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phnompenhandy

The Backstop Bottom-Feeder

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Posted (edited)

Level 12 England

Level 12 Scotland

Level 12 All-Ireland

Level 7   Wales

L1   Spain, Germany, Italy, France

 

1. IRELAND - level 12 - CRAGGY ISLAND

Starting in ICC/D Division 6 – that’s the lowest league rep in the save: amateur level Ireland. I changed a Donegal club’s name to ‘Craggy Island’ and lowered the rep to 30, making it the weakest in the game. I’m doing an Academy Challenge, so I can’t bring in any players.

An initial assessment of my playing staff revealed that I had no central midfielders at all. I decided to show a little flexibility and gave amateur contracts to two 15-year-old grey players to make up the numbers. With that, after considerable pre-season tinkering, I settled on a counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 formation. As the season commenced I discovered to my horror that the discipline rules in Ireland are two yellow cards is a ban and every card after that is a further ban – and the referees are VERY card-happy. I needed a full squad, therefore, and had to have all my 15 and 16 year-olds standby for regular appearances in the first team.

One thing about being on Craggy Island and working for free is that no one wants to be there. On the first day in the job I noted that only four people were willing to come, so I hired an assistant manager-cum-Head of Youth Development, a youth team manager-cum-scout, a reserve team manager-cum-Director of Football and a coach – just coach.

In mid-December I finally got a response to an advert and could hire a physio; a few days later, on Christmas Day, most of my staff got poached and I was left with just my assman and physio. No one was available to replace the lost boys. Around this time, however, our consistent inconsistency was turning into an unbeaten run albeit with more draws than victories. Injuries were frequent but along with the three or four suspensions per fixture, it was manageable due to only playing a fixture a fortnight – this was made possible by exiting the cups early doors even though they were the only source of income.

By March we’d stealthily sneaked up the table into promotion contention. True, our final four fixtures would be against the four favourites for the title, but nevertheless, there was always a chance. It was then that I realised that I wasn’t going to get the youth intake I was relying on for squad building. I cast my eyes around, wondering if I’d impressed enough to get a job with better prospects. Craggy had its attractions – to me if no one else – so I sent a speculative raven to the far north, to Orkney where I heard Kirkwall Thorfinn were looking for a manager.

Edited by phnompenhandy

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Does your academy contain the Italian fella from the "All priests over 75 five aside football match"? He knows the dark arts of the game, he'll do a job at that level.

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2 minutes ago, withnail316 said:

Does your academy contain the Italian fella from the "All priests over 75 five aside football match"? He knows the dark arts of the game, he'll do a job at that level.

You know, if it wasn't a journeyman career, I would have added all the characters. As it is all I did was name the stadium 'Father Ted's House' and nickname us 'Go on go on go on go on'. They do make for corking news items :lol:

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18 minutes ago, phnompenhandy said:

You know, if it wasn't a journeyman career, I would have added all the characters. As it is all I did was name the stadium 'Father Ted's House' and nickname us 'Go on go on go on go on'. They do make for corking news items :lol:

I suppose Pat Mustard's hairy babies must have a golden generation in them for future intakes, too!

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Awkwardly, as I awaited a reply from Kirkwall – which was looking less and less like happening, in late March we did get a youth intake from our academy – I guess the staff shortages had led to misunderstandings. Apart from some cover in central midfield, there was nothing to get excited about although most of the kids were more determined than our current squad. We went into our final four fixtures having just lost at home to one of the bottom sides but still clinging onto a promotion spot og goal difference. Talking of goal difference, at the top of the pyramid the English Premier League had just finished with Manchester City completing a long winning streak but finishing runners-up on goal difference to a team that lost it’s final two games – Liverpool. With Huddersfield, Fulham and Cardiff going down to be replaced by Leeds and Aston Villa, with Norwich in the play-offs, fantasy and reality seemed to segue into each other.

Going into the final day, all the top teams had been wobbling, but our situation was we were in 2nd, playing the team in 4th place who were 3 points behind on identical goal difference. If they won, we’d lose out. The team in third were 2 points behind with a goal difference one less but having scored more goals – if we drew and they won, we’d lose out – they were playing the top team who’d finish level with us on points but ahead on goals. With the team in 1st place was one point ahead of us, we could end up anywhere between first and fourth, but our fate at least was in our hands. Meanwhile, there had still been no word from the Norsemen, making me wonder if they were taking their time raping and pillaging their way down along the coast. They obviously knew Craggy Island was no Lindisfarne or they’d be here by now (turned out they’d won promotion under a caretaker manager and he got the gig).

