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These Weans Get Right on my Wick

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Wick. A rugged coastal outpost at the far North-East of Scotland. The river Wick runs through the town bringing boats and possibly a shiny new casino owned by an octogenarian billionaire powerplant owner. Just a short punt to the most north-easterly point of the mainland at John o' Groats Wick boats a glass manufacturer (who made the Mastermind trophy apparently), a distillery and the World's shortest street.

It also hosts a football club: Wick Academy.

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Wick Academy, a team plying their trade in the Scotland's Highland League, are a team with dreams of being the most Northerly club in the Scottish professional leagues and maybe even beyond. They also harbour dreams of developing a club that all of Caithness can be proud of and one that develops Scottish footballers for the future.

So how do they plan to do all this? What do the Scottish do when they need something? They look to London for support...

Enter me. A former Londoner; living in Glasgow; now manager of Wick Academy. The brief is simple. Make this club competitive and turn Harmsworth Park into a stadium mentioned in the same breath as the famous Scottish Stadiums of yore. Take the club to Hampden Park where our players will not only wear the natty black and white of our kit but the proud blue of the Tartan Army and do it without signing anyone. Youth prospects only.

I'm using Morrisey's excellent extended Scottish database with all leagues in it loaded and a large database. No other leagues loaded.

Let's take these kids to school...

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Looking forward to this! Good luck... :thup:

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Wick Academy Youth Only Challenge



Pre-Pre-season 2015

So I arrive at Harmsworth Park with a fair looking squad for this level and a couple of prospects in the U20s.

My two greatest prospects are Defensive Midfielder Kieran Forbes and Fullback Jordan Evans. It will be these two who form the backbone of the first twelve years of my glorious 1000 year Reich or whatever the Scottish equivalent of that is.

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I'm happy with my Assistant Manager for now but with the focus on youth I bring in a new HOYD as well a manager and coach for the U20s side. The squad isn't big enough for these guys to be really important yet but as the youth intakes begin I envision them becoming more and more important. Obviously I surround myself with good Scottish men who can back me up when the players start having a go at me for being a flash cockney git. I also get in an average physio and a scout to scout the next opponents. As it is even though the physio and scouts are pretty rubbish we have the best in the league which tells you the level we're working at here. We're also the best in fitness, mental and technical coaching which is nice and that's down to my awesome fitness coaching abilities. I once convinced a former girlfriend to run really fast when I brandished an axe at her and I hear that she did the London Marathon last year so thought it was fair to make myself a decent fitness coach to fit in with my real life experiences.

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As far as the team is concerned we're younger than average, smaller than average and lighter than average which sounds ideal for a team looking to ply it's trade in the fifth tier of Scottish football. I'm pretty certain that the pitch and conditions at Harmsworth Park will be ideal for some kind of Barcelonaesque style football and I've already put in a request to the council to rename the PE department at Wick High School La Masia.

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During pre-season I am initially looking to play a wonky looking 4-3-2-1 but with a lot of central midfielders a narrow diamond is also being trained due the paucity of wide players and the many decent central midfielders I have.

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So with all that said and done there is nothing else to do except head to pre-season. We have 4 away games against local teams before inviting the might of Aberdeen and St Johnstone to Harmsworth Park for a good kicking so lay of the munchie boxes kids. The hard work starts here.

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Wick Academy Pre-Season July 2015

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A six game pre-season to get us going and a trip to Portgordon was well worth it with the Wick first XI looking pretty decent in a 5-1 smashing of the Vics. The Wick second XI consisting mostly of kids and some guy who was loitering outside the training ground fared less well against the mightier Elgin suffering a 4-1 mauling. A sensible manager may have swapped the squads around but if the kids don't learn the humiliation of crushing defeat early then they aren't right for Wick. Next up was a trip to John o'Groats. They went 1-0 in the first minute but we equalised quickly. The game then went into a holding pattern so I hot-footed it to the funky signpost and got my picture taken. I didn't end up missing much as it took until the 73rd minute for us to take the lead but once we did John o'Groats wilted like a Scotland team in Georgia and we ran out comfortable winners. Our final away match was at Thurso where I went out my way to play a possession based game and we did everything I wanted by scoring in the first half and keeping the ball for 63% of the time.

The home matches came next but Aberdeen and St Johnstone decided they would rather be humiliated in Europe than play me so I had to reschedule with Middlesbrough and Lossiemouth. Practicing with the ball in the previous match was a good idea as we saw little of it against 'Boro. Aitor Karanka's boys did not take it easy and thumped us 4-0 although James Pickles did put the nut on Diego Fabbrini in the third minute forcing him off injured. Which was nice. The final game against Lossiemouth was scheduled for 6am in the morning. The plan to catch Lossiemouth quite literally sleeping didn't work as we played out a plodding 0-0 draw to give us a pre-season record of won 3, lost 2 and drawn 1. Fairly underwhelming and the defense looks particularly susceptible to collapse especially against any team that can actually, y'know, play football but I don't think we'll find many teams doing that in the Highland league so we might be okay.

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So onto the season then. The expectations are that we don't finish dead last, get through one round of the Scottish cup and don't upset, assault anyone or accrue any fines while playing in the Highland and Aberdeenshire cups. Low expectations but ones that I'm very happy with. With no relegation there are no actual consequences of finishing dead last except for being the only English manager in a league full of Highland Scots with points to prove. If that happens I won't be going to the end of season dinner.

One issue we do have is that every left midfielder at the club decided to get injured in one of those special FM injury crises that you get.

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That's two good left-midfielders and the youngster who was looking promising pre-season and rated as a high potential player. My only option now is a 16 year old who has an individual personality, is laid back and oozes calmness. I don't know whether it says more about him or my Assistant Manager that it is listed as a con on his report...

We've got six games in the first month and a bit

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We start with an away trip to Turriff before welcoming Huntly to Harmsworth Park and then going to Buckie Thistle. We then play an as yet unknown club in the cup before facing two possible title contenders in Cove and Fraserburgh. It's a busy start and one that will show us whether we have a chance of competing or whether I'll be sent back south of the border in disgrace.

Not much else to report so far except Aberdeen lost 3-0 to Kobenhavn (that'll teach them to cancel on us), St Johnstone drew 1-1 with Thun but most importantly of all. The biggest story of pre-season?

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We've got a long way to go before we can compete with news like that.

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Cheers for the support guys. Hopefully the database holds, it stays interesting and I don't get fired and sent back to England in disgrace...

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July/August 2015 Update

So the season kicked off with five league games and the quarter-final of the Aberdeenshire cup. I've not even been on Wick for that long and I've already taken the club to a quarter-final. If I can do that in the space of six weeks who knows what I'll achieve in a whole season...

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The cup match was against Banks o Dee who I'm assuming are a football club based on the banks of the river Dee. It didn't matter where they were based as they were coming to us and we dispatched them in fairly unspectacular fashion. They had beaten Aberdeen Uni 7-2 in the previous round to get to us and they put up a decent fight but Big Gaz Weir's goal was enough to set up a semi-final against Forres next month.

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The league was a bit of a mixed bag. The first game was a topsy turvy affair at Turriff with the hosts going ahead twice. We managed to peg them back and showed some good resilience but the defence did look a little bit shaky. Next up was a home game against Huntly who look like being this season's whipping boys. It was a match we dominated with over 60% of possession and a lot of good chances. Even better was...

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So the locals of Wick were encouraged to see us and we turned in a performance of Barcaesque proportions.

The game at Buckie was an extremely frustrating 0-0 draw especially as Buckie were down to 10 men after just six minutes. It didn't matter though as they kept organised and tight and shut us out.

Cove were the vistors to Harmsworth Park on Matchday 4 and had started the season very well so to beat them 1-0 was a great result. We looked pretty solid and resolute in this one and with three clean sheets in a row (including the cup game) I was beginning to think we had a good solid defence to build a decent challenge on. Then we went to Fraserburgh. We'd started well and they'd started poorly. Surely a chance to keep our good run going? Nope. A 4-0 humping. We conceded two quick goals and went to absolute pieces with us showing as much resilience as a 19th century damsel in distress with consumption being threatened by a moustache twirling villain. Rockets were fired in the dressing room afterwards.

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All things considered though it's not been a bad month. Big Gaz Weir seems to be my main hope for goals and the Farquahr/Pickles Axis (an excellent name for a band) in central-midfield look pretty solid. Worries on the wings with Ross Allan playing well below his ability so far and our 'individual' 16 year old starting well before playing like a drain by the Fraserburgh. Luckily our injured left-sided players are on there way back although I have lost Pickles to injury as well as my first choice goalkeeper. The loss of Pickles may gave promising youngster Kieran Forbes a chance to stake a claim for a starting berth and I'll want him in the team ASAP especially as those cheeky table-proppers Huntly have offered him a contract. I don't know what I'll do if he leaves but it won't be pretty...

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September sees a Wednesday night throwdown with Fort William before three successive away games including the trip to table-topping Forres in the Aberdeenshire Cup Semi-Final. We also begin our Scottish Cup campaign against someone, somewhere at the end of the month.

The biggest news of August though?

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We sent him a card. I doubt he knows who we are...

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September 2015 Update

Into September which saw five games. Three league games and two cup games one of which was a semi-final. Could I be about to steer Wick Academy into our first final within two months of taking the job?

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In short. No. It was one of those annoying cup games where you play a bunch of reserves and they play really well making you care about a game you didn't care about before losing it with the last kick of the game. On the plus side at least we didn't go to extra-time which was a bonus given how four games were crammed into just two weeks in September while large swathes of the month were left empty. Two youngsters netted the goals, Darren Hendry's being the notable one given that the promising left-winger had returned from injury leaving 'individual' left-winger Ross Little to take his unconventional beliefs back to the U20s. Forres are a good side though so I was pleased that a weakened team was able to match them for the majority of the match.

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Onto the league where we picked up two wins and a defeat. We dominated the Fort William game at home, notable for my promising young fullback Jordan Evans netting one of those amazing cross/fluke goals that only a fullback can, but conceded late to make it a little more hairy than I'd like.

The game at Inverurie was a frustrating one with Big Gaz Weir continuing to do a passable impression of an Emile Heskey statue with no legs (and slightly less technique and maneuverability) up front and the team not getting hold of midfield properly. I put my arm around Gaz after the game and told him I needed him to get back to form and boy did he in the last league match of the month away at struggling Strathspey nailing a hattrick against defenders even more lumpen than he is. A good end to the month in the league and the perfect set up for our Scottish Cup 1st round match...

