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Fair to say that the Scottish Highlands are not the most hospitable places to play football, with tough winter weather, remote landscapes and a small population. The Press & Journal Highland Football League is Tier 5 in Scotland, the first non-league tier. To get into the football league you must win the league, then beat the winner of the Lowland League, and then beat the team that comes last in Scottish League Two. A bit of a hard task.

Fort William

Fort William are pretty rubbish. They come last most seasons. In 2009 they only got one point. Their points have been in single digits for 9 of the past 13 seasons. Last year they conceded over 180 goals and all six directors left. Since they joined the Highland League in 1985 they have never finished higher than 11th (there are 18 teams at the moment but there were as few as 14 at one point). Quite the task. They play at Claggan Park which is at the foot of Ben Nevis. Technically 1,800 capacity, but that includes an old wooden stand for 400 people and then a perimeter fence. My goal is to develop the youth and see where we can take them. Not we'll ever get them out the league let alone any further, but we'll see!map.thumb.PNG.283a09302a4cc7700842e066f3a0ec70.PNG

 

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19 hours ago, argento said:

I'll be reading, certainly sounds a challenge!  Good luck

Thanks! No fun when it's easy!

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Squad

As you'd expect for a team with such a sketchy recent history, the quality of the squad really isn't great. There are some decent levels of pace, we're 2cm taller on average than the average league player, and we have decent jumping reach. So it seems obvious to me that we'll be playing defensive counter attacking football. A defensive mentality, with a highly structured shape and attacking mentalities for the wingers and strikers, should see us doing lots of 'lumping it long' for the quick players to chase. Not that I'm expecting fantastic end results when one of my strikers has finishing at 2 and composure at 5! The defenders are pretty limited so I just want them to keep their shape and not get caught out. No DMs at the club either, so a pretty standard 442 with a ball winning midfielder to help out the defence. Oh, and one of my goalkeepers is aged 52. This is going to take some time.

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Key Players

One of the key players is on loan from Inverness. As this is a youth only save he won't be coming back for a second season. Scott Chisolm will need to have a cracking season in central midfield for us to get anything with his pace, stamina and vision.

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Tactics

With no DM in the squad, and with a very limited skillset, some scrappy defensive play followed by getting the ball forward quickly should be the ticket. Actually amended tactics slightly since my last post: still highly structured, but with a standard mentality, accompanied by team instructions to push higher up, close down more, and a higher tempo. I don't think we have a defence good enough to stoutly defend on the edge of the box, so closing down the space in midfield and then launching it to the target man should work. 

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Pre-Season - 2017/18

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A decent pre-season with four strong wins against local amateur teams, beating the best that ski resort Aviemore has to offer in the sunshine. The 18 people that showed up to the final friendly were particularly excited, as are our 20 season ticket holders. The local farmer gave us £500 shirt sponsorship out of sympathy. With those attendances not sure he'd have got much return on his investment. Needless to say, the bookies think we'll be last. Interesting that my board's expectations are "finish bottom of the league". I mean...it's hard to not achieve that as a minimum!

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Edited by alexcmann

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August 2017

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Well that was unexpected! Three wins on the trot to kick off the league campaign, including on the road against pre-season favourites Brora. We got into a nice rhythm of being absolute bastards and breaking up midfield play pretty nastily. Might have to make sure we don't get too many suspensions. Then lumping it long for our target man to nod down to our pacy poacher. A loss in the North of Scotland cup doesn't matter as it's a small 16 team tournament but could have done without extra time so early in the season. We were 1-0 up against Wick with 5 minutes to go so it could have been better. Promising start with a very limited side.

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Edited by alexcmann

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September 2018

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Another month performing above expectations, getting a couple more wins in the league. The cup exit was frustrating as we had been 2-0 up before an own goal and a defensive error took it to a reply where we collapsed. I've noticed a lot of suicide passes in the defenders: a curse of playing at this level! Our left back is also out for 4 months with a torn hamstring which is less than ideal. But to be 4th two months in is fantastic.

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October 2017

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Tough month but saved by a late goal in the last match to get a win and stay in the top half. But the initial gloss has gone and the team is starting to show it's true colours.

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November 2017

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Very decent month with 2 wins and a draw from 4 games. The draw was particularly pleasing as it was with the undefeated runaway league leaders. Very tight league but looks like holding our own in mid-table might be sustainable. Going to try playing with an attacking mentality this month: the pace and fitness of our players is our strength so can we make the pitch small, push up and overrun them?

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Who would have thought we'd ever have two Fort William careers at the same time? 

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1 hour ago, dllu said:

Who would have thought we'd ever have two Fort William careers at the same time? 

Oops! Totally hadn’t noticed!

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December 2017

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Well we've started to get slapped around pretty bad. I think we've got enough points that we shouldn't finish bottom, but here's to hoping we get a decent youth intake this year. 

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January 2018

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Our target man getting injured for 3 months was apparently a good thing as the youthful strikers with no redeeming features other than pace come in and start banging them in. Showed some character to come from 2 down against Cove. Clinging to the midtable mediocrity we crave. Plus we get our first postponement of the winter - surprised it took this long given we're based at Ben Nevis!

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Edited by alexcmann

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I've never seen the expectation 'finish bottom of the league' before. All you have to do is put a team out every match. :D

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22 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

I've never seen the expectation 'finish bottom of the league' before. All you have to do is put a team out every match. :D

 

9 hours ago, qwertygod said:

Can you get sacked if you don't finish bottom of the league trollololol

Job for life :D 

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February 2018

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Thought this would be a bad month when, in addition to my young target man being out for 3 months, my poacher got injured for 2 months and my main centre back and experienced head out for 10 months with a damaged hip (and lets face it at the age of 34 he's not coming back from that). But then the game after the centre back gets injured we keep our first clean sheet in 16 games so what do I know? We're now unbeaten in 6 and looking upwards so the season won't be catastrophic after all. The board will be disappointed as we're not finishing bottom of the league!

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2018 Youth Intake

Won't lie, a little bit disappointed! When I read the news item about a golden generation I wondered what gems we had. And the star ratings would indicate a lot of potential. But then the baseline is low. Had hoped we'd have a couple of first team ready players given that our training facilities and coaches are garbage at this point. At least the personalities aren't too bad and some of their physical stats are good. Onwards and upwards!

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Edited by alexcmann

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Nice town, been there in 2005 during my holidays in Scotland. Pillaged the first shop seen selling touristic stuff, as a true professional low-league tourist.

C'mon then!

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