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So... where did I end up?

Having attending interviews at York Road, The Gallagher Stadium and Prenton Park I was hopeful of getting a job two tiers higher in the National League.

It didn't happen. None of them offered me a job. Rather than go out of work, I reluctantly accepted the £150 per week pay cut and will remain at Bishop's Stortford, at least for now.
In an effort to shore up an under strength defence, I sign a couple of centre backs. One is a Gibraltar international but he will provide cover while the other is Andrew Hollins who will slot straight into the team. I now have two ginger centre backs named Collins and Hollins which is proving to be very confusing when watching the match.

And the season starts in spectacular fashion. Owusu scores the first goal of the season after only 2:16 and after 17 minutes we are already 2-4 up at Leamington. There's no more goals in the rest of the match, but next time out in our first home game we put seven past Hungerford, who were relegated last season.
Two more wins and a draw and we are the early pacesetters and Williams scores a hat-trick in three consecutive games.

Suddenly I'm glad I stayed.

Leamington 2 Bishop's Stortford 4 (Owusu, Drury, Collins, Williams)
Bishop's Stortford 7 Hungerford Town 1 (Drury, Owusu 2, Williams 4)
Truro City 0 Bishop's Stortford 4 (Williams 3, Owusu)
Bishop's Stortford 3 Worcester City 3 (Williams 3)
Bridport 1 Bishop's Stortford 2 (Grant, Richefond)

To dominate any team is pleasing. To do it against a team relegated last season who are among the likely promotion contenders is tremendous.
(Picture will appear soon. I should be on the game again later this week so will get one then).

Jason Williams is named Player of the Month with Adam Drury second and Tom Grant third. Ryan Richefond wins Goal of the Month for his winner at Bridport.
Barrow are the early leaders of League Two on their return to the Football League after 48 years in non league.

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A fine start to the season.  Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that you've stayed.

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While August was a total goal fest, in September we turned into really mean bastards. It was a superb month, the type of month you wished you could clone and repeat. The only match we didn't win was an away FA Cup game at a team in the Northern Counties East League First Division... three tiers below us! The only goal we conceded was a penalty in an away Southern League Cup match at Tiverton. Absolutely brilliant, the only downer was that one half of my "ginger ninjas", Andrew Collins, suffers a groin strain in the final match at Tiverton and will be out for between 5 weeks and 2 months.

Bishop's Stortford 2 Hitchin Town 0 (Williams 2)
Tiverton Town 0 Bishop's Stortford 1 (Owusu)
Bishop's Stortford 3 Marlow 0 (Owusu 2, Rees)
Bishop's Stortford 1 St Neots Town 0 (Owusu)
AFC Totton 0 Bishop's Stortford 3 (Williams, Owusu 2)

FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND - Bishop's Stortford 2 Market Drayton Town 0 (Drury, Owusu)
SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND - Rainworth Miners Welfare 0 Bishop's Stortford 0
SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY - Bishop's Stortford 4 Rainworth Miners Welfare 0 (Grant, Owusu 2, Williams)

SECOND ROUND - Tiverton Town 1 Bishop's Stortford 2e (Williams 2)


We travelled to third place AFC Totton towards the end of the month. Totton are likely to be up there at the end of the season and in three visits so far, we have lost every time.
Not this time as we record a comfortable victory to extend our early lead at the top of the table and cement our position as serious promotion contenders. We do lose Adam Drury to pulled ankle ligaments though he should only miss 2 weeks.

I am named Manager of the Month.
Ryan Giggs is sacked as manager of Brentford with them 22nd in the Championship.
Monaco, Bayern Munich and Juventus are the last remaining teams in top divisions with a 100% record.

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Something I meant to write at the end of the last season... if anybody wants me to profile a team of their choice then I will. The type of things I will include is their current manager, captain, star player, stadium, their performance so far in the game and any new records they have set.

I shall do one each game session on a first come, first serve basis. Bear this in mind if choosing teams from other nations.

These are the active leagues...
England to level 8 (level 10 activated for the start of season 4)
Scotland to level 5
Wales to level 2
Top leagues in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland and Spain.

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I did expect somebody to choose a club to be profiled, so I'm surprised nobody has. So as an example of what I mean, I shall do one.
I'm not going to include records as they take quite a lot of time to go through.