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We were given Gretna of the Lowland League at home when they eventually bothered their arse to do the draw which wasn't until the Monday before. It's okay guys it's not like teams have to travel the length and breadth of the country at the drop of a ball at all. Anyways it was Gretna who had to do the travelling and I bet they wished they hadn't have bothered as we absolute battered them 5-1. Returning left-midfielder Steve Harrison had a stormer setting up two goals and scoring two goals but strangely it wasn't enough to claim the MOM award which went to Farquhar for his paltry (although admittedly well taken) brace. Rumours his Dad was seen giving the Chairman twenty quid just before the announcement have yet to be corroborated. Gretna were 11th in the Lowland league and for us to so comprehensively take them apart with 70% possession as well was a perfect end to the month. So where does that leave us?

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Well ultimately I've pretty much achieved the board's expectations by the end of September. We're in the second round of the Scottish cup and we're clearly competitive in the league. They should just stick a statue of me up outside the stadium now but hey, why stop here? We're steady in seventh and I think we've proved with our beating of the poorer teams in this league that we're not out of our depth. Honestly I expect us to be mid-table and I'm aiming for a top ten finish but it's early days yet.

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Six games in October with five league fixtures and a trip to fellow Highland Leaguers Rothes in the second round of the cup. The game on Halloween against current League leaders Clachnacuddin looks like being the toughest assignment we'll have.

And the biggest news of the month?

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I'm assuming 'Scoops for September' is some kind of Highland charity. Like Movember but instead of growing a crap moustache you pick up dog poo. Or something. Anyways well done to Richard Brittain for his work and I've donated fifty pence.

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October 2015 Update

October asked of us a six game run that would see us visit the league leaders and go to Highland League rivals Rothes in the Scottish Cup. How did we get on? Well...

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We started the month at home to Lossiemouth who played us in that memorable 6am friendly back in pre-season. Similar kind of game except this time we got an early go so the game playing out in a dull fashion suited us down to the ground with our Alan Farquhar nailing a beautiful go from just outside the area to continue his good form from the cup game. Next up was Keith who is neither one person or a whole team of people called Keith much to my disappointment. Even more disappointing was the 0-0 draw. We tried to break them down but couldn't.

The away fixture at Deveronvale came next and we were very good value for our 2-1 win controlling the game and deserving the three points. What turned out to be the final league fixture of the month saw us back at home against midtable Formantine United. I took a bit of a risk by resting players ahead of the Scottish Cup match and we paid the price by losing 3-1 although we weren't outclassed. We could've gone second with a win so prioritising the cup could've been seen as a bit of a mistake. I had put all my eggs in the Rothes basked. I wanted a third round tie. Would I get one?

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Abso-blinking-lutely I did. We hammered Rothes and earned a third round tie against League Two Annan Athletic at the end of next month. It'll be a real test of where this side is...

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So we're fourth right now and six points off of table-topping Clachnacuddin who we play away in our next game. The game was meant at the end of this month but a cup replay saw us bumped to midweek. We're definitely a team on the up though and one that could possibly mount a challenge. It's been a very decent start to life in Wick anyway.

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Some very big games coming up in November then with that aforementioned trip to Clachnacuddin first up followed by another game against Rothes at home. After that we've three games against teams in and around us which could have a big bearing on what type of season we could end up having before rounding off the month with the big cup tie against Annan.

The big news?

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October is claimed everybody. It's his now. To be honest: he is welcome to it.

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November 2015 Update

The games keep on rolling and the season is well and truly taking shape. How did we get on?

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A mixed bag of a month. We started with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to the league leaders. We'd gone there and frustrated them and were marginally the better side but then Ross Allan played a ridiculous crossfield ball to no-one in particular and before I knew it Clachnacuddin had the ball in the back of our net. 65+ minutes o defensive discipline undone in an instant. The coach left with Allan. He walked home. Suddenly we'd suffered two defeats and that's a dangerous time when dealing with the morale of ill-disciplined Scotsmen. Luckily Rothes were the next visitors to Harmsworth Park and were utterly outclassed in a completely different way to the cup match at their place. Away from home we hit them hard and fast on the counter, here we kept the ball and passed them to death. Very pleasing was the two goals for 17yo left-winger Darren Hendry and his all round performance. When my left midfielders aren't on the treatment table I've actually got some decent ones.

The next three league games were against sides just below us in a table. All three were separated by only 3 points but with our eyes on the Annan encounter and the carrot of a big juicy fourth round tie these games could very easily go against us. As it was we got through them unbeaten with us winning the away game in classic counter-attacking style before drawing the two home games. I was pretty pleased to get through them unscathed and glad to see James Pickles coming back to form after a layoff. The big disappointment though was an injury to Farquhar who will be out for a while. His dynamic box-to-box play will be missed but Jimmy Pickles equalising goal against Turriff suggested he may be able to fill the void left by Farq's injury.

I'd decided to rest players for the Turriff game, risking league position for cup glory again, as I'd suddenly felt that Annan Athletic were there for the taking? Why, I hear you ask? Well, at the beginning of the month Inverurie Locos sacked their manager after a poor start to the season. Imagine my surprise when 3rd place in League Two Annan Athletic's Manager was posted as bookies favourite for the gig. There was no chance I thought (a thought reinforced by the fact that Clachnacuddin's manager was also linked to the job at 100-1), but then a few days before the tie...

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He only bloody went and took the job. A side in the bottom half of the Highland League. He'd moved from seeing his team play at Hampden bloody Park (granted only in front of 450 odd against Queen's Park) to taking over a side struggling in non-league. Nutter.

Anyways, furnished with this news a small chance to get an upset at home suddenly became a little bit bigger. Could we make it count?

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An even first half against our League Two opponents saw us grow in confidence. We weren't being outclassed and we were playing well. Maybe not as expansively was we normally would but we were keeping the ball well. Unfortunately for us Big Gaz Weir was playing more lumpenly than usual and missed several chances and I was beginning to think that we were going to let it slip before, in the 54th minute Wee Jimmy Pickles picked up the ball outside of the box, worked his way into the area and slammed the ball in. We were in front. Suddenly Annan woke up and when I had to take off first choice CB Grant Steven due to him being knackered and put in our 17 year old reserve I feared the worse but we held out and claimed a famous win. Into the fourth round and the chance of a glamour tie against one of the big boys in the SPL. Best moment of my Wick career so far.

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Despite prioritising the cup we're still in and around the top teams only 8 points adrift of Cove who have gone on a 12 game unbeaten run and pre-season favourites Brora who appear to have finally woken up. We might have an outside sniff at promotion but the carrot of a fourth round tie away to Partick Thistle (which is what we were rewarded with for beating Annan) may prove to be too much of a distraction.

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Just the four games in December and again we start the month against a side at the top of the league. Brora are our fierce rivals so this one will be extra spicy, so much so they might even give me a press conference. Maybe. We then face bottom of the table Huntly (whose manager was third in the Manager of the Month somehow) and Buckie Thistle before another big clash away at Cove on Boxing Day. If we're going to be in a title race then we need an unbeaten month as an absolute minimum.

The big news?

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Yeah, I'm not half bad for an Englishman eh lads?

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Interesting place to start. Good luck.

Cheers Nobby. Start and end. I'm in for the long haul. *gets fired in March*

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Good luck with Wick - just watch you don't burn the candle at both ends ;)

Thanks. The only person I'll burn is that useless lump Weir if he doesnae get back tae form.

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Good read this! Highland league is my local league - always nice to see a thread on a team from it. :) As an interesting side note, I currently live a stones throw away from the Banks O'Dee stadium, was surprised to see them cropping up here :D

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Looking forward to following this. I live in Wick and actually played for the club for 6 years lol.

Ha ha. Really? Unfortunately there are no icons or legends so I can't name an end after you. You are quite welcome to the end of season party though (especially if you can secure me a cheap venue)

Not too bad a start.

Steady away. Can't complain

Good read this! Highland league is my local league - always nice to see a thread on a team from it. :) As an interesting side note, I currently live a stones throw away from the Banks O'Dee stadium, was surprised to see them cropping up here :D

Living in Glasgow as I am now I was thinking about doing a Lowland League team but there is something slightly more romantic about a side like Wick. Also the Lowland League has relegation...

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December 2015 Update

Fresh from our Cup exploits against Annan we entered the festive month in high spirits and we would certainly need them in the coming games. Four fixtures including games against the top two. By the end of the month we would find out whether we were genuine title contenders or just pretenders to the throne…

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Pretenders we are then. Not an awful month but one that pretty much puts paid to any thoughts of promotion or title challenging. We started at home to our most hated rivals of Brora. No-one could really tell me why we hate them. I asked a bloke in the pub near the ground and he muttered something about coming darkness and eternal damnation long ago but I’m not certain that’s the reason why. In fact I’m not even certain he’s a fan of the club. Anyway it was a big game, so big that Eurosport sent their top man Tomas Svodoba to cover it. For the first time since the beginning of my reign where I spoke to a guy who said he was a journalist for a local newspaper I’ve never even seen I had to have a press conference. The pre-match talk was all about how bloody wonderful Brora were and how they were known for their scintillating possession football. I didn’t have the option to upturn a table and smack Tomas in the mouth in rage which was a shame as, if he’d had bothered checking the stats, the team with the best levels of possession this season was us. Anyroad I didn’t say anything too incendiary, in fact I was quite complimentary (the Ranieri approach), and we went on to the match. Well, I was actually five minutes late out because before the game Tomas decided to ask me about sixty questions in the tunnel about signing my goalkeeper up for next year and my reserve striker. Eventually when I got out I’d realised I’d missed the opener with poor Adam Porritt playing a lovely little sidefoot past his own keeper. We held firm for the next half an hour but Brora equalised from a bit of head tennis in the box. The second half was a quiet affair with little of note happening and before we knew it we’d taken a point from the team at the top (albeit at home). The postmatch press conference was spent suddenly talking about our side’s sexy possession football (we’d outdone them in this match too) and the Brora manager was almost complimentary in his. Tomas Svodoba left Wick an enlightened man while we headed to bottom of the table Huntly, but before that happened:

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Clearly the favourable Eurosport write up impressed the board enough to offer the Hero of Annan (as I now call myself) a contract extension. No real interesting clauses though but it does mean I’m probably bulletproof if we absolute tank in the New Year. Anyway. What about Huntly? Poor Huntly. It was a pretty simple game really, most notable for Big Gaz Weir getting back on the scoresheet. He’d been awful against Brora and I’d told him so after the game so he responded in typical Big Gaz style with a goal in the third minute. It was looking a little bit dodgy for spells in the second half but our young right-winger Charlseworth sealed the deal in the 83rd minute and we took home all three points. This game saw a slight change in formation due to Wee Jimmy Pickles being injured in the previous game. He’s out for a few months and with Farquhar only just coming back from injury it meant Kieran Forbes came into the side as a defensive midfielder.

