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(FM11) A most excellent adventure (or a very bogus journey!)

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OK, decision made, I'm staying at Haverfordwest. Time to crack on...

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OK, decision made, I'm staying at Haverfordwest. Time to crack on...

Still so much you can do for the club, good choice!

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Might you be looking to leave in the future?

I think so, it depends on whether I can progress in Europe a little, and also whether I can find the right job. I don't just want to take anything!

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Haverfordwest County AFC: Season preview 2014/15

Media prediction: 1st

Board expectation: Win the championship

Unsurprisingly after 4 title wins in a row the board want another, and the media share the same expectation. I'm pretty confident in my chances of winning it again, but I'd like to make a few changes within the squad. Thanks to the two U19 in a match day squad rule, I'd like to find a midfield and defence equivalent to Richards: a youngster who can come in and dramatically improve the side, but so far I'm struggling on that front. I'm also tempted to strengthen in goal, but sentiment is holding me back (Phil Imray has made 125 league appearances, and 193 in total, so part of me would like to see him go on and become the record appearance maker....) Anyway, the board have made another decent budget available:

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A couple of players have left the club over the summer, the most noticeable being Laurence Gaughan who has joined Lincoln. He had slipped to my 4th choice central defender, and so I don't see it as a massive problem. Also leaving is Matty Collins, whose contract was allowed to expire, and Louis Swanson who was a bit of a disappointment in his Haverfordwest career. Coming in so far have been:

18 yo CB Les Stevenson

18 yo CB Nigel Askey

24 yo RB/LB Jonathan Brown (after a loan spell last year)

20 yo CB Sean McGinty

Also signed an 18 yo midfielder on a two year loan deal from Cardiff. He looks pretty decent, but crucially he helps the U19 quota.

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I'm still hoping to strengthen before the start of the league season, but I'm just a week away from the start of the European qualifiers, hence this update. Speaking of which:

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I was pleased to see I was seeded for this draw, and so it already feels like a little progress!

I've played 2 friendlies in the run up to Europe, both against my feeder clubs, and both finished in 7-0 wins! I'll take that...

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OK, I decided to scrap the idea of sentimentality and spent some money. Well, for a club of my size A LOT of money! £850,000 from Sunderland which becomes both my record and first transfer fee... I'd been watching him for a while, and when he turned down a new deal at Sunderland I decided the time was right.

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My coach and my best scout's opinions differ greatly, but as my scout has CA/PA ratings of 15, I decided I'd trust his five star ratings, not that of Murphy.

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European qualifiers

FC Inter 1-1 Haverfordwest

Got a draw, but very disappointed with it. Rory Loy missed a penalty, we had two goals disallowed and hit the post umpteen times. Still, Tim Hopkinson got us an away goal, and hopefully we can finish the job at our place. We'll have to do so without Danny Murphy though, who was shown a straight red.

Haverfordwest 1-0 FC Inter

Extremely tight as we made hard work of things, but Nathan Rooney's 25 yard screamer right on half time ultimately sent us through.

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European qualifiers

Haverfordwest 3-0 Zestaponi

A great first leg, but after last year I'm not counting my chickens! Goals from Ashmore, Richards and Loy see us in a strong position for the trip to Georgia.

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Zestaponi 2-3 Haverfordwest

A great away performance, no hint of a complacency and we're one step away from the Champions League. A double from Hopkinson and one from Richards sees us through.

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Not a bad draw.

It could certainly have been worse...

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European qualifiers

Champions League Play Off 1st leg

Haverfordwest 3-0 SV Mattersburg

A brilliant first leg performance puts us in control of the tie. Goals from Richards, Hopkinson and Nathan Rooney, but I'm taking nothing for granted. Hopkinson picked up a knock during the game which is a shame, it's only 10 days but that's enough to miss out on the second leg.

Champions League Play Off 2nd leg

SV Mattersburg 5-4 Haverfordwest

I was absolutely disgusted with the defensive display, but we somehow pulled it out the fire going forward. Anyway, after a game like that just a description won't do!

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August

WPL Carmarthen 0-6 Haverfordwest

A dream of an opening day. A hat-trick for Richards, 2 for Loy and one for Ashmore sees the season begin with a stonker of a performance.

