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chesterfan2

Employee Of The Month

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Down by the Riverside

Steve Gibson was not a happy man. Rightly famed for his loyalty to his managers he had to admit to himself that this last choice had not been right and that 46 days into the job or not the new guy had to go. The decision to dismiss Gareth Southgate had not been an easy one, but the team was dropping down the table like a stone, the lads had quite clearly lost a bit of respect for the guy and the future, at that time, had looked bleak. So he’d done the deed and fired the Englishman. He hadn’t wanted to, but most commentators had agreed that he’d been right to do it.

Not that his idea for a replacement had met with universal approval. Luca Spiletti was an Italian who came with a compelling c.v. telling of his exploits managing in Paraguay, Bolivia and Thailand. Even from the start he had had a curious approach to management. Fining Lee Cattermole for standing in the wrong place at a corner, instructing the players to only wear green on Thursdays and introducing fly fishing as keep fit exercise. It was hardly surprising that the lads hadn’t responded to this and now the team had dropped further, into the first of the relegation spots, 18th place.

The exposé in the News of The World hadn’t, it was troubling to note, surprised him. It said that no soccer team in Paraguay , Bolivia, Thailand or indeed any other country had ever heard of Spiletti but he had been coach of a High School American Football team in Sacramento, for 4 days before he came in dressed as Napoleon and demanded all the players only address him as ’Your Grace’. Indeed, not surprising at all after he had claimed he was the rightful King of France in a TV interview after the last game and had today come into work dressed as Judy Garland.

The man was quite obviously barking mad, and only 46 days into his managerial career at Middlesbrough or not, he had to go. And for that very reason he had called Spiletti to his office immediately. As the door opened Gibson rightly guessed that this wasn’t going to go well. Maybe it was the maniacal grin that did it, most likely it was the samurai sword he was carrying……

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Right, I should probably say at this point that all persons mentioned in this story, or company, even if named the same as a real person or company, are entirely fictional and bear no relataion to any persons or companies at all. Not even in passing. Honest. And further more any actions ascribed to any individual or employee of any said fictional company should not be regarded as the viewpoint of any person connected with any company, real or fictional nor should they be interpreted as a record of anything that has happened in real life ever.

Hope that's covered it.

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My Office has a view of the Millennium Dome

The dossier contained all the details of what happened that day (and since), and to Lucy Bayliss, Head of Brand Protection at Barclays Bank, it meant nothing but trouble.

The first file was the police report. It contained details of the murder scene and the arrest and subsequent incarceration of the mad Italian, or wherever he really was from (no-one was quite sure). No surprises here. No need for Luminol at the scene, the cleaning bill seemed a bit steep and the current accommodation for Spiletti in the secure wing of the nearest high security mental hospital (on Merseyside). Not really that much of interest to a representative of ‘ The Bank’ as Lucy liked to term her employers.

The second file was more troubling, however. It was a file of a number of newspaper reports and a letter. All the press said the same thing, and the letter confirmed it. Steve Gibson’s widow wanted nothing to do with the football club, and was threatening to close it down, and would do so unless a buyer came forward before the end of the week.

The third file was a report from the FA and was potentially the worse file of all. It stated that if Middlesborough folded immediately there would be no alternative but to expunge their records for this season .

This, Lucy realised, was going to be a problem. The current top three ; Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea had all, even at this late stage of the season played Middlesborugh only once, but one of the Teesiders few wins had come at home against Chelsea where they had lost to Arsenal at the Emirates and to Liverpool at the Riverside. Taking three points of both Liverpool and Arsenal would effectively gift the title to Chelsea.

This would be bad. The title race, one of the best for years, would be ruined as a spectacle, and as a result Barclays brand would suffer , and that would never do.

Lucy picked up the phone and rang up to the top floor.

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Good to see you back, cf2. :cool:

Is Lucy going to save the day?

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Cheers Spav, and in a one word answer to your theory. No she won't. Sorry that was three.

I too can see the Millennium Dome from my window, but I can also see most of Essex

Dirk Van Spaniel’s job title was Group Operating Officer, and in many people’s eyes he would be better described as Chairman Tom Harley’s Rottweiler. He too could see that Middlesbrough’s impending exit from the league would be a bad thing for Barclays and there were very few things that Dirk liked less than bad things for Barclays.

Dirk sensed that he was the man to find a solution to this problem, and to that end he had gathered together a roomful of the bank’s brightest young stars.

Dirk van Spaniel “OK people. Let’s take an ideas shower, because we don’t want to slip down the strategic stairway on this one.”

Stunned silence followed until one lone voice piped up.

