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Drogba11CFC

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About Drogba11CFC

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    Chelsea and Winchester
  1. Chelsea's second friendly was on the evening of Thursday 21st July 2016, against Bayer Leverkusen who, like Monaco, had qualified for the Champions League. As expected, Spencer rang the changes for the match. Asmir Begovic started in goal, with José Gaya and Ola Aina either side of John Terry and Gary Cahill. In midfield, Ignacio Camacho sat behind Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nathaniel Chalobah, while Charly Musonda and Pedro played either side of Michy Batshuayi. It was the home side who started better, with former Manchester United striker Javier Hernández forcing a save from Begovic as early as the fifth minute. Worse was to come in the fourteenth minute. Julian Baumgartlinger played the ball to the feet of Hakan Çalhanoglu. Çalhanoglu played the ball to Hernández, who beat Cahill to it and fired it past Begovic into the top corner. Chelsea looked to hit back almost immediately. Batshuayi fed in Chalobah, who was tackled by Baumgartlinger. The loose ball came to Pedro, who sent a cross across the face of goal to Musonda, only for the Belgian to hit the side netting. Hernández had another chance to score when he was played in again by Çalhanoglu, but he too hit the side netting from a tight angle. Chelsea had a golden opportunity midway through the first half. José Gaya's throw in found Musonda, who found Chalobah in the area. Baumgartlinger tackled him, but Batshuayi pounced on the rebound, only to be brought down by Lars Bender. Jochen Drees immediately pointed to the spot, despite protests from the Leverkusen players who felt that it was a harsh decision. Batshuayi stepped up and aimed for the roof of the net, only for Ramazan Özcan to save the shot, the ball hitting the inside of the post before the Leverkusen keeper grabbed it at the second attempt. Özcan was called into action two minutes later, saving a Chalobah header. To add insult to injury, Bayer then doubled their lead. Mehmedi passed forward to Hernández, who laid it right to Çalhanoglu. The striker then set up Mehmedi on the edge of the area to fire a half volley beyond Begovic. The 1,892 Chelsea fans who had made the trip to Germany watched on with grim faces. Hernández then nearly made things a lot worse, but his shot was tipped over by Begovic. Charly Musonda then had a chance to get Chelsea back into the game, as he connected with Pedro's cross only to see his header pushed away by Özcan and the rebound hit the post. Chelsea then won a corner, which was taken by Pedro. John Terry rose highest, but his header was caught by Özcan. Both Jedvaj and Baumgartlinger then picked up bookings for fouls on Batshuayi and Loftus-Cheek respectively, before Musonda saw another effort saved by Özcan. Spencer was not happy with how things were going and told the players that he expected much better in the second half. Leverkusen still threatened, however, with Çalhanoglu playing a one-two with Hernández before firing over the bar and then heading wide. Pedro then ran onto a pass from Batshuayi, only to see his shot saved by Özcan. Çalhanoglu, always a danger, forced two saves from Begovic before Ola Aina sent a shot wide. With less than twenty minutes to go, Spencer made changes. Batshuayi was replaced by Raúl Jiménez, while Camacho, Loftus-Cheek and Chalobah were replaced by Matic, Kanté and Fàbregas. Yurchenko then saw a shot tipped over by Begovic, before Alonso and Hazard came on. Just after Hazard came on, Jiménez charged down a Dragovic pass and headed the ball to Hazard. Hazard raced past Da Costa and centred the ball to the near post, where Jiménez arrived to convert at point blank range and halve the deficit. Then, in stoppage time, Danny Da Costa failed to control the ball and Hazard sent a high pass over the top. Jiménez timed his run to perfection, beating the Leverkusen defence to the ball before taking a touch and, from 25 yards out, hitting a piledriver beyond the despairing Özcan to to bring Chelsea level in the space of four minutes and secure himself the Man of the Match award. Final Score: Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Chelsea (Hernández 14, Mehmedi 26; Raúl 87, 90, Batshuayi m/pen 22) Man of the Match: Raúl Jiménez “Every single one of you…” Spencer began, looking around the changing room, “Should be proud of yourselves! That was a fantastic comeback, especially in such a short period of time!” He allowed the players to cheer, before continuing. “There were still some areas that need work, but it's better than the last result.” Garry Baker was also pleased, saying on Twitter, “Superb performance to salvage a draw, especially from 2-0 down with four minutes left. Entertaining football a bonus as well.”
  2. Spencer's first game as Chelsea manager was on 19th July 2016, against AS Monaco. The opposition had finished 3rd in Ligue 1 the previous season, presenting a tough challenge for the new manager. Spencer elected to field a 4-3-3 formation, with Thibaut Courtois in goal. César Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso took up position as full backs (albeit being played as wing backs) with David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the centre. John Terry, surprisingly, was on the bench. Nemanja Matic was played behind N’golo Kanté and Cesc Fàbregas in midfield, with Eden Hazard and Willian on each wing either side of Diego Costa. Both sides came close early on. Monaco won a corner which was caught by Courtois, who sent a long kick upfield. Raggi beat Costa in the air, but his header was intercepted by Fàbregas, who headed the ball to Kanté. Kanté ran into the Monaco half before attempting a one-two with Willian, only for Mendy to win the ball with a slide tackle at the expense of a corner. From the corner, Fabinho intercepted and played a quick one-two with João Moutinho before sending Nabil Dirar away down the right. Dirar’s cross found Radamel Falcao, who had spent the previous year on loan at Chelsea, but his header went high into the stands. Barely a minute later, Fàbregas played in a low pass to Eden Hazard. Hazard passed to the feet of Costa, who darted past Diallo before sending his shot over the bar. In the 15th minute, Moutinho beat Kanté in the air. His header found Thomas Lemar, who connected with a half volley which went over the bar. Lemar had another chance two minutes later, when he dribbled past David Luiz before putting his shot wide. The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute. Marcos Alonso conceded a free kick for a foul on Mariano. Raggi passed it to Dirar, who exchanged passes with João Moutinho. He then passed to Falcao, who sprayed the ball out to Lemar. Lemar hit a cross towards the back post, which David Luiz attempted to intercept. However, the ball deflected off him and into his own net to give Monaco the lead. Six minutes later, Kanté found Costa with a low pass. The forward was brought down by Fabinho, who was shown a yellow card. Radamel Falcao had another chance four minutes before half time, which he sent wide of the target. Chelsea started the second half stronger, and three minutes in Willian first saw a shot blocked by Mendy. The resulting corner was caught by De Sanctis, but Chelsea won possession back and Kanté found Willian, whose cross was blocked. Falcao had another chance in the 51st minute, when he connected with a cross from Mendy. His shot, however, was blocked by David Luiz. Cesc Fàbregas was the next player to be booked, picking up a yellow card for a trip on Fabinho. Fabinho was then withdrawn to make way for Boschilia, before Thomas Lemar sent in Falcao, whose shot was held by Courtois. Chelsea had their best chance of the match just before the hour, as Fàbregas found Kanté. Kanté passed the ball to Willian in the box, who set up Costa. Costa let fly with his right foot, but De Sanctis tipped it behind. Dirar was next player to be substituted, making way for Mbappé in the 62nd minute. Lemar had another chance in the 64th minute, when he connected with Raggi’s pass, but his shot was blocked by David Luiz. Chelsea made their first substitution midway through the second half, with Azpilicueta making way for Victor Moses. Moses saw a cross blocked by Djibril Sidibé, before Eden Hazard was taken off and replaced by Pedro. Costa had another chance with just over 15 minutes left, as he received the ball from Kanté and hit a speculative shot, but there was little power on it and he hit it straight at De Sanctis. Marcos Alonso was the next to have a chance from a free kick, but he sent the ball wide. Carillo then got up above Moses to connect with Mbappé's cross, sending his header just wide. Chelsea then made a double change, with Camacho and Loftus-Cheek replacing Matic and Fàbregas. Then, with seven minutes to go, came another goal. Antonucci’s pass found Carillo, who sent a through ball to Lemar. Moses dispossessed him, but the ball came to Boschilia. Camacho tried to intercept, but Valère Germain, on as a substitute for Mariano, slotted the ball home. Chelsea looked to get at least one goal back, and in the 89th minute Pedro played Costa free of the defence, but Jemerson got back in time to tackle. Costa had another chance in stoppage time, but he fired it wide. Final Score: AS Monaco 2-0 Chelsea ( David Luiz og 26, Germain 83) “Well, that's why we play friendlies.” Spencer said in the changing room after the match. “It's obvious that there's a lot of work to do if we're going to get anywhere this season. I'm not impressed with what I saw out there.” He turned to David Luiz. “I thought you had a solid performance out there,” he said. “Don't be too cut up about the own goal, it could happen to anyone.” He then addressed the squad. “Don’t expect to be in the first eleven for the next match if you started this one,” he stated. “My intention is to get everyone ready for the new season, not run the same eleven players into the ground.” Most supporters didn’t read too much into the result, but Garry Baker of the Chelsea Supporters’ Group did voice his concerns on Twitter, stating that “It seems a lot of the rot from last year is still there. Whilst there’s probably no reason to panic, it’s still concerning to see us falter in the final third.”
  3. On 1st July 2016, George Spencer became manager of Chelsea Football Club. In a meeting with the board, the expectations were laid out; the board expected the club to win the title and reach the final of the FA Cup. Following this, Spencer met with Angelo Alessio, his assistant manager, to discuss the squad. “At present, the squad itself is fairly strong,” Alessio said, “but I feel we could do with a bit more depth. Diego feels that there is not enough competition for the striker role, and the midfield could be stretched if there is an injury. We could also do with another defender too.” Spencer then called a meeting with the players, in which he stated his goal for the season. “I see no reason why we can’t win the title, and that’s what we should be aiming for. If we aim for top four, then falling short could have severe consequences. If we aim for the title, then if we fall short, we’ll still be in the top four. Besides, we won this title two years ago, so we can definitely do so again!” Spencer was unveiled to the press the following day, in front of journalists from all the major publications. “Stevie Robertson, sportinglife.com. Surely, for a Chelsea fan, this is a dream come true?” “Of course it is, it’s a wonderful feeling and I can’t stop smiling.” “Mike Warner, Sky Sports News. Do you feel that your ambitions are matched by the chairman?” “Absolutely, I have no doubts that the chairman has the club's best interests at heart.” “Laurence Fox, Evening Standard. Do you feel the expectations this season are fair and realistic?” “If the club is to progress and stay competitive, then everyone has to aim high.” “Jake Clark, The Guardian. You had a hugely successful career as a player, but management is a different challenge altogether. Do you think your experience will aid the transition?” “I think so. I picked up a great knowledge of the game when I played.” “Sid Collingwood, The Sun. You mentioned on Sky Sports last season that you prefer a 4-3-3 formation. Is that because it's how Chelsea have traditionally played?” “Yes. 4-2-3-1 obviously didn't work last season and for us to recover we've got to go back to basics.” “Laurence Fox. Will you make many changes?” “I intend to give everyone a chance to prove their worth.” “In that case, are you likely to make moves in the transfer market?” “Yes, I have several targets in mind.” “Curtis Eaton, Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle. How do you see your management style?” “I like to value players as people as well as footballers.” “Jake Clark. Will you be concentrating primarily on getting good results in the Premier League?” “Yes, the league has to be my priority. That's what the fans want.” “Callum Griffiths, 90min.com. Is there a particular area of the squad you are looking to bolster?” “We could do with a deeper squad, and I am looking at attack.” “George McAllister, TEAMtalk.com. Will there be any deals in the coming weeks?" “Only for the right player.” Spencer's first action was to loan out promising young full back Charlie Wakefield. The 18-year-old had the potential to be one of the best players at the club, and Spencer felt that first team experience would be valuable. Wakefield would join Watford on loan for the season, playing his first game in the Hornets’ 3-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon in the Football Manager Cup. Looking for another full back, Spencer set his sights on Luke Shaw of Manchester United. Although Shaw was interested in joining, Mourinho refused to consider it. Shaw was reportedly furious about not being allowed to join Chelsea, while Mourinho accused him of “wanting to take the easy way out”. With Shaw out of the question, attention turned to another possibility: José Gaya of Valencia. A lengthy tussle with Liverpool ensued, but ultimately Chelsea would secure his signature for 38 million pounds. This was quickly followed by Ignacio Camacho, joining from Málaga for 15.5 million. Finally, the attack was bolstered by the signing of Raúl Jiménez from SL Benfica for 10.25 million. Moving the other way would be Nathan Aké and Kenedy, to spend the first half of the season on loan at AFC Bournemouth and Leicester City respectively. Spencer also arranged a series of friendlies for preseason. In addition to ones at AS Monaco in July, and Hamburger SV and Atromitos in August, there would be ones at Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, and AS Roma in July. There would also be a game at Stamford Bridge on 30th July against Paris Saint-Germain, which would be John Terry's testimonial. The season would begin with none other than a reunion with José Mourinho at Old Trafford, followed by a home game against Stoke City and a trip to AFC Bournemouth either side of the EFL Cup 2nd round.
  4. Welcome! This is, as you might expect, a Chelsea story. This is in fact the second Chelsea story I have written from Football Manager, following "The Future's Bright, the Future's Blue" on the now-defunct dugout forums, in which I managed Chelsea to two European Cups in three years before burnout took hold. I am utilising the FM17 17.3.0 database, with English leagues loaded down to County Leagues (e.g. Wessex Premier, Combined Counties Premier, Hellenic Premier) as well as a slightly modded Chelsea patch which puts Chelsea's players closer to real life (Kante, for instance, has been upgraded from average to excellent). This story utilises a mix of real characters (e.g. the players) and fictional ones (mainly supporters, but also the odd journalist).
  5. For Chelsea fans, the end of the 2015/16 season could not have come quickly enough. A disastrous campaign from start to finish had seen the sacking of a manager who had been thought of as a legend, the worst league finish in a generation, the first season without European football since 1996, and the fans practically falling into civil war over whether to point the finger at Mourinho, the players, which players, the coaching staff, the board, the pies or even each other. For those who somehow don’t know, the season had begun with a loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield, a 2-2 draw against Swansea and a 3-0 loss at Manchester City. Things had only gone downhill from there, with Papy Djilobodji and Michael Hector (who would play a total of one minute between them all season) being signed on deadline day, the club equalling its previous season’s number of league defeats by the end of September, and Mourinho being sacked by Christmas with the club teetering above the relegation zone. Guus Hiddink had been brought in to steady the ship, and while the club had risen to tenth, there hadn’t been much to speak of, except for ruining Tottenham’s title challenge in a match where Mark Clattenburg had seemingly left his red card on the train. The club had originally had Antonio Conte in the frame to take over, but the Italian had announced at the eleventh hour that he would be taking a sabbatical from football after the end of the season. Some people, namely Sun journalist Sid Collingwood, suggested that it was because he didn’t want to be at a club where the manager’s shelf life was shorter than that of the meat pies. The club turned to another, unexpected option: former player George Spencer. *** Spencer had played for Chelsea from 2001 to 2012. Making his debut in a baptism of fire, the midfielder was thrown in at the deep end by Claudio Ranieri when six first teamers refused to travel to Tel Aviv for a UEFA Cup game citing safety fears. Although Chelsea would lose 2-0, he barely put a foot wrong and was rewarded by being picked for the return leg. He almost made a big impact at 0-0, but he saw his shot, having beaten Hapoel keeper Elimelech, cannon back off the post and be hacked clear of an onrushing Hasselbaink. That was one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise insipid display as Chelsea limped to a 1-1 draw and bowed out of the competition. Spencer pushed on, however, and became a semi-regular face in the first team under Ranieri. He played in the 3-0 win at Old Trafford and both back-to-back 4-0 wins against Tottenham Hotspur, as well as the FA Cup Final defeat to Arsenal. 2002/03 would see Spencer get more opportunities, and he played in all of Chelsea’s FA Cup matches as well as the 2-1 win over Liverpool on the last day of the season which secured Champion’s League qualification for the following season. The so-called “Russian Revolution” brought a plethora of new players into the squad, but Spencer was still a semi-regular presence as Chelsea tried to establish themselves as regular title challengers. The club fell short, as Arsenal went the season unbeaten, although Chelsea would gain some measure of revenge by knocking them out of the Champion’s League in their own backyard. Spencer’s reward at the end of the season was to be picked for England’s Euro 2004 squad, and he scored against Croatia and in the shootout against Portugal, although the Three Lions were eliminated on penalties. Ranieri was sacked at the end of the season, with Champion’s League winner José Mourinho coming in. Mourinho, who dubbed himself “a special one” kept the faith with Spencer, although Frank Lampard and Tiago were often picked ahead of him. He did, however, make 17 appearances from the bench and win a Premier League medal. There would be further disappointment in the Champion’s League, however, as the infamous “ghost goal” saw Liverpool eliminate Chelsea in the semi-finals. The following season saw more glory in the league, with Spencer picking up a second winner’s medal, but more disappointment as another semi final against Liverpool ended in defeat, this time in the FA Cup, and in the second round of the Champion's League against Barcelona. Spencer's career hit a snag in the 2006/07 season as he picked up an injury against Charlton Athletic early in the season and spent much of the season on the treatment table. He did make a return late in the season, but by then it was too late to stop Manchester United from winning their first title since 2003. He started the following season with a point to prove, but despite being in top form, was overlooked by Steve McClaren for England's Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia... which England lost 3-2 and failed to qualify. Under Grant, Spencer was almost ever-present in midfield, as Lampard and Ballack both saw their season hampered by injuries (and, in Lampard’s case, personal problems), and Grant preferred to play Michael Essien at right back. The Blues lost the title to Manchester United, the league cup final to Tottenham and an FA Cup fifth-round tie to Championship side Barnsley, but made it to the Champion’s League Final after giving Liverpool a taste of their own semifinal medicine. Sadly, the trophy would be decided in the cruellest way possible; John Terry’s slip taking the shootout to sudden death and Anelka’s miss handing United the trophy. Lying flat on his back from exhaustion and despair immediately after the match, Spencer was hauled up by Gary Neville (who hadn’t been picked), who told him, “I’m almost certain you’ll get another chance.” Neville would be proven right four years later. 2008-09 brought another setback, as Scolari froze Spencer out of the side during the early part of the season to the point that, by January, there was speculation that he might join Mourinho at Inter Milan. No such move materialised, and Spencer would get back in the first team after Scolari was sacked a month later and replaced by Guus Hiddink, who guided Chelsea to an FA Cup and third in the table. Carlo Ancelotti guided Chelsea to a league and cup double, although things fell apart in the second season, but Spencer found himself frozen out once more under Andre Villas-Boas. When Roberto Di Matteo became manager, Spencer was brought back into the fold. The blues faltered in the league, but continued their FA Cup and Champions League campaigns. In the latter, Spencer played in the second leg against Napoli as Chelsea overturned a 3-1 first leg deficit and scored a vital goal in the quarter final against Benfica. He also played in the defensive masterclass at the Nou Camp, in which a ten man side came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and advance to the final. Then came what almost everyone agrees was the club’s finest hour, as the Blues recovered from a late Bayern goal to get an even later equaliser and beat them on penalties in their own backyard; Spencer had been down to take the sixth penalty if the shootout had gone into sudden death. Spencer started 2012/13 knowing that he would have to start thinking about retirement. He believed that he could probably play for another couple of seasons, and was still in Di Matteo’s plans for the season, until it ended abruptly at Loftus Road. Midway through the first half, Spencer ran into the QPR penalty area looking to pass to Hazard, but was chopped down by Ryan Nelsen in an obvious foul which was ignored by the referee. A post-match assessment found that he had broken his ankle, effectively ending his season and forcing him to retire. For the following three years, Spencer continued to work on his coaching licenses, which he had begun studying in 2011. He also appeared occasionally on Sky Sports as a pundit. Meanwhile, with Di Matteo being sacked in November and replaced by Benitez, Chelsea eventually finished third and won the Europa League, although Spencer was not impressed by the Spaniard, accusing him of “playing chicken with Tottenham”. Nor was he impressed with the referees that season, suggesting that their failures to send off opposing players for offences such as Aguero’s stamp on David Luiz and Suarez's biting of Ivanovich, constituted dereliction of duty. Spencer had hoped to become a coach at Chelsea under Mourinho, but the disastrous 2015-16 season had put paid to that. With Antonio Conte’s 11th-hour withdrawal from the role, Chelsea announced on 3rd May 2016 that George Spencer would be taking over as manager as of 1st July.
  6. An Impossible Man

    I sincerely hope Chelsea made PSG break the bank for Hazard at any rate. As in £200M at the very least.
  7. An Impossible Man

    So close and yet so far. I'm starting a story based on a Chelsea save I started (Winchester City one is on hiatus due to many real life players - including the left back who's getting a testimonial at the end of the season - being omitted). I'm currently working on the manager's playing career (Chelsea, 2001-2012) but I don't want it to ramble too much.
  8. An Impossible Man

    I was drawn more to the similarity between Harry Kane and Scrapper Griswell in the intelligence stakes. The old strips have now been serialised, I have all four volumes and I'm waiting for the fifth to go on sale in March.
  9. An Impossible Man

    Did you ever read Striker by any chance?
  10. An Impossible Man

    It's excellent, although the idea of the title going to either Sp*rs or Liverpool is any Chelsea fan's worst nightmare.
  11. An Impossible Man

    Got to love Google Translate.
  12. An Impossible Man

    Translated: "You're an arrogant cockroach, Leo! You think you're more important than the team!" "**** you, Edy! I should not have to listen or work for an incompetent coach like you!" "You should have retired after the Copa America! There is no chance whatsoever of you playing for Argentina in the World Cup! None whatsoever!"
  13. (FM17) Many in Men, One in Spirit

    “Who's George Spencer?” That was the question on the lips of most Southern League fans as the news was announced that I'd been appointed Winchester City manager. Some people thought it a bold move, others (mostly from Wimborne) thought that it would all end in relegation. Ian Saunders, recovering in hospital, sent out a message on Facebook urging the players to get behind their new manager. I was interviewed by Paul Murray before having a brief chat with assistant manager Jason Hampson, who gave me advice on squad depth. Firstly, however, the media were waiting, and I was only too eager to meet them. Or rather, him. “Do you feel that your ambitions are matched by the chairman?” asked Kevin McGoldrick from the Non-League Paper. “Oh yes”, I replied, “I feel that he has the club's best interests at heart and it's good for a non-league club to have such a chairman.” “Aren't you a bit young though? I mean, 26, you'd expect someone your age to still be playing.” “That's a valid point, but I don't think age is that much of an issue. It's not as though they've appointed a 16-year-old who took Woking from the National League to the Champion's League in six seasons on Football Manager.” This drew a few laughs. He continued, “You spent your playing career at Winchester City. As such, do you think that this is an advantage?” “Hopefully,” I said, “But management is different from playing, and it'll be a whole new ball game.” “Obviously being from Winchester you know the area, do you consider that an advantage?” “Indeed I do, we all come from the same place so hopefully it'll be an advantage.” “New managers often bring upheaval, and some players might fear for their positions. Any comment?” “Everyone will get a chance to prove their worth.” “Are you likely to delve into the transfer market?” “Yes, I have a few targets in mind.” “How do you see your management style?” “Players will be able to come to me with anything.” “Will you be concentrating on getting good league results?” “Yes, but I wouldn't say no to a cup run.” “Do you think you can control players like Matt Sumner? “I don't think it's fair to comment on individual players just yet.” “OK Mr Spencer, thank you for the interview. Good luck for the rest of the season.” I looked at the pre-season friendlies when I got home. Poole at home, followed by trips to Chalfont St Peter, Badshot Lea and Hamble Club. Time to check out those players Jason had recommended to me...
  14. (FM17) Many in Men, One in Spirit

    Many in Men, One in Spirit Perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is George Spencer, and since I was nine, the City Ground at Winchester has been like a second home to me. I was born in 1990, and took an interest in football from an early age. My father supported Sheffield Wednesday, but I became interested when I was 6, when I watched Gianfranco Zola bamboozle Julian Dicks on TV. I wanted to go to Stamford Bridge, but the expense (even with my father's salary) and the distance meant that somewhere closer to home was needed. And by “closer to home” I meant Abbots Barton, not the Dell. I first went in 1999, when the club were playing in the now-defunct Hampshire League, and watched as the club rose through the divisions into the Wessex League. I will always remember being at St Andrews on 16th May 2004 when the club, in their finest hour, beat AFC Sudbury 2-0 to win the FA Vase; the first time a team from Hampshire had won it. We were the only team from Hampshire with an FA Vase until Sh*ling won it in 2014 (having voluntarily dropped down from the Southern League for an easy trophy, but I digress). I left school in 2008 with respectable A-Level results and took an office job at the council. I had also been a starting midfielder for the school team, and began playing for Winchester City in the 2008/09 season, making 15 appearances and scoring 3 goals. However, the season ended controversially, as we were docked 3 points for fielding an ineligible player and relegated to the Wessex League by one goal. 2009/10 saw a mediocre Wessex League campaign which led to a 10th-place finish, before the 10/11 season – my best in a City shirt, with 33 appearances and 12 goals – saw a 3rd place finish behind Poole Town and Bemerton Heath Harlequins under former Tottenham defender Guy Butters. 11/12 proved even better for the club, but I was unable to make a more significant impact as injuries began to niggle at me throughout the season as Jamie White's goals saw the club sweep virtually everyone aside, including a 9-0 win at Hayling and 8-0 wins home and away against Brading, eventually notching up 104 points and a goal difference of +99. 2012/13 was a disaster. Top of the league after 5 games, the club virtually collapsed as players left for pastures new and the funds dried up. Lack of players saw me forced to play week in and week out as the club picked up just three points between November and March – a 2-1 win at Abingdon United. The club nearly folded before Paul Murray, Dave Malone and Terry Bone stepped in – with a substantial input from fans who'd been exiled by the then-owner raising funds and local MP Steve Brine also stepping in to ensure Winchester would still have a football team (for which he would be given the position of vice president on the management committee). Their future secured, the club celebrated by hosting a free game – in which they lost 3-1 to Bridgwater in a downpour. However, the club took 7 points from their last three home games, including a 2-1 win over 5th -placed Paulton Rovers, to see out the season on a high. However, I decided to call time on my playing career. 2013-14 saw the club reorganise and finish 5th in the Wessex League before a certain Warren Bentley came to the club from Alresford. 14/15 proved to be quite the adventure, as we reached the 3rd qualifying round of the FA Cup for the first time in 59 years. Despite a slow start which saw us finish second to Petersfield Town, the resignations of Flackwell Heath (travel) and Sh*ling (ground not up to scratch) saw us promoted via the back door to the Southern League. Tipped for relegation, we – and Warren Bentley – had other ideas, and we went 5-0 up against Bridgwater in 42 minutes on the first day of the season. Despite not making the same stage in the FA Cup (due to a last-minute Maidenhead equaliser) we reached the final of the Hampshire Senior Cup (beating Eastleigh 2-1 along the way) and finished 5th in the table, pipping Evesham to the final play-off spot. However, the club ran out of steam, losing 1-0 at Banbury in the semi-finals. Banbury would later win the final, before a furious row between Cinderford Town and Evesham United erupted as Cinderford (who had gone up as champions) tried to refuse promotion, causing Evesham to be moved to the Northern League and thus potentially miss out on a money-spinning visit from the newly-reborn Hereford. Evesham were reinstated on appeal and Cinderford went up. Despite the fact that he had led City to a play-off place, manager Paul Masters left the club in June following a disagreement over the budget with Chairman Paul Murray, who felt that the club could not realistically compete with Salisbury and Hereford. Ian Saunders was poached from Petersfield, but a week into the job, he was hospitalised with a minor heart attack, and this is where I come in.
  15. A Manager's Tale (FM 15)

    I hope Winchester City get promoted.
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