With two huge games bookending December three points was vital against Buckie Thistle but we couldn’t do it. They looked good against us and scored in the 14th minute before leftback Danny Mackay getting his first goal equalised. Unfortunately we couldn’t break them down again and we could only take a point. If we had any title ambitions left we needed a win at Cove.

We didn’t get a win at Cove. First half was even but as the second half started it seemed that we were far too worried about what was in the funny tasting orange juice we’d been given at half time because almost straight from the kick-off Cove scored. We couldn’t really get back into it especially with Big Gaz having one of us ‘deft touch of a clumsy elephant’ days. Even worse was an injury suffered by Goalkeeper Sean McCarthy in the 88th minute. With all subs made poor Kieran Forbes had to play in goal for the last few minutes and it wasn’t good news after the match.

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Arse.

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So where does that leave us? 11 points adrift of Brora and 10 behind Cove. It looks like the title race is going to be between those two while our season will now be defined by whether we join the chasing pack above or the chasing pack below. Losing McCarthy for two months is a big blow although the 17 year old understudy Eric Campbell is rated as having good potential and he has played four games this season. With only one other raw seventeen year old in the squad we best hope they both stay fit.

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Double arse. At least it was the reserve reserve rather than the reserve, but we have now just one goalkeeper in the entire squad.

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Anyways, we can’t think about that now because we have January in our sights and the big game against Partick Thistle is looming. It will be the biggest game of my short time here and given that I think the league has gone I will be making sure we’re more than ready for our trip to Firhill. Either side of our cup clash we have a revenge job against Fraserburgh who smashed us 4-0 earlier in the season and a trip to currently no win in 14 Fort William followed by home games against Inverurie (with newly installed former Annan boss in charge) and then Strathspey.

Still with all my goalkeeping woes it could be worse…

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How does he cope with all that horrible pressure what with being seventh in the Premiership eh? Poor lamb.

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Ha ha. Really? Unfortunately there are no icons or legends so I can't name an end after you. You are quite welcome to the end of season party though (especially if you can secure me a cheap venue)

There are plenty of cheap venues lol. Funny thing is I was in the game about 2003 although they spelt my name wrong. Brora and Thurso are Wicks fierce rivals although it's not in the game. Good luck.

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Thanks guys. January coming this evening. It's been a wacky one and we haven't even been to Partick yet...

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January 2016 Update

January. The month where the limitations of this Wick squad were laid bare for all to see. That's not to say that we had a terrible month and maybe my expectations have been raised by early season form but there are limitations and there are areas of weakness and if I was a good manager I'd be scouting and preparing signings to strengthen for next year. I'm not a good manager though, I'm an idiot so as it is I wait for the youth intake and pray to the Gods that I get someone, anyone decent enough to fill the gaps. Enough of that for now. First, to important business.

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The cup dream is over. Partick were far too good for us although we weren't properly outclassed which is to our credit. I thought we had about a 20% chance with a fully fit first team but the injuries we'd suffered in the lead up to the game (more on that shortly) took that well down to below 10% and we were duly beaten. Still it's been a very good cup run and one we can be rightly proud of and maybe some of our younger players will come back to Firhill with this team down the line in the league. And maybe I'll grow a beard that isn't stupid and ginger and matches my hair colour.

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Onwards to the league then and what a ridiculous month it was. Young goalkeeper Eric Campbell was suddenly thrust into the first team due to injuries elsewhere and what a baptism of fire he had conceding an eye-watering 12 goals in five competitive games. In comparison Sean McCarthy (before his injury) was the proud owner of the most clean sheets in the league. Still, it certainly wasn't a boring month.

We started against Fraserburgh who had twatted us 4-0 earlier in the season. Revenge was the name of the game and we went in 2-0 at half time with classy goals from Ross Allan and Sam Mackay who has really grown into the midfield box-to-box role following the injuries to Farquhar and Pickles. The second half went crazy with Allan claiming his hattrick with a deft finish and a penalty and Big Gaz getting on the scoresheet. He was actually injured when he scored and I was about to take him off. I held off and let the highlight play out and he scored despite his strained leg which proves (as if it needed proving) that mobility and movement are not vital parts of Gaz's arsenal. He came off just after though and at 5-1 I was feeling quite smug but Fraserburgh got two back in the last ten minutes to slightly sour my mood. The central defenders are my lowest rated players this season and Campbell looked a bit dodgy in goal too. Still it was three points in the bag and we certainly put that 4-0 defeat earlier on in the season to bed.

Next was a trip to Fort William just three days before the cup game. Annoyingly Big Gaz's injury was going to keep him out till the end of the month which was a big blow because, despite his lack of technique, movement, control, any form a striking prowess or finesse he's still the best damn striker we have. David Allan who hadn't scored a goal till last month came into the squad and I made big changes to the team to preserve my squad for the game against Partick. Big mistake. Fort William bossed us and went in at half-time 3-0 up. We were awful so I went for the nuclear teamtalk option, aggressive and everything. We played better in the second half and David Allen got a goal back but then Ross Allan suffered an injury and he had to come off (missing the next few games). As the game ticked on I decided to just throw caution to the wind. I went three at the back and two up top and suddenly, SUDDENLY, in the 88th minute something happened. The pressure we were having paid off and Richard Macadie on from the bench stuck one away. We couldn't grab a draw could we? Well, Fort William aren't down the bottom for nothing. Even though there was only three minutes of injury time they lost it. We attacked again and David Allan found himself space in the box. He slotted the ball home and we had our equaliser. 89th minute. Then it was question of seeing the game out with the point or to keep attacking. We kept attacking. 92nd minute; clock ticking down and we have a corner. The ball is floated into the area towards the near post. A young 17 year old defender named Brian Petrie is there, he loops the ball up and over the keeper and the travelling Wick fans go mad. We'd done it. We'd come back from 3 goals down and won the game and Brian Petrie would never have to buy a drink in Wick again (although he is allowed to be shot with a crossbow after midnight if he is spotted wandering the streets of Fort William, but them's the breaks).

After the cup game we welcomed Inverurie with their fresh from League Two manager. It was a frustrating game. They went ahead early and it looked like we weren't going to get anything from the match until Kieran Forbes grabbed his first goal for the club 11 minutes from time. He has impressed and steadily improved since coming into the team after the injuries to Farquhar and Pickles and there is no guarantee that either of them will come immediately back into the first team because of it.

Final game of the month was against Strathspey and had been moved to just three days after the Inverurie game because the schedulers of Highland League matches hate me because I'm English. Strathspey did us easily. We were crap and it was an annoying end to the month, so annoying I had to organise a friendly in the free weekend just so we could beat up on somebody which we did against Tain Thistle. Take that you lower league ********.

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So we end the month still in fifth but safely in the small group of teams between it and third. Cove and Brora have their own league and there is absolutely no way this team is catching them with only nine games to go. The best we can hope is that we beat Brora on the last day of the season and deny them the title. Away from that we've found our level I think. The team's limitations have been laid bare. Our central defence is pretty rubbish and inconsistent which I wouldn't mind if they were both seventeen but the two CBs are two of my best rated players in the squad and both in their twenties. The only other option I have is 17yo CB Petrie who I've tried to blood but without a real leader in that back line it makes it difficult. It's less of a problem when McCarthy is in goal but Campbell is not ready yet. He will be good, but it's far too early for him and McCarthy's return can't come soon enough. Outside of the defence the other area we need strength in is right wing and up front. Ross Allan was a huge miss after going off injured (despite Charlesworth's honest efforts as his replacement) and David Allan is an okay deputy up front but I don't think he could replace Big Gaz full time if he got a bad injury. With the squad as it is I see a top five finish as a very good effort and I'll be praying for some CBs and a striker in the youth intake.

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February brings some difficult midtable assignments in the league and a testing Highland Cup clash away to Turriff. It's going to be a tough month and one which may see me crack and fling one of my underperforming centre-backs under the 76 bus if my defensive woes continue. Five points and cup progression would be nice along with no more injuries although both Ross Allan and Big Gaz will be back for the start of the month.

Of course it could be worse...

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Goodwillie can sometimes mean bad times kids. An important lesson. But wait, that isn't the biggest story of the month...

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£500! What could we spend it on? I've got my eye on one of those ergonomic manager's chairs and maybe a roof for my dugout. Any other suggestions welcome.

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February 2016 Update

What a difference a month makes. Last month I was bemoaning my lot as Wick manager. The squad was too thin, the players too inconsistent and the future darker that any simile you care to pick. This month, however, things seem better. Granted we have nothing to play for now and we'll end the season with no silverware of any note but... well Spring is coming isn't it? Blossoms are appearing. It also helps that I won the last game I played before writing this...

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Let's start with the final cup competition of the season as we traveled to Turriff in the second round of the Highland Cup. Our games against Turriff this season have been close affairs and this one was no different. I wasn't chasing this cup so I rested quite a few key players but I was generally pleased with how the team held on. Campbell claimed his first clean sheet and Petrie at CB played well. Petrie has played a lot this month due to my impatience with my first choice pair and as such his potential has shot up to 4.5 stars now. Anywho we shut them out for 120 minutes and then lost the resultant shoot-out. The final pelanty was one for fans of magic or space-time anomalies as their goal keeper warped forward at a tremendous speed to save the shot on his six yard line. No complaints from me though as I wasn't really bothered and I never fancied her anyway.

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Moving on and we had a good month in the league. First up was Lossiemouth and we finally did catch them sleeping. Eventually. They actually caught us napping first and went 1-0 up early on, a classic Campbell flap at close range allowing them to score, however we rallied pretty quickly when I shouted obscenities at them from the touchline and went in 2-1 up at half-time due to goals from Macadie and CB Grant Steven. The second half was a nice stroll with Gary Manson and James Pickles both scoring after returns from injury. Manson has been out since pre-season so it was good to see him slot home.

