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Posted (edited)

Hungerford Town - Against All Odds

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With 3 months left before FM2020 is released I would like to post a career with one of the smallest clubs in the English League system  I will try to get the team up in the better leagues - with all the problems and limitations a small club meets in this process. I will be playing FMT on my ipad and I hope you will read my career posts and give a comment if you feel like it  

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The sports journalists did not believe what they were hearing.  Hungerford Town FC, last season saving their position in the Vanarama National League South in the last round, had hired a totally unknown Dane as a new manager - me 😀

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The former manager, Ian Herring, had resigned in protest against the impossible working conditions - something that I should find out more about later on.

 Hungerford Town is set to embark on its third season in Vanarama National League South - which by itself is a performance in a small town of 5,800 residents between Swindon and Reading and with its only "fame" in the form of a massacre that took place in the city  in 1987.

 The club was among the relegation favorites and one of the reasons was the very modest squad.  I was presented to a total squad of 16 players including three players at the age of only 17 years old and a long-term injured player!  Except from three players, they were all new to the club after a massive replacement during the summer break.

 The club had two very qualified players on loan from Birmingham - 19-year-old goalkeeper Michael Luyambula (Congolese) and 19-year-old central defender Josh Martin, but otherwise the squad had only a few players with sufficient level such as 22-year-old English-Nigerian right-back Marvel Ekpiteta, 28-year-old left wing / striker Romone Rose and a talent in 19-year-old right-winger Tommy Ouldridge.

 And that was it! The squad was especially deficient in relation to left wingers as well as lack of width in attack, central defence and left back.

The rest of the squad did not appear to be at league level and also without the potential to reach it in a short time.  Only five players had a contract with fixed salary while the rest played on contracts with match bonus etc.

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 So there was a task in getting both a better and a broader squad, but without the big budget.  However, the Board increased the salