Liverpool), Willie Field (Sheff Wed), Andre Forbes (West Ham), Anthony Hayward (Charlton), Henry Torpey (Brentford) The Under-19s had a couple of friendly matches in November, as they would face France in Lyon before hosting minnows Kosovo in Doncaster. If the Young Lions could avoid defeat in both matches, the European champions would complete 2020 with an unbeaten record - a fantastic achievement at any level. Only two players who had competed in the European Championship Qualifying Round the previous month were absent from these friendlies. Arsenal midfielder Tommy Miles was rested after spending four weeks out with a twisted ankle, while Charlton Athletic playmaker Ben Logan was dropped. Arsenal left-back Tony Vincent, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Peter Owen and Brentford centre-forward Henry Torpey were among four newcomers to the squad. The other uncapped player was Manchester United's reserve goalkeeper Dave Booth, whose team-mate Ross Moan was one of a trio of returning Young Lions. 18-year-old Willie Field had continued his blistering form for loan club Sheffield Wednesday, scoring 13 goals in just 16 games to send the Owls soaring clear at the top of the Championship. It seemed only a matter of time before the quicksilver Liverpool trainee was propelled into the Under-21s, if not further.
  7. Extended in 3D. Only switch to Comprehensive for cup Finals.
  8. It's on the Advanced Setup screen when starting a new game. Look under 'Advanced Options'.
  9. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    *** After watching his teenage daughter's England debut cut devastatingly short, Mark Catterall spent the night at a hotel in Milton Keynes. On Friday morning, he paid a visit to Milton Keynes University Hospital to see how she was bearing up after her injury. "Hi, I'm here to see Ashley Minton," he said at reception. "I'm afraid you'll have to wait, sir," the female receptionist told him. "We don't allow our patients to have more than two visitors at a time unless they're family." "But I am family! I'm her father!" "Is that true, sir? I believe Miss Minton's parents are visiting her right now." "Look... I'm her biological father. I need to see her." "You'll have to wait here until her parents have left, Mr..." "Catterall. Mark Catterall." A few eyebrows went up nearby upon hearing Catterall's name, but the receptionist insisted, "We don't make exceptions for anyone, Mr Catterall. Not even King Charles." A Liverpudlian man then walked behind Mark and said, "It's okay, Mark. We're just on our way." It was Craig Minton - Ashley's step-dad. Ashley's mother Kat added, "She's all yours now." "How's she holding up?" Mark asked. "As well as you'd expect, really. Anyway, I'm sure she'll tell you all about it." Craig added, "We're going home to Liverpool now to take after Nicola, but we'll come back over the weekend. Ashley's her own woman now; I'm sure she'll be fine." "Well, you take care, you two," Mark said before firmly shaking Craig's hand and hugging Kat. As the couple left, he turned to the receptionist and asked, "So... can I go visit her now?" Mark was led to an Accident & Emergency ward, where Ashley was lying on a bed with her left foot heavily bandaged. Ashley turned towards Mark and said, with a sense of surprise, "Dad? I weren't expecting you to visit me." "Well, after last night, I weren't just gonna leave my little girl on her own in a strange city with a broken ankle," Mark said as he sat on a nearby chair and gently stroked his daughter's forehead. "It ain't a broken ankle, Dad," Ashley stressed, before her voice started to crack. "It's worse. I've... I've torn me Achilles." Ashley then took a deep breath to try and recompose herself. Mark gasped, "A torn Achilles? Good grief, Ashley. I'm so sorry." With more strain in her voice, Ashley explained, "The doctors have put me in for surgery this afternoon. If that goes well, I'm looking at four, five months rehab. So, yeah... looks like I'm done for the season." "So does that mean you're gonna miss the Euros as well?" Ashley burst out sobbing after her dad's question. She wept, "It was my dream... to play at a big tournament for England, IN England. That won't happen now!" "Ashley, Ashley," Mark sighed. "You're only 19. There could be other opportunities. And anyway, when does this European Championship start?" "July. But Emma [Hayes] ain't gonna pick me if I ain't played in months." Mark shook his head. "You never know. From what I heard, she was really impressed by what she saw before the injury." "I suppose there's still a chance. Craig's a fitness trainer; I could get him to work with me and get me fit again sooner." "Don't be so hasty, love. When I did my cruciate at Derby County, before you were born, my manager Jim Smith told me not to rush into my recovery. He said that it would possibly make the injury worse in the long run. Serious injuries like these need a lot of time to properly heel." "What was it like when you had your injury, Dad?" Mark explained, "It was in a training match, on the day before we played Aston Villa at home. I got a bit too caught up in the moment, lunging in recklessly on Francesco Baiano - the little Italian striker. I felt a loud pop in my knee and collapsed in a heap. It was the worst physical pain I've ever had, no question. Mentally, only the deaths of my parents felt worse. "Within a few hours, my knee had swollen to almost the size of a football, and the medical staff had written me off for the year. When I came back eight months later, Seth Johnson had taken my place in the team. I ended up getting a transfer to Sunderland, where you were born." Ashley's eyes then perked up suddenly as a young brown-haired man holding a grey teddy bear came over to her bed. He said in a gentle Lincolnshire accent, "How are you, Ash? I thought I'd, er... get you something to keep you company." "You shouldn't have, Loz," Ashley gushed as she accepted the teddy and clutched it close to her. "And you shouldn't even be here!" Mark glanced at the man with some curiosity. He quickly realised that 'Loz' was the England Under-21s striker Lawrence Warner, who was on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion from parent club Liverpool. "Loz?" Mark asked. "What are you doing here?" "[Brighton manager] Alex Neil gave me the day off," Loz said. "Told him it was a family emergency. I know we've got a big game at Chelsea on Sunday, but..." Mark interrupted, "No, I mean WHAT are you doing here?" Ashley said, "Oh... I never told you, did I? Me and Loz... we're together." "Together? You mean... boyfriend and girlfriend together? Ashley nodded her head as Loz said, "We've been dating for a couple of years now. We just kept it a secret in case it made you want to drop me from the Under-21s." An increasingly bemused Mark raised his voice, "Why would you think I'd do THAT? I wouldn't treat you any differently from anyone else! That being said, I would have appreciated it if I'd known sooner!" "We were gonna tell you at some point when we were ready to!" "When was that gonna be, exactly? When you were about to take the penalty that would win England the World Cup, you were gonna turn to me and say, 'Oh yeah, boss, I'm screwing your daughter?' Was that what you had in mind?" Ashley blushed, "Don't talk about me like that, please, Dad?" Loz sought to defuse the situation, saying, "Just calm down, boss, yeah? At the end of the day, me and Ash are in love. I knew from the start that you were her dad, and I was... I was scared of what you would think." Mark sighed, "I'm a liberal man, Loz. My children can love whoever they want, no matter if they're a bank robber or a mass murderer... or even a Tory, for that matter. All I ask of you is to do right by my Ashley. Always show her as much respect as you want others to show you. Can you do that?" "Of course, I can." "Good. Don't let me down," Mark replied sternly. He then asked, "So, how are you two keeping this relationship going, being on other sides of the country?" "We get together on weekends, which is easier if we're playing near each other," Loz said. "It's also easier to see each other when I come round to St George's for England training." "I see," Mark nodded. "Right, I think I'm gonna shoot off back home now and leave you two lovebirds to it, if that's alright with you?" Ashley smiled, "That's fine, Dad. Thanks for being there for me." "See you soon, love," Mark said before gently kissing his daughter on the forehead. He then shook Loz's hand, telling him, "And I'll see you in a few weeks, Loz. Keep yourself sharp, 'cos we'll need you at your best against the Czechs." "Of course, boss." Mark then whispered in Loz's right ear, "And if I hear you've laid even a finger on my daughter... heaven forgive me for what I do to you next." Loz's face turned white with fear as Mark left the room. Meanwhile, Ashley stared at the teddy bear and told her boyfriend, "One of my team-mates has a teddy just like this one. Funny coincidence, ain't it?"
  10. CFuller

    Greatest FM myths

    If a player never - or hardly ever - scores, then he's bound to score against your team. Usually in the 89th minute. Usually after your team has come back from 3-0 down away from home to level at 3-3. No, I'm not angry that Sime Vrsaljko stole a point off me!
  11. CFuller

    House of Flying Daggers

    Dagenham & Redbridge - Season-by-season summary: Part 2 2032/2033 Championship: 12th. FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: Round 1. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Baldur Hreidarsson. Most Assists: Joel Honeyball. I made my first significant purchase in summer 2032, when I signed Northern Ireland forward Paul Nixon from Fleetwood Town for £100,000. He proved to be a terrible acquisition, failing to score a single competitive goal for the Daggers. More successful signings were free agents Velimir Radosavljevic (a centre-back) and Souleymane Nomaou (a forward), while returning loanee Hreidarsson scored four goals against both Luton Town and Charlton Athletic in August. During the first few weeks of the season, we went through a phase of either winning by huge scorelines or losing by a single goal (often the latter). One of those defeats was against Bristol Rovers - the first of four successive Round 1 exits from the League Cup. Come the autumn, we had forgotten how to win in the league as well and were hurtling down the table at alarming speed. We did steer ourselves away from danger with some hard-fought wins, but a spate of draws meant we were already well adrift of a play-off place. Once we exited the FA Cup to Newcastle United, the whole season felt like a write-off. Though there was a slight upturn in form in early 2033, our poor record at Victoria Road (now expanded to a 12,000 capacity) did for our play-off ambitions. Another disappointing finish just inside the top half convinced me that it was time to make further changes. Lloyd's retirement left Radosavljevic and star player Darvill as our undisputed top central defensive partnership, while the departures of Djokic and attacking midfielder Dean Martin made room for fresh blood. Nixon obviously wouldn't be involved, either, having been flogged to St Mirren. 2033/2034 Championship: 5th (Won Play-Off Final, Promoted). FA Cup: Round 5. League Cup: Round 1. Player of the Year: Velimir Radosavljevic. Top Goalscorer: Souleymane Nomaou. Most Assists: Jacques Polomat. Before this season began, the board announced that they were building a new stadium at Rainham Road. The expenditure left me with little money to spend in the transfer market, though I did fork out £300,000 for a quality attacking midfielder in Málaga's Stipo Brkic. The great Dane attained cult status at Victoria Road alongside Scottish giant Robbie MacKenzie during a season that began very strongly. Despite an early wobble at home to Ipswich Town, a five-game winning streak sent us top by mid-September. There were some erratic results after that run of wins, which meant we lost our automatic promotion place. However, a strong end to the calendar year meant that we remained comfortably in the play-off berths. Nomaou was now settled at Dagenham and forming a clinical partnership with Jacques Polomat, who'd found his calling as a deep-lying forward after three frustrating years in midfield. George and Velimir continued to make rapid progress at centre-half, and O'Reilly enjoyed his best campaign at left-back, despite coming under pressure from young Italian Rocco Mazzola. Polomat's hat-trick dismantled Brighton & Hove Albion on New Year's Eve and began another excellent FA Cup run. Chelsea were outwitted in Round 4, and we then battled bravely at Arsenal in Round 5. The legendary Clive Johnson's early goal was all that stopped us reaching the Quarter Finals. Unfortunately, our cup exploits played havoc with our league form, and we fell out of the top six for a while. Had we blown another big opportunity to secure promotion? The turning point in our season came in late March at home to Wigan Athletic, as late goals from Scots aces MacKenzie and Fraser saw us recover from 2-1 down to win 3-2. We regained 6th place with that victory and stayed there, even after disappointing draws against Crystal Palace and Leeds United. Narrow wins in our final three games eventually saw us home in 5th position, just ahead of Blackburn Rovers. Despite only drawing 0-0 at home to Sunderland in the first leg of our Play-Off Semi Final, we made amends upon arriving in the north-east. A 25th-minute red card for Mackems defender Yordan Kalchkov proved significant, as O'Reilly and Honeyball earned us a 2-1 win and sent us to Wembley. Awaiting us in the Final were Blackburn, who gave us a real battle that was only decided in the 86th minute. After playing a one-two with right-back Ross Pearson, Brkic took the ball into Rovers' six-yard box and smashed in our biggest goal yet! For the first time in our history, the Daggers were Premier League-bound! 2034/2035 Premier League: 12th. FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: Round 2. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Edmundo. Most Assists: Stipo Brkic. I made a few notable purchases for our top-flight debut. Rangers anchor man Seb Brennan was my first million-pound signing, but our transfer record would soon be smashed by right-back Albert Khumalo and then by midfielder Greg Killick. It was four existing Daggers heroes who would be the star turns in our first Premier League match, as Fraser, Nomaou, Radosavljevic and MacKenzie all scored in an unexpected 5-1 demolition of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Then came the expected reality check, as we accrued one point from our next five games and fell towards the drop zone. Our second home win of the season came on 7 October, with Darvill and Brazilian loanee Edmundo dealing out another 2-0 beating to defending champions Chelsea. That proved to be a false dawn, as we hit another rough patch... and then hit rock-bottom. We were briefly lagging being everyone else in the division on 9 December, but a maiden away PL win at Fulham began our revival. I knew everything was going to be alright on New Year's Day, when we pummelled Southampton 4-0 at St Mary's... and even Honeyball found the net at the highest level for the first time. Despite being soundly beaten by Manchester United in FA Cup Round 3, we no longer felt overwhelmed in the league. Darvill was getting better with each passing month, while MacKenzie and Brkic were at the peak of their powers in an unforgettable 6-3 thriller against sleeping giants Liverpool. Fraser had also settled into the PL, despite missing two penalties at home to Burnley. A three-game losing run after Liverpool didn't shake our confidence, and it wouldn't be long before survival was secured. An experimentation with a 3-5-2 formation helped us to win six of our final eight matches, including a home triumph over Arsenal, and finish 12th. The only blips on our record were a 1-1 draw at Norwich City (in which Polomat scored his final Daggers goal), and a 3-0 loss at home to Manchester City (in which 16-year-old Elliot Cook made his senior bow). The latter match was particularly emotional, being our final fixture at Victoria Road - our home for the first 43 years of our existence. It was now time to move on to bigger and better things at the brand-new 17,848-capacity stadium on Rainham Road. 2035/2036 Premier League: 13th. FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: Round 2. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Mark Washington. Most Assists: Mark Washington. The grand opening at Rainham Road didn't go to plan. Though £5million striker Mark Washington scored twice for the Daggers, Burnley loanee Ivor Boyce had already bagged a hat-trick that condemned us to defeat. Early results were mixed, but Washington and attacking midfielder Billy Stevenson hit the ground running. Croatia centre-back Tomo Kurtovic also settled quickly as Darvill's new regular partner, with Radosavljevic falling down the pecking order. O'Reilly's departure left Mazzola and youngster Ante Djuzel to battle it out for a starting berth at left-back, with Rocco prevailing... for this season, anyway. 19-year-old Tristan Egueh scored a memorable home hat-trick against Aston Villa in October, though that was followed by some patchy autumn form. Nevertheless, we only dropped as low as 16th, pulling ourselves away from danger with some impressive home wins. Amongst them was a 3-0 Boxing Day battering of a Tottenham Hotspur who appeared to be in a downward spiral. On the other hand, we did have a very disappointing away record, which included only three league wins and an early FA Cup exit to Chelsea in a replay. One thing that really did alarm me, though, was that Washington only scored twice from New Year's Day onward. With the American experiencing a major drought, we badly struggled for goals late on in the season. The nadir was a six-game losing streak that included five successive matches without scoring. Departing hero Brkic ended our famine to earn us four final points against West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City, but we still dropped a place compared to the previous season. 2036/2037 Premier League: 5th. FA Cup: Runners-Up. League Cup: Round 3. Player of the Year: Mark Washington. Top Goalscorer: Mark Washington. Most Assists: Orlando Salvador. Our big summer signings brought mixed fortunes, with holding midfielder Kenneth Jorgensen being a huge £9million hit, but target man Elliot Hernández only scoring one Daggers goal after arriving for £6million. Then there was a Portuguese fellow named Orlando Salvador, who cost us diddly-squat from Braga. In spite of his recent drought, I handed Washington the captaincy after Barnes was sold to Corby Town. Mark relished his new responsibility, as he and Tristan were both in fine scoring form during an eight-match unbeaten start to the Premier League season that briefly had us leading the table. Our first two defeats of the campaign were both inflicted by Manchester City. The first - a 5-2 humbling in Round 3 of the League Cup - would actually be the only loss we suffered on home soil all season long. City then defeated us by the same scoreline when we played them in the league at the Yaya Touré Arena on 25 October. Our away form from that point onwards was very mixed, though turning Rainham Road into a fortress kept us in the hunt for European qualification. 