Next was a trip to face Keith. Twice we went behind but twice we pegged them back with Macadie continuing his good form and Big Gaz getting on the scoresheet too. He had a stubbed toe and wanted to come off the bloody pansy but he stayed on and scored. THAT, Jose, is how you deal with primadonna players who are feigning injury. The last game of the month was a comfortable 1-0 win against Deveronvale. Ross Allan scored early and it was pretty simple from there. How was it so easy and how did we keep a clean sheet I hear you ask? Simple: Sean McCarthy was back from his injury.

That's not all that happened this month though.

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That's right. I was linked with my first job as the Blue Brazil sacked their manager. I quickly rubbished the rumours and accepted the gushing thanks that came my way from the board. I also told them I had my eye on the delicious bottle of single malt in the Chairman's office and weirdly I found it on my desk at the end of the day. But that wasn't even the most exciting thing that happened this month.

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Yes, that's right. It was new intake day. I assumed, having played a lot of saves in England that this wouldn't be happening until April, but as luck would have it the end of the month saw my first intake as Wick manager and who was I to argue. In England we wait until Spring to get the young'uns out and about but here in Scotland you make them face up to the bitter February cold and when it's given you such great players such as... erm... Christian Dailly used to be good right? I digress. The youth team played a decent U20s side that boasted quite a few players that had seen 1st team action this season and...

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They did alright actually. Dave Allan got injured for six weeks though, possibly by Robert Armstrong who at least has some potential as a striker compared to his peers in that side. The key players that have come through though are:

David Jackson: a CM/AMC. He's unfortunate as it's an area I'm quite well stocked in with Macadie as first choice at AMC with 17yo Nairn proving to be decent back-up (although his fitness does seem poor so that might be Jackson's in). In CM I have far too many quality players so he'll have to break in at AMC.

Declan Harris: He scored in the friendly against the U20s (Campbell letting a typical goal through himself) and is, like Jackson, competing in an area I am well stocked in with four players who can currently play at LM/LW. If he can train on the other side he'll have more chance of breaking into the first team

Chris Morrison: I prayed for a decent CB and I got one. I won't be using him as a fullback as I already have first and second choice players there and with only three 1st team level CBs in the squad he could well be in sooner rather than later.

Obviously though I signed them all up and will happily throw anyone in as the season progresses. I'll also be keeping an eye on Andrew Neil as a possible back-up goalkeeper of the future.

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So, with six games to go we sit comfortably in our little mini-league. Cove and Brora have taken their rivalry to a new level with neither team dropping points in February and they look set to duke it out till the bitter end for the title. As for us we should finish in the top five and a third place finish in the first season is a definite possibility especially now McCarthy is back in goal. Did I mention how happy I am about that? I took him out and bought him dinner after that clean sheet and then Whatsapped a pic to Campbell. Man management.

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March only has three games for us and they will go a long way to deciding where we finish in the table as we play our two closes rivals in Clachnacuddin and Formartine before a trip to Rothes to round out the month. The next update could be very grumpy indeed. Before we go though...

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You may notice that there is one candidate for the vacant Fort William job (I'm not surprised he lost the job. He couldn't even beat us when they were 3-0 up and we had Campbell in goal) that is fancied and the next ones are at 100-1. I wanted to put the £500 sponsorship money on Paul Lamberton but the Chairman wasn't having any of it. He was not swayed by the possibility of a £50,000 return and instead spent the money on a new TV for the bar (where he spends an inordinate amount of time). Looks like my ergonomic chair and sheltered dugout will have to wait.

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That's right. I was linked with my first job as the Blue Brazil sacked their manager..

This is a great read, I hope you stick with Wick and get them into the League at some point :)

Just a side note, Cowdenbeath are known as the Blue Brazil... easy to get the ridiculous Scottish names mixed up :D

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This is a great read, I hope you stick with Wick and get them into the League at some point :)

Just a side note, Cowdenbeath are known as the Blue Brazil... easy to get the ridiculous Scottish names mixed up :D

Is it? Really? I will be having a word with my St Mirren supporting friend who told me it was Stenny. Probably some kind of Scottish joke. The *******.

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March 2016 Update

Not long left in the season now and we continue on our merry way doing exactly what I (exasperatingly) expected...

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A decent month in some ways and a bloody annoying one in others. We took on out two closest rivals in the table starting at Clachnacuddin. We won 1-0 thanks to an early Harrison goal. We were classy, in control and resolute. What a difference a decent goalkeeper makes. It was the exact opposite of the game at their place earlier on in the season with the roles reversed.

Next was the trip to Formantine and we deserved the win here as well. We grew into the match and deserved the two goals we got from Allan and Macadie who has been in excellent form in the run-in. Two wins against our two closest clubs and a trip to a Rothes side we hadn't lost to this season. There was only ever going to be one winner wasn't there?

Hendry scored an early goal but Rothes played well and deserved their win. It was one of those days were too many of our players were off colour and we paid the price.

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Two youth players made their debuts this month with CB Morrison becoming our youngest ever player and leapfrogging Petrie onton the bench. Due to Dave Allan's injury Armstrong also got onto the bench and got onto the pitch too.

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I'd have taken five points from this month so to be upset about taking six seems a little bit churlish but when you lose a game you should win it's bloody annoying. Still, we sit in third and have a chance to be the best of the rest. At the top Cove have opened up a huge seven point league and will surely claim the title and the play-off spot now after Brora lost their last two games. Weirdly both sides lost their Highland cup semi-finals so all the pundits expecting to see a top two final instead have to sit through the fun of Formantine and Buckie Thistle. Bet they wish they hadn't got the early tickets now.

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Three games left and all against good sides in Buckie, Nairn and then our arch-nemesisises Brora. Unfortunately I reckon Brora will be well out of it by then so we won't even get the glory of denying them the title. Life is cruel.

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Oh yeah. The Rothes manager didn't get the Fort William gig. There was clearly a reason Noble was the 6-4 favourite for the role and it's a good job I didn't waste our sponsorship money on betting on the 100-1 outsider.

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April 2016 Update

And so, the end is near etc...

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We did what we needed to this month with two wins to secure third and then a battering at our rivals coz I didn't care coz I DON'T BLEED TARTAN ETC!

The game against Nairn saw us go down within the first minute and then the highlights whizz by. It seemed like one of those games you could never have a chance of winning so I went to the famed 3-1-2-2-2 formation of our Fort William comeback and struck it lucky again. Robert Armstrong became our youngest goalscorer with the equaliser and his first goal for the club then Ross Allan slotted home five minutes from time. Twas a sweet win especially as we played pretty dourly in the match. The second game saw us do to Forres what Nairn did to us. The only difference was that we could defend so when Big Gaz scored in the fifth minute we put in a classic away performance to lock them out and claim third place with a game to go.

With third place claimed we went to our bitteriest rivals Brora. Eurosport came back with more questions but this time I wasn't bothered and played a few of our youth intakes and a few reserve players. As such we got schooled by a side who were comfortably second and I didn't go back to Wick for a week. Even more annoyingly for our fans I backed the Brora manager before the game (he was under pressure) and said he was a nice bloke. There was lots of muttering at the end of season awards that I was 'an arrogant Englishman' and that I 'didnae get it'. I might stay another week on holiday...

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So we end in third place. Not a bad start to life in Wick (assuming I'm allowed to forget the 3-0 humping by Brora). We've had some good times and we've had some bad times but mostly good ones this season. Third place and the fourth round of the big cup. I'd have taken that at the beginning of the season...

And the big news?

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The blue touch paper has been well and truly lit. Cuba are coming...

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Wick Academy 2015/2016 Season Review

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Well then. What a first season that was.

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A third place finish and the fourth round of the Scottish cup are high bars indeed to set. I'd agree with the worst result of the season but I'm not sure I agree that the Lossiemouth performance was our best of the season. Surely the Annan win would rank up there, but whatever...

Highland League Review

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Cove were worthy Champions in the end winning the title by 7 points. They and Brora were miles ahead of us and it may take a few seasons for my young dogs of Wick to bridge the gap. We did beat Cove at home though early on in the season and have shown the ability to go toe to toe with the big boys when we have a fully fit and firing team. I'd say third was about right for us in the end.

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As you can see the top three mostly dominate the stats and we came top in a few pleasing ones.

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Most shots on target says that we're getting into good positions and getting good opportunities.

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Highest possession stat is pleasing too especially as we look to cede possession away from home and hit on the break. Cove not even in the top eight there though.

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I don't even have any specific 'hack at all costs' tactics so I was a bit surprised to come top here (and well top too) especially as earlier in the season I was asked about our lack of 'get into 'em' in a press conference. Still, we're a team from the Scottish Highlands so we should come top of this. A side the takes care of the ball but isn't afraid to hack yer leg off is the kind of team I like.

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Unsurprisingly the top three dominate the player stats too and I was pleasantly surprised by our two entrants

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Richard Macadie had a slow start to the season but played the most key passes in the league. What more can you want from your Shadow Striker. Apart from goals. Yeah, goals.

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McCarthy conceded the least goals in the league. There is an argument that missing six weeks helped him to do it but it just underlines how important he was and how much of a blow it was when we lost him.

Squad Review

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All the players we used this season are above for your perusal (aside from our weirdo left-winger who didn't come in for the photo op). No surprise that my two CBs top the appearance charts for us this season with a lack of any alternatives proving to be the biggest hole in the squad. I have to hope for more from youngsters Petrie and Morrison next season. Elsewhere you can see the strength I have in central midfield which I imagine may cause some whinging next season while up front David Allan's already whinging about how much football he didn't have this season. I more than tempted to keep hold of Armstrong from our intake and boot Dave out and I've already told him he can go on loan.

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Nothing much to disagree with as far as the fans picks are concerned. Mackay was clearly our player of the year with Forbes and Big Gaz playing key roles while Farquhar's goal against Gretna was a pretty special one. The team of the year has stuck itself to my B formation so Forbes as a DM doesn't get in to it. I'd probably stick Harrison out left and put Forbes in as DM but other than that there is nothing to take issue with.

Key Players

Sean McCarthy (GK): Most clean-sheets in the league before he got injured, least goals conceded in the league before he got injured and when his protege Eric Campbell stepped in he conceded half the goals in about a third of the games. A real rock in my defence especially as the two CBs are bobbins and at 22 I'm looking for him to keep getting better.

Kieran Forbes (DM): Earmarked pre-season as youngster with potential he had to wait his turn for a go in midfield but when he got his chance following injuries to Farquhar and Pickles he took it. To average 7 in your debut season is pretty good going. I'm very excited by his potential.