Minky von Horsebather: “Dirk, We can’t let Barclays take a bath on this one, we absolutely must not live in negative territory here and my high altitude view is that the league must complete in full, or we’ll end up on the downside of this demographic”

Dirk van Spaniel: “Interesting, Minky, My door is open on this issue. What have you got ?”

Minky von Horsebather: “It would be, quite literally, picking the low hanging fruit on this one. We can’t let the grass grow under this. We pick up the tab for the running of the club from the widow Gibson and at the end of the season we sell the club on. The bank’s financial exposure is small and the benefits in the bank being seen as the saviour of the league are potentially huge.”

Dirk von Spaniel “Brilliant. Living the values. Make it so.”

Terry MacTreehammer: “But Middlesbrough doesn’t have a manager, hiring a good one will be expensive.”

Minky von Horsebather: “But the point is Terry, the manager doesn’t have to be any good. We don’t care if the club goes down or not, we just need the whole competition to be fair, and more importantly to be seen to be fair and not a complete pile of crap in which our brand looks bad. I mean we could even get anyone, the guy sat in ‘B2’ on the first floor of Block 12 at Radbroke Hall to be manager until the end of the season, and we wouldn’t even have to pay him. Once the season finishes it will be better for us if Middlesbrough are relegated, as we can sell the club on, at a knockdown price, to any one of a number of foreign investors who would love to get their foot in the door of English football.”

Dirk von Spaniel: “Minky, that’s brilliant, have a pay rise.. ……Terry, you’re fired.

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Meanwhile in Area B2 of the First Floor of Block 12 of Radbroke Hall, Cheshire

Radbroke Hall is Barclays Bank’s main set of offices in Northern England. Much of the bank’s computing activity goes on there. ‘B2’ is one of the many signs, spread throughout both floors of Block 12 that enabled people to give meaningful locations to each other on the otherwise featureless floor of the otherwise featureless building. Greg Willis was the guy sat under the plastic sign and at that moment he was wondering why the system he was responsible for, the one that produced automatic mail shots for Barclaycard had suddenly fallen over in a big heap.

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I do hope the users don’t ring

The phone rang. “Users” I thought. Well, I would wouldn’t I ? They always do that when their system breaks down, and yes, I do know that it’s my job to fix it and as such I should probably expect to be called at these moments.

But it wasn’t the users, it was Binky O’Grady, Barclays Liaison to the FA Premier League. The first thing she said, after introducing herself, was:

Binky o‘Grady : “Congratulations”

Now I do enter every internal competition that Barclays runs to give Premier League Tickets away to it’s workforce (and before you throw your arms up in horror, non-Barclays employees, they don’t do it that often), so I thought was getting two tickets to see Everton play Newcastle at Goodison on Saturday.

Binky O’Grady : “As I was saying, congratulations. You have won “Employee of the Month for February, sponsored by the Premier League” and your prize is to manage Middlesbrough until the end of the season.”

Greg Willis (that’s me) : “But I don’t remember entering this competition ?”

Binky O’Grady: “You didn’t, it was entry by nomination. And before you ask your salary will be unchanged, your terms & conditions will be temporarily altered, and your first game is in three days time. It wouldn’t be a good career move to say no at this point/”

Greg Willis: “ Well, if you put it like that, where do I sign ?”

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This is a good idea. Good doesn't even start to cover it. It's a great idea. KUTGW.

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Why thank you SCIAG, that's very kind of you. As it happens I've just been reading your story, and good stuff it is too.

And thanks to every one else who's read and commented on this story. This is the first story I've written since I got my new computer. On my old one everything was at such a slow pace in terms of game progress that I found writing stories easy to fit round my game play, but with the new machine I am, to be honest, just enjoying simply playing the game, and it's taken me ages to find the time, and mode of operation that fits writing round how quickly I'm getting through seasons. This one is my first effort trying to fit round the new reality of FM gameplay for me. I hope you all continue to like it. The football starts soon. I promise

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This is great work so far. I'll hold off fantastic for now, because a few stories I have described as fantastic in their infancy have gone under... Keep it up!

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Thanks once again for the kind words. Kewell, I do hope to finish this story, it is all written so it'll just be my galloping laziness that prevents me from completeing it. Spav,....I couldn't possibly comment !

The Guardian - Thursday 28th February 2008

Barclays Step in to save the Season

In a decisive move, announced late last night, Barclays Bank, sponsors of the Premier League, have bought Middlesbrough Football Club from Susan Gibson, widow of the brutally slain owner of the club, Steve Gibson, who had baldly stated her desire to be out of football. This move ensures that this season will be completed in full, though what will happen after that is unclear; it would seem unlikely that a responsible institution like a bank will be willing to bankroll the potential financial black hole that a football club represents for long. This action prevents us from being presented with the spectacle of Chelsea being gifted the title direct from Lancaster Gate, an action that will surely not only go down well with fans of Liverpool and Arsenal but also of all right minded football fans everywhere.