2037 didn't start too promisingly, as we were eight minutes away from being dumped out of the FA Cup by League Two Yeovil Town. We eventually beat them in a replay, and then we saw off Fulham to set up a Round 5 meeting with Liverpool. That was when our new January signing - South Africa defender Thulani Mazibuko - lit up Rainham Road with an incredible solo goal en route to victory. Other players who'd delighted our home fans over recent months included Killick - now thriving as a ball-winning midfielder - and teenage playmaker Salvador. There would be more drama in Round 6. After an admirable goalless draw at Old Trafford, we took Manchester United to our place, only to fall 3-1 down after an hour. Washington and Mazibuko came to our rescue by forcing extra-time, and Mark then scored again in the 103rd minute to book a Semi Final date at Wembley. That match became known as Stevo's Semi, as Billy's double saw off Brighton & Hove Albion and put us into our first major cup Final. Those results were part of a 16-match winless run that saw us secure a top-five finish and complete an entire league campaign undefeated at home. On 9 May 2037, we took on Manchester City in the FA Cup Final, and we would come away beaten 3-2 but unbowed. Two Washington equalisers could not deter Brazil striker Souza from claiming a hat-trick and taking the prestigious trophy back to the north-west. Manchester's other giants also inflicted defeat on us in our final league fixture, with United prevailing 4-2 at Old Trafford. It transpired that a draw would have taken us above Arsenal and into 4th, but I was still very happy to secure us UEFA Europa League football for the new season. 2037/2038 Premier League: 6th. FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: WINNERS. UEFA Europa League: Round of 32. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Tristan Egueh. Most Assists: Mark Washington. With the board deciding to expand Rainham Road, we played our home games at the New Boleyn Ground in West Ham for the 2037/2038 campaign. We got off to a steady start, as Washington returned to form and his new American team-mate - new number 1 Ben Perk - performed solidly in goal. My big summer signing was Inter Milan's young forward Enrico Messina, who scored our first European goal when we beat Galatasaray in the UEFA Europa League Group Stage. He also kicked off our best League Cup run to date, seeing off Norwich City to put us into Round 4 for the first time. Though we were going strong in the cups, back-to-back home defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea knocked our Premier League challenge off track. We got back on track with four straight wins before a very disappointing December left us in 8th place at the halfway point. It was obvious that we had become far too reliant on Washington for goals when it came to the league. On the bright side, we topped our Europa League group with just one defeat on our record (a last-gasp 4-3 loss at Lyon) and coasted through to the League Cup Semi Finals. We had more choking fits in January, with shock defeats at West Ham United and Reading further denting our hopes of qualifying for Europe again via our league position. We also lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup, and it appeared our League Cup charge would falter when Liverpool beat us 2-1 in the first leg of the Semi Final. Then came an extraordinary performance at the New Boleyn, where Salvador inspired us to a 4-0 win that put us through to Wembley. Egueh also scored in that match, kick-starting what had otherwise been an ordinary season for him. February was a strange month. It began with us being torn to pieces at Old Trafford, where Manchester United inflicted my heaviest ever defeat - 9-1. We then barely scraped past rock-bottom Brighton & Hove Albion, thanks to Cook's first senior goal. The highlight of our month came in the League Cup Final at Wembley, where we recovered from conceding a very early Shane Hay goal to destroy Arsenal 6-1, with Egueh's hat-trick helping us to our first major trophy. We then exited the Europa League at the Round of 32, losing 4-1 on aggregate to La Liga outfit Sevilla. When Washington's season was cut short by knee tendonitis, it appeared our season would reach an anti-climax. Fortunately, Tristan was on hand to carry Mark's goalscoring burden, scoring 10 goals in his final 11 games as we moved up to - and then consolidated - 6th place. A few poor results did for our UEFA Champions League ambitions. However, Darvill's continued brilliance and the arrival of enigmatic attacking midfielder Dzenan Genjac (who effectively replaced Stevenson) left me feeling optimistic about the future. 2038/2039 Premier League: 6th. FA Cup: Round 4. League Cup: Round 3. UEFA Europa League: Round of 32. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Mark Washington. Most Assists: Mark Washington. Though Kurtovic left in a £17.5million transfer to Rochdale over the summer, his £2.2million replacement Siphesihle Gumede proved to be a fantastic signing at centre-half. Mind you, it took a while for us to get going again upon our return to Rainham Road. A heavy defeat at Norwich City was followed by three straight league draws and another early League Cup elimination. There was also a shocking collapse at CSKA Sofia in our first UEFA Europa League group match, where we were 2-0 up with 17 minutes to go but somehow contrived to lose 3-2. Things improved over the autumn, as although Egueh was not in hot scoring form, Washington and Messina were. After a bright run of form that included just one loss in just eight league games, results became more inconsistent going into Christmas. Progress up the league table was erratic, though it was a different story in the Europa League. We beat Barcelona home-and-away on our way to winning the group, with Icelandic trequartista Engilbert Sverrisson proving especially deadly in continental competition. Defensive frailties prompted me to make changes in the New Year. Peruvian left-back Juan Francisco Luperdi was sold after just half a season and replaced with Dutchman Tom Drost. Two more significant signings were Marseille midfielder Frédéric Pereira (initially on loan) and Chelsea striker Alun Harding, who was our new record buy at £17.5million. Harding came in as a replacement for Messina after Juventus prised him from our hands on deadline day for £25million. Alun immediately hit the ground running with four goals in three games, but then he faded away, never to truly live up to his price tag. There was real disappointment in the Europa League, where Rangers dumped us out at the Round of 32. That meant we had to finish in the top six again to qualify for Europe for the third season in a row. The goals began to flow again, especially from Washington, as we hit form and pulled ourselves up the table. It appeared we'd blown our chance after losing 3-0 at Southampton, but a comeback win at West Ham United kept the dream alive. In the end, we would finish only a couple of points ahead of Derby County and West Ham in 6th place. 2039/2040 Premier League: 4th. FA Cup: Round 4. League Cup: WINNERS. UEFA Europa League: Semi Final. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Elliot Cook. Most Assists: Orlando Salvador. Our transfer record was broken again in June 2039, with the exciting young Spain right-back Enrique Álvarez signing from Valencia for £19.5million. It was during that summer that we bade farewell to Egueh, Fraser and Whalley, with the former joining Rochdale in a £20million sale. His experienced replacement Parsons would only be at Rainham Road for a short while, but he certainly made his mark in a busy first half to the season. That first half was a real head-scratcher in terms of the Premier League, where we won ten matches but lost nine, with not a single draw. It was during that strange period where two rising stars - striker Cook and Argentine centre-back Vicente Gridelli - began to stake serious claims for regular first-team places. Cookie would even finish as our leading scorer, mainly because he was in such scintillating form in cup competitions. Adversely, Killick's form took a turn for the worse, prompting me to re-sign Pereira permanently. Meanwhile, an erratic half-season saw Perk lose his starting place in goal to young Liverpudlian Kayo Rowe. Though we would be eliminated from the FA Cup on penalties by Nottingham Forest in Round 4, we were fighting well on other fronts. We qualified from our Europa League group unbeaten and then overcame our fear of the Round of 32, defeating Orduspor 8-5 on aggregate before exacting revenge on Rangers. Those wins came during an exciting period in the season in which we returned to form in the PL and regained the League Cup. After thrashing Reading 6-0 in the Semi Finals, we dealt Arsenal another Wembley defeat, as new Greek striker Antonis Siafos netted our third and final goal without reply. Defeats against Reading and Manchester United briefly knocked us off our stride in the league, but we went on to win six of our next seven league games to put ourselves on the brink of a top-four finish. We had also looked to be on course to winning the Europa League after comfortably seeing off Eintracht Frankfurt in the Quarter Finals. Sadly, we didn't do ourselves justice in the Semi Finals, as Kuban Krasnodar won 2-0 in Russia and then prevented us from scoring on home soil in the return fixture. A tremendous 4-0 win at West Ham United in our penultimate PL match meant we only needed to take a point at Chelsea on the final day to qualify for the Champions League. Gridelli and Darvill excelled in that season-ender at Rainham Road, shutting the Blues out to prevent Rochdale from overtaking us at the death. We were now about to dine at Europe's top table, but the likes of Harding, Killick and Perk wouldn't be coming with us. It was time to step up to the next level. 2040/2041 Premier League: 4th. FA Cup: WINNERS. League Cup: Runners-Up. UEFA Champions League: WINNERS. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Antonis Siafos. Most Assists: Orlando Salvador. Our squad took on a more continental feel when Italy centre-forward Gianfranco Torre arrived from Empoli for £7million. The 25-year-old was a slow-burner, as were we in the UEFA Champions League. A late capitulation saw us lose our Playoff first leg 3-1 at Monaco, but captain Washington and new vice-skipper Salvador shone as we won the rematch 4-0 at Rainham Road. Our first group match was an admirable 1-1 draw at home to Paris Saint-Germain, but that was followed by pain in Spain, where Real Sociedad smashed us 3-0. Meanwhile, we had a few alarming results early in the Premier League season. The worst of them was at home to newly-promoted Blackburn Rovers, where wastefulness from our strikers and mistakes from defenders Michael Walters and Nolan Barber saw us lose 2-1. I gave my team a verbal kick up the backside, and they made sure that they wouldn't lose another home game all season. We would also suffer only one more league defeat before Christmas, by which we were in 2nd place behind Arsenal. We had also qualified for the Champions League's Round of 16, having finished 2nd in our group below PSG. Though we couldn't stay 2nd in the league, we continued to go strong, even in the absence of injured skipper Washington. Cook and Siafos upped their game in the meantime and fired us through the various rounds of the domestic cups. We reached another League Cup Final, where teenage centre-back Walters gave us the lead against Fulham before the Cottagers came back to win 2-1. We also battled our way to the latter stages in the FA Cup, requiring replays to see off Norwich City in Round 4 and Newcastle United in Round 6. Though Pereira was shown a straight red card in our Champions League Round of 16 first-leg at home to Benfica, we still managed to win that 1-0 with a goal from substitute Stevie Merson. Our new French centre-back Kevin Schaeffer also shone to keep a clean sheet, which proved significant after we lost the second leg 2-1 at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon. We were through on away goals to a Quarter Final against our group winners PSG, whom we took revenge on by a 4-0 aggregate scoreline. After reaching one Semi Final, we won another, with two late goals seeing off Championship underdogs York City in the FA Cup last-four at Wembley. By then, inconsistent league form meant we were a long way off the 'Big Three' of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. With another 4th-place finish all but secured, we could now concentrate on the cups. A sensational 4-1 home win over United in the first leg of our Champions League Semi was followed by a dogged draw at Old Trafford, and thus we made it into the Final at our first attempt. The first part of our cup double was secured on 11 May at Wembley, though we left it late to beat City, scoring three goals in the last 17 minutes to lift the FA Cup for the first time. A fortnight later, we faced a bigger challenge back at the Estádio da Luz. Serie A champions Empoli were all that stood between us and Champions League immortality. In the 54th minute, shortly after the Azzurri had Nahuel Luengo sent off, Gridelli made himself an instant Daggers legend by heading in Salvador's corner. We then put on a defensive clinic to claim our biggest win yet! 2041/2042 Premier League: 4th. FA Cup: WINNERS. League Cup: Runners-Up. Community Shield: Runners-Up. UEFA Champions League: Round of 16. UEFA Super Cup: WINNERS. FIFA Club World Championship: WINNERS. Player of the Year: George Darvill. Top Goalscorer: Elliot Cook. Most Assists: Antonis Siafos. Lisbon hero Gridelli was sold for a mind-boggling £46.5million in the summer, having been swayed by Real Madrid's financial pull. This would also be our first season without Honeyball, who was now coaching full-time after ending his 18-year playing career in that Champions League Final. The 2041/2042 campaign began with us losing to league champions Manchester United in the Community Shield, but then seeing off Real Betis in the UEFA Super Cup. Our early Premier League form was excellent, as we only suffered a handful of blips away from home, including a 4-3 loss at Old Trafford. The Champions League Group Stage was a virtual procession for us... if you exclude the 4-0 shellacking we got at Marseille, of course. Cook and Siafos had each taken their scoring up a notch, though Torre remained inconsistent and Washington was on the decline. I'd passed the captaincy over from Mark to Orlando before the season, but our Portuguese playmaker never came close to replicating his 16 goals and 18 assists from the previous campaign. Before travelling to the United States for our first tilt at the FIFA Club World Championship, we suffered a couple of chastening league defeats. Derby County were too strong for us at Pride Park, while Norwich City somehow recovered from 3-0 down to overturn us 4-3. Once we arrived in California, though, that was all in the past. My 1,000th match as Daggers manager was a 5-2 beating of Mexican side Club América in the Semi Final. Then came a hard-fought 3-1 win over Estudiantes de La Plata, which secured our first World Championship. Back on home soil, we got our Premier League title challenge back on track and began to seriously pursue an unlikely Quadruple. In Round 5 of the FA Cup, Salvador inspired us to recover from a 2-0 half-time deficit to beat Derby County 3-2. That proved to be the penultimate match of an extraordinary run of 45 home games without defeat, which Everton would end a few weeks later. By that point, we had suffered another defeat in the League Cup Final, this time to Liverpool. Paris Saint-Germain awaited us yet again in the Champions League Round of 16. Both ties finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, but PSG ramped up the pace in extra-time. Hugo Xavier's 106th-minute goal condemned us to our first European home defeat, as well as continuing the curse over European Cup holders. Startled by that loss, our Premier League form became more erratic, and our quest for that elusive first league championship would have to be put on hold for another 12 months. Despite having another season devastated by injuries, Genjac was the star performer in our FA Cup Semi Final with Fulham, which we won by the odd goal in five. We therefore faced Arsenal in a Cup Final for the third time, and won for the third time, thanks to a double from Siafos. Our other star strikers - Torre and Cook - then got braces each as we overcame Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-2 to finish the league campaign on a high. However, that wasn't enough for us to edge above City into 3rd place, and so the 'Big Three' continued their triopoly of the top three. 2042/2043 Premier League: 1st (CHAMPIONS). FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: Round 4. Community Shield: WINNERS. UEFA Champions League: Quarter Final. Player of the Year: Nathan Guppy. Top Goalscorer: Gianfranco Torre. Most Assists: Eric Knox. Schaeffer and Washington left over the summer, but our championship challenge was boosted by the arrival of two vastly-experienced players. Polish playmaker Kamil Lewandowski had won countless major honours at Paris Saint-Germain, and Nathan Guppy had been a consistently brilliant centre-half for West Ham United and England for close to a decade. Guppy in particular was an instant success, shutting out Manchester United as we won the Community Shield. Bulgaria winger Milen Danchev got the winner at Wembley before securing a draw in our Premier League opener at home to Manchester City. Our early-season form fluctuated from sublime to ridiculous. Our Champions League Group Stage win away to German champions Schalke 04 was sublime, even if some of our defending was ridiculous. We'd very nearly missed out on that stage of the competition, but we scraped past Brescia in a Playoff and avoided being bumped into the Europa League. On the domestic front, 1-0 defeats to Arsenal (away) and Everton (home) left us well adrift of the Premier League pacesetters by October. With Mazibuko, Salvador AND Genjac all nursing serious long-term injuries, this season was fast becoming a nightmare. Thankfully, other players stepped up to the fore to get our campaign back on track. Nathan skippered us superbly in Orlando's absence, while Cook and Torre each netted goals aplenty. The season's real breakout star, though, was Canada midfielder Eric Knox. A hat-trick against Nottingham Forest, and an array of assists in early 2043, were instrumental in getting us through an extraordinary unbeaten league run. From the moment we beat Fulham on 18 October, our only domestic defeats would come in the cup competitions, which I'd put way down my list of priorities. Sitting 4th on New Year's Day, we moved up to 3rd and then 2nd as we reeled in an Arsenal team who'd been as many as 13 points ahead of us earlier in the campaign. Torre's first-half hat-trick against the Gunners in mid-January was a massive moment in the context of the title race. Another came on 28 February, when Siafos scored half of our goals in a 6-2 destruction of Fulham at Craven Cottage, which moved us above Arsenal into 1st. Four days later, a one-man comeback from Kamil stunned United - who had led 2-0 before losing 3-2 - and made us the new firm favourites to win the Premier League! I had given the squad one last shakeup on the final day of the winter transfer window. With Genjac having been sold to Juventus for £21million, and Salvador blighted by more injury woes, I sought another attacking midfielder. Valencia agreed to let us take Daniel Murdoch on loan, and the former Chelsea star made an immediate impact, scoring in each of his first three Daggers outings. Also impressing was Leonardo Arrieta - our new £27.5million record buy from Real Valladolid - who gave us genuine defensive and creative quality on the left flank. While our fans' excitement about a prospective first league title grew, our pursuit of a second Champions League reached its end. Having finished 2nd in our group after home-and-away losses to Empoli, we then battled past Barcelona with an 84th-minute Merson winner at the Nou Camp. Another Spanish side would await in the Quarter Finals, but Real Betis proved to be one hurdle too far. A 2-2 draw at Rainham Road and a 1-1 stalemate in Seville meant that we exited the competition on away goals. With five PL games to go, we held a four-point lead over Arsenal. As we did our best to throw away the championship with a couple of tame draws, the Gunners cracked under pressure themselves. On 9 May 2043, we were briefly in despair after drawing our penultimate match 0-0 at home to Liverpool. Then we heard that Arsenal had lost at Wolverhampton Wanderers, which meant we led by four points with one game remaining! Our official coronation as Premier League champions came the following weekend, when a 3-1 win over Chelsea concluded our greatest domestic season on a high. It was very fitting that a fit-again Salvador should score the final goal before lifting the league trophy alongside Guppy. Having gone unbeaten in our last 32 PL matches, and our last 24 matches in all competitions, this was the perfect time for me to bow out as Dagenham & Redbridge manager. Over the course of 21 seasons, I'd built a team up from the Conference Premier and won every major honour going.