Sam Mackay (CM): Wasn't even first choice at the beginning of the season but by the end of it he was captain, leader, legend and player of the season. Archetypal box-to-box midfielder who runs the show like a Keane or Vieira if either of those two was a hulking Scotsman who doesnae like losing. Will be a key player next season and it's to his credit that he (along with Forbes) are keeping Pickles and Farquhar to the bench.

Richard Macadie (AM): Playing as a shadow striker Macadie had a slow start to the season but once he got into the groove he supplied both opportunities and goals. At 29 he is an elder statesman in this team and I'm hoping I can squeeze a few more years out of him playing at the level he has in order to allow Nairn to develop.

Big Gaz Weir (ST): Ah Big Gaz. I give him stick because his first touch is shocking, he doesn't really run very fast and his heading is a bit rubbish but he scores goals and with 13 this season he has more than chipped in. He'll lead the line again next year because there is no-one else unless we play one of those fancy strikerless formations and I'm already pretty much the only manager who doesn't play 4-4-2. Don't think the locals would take too kindly to it so Big Gaz (at 5' 9") lives to frustrate another day. Excelsior to you Mr Weir.



Club News

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No-one in and no-one out. The Chairman asked me the other day if I was going to sign anyone to let him use a new rubber stamp he had bought. I mumbled something and walked away...

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Wooo. Take that taxman. Maybe we'll get a rebate and I can finally get my chair and dugout roof.

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Or maybe not. How can you arrange a year long sponsorship deal at £500 just a couple of months ago and then arrange another one for LESS money. I knew he'd end up using that stupid rubber stamp for something. *sighs*

In Conclusion

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Overachievers then. But with great overachieving comes great expectations just ask my spirit manager Brendan Rodgers. I'm already stuffing Big Gaz's name into one of my three envelopes and have commissioned two giant portraits of me. One for the clubhouse and one for my house. Weirdly my players didn't go on holiday so I have no idea how that will affect things next season. Knowing my luck it'll probably be gamebreaking but we'll carry on because we're Wick Academy and that's what we do. Join us won't you?

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Around Scotland

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East Kilbride won the Lowland League by three points meaning they were the team earmarked to take on Cove in the promotion play-off. Surely the side that marched to the title in the Highlands would have enough to overcome the Lowland League Champions.

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Er... maybe not. That means Cove stay in the division and make our lives a little bit tougher for next year. Arse. Still I bet East Stirlingshire were running their hands together with glee at the prospect of not having to play Cove...

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Darn right they were. No-one promoted from non-league this year then and the status quo remains which is the entire definition of the word.

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In League Two East Fife do enough to take MacDuff's mind of his murdered wife and children with a title win and promotion to League One. Hampden moves a step further away from us as Queen's Park win the playoff while Annan (who we beat in the cup, did I mention that) finish solidly midtable. East Stirlingshire's victory against East Kilbride means they live to suck another day.

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League One saw Dunfermline absolutely smash everyone in sight losing just one game all season and get promoted into the Championship while at the other end of the table Albion and not the Blue Brazil Stenhousemuir drop through the trap door. I'd have kept Stenny up obviously.

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Oh Rangers. For the second season in succession Rangers blow their chance to return to the top flight with St Mirren claiming the title and Hibs getting up through the playoffs. The schadenfreude emanating from the East End of Glasgow is visible from Ibrox. At the bottom Morton drop into League One due to being ****.

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Celtic win the league to increase their lolz at their rival's expense although they did lose three games to Dunfermline's one which make The Pars the best team in Scotland according to a particularly angry man I bumped into in Govan. Aberdeen and St Johnstone make the top three to qualify as makeweights against some Scandinavian sides looking to advance in Europe next season while Inverness make it a bad day for the Highlands by dropping to the second tier. Our cup conquerors Partick Thistle also drop into the Championship to vie for the position of Celtic's most favourite team next season.

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Hibs win the Scottish cup to double the party in Edinburgh and we are declared as the cup overachievers which is nice.

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Youth Prospect Update Summer 2016

11 tagged youth prospects who have been involved last season or I expect to be involved this coming season. Nine are from the start of last season and so far two have been tagged from my February intake.

2015 Intake

Brian Petrie (YP 0.1): Involved a bit towards the end of last season playing 13 games overall and averaging 6.7 which isn't too bad. With CB being the shakiest part of the team his progress will be very important. Highlight was scoring the winning goal in the last minute 4-3 victory over Fort William. Could well be a regular by the end of the year.

Jordan Evans (YP 0.2): Made 16 appearances last season in the league with 10 starts. Made quite a few sub appearances in cup and league mostly at LB as the 1st choice can be quite inconsistent. Preferred as a RB but if he is going to break into the 1st team properly this year LB is more likely.

Kieran Forbes (YP 0.3): Broke into the 1st team and nailed down a place by the end of last season starting 21 games and making 8 sub appearances. Young player of the year at the club and will be a key figure again this year.

Kevin Shearer (YP 0.4): 3 starts in the league and 3 starts in the cup with a few sub appearances thrown in. Never let himself down and is a little unlucky in that he plays in an area we are well stacked in whether that's either LM or CM. May go out on loan as he is rated to develop well.

Craig Charlesworth (YP 0.5): Not especially rated but he is lucky enough to play in a position where we lack anyone other than Ross Allan. Only made 3 starts in the league but came off the bench 16 times. Scored just the one goal but he has looked sharp in pre-season and will continue to get opportunities.

Darren Hendry (YP 0.6): Started 16 league games last season and is a direct rival to Harrison for the LM starting berth. Scored three goals and got six assists which is a decent return for his first year. Could well be a key player moving forward.

Ross Nairn (YP 0.7): Only 3 starts with 2 of them coming in the cup. Suffers a lot with fitness issues which may hamper him but if Macadie gets injured he will get his chance. Will start on the bench this year.

Jamie Hendry (YP 0.8): Just the 2 games for him last year with 1 in the league and 1 in the cup. Suffers with fitness as Nairn does and also suffers from being behind Jordan Evans in the pecking order. May go out on loan and will be unlikely to get a go unless there is an injury crisis.

Eric Campbell (YP 0.9): Played 9 more games in the league than I wanted him to when McCarthy got injured and conceded 17 goals keeping just the one clean sheet. Very raw but rated. He will get cup games and will obviously be called upon again if (heaven forfend) Sean McCarthy gets injured but McCarthy won't get injured. HE WON'T!

Ross Little (YP Weirdo): Ah yes. Ross Little, the boy who is a bit to individual for other people's tastes. Played the first 5 games of the season when the injury crisis hit and scored a goal. After that went back to the U20s and was rumoured to be near a bonfire that got out of hand outside the clubhouse on Burns Night.

2016 Intake

Chris Morrison (YP 1.1): Made 1 start after his arrival in February and 4 sub appearances. Is behind Petrie at the moment but will get cup games to prove that he should be first choice cover. Could well make his way into the team by the end of the season.

Robert Armstrong (YP 1.2): Made just the 1 start and 3 sub appearances but did score a goal in that short time. Has moved to second choice striker behind Gaz Weir and is above Dave Allan in the pecking order. Has scored some goals in pre-season and could well play a big role as the season progresses.

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Wick Academy 2016 Pre-Season

So weirdly my players decided not to go on holiday after the season ended. They just hung around milling about outside the training ground until I shooed them off. They still didn't go away though so I just cancelled all training for a month and had a nice wee holiday myself. I came back at the end June to see the squad all just sat on the kerb outside Harmsworth Park so I gave up, welcomed them in with open arms and began pre-season.

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Nine friendlies to kick us off and build up our sharpness. I started with the big boys at home to avoid Aberdeen cancelling on me again and invited both Dundee clubs up north as well. The games went pretty much as expected although I was pleased with the fact that the boys won the 2nd half against Dundee United 2-0 (granted after being 5-0 down, but you can't win them all). Some good goals from Big Gaz against decent teams was heartening to see.

Elgin City returned the visit we gave them last pre-season and we came away with a 0-0 draw before hitting the road against Queen of the South and last season's Championship winners St Mirren. The QOS result was disappointing but I was very pleased by our goal against St Mirren especially as it came courtesy of the boot of Robbie Armstrong.

We finished the friendlies with a run of three straight wins against sides we should have beaten. Big Gaz and Robbie Armstrong notched again en route and ultimately I'm pleased with the pre-season preparations. The second XI now boasts quite a few of our youth prospects and the first team look as decent as they did last season. We're slow starters though and we've not kept the ball as well as we could have so we could be in for a testing start.

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This is the first XI and the starting formation. Again I'll be looking to Forbes and Mackay to dominate in midfield again and we'll be looking to continue our possession based football especially at home. I have decent youth depth all over the squad and quality depth in CM so it will take an injury crisis to see a drastic change in formation. Either that or a crap start.

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What a difference a year makes. This season we're expected to finish sixth and are talked about as title outsiders. The weirdest thing is seeing our arch nemesisises Brora rated below us and Cove only installed as third favourites especially after both teams ruled this league last year. Turriff must've made some impressive signings or been backed in by some made Turriff fans. Either way there is more expectation on us this time around from the media and therefore the fans.

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The board weirdly enough want the same as last year. I'm not complaining. It'll keep the pressure of the sack off my back and allow me to continue to develop our younger players without worry hopefully. We'll see whether that happens as the season progresses though.

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We start at home to Fraserburgh which will be an early test of our abilities. We then take part in the North of Scotland cup which we weren't in last year but we are this year and we have our old friends and pre-season title favourites Turriff away. We've played them 3 times and drawn all the games. I may play the second XI there.

After that we have another difficult fixture away at Formartine before two home games which we should be winning against Strathspey and Inverurie. Sandwiched between those games is the return of the Aberdeenshire Cup against a side we're yet to be drawn against. It'll probably be bloody Turriff. Here we go again.

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Your formation looks like a guy doing the splits while waving an arm.

Ha ha ha. Most of the players play like a guy doing the splits while waving an arm when in it.

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July/August 2016 Update

Once more unto the breach then dear friends as Wick begin another season with mild optimism tempered by the doom-laden pessimism that rests at the heart of their manager’s soul. That feeling that anything could go wrong at any moment, that they’ll discover I’m a fraud and run me back across Hadrian’s Wall quicker than a fat kid finishes a munchie box. The start of the season offered three cup games and four league games to get my teeth into and see what kind of a season we were going to have.