With two academy kids on the bench due to suspensions, the first eleven were looking confident and sharp. As it happened, we not only won the match but with the other game ending in a draw, we nabbed not only promotion but the title. Yes, I had a trophy to attach to my CV. Surely someone would notice me now?

Scarily, it turns out there' no goal difference - it's all about the straws :eek:

 

2019 Craggy Island champions.jpg

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I applied for three positions, one my hometown in Scotland, Rothesay Brandanes (Caledonian Amateur Division Two – level 11 but just won promotion), one the other end of Ireland – Waterford Crystal (ICC/B Division 6 – level 10), and one on the mainland just a rowboat from Craggy, Aileach in the village of Burnfoot (pop. 450) in Donegal (ICC/A Division 3 – level 9). They’re all amateur clubs; I will be in need of a paycheck soon enough.

About that paycheck – the board got wind of my applications to other clubs and remarkably, for a club at this level, have announced the intention to turn semi-professional. The manager is to be given a monthly wage budget of 1.5K and, of course, a salary. That changes things. I figured that as I awaited any offers elsewhere, I could negotiate a contract with a no compensation clause. They agreed to pay me 250 quid a month. I stalled, and within a week the job interviews rolled in. It went very well with Rothesay Brandanes, but as a condition was that I work with a Director of Football, it was immediately apparent that I could no longer follow an Academy Challenge and if at the Danes I’d be following a director of Football Challenge which, at his level, is a nightmare! As I awaited a verdict from Rothesay as well as other job interviews, the Craggy chairman (Bishop Brennan?) requested talks. Despite the salary on the table, I distrusted his assurances and was ready to move on, so I declined. Sure enough, the next day I was chugging across the channel to meet the chairman of Aileach. It was made clear to me that despite Aileach being four levels higher than Craggy, with us going part-time, Craggy’s reputation was actually higher going into the next season and the move would be a step down. The same would be so for Waterford Crystal, so if I moved it would have to be to Rothesay. I completed the interview to keep the option on the backburner but if Rothesay got back to me I’d be moving to live in my gran’s old place in the Isle of Bute for sure.

Farewell and God bless,

 

Craggy Islandclub page.jpg

Father Ted team.jpg

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Yes, I've moved to Rothesay. I was actually there last summer and took a photo of the ground, along with my gran's house where I'll live as I'll still be wageless.

 

8325037.jpg

98048376.jpg

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Posted (edited)

2. SCOTLAND - level 10 - ROTHESAY BRANDANES

This is definitely a bigger challenge. Two levels higher in a new country involves bigger crowds and a better standard of players despite still being amateur. The squad seems more professional although the downside of that is I inherit half a dozen players all set to bully me into giving them first team football before I’ve even had a chance to assess them. The club is also swimming in debt.

Pressure from the off – we’re required to win promotion whilst some of our top players are subjects of attempted poaching before I’ve even had a chance to meet them. It’s all in the hands of Gillian Donaldson, our DoF whom I’ve also not yet met.

This is definitely a new experience for me – I’ve gone into a club that just won promotion and are expected to repeat the feat. Here’s me Nobby Nobody and they don’t respect me. I soon realised a growing number were going to the local rag to complain about me – fringe players, in my early estimation. I purged them all – ten in total, and dissent died down. It may have had the positive effect of persuading some of my best players to refuse offers to join other clubs, with the exception of our vice-captain and most influential player. This, however, was not the end of player management issues; I’m all for meritocracy and I soon found that a number of first-team regulars who’d earned the team promotion were frankly not pulling their weight in pre-season, and a number of kids were, so a number of senior players are going to find themselves turning out for the reserves as the season kicks off. Trouble ahoy.

Initially, our DoF brought in one player, arranged before I joined – a left back in a position we are fine in whilst not convincing anyone to fill the positions that did need strengthening, swiftly followed by three identical right backs. Soon enough a decent goalkeeper arrived, but he was joined by four similar central midfielders. The dribble of players brought in continued – the policy seemed utterly random and the quality all the same – not terrible but not particularly better than what we had; what’s more she promises them all first team football without consulting me, giving me further headaches. In addition, all the comings and goings caused me to constantly tweak the tactics until I ended up transforming my creative formations to a bog standard 4-4-2.

So the squad is over-wrought, and as no one is paid to be here, I can expect a number who don’t figure in the first team from the off to complain. They’ll be released and what I’ll have left is those with better attitudes – who’ll surely get their chances anyway as the inconsistent juvenile first team players will fade away soon enough.

Edited by phnompenhandy

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