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Peacemaker7

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  1. Epilogue

     

    So really, this story ends here. As always the game of FM throws up scenarios you can never predict or expect, which is good. I felt that ending the actual story with the death of Hamish and his mothers last words was the best thing, and worked in really well. But there was one last twist of fate. For those of you who think the story ends with Hamish, do not read the spoiler below. But if you want to see the twist of fate that merely adds, imo to the comedic value, then read  on....

     

     

    Spoiler

    In the end, it would not be for Luxembourg or Luis Amor, as England struck a 96th minute winner. There was still possibilities for one of the four best third placed teams, but in the end the Germans, despite ending with the same goal difference, would advance having scored more goals. It was a cruel, horrible way for a tiny nation to lose out, but such is life. Sometimes, footballing miracles do happen. But not this time. 

     

  2. The Real End

    Hamish MacDougall was nervous. 

    Of course it couldn't really happen. Yes they had played well against France, yes they had beaten Poland but now they had England, and no way were Luxembourg beating England. And yet...

    England were already through. They didn't really need to try much. And, worst of all, a draw would be enough. A draw against an England side who had beaten them four one and two nil in the qualifiers. No, it couldn't happen, Hamish could relax. Rodriquez side were about to be humiliated, and Hamish was going to enjoy every minute of it.  Even if it did mean selling his soul to the devil, even if it did mean supporting England.

    Come half time, the match was tied at nil all. Hamish was getting nervous again. To be fair, Luxembourg had played well but England had looked like a team going through the motions. This wasn't fair, not fair at all, but five minutes into the second half, Hamish MacDougall was celebrating like a madman, the first England goal he had ever celebrated in his life as Marcus Rashford finally sent them into the lead. Perhaps not a well deserved lead, but a lead nevertheless. 

    Surely now, Luxembourg would get the hammering that Rodriguez truly deserved. Five minutes later though, Alessio Curci's 12th goal for his nation that made him the 2nd top all time Luxembourg goalscorer, levelled the scores and Hamish had to resist the temptation to throw his beer can through the TV screen. There was still time, there was no way this was going to end in anything but tears for the man he now hated the most in the whole world.

    The game now seemed to be going in five minute bursts as on the hour Declan Rice sent England back in front and now this was surely the end of the line. The game went on, Luxembourg to be fair continued to battle away but as time ran out, so the tears were about to flow. Five minutes to go, an innocuous Curci cross into the box, Jordan Henderson tried to knock the ball behind for a corner, only to succeed in knocking the ball into his own net. Luxembourg were level, and were on their way to the last sixteen of Euro 24.

    It was too much for Hamish to take. This time he did throw his nearly full beer can at the TV, it bounced off smashing into the mirror on the wall, which shattered into a thousand pieces. It was probably a million to one chance, as one of those pieces flew through the air, gouging deep into Hamish MacDougalls throat. 

    As he lay bleeding to death, the final thoughts in his mind were those of his mother, 

    I told you so son, football is evil, it killed your father and now it's killed you...

     

     

  3. The End

    Hamish MacDougall was not a bitter man, he rarely held grudges. He went to Dougie Durie's funeral after all. Yet, as Las Palmas, on whom he had secretly been keeping tabs, finished 11th in Liga 2 whilst the team he had been sacked from gained promotion, he couldn't contain a little laugh to himself. He was not a bitter man, but he would like to see the man who sacked him crash and burn. That wasn't really all that nasty after all, was it?

     

    When June came round, it was time for Euro 24 and Hamish was unsure if he wanted to watch it. What if Rodriguez led Luxembourg to sensational glory? In their final two warm up matches they had beaten Wales two nil and drew with Belgium after all. Things were looking reasonably decent for the tiny nations fortunes. Then Hamish remembered that Luxembourg had drawn Poland, France.... and England. They were going to get battered weren't they. Hamish wondered if it would be polite to send a condolence card...

     

    Meanwhile, over in Germany, Luis Amor Rodriguez was not giving the thought of the former B team manager any consideration at all. His only thought right now was in his team doing the best they could at Euro 24. Oh sure, when he had taken this job on, it had only been a bit of fun, and a way to easily make a stupid amount of money. Now though? Now he had a chance to do something with his life, and he wasn't going to throw that away lightly. Sure they had Poland, sure they had France, and sure they had an England team that had battered them in the qualifiers. But had they really, he thought for a moment. Well yeah they had, but miracles happen in football, why not this time as well? 

     

    The squad announcement saw few, if any surprises for Luxembourg. The only changes from the previously listed squad were the inclusion of 17 year old Borussia Moenchengladbach defender Dylan Joachim for squad fringe player Martin Marvins, whilst Dirk Carlson got the nod over Chris Philipps. The only other change was the inclusion of another teenager, in Wolfsburg midfielder Sven Agovic who replaced Florik Shala. There was minor surprise at these two inclusions, but building for the future was important to Luis Amor and his plan was to snap these players up now before Germany did. The fact is,  neither of these players would ever really be good enough to play for Germany, but just in case. After all the Germans couldn't be that good given they lost two of their group matches and only snuck into the knockout rounds as one of the 'best' 3rd placed teams. 

     

    For Luis Amor though, the only thing that mattered was how Luxembourg did. Having drawn with Austria and Belgium in the warms ups in March & June, and having beaten Wales & Scotland, there was hope. A teeny tiny bit of hope, but hope nevertheless. And that hope lasted 44 minutes of the opening match with France, before Kylian Mbappe struck what would turn out to be the only goal of the match.

    It had been a brave Luxembourg performance, which had gained plaudits around the world, but plaudits don't win trophies. And with Poland next, this surely had to be the chance for Luxembourg to snatch the win that might, just might, be enough to snatch a 3rd placed berth in the knockout round, and that in itself would surely be one of the most amazing achievements in football ever. 

    Things were looking really good against Poland as the footballing gods seemed to smile sweetly on the tiny nation. A 20th minute penalty converted by Dany Mota sent them on their way, and when Poland's Arkadiusz Reca was red carded on 28 minutes, things were really looking good. The sending off though just seemed to inspire Poland and by half time the match was level again. The win though was still there for the taking, and on 63 minutes Claude Joubert pounced to score what would turn out to be the winning goal and all that remained between Luxembourg and a place in the last sixteen was... England. 

     

     

     

     

     

  4.  

    Dead

     

    Dougie Durie was dead.

     

    As Hamish, no longer furious, looked forlornly from the window of his new flat out onto the snow covered street below, he felt not only forlorn but also sad and guilty. Dougie Durie was not his best friend,  that was true and he had been a terrible boss, that was also true - but no-one deserved to die. And certainly no-one deserved to die by being run over by a sewage truck. Especially one of their own sewage trucks.

     

    And, even though he had not been a good boss, it was through Dougie Durie that Hamish had started his footballing career, a career that had led him to Italy, Orkney, Gran Canaria. A career that had earned him a lot of money. 

     

    Yet even as he sat here forlorn and sad, there was still a tinge of anger remaining from his meeting with Luis Amor Rodriguez. Before then, the two had never met, and now? Hamish wished they had never met. It was that meeting that had changed, once again, the destiny of Hamish MacDougalls life, this time forever. Probably. 