Manager: Tony Mowbray
Captain: Itumeleng Khune (33 year old South African goalkeeper, 108 caps)
Vice Captain: Tommy Smith (28 year old English right back/centre back)
Key player: Bruno Martins Indi (28 year old Dutch centre back/left back, defensive midfielder, 36 caps)
Hot prospect: Shayne Bryne (19 year old English left winger/right winger)
Fierce rivals: Port Vale (local), Crewe Alexandra (local)
Rivals: West Bromwich Albion (competitive), Wolverhampton Wanderers (historic), Arsenal (competitive)
Finances: Rich
Season tickets: 17,251

Stadium: bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
Year built: 1997
Capacity: 30,089 all seated
Corporate facilities: Good
Training facilities: Excellent
Data analysis facilities: Excellent
Youth facilities: Superb
Junior coaching: Adequate
Youth recruitment: Above average

14 March 2019 - New Chairman Ian Beech takes over (consortium)

Premier League: 19th (relegated)
FA Cup: Third Round (lost to Aston Villa)
League Cup: Second Round (lost to Grimsby Town)

Championship: 3rd (promoted through playoffs)
FA Cup: Third Round (lost to Middlesbrough)
League Cup: Second Round (lost to Leeds United)

Premier League: 19th (relegated)
FA Cup: Quarter Final (lost to Manchester United)
League Cup: Third Round (lost to Everton)

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Solid buffer at the start of the season. Hopefully you'll avoid playoffs this time.

Is there the depth to keep it going when the normal fixture madness of December hits?

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I have decent depth now. I have two quality goalkeepers for this level and I have decent cover in the middle of the back four. Full backs are a bit weak though - if Calvin Sinclair (left) or John Neville (right) are out of action for a while then it will be a struggle there.
In midfield Ryan Richefond provides decent cover and plays well when coming on for a sub when required for Ian Rees or Teddy Ford. Fourth in line Christian Nicholls isn't up to standard though. Marlon Akyakwa provides decent cover for Adam Drury on the right wing and can also play on the left while a new loanee from Stevenage (so new I can't remember his name!) played well enough in the Southern League Cup match at Moneyfields to keep long standing left winger Tom Grant out of the team for the following FA Trophy match at Workington. Prior to his arrival, Simon Pennock who is a striker had to cover left wing.
Strikers are fine. Christian Owusu and Jason Williams score a bag load and Daniel Wakeham can grab goals covering and from the bench. Behind them are Simon Pennock (who did well when covering last season) and Tommy Genovese (who has played well for the reserves), both of whom are currently on loan at teams in lower divisions, though can be recalled.

As for December madness, we don't really have that in non league, it's mad from the start of the season with two matches most weeks. We played nine games in September and October.

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And so we continue. Another absolutely tremendous month. In all my years of playing Football Manager, going right back to the original Championship Manager on the Amiga* I have never had a start of a season like this. Sure, I've been top and I've been top with a decent lead, but I've never had an unbeaten start to a league season go on as long as this.
We did lose our first match this month. The first match of the month saw us travel to Wealdstone in the FA Cup. An even match saw the mid table National League South edge it, suggesting we will be competitive if we go up next season. The following match was hardly any easier, as we travelled to second place Banbury. We earned a workmanlike draw, but lost goalkeeper Josh Egan to a broken collarbone, mirroring Cameron Jeffers' injury last season only days before Egan emerged from our youth ranks.
After winning at Poole Town in a great match, the rest of the month was plain sailing. We even beat our bogey team, Biggleswade Town, the first time we beat them at the seventh attempt.

Banbury United 1 Bishop's Stortford 1 (Owusu)
Poole Town 3 Bishop's Stortford 4 (Owusu 2, Richefond, Williams)
Bishop's Stortford 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0 (Williams (pen), Richefond)
Bishop's Stortford 2 Chippenham Town 0 (Williams, Ford (pen))
Biggleswade Town 0 Bishop's Stortford 2 (Williams, Owusu)
Bishop's Stortford 4 Bristol Telephones 1 (Williams 3, Drury)
Bishop's Stortford 4 Hayes & Yeading United 1 (Owusu 2, Williams 2)

THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND - Wealdstone 3 Bishop's Stortford 2 (Williams 2)

FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND - Bishop's Stortford 2 Nuneaton Town 0 (Owusu, Wakeham)

A very entertaining match on the South coast. We went 2-0 after 29 minutes and looked comfortable. However, Poole fought back and with 83 minutes on the clock took the lead. Richefond bagged an equaliser with a minute to play, before Williams grabbed the winner in the second minute of injury time. Queue fist pumping!