WPL Haverfordwest 2-2 Aberystwyth

One of those games that leaves me wanting to punch my laptop! 2-0 up and cruising with 5mins left to play, they have 2 shots and score both :mad: Higgins and Lynch with our goals.

WPL Afan Lido 2-1 Haverfordwest

A truly pitiful performance after the European game. Hopkinson scored our goal in the 93rd minute but we were just awful, so much so that fines were issued and players will be dropped.

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Another tough group, but I think you could've drawn some worse teams :)

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Not a bad draw all things considered. With some luck you can nick a point or 2.

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September

Lost this update earlier, so it's just the scores/ scorers this month.

WPL Haverfordwest 2-0 TNS

Richards, Ashmore

Champions League Group F

Haverfordwest 1-3 Sampdoria

Hopkinson

WPL Haverfordwest 3-1 Llanelli

Loy (2) Jones

WPL Bala 1-1 Haverfordwest

Loy

Champions League Group F

HSV 2-0 Haverfordwest

A defeat, but massive improvement all the same...

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Another tough group, but I think you could've drawn some worse teams :)

"There's always a bigger fish" as they say. I still don't quite feel worthy of being in the Champions League with some of my players, but the group could certainly have been worse!

Not a bad draw all things considered. With some luck you can nick a point or 2.

Not so sure about getting points yet, but at least should be a little more respectable than last time, which is still progress!

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October

WPL Port Talbot 3-5 Haverfordwest

Conceded far too many for my liking, but we got some revenge for the League Cup final defeat. Goals from Bridge-Wilkinson (2) Murphy, McGinty and Lynch.

Loosemore League Cup

Goytre 0-3 Haverfordwest

Goals from Bridge-Wilkinson, Rory Loy and Danny Murphy see us through.

WPL Haverfordwest 2-0 Prestatyn

2 very different Steven Richards goals decided the outcome of this.

Champions League Group F

Marseille 2-1 Haverfordwest

So close! A really good defensive display this time, and they only scored from a free kick and from what looked like a clear foul. Steven Richards with our goal, and he had one disallowed in stoppage time too. Gutted.

WPL Haverfordwest 1-1 Neath

Not for the first time, Neath almost cost me that domestic home unbeaten record. It took a 92nd minute Steven Richards strike to ensure that 4 year record wasn't broken.

Loosemore League Cup Quarter Final

Haverfordwest 7-0 Carmarthen

Had to rely on my assistant for this one after picking up a touchline ban. He did me proud with his management though, with goals from Lynch (2) Hopkinson (2) Loy (2) and Matty Hughes.

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Incidentally, those 7 goals in the last game included the 500th of my time at Haverfordwest. Not bad in 216 games...

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November

WPL Bangor City 1-4 Haverfordwest

A hat-trick for Rory Loy and one for Lynch settled this one, keeping up the pressure on Llanelli at the top of the table.

Champions League Group F

Haverfordwest 0-5 Marseille

This was rough, but they had 31 shots on goal, and 24 on target! It could have been a cricket score.

Welsh Cup Third Round

Port Talbot 5-3 Haverfordwest

A disgrace of a second half saw me lose my first Welsh Cup tie for three years. Despite leading 3-1 and seemingly cruising, we completely imploded in the final half hour. Our goals came from Loy, Lynch and Hopkinson. It would seem Port Talbot have become quite the cup team...

Loosemore League Cup Semi Final 1st leg

Llanelli 2-1 Haverfordwest

Yet another defeat, but at least we have the away goal. Rory Loy scored it.

WPL Haverfordwest 1-0 Carmarthen

The run of defeats ended by an OG, but we're still playing badly. It's been a poor month.

Loosemore League Cup Semi Final 2nd leg

Haverfordwest 5-0 Llanelli

A bit of form restored. A brace from Hopkinson and one each from Lynch, Loy and Rivers puts us through to the final. I just wish Hopkinson could take hi cup form into the league! (1 league goal all season, yet 11 in all competitions...)