  12. CFuller

    House of Flying Daggers

    Dagenham & Redbridge - Season-by-season summary: Part 1 On 1 October 2022, Dagenham & Redbridge were a club on a downward spiral. Having accrued large debts and gone through a succession of managers over recent years, the Daggers were now struggling to bounce back from their recent relegation from the Football League. The mood around Victoria Road was as low as it had been since the club's formation three decades earlier. Then the club's owner Antonello Scolaro decided to take a chance on a 37-year-old manager who had limited experience in professional football. After a decade in charge of his hometown club Romford, he went over to northern Spain for a brief and very unhappy stint at third-division minnows Elgoibar. A return to north-east London was the ideal place to restart his career. That manager was me, Christopher Fuller. Over the next 21 years, I took a club that had lost its way and guided it through the leagues. With shrewd financial planning and squad-building, the Daggers rose back into the Football League, and then the Premier League, and later into Europe. The Dagenham & Redbridge of 2043 is very different from the club that I arrived at. We have a world-class squad full of domestic, European and world champions. Our facilities and youth set-up are the envy of nearly every other club in England. Our 21st-century stadium at Rainham Road still has a modest capacity of 26,772, but it is frequently filled every other week by passionate supporters who love their team and enjoy the football they play. As I step away from the club and head into retirement, this is a good time to look back and reflect on how far we have come. Let's review every step of our rise to the top of world football, one season at a time: 2022/2023 Conference Premier: 5th (Lost in Play-Off Final). FA Cup: Round 2. FA Trophy: Round 1. Player of the Year: Jamie Bell. Top Goalscorer: Jamie Bell. Most Assists: Yasser Ibrahim. I arrived at Dagenham & Redbridge in October 2022, with the club sitting 5th in the Conference Premier after 15 games. The team had been much-changed after relegation from League Two the previous season, but there was little quality on display. I had inherited a mixture of has-been journeymen and loanees. Naturally, it took a while for us to find our feet under my management, only winning our first league game at the fifth attempt. Ronnie Banton's late winner at Southend United began a brief resurgence before things started to go south again. We were out of both domestic cups by the end of November, with our FA Cup campaign infamously being crushed by Conference North outfit Guiseley. That was part of a pre-Christmas slump that saw us slump as low as 11th in the league, making me question my decision to take charge of the Daggers. Then came the tide-turner - a 7-1 humbling of play-off rivals Newport County in which star striker Jamie Bell scored a hat-trick and Yasser Ibrahim flourished as an inside-forward. After clearing out some dead wood and bringing in fresh blood, we went unbeaten in nine matches. As we closed in on a top-five finish, our charge suddenly went off the rails, and we won one of our final six league matches. The low point was a 4-2 home loss against Crawley Town, who went on to secure automatic promotion. We then almost threw away a play-off place in our season-closer at Farnborough, who went 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go. An 81st-minute penalty from Ibrahim, and then a dramatic injury-time equaliser by Adam Barton, saw us sneak into 5th place ahead of Salisbury City. We played runners-up Newport County in the Play-Off Semi Final, but all looked lost when we were held to a goalless draw at Victoria Road in the first leg. Luckily, we turned on the style in the second leg in south Wales, prevailing 3-0 after a virtuoso display from on-loan Everton defender Les Sawyer. That set up a Final showdown with Stevenage at Wembley. Alas, James Wilson put Stevenage ahead in just the third minute, and some appalling shooting from our attackers meant we could not find an equaliser. We would be staying in the Conference Premier for another year at least. 2023/2024 Conference Premier: 1st (Promoted as Champions). FA Cup: Round 1. FA Trophy: Winners. Player of the Year: Aaron McEwan. Top Goalscorer: Jamie Bell. Most Assists: Yasser Ibrahim. After the previous season's disappointment, I pretty much ripped the team up and started again. A few players - like captain Robbie Ryder, top scorer Bell and the enigmatic Ibrahim - were retained. Joining them were a mixture of exciting prospects (Wayne Coton, Paul Hart), loanees with points to prove (Stuart Gould, George Green) and experienced professionals (James Dunne, Aaron McEwan). We hit the ground running by thrashing Milton Keynes Dons 4-0, but early defeats to Chelmsford City and Cambridge United raised questions about our resolve. Amid growing concerns over our financial status and my job security, we went on an incredible unbeaten run throughout the autumn. For 15 league games over the course of three months, we looked very difficult to beat, with centre-backs Coton and McEwan particularly impressing. Our only loss during that period was in the FA Cup against Swindon. We even went top of the Conference until our run was halted by a 4-1 humbling at Bury in mid-December. Our form quickly declined again, and we slipped to 7th place before finding our mojo again late in January. While our title push gained further traction, we eyed up another prize. After four easy victories in the early rounds, Bell's hat-trick dismantled Salisbury City in the first leg of our Semi Final. Despite losing the return leg at home, we still prevailed 4-2 on aggregate to book a return to Wembley. We took on Preston North End, who took an early lead before Green equalised in the 76th minute. Despite dominating possession, we were taken to a penalty shoot-out, which went to sudden death. After Preston missed their seventh penalty, Stevenage loanee Geraint Harding stepped up to earn us a 6-5 win... and my first trophy as Daggers manager! Victory at Wembley gave us a massive confidence boost at just the right time. Home thrashings of Bromley and Eastleigh enabled us to go one point ahead of both Cambridge United and Stalybridge Celtic going into the final day. We only had to win at mid-table Boreham Wood to secure automatic promotion... but it wasn't easy. Robbie Shenton's Daggers opener was cancelled out early in the second half, leaving us with more work to do. In the 66th minute, Shenton's through-ball was slotted home by Dunne, whose tidy finish eventually secured a massive 2-1 win. We were returning to the Football League, having won the non-league Double! 2024/2025 League Two: 13th. FA Cup: Round 2. League Cup: Round 1. Football League Trophy: Round 2. Player of the Year: Wayne Coton. Top Goalscorer: Jamie Bell. Most Assists: Willie Dickson. Reinforcements were made before our first season back in League Two, including Harding (now on a permanent deal) and Kyrgyzstani cult icon Ahletdin Israilov. However, this proved to be a real baptism of fire for Dagenham. The gap in class was clear as we lost our first four league games and exited the League Cup at the hands of a Notts County team managed by ex-Daggers nemesis Steve Evans. It wasn't until we edged a couple of five-goal thrillers against AFC Bournemouth and Leyton Orient that we started to feel at home in our new surroundings. The Daggers would be wildly inconsistent for the rest of the season. If we weren't being outclassed by rock-bottom Blackpool, Bell was putting four goals past eventual champions Morecambe at the Globe Arena. Despite that, we were never really in danger of being relegated back to the Conference National. Meanwhile, we endured an early exit from the Football League Trophy and missed the chance to upset League One Wrexham in the FA Cup. From February onwards, we started to show signs of being a quality team in the division. We would lose just three more matches over the final three months as Bell enjoyed fine scoring form, as did target man Willie Dickson before a hamstring injury prematurely ended his season. We would eventually finish the campaign in 13th place with the very average record of 65 goals scored, 65 conceded, and 65 points. Though Bell and Dickson would both leave us in the off-season, everything was in place for us to challenge for a play-off spot in the following season. 