Jermaine Defoe takes over at Brentford, who had sacked Ryan Giggs last month.
Two surprise packages in the Premier League after 10 games. Southampton are 4th with West Bromwich Albion in 5th.
Having interviewed me for the vacant Manager job in the close season, Maidstone United sack their Manager with them lying 23rd in the National League. Looks like they picked the wrong man!


*I've played every version except the standalone foreign leagues and FM17, 19 and 20.

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Flying in the league!

I didn't actually realise that Rushden and Diamonds had been reformed!  They were always a favourite of mine :D

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On 12/02/2020 at 21:16, Raware said:

Flying in the league!

I didn't actually realise that Rushden and Diamonds had been reformed!  They were always a favourite of mine :D

We are indeed. :)

Supporters formed AFC Rushden & Diamonds in 2011 after Rushden & Diamonds were expelled from the Conference and were liquidated. Last season they finished 9th in the Southern League Premier Division Central.

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On 12/02/2020 at 22:03, kevhamster said:

Good season so far!

Thanks Kev. Let's hope it continues.

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Very close to our first perfect month. However... after despatching Slough on their patch, we travelled to 6th place Basingstoke. We went 3-0 down on 46 minutes and succumbed to a 4-1 defeat. Our unbeaten start ends after 18 games and to make matters worse, Calvin Sinclair fractures his toe and is out for 3-4 weeks.
We then sneak a win at First Division East side Moneyfields in the Southern League Cup, having Teddy Ford sent off in the process before returning to our best at Workington in the FA Trophy. We finish with three 2-1 home wins. Very pleasing.

Slough Town 1 Bishop's Stortford 3 (Rees, Drury, Williams)
Basingstoke Town 4 Bishop's Stortford 1 (Ford)
Bishop's Stortford 2 Merthyr Town 1 (Owusu, Williams)
Bishop's Stortford 2 Leamington 1 (Owusu, Matthews)
Bishop's Stortford P Salisbury P - waterlogged pitch

SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND - Workington 0 Bishop's Stortford 3 (Williams, Cass (og), Neville)
THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND - Bishop's Stortford 2 Barking 1 (Collins, Beatson (og))

THIRD ROUND - Moneyfields 2 Bishop's Stortford 3 (Owusu 2, Williams)


It has to be the match at Basingstoke, despite it being for the wrong reasons for Bishop's Stortford. Our first league defeat of the season and tied in with the lucky win at Moneyfields, it could have been the catalyst for a bad run. Thankfully it wasn't.

Wayne Rooney is appointed manager of Wigan Athletic, who are 22nd in League One.
Tottenham Hotspur sack Luis Enrique, lying 17th in the Premier League. Benfica boss Rui Vitória replaces him.
Southend United have just 3 points from 21 games in League Two.
I'm named Manager of the Month for the second time this season.

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Rushden & Diamonds were a great away day when I followed Yeovil away from home.  The Diamond Burger.  OMG.  🥰

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The new team don't play at Nene Park. They play at Hayden Road so I doubt you'll still get a Diamond burger. :D

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We kick off the month with my 200th game in charge and win 2-0 at Hungerford. The next two games are also away in the league. Williams scores his 150th goal for the club in a single goal victory at Wantage before two late goals win us the game at fifth place Farnborough which was played mostly in a hail storm.
An excellent FA Trophy replay win at Havant & Waterlooville of National League South preceeded a home game against lowly Bridport. They didn't play in midweek. Our extra time exploits on the South coast showed as we laboured to a goaless draw. We were lucky Bridport shoot as well as an impotent old man.

Hungerford Town 0 Bishop's Stortford 2 (Williams 2)
Wantage Town 0 Bishop's Stortford 1 (Williams)
Bishop's Stortford P Truro City P - waterlogged pitch
Farnborough 1 Bishop's Stortford 3 (Williams, Rees, Owusu)
Bishop's Stortford 0 Bridport 0

FIRST ROUND - Bishop's Stortford 1 Havant & Waterlooville 1 (Owusu)
FIRST ROUND REPLAY - Havant & Waterlooville 1 Bishop's Stortford 4e (Owusu 3, Richefond)

FOURTH ROUND - Hayes & Yeading United 2 Bishop's Stortford 1 (Williams)


I was very pleased to win at a side 15th in the National League South. Both matches were even (though Owusu only equalised with one minute to play in the replay) until extra time arrived in the replay where we battered them on the counter attack. If we do win the league next season, it's going to be evolution rather than revolution.

Ahead of the January transfer window, Calvin Sinclair is attracting interest from Barrow of League Two and Morecambe of National League. He also won't negotiate on a contract extension, saying he wants to join a bigger club. Looks like I'll lose one of my youth graduates sooner rather than later.
The board agree to increase the junior coaching budget, which rises to excellent. I'm hopeful of more quality youth graduates coming soon.
Chievo are the unlikely Serie A leaders in a tight division.
Paulo Dybala of Manchester City wins World Football of the Year.

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We start off with a convincing win at Hitchin before we have two huge fixtures - away to third place Worcester and at home to second place Salisbury. We win both to go 13 points clear with 2 games in hand.
After losing on penalties to Boston United (second in National League North) in the FA Trophy, we win at St Neots thanks to Jason Williams scoring two in injury time. As Salisbury have won twice since we beat them, we are now 10 points clear with 3 games in hand.
We then travel to Marlow who score an injury time equaliser. Calvin Sinclair pulls his groin but thankfully our best player will only be out for 6-11 days. It's enough for him to miss the home defeat to Tiverton, only our second league defeat this season.

Hitchin Town 2 Bishop's Stortford 5 (Williams 3, Owusu 2)
Worcester City 0 Bishop's Stortford 2 (Williams, Owusu)
Bishop's Stortford P Slough Town P - waterlogged pitch
Bishop's Stortford 2 Salisbury 1 (Rees, Williams)
St Neots Town 1 Bishop's Stortford 3 (Owusu, Williams 2)
Marlow 1 Bishop's Stortford 1 (Owusu)
Bishop's Stortford 2 Tiverton Town 3 (Ford, Williams)

SECOND ROUND - Bishop's Stortford 0 Boston United 0
SECOND ROUND REPLAY - Boston United 1p Bishop's Stortford 1 (Williams)

It comes as no surprise that it is the big game versus Salisbury. Salisbury equalised through a penalty shortly before half time before Williams got a priceless winner in the fifth minute of injury time to end Salisbury's 14 match unbeaten run and extend our lead to 13 points.


Two non league teams reached the Third Round of the FA Cup. AFC Telford United narrowly lost to League One outfit Walsall at home while Gloucester City won a replay at League Two side Yeovil Town before going down 3-1 at Norwich City in the Fourth Round.

Grimsby Town came in for Calvin Sinclair. They offered a measly £1,700 plus 30% of future profit. Not a bloody chance. I asked for £17,500 (including clauses) plus 50% future profit. They wouldn't even counter it. Sinclair is staying put but given he won't even talk about a new contract, in all likelihood he'll be off at the end of the season even if we are promoted.

The big spenders and moves of the January window were...
1. Premier League £128,000,000
2. La Liga £90,000,000
3. Bundesliga £80,000,000
4. Primeira Liga £55,000,000
5. Ligue 1 £48,000,000

1. Real Madrid £63,000,000
2. Liverpool £57,000,000
3. Benfica £51,000,000
4. Manchester United £33,000,000
5. Bayer Leverkusen £28,500,000

John Guidetti (28 year old Swedish world class striker) moved from Napoli to Liverpool for £35,500,000
Elseid Hysaj (26 year old Albanian wing back) moved from Napoli to Manchester United for £26,500,000
Pablo Fornais (24 year old Spanish attacking midfielder) moved from Villareal to Liverpool for £19,500,000

Southend United sign the most players - 11

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