     

    Hamish had been furious that the new manager of Las Palmas had stolen the players he was raising in his B side. The man had just swept in, cleared out some of the first teamers and replaced them with the high flyers from the B squad. Hamish was furious, and let Rodriguez know in no uncertain terms. They had had a clear the air meeting, which certainly cleared the air - and Hamish’s desk.

     

    I am the manager here now Luis Amor and told him, I will use whatever players I need, and if you don’t like it, well you can leave.

     

    And that was that. 

     

    Hamish had left, his reputation in tatters, his pride battered and pockets full of money. After all, he still had a contract and the club needed to pay that off. Hamish was not too worried as he stormed out of his office and headed to the airport. He would easily get another job. 

     

    And get another job he did. 

     

    As he wiped the remnants of tears from his eyes, Hamish pulled himself together and made his way to his new office. This was a place he knew well, it was an office he had been in many times in his life. As he looked around, a feeling of satisfaction came over him. This was where he had always been destined to be. 

     

    As his mother always said, and he could hear her voice ringing in his head now, sewage never let anyone down.

  5. Furious

     

    Whilst Hamish was enjoying a relatively good spell of success, Luis Amor Rodriguez was on his four month break. For Luxembourg, since losing to England on the nineteenth of November 2023, there were no more matches until a friendly with Austria on the 27th of March 2024. Most people, enjoying a four month holiday on a 20,000 euro a week salary, would be very happy. And, for the most part Luis Amor was happy. He could relax, enjoy watching his son playing for Las Palmas Atletico and just well… be bored actually.

     

    It was therefore, after a little bit of consideration, an easy decision to make to apply for the job of manager of UD Las Palmas when it became vacant. Sure, it would mean more work, but this was the club he had grown up supporting and he felt sure that his new found reputation with Luxembourg, plus the fact he had played for Las Palmas - uhm well B and C teams - would surely give him an advantage. And somehow, it certainly seemed to.

     

    And so, on 25th January 2024, Luis Amor Rodriguez was unveiled as the new manager of his local club, the club he had supported all his life. And there were no twists in the tale here, because that club was for sure Union Deportiva Las Palmas. There was general appreciation from the fans and the staff - apart from one man who we already know was not overly happy with this appointment.

     

    With Las Palmas struggling in the league and out of the cup, it was clear to Luis Amor that the squad needed shaken up and this was probably the best time to do it, as expectations were now lower. The big problem was, that time was running out. The other big problem was, there was not a lot of money available. Money though isn’t everything and in the few days before the window closed, a few players such as Jese, Fabio, Alex Suarez, were moved on. Not for big bucks that was true, but it did also free up some wages.

     

    Luis Amor had also been impressed with some of the kids in the B side, and although he was not stupid enough to put them all into the starting eleven right away, they would help fill the bench. For now. Along with those called up to first team action were his son, Luis Amor Junior. An attacking midfielder/striker, he was doing well with Atletico but would not be guaranteed a starting berth. The club that had produced Pedri, who now plays with Barcelona, had a new star in the pipeline - Enzo Loiodice. Now 23 years old, he was not exactly a teenager but still the best player to come through the Las Palmas system since, well, Pedri actually. And as Loiodice was an attacking midfielder he would most certainly be the number one in the role.

     

    There wasn’t really much time to bring players in, but there were new faces - although the player Luis Amor really wanted would not be able to arrive until the summer. Central defender Miguel Nobrega came in from Ibiza, and Peque was requisition from Barcelona B. The other two players were ones that he knew from Luxembourg. Claude Schmitz is an 18 year old full back who was doing quite well for Luxembourg in his couple of appearances - and then decided he wanted to play for Germany. Nevertheless a decent prospect who was acquired from St Pauli’s 2nd team. 

     

    The other player coming in was a Luxembourg regular, one million pounds secured the services of a player who had done more than his bit in guiding his country to Euro 24 - winger Dany Mota, who arrived from Malmo. One other Luxembourg player struck a deal to join his international manager, but 17 year old striker Claude Joubert was already on loan at Mannheim and having also played for his club, Bochum, would be ineligible to play for Las Palmas anyway until next season. And indeed he would be playing for them, as the clubs agreed a £2.2m deal that could rise a fair bit more with add ons. Luis Amor felt the youngster was more than worth it.

     

    Luis Amor was a happy man. He would have liked to bring Alessio Curci, Vincent Thill or Christopher Martins Pereira to the club - but financially these deals were not possible, not yet anyway. Luis Amor was a happy man. 

     

    But Hamish MacDougall was furious.

  6. Hello, Goodbye?

     

     

    It probably would be ridiculous for Hamish to move to yet another job, but as 2024 dawned, so Las Palmas, lying 11th in Liga 2 and having been knocked out of the Copa del Rey in the first round by 4th level Moralo - a team incidentally who are in the same division as Las Palmas Atletico and who had already been gubbed three one by the B side - decided to part company with their manager. Hamish, feeling confident that he must have impressed the board with the performances with the B side, threw his name into the hat.

     

    Dear Signor MacDouglas

     

    Thank you for your letter applying to be manager of Union Deportiva Las Palmas.

     

    Whilst the board feel you are doing a great job with Las Palmas Atletico, and we very much appreciate this, we feel strongly that this is where you should remain.

     

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything you need in the future. 

     

    UD Las Palmas board.

     

    So it was a no then, but at least Hamish still had a job, and that was a good enough job as well.

     

    Things did not get much better for Hamish, as young full back Victor Martinez was loaned out from under his nose - Martinez was not a regular but with seven appearances was a decent back up. However, if Hamish thought this was bad, things were about to get a whole heap of lot worse.

     

    A one nil loss away to Merida was a bit of a blow to title hopes only Betis Deportivo’s draw later the same day helped ease that pain a bit. Nothing though could ease the pain when Las Palmas announced their new first team manager, and one of the first things he did was to call five of the Atletico players into the first team squad. It was about as much as Hamish could handle and a hastily arranged meeting took place to clear the air. 

     

    The air was left rather putrid in the end though.




     

  7. Five?

    Plain sailing is something that is very good to have, but it is not really very interesting. For Hamish MacDougall though, he decided that plain sailing was much better than something that was very interesting. It had been very interesting at Villa d’Alme, very interesting indeed towards the end, but then in the end that had been a disaster and he had lost his job. If the plain sailing continued with Atletico, then he would almost certainly keep his job. And that was something he, and his bank manager, very much wanted to happen.

     

    Of course all good runs must, eventually, come to an end. No team in the history of association football has remained unbeaten for ever, and neither would this one. A one all draw away to a team who were not a B side, Merida, was not a disaster and extended the unbeaten run to nine. But consecutive 2-1 losses, away to Villarubia and then worsely at home to Linense suddenly saw Atletico’s place at the top of the division slip away, overtaken by Betis Deportivo, who were also unbeaten - well I say also but obviously Atletico were no longer unbeaten.

     

    Winning ways were resumed in the next three matches, which was a relief, but a 2-1 loss away to Mensajero was not a relief. The final match of 2023 saw a return to winning ways with a win over Extermadura B and with sixteen matches played, Las Palmas Atletico sat 2nd in the Spanish Federation Group 4, just a point behind unbeaten Betis Deportivo, who had draw five of their sixteen matches. These two sides had not yet met in the league and with only one automatic promotion place, it was clear that these two games, when they came, would be massive.