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The North of Scotland Cup was a competition I wasn’t even in last year for some strange reason but this year Wick have clearly arrived and the boys from Harmsworth Park were practically begged to take part (at least that’s what I told the Chairman when he asked me where this competition had come from before he told me he didn’t care about it anyway). Turriff were our first opponents and with my worries about the lack of holiday time the players had off (none) joined with the fact that people weren’t really fully match fit yet I decided to do a lot of rotation in the first few games. For this game I asked my second XI to take on the favourites for the league and imagine my surprise when we didn’t absolutely suck except for the first 60 minutes we did with Turriff going 2-0 up and the suck level high. I threw caution to the wind and changed the formation to a 3-5-2 (actually labelled as a 3-3-2-2 ASM R) and immediately reaped rewards as Wee Jimmy Pickles halved the deficit. That seemed to wake us up and we attacked and Turriff held out until the 92nd minute when Dave Allan headed in from Darren Hendry’s cross. 2-2 and into extra time we went. Extra-time went both ways with both sides having a chance to win it but neither could. It came to a pelanty shoot out. Allan missed the first pelanty but we scored the rest with Turriff missing two to take us into the next round. A brilliant performance against a good side by my second XI. Such a shame they were absolutely rubbish in the next round against Cove. They flattened us 4-0 and that was the end of our North of Scotland Cup adventure. Maybe next year we’ll do better. If we’re in it. And who the hell knows whether we will or we won’t?

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The Aberdeenshire cup gave us Buckie Thistle at home and with the game being a week after the 4-0 Cove thrashing I gave the first XI the job. Thistle took a 16th minute lead but we played well and got two deserved goals from Macadie and Harrison to see us into the semi-finals.

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Meanwhile in the league our first game of the season saw us deal with Fraserburgh rather comfortably. We were patient and looked good for our 2-0 win with wee Jimmy scoring the first and IF Ross Allan, who is expected to step it up a bit this season getting the goals. Our next game was against 2nd favourites Formantine and it bought us back to earth with a bump. As easily as we had dealt with Fraserburgh, Formantine dealt with us. It was a clinical performance from the home side and one that warns us that we are not quite at the highest level of this league.

After the billion or so cup games we had two home games on the bounce. The first was against Strathspey who had surprisingly beaten us 2-0 at home at the back end of last season. This time we were much more clinical and professional with Big Gaz getting his first of the season and then an OG gifting us the win. The final game of the month saw Inverurie come to us. We didn’t have the nous to break them down and it was a very frustrating game. Two points dropped.

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So where do we stand after that first monster month and a bit of games? Beautifully midtable with seven points from our first four league games although we are only three points off first place. It’s early days yet and we haven’t made a poor start but there’s just something not really clicking with this team at the moment. Maybe it’s the lack of a holiday, maybe it’s teams getting wiser to us or maybe it’s the fact that the players are good but they aren’t that good yet. Whichever way we go into September very much like we went into July and August with mild optimism tempered by the ever bubbling pessimism that every true football fan knows.

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Five games hath September with four league games and the semi-final of the Aberdeenshire cup. We have two away trips to Rothes and Buckie Thistle in the league followed by a home game with Fort William and a league trip back to early leaders Turriff. Sandwiched between those league games we have the semi-final of the cup which sees us play an eminently winnable game at home against Huntly. They don’t give you time to catch your breath in this league… Well, until Decemberish.

And lastly?

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The strange awarding of awards continues with Martin named for August. Now I’m not one for superstitions or such but this sounds pretty ominous to me like some Pagan Highland ritual or something. If the harvest turns out to be a poor one I’m out of here before next month’s award ceremony takes place inside a giant Wicker Man.

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September 2016 Update

September offered me no Wicker Men but did show me that some of my Wick dynasty is built of straw. Mostly the defence the useless bloody lumps.

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Of course while there is an overriding sense of underachievement coursing through my veins at the moment we have managed to get to our first cup final. I felt the game against Huntly was eminently winnable and lo and behold it was with Craig Charlesworth netting a brace and coming so close to a hattrick in the dying minutes to. It was the second XI I’d tasked with the game and they came through it pretty well. We’ll be facing Turriff (naturally) in the final next month.

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Unfortunately consistency is difficult to find in the league with another frustrating month. We started with a trip to a Rothes side who’d decided to settle for a point at home and duly go one. It was our second consecutive 0-0 and I was beginning to worry that we’d never score again. I needn’t have worried about it as the next game we scored three but our defence went back to their old habits allowing Buckie Thistle to come back into the game twice (once right after we’d scored the second). The game seemed destined to end deadlocked giving us our third straight draw in a row but we threw caution to the wind in the last five minutes and it paid off with Richard Macadie getting an injury time winner to go with his earlier goal. Big Gaz got the other to continue his average strikering. Never change Gaz.

We faced Fort William at home after the Cup game against Huntly and we were pumped-ly. Last season Fort William went 3-0 at home before a memorable comeback gave us a 4-3 win. No such luck this time as were absolutely horrible and deserved the defeat and the beating the chairman gave us after the match. Suitably chastised we headed back to Turriff for our league fixture which, surprise surprise, ended in a 1-1 draw. We started slowly going behind early on but Big Gaz levelled it up in the 16th minute and we grew into the game. We could’ve won it but a draw away to pre-season favourites isn’t to be sniffed at.

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Drawing seems to be our speciality with a super-secret bonus game turning up at the end of the month with our 1st round Scottish Cup tie and for the second season in succession we were drawn against Gretna. This time we had to make the long trip. I gave the second XI the job of going through and they couldn’t do it. Again, we started poorly but grew into the game and in the end couldn’t find the goal. A replay it is then.

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So we end the month where we started it: in 8th place. We still seem to lack the fluency of last season and we could do with goals coming from more than just Macadie and Big Gaz and Sean McCarthy has been fairly poor in goal so far, certainly not up to his high standards of last season. We’ve lost Ross Allan for a month as he was injured against Fort William and we’re also without his understudy Charlesworth for a week who was injured during the cup clash in Gretna. That means a new YP gets tagged as Lewis Cowie (YP 1.3) steps up from the U20s for a debut. He’s not the best player in the U20s by a long shot but he plays in a position where we lack players so he gets a chance.

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And there are plenty of games coming up in October with 8 fixtures for us to get through. We start with the replay against Gretna and follow it up with a home game against Deveronvale. We then get our first chance at silverware with our cup final against Turriff (bet on a draw after 90 minutes) before our first face off with our bitter rivals Brora. No doubt Eurosport will be sending their best men back to the Highlands to cover that one. We then have league matches against Huntly, Clachnacuddin and Keith before welcoming Cove to Harsmworth Park at the end of the month. Cove, as you may have noticed, have already gone back to the top of the league. All this could be made even more jam-packed with a Scottish Cup tie against Edinburgh University awaiting the winner of the replay. This will be a gruelling and testing month for my Wick and one where we could emerge battered and bruised. The test is on and exam season is about to begin

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Hey, but at least I’m not Adam Bogdan (maybe he saw the game at the weekend) dropped from his team for someone conceding a goal a game in Aberdeen. That would be awful.

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October 2016 Update

The ridiculous make or break month. Two games every week and a time for the squad to stand up and be counted or to collapse in a heap and see me on the brink of the sack. Has the honeymoon period come to an end? Have the squad now regressed to the position they should be? Is that a Wicker Man I smell burning?

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Actually, given this result you could be forgiven for thinking that Summer is Icumen in. We've won a trophy. YEEEEEOOOOOOOOO! This month saw me abandon my playing of different teams in close alternate days and the first team closed out a decent win against Turriff. Macadie scored early and we kind of saw it out quite easily. The first silverware of my reign and even though we only had to win three games to get it I'll still claim this as an historic day for the club.

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The board don't agree. They expected us to win all along even though they didn't care which seems like the football equivalent of saying that you never fancied her anyway. I guess they were just pissed off that they had to shell out money to build a trophy cabinet where the drink's cabinet used to be...

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However it wasn't all land of hope and glory before the cup final. We'd struggled in the cup (as you will see shortly) at the beginning of the month and then got hammered in our next game at home to Deveronvale. It made me feel like the club were on the brink of a full blown crisis. We were struggling at both ends of the pitch and it seemed that reality had caught up with us and the Wick Wonderment had come to end. However the cup final followed by me finally having enough of our CB Grant Steven and bringing in YP 1.1 Chris Morrison into the defence changed up our fortunes completely.

Our run began in the derby against Brora. Another press conference was called by the lone wandering Eurosport journalist but this time I was ready for it due to me also getting one for the cup final. My expert media-handling coupled with a new found clogging tenacity gave us the win we craved as we avenged last season's final day defeat. Big Gaz Weir got his second goal of the month which happened to be the winner, adding to Jimmy Pickles opener, to give us the bragging rights. Annoyingly the Brora player-manager scored a screamer to equalise though. He always scores against us and I'm always so nice to him.

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With the prospect of a fan day against the same team as last season I'm assuming the fans were expecting the same Barcaesque football as last season but they were to be confounded by our countering and defensive display. The press reckoned people wouldn't flock back but we won the game with Big Gaz scoring again. He continued his run of scoring in the next game against Clachnacuddin nailing the first while Jordan Evans scored one of those special flukey fullback goals that you get in FM to give us a good 2-0 win. During these games McCarthy kept two clean sheets which was pleasing but of course he couldn't keep it up conceding two against Keith in our final league game of the season. Luckily Big Gaz hit a vein of form a big clogging centre-forward hasn't seen since Kevin Davies was in his Bolton pomp and bagged four goals to see us claim four wins out of five. This turned out to not be a bad month after all...

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The month also proved good in the Scottish cup but boy did we make hard work of it. To be fair I was playing the second XI in all the games so you kind of get what you deserve but ultimately we are in the third round. We won the replay against Gretna at home with Robert Armstrong getting his first goal of the season before they equalised and took it into extra-time. We upped the game in extra-time with Pickles and Nairn scoring to put us into the second round despite their last minute consolation. The next round took us to another Lowland League side with the Capital's university team providing our opposition. We went 2-0 down in the first half and my decision to play the second XI looked stupid but a half-time rocket saw us level within seven second half minutes with Charlesworth and Pickles dragging us back into the tie. After that the game petered out into a draw but we won the replay well enough with Nairn getting the only goal of the game. We face fellow Highlanders Buckie in the next round.