One question remains unanswered, however. Middlesbrough have a game on Sunday, and have not yet publicly named a new manager. It is believed that someone is in place, though one wonders why the powers that be at the bank want to keep that name quiet.

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Just one comment. Surely the removal of a team halfway through the season IRL would not take points off a team, but merely give three to every team yet to play them?

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SCIAG, I know I'm only talking about occassions where this has happened in lower league football, and much earlier on in the season, but it's my experience that the departing teams results have been expunged rather than 'filled in' with automatic defeats. I guess it's an open call as to what would happen so close to the end of the season, but hey, it's my story and I say it would happen like this !

Down to work

Fortunately my first game in charge didn’t come on the Saturday, it was the Sunday match this week, so I had a little time to organise things. The club still had it’s backroom staff and that was an advantage. I wanted to my best in this job and listening to what my assistant manager Malcolm Crosby said to me was going to be the basis of my approach to the job. Later on today I’d meet the players and I’d tell them what I wanted from them, I doubted after today that there would be many places to hide, but at least it hadn’t hit today’s papers.

The Sun - Friday 29th February 2008

Fans Still in the Dark over Riverside Appointment

Over 24 hours have passed since Barclays Bank’s dramatic announcement that they have taken over Middlesborough but they still have not named a new manager leaving fans where leadership will come from. Players coming out of training last night said they had not yet been introduced to the new manager but expected to do so today, ahead of Sunday’s game at home to Tottenham

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Get ready for impact

Later on in the day I took my first training session, with Malcolm taking the lead, obviously. But before that had come a brief and quite uncomfortable meeting with the players.

They looked at me like I was some kind of zoo creature, you know, a not-very-nice one like a vulture or a Mongolian Tree spider, or like I was a particularly unwanted Christmas present, like socks or one of Auntie Mabel’s sweaters. I partially failed to dispel that impression as I told them that I was pleased to be their manager and they should be pleased that Barclay’s had stepped in and saved them from being on the dole queue. That went down well, I thought. I then said that my plan was to lean heavily on the experience of Malcolm. This did impress them somewhat as Malcolm Crosby is a popular figure at the club. I then invited them out onto the training pitch.

I let Malcolm take the lead, after all what exactly do I know about football coaching ? Oh yes, that’s right. Nothing. I watched the lads in the session and could clearly see that some of the lads, most notably Gary O’Neil, got their heads down and trained hard. Some didn’t bother. At the end of the session I told them I couldn’t give a flying f*** who was captain before, but whoever was my captain would be prepared to die for the shirt, and to that end Gary O’Neil was now club captain. I saw that that move made some positive impression on some, and less of a good impression on others. I was pleased to note that positives outweighed the negatives, but I wondered how I was going to get the last lot of lads onside.

I saw some of those lads stop by the knot of reporters waiting by the gates of the training ground, and at that moment I knew that news that a complete novice, an utter unknown was managing the club would hit the papers tomorrow. I could hardly wait.

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The Mirror - Saturday 1st March 2008

Bank Clerk in Charge at The Riverside

In a move that has stunned the entire footballing fraternity it has emerged that Barclays Bank has appointed the new manager of Middlesbrough from within the ranks of it’s own workforce. Apparently Greg Willis’s ‘Day job’ is as a computer programmer in Cheshire, and as far as this paper can ascertain he has not only got no footballing knowledge, but no experience of managing anything at all, ever. A Barclays’ spokeswoman Binty Schmidt stated that the manager’s post had been awarded to an internal candidate in order to maintain a curb on costs of this enterprise and in order to maintain a prudent approach to the financial aspects of running a club. She also noted that Mr Willis’s name had been drawn out of a hat and the he was ‘a lucky boy’ to get to do something else for a couple of months. It has to be said that this did not fill any of the waiting journalists and fans any sense of confidence in this enterprise and has if anything left Barclays Bank looking like they’re either cheapskates or that they are willing this enterprise to fail. But one wonders what would either stance do for Barclay’s image ?

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Poo. Meet Fan.

Given that I had to call Binky O’Grady.

Greg Willis: “Look Binky, the cat’s out of the bag”

Binky O’ Grady : “Right you are Gregster, just sit tight and do your thing, you’ll be fine.”