     

    It was not all plain sailing, but it was pretty much decent enough as the season took its winter break. Not that there is much in the way of winter in Las Palmas but at least it gave the players a rest and hopefully they would come back refreshed for the 2nd half of the season - eighteen more league matches to decide the future. There were no cup games for B sides, and that perhaps made for a very boring season - perhaps it was time for Hamish to think about moving to a real team. But five teams in less than three seasons would be ridiculous.

     

    Or would it….

  8. Hard

     

    How hard it could really be, to manage a B side, was shown to Hamish on several occasions as he started out on yet another new adventure. He was hopeful this job would last for a decent amount of time, yet on the other hand how far could you really go with a B team? How hard it could really be was shown in the first three pre-season games with 2 defeats and a draw - but as these matches were against A sides - one of whom being Las Palmas themselves which ended in a two nil loss - the results were hardly surprising.

     

    A few wins against lesser sides then followed - and then we were into the nitty gritty of the league season. How hard it could be was shown when youngster Dani - who may not have been the greatest player on the planet but was still a part of Hamish’s plans - was loaned out from under his feet. First teamers needing games were dropped into his lap and the occasional call up to the first team of one of the B teamers all added together to calculate how hard it could be.

     

    The first eight matches though were all won and by near the end of October, Las Palmas Atletico sat proudly at the top of their division. It was a massive turnaround from managing a team who were losing every week, and this was the kind of place Hamish really wanted to be. How hard could it be now to keep this run going and get promoted to the third level of Spanish football?

     

    Of course promotion was not just dependant on winning the league, a lot would also depend on how Las Palmas did - if they were to get relegated for instance, then promotion wouldn’t happen. But what were the chances of that scenario arising? I have no idea, it’s a genuine question. 

     

    The danger of managing a B side and having a decent run, lies with the problem that if the A side is struggling, they may well decided to steal some of your players. Fortunately at this point, Las Palmas were in the top six in Liga 2 and so that would not be a problem. Hamish felt sure that the likes of Luis Amor Junior, Mor Ba, Rayco Acosta - just some of the youngsters breaking into the B side and doing rather well - would some day get the break in the A side, just hopefully not too soon. 

     

    For how hard could it be, the answer seemed to be not at all. But Hamish was about to find out that his journey here would not, after all, be plain sailing.

  9. On 28/12/2021 at 17:30, bigmattb28 said:

    Wow, not been online much the last few weeks and we have a PM story to peruse, Merry bloody Christmas indeed! I remember reading your story the town I was born in way back when!

    Also thanks for the shout out 

    Thanks appreciate it! 

  10. Third Time

     

    Twice before, Luis Amor Rodriguez and Hamish MacDougall had almost met each other, passed each other indeed but never knew it. And why would they? To each other other they were strangers, linked only by a shared date of birth about which they knew nothing. We know the second time they passed, but we didn’t yet mention that first time. And now, with the way things were, it was no surprise that they just missed each other a third time. One day, surely, they would meet. After all Hamish now lived in Las Palmas, Luis Amor would come home to the city and there was a third reason - Luis Amor Rodriguez seventeen year old son played for Las Palmas Atletico.

     

    When Hamish arrived in Las Palmas he knew very little about the club and players. Sure he had spent two holidays here, once last summer and once when he was twelve years old. But he had paid no real attention to the football teams here, indeed he barely even knew there were football clubs in the Canaries until just recently. Shortly after arriving, Hamish saw one of the young lads from the under 19 team talking with a man he thought he recognized vaguely. Once the man had gone he went over to the lad, whose name was Luis Amor Rodriguez Junior.

     

    Who was that, he looked vaguely familiar. 

     

    Oh that was my dad the youngster replied.

     

    Does he work here? Hamish wondered

     

    No he manages Luxembourg, you probably saw him on television?

     

    Hamish probably had seen Luis Amor Rodriguez (senior) on TV but it wasn’t as if he remembered him much. I mean, could you describe the current Luxembourg manager in real life? Or even know his name? - without using google. Thought not. No-one can or does, not even the Luxembourg manager.

     

    So anyway, Hamish arrived ready to take on the new season. He was quite unsure what to expect, his team would be a mix of the kids, like Luis Amor Rodriguez Junior, some older players and some of the not so young who had not quite made the grade to reach the Las Palmas first team squad - such as Christian Abreu and Fran Carmona. He was also told that there may be occasions when first team players would need to be given match experience.

     

    It all seemed very complicated, but Hamish didn’t care. He had a new job, he was rich and in the end, having been relegated in Italy, how hard could this really be?

  11. Heroes

     

    It was a magnificent achievement for Luxembourg and Luis Amor Rodriguez, but as Luis Amor was quickly finding out, it was getting quite difficult to keep any decent young players playing for the country. Despite qualifying for Euro 24, 17 year old winger Jorge Alfonso decided he wanted to play for Portugal, despite having picked up three Luxembourg caps.

     

    If I play one more time I cannot switch to Portugal he explained.

     

    Luis Amor felt the blood rising, you do know you will never get picked for Portugal? 

     

    Perhaps, but I am only 17, I can always come back to Luxembourg if they don’t want me, but I need to try.

     

    Son, you will never play for Luxembourg again as long as I am manager.

     

    And that was that. But, thankfully, there were players who were interesting in playing for Luxembourg, so lets have a quick run down of the players who took the nation to  Euro 24 and became legends. All ages, caps etc are at the time of writing this, at the end of 2023. Luis Amor plays a 4-2-3-1 formation for all you geeks who like to know this kind of thing.

     

    Goalkeepers

     

    Hugo Do Rego - the 20 year old plays his football in France, with Metz where he has been his whole career. He mainly plays for the Metz B side, but has occasionally made a first team appearance. With fourteen caps now, Hugo - who has French 2nd nationality - is the main man between the sticks, and although he will likely never play for a top side, he is nevertheless a decent keeper.

     

    Anthony Moris - with 43 caps, the 33 year old was the main choice before Luis Amor took over. He has kept his place in the squad as he is still a decent keeper. Currently,  Moris is the 2nd choice keeper for Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgian Pro League. He has Belgian 2nd nationality and ironically enough made his Luxembourg debut against them.

     

    Jordan Swann - the 18 year old is third choice and so far has only made 2 appearances. He does have English nationality and can therefore still switch allegiance, but he would never be anywhere near an English 5th eleven and that is being generous. Swann is one of the few home based players in the squad, currently playing for Progress Niederkorn where he is the first choice keeper

     

    Defenders

     

    Michael Pinto - the 30 year old full back, who now has 18 caps for his country, has been in  and out of the squad over Luis Amor’s reign, he will be hoping he can do enough to be included in the Euro 24 finals squad. Pinto has just moved from Sparta Rotterdam, where he has spent just over three years, to PECZwolle on a free transfer. He has Portuguese 2nd nationality.

     

    Laurent Jans - the 31year old full back made his 100th Luxembourg appearance in the defeat to England, he has scored just one goal for his country, which came in 2019 against Madagascar. He was a team mate of Pinto at Sparta Rotterdam where he still remains after Pinto’s departure. Jans is also one of the few players in the squad who doesn’t have a 2nd nationality.