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So in the end this was a pretty damned good month for Wick. We got back on the horse after falling off and we didn't even need the stabilisers. We now find ourselves 4th and only 3 points off the top with a game in hand. There doesn't seem to be a runaway leader this year with Cove in the pack and Brora struggling slightly so we could, we really could... except this is dangerous talk. Just remember last month Gavin and how you felt. We'll be lucky to finish tenth...

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Next month sees another five league games starting with our postponed for the replay home game against Champions Cove. We have trips to Nairn and Lossiemouth as well as facing Forres at home before the first return league fixture against Fraserburgh at the end of the month. Given the closeness of the league 9/10 points could be a very good return although the temptation of conquering a beatable Buckie and another fourth round tie in the cup may have a bearing on team selection.

And the big news?

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**** me it's me. Despite last year's heroics I'd not even registered in the top three of Manager of the Months during my entire time at Wick but this month proved too much for the clearly anti-English awarding panel at the Highland League and I could not be denied.

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And Big Gaz's ridiculous form over the last month helped him to claim the Player of the Month award. This month threw everything at Wick and we came out okay. It's almost promising but I know, that like Big Gaz put clean through on goal, disaster could be just around the corner.

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Thought I'd also mention as I forgot last night that my super-rotation earned me the Squad Depth achievement. Which was nice.

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November 2016 Update

November dawned and there was an uneasy sense of optimism and belief creeping around the streets of Wick. Even the record breaking tiny one. A run of four wins and a shedload of goals for Wick’s answer to Harry Kane along with a much tighter division than last year meant that we left October with bad thoughts: title winning thoughts. And I didn’t like it, not one bit.

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That’s better. The fires of success have been doused by the waters of reality but not before we saw off last season’s Champions at Harmsworth Park. An even game was decided when Big Gaz turned provider and flicked a ball across the goal for Charlesworth to slam home. Five in a row! Luckily Nairn were next and we were average which was enough for them to claim a point. They were helped by Big Gaz suddenly realising what he was doing and going back to a lump that bore a vague resemblance to a footballer he was.

High flying Forres were next for us and we were defeated for the first time in six league games. We got it back to 1-1 after being behind for a while with young LW Hendry scoring a very well worked goal but we conceded again almost immediately to see our run over and the touching distance at the top of the table get a little further out of reach. We stopped the mini-rot away to Lossiemouth with goals from Macadie and CB Steven. I’m assuming Lossiemouth scored a good goal as I was out of the room when it happened (or IRL I was in the tunnel telling Bernard the Kitman to burn the Super Gaz Weir shirt I had made up last month).

The final game saw us face up to Fraserburgh again. They’d come a long way since losing to us on the opening day of the season and were actually top at the start of the match which made my decision to start the second XI even more crazy. The travelling Wick supporters started with a rousing chorus of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ and to be honest even I wasn’t sure what I was playing at but blow me if they didn’t go and get a creditable draw. Harrison scored twice (he’s actually ended up on the opposite rotation due to injury) putting us ahead both times but Fraserburgh hit back to claim a point. All in all not a bad result and not really a bad month given that we played three top teams and claimed four points from them.

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The reason for the rotation at Fraserburgh was the chance of another fourth round cup tie for the second year running. A Highland League side would be there either way in the shape of us or Buckie Thistle and it proved to be us with Steven getting his second goal of the month. We were in control for the whole match and the travelling Buckie fans will have been disappointed with how their team kind of gave up the ghost without much a fight. Our reward for the win? A trip to Aberdeen to face: ABERDEEN.

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So we fall back to sixth but are only five points off the top which is a lot closer than we were last year when Cove and Brora were having their own mini-league and laughing and pointing at the rest of us. I’d say we have a better chance of challenging for the title this year but we could also finish lower due to the way the league is but we’re certainly playing a lot more like the Wick of last year now and that’s pleasing to see.

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December returns us to relative peace after the manic months of October and November with just the four fixtures. We have a very difficult start against Formartine who pumped us earlier in the season before taking on sides near the bottom. Ideally would like 9 out of 12 but we’ll see. I feel that the pressure of constant games has been good for us so we’ll see what happens when things get more relaxed.

Oh, and in other news. This was a strange month on the managerial merry-go-round.

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Firstly John Sheran left Cove right after we beat them to go to our next opponents Nairn which was weird. Cove weren’t off the pace by any means and Nairn are pretty much so far off the pace they’re pace setting for an entirely different league so that was a bizarre occurrence.

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Next, I got offered the Cove job (well an interview, but who are we kidding. They’d have hired me like that) which I guess isn’t that weird because I’m me. I turned them down so they cast their net again and…

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Yep, that’s right. The manager whose team had beaten Cove in the play-off for League Two last year jumped ship to the team he’d condemned to another season in the Highland League. The only explanation is that Tully must’ve wanted to manage in non-league so badly but was betrayed by his team beating Cove. After that he was happy to try again but with East Stirlingshire not the worst side in League Two this season (they’re 9th) he realised that his dreams might never be fulfilled and left. Either that or he wants what all Scottish people want: a chance to beat a cocky Englishman. I must be quite the draw…

Anyroad he’s the 2nd manager to do this after the Annan manager took the Inverurie job last year not that he’d be any help at all. He was fired recently. Great career move there…

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Also: Merry Christmas to any mad people still reading this. Hope you all have a good one and if you're reading this in March 2016 for the first time because you've only just stumbled across it... go outside and enjoy some March sunshine ya idiot and stop reading this nonsense.

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December 2016 Update

The Christmas month on Christmas Day and I didn't even get a stinking Easter Egg. Yes, that sentence makes sense. Anyways: four games blah blah blah and yes I'm annoyed because I lost both Big Gaz and my good CB Michael Steven to six week injuries at the start of the month and also lost back up players during that spell with Allan and Armstrong having time out up front. Unfortunately those are two areas where injuries to first choice players give me trouble.

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Formartine continue their very good season by doing us again. We were rubbish both at the front and at the back but worse was yet to come. We actually went 3-0 up against Strathspey and I told the boys at half-time, I said to them 'don't get complacent you absolute idiots' unfortunately without Michael Steven to rally the defence they did and we dropped a 3 goal lead to put me in a foul mood just in time for Christmas.

The warning of me cancelling Christmas was enough to win the next game against rock-bottom Rothes. It was only 1-0 but very pleasing to see Armstrong score for the first time in a while. He scored again in the pre-Christmas friendly I arranged against Halkirk and then promptly got injured the day after. He's out for several weeks. Bah.

Our last game was against Inverurie and again we looked shoddy at the back and shonky in midfield. We managed to keep it to 1-1 by half-time with Campbell scoring for us but Petrie was having a poor game at the back and it was looking more and more likely we were going to concede. Michael Steven was on the bench and I took the gamble of bringing him on and doing so inspired Forbes to score an awesome goal. Suddenly we were in the ascendancy and Macadie notched our third in the 88th minute to make the win look more comprehensive than the match actually was. Steven's return was most welcome and I bought him a pint and drove him home afterwards (I didn't go in for coffee) as we finished off the year with a win.

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I said I wanted nine points and I only got seven which is one point more than the gap between us and Forres at the top. We're just about keeping in touch but I reckon we'd have suffered worse results if we'd played any of the other big sides. We lack the necessary experience for a title tilt I reckon but we'll keep going and growing.

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And I'll be doing it having signed another one year extension. Seems like I'm still living off year old glories though which won't do.

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Good news then as January gives us the chance to write a glorious new cup upset as we have our fourth round tie against Aberdeen. There's no way we're getting out of there with a clean sheet so best hope I have a striker or two left to score me some goals. I think Big Gaz will not be back by then and with Armstrong out I may have to give some poor unheralded kid in the U20s a run. Dotted around the cup game are games against Buckie, Fort William and Turriff. We certainly owe Fort William after they spanked us earlier in the season and the Buckie game has taken on added interest because...

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Yep, you're reading that right. The weird managerial appointments keep coming as Formartine's boss clearly thought it was too easy to try and win the league with them and has moved to Buckie instead to give himself more of a challenge. Wouldn't be surprised to see another League Two manager come and take the Formartine job. Still, I guess it could be worse...

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Makes you wonder why Grant is worried. Is it because he might get fired? Is it because Dundee might suddenly be good now? Is he worried about Dundee as a place on a more general level? He should be worried anyway because most manager's I've featured so far have ended up getting fired. Happy New Year mate.

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January 2017 Update

A New Year dawns then and I celebrate 18 months in the Highlands with a Scottish Cup trip to Premier League Aberdeen. Last year in the 4th round we were hammered by Premier League opposition in the shape of Partick Thistle and they got relegated. I know I’m remembered for the Annan game but that’s not all I’m remembered for.

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Yes, that’s right we were quarter-finalists in the North of Scotland cup but we did go and win the Aberdeenshire cup. Couldn’t you call us ‘Aberdeenshire Cup Winners’ rather than North of Scotland cup also-rans? Especially when you’re bigging up the opposition referring to a cup final that was a year ago. Talk about the media spinning a bloody narrative. Is conspiracy.

Anyway, back to the Scottish Cup and Aberdeen are actually pretty decent and they beat us 4-1 at home in pre-season. This could be carnage.

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Actually it wasn’t carnage. We were well beaten but played as well as a team from four divisions below can Darren Hendry will have been pleased with his late consolation. Getting a goal at a Premier League ground is nothing to be sniffed at. We exit at the fourth round stage again (although we had an easier run this year) but we do so with our heads held high.

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And we can hold our heads even higher after a perfect month in the league. I’d been feeling all doomy and gloomy about our prospects at the end of December but as has happened quite often during my reign here the team have upped their levels. Probably to tease me with possibilities before falling away in March, but whatever. For now I enjoy the highs…

We started against Buckie and their newly installed manager. He had dominated us twice with Formartine but he might well be regretting his move now as it was my second XI who beat his team. I’d taken the decision to not risk any of the first XI in a midweek fixture before the Aberdeen game and the Second XI pulled it off with Craig Charlesworth adding another goal to his tally. He was on target again with a last minute winner away to Fort William. We’d conceded six goals in our last two games against the Fort (or is it the William?, Pff, who cares) so I went defensive and was delighted when Charlesworth turned in the winner. He now has 8 goals this season and if Ross Allan keeps underperforming Charlesworth may well find himself close to the first XI very soon.