WPL Aberystwyth 0-3 Haverfordwest

Goals from Loy, Rooney and Hopkinson in this one. Right on the coattails of Llanelli now....

Champions League Group F

Sampdoria 3-0 Haverfordwest

Was never anywhere near their level, but unless I concede 16 goals in my last game then it's an improvement on last time!

WPL Haverfordwest 2-0 Afan Lido

Goals from Rory Loy and Tim Hopkinson decided this one.

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A quick look around shows the current Newcastle manager is fighting to keep his job in LEAGUE ONE. Sorely tempted to express some interest...

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December

WPL Haverfordwest 4-0 Goytre

2 goals from Rory Loy, an OG and Richard Jones' first for the club secured the win that takes us back to the top.

WPL TNS 1-2 Haverfordwest

Awful performance, but a late double from Steven Richards saw us grab another win. He'd gone more than 10 hours before scoring his 13th and 14th of the season.

Champions League Group F

Haverfordwest 1-2 HSV

So close to a point! If it wasn't for a red card to Joe Jones, I'm pretty certain we'd have got something. Still, Steven Richards again with the goal.

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WPL Llanelli 1-3 Haverfordwest

2 stunners from Richards and a Hopkinson tap in sends us clear at the top.

WPL Haverfordwest 4-1 Port Talbot

A hat-trick for Richards and Hopkinson's 50th league goal for the club set up this win, and a little revenge for the cup defeat. However, it wasn't all good news...

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WPL Haverfordwest 3-0 Bala

Two from Rory Loy and one from Dickinson decided this one.

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Mid season report 2014/15

It's been a mixed old campaign so far. Qualifying for the Champions League again was a real bonus, although it was a bit gutting not picking up any points. Even more annoying though was getting knocked out of the Welsh Cup in the third round, especially after being 3-1 up. Still, we're going well in the league and have made the League Cup final, so it's not all bad. Aside from that, we've picked up a few injuries which have caused a problem or two, and the Richards injury especially was gutting. 8 goals that month and then a five month lay off! Anyway, enough of that, here's the table:

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Off the field I still can't get the board to agree to a new training ground or new youth facilities, despite having £10m in the bank which is a little frustrating to say the least! Still, hopefully I can convince them between now and the end of the season...

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January

WPL Neath 0-1 Haverfordwest

A really tight game which was won by Rory Loy's 23rd goal of the season. We're looking a little light up top again though, with Hopkinson and Lynch joining Richards on the sidelines.

WPL Prestatyn 1-0 Haverfordwest

This was an awful performance and we were lucky to get nil.

WPL Haverfordwest 5-0 Bangor City

Two from Alan Lynch, one from Rory Loy, a Bridge-Wilkinson screamer and a Martin Reilly header decided this one.

WPL Goytre 1-4 Haverfordwest

Goals from Lynch (2) Loy and Joe Jones in this one. Puts us 10 points clear with 10 games to play.

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February

WPL Haverfordwest 3-0 Afan Lido

Goals from Loy, Hopkinson and an OG secured our 18th league win of the season.

WPL TNS 2-4 Haverfordwest

Another decent win here, largely thanks to Alan Lynch. He bagged a hat-trick and made the other for Tim Hopkinson.

WPL Neath 0-3 Haverfordwest

Goals from Lynch, Hopkinson and an OG sets up another solid win, and gets the Neath manager the sack in the process.

WPL Haverfordwest 1-0 Llanelli

A stunner from Richard Dunn separated us from our closest challengers.

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Congrats on the league!

I suppose the only thing you can hope for is a new board takeover that lets you develop the facilities.

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Cheers, man.

Luckily the board have now agreed to both upgrades. There's plenty of money in the bank, so a takeover doesn't seem likely any time soon!

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March

WPL Bangor City 0-1 Haverfordwest

Tim Hopkinson grabbed a late winner in this one, drilling home his 19th of the season.

WPL Afan Lido 0-3 Haverfordwest

Two for Hopkinson and one for Loy won this one comfortably.

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Considering I only signed him as an emergency, he's been a revelation. 46 goals in 73 games puts him right up there with my best signings for the club.

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Decisions, decisions

Right, I need a little help. Do I offer Martin Reilly a new contract? He's had a pretty poor campaign, only scoring 1 goal, but he's largely been used as a sub. He's currently 5th choice out of 6 strikers (I'm playing 3 up top a lot right now) but I'm wondering if sentiment is the reason I'm considering it.

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To put it into context, he's scored 55 goals in 130 games and is the third top scorer in my time at the club. However, I'm pretty sure if I go out looking for another striker I'll find a better one (albeit a lot more expensive.) What do you reckon?

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What are his wages like in comparison to other players?

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What are his wages like in comparison to other players?

My top earners are on £1,100 and £1,000 (Loy and Richards) so pretty low, I'd imagine i'd get him for about £500p/w. However, if I look around for another option, it could cost me three times that...

EDIT: I just had a quick look at a 23 year old striker called Jake Jervis, who is only marginally better than Reilly. He wanted £2,400 a week! Pretty sure if I wait til the end of the season I'll find a cheaper option, but it's just a risk. If I do that I'll almost certainly lose Reilly.

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If he's low wage then you could just keep him as a backup, saying that theres not that many games in a season to need 6 strikers.

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If he's low wage then you could just keep him as a backup, saying that theres not that many games in a season to need 6 strikers.

I tend to get a lot of injuries up front, and as I'm currently playing 4-3-3, it makes sense to have 6. Hmm. I can certainly see him getting a good dozen games even as 6th choice, so we shall see...

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Well, striker number 6 has just demanded a transfer..... I think that makes the decision for me. New deal for Reilly...

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April

WPL Haverfordwest 2-1 Neath

Goals from Hopkinson and Lynch decided this one.

WPL Llanelli 1-5 Haverfordwest

A great win at the home of our rivals and closest challengers, with goals from Lynch, Hopkinson, Mitchell and a Loy double...

WPL Haverfordwest 3-1 TNS

This was a belter of a game, and ultimately we had enough for another win. An early OG at each end got the game off to a flier, but it took a 67th minute goal from the returning Steven Richards and a Rory Loy special to seal the points.

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The Loosemore League Cup Final

Saturday 2nd May 2015

Haverfordwest County AFC Vs Bangor City FC

The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Back to the Millennium Stadium then for our fourth League Cup final in five years, and eager to exorcise the ghosts of last year's defeat. Our opponents have never beaten us in my time at the club, although this is the first time we've met in a cup tie. The return of Richards is a huge boost, and so after his substitute appearance in the last game he'll go straight back into my attack, with Lynch making way. Other than a little tiredness we're pretty much full strength, but Bangor have had a decent campaign so I'm really hoping there's no repeat from last year.

First half

A wide open first half, with chances at both ends. Tim Hopkinson combined with Rory Loy for the first goal, playing a 1-2 on the edge of the box and drilling low in the bottom corner in the 13th minute. Just 10 minutes later though we failed to deal with a left wing cross, and Mark James smashed home a leveller. It was looking like that was the way things would stay, until Derrick Williams hopefully floated a cross from the left wing, and Tim Hopkinson climbed highest to nod in his second of the game, and his 100th for the club.

Half time: Haverfordwest 2-1 Bangor City

Second half

Another lively start to the half with great saves at both ends, but the fourth goal of the game came our way, with Ruiadhri Higgins drilling home on the volley from 25 yards. We then lost Alan Lynch to injury, who had only just come on, and a grandstand finale was in store when Tom Lawrence smashed home with 6 minutes to go. We just about hung on though, winning our third League Cup.

Full time

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May

WPL Haverfordwest 4-0 Bangor City

A dream of a way to finish the season, and Tim Hopkinson scored all 4 of them. In the process, this happened...

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You're making the Welsh League look easy! :)

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You're making the Welsh League look easy! :)

Certainly racking a few trophies up! Hopefully I can start making some progress in Europe now...

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Very exciting.

A good deal of sarcasm attached to that, eh ;o)

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Haverfordwest County AFC: Season Summary 2014/15

League

Media prediction: 1st

Finished: 1st (champions)

Cups

Welsh Cup: 3rd round

League Cup: Winners

Top scorers

Rory Loy (45 apps/ 30 goals)

Tim Hopkinson (45 apps/ 29 goals)

Steven Richards (32 apps/ 21 goals)

Alan Lynch (35 apps/ 17 goals)

Positives

Another good season all around, and two more shiny trophies for the cabinet. Qualifying for the Champions League again was brilliant, and although we are still waiting for our first point, there was a definite improvement as far as performances are concerned. In the league, we managed to win the title again with another record points tally, winning 27 out of our 32 games. That home record has continued, going five years now without defeat in a domestic game (although there were a couple of scares this time!). My options up front certainly count as a positive with 98 goals between the four of them!

Concerns

Being knocked out in the third round of the cup was disappointing, but other than that I've very few. Hopefully this year though I can attract couple of players who'll make a real difference to help us kick on in Europe.

Ambitions

Well, they depend on Europe. If I make the Champions League I'd like to earn our first point, but if it's the Europa League I'd like us to at least take third place again, if not higher. As for at home, then of course the title is the priority, but I'm aiming for a second treble.

League table

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Player of the season

Rory Loy

Average attendance

509 in the league (an increase of 32)

665 in total (increase of 30)

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Seems very costly for a Welsh club.

It's been upgraded once before, so I wasn't surprised it was pricey. Still takes a huge chunk of the money in the bank though.

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Haverfordwest County AFC: Season preview 2015/16

Media prediction: 1st

Board expectation: Win the championship

So yet again the board want the title, and they've given me a great budget although right now I'm struggling to spend it! I'm extremely confident I can win it, especially after the way it was won last year. Yet again I'm on the hunt for two players who'll really lift us, but I wouldn't be surprised if I have to wait until the training facilities are upgraded for that extra reputation lift. We've lifted the league's reputation in recent years too, so hopefully when the bosmans are available I'll find a couple of gems. Anyway, here's that budget:

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Leaving the club this year are midfielder Jarret Rivers, striker Liam Dickinson, goalkeeper Chris Oldfield and central defender Sean McGinty. All of whom were desperate to get away and were only squad players, so it's no big worry. However, once again I'm struggling to attract the kind of calibre of player I would need to really kick on, which is disappointing. I still have a couple of months to go before the window closes, but coming in so far have been:

20 yo ST Fraser Robinson (free from Portsmouth)

18 yo CM Simon Basham (loan from Fulham)

18 yo CB Steve Naylor (loan from Bristol City)

Once again I'm struggling with the 2 under 19 player rule which is ensuring a high turn over in my squad, but hopefully I can find a defender who can come in and really boost us. I do think Basham should be a decent signing, and I have an option on him for £100,000 too.

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As for Europe, I'm pretty pleased with the draw. However, we do have 5 key players missing through injury and suspension, which is frustrating.

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European qualifiers

CL 2nd Qualifying round 1st leg

Haverfordwest 5-0 Santa Coloma

A very decent first leg performance, although it took us a while to get going. A debut goal from Robinson got us on the way, before Ashmore (2) an OG and Rory Loy sealed a thumping first leg win.

2nd Qualifying round 2nd leg

Santa Coloma 0-6 Haverfordwest

Well, that was easy! Goals from Hopkinson (2) Rooney (2) Loy and Robinson secured an 11-0 aggregate win.

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European qualifiers

CL 3rd Qualifying round 1st leg

Haverfordwest 0-0 Grasshoppers

Awful, awful first leg. Leaves us in trouble I think.

CL 3rd Qualifying round 2nd leg

Grasshoppers 0-2 Haverfordwest

A dream of an away performance, and a Richards double sees us through.

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Have to feel pleased with that draw.... Having said that, a run in the Europa League would perhaps be better for us...

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Playing Shamrock will be an interesting couple of matches! Just noticed you have Tim Hopkinson; I've used him before and he's amazing at any level.

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Playing Shamrock will be an interesting couple of matches! Just noticed you have Tim Hopkinson; I've used him before and he's amazing at any level.

He's been a quality signing for me. He's now the club's record goal scorer in the league, and he's scored over 100 in all competitions. Unsurprisingly he's now an Icon at the club, too.

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