Greg Willis: “But the papers are right aren’t they, Barclays don’t actually want me to succeed do they ?”

Binky O’Grady “No, no, no ,no, no ,no, no ,no….no. Nothing could be further from the truth, well apart from the bit about not wanting our exposure to costs to run on at all.”

Greg Willis: “And that’s best served if Middlesbrough go down ?”

Binky O’Grady “Frankly yes. It offers us least amount of risk. Look, keep your trap shut and there’ll be a ‘C’ grade end of year for you; guaranteed.”

Greg Willis: “I think I see what you’re getting at. Bye”

Did I ever see what she was getting at. I had been officially told to relegate Middlesbrough. What was worse is they didn’t seem to believe I couldn’t do anything other than get relegated. The first game was the following day. I’d show them.

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English Premier League - Middlesbrough vs. Tottenham

Sunday 2nd March 2008

I pick a strong lineup and ask them to go out and attack, and tackle hard. Entertaining the crowd would be good, but in our situation points come first. There had been snow in the North-east, but the ground staff had put in the hard work and the under soil heating did the rest. Spurs took the lead on 11 minutes, a Kewell free kick from the edge of the box doing the damage. I thought that, after a stunned moment, we reacted well and a equaliser came our way on 26 minutes as Huth fired one through a crowd of players from the edge of the box after a half cleared corner. We went in at half time level, but I thought we had been the better side. I told the boys they could win this game if they wanted it and sent them back out into the cold March air.

Chances came and went to both sides in the second period but this game wasn’t without a couple of twists yet. On 88 minutes we made a breakthrough as Alves headed home a Gary O’Neil corner, so we led. But in the fourth minute of injury time, the referee adjudged that Huth had pushed Keane - Penalty. The Irishman got up, dusted himself down and then stepped up to put the spot kick high, wide and handsome. The game finished seconds later and we had somehow claimed a victory.

Final Score - Middlesbrough 2-1 Tottenham

League Position (2nd March 2008): 15th

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The interview

I was pretty pleased and fired up after the game, and I must admit that I thought to myself that I would show the world I could do this job. To that end I let the Match of The Day cameras record an interview. Only afterward did I think I might live to regret it.

Ray Stubbs: “Well, Greg Willis, you must be delighted after today’s win.”

Greg Willis: “Yes, Ray, you’re right. Obviously you can’t rely on Robbie Keane to miss a penalty when you want him to, but today it happened and I, for one, think that it’s just what the lads deserved, I thought they were all lions today.”

Ray Stubbs: “Indeed, you must have been pleased not to have seen heads go down after the early goal.”

Greg Willis: “That’s right. I think we saw just the kind of fighting spirit we’ll need if we’re to steer clear of relegation.”

Ray Stubbs: “Relegation would still seem to be a possibility though, can I ask what skills exactly you bring to the party, and perhaps even more what do your backers, Barclays, want out of this deal ?”

Greg Willis: "Ray, I have to underline that I don't speak for Barclays, I speak for Middlesborough Football Club, and obviously I've been given the chance to manage a Premier League football team, so it's good for me, personally. But I think every football fan will be grateful that this year's competitaion can come to it's natural conclusion."

Ray Stubbs: "One that will see your club face the current top three in the last three games of the season."

Greg Willis: "You're right, of course. Obviously that's a daunting prospect, with a bit of luck we'll have enough points to be safe before we get to that point, though if we aren't I believe we have enough talent at this club to see us to safety."

Ray Stubbs: "But, and sorry to be blunt here, you are just a computer programmer, why on earth would Barclays put a complete novice in charge "

Greg Willis: “ Well, Ray, I’m sure Barclays, when they signed me up, were aware of my experience with the Football Manager computer game. I like most other players of this great game believe that I could manage a premiership team, and thanks to Barclay’s I now have that chance.”

Ray Stubbs: “Greg Willis, I think you’ve said enough. Thanks.”

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The Sun - Monday 4th March 2008

Willis Harbours Dreams of Managerial Glory

It seems things are even worse for Middlesbrough fans than we first thought. Apparently new manager, Greg Willis, a man parachuted into management from his desk job by Barclays, feels that his experience with a computer game will stand him in good stead for the task ahead. The game in question is Football Manager, the latest version, of what is a long running series of games, allows managers to exchange banter with computer controlled managers in addition to traditional team selection duties.

One thing seems certain to this reporter, Greg Willis is going to need a bit more than a few hours on a boyish computer game to do what’s required at the Riverside

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An excellent idea and trully inspirational! Who would have thought it; a bank clerk in charge of a premiership team with a controversial mandate of ensuring relegation!