Our final game of the month was against pre-season favourites Turriff who have mugged off any punters that had bet on them before the season began. It was another 1-0 win and a very comfortable one at that. Turriff had nothing to offer and Steve Harrison’s goal was enough to give us a 100% record for January in the league. With a free weekend at the end of the month I played the other Halkirk team and beat them 2-0 like their neighbours. Ross Nairn was particularly impressive which bodes well.

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Well then. Suddenly the league looks a little more enticing for us. We’re just four points adrift with nine games to go. I think it’s incredibly unlikely that we can mount a challenge especially since we’ve just lost Big Gaz to another six week injury. What has been heartening to see is that since Michael Steven has returned he has forged an excellent partnership with young Morrison who has had a decent run in the first team now since Grant Steven got dropped. It may well rest on whether Michael Steven and Sean McCarthy keep fit especially as Dave Allan is my only option up front. I could move Macadie up front and give Nairn a run out too but his fitness means he might not be able to hold together a consistent run in the side. Still, we’re closer than last season and we’re in with a shout.

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And due to our good form I got Manager Of the Month for the second time this season. This was after getting no recognition last year at all. I was also linked at the end of the month to the Brechin job that has just become available in League One. Perhaps I have now been designated an honorary Scotsman.

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February sees the Highland cup make it’s late season comeback and we start at home to Lossiemouth. We then have a trip to Deveronvale sandwiched between two home games against Clachnacuddin and arch-rivals Brora. We should know by the end of the month whether we’re heading for a title run-in or a slow wind down to mediocrity. We should also have the youth intake for 2017 too.

In other news: Gary Manson started off as a three star player when I joined and is now half a star. He is also a coach and this is his latest advice.

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Of course he is mate. Of course he is…

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February 2017 Update

So, are we title-tilting or tilting at windmills?

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First the Highland Cup. I couldn’t be bothered and sent the second XI out. Jordan Evans scored his second goal of the season and it was another flukey fullback floater as I’ve now named them. We lost on pelanties. I wasn’t too bothered.

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The league though. This will be the month that costs us (unless we go on a worse run next month and then I’ll claim that it was March that cost us).

Things started well enough with a good win against a nuggety Clachnacuddin. David Allan gave us the lead in what will probably be his last act for the club. An injury crisis has just given him his chance to nail down a first team spot and he went whinging to the press the very next day. All the team think he’s a bit of a tool and I’ve basically said his career at the club is over in the press. He’s not getting another contract anyway so will definitely go at the end of the season. If you can’t stake a claim when Big Gaz has three months out during a season you really don’t belong here. Anyway he put us 1-0 up, Clachnacuddin equalised and it looked like being a draw until Captain Mackay’s 81st minute freekick thundered into the net.

We went to Deveronvale in good spirits and were actually 3-1 up at one stage. Harrison was having a blinder and Michael Steven bagged his third of the season but we looked complacent and despite my warnings we fell apart. Even worse is that we lost Richard Macadie to injury for three weeks. That’s a big blow due to the way he holds the whole team together and the 0-0 vs Brora just shows how much we miss his invention. Big Gaz should be starting again from next month but Macadie’s injury could be the thing that costs us the title.

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The Brora game also bought to light a feud that I didn’t even realise I was having. I’ve been nothing but nice and/or neutral about Brittain and weirdly he has been the same but every bloody press conference for the Brora game has asked about our feud and bad feeling for each other. I suppose they have to write about something but there’s enough weirdness going on with Highland League managers without needing to manufacture some fight.

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This seems normal although again a team appoint a new manager just before playing us. That’s the third time this season it’s happened. But that’s not the weirdness. THIS is the weirdness.

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WTF? Top of the table. His team. We’re top. Of the table. A chance to get into the league. And he’s gone to Fort bloody William?

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I think I speak for everyone in Scottish football there.

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Despite out poor month we’ve only dropped another point behind so the difference stands at 5 points with 6 games to go and we do still have Forres to play. I reckon the Macadie injury will do for us but we are, strangely, still in it despite the injuries we’ve had.

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Three games in March with the Cove game being the extra sticky one. Lose there and we’ll definitely be gone. Win there and we’ll probably have lost to Keith and be out of it too. Optimism still flows in Wick. Meanwhile...

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The curse of the featured managers continues. Aberdeen were 5th but 5th ain’t good enough. He was really nice about me as well. Ah well. It’s a **** business.

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March 2017 Update

Spring has sprung in the Highlands which means that the temperatures are threatening to get to Len Goodman territory. Also the advent of spring means an advent of young 'uns bouncing into the club as the first of the month was Youth Intake Day 2017.

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Some interesting potential there but I wasn't marking anyone until I'd seen them play my U20s...

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I don't know whether to be delighted by the exuberance and cockiness of youth or be mortified by the fact that a team that had quite a few first XI players literally got schooled. The U20 team was never in it and my U20s manager might well have to look over his shoulder after this performance. He has displeased his King.

Anyroad there was some interest in the youth squad and I have tagged 4 so far. Again, everyone got signed up though...

Ciaran Begg (YP 2.1): What is it with defensive midfielders named Ciaran? What ever it is he looks as promising as his namesake and with the team having had no cover at DM he now offers me an opportunity to make a straight swap rather than change tactics around. His arrival may well spell the end of Farquhar at the club. He'll have a roll to play next year.

Eric McCafferty (YP 2.2): My run of players with the same first name playing in the same positions continues with Mr McCafferty instantly becoming good enough to be third choice Keeper. He is rated to possibly be better than Campbell so could get a chance to become main back-up but for now he'll be the U20s first choice and develop there.

James Vance (YP 2.3): Lance's younger and whiter brother has joined Wick Academy. He provides some much needed cover at RW and may well get some minutes next season but he is behind both Ross Allan and Charlesworth. Ross Allan's future at the club is in no way secure due to his average performances so could become a key player in a few seasons.

Kenny Charlesworth (YP 2.4): Speaking of Charlesworths here is another. He doesn't appear to be related to Craig but I do seem to get a lot of the same family names. Having spent nearly two years at Wick now I'm going to forgo the snide Highland inbreeding remarks. With Dave Allan leaving at the end of the season he will have a chance to battle Robbie Armstrong for first choice back-up behind Big Gaz. He took his two goals in the U20s game very well.

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That leads us nicely on to this huge month. Annoyingly, even though I'd set him to be available for only 20 minutes, Big Gaz played the whole bloody game against the Youth Team which meant he was in no shape to face Huntly and with Macadie out as well we suffered our second 0-0 draw in quick succession. You need to win these types of games if you're going to challenge. I sighed and wrote off the challenge as we were now five points behind Formartine and four behind Forres. Just look to finish as well as we could.

Our next game was at home to Keith but with a gap I played another friendly to ease Big Gaz and Macadie back to form for the run in. Both looked rubbish and we had to rely on goals from Pickles and Craigy C to dispatch the minnows. We've beaten every rubbish side we've played over the last three months in friendlies 2-0 so there is something to be said about our consistency. This meant nothing against Keith though. The talk before the game was about Big Gaz's goal drought. He'd gone hours without scoring a goal so he responded in true Big Gaz fashion. As soon as you write him off he scores and he did after just five minutes to give us the lead. We dominated the game but when Keith scored with their only bloody shot of the game in the 74th minute I thought we were clearly destined for another draw but I reckoned without Ross Allan (and with good reason as he has been distinctly underwhelming all season) and he slotted home the winner to keep our heads bobbing just above the title race water.

A trip to the Champions was our last assignment of the month. We lost there last year 1-0 as they marched to the title but this time we proved to be a tougher nut to crack. Two good goals from Big Gaz, a header and a direct freekick, meant that we returned from Cove with all three points and effectively put paid to their small chance of retaining their title. I'd have taken 7 points from 9 at the beginning of the month but that draw against Huntly could well come back to haunt us. We're keeping up though.

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Actually, we're more than keeping up. We're in a bloody title race. Dropped points for both Formartine and Forres has meant we've drawn right up alongside them and sit in second on goal difference only. We could win it. We could actually bloody win it. This team. We could win the league. This could be the biggest thing to happen to Wick since that stringy bit in a candle was named after them. Can we keep our nerve?

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If we're gonna do it we're going to have to beat a direct rival. Formartine will be praying for a 0-0 draw when we take on Forres while we'll be hoping to avenge our defeat from earlier in the season. If we survive the Forres test we've got two (in theory) winnable games to end the season against Nairn and Lossiemouth, both of whom are sat near the foot of the table. Win all three games and we give ourselves a chance although our goal difference is five down on Formartine which means the title is pretty much in their hands. Knowing this team we'll probably beat Forres, lose to Nairn and then draw with Lossiemouth 0-0. Everyone's fit though so we've got a full squad to choose from. Destiny awaits.

Even if I don't win the league though I reckon I could still win manager of the season...

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The ridiculous managerial merry-go-round that is the Highland League continues with Forres appointing the former Glasgow BSC manager (his team are 8th in the Lowland League), Keith hiring Lossiemouth's manager and Lossiemouth hiring Rothes' manager. I think I'm nearly the longest serving manager in the league already. They'll probably end up giving me the award just for managing the same side for a whole season...

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April 2017 Update

Now is the time men. We shall fight them in the Highlands etc. Let us go out and claim our destiny. TO THE TITLE.

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****. In the end we lacked the requisite cutting edge. A creditable draw against Forres was followed by a rubbish draw at home to Nairn in a game we probably should've lost. I always felt that we weren't really ready for a title or promotion and so it proved. Once the pressure was off we hammered Lossiemouth 3-0 at home to end the season on a high. A goal for Macadie followed by goals for Hendry and Charlesworth as well as a debut for Ciaran Begg (YP 2.1) made it an excellent end to another good season at Harmsworth park despite the lack of a title.

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So we finish second to Formartine who won all their three games in April to render our challenge moot anyway. It's a slight consolation that even if we'd won the games we'd never had won the league so I'll take the progress of a second place and being the joint most unbeatable side this season. We're making decent progress here.

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And is if to prove how much progress we're making as a club the squad actually decided to go on holiday this year. What a season it has been for Wick. Up next we'll find out how good it has been in the season review.

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Enjoying this save :D

Wick is also my hometown and I often go to watch Academy. Would be cool to see someone take them to the SPFL.

'Big Gaz Weir' as you have christened him on here :D does actually have a nickname, he's known to pretty much everyone throughout the whole of Caithness as 'Chuckie'. Don't ask why as I can't remember the story behind it.

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