2025/2026 League Two: 4th (Lost In Play-Off Semi Final). FA Cup: Round 1. League Cup: Round 1. Football League Trophy: Round 1. Player of the Year: Wayne Coton. Top Goalscorer: Troy Hands. Most Assists: Mark West. Our start to the season didn't promise much, as some late defeats and leaky defending quickly left us off the pace. First-round exits in all three domestic cups also offered little reason to be cheerful. We eventually began to settle down, with new centre-back Gavin Dalton nicely complementing Coton and teenage attacking midfielder Paul Hart blossoming into an exceptional talent. However, it was the signing of a beastly Yorkshireman by the name of Mark West that gave us a strike partnership to be feared. While Troy Hands was already scoring regularly before West's arrival, there was soon little doubting that he'd found the perfect partner in the powerful target man. Once those two clicked, we gradually moved up the table and began to cause opponents problems. At the other end, though, our own defence was causing me problems, and captain Ryder was no longer assured of a starting place in goal. Daryl Ryan temporarily replaced him, but the young Irishman's shakiness - especially in a 3-3 home draw against Leyton Orient at the end of February - put Robbie back in favour going into the run-in. The Orient match was a turning point. Having knuckled down and tightened up the defence, we finished the regular season unbeaten in 11 consecutive matches. Highlights included a 5-0 away demolition of Yeovil Town in which Hands picked apart his former employers, and a 3-1 Victoria Road win over Chester. The latter result lifted us into the play-off spots for the first time that season, and we never looked back. Further home victories against Wycombe Wanderers, Aldershot Town and Bristol Rovers secured a 4th-place finish and made us Play-Off favourites. Our Semi Final was against Blackpool, who'd just held on to 7th place. After battling to a 0-0 draw at Bloomfield Road, we arrived at Victoria Road confident of booking our Final place. A blistering Mitchell Clark free-kick got us up and running, but Reis Collins' equaliser forced extra-time. Collins would then level the scores again following Harding's maiden Daggers goal, and after a two-hour 2-2 draw, it all came down to penalties. The Seasiders were spot-on in the shoot-out, but Israilov and Coton's penalties were saved, and so our season ended in agony. 2026/2027 League Two: 2nd (Promoted). FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: Round 3. Football League Trophy: Round 2. Player of the Year: Mark West. Top Goalscorer: Mark West. Most Assists: Yasser Ibrahim. Another Play-Off near-miss meant another pre-season shake-up. Out went Israilov and McEwan, and in came Portuguese left-winger Marcelo Andrade and future Daggers stalwart Matthew Fraser. The latter announced his arrival in September with a superb strike against Chelsea in Round 3 of the League Cup, in which we'd already stunned Championship sides Millwall and Peterborough United. Sadly, we couldn't quite pull off an even greater upset at Stamford Bridge, and the Blues edged us out 2-1. Back in League Two, we set our stall out immediately by winning four of our first five games. Back-to-back losses against Wycombe Wanderers and Kidderminster Harriers only temporarily knocked us off our stride, and we were soon firmly established in the top three. Part of that was down to the early-season form of Manchester United loanee Bill Mooney, who got plenty of vital goals when new captain West was slow to get his campaign running. Once Mark hit his stride, though, nobody was going to stop 'The Beast' from collecting the Golden Boot. There were some jaw-dropping attacking performances from the Daggers in November and December, which saw us challenge and then leapfrog Chester at the top. By the turn of the year, we were 15 points clear of 4th place. Then our best FA Cup run yet came to an end, with top-flight Aston Villa edging us out in Birmingham. That took away a lot of momentum, and while West and Hands continued to produce the goods, other players started to crack under pressure. As we started to wobble in the league, Chester powered on and retook 1st place, never to relinquish it again. Our tendency to throw away points late on resurfaced in February, when we started to inexplicably switch off for the final 10 minutes of matches. When we choked on a victory at Brentford, leaving us only three points ahead of 4th with two games to go, I gave the team their fiercest tongue-lashing yet. They responded by effectively securing automatic promotion at Chesterfield, twice coming from behind to win 3-2 after a 93rd-minute header from West. Mark would then score twice more in a 5-0 demolition of relegated Mansfield Town to finish the season on 32 league goals. That victory saw us home in 2nd place behind Chester's champions, and League One awaited! 2027/2028 League One: 4th (Lost in Play-Off Semi Final). FA Cup: Round 5. League Cup: Round 1. Football League Trophy: Round 2. Player of the Year: Mark West. Top Goalscorer: Mark West. Most Assists: Paul Hart. This season began and then ended with Sheffield United snatching a creative talent from our grasps. Andrade went to Bramall Lane for £450,000 before we entered League One, while Hart joined him for £1.6million after another sensational campaign. He got 12 goals and 12 assists during a season that defied all Dagenham fans' expectations. Despite losing stalwarts Ryder and Clark, and making few major signings, we destroyed Fleetwood Town 5-0 on the opening day and immediately settled into the third tier. Yes, there were a few early wobbles. We lost our League Cup opener to Rotherham United and then went 4-0 down at Gillingham within 25 minutes before pulling it back to 4-3. The Gills also ended our Football League Trophy challenge early. By and large, though, Ryan was proving to be a capable permanent number 1, and we were setting the division alight with some exciting attacking football. Four goals from Hands and two from West secured us a stunning 7-0 October win at Oxford United, beginning a four-match winning run that ended with us topping the table. Though we quickly tumbled back down to 6th before Christmas, we also began our longest FA Cup run to date. Lincoln City and Kidderminster Harriers were accounted for in the early rounds, with Championship sides Swansea City and Coventry City being scalped in January. That earned us a Round 5 meeting with another second-tier side, but in all honesty, Blackburn Rovers outclassed us from start to finish. Rovers went 3-0 up before half-time, and we were lucky that they couldn't add to our misery. The mid-season signing of Danish attacking midfielder Victor Dam added more flair to our play-off charge. Despite some mediocre results in February and early March, we clicked back into gear at just the right time. Comfortable home wins over Oxford and Scunthorpe United solidified our top-six place, while moving West closer to winning League One's Golden Boot. He would top his division's goal charts for the second season in a row, falling just one short of his tally from the previous campaign in League Two. Our late-season surge saw us finish 4th and book a Play-Off Semi Final against Wrexham, whom we had recently beaten 3-0 at the Racecourse Ground. Unfortunately, our next visit to north Wales did not go to plan. Though a Hands double put us 2-1 up midway through the second half, suspect defending saw us go down 3-2. We couldn't turn the tie around back at our place. Despite a star turn from teenage midfielder William Barnes, we fell prey to a solitary Robbie Kane goal and were eliminated 4-2 on aggregate. The Red Dragons went on to secure promotion to the Championship before signing Daggers favourite Coton for £200,000. 