I'm lovin' it! [subscribed]

------------------------------------------------------

'Before you can score you must first have a goal' - Greek proverb.

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Thank you Petros7, most kind.

English Premier League - Fulham vs. Middlesbrough

Saturday 9th March 2008

A game we need to get something from, the teams outside the top eight, say, are ones we need to be targeting. Fulham are in 11th spot at the minute and so fit this particular bill.

The first half was bad for us though. Fulham are in the spot they are in because of their home form and they took the lead after 26 minutes. They had a second chalked off for offside and we had Wheater sent off for a professional foul. Not a good half really.

The ten men, i.e. us, did pretty well in the second period and made a game of it. But Niemi in the Fulham net was awesome and we couldn’t breakthrough.

Final Score: Fulham 1-0 Middlesbrough

League Position (9th March 2008): 15th

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No Comment

Surprisingly enough I didn’t talk to any journalists this time, but even so this didn’t stop them having a field day at my expense. The start of the Slippery Slope was The Observer‘s viewpoint Out of his depth opined The Sunday Mirror and Huff and Puff not enough to enhance the Amateur Manager’s cause in The Sunday Telegraph. I stopped reading them after that. They were all united in one thing though - we were doomed. The fact that I thought we’d battled hard and were unlucky didn’t feature. I mean, I hadn’t told that to any journalist, but at the moment would any of them listened ?

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English Premier League - Middlesbrough vs. Birmingham City

Sunday 16th March 2008

Another must win game, and another game at home. We came out strong and bossed the first half. Shots flew in, many of them on target, but we grabbed just a single goal, a Tuncay header on 43 minutes. We should have been further in front at the break, but it was better than nothing.

Anyone expecting Birmingham City to come out fighting would have been severely disappointed. It was more one way traffic and we added a second on 62. Want away Mido the scorer from close range after good work from George Boateng. That was good enough to beat the visitors and another welcome three points were in the bag.

Final Score : Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham City

League Position (16th March 2008): 15th

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cheers, Nerner, keep up the reading and one day you'll be inspired to do your own story

Not much comment

It was the papers’ turn to be quiet this weekend. I guess they didn’t want to put out a story that didn’t fit in with their world view of Middlesbrough as a one way ticket to footballing oblivion. I was ecstatic however, I thought the lads had shown fight and spirit and we’d need more of that as the season went on. With eight games to go the table looked like this….

|-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Pos   | Team          |      | Pld  | Won  | Drn  | Lst  | For  | Ag  | G.D.| Pts | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st   | Liverpool     |      | 30   | 23   | 4    | 3    | 63   | 17  | +46 | 73  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd   | Chelsea       |      | 30   | 22   | 4    | 4    | 56   | 24  | +32 | 70  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd   | Arsenal       |      | 30   | 21   | 3    | 6    | 72   | 31  | +41 | 66  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th   | Everton       |      | 30   | 18   | 8    | 4    | 47   | 21  | +26 | 62  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 5th   | Man City      |      | 30   | 19   | 4    | 7    | 42   | 28  | +14 | 61  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 6th   | Newcastle     |      | 30   | 18   | 5    | 7    | 47   | 31  | +16 | 59  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 7th   | Man Utd       |      | 30   | 14   | 3    | 13   | 51   | 42  | +9  | 45  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 8th   | Aston Villa   |      | 30   | 12   | 7    | 11   | 31   | 31  | 0   | 43  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 9th   | Reading       |      | 30   | 13   | 4    | 13   | 47   | 49  | -2  | 43  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 10th  | Blackburn     |      | 30   | 12   | 5    | 13   | 33   | 41  | -8  | 41  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 11th  | Fulham        |      | 30   | 11   | 7    | 12   | 38   | 39  | -1  | 40  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 12th  | Tottenham     |      | 30   | 10   | 9    | 11   | 39   | 37  | +2  | 39  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 13th  | West Ham      |      | 30   | 9    | 8    | 13   | 28   | 32  | -4  | 35  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 14th  | Portsmouth    |      | 30   | 8    | 9    | 13   | 42   | 55  | -13 | 33  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 15th  | [b]Middlesbrough[/b] |      | 30   | 7    | 6    | 17   | 32   | 48  | -16 | 27  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 16th  | Derby         |      | 30   | 7    | 4    | 19   | 28   | 61  | -33 | 25  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 17th  | Birmingham    |      | 30   | 6    | 4    | 20   | 31   | 58  | -27 | 22  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 18th  | Sunderland    |      | 30   | 4    | 9    | 17   | 32   | 56  | -24 | 21  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 19th  | Bolton        |      | 30   | 4    | 8    | 18   | 18   | 38  | -20 | 20  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 20th  | Wigan         |      | 30   | 2    | 9    | 19   | 12   | 50  | -38 | 15  | 
| ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 

So eight games to go and six points clear of Sunderland in the first of the relegation spots. Given our run in (Liverpool,Chelsea and Arsenal in the last three games) we need to get those points soon.

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This is a great concept, CF. Done with wit, and the results have favored you too. Definitely a regular read for me!

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I suspect the Boro fans will be singing Greg's name shortly. KUTGW cf2. :thup:

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this is great, i dont usually read stories, but someone did a sign up and is also doing a story, so i was checking that, and i thought i'd check this one too, and as it was middlesbrough (my supported team) i decided to read on, and read it all, great stuff.

it also made me want to start a story, but i dont have that much free time really.

KUTGW!!

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wow, Thanks lads, for all the positive responses. CharlesBeams, once you start you'll probably find, like I did, that the story writing bug will grab you and not let go, I don't have time to do this either, so I just sleep less !. Spav, TenThree, thanks lads, as supportive as ever. I do read your stories too you know. Megafan2005, where did I get this idea ? Now I did say that this story does bear no relation to any real life company, not even if they were named the same, but it just so happens that I do work on the first floor of Radbroke Hall, though not seated under the 'B2' sign. Read back, and I hope that will tell you enough.

Meanwhile in the lower levels of One, Churchill Place

The phone on the desk trilled. No, not trilled, that's not serious enough for a real bank's phones, Binky O'Grady thought, it should RING, she thought, and do it loudly too.

Binky O'Grady: "Hello, Binky' O'Grady, Barclays Premiership Intra Bank Liasion Officer".

Dirk van Spaniel: "Binky !, BINKY !, Dirk van Spaniel here. How's the young whippersnapper at Middlesbrough doing ? Is he damaging the brand ?"

Binky o'Grady: "oh, Mr von Spaniel, it's you. Errm yes, he's had two wins out of three so far, he's doing the brand proud. But excuse me for asking but do we really want him to succeed ?"

Dirk von Spaniel: "HELL NO. O'GRADY. MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP NOW. A complete imbecile who plays computer games a good advert for the bank ? MY A*SE IT IS. The one thing that boy must do is simply lose to each of the big three in the last three games and give the fans, all those sad b*stards who bank with Barclays just because we sponser the Premier League and they feel that, in their sad, empty, lives, merely having a bank account makes them that bit closer to Rooney and Lampard and all those other overpaid primadonnas of this world, the idea that this playing field is fair and level, and that doesn't include some complete amateur, who thinks he can manage, 'saving the day' for a completely hopeless side like Middlesborough. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR ????????"

Binky O'Grady: "You surely do. Mr von Spaniel, sir."

Binky suddenly found the other end of the phone line was already dead, von Spaniel had said his piece and hung up.

She had some serious thinking to do. But she was, if she said so herself, a resourceful problem solver, and so some time later she settled on her plan of action. She made two phone calls. One to a guy who knew a guy, an American, who said he wanted a football club, and another to a mobile, a mobile that was currently in a sports bag that was in the changing room of Middlesborough's training facility, and left a message, a message that the player involved should give her a call if he wanted to get the nod for Premier League Player of the Year, sponsored by Barclays come the end of the season. Of course if he did what Binky was expecting him to do he wouldn't win any awards, anywhere ever, but once he called she'd have him. Have him wrapped round her little finger.

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and another to a mobile, a mobile that was currently in a sports bag that was in the changing room of Middlesborough's training facility, and left a message, a message that the player involved should give her a call if he wanted to get the nod for Premier League Player of the Year, sponsored by Barclays come the end of the season. Of course if he did what Binky was expecting him to do he wouldn't win any awards, anywhere ever, but once he called she'd have him. Have him wrapped round her little finger.

"My team were relegated, but I was the best player in the league. Imagine how bad the rest of them were"

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"My team were relegated, but I was the best player in the league. Imagine how bad the rest of them were"

OK, you're right it's weak, but I have to say I struggled with thinking of any other type of hold a Barclay's employee could have over a premiership footballer.

English Premier League - Manchester United vs. Middlesbrough

Saturday 22nd March 2008

ManYoo had not had a good season of it so far, they’d sold Ronaldo to Inter for an obscene amount of money but hadn’t, unsurprisingly, managed to find an adequate replacement. In January both Vidic and Evra had followed and this was a team on the wane, languishing in a distant 7th spot in the league. Still, probably best not to underestimate them, not at their own place at least.

We got the perfect start to this game, a Gary O’Neil corner in the third minute, headed home by Robert Huth. Of course, it didn’t last, it only made United angry. They were level on 6 minutes, Rooney the scorer but Schwarzer could have done a whole lot better. Things calmed down for a bit, but we went behind when Rooney intercepted a bad Riggott pass back and rounded the keeper to score. Nani hit a screamer on 32 minutes and this was rapidly turning into a bad day .

Well we made to half time and well into the second half without conceding again, but another goal did come eventually, Scholes with the strike, an angled drive, and once again I thought the keeper could have been positioned better. That’s the way the game closed out, and I have to say the complete lack of fight in my players shocked me. I know we were at Old Trafford and everything but to me that’s no excuse for not trying. The difference from the last game is marked, and I’m at a loss to explain it.

Final Score : Man Utd 4-1 Middlesbrough

League Position (22nd March 2008): 16th

A Blip ? Or Worse ?

The papers were, of course, predictable in their condemnation of our paltry efforts. For once I agreed with them and I left the players in doubt as to how disappointed I was on the journey back to the North-East. But by the looks on their faces I could sense that I hadn’t really got any chance of turning this around. They didn’t believe in me, and why should they ? Over the week I, and the rest of the coaching staff attempted to instil some belief. As the week wore on I began to fear for the worst.

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I wasn't critcising, I thought it was humourous.

You've got the control of a bank employee, who has access to cash that even the average 'boro player won't get in their lifetime. ;)

Is the player Schwarzer, by any chance?

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I wasn't critcising, I thought it was humourous.

You've got the control of a bank employee, who has access to cash that even the average 'boro player won't get in their lifetime. ;)

Is the player Schwarzer, by any chance?

Ahh, too many clues I fancy, but perhaps it will become stinkingly obvious in the next few updates ?????

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English Premier League - Sunderland vs. Middlesbrough

Saturday 29th March 2008

If we insist on playing like we did in the first half of this match in all away games we are going to go down. We were terrible. Appalling. Worse. Sunderland scored in the 3rd and 23rd minutes, we managed practically nothing in return it was abysmal. We lacked fight, application and above all confidence. The worst thing was that they seemed to have lost confidence in each other.

Needless to say that at half time I gave them a roasting, I didn't know what else to do. It did seem to do some good and we came out in the second half a different team. We got one back, via the penalty spot, on 51 minutes, Alves the scorer, and thereafter we played much brighter football. It didn’t last though, one more defensive lapse and we reverted to our bad ways of the first half. Two more goals followed for Sunderland and we fell to our second consecutive 4-1 defeat.

Final Score : Sunderland 4-1 Middlesbrough

League Position (29th March 2008): 16th

Now only three points from the relegation spots.

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Was I wrong ? Unfortunately Not

The loss against Sunderland was pretty close to a disaster. The press , of course, had a field day but I didn’t see much point in reading any of it. Instead, on the Monday morning, I ‘treated’ the lads to a video of their performance and then threw tea cups at them for a bit whilst screaming obscenities. I could see that some of them thought the old manager had returned but in some of them, at least, it seemed to fire a bit of defiance. I tell you, I’d take whatever I could get at that moment.

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I suspect the Boro fans will be singing Greg's name shortly.

Can I retract that statement? :(

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I'm loving this story chester. It's a nice concept brilliantly supported by witty writing and good attention to detail. Keep it up!

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English Premier League - Middlesbrough vs. Blackburn Rovers

Wednesday 9th April 2008

To say the first half here was tense would be understating it somewhat, Neither side created much, and neither side came close to scoring. The half time whistle was frankly a relief.

I thought my half time team-talk was bland, you know, ‘Do it for the Fans’ Lads’ kind of message, but the lads came out like scalded cats and got on the score sheet within two minutes of the restart., Alves with a terrific angled strike. We pushed on and couldn’t get a second, which proved to be an issue when Blackburn scored with one of their rare attacks. Try as we might we couldn’t get a winner. Single points aren’t really that much use to us, but they are significantly better than nowt. Five games left and only 4 points clear of the relegation zone.

Final Score: Middlesbrough 1-1 Blackburn

League Position (9th April 2008): 16th

Surprise, Surprise

So we did have a bit of fight left. On reflection I had to be pleased with the effort the lads had put in, especially in the second period of the last match. Throughout the week I emphasised to the lads that all they had to do was keep on applying themselves in that way and we would be safe from relegation. The one thing it wasn’t was time for complacency.

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Bloody brilliant story cf. To say it was innovative would be an understatement and I don't like understatements. I do however like this story. KUTGW :D

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Thanks gents, Kewell and George, praise is always nice to recieve, it encourages us to keep going. So Ta Muchly.

English Premier League - Newcastle United vs. Middlesbrough

Saturday 12th April 2008

Our away record had been, let’s say, appalling since my arrival and I hoped this day would be the day we turned it around. Of course it wasn’t that day. We were three down by half time, had missed a penalty of our own and generally were playing like a team that knew it’s own fate.

The second half, naturally, was worse. A shambles. Newcastle will have been disappointed they could only get three more, but our pride as well as our goal difference took a real battering today. I could go into gory details, but, frankly, I don't want to dwell on that shower of sh*te.

Final Score Newcastle 6-0 Middlesbrough

League Position (12th April 2008): 16th - Four games left, three points from danger

A Sadly Familiar Scene come Monday Morning

Another Monday morning after a bad defeat, another horror video show and another set of crockery launched across the viewing room at head height. I threw one at Mark Schwarzer, but he dropped it. I was beginning to see this as being a bit hopeless, we weren’t getting points when we played well and we were getting twonked when we didn’t. We had a beast of a run-in looming so the long and short of it was that we weren’t getting the points in the bank when we needed to and if we weren’t careful we’d leave ourselves too much to do when it came down to the wire. We had one game left before the run-in started, in my mind it was pretty much all down to this.

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I know what you mean chester - I find it hard to convince myself to keep writing sometimes, but never to keep playing... so I guess it just follows on.

Good luck... You may need it :S

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Hadn't commented here yet but having just read through this entire story I definitely feel the need to. This is wonderfully written chester with a truly superb plot. Each post is easy on the eyes but leaves you wanting for more - obviously why I read through this entire thread in one sitting. KUTGW! I'll be waiting anxiously for new updates. :)

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Thank you, Flipstyle, and Kewell once more, for your words of encouragement. I hope I can keep up the enjoyment levels right to the season's climax

Inside a London Office, a Worried Person sits

Binky O'Grady was a worried woman. Sure they had lost against Newcastle but the point against Blackburn, whilst it had not really helped Middlesbrough, it hadn't really hurt them either. None of the other clubs around Willis's team had made up much, if any, ground, so the situation was no clearer, and no easier on her mind, than it had been before the match. The fact remained that Dirk von Spaniel, in his eminent wisdom, had decreed that Middlesborough should be sacrificed in order to preserve the bank's image, so who was she to argue ? But how was she going to do it ?

Just then her mobile, sat on the desktop, next to her screen, vibrated and then started belting out her current ringtone, 'Hey Yah' by Outkast (It had been a close call between that and 'John Ketley is a Weatherman' by The Tribe of Toffs). She locked her screen and picked up the phone, she was pleased to see the caller was her 'contact' inside the club.

Binky O'Grady: "Mark"

Mark Schwarzer: "Hey, Binky, Did you see the result at the weekend ? I did good, yes ?, I mean I tried to do the same against Blackburn but they couldn't hit a cow's bum with a banjo, at least Newcastle got some shots in."

Binky O'Grady: "Mark, No, you did not do good. Six goals from six on target shots does kind of suggest that there might just be something up with the goalkeeper. Do you want everyone to know that you are on the take ? I tell you something, if Willis drops you, then all chance of that award at the end of the season is gone, do you here me ?

Mark Schwarzer: "oh, o.k. Binky, I'll try harder against Bolton on Saturday."

Binky O'Grady: "You better, Schwarzer, you better."

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Many thanks, Papa, it's appreciated.

English Premier League - Middlesbrough vs. Bolton

Saturday 19th April 2008

This could easily be our last chance. Bolton lie one place below us and it’s our last game against a team near the bottom of the table. The journalists would call it ‘a real six pointer’ but have you ever worked out that it’s only really worth six points if the higher placed team wins ?

After the last game I bring back a newly fit Paolo Ferreira and drop Mark Schwazer, who’s been playing very strangely recently, in favour of compatriot Brad Jones.

We started nervously an took a long time to get into the game. By the time we got a shot in Jones had made one great and one fantastic save, Bolton had a goal chalked off for a dubious offside. But come back into the game we did and ended up creating and missing more chances than we let them have.

But we got to half time scoreless. We came out in the second half like tigers, but Jaaskelinen in the Bolton goal was outstanding. Save after save he made. Bolton broke out and scored on 72, and sadly we had no answer. A couple more unbelievable saves and we slumped to defeat.

Final Score: Middlesbrough 0-1 Bolton

League Position (19th April 2008): 17th - those heavy defeats don’t look so clever now, not that they ever really did. If Sunderland win their game in hand we drop into the relegation zone.

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