     

    Marvin Martins - 28 year old full back who has 22 caps, he has just moved from Austria Wien to Famalicao in Portugal on a free transfer. He is very much on the fringes of the squad and has to hold his breath for inclusion for Euro 24. Martins has Cape Verdean 2nd nationality.

     

    Lars Gerson - at 33 years old, the full back is the most capped player currently in the squad. With 106 caps, he only needs seven more to edge Daniel da Mota off the top of the caps charts. Gerson currently plays in Norway with Brann and has Norwegian 2nd nationality.

     

    Maxime Chanot - the 34 year old has 56 caps and 5 goals for his country. Whilst still the no 1 choice at centre back, his playing days are numbered and it remains to be seen if he will still be around for Euro 24. Chanot plays for New York City where he has been since 2016 and has French and USA other nationalities.

     

    Aldin Skenderovic - 26 year old centre back who has 36 caps to his name. He currently plays for Hansa Rostock in Bundeliga 2, having made a £48,000 move from Progress Niederkorn last season. Skenderovic has Montenegrin 2nd nationality. 

     

    Vahid Selimovic - the 26 year old centre back has 27 caps and 2 goals for his country. Currently playing for OFI in Greece, Selimovic has Serbian 2nd nationality. He is one of this players whose place at Euro 24 may be under threat.

     

    Chris Philipps - of the players in the current squad, the player most likely to be under threat of missing out on Euro 24, is 29 year old Philipps. With 57 caps he is an experienced international but has barely made any appearances since Luis Amor’s arrival. Having started his career at Metz, Philipps is actually playing in Luxembourg with lower division team Wiltz71, which is his hometown club. Philipps also has no 2nd nationality.


     

    Midfield

     

    Emir Ramcilovic - 25 year old defensive midfielder who has eight caps and one goal for his nation. Another home based player who spent his whole career in Luxembourg to date and currently plays for Union Mertert in the Luxembourg 2nd Division. It is no surprise therefore that Ramcilovic has no 2nd nationality.

     

    Christopher Martins Pereira - 26 year old defensive midfielder, he has 65 caps and three goals. Pereira made a £3.5m pound move last season from Young Boys in Switzerland, to Lazio, where is a fringe player but pushing to make his mark. He also has Cape Verdean 2nd nationality.

     

    Leandro Barreiro - 23 year old defensive midfielder who has 47 caps and 1 goal to his name. He currently plays in the Bundesliga with Mainz where he has spent most of his career. Barreiro has Portuguese and Angolan nationalities.

     

    Alessandro Hansen - 16 year old defensive midfielder, he has no caps and was only brought into the squad after another promising youth decided to go and try and play for Germany. Currently at Toulon in France, he has yet to play a senior match. Whether he goes to Euro 24 is debatable, but fortunately he has no 2nd nationalities which might just go in his favour.

     

    Vincent Thill - the 23 year old attacking midfielder has 61 caps and with seven goals is one of Luxembourg's highest goalscorers. Thill has just made a £2.3m move to St-Etienne in France and also has no 2nd nationality. It’s all a matter of opinion, but Thill just might be the best Luxembourg born player ever, only time will tell.

     

    Florik Shala - 26 year old attacking midfielder who has 12 caps and 1 goal. Started his career at Metz but has played in Luxembourg since 2012 and is currently with Jeunesse d’Esch in the top division. Has Kosovan 2nd nationality.

     

    Forwards

     

    Alessio Curci - although I said Thill may be the best Luxembourg born player ever, 21 year old winger Curci may just have a word to say about that. With 19 caps and 8 goals, the Luxembourg scoring record - currently held by Leon Mart with 16 - is certainly within his sights, although he may have a fight on his hands with that one.  Currently plays with Mainz in Germany. Curci has no 2nd nation.

     

    Gerson Rodrigues - the 28 year old winger has 52 caps and is the top scorer within the current squad with 11 goals. Currently plays in the Ukraine with Dynamo Kyiv and has Portuguese 2nd nationality.

     

    Jonathan Goncalves - with 1 cap, the 17 year old winger was drafted in to replace the traitor Alfonso. Currently he is at Luxembourg top division club Fola Esch where he had yet to make a senior appearance. Has French 2nd nationality, but as he has no guarantee of being at Euro 24 with Luxembourg it is unlikely France would ever want him.

     

    Claude Joubert - the 17 year old striker came into the squad when Daniel da Mota retired and has played five times for his country, scoring three goals which is a goals to game ratio that is higher than anyones ever - for Luxembourg anyway. Is with Bochum in the Bundesliga two, but currently on loan at Bundesliga 3 side Mannheim. Joubert does have German nationality but with five caps cannot switch allegiance. Hopefully.

     

    Dany Mota - 25 year old striker who has 23 caps and nine goals and one of those in the running to overhaul the current all time scoring record. Mota currently plays in Sweden with Malmo and has Portuguese 2nd nationality.

     

    The contenders

     

    Youn Czekanowicz - 23 year old keeper who currently plays with Swift Hesperange in the Luxembourg top level. Has never been capped but is constantly touted by the Luxembourg media. Has Polish nationality.

     

    Tim Hall - 26 year old centre back who has seven caps, currently plays for Ethnikos Achnas in Cyprus. Has no 2nd nation but very unlikely to be in the Euro 24 squad.

     

    Dirk Carlson - the 25 year old full back has 44 caps and has been in and out of the squad, his chances of Euro 24 probably depend on injuries. Currently plays in the German 3rd division with Erzgebirge Aue and has USA 2nd nationality.

     

    Daniel Sinani - 26 year old winger who currently plays in Italy with Modena, he has 41 caps and 6 goals and could yet force his way back into the squad for Euro 24. Has no 2nd nation, but was born in Serbia.

     

    There possibly are three or four others from the u-21 squad who may be able to break into the main squad, but with few matches between now and the Euro’s it would seem very unlikely they will make it this time round.

  12. For Glory!

     

    As, unbeknown  to Luis Amor, Hamish MacDougall was taking control of the B side of the team that he, Luis Amor Rodriguez had grew up supporting, so Luis Amor himself was getting on with the job of managing Luxembourg. The double header with Norway out the way, September of 2023 brought a possible pivotal month - first up what should be a reasonably straightforward home match against Moldova before the visit to Luxembourg of current World Champions, England.

     

    The win over Norway had given the Luxembourgers real hope of coming 2nd and a possible spot as a best runner up in Euro 24. But that was still a long way away and there were many trip up points between now and then. Moldova though would not be one of those trip up points. Whilst it was far from the walkover some people hoped for, a 4th minute OG from Iurie Iovu added to by a 25th minute strike from Alessio Curci was enough to see Luxembourg take all three points. It didn’t have to be pretty, it just had to work.

     

    As England came to town, there was no real hope of anything being won here. The thought was to keep the score as low as possible, and perhaps, just perhaps, sneak what would be a very valuable point. Seventeen minutes in, those thoughts were all up in the air as Dany Mota sensationally sent Luxembourg ahead. This was the 12th meeting between these countries, and Mota’s goal was only the 4th ever score by Luxembourg - it was also the first time ever that Luxembourg had been in the lead.

     

    Of course it couldn’t last and just a few minutes later, Raheem Sterling had the ball in the net and the World Champions were celebrating. The celebrations though were cut short by an offside flag, and perhaps the footballing gods were finally giving Luxembourg a break.  The break didn’t last forever though and just after the half hour England were finally level thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold. Right on half time, the footballing gods remembered who was playing here and England had a penalty which Marcus Rashford scored and normality had been restored.

     

    Luxembourg still battled on in the second half, but England finally turned their superior skill into goals as Jude Bellingham bagged a brace in the last thirteen minutes and in the end a fairly comfortable win for the visitors. The silver lining, if there could be such a thing from a heavy defeat, was that Norway had gone to Montenegro and been held to a two all draw. Suddenly the glimmer of hope had just gotten that little bit brighter.


     

    In October, 17 year old striker Claude Joubert made his Luxembourg debut  and scored in a three nil friendly win over Lithuania. The home match with Montenegro was next, and if the Euro 24 dream was to be achieved, there could be no slip ups here. And there were none. A very comfortable four nil win put Luxembourg in the driving seat, despite ended the group with two away matches. Because although one of those matches would be in England, the other would be in Moldova.

     

    As Luxembourg headed to Moldova, there was only one thing now that could stop them clinching that 2nd place - A Norway home win over England. The match in Moldova was fairly straight forward as Joubert bagged a brace and defender Maxime Chanot added a late 3rd. News from Norway came through that the match their had ended in a one all draw, and 2nd place was now guaranteed. It was an incredible achievement, but a place at Euro 24 was still not secured as only nine of the ten second placed teams would make the cut. It was still possible that Luxembourg would miss out and one of the big fears was that a heavy loss in London might undo all the hard work done so far. Heading in all square at nil all, a point here would surely be enough to push the visitors up the 2nd placed table. It was so very nearly a glorious night for Luxembourg, but two late goals from England ended the hopes of shock point and now it was wait and see.

     

    With the matches being played over a few days, it took a while before it was finally confirmed. Ireland would be the 10th placed of the 2nd placed teams, and Luxembourg's eighth placing in that table meant that Luis Amor Rodriguez team had pulled off the impossible - Euro 24 was going to see at least one new nation present in those finals.




     

  13. Island Hopper

     

    Hamish might not know his wife uses Knorr Stock Cubes - but this was hardly surprising, because Hamish did not have a wife. But what Hamish had also totally forgotten about, as he prepared to lead Orkney into the new season, was that he had also applied for several other managerial jobs. It was obvious that most of these would fall through, the France job in particular was really just a shot in the dark, after all as his mother used to say - if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

     

    After acquiring the Orkney job, Hamish did not think about any other applications and the letters of rejection that came back were tossed in the bin without thought. It was therefore with no real interest that he read an email from a club in Spain that he had completely forgotten that he had applied to. He was about to click delete when he stopped in his tracks, because this was not a rejection notice. This was an offer of an interview.


     

    Hamish was conflicted. Having had now three managerial jobs in two years, having just arrived here in Orkney and brought in one or two new players, getting ready for the new season, could he really go for an interview for yet another job? On the other hand, there was no guarantee he would get this job, the initial interview would be via video conference and, after all,  there was very little to lose.

     

    The interview went well. Much better than Hamish had dreamt. Now he really did have a dilemma - stay here in the Scottish 6th level, or move to the Spanish fourth tier, with what was in actually a ‘B’ side. How much control would he have? But in the end, the lure was just too great. Hamish may not have been the brightest bulb on the christmas tree, but he knew this job was just too good to turn down. 

     

    And so, just forty five days after arriving in Orkney, Hamish MacDougall packed his bags once more, got on a flight to Glasgow and eventually arrived on another island where he would commence his new, three thousand pounds a week  - and there was another reason, how could he not take the highest paid job he had ever had in his life - job. After settling in to the hotel that would serve as temporary accommodation, Hamish was escorted to the press conference for the unveiling of his new job.

     

    Ladies and gentlemen the announcer began, only in Spanish of course, please welcome to the stage, Hamish MacDougal. 

     

    And that was how Hamish MacDougal turned this whole story on it’s head, with an incredible and totally unexpected move to the island of Gran Canaria as he was unveiled as the new manager of Las Palmas Atletico - the B side of Liga 2 side, Las Palmas. If Carlsberg wrote stories….




     

  14. Orkney

    What do a Frenchman, a San Marinese and a Hungarian sounding Irishman have in common? 

     

    Give up?

    They all play for Orkney. Quite how French goalkeeper, 16 year old Jose Alberto Herrero and 18 year old San Marinese midfielder Daniele Raschi ended up in the far north of the UK is anyone’s guess and no-one ever did find out, for reasons that will become all too clear shortly. For Northern Irish midfielder Valery Kudinov the hows of getting here were clear enough, Hamish signed him on a free transfer. 

     

    There was a bustle of excitement as the usual merry go round that happens at small clubs every year, well, didn’t really happen. Few people want to move to Orkney for £20 a week and few people want to buy or even just take their players. Many local friendlies were arranged, before the excitement for the locals of visits from both Rangers and Celtic. Or at least these clubs B sides anyway. 

     

    After playing out a 2-2 draw with a B select of their own, Orkney saw off two of the local sides and a seven nil demolition of Island neighbours Shetland and then, on the 15th of July Rangers B team were due to arrive on the islands. This, however, was a match that Hamish MacDougall would never see.

     

    On the 12th of July 2023, an amazing piece of news came through that would shake the whole story to it’s core. 

  15. After all is Said and Done

     

    In the summer of 2023, whilst Luis Amor Rodriguez was leading Luxembourg to a loss and a win over Norway in the Euro 24 qualifying campaign, Hamish MacDougal was attending the unemployment office. He had dared to dream in moving to Italy, the hopes of bettering himself and becoming a real boy football manager. Now, his hopes were shattered, and filled with disillusion, there was only one place Hamish could turn.

     

    He knew this place well, this office he had been in many times. Dougie Durie sat behind the desk, looking faintly smug. 

     

    Well well then, look what the cats dragged in he taunted so what happened to the dream job in Italy.

     

    Well you see Hamish hesitated it kind of.. Well… we got relegated. 

     

    Dougie Durie could not suppress a laugh of derision.

     

    I don’t know why you’re laughing Hamish retorted, Cambuslang got relegated too.

     

    This much was true, having finished 15th out of sixteen clubs, Cambuslang Rangers had also suffered the ignominy of  being relegated and were now back in level seven of the Scottish pyramid.

     

    True said Dougie but you know it was partly your fault.

     

    My fau… Hamish was about to explode then remembered why he was here. Well that doesn’t matter now. I’ve come back Dougie. I’ve come back to get my old job back, to rescue the Lang once more and make us great.

     

    Dougie Durie pushed back his seat, that won’t be possible Hamish, we already have a manager.

     

    But but he got you relegated!

     

    Yes but like I said that was mostly your fault so we’re giving him another chance.

     

    Hamish sighed. Ok whatever. Can I have my job in the sewage works back at least.

     

    Dougie Durie stood up, No Hamish, we don’t need you. 


     

    Lost and alone, Hamish was near to tears as he left the office. His tears would soon be cleared up though. Hamish may be a bit dimwitted at times, but he still knew enough not to put all his eggs in one basket and had applied for several job. Some, such as that of the vacant French international team, he had no chance of but eight days after leaving Italy, on the 29th May 2023, Hamish MacDougal had a new job.

     

    As he sat in a press conference with a reporter from one local newspaper, he was revealed as the manager of North Caledonian League side, Orkney. It might not have been his first choice but a job is a job after all.

  16.  

    Come True

    There was both excitement and trepidation for the Villa d’Alme support and players as they prepared to take on Giana Erminio in the Serie C relegation play out. Excitement, because the team was unbeaten now in three successive matches - the first time they had achieved this all season. And because if they kept that run going, they would survive into a second season in Serie C and begin, hopefully, to establish themselves in this level. Trepidation - because it if all went wrong, it was back to the depths of Serie D and there was no guarantee they would ever come back up.

     

    The two league matches between these sides had ended in a 1-0 win for Villa in Gorgonzola where Giana were based, and 1-0 win for Giana in Lecco. It was therefore a tie that was almost impossible to call. Giana's last three league matches had been two draws and a defeat, so perhaps there was a slight advantage for Villa in terms of form - but only slight.

     

    With the youngsters having played well and effectively saved the season, so Hamish stuck with Fiorentini and his comrades. It was a risk perhaps, but the truth was the team had been playing so badly before they came in, that it was a risk that appeared to be well worth taking. Right on half time the risk was paying off, as winger Bradley Manua sent Villa into the lead on the night and the fans could relax perhaps just a little bit.

     

    The relaxing was to last though less than sixty seconds as Giana were level within that time. It was a severe blow and perhaps added to the pressure of a second half performance that was not quite up to recent standards. In the end though, a one all draw made it four unbeaten, and having won in Gorgonzola earlier in the season, there was no reason at all not to believe it could not be done again.

     

    The second leg was just three minutes old, when Yusupha Bobb had the ball in the net and Giana were ahead. It was a blow so early on, but at least there was still plenty of time to recover the situation but as the half wore on it became more and more obvious that the Villa players were running out of steam and as Niccolo Corti send Giana two up in first half stoppage time, it appeared the dream was almost over.

     

    The second half was a bit more competitive, but try as they might Villa could just not find a way into the tie and when the referee finally blew for full time the score remained two nil Giana on the night, three one on aggregate and Villa d’Alme’s brief stay in the Italian 3rd level was over. For Hamish it would be the end of the line, with irate chairman Karim Favale bursting into the away dressing room and telling Hamish in no uncertain terms he was fired.


     

    You fired! Karim screamed, you ruin my beautiful club, shatter all my dreams. You get out of here and no come back ever again!

     

    Perhaps it was a bit harsh, perhaps it wasn’t but as Hamish packed his bags and headed back to Scotland, he felt that he had done the very best he could. Sometimes, dreams do come true.

     

    But not this time.

  17.  

    Sometimes do

     

    As Hamish MacDougall was dreaming about gloriously leading Villa d’Alme to not being relegated, for Luis Amor Rodriguez there was also a lot of excitement going on, football wise. Possibly in other areas as well, but really these things are none of your business and don’t concern this story. The draw for the qualifying for Euro 24 took place, and on their six match record unbeaten run, Luxembourg were up for anything. And that is exactly what they got.

     

    As the draw  came out, Luxembourg were placed into Group A, alongside Moldova, Montenegro, Norway and…. current World Champions, England. It was a tough ask, but confidence was brimming as the first group match came along in March of 2023, a trip to Montenegro would straight away show whether Luxembourg were going to have any hope - albeit a probable false hope - of getting out of this group. In June, a double header with Norway would probably shape Luxembourg chances more, after June it could well be the group was over anyway and the remainder would be the usual ‘playing for pride’ that always seemed to be the case. After Norway would come Moldova and England at home in September, the return match with Montenegro in October and the group would end in November with matches away at Moldova and finally England.

     

    The target for the group was to do as well as possible, to improve the world ranking and get experience for the younger players coming through. The law of averages would suggest that Luxembourg would reach a major international finals at some point in history, and if not Euro 24 then why not World Cup 26?

     

    The match with Montenegro came around and although this would be a tough match, despite the hosts having already lost 8-0 at home to England, the feeling in Luxembourg was if they could take a point here it would set the team up for the rest of the group - as well as extend the record unbeaten run to seven matches. Indeed when a penalty was awarded to the visiting side on 44 minutes, after an even but stuffy first half, it seemed that the god of football might be on their side. As Dany Mota blasted the ball over the bar, so it seemed the god of football might not be on his side anyway.

     

    As time was running out Montenegro were offering nothing really, and it seemed as if that coveted point might well not be out of reach as we entered the final 20 minutes of a very tight and tense match. That was when Dany Mota made amends for his penalty miss to send Luxembourg into a not undeserved lead. Six minutes later, Alessio Curci made it two nil and when Gerson Rodrigues made it three with just a couple minutes left, so Luis Amor’s side had extended their historic unbeaten run and set a marker for the rest of the group.

     

    By the time June came around, England had added three more points with a four nil win in Moldova and Norway had also beaten Moldova, at home by seven nil. It was clear that neither Moldova nor Montenegro were going anywhere near Euro 24. Even this early in the game.

     

    The Norway double header would prove a real test for Luxembourg and so it proved in Norway as Erling Haaland put the home side ahead after thirty five minutes. Any thoughts of a glorious Luxembourg come back were thwarted four minutes after half time as Norway went two up through Erik Botheim and when Ohi Omoijuiafano, who sound about as Norwegian as Fred Smith, made it three just after the hour so Luxembourg's run was brutally ended and the side came crashing painfully back down to earth. It could have been worse, but in the end it got slightly better as an injury time goal from Gerson Rodrigues restored a little bit of pride and in the end the gulf in class was very evident and just too much to bridge.

     

    The return match three days later in Luxembourg would see the end of the career of their now record capped winger, Daniel da Mota who, at the age of 37 and with 111 caps had decided to finally hang up his boots. He would in the end, despite starting on the bench for this one, end his career with 112 caps and that is a record that will surely last for quite some time. Before that though, Dany Mota stunned the Norwegians after just eight minutes and if they had though they were going to come here and carry on from the match three days ago, they were in for a huge surprise.

     

    Five minutes after half time, Mota added a second and that in itself would have been an outstanding result, but in the third minute of stoppage time Vincent Thill add a third goal that just, just might be the goal that carried Luxembourg to a playoff spot and a chance at Euro 24 glory.

     

    Sometimes, dreams do come true.

  18.  

    Dreams

     

    A respectable one all draw against a very strong Juventus U-23 allowed Villa d’Alme to start the year unbeaten, but that didn’t last. As defeat after defeat came, so the honeymoon period was over and this side started to slide back down towards the red zone, 20th place. A bright spark of a 2-1 win at Piacenza seemed to show that there was life in the old dog yet, but followed by a run of seven successive defeats, the inevitable now seemed almost certain.

     

    With three games left to play, so Hamish’s side sat once more in 20th place in the table. Two points separated them from Varese, Villa d’Alme had amassed 20 points from the season, whilst Varese were now on 22 - it was from these two sides that the bottom placed team, and the automatic relegation that came with it,  would come. There seemed to be no escape, because for these last three games would be against a Pro Vercelli side who were destined to be 2nd in the table, promotion play off chasing Pergolettese and mid table with little to play for Mantova. 

     

    Head to head was something that could come into play, but having lost both matches to Varese that was not something Hamish’s side wanted. With so many of the players complaining about this that and the other, morale at an all time low, Hamish tried hard to come up with a plan that would see them stay up. He tried praying to Jehovah, to Buddha, to Allah  - even to his long dead mum. Nothing helped.

     

    In the end it was a mini injury crises and piece of pure blind luck that helped. Or perhaps it was the prayers after all, only God really knows. For the third last match of the season, at home to Pro Vercelli, Hamish decided to take a huge risk. Into the fray came 16 year old striker Riccardo Fiorentini, along with four other youth players. It was a risk for sure, but what a pay off. It took just seven minutes for Fiorentini to make his mark, stunning the promotion chasing team with a glorious lob over their keeper. 

     

    Although Pro Vercelli levelled from the penalty spot just seven minutes later, this was a side of his  team that Hamish had never seen before and as winger Tshimuanga, who had had a fairly innocuous and rubbish season so far, restored the lead eight minutes later, Hamish thought two things. These players must be on drugs and why hadn’t he introduced these kids earlier in the season?

     

    The answer to these was unknown, but as Fiorentini netted his 2nd and his sides 3rd just four minutes after the break, with no more scoring Villa d’Alma had pulled of an incredible and potentially life saving win - in terms of relegation. For Varese had lost 1-0 at home to FeralpiSalo and so back to 19th place went Hamish’s heroes,  one point clear now of Varese. Nineteenth was now the target, and suddenly there was real buzz about the team again as hope returned once more

     

    With Varese away to Juventus u-23’s in their penultimate match, so it seemed that Villa were destined to take at least that 1 point lead into the final day of the league season. Forty five minutes later, as Varese took a one goal lead up the tunnel and there was no scoring in Mantova so suddenly that destiny was looking not quite so sure. Mantova proved tough to break down but in the end a decent nil all away draw was gained and when news came through of two late Juventus goals, it was almost celebration time.

     

    The tables had now turned, and as Varese remained on 22 points, so Villa d’Alme now had 24. The great escape wasn’t quite complete, but it very nearly was. The final league matches of an arduous season would see both clubs at home, as previously mentioned Pergolettese who still harboured hopes of a play of spot, would be the opponents for Hamish team whilst Varese would host Arzignano, who themselves were destined to face a relegation play out.

     

    It could still all go very wrong, but first half goals from Fiorentini and Tshimuanga saw Villa go in two up at the break and nerves were certainly a lot more relaxed. With no scoring at Varese, the job was nearly done and although the second half produced no more goals, a Lorenzo Sgarbi strike seventeen minutes from time for Arzignano relegated Varese and that was that.

     

    The great escape, part one, had been achieved. Hamish was never quite sure whether it was the gods or his mum who had helped pull it off, but now there were just two matches left to complete the remarkable turn around. Standing in the way of Hamish MacDougall and the glory that came with escaping relegation lay Giani Erminio. Prayers, offerings and perhaps even human sacrifices were the order of the day but in the end it would come down to how twenty two men performed on a football field. The field of dreams.

     

    Sometimes, dreams do come true. 

  19.  

    On a Jet Plane

     

    Leaving Cambuslang was not something that Hamish had ever really thought about. He had lived there all his life and on the day he had to pack up and leave, he felt a small twinge of sadness. This was soon swept away when Dougie Durie had told him, in no uncertain terms 

     

    Never darken my doorstep again traitor.

     

    In all honesty, it was only in this moment that Hamish finally realised how much of an idiot Dougie Durie was and how much he had been used by him. Hamish never knew about the involvement of Dougie in his fathers incident with the ladder, but it is doubtful that knowing that would in any way change his opinion of his now former boss for the better.

     

    Lecco is a small town of just under fifty thousand people, situation around 30 miles from Milan near the bottom of the left leg of lake Como.  Villa d’Alme itself is around twenty miles south east of Lecco, but for some reason its football team travel those twenty miles every other week for so called home matches. This may, or may not explain the low attendances, which in reality were not much better than those being obtained by Cambuslang Rangers when Hamish left.

     

    Nevertheless, and whatever the real situation, Hamish felt he had arrived in paradise. He no longer had to work in the sewers and could completely devote himself to the job of managing an, albeit very bad, football side. Hamish had little doubt that he could turn this club around, but then again he never had been the brightest spark, had he.

     

    Having come up from Serie D the previous season, this was the first time in their history that Villa d’Alme had ever reached the heady heights of Italy’s third tier - and it showed. Sitting at the bottom of the twenty team division when Hamish arrived, with just one win in thirteen matches, survival was the name of the game here. In serie C, the bottom team  is automatically relegated and the next four bottom teams would face a two legged play out for survival. It was very much everyone’s hope at the club that they could avoid that bottom spot, get into and win the play out and then push on to greater glory next season. Hopes and dreams are all very well, but hard work is what pays off and there would be a lot of that needed before this season was finished.

     

    Yet though it was a tough job, Hamish had very few real regrets at leaving Cambuslang. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, and that would hopefully also apply to Villa d’Alme under his charge. And certainly that did seem to happen. Oh sure there were defeats to Renate, Pro Vercelli and Pergolettese, but it would have been unrealistic to expect wins every week. Nevertheless, there were wins too, three of them by the turn of the year, a couple of draws and by the time league leaders Juventus u-23’s came to town on the 8th January 2023, the side were lying 17th in the table. It was very unlikely they could escape the quagmire of the play off zone, but keep this form up, and the play outs would hold little, if no fears.

  20. Fresh

    Things in Cambuslang were not going so well in 2022. The squad being decimated did not help things on the park, the lack of grass on the park helped nothing at all. Once more the Strathclyde Cup was exited again at the 2nd round stage, this time a penalty shoot out defeat to Dunipace. Normally, that would not matter but with less things to win, and this being one of the more realistic possibilities, it was rather disappointing.

     

    The results were a mixed bag, youngster Mark Dunbar tried his best but like the rest of the kids trying to make the break through, it was clear he really lacked that extra bit of something that even at this level was needed. It is true that the early rounds of the South Challenge Cup and the West of Scotland League Cup were negotiated, but by late October after successive defeats in the League Arthurlie and Pollok which would leave the club in the bottom half of the table,  it was clear something would need to change.

     

    And it did.

     

    The change that came though was a bit of a surprise to everyone, most of all Hamish MacDougall. As guy fawkes night loomed large, so a rather interesting video call was held at the home of the man in charge of Cambuslang Rangers. 

     

    Hello signor MacDouglas the rather strange looking man on the other end of the line began, my name is Karim Favale you may have heard of me no?

     

    Hamish shook his head. I’m sorry Signor Favale I have no idea who you are.

     

    Good good the Italian continued as if not hearing or understanding the response, you see signor Douglas, we have been hearing many good things about you and we would like to offer you a job.

     

    Hamish was stunned.

     

    I am stunned, he responded but the thing is I already have a job.

     

    Yes yes but this is much better job. Listen, you come Italy, we meet, you see and you sign ok?

     

    So Hamish did visit Italy, the town of Lecco in the north, not too far from Milan. Hamish did like what he saw, especially the pay on offer. 

     

    Twelve hundred pounds a week?! Hamish exclaimed, and I don’t need to work in the sewage company?

     

    Signor Favale laughed, no no there is no sewage here, money is all yours.

     

    And that is how, on the 1st of November 2022 Hamish MacDougall became the new manager of Serie C side, Villa d’Alme Valbrembana. A side who were sitting ingloriously in 20th and bottom place of said division. It was a challenge alright, but as it meant finally leaving the sewage - and Cambuslang - behind, and with no word from his dear departed mother, it was a challenge Hamish was really looking forward to. At last, he was going to be a real football manager.

     

    But things do not always work out the way we expect.

     

  21. History

    The Nations League was about to get underway, and finally Luis Amor had some real work to do. The Nations League might bring about mixed reactions, but for a team like Luxembourg it gives them the chance to play competitive matches against teams of roughly their own ability. 

     

    This time around, Luxembourg had been drawn in Group 1 of Nations League C, along with Georgia, North Macedonia and Slovakia. It was a mixed bag but the expectation was that the nation should come away with more wins than losses, and perhaps be in with a small shout for promotion to Nations League B. Whether they actually wanted such a promotion was something for another day.

     

    Luis Amor had not shaken the squad up too much, there were a handful of 20-somethings in this squad that, whilst they would never be up there with the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, were still decent enough players. The likes of Vincent Thill, Alessio Curci and  Dany Mota would be the backbone of the team for years to come, and unlike that other guy could not run off to join the Dutch, or anyone else for that matter, because they either had too many caps or didn’t have a second nationality. 

     

    First up would be a home match with Georgia and whilst this may have been a chance to get off to a flying start, a team which had only won once in their five matches under Luis Amor’s charge showed their nerves and vulnerabilities. It was a match though that the stats showed Luxembourg as dominating and having plenty of chances on goal. In the end though a 59th minute strike from said Dany Mota was all that separated the sides. It was a 2nd win for Luis Amor, but it was hardly the stuff to set the heather alight.

     

    On paper at least, the toughest match of the group was up next, and this was yet another in a long line of matches that Luxembourg supporters could try and wipe from their memories. The trip to Slovakia produced no great new world type performances and in the end the Slovaks strolled to a three to nil success.

     

    Two more away matches followed, firstly in North Macedonia, then the return header with Georgia. In North Macedonia, as the home side took the lead after 34 minutes, it was more of the same old same old for a nation who, lets face it, were never really going to challenge on the world stage. Three minutes later, Christian Martins Pereira - who was having a decent spell in Switzerland with Young Boys and would soon make and three and half million pounds move to Serie A with Roma - popped up with a well struck effort and the match was all square. It was game on four minutes from half time, when 36 year old Daniel da Mota, whom the press said was getting too old for this sort of thing, slammed in a second and Luxembourg had a lead to take up the tunnel. With the 2nd half becoming a ding dong battle, both sides had chances, but as time moved passed the ninety, recent newcomer to the side, Emir Ramcilovic, one of the few home based players, was on hand to finally add a third for Luxembourg and three more points were in the bag.

     

    In Georgia, Luis Amor’s side once more fell behind to an early goal but strikes from Alessio Curci, Vincent Thill and Dany Mota turned the match on its head and with the final two matches at home again North Macedonia and Slovakia, there was just a tiny sliver of hope that it  might be Luxembourg in the end who would top the group. In the real end though, that was just too much to hope for. A disappointing one all draw with North Macedonia ended that hope, and although the final match draw of also one all with Slovakia was in reality a very decent result, it was to 2nd place that Luxembourg would be consigned.

     

    Two away friendlies in November 2022 would be the last matches of that year, and the last before the race to Euro 24 would begin. Wins over Kosovo (2-0) and Armenia (2-1) may not have set the footballing world alight, but it kept the momentum going and for Luxembourg six matches unbeaten was a new record, the best they had ever gone before without a loss being four games. A few days after the win in Armenia, the draw was made for Euro 24, and the hopes and dreams of a nation could begin all over again. 

     

    Until the first match anyway.

  22. Dumbfounded

     

    Relying on 16 year olds such as defender Leon Shearer and striker Mark Dunbar meant that this could well be a tough ride for Hamish and the Cambuslang supporters. These players, and their fellow youths, had to make up the bulk of the squad and the truth is - they were not very good. Of course you didn’t have to be very good to play in the Scottish 6th level - but you had to at least be able to connect with the ball every now and then.

     

    Amidst the doom and gloom, which we have not yet covered so you as the reader are totally unaware, there was some good news. Well interesting news. If you’re a Cambuslang Rangers supporter. Which most people reading this - if indeed anyone is reading this - will not be. I know I am not a Cambuslang Rangers supporter, and as for reading this, I would rather be boiled in hot duck fat. But not a fat hot chick.


     

    The news, whether good bad or indifferent, was that Cambuslang were forming a B side. What the purpose was of this B side, where they would play and how they could afford it, was anyone’s guess but Hamish had more important things to worry about, as you will soon see. The other piece of good news was that the U-18’s would be talking part in the Scottish Youth Cup for the first ever time. This may, or may not be true, personally I cannot be bothered doing the research and so as far I, you and this story is concerned, this is the first time that Cambuslang Rangers Under 18’s will be talking part in the Scottish Youth Cup. Everyone was very excited about it, especially the groundskeeper who was actually heard to exclaim,

     

     Oh great more games on our already falling apart pitch, as if I didn't have enough to do. 

     

    Which, to be fair, he didn’t. He was a sad lonely old man who lived in a shack on the edge of the forest. Of course, there was no forest near Cambuslang, but we can all dream. Although perhaps that is a rather sad dream. However groundskeeper Willie did have a point about the state of the pitch, and it was about to come back and bite the club on the bum rather harshly.

     

    What do you mean we’ve not been included in the Scottish Cup? Hamish was perplexed. The teams who came up from the other division were included, why not us?

     

    Well you see Dougie Durie began, it’s like this..

     

    Hamish was not really listening, Well I suppose we’ll just have to make do with the Junior Cup again. 

     

    Ah you see Dougie tried to get a word in, we’re not in that either.

     

    Hamish was dumbfounded.

     

    I am dumbfounded, he exclaimed, why the hell not?

     

    You see Dougie Durie for once was almost lost for words. Well its the pitch, it doesn’t meet the standard required.

     

    But you promised me we would relay the pitch! Hamish was almost screaming now

     

    Uhm I don’t think so Dougie tried to remember if this was indeed another of his many failed promises.

     

    Ah no Hamish admitted, that was a dream. But come on now, surely it won’t take too much to relay the pitch? 

     

    Last quote I had was a quarter of a million pounds. 

     

    And so it came pass that Cambuslang Rangers were excluded from a possible money spinning run in the Scottish Cup and the Junior Cup to boot. It was devastating news for a club that were in dire financial need. There was however, one piece of good news remaining for Hamish.

     

    Oh I have one more piece of good news Dougie beamed, I am giving you a twenty percent wage rise, in honour of all the hard work you have done.

     

    And so Hamish would now be on the amazing sum of one hundred and twenty pounds a week. It was just as well he still had his job at the sewage works. 

     

    Which he did.

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