2028/2029 League One: 1st (Promoted as Champions). FA Cup: Round 2. League Cup: Round 1. Football League Trophy: Round 2. Player of the Year: Mark West. Top Goalscorer: Max Hicks. Most Assists: Ollie Pert. Prior to our second season in League One, I rejected an offer from Premier League side Norwich City to become their new manager. It proved to be the right call to turn down the Canaries. Coton and Hart weren't too sorely missed as we began the season with three straight wins, including a 4-0 thrashing of AFC Telford United in which new arrival Max Hicks netted twice. Unfortunately, we then suffered another early League Cup exit - this time to Dartford - and then had a mini-blip. During that, we sunk to our lowest league position of the whole season - 4th. An unbeaten September, followed by several more strong results later in the autumn, saw us go back to the top of the table. Though Colchester United displaced us for a while, we were back at the summit come early December. By then, we had suffered early exits from the FA Cup and Football League Trophy, allowing us to concentrate solely on the league. West and Hands weren't quite at their absolute best, but that didn't matter so much, as Hicks was regularly contributing goals. We were also getting consistently strong performances in midfield from Fraser and at the back from Dalton and Josh Charles. January began with a very encouraging 2-0 win at Colchester, further bolstering our position at the top. Our defence was now undoubtedly the most solid in the division, though we did have an alarming meltdown when we shipped four goals at home to Ipswich Town. That reality check was just what we needed to get back to our swash-buckling best. We won five of our next six matches, which included back-to-back hat-tricks from Hicks, to close in on automatic promotion. Though Portsmouth and Scunthorpe United then inflicted surprise defeats on us, we wouldn't lose another match thereafter. We entered the final seven games of the season determined not to throw our chance away. Eight points were claimed from our first four, and then we had the chance to secure promotion at Dartford. Young left-back Daniel O'Reilly was the unlikely hero as we won 1-0 and - thanks to other results going our way - booked our place in the Championship. We went on to win the title after coming back from 3-0 down to draw at Barnsley and then beating Charlton Athletic by the odd goal in five. A certain 15-year-old defender named George Darvill made his debut in the latter match, which would be our last in the third division. 2029/2030 Championship: 6th (Lost in Play-Off Semi Final). FA Cup: Round 3. League Cup: Round 2. Player of the Year: Mark West. Top Goalscorer: Mark West. Most Assists: William Barnes. Goalkeeper Kieran Whalley, right-back Arran Banton and veteran midfielder Marco Verratti were amongst the arrivals at Dagenham for the new season, though Hands left for Chester. As the terracing at Victoria Road needed to be converted into seating, we would play our home matches at Fulham's Craven Cottage until mid-March. Despite being in unfamiliar surroundings in more ways than one, we went unbeaten in our first seven Championship matches. Our first loss in any competition was a heavy 6-1 thrashing at Everton, which proved to be a major learning experience for the likes of Whalley, Banton and Honeyball. Then reality really did hit home. Our first league defeat at Swansea City in mid-September began a run of just two wins in 17 matches, in which we tumbled down from 8th place to 21st. Barnes' indiscipline became an issue, and Hicks' well of goals ran dry, prompting me to sign a couple of free agents in Armenia midfielder Samvel Karapetyan and Montenegro striker Mario Djokic. Their arrivals came during a month of major upheaval in November, with owner Antonello Scolaro selling the club to local businessman Neil Booth. Relegation now looked like being a serious issue, but our fortunes turned with a 4-1 win at Colchester United on 8 December. That was one of seven wins in our next eight matches - a run that included victories by 7-1, 6-2 and 5-1 scorelines and rocketed us into the top half. West had formed a new devastating strike partnership with Djokic, though they briefly went off the boil in February and March. Then came another eight-match run that yielded seven victories, just in time to take us from nowhere to the Play-Off places. Honeyball's double at Crystal Palace on the final day had given us hope of an unlikely promotion to the Premier League! Sadly, it was not to be. Despite holding Aston Villa to a couple of draws in the regular season, the 3rd-placed Villans proved too cunning for us in the Play-Off Semi Final. Marcelo's early goal got them a 1-0 win at a renovated Victoria Road, and we were denied a late equaliser when West's injury-time penalty was saved by Christoffer Kristiansen. Mark was too devastated to play in the second leg at Villa Park, where Marcelo got another first-half goal for the hosts. Though Dalton levelled late on, we still lost 2-1 on aggregate, and an incredible season came to an anti-climax. 2030/2031 Championship: 12th. FA Cup: Round 5. League Cup: Round 1. Player of the Year: Mark West. Top Goalscorer: Mario Djokic. Most Assists: Mario Djokic. Dalton was sold to Huddersfield Town for £3.5million in the summer, and his defensive skills would be badly missed early in our second season at this level. Our sophomore struggles began with us accruing one point from four games, including a 4-0 home loss to Doncaster Rovers and another early League Cup exit to basement club Bristol Rovers on penalties. It hadn't helped that the owner's decision to expand Victoria Road had seen us move back to Craven Cottage for most of the campaign. Once again, a thumping of Colchester United was just what we needed to get back on track. Three goals from Mario Tortora were the Italian teenager's first for us, and he quickly rivalled Djokic, who himself scored a treble during a 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace. That was our only loss in a run of 10 league games that took us up to 7th place. Then came two crazy matches - a 4-3 reverse at Hull City, and a 6-3 home defeat to Aston Villa - that pushed us away from the play-offs and forced me to take urgent action. Ryan was dropped as first-choice keeper, with Whalley taking over, and the defenders were told to buck up their ideas. Results were mixed in November but positive in December, giving us hope that we could push for another top-six finish. That was until our defence collapsed again in early 2031. Five goals were conceded against Burnley, three at Swansea City, four at home to Newcastle United... and then we gave away another five to Tottenham Hotspur in Round 5 of the FA Cup. Then came late chokes against Oldham Athletic and Cardiff City that left me wondering if we actually wanted to reach the Play-Offs again. We played 14 league matches from the turn of the year. We only won two of them - 2-0 at home to Hull City, and then 5-3 at Wigan Athletic, in which Honeyball scored a couple of late goals. Suffice to say, our Play-Off challenge collapsed completely and we were fortunate to even finish in the top half. On the positive side, we now had three quality forwards in West, Djokic and Tortora. It was just the backline that perhaps needed attention, which meant veteran left-back Matt Warren had to move on after six seasons of fine service. 2031/2032 Championship: 10th. FA Cup: Round 6. League Cup: Round 3. Player of the Year: Baldur Hreidarsson. Top Goalscorer: Mario Djokic. Most Assists: Baldur Hreidarsson. I felt positive going into this season, not least because it would be our first full campaign at Victoria Road since it had been expanded to a 8,994-capacity all-seater. My optimism slipped away after our opening four Championship games, all of which we lost. Back-to-back wins versus Hull City and Reading looked like being false dawns following further early-season losses, which included a heartbreaking League Cup Round 3 exit to Aston Villa. With a quarter of the season gone, we were third-from-bottom and facing the prospect of our first major battle against relegation. Things picked up in the autumn, thanks in part to some major reshuffling. West was now 34 years old and past his best, but West Ham United loanee Baldur Hreidarsson proved a great replacement centre-forward to complement either of our Marios. 18-year-old Darvill established himself as a regular starter at centre-half, as did Wales vice-captain Gareth Lloyd after he arrived on a free transfer. After an encouraging start, though, we drew an awful lot of games and struggled to get a play-off charge going. The FA Cup captured Daggers fans' imaginations in the first few months of 2032. After scraping past Wrexham, we held Tottenham Hotspur to an away draw in Round 4. The replay at Victoria Road was truly astonishing, as we went 2-0 ahead before a double from future Daggers striker Gerald Parsons sent us to extra-time. Penalties were looming large when Djokic popped up to score a late winner, thus securing our first ever victory against top-flight opposition. That was followed up by a 3-1 beating of Blackburn Rovers in Round 5, but Chelsea proved far too classy in Round 6. We left Stamford Bridge having been soundly defeated 5-1. Some fine late-season results got us dreaming of making the Play-Offs, and we still had a slim chance of cracking the top six going into the penultimate round. Alas, a 3-1 loss at Crewe Alexandra accounted for our hopes, and we had to settle for 10th place. This season marked the end of an era, as Charles and West both left the team, with Mark retiring after netting a club-record 135 goals in 281 games. Fellow veteran Djokic was still going strong, having scored 17 goals in all competitions that season. Tortora had also got 17, but the Italian starlet would also leave us in the off-season for a £2.5million move to Burnley.
  13. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    Chapter 44 - New Kids On The Block On the morning of Thursday 29 October, the Catterall family sat down to eat their breakfast. This would be a busy day for Mark Catterall, as he and his wife Jenny explained to their son Luke. "I won't be home tonight, Luke," Mark said, before tucking into a piece of black toast. "Why not?" Luke asked. "I'm going to watch a match. I'll be home from St George's at 4 for my tea, and then I'm heading all the way down to Milton Keynes." "Milton Keynes? Where's that?" "It's about two hours south-east from here. Like I said, it's a long drive to and from there, so I'm gonna stay the night in a hotel. I swear I'll be back home tomorrow evening." "I wish you'd told me this before," Luke sighed. "We've got Computing at school today, and I was hoping you'd help me with my homework." Jenny said, "Oh no, I don't think that's a good idea, Luke. You can always ask me anything computer-wise, but you don't wanna ask Dad about that stuff! The only RAM he knows about is the mascot for Derby County!" "But you always help me with my homework, Mum. Dad never helps me." Mark apologised, "Sorry, son. I'll make it up to you sometime." "It's okay. So... what's this match about?" "England are playing Sweden." "England?" Luke asked sceptically. "I didn't think England were playing this week?" "No, but the women's team are," Jenny explained. "And I hear someone very special is going to play for them tonight." "What? Wayne Rooney's wife?" Mark laughed, "No, not Coleen Rooney!" "She must be, what... 34 now?" Jenny asked. Mark then asked Luke, "But you know Ashley - your half-sister?" Luke nodded, "Yeah?" "Ashley's had a great start to the new season with Liverpool's women's team - so good, in fact, that she's been named in the England squad. She could make her debut tonight." "Wow! My sister playing for England! That would be SO cool!" Jenny said, "I know, it's exciting, isn't it? And Dad's really proud of his little girl, aren't you, Mark?" "I am indeed. There've been a few fathers and sons who've played football for England, but I think we'd be the first father and daughter to do that." "What about that 'bouncebackability' man, and his little girl?" "Iain and Natasha Dowie, you mean? Yes, Natasha did play for England, but Iain Dowie played for Northern Ireland. And besides, he's her uncle, not her dad." "Wish Ashley luck for me, please, Dad," Luke smiled. "I will do, son." Later that evening, Mark drove down from Staffordshire to Milton Keynes, arriving at stadium:mk at 7:15pm - half an hour before the women's friendly international between England and Sweden would kick off. He met up with Ashley's mother - and his ex-wife - Kat Allen, and her stepdad Craig Minton. "I'm so glad you've come," Kat smiled as she embraced Mark. "It's a big night, ain't it?" Mark replied. "Our little girl could be following in Dad's footsteps!" Kat nodded, "My eyes are welling up just thinking 'bout it. Anyway, Mark... have you met Craig?" "Ah, so this is the Mr Minton I've heard so much about!" Mark said as he turned to Craig and shook his hand. Standing at 6ft 6in tall, personal trainer Craig was an imposing and muscular figure who towered over Mark, was not exactly vertically-challenged himself. "Nice to meet you, Mark," Craig said, in a broad Scouse accent that was arguably even more pronounced than his wife's. "Ash's got your talent, ain't she?" "I think she's got more than that, actually! I didn't play for England 'til I was 23, but Ashley's 19 now, and here she is already!" "She's a great kid, and she's turning into a wonderful young woman as well." "You must've brought her up well, finishing what I helped to start," Mark said. "So, er, who's looking after..." "Nicola? Her Nan's babysitting while we're here in beautiful MK." "I don't think anyone's called Milton Keynes beautiful before." Craig laughed, "I was being sarcastic, mate! And the less said about Franchise FC, the better, as far as I'm concerned!" Mark, Kat and Craig all entered the ground, seating themselves in the east stand. Ashley had been named on the substitutes' bench by England manager Emma Hayes, so it would be a while before those three got to see their daughter in action, if at all. The first half of the match was a thrilling spectacle, as Sweden took the lead after just three minutes, only for England to quickly draw level through Manchester City's Izzy Christiansen. The Lionesses then went ahead on the stroke of half-time, as Danielle Carter of Arsenal found the net with a coolly-taken low drive from the edge of the area. Mark and the Mintons hoped to see Ashley come on for the start of the second period. It wasn't to be, as Ashley remained seated when the match resumed. Sweden started the half on the front foot, twice hitting the woodwork from close range. Then, about an hour into proceedings, Hayes gestured at Ashley to warm up. Noticing this, Kat squealed, "She's about to come on!" "Not long now," Craig said. "Break a leg, kiddo." With 63 minutes on the clock, the big moment arrived. The fourth official raised her substitution board, lighting up in red the number 8 of Jordan Nobbs. Replacing the Arsenal midfielder was the woman whose number 20 was lit up in green. At just 19 years old, and barely two years after making her senior debut for Liverpool, Ashley Minton took to the field as a senior England international for the first time. "COME ON, ASHLEY!" Kat screamed. Mark joined in, "DO US PROUD, ASH!" And do them proud Ashley did. The inexperienced attacking midfielder showed no fear against a formidable Swedish defence, which she breached within just 10 minutes of coming on. She drew a centre-half out of position 25 yards from goal, before threading a through-ball into the penalty area for the fast-paced Christiansen to tap in. England had gone 3-1 up, thanks to a magnificent assist from Minton. "Incredible!" Mark gasped as he applauded with the rest of the crowd. "She didn't learn that off me, that's for sure!" "I might've helped her out a little bit there," Craig blushed. "I used to play semi-pro football when I was younger." "What position?" "Centre-half." "Can't say I'm surprised. I didn't have you down as a left-winger, that's for sure!" "Yeah, I was a ball-playing central defender back in the day. My team-mates always used to call me the Bootle Baresi. Then I did my ACL in when I was 25, and that was that, really." England were now on course for a fantastic victory. However, with 10 minutes remaining, disaster struck. Ashley was dribbling seemingly inexorably towards the Swedish box when she was wiped out by a reckless challenge from Sweden's left-back. She twisted hard on her left ankle and went to ground letting out a piercing scream. "JESUS!" Kat shrieked. "She could be really hurt!" "I think she is, y'know," Mark groaned. The referee had blown her whistle almost immediately, awarding England a free-kick in the 'D' before issuing the Swedish full-back with a straight red card. The Lionesses' medical team rushed onto the field as soon as it became clear that Ashley was in obvious agony. She covered her face with her hands and sobbed as she was carefully lifted onto a stretcher and removed from the field. Kat and Craig joined a standing ovation for their stricken daughter, but Mark simply stood in stunned silence. He then walked away, though not before Kat interrupted him, "Where you going, Mark?" Mark's voice started to crack as he said, "I can't watch any more of this, Kat. Not after what's just happened to Ash. I'm going to the hospital with her." "Are you sure, Mark?" Craig asked. "Yeah, I'm sure. Anyway, it was nice meeting you!" "Yeah, it was..." Craig replied, but Mark had already gone. "...nice to meet you too." Mark abruptly left the ground and waited outside as Ashley was stretchered onto an ambulance. He told one of the paramedics, "I'm coming with her." "Sorry, sir, but we can't let you on," the male paramedic replied. "This woman is badly injured and needs to be taken to hospital as quickly as possible." Mark screamed, "You heartless b******! SHE'S MY F***ING DAUGHTER!" Ashley sobbed, "It's okay, Dad! You don't have to come!" "Please?" Mark asked forlornly, as tears started to stream down his face. "I'll be fine, Dad. I'm a big girl now. I'll see you later, alright?" Mark could only watch on helplessly as the ambulance doors closed and Ashley was driven to hospital. As Kat and Craig came outside, he hugged his ex-wife and sobbed uncontrollably. What should've been one of the proudest nights of Mark Catterall's life had turned into a disaster.
  14. CFuller

    European Qualification.

    I don't believe a country can have more than seven teams in Europe in a season, even if five go into the Champions League. Tottenham - having only finished 6th and not won any of the cups - should have lost their place to Plymouth. In conclusion, I think this is a bug. I'd suggest reporting it in the Bugs Forum, preferably with save files from before the issue occurred (if you have any).
  15. CFuller

    European Qualification.

    Could that be anything to do with FFP (Financial Fair Play)? Did you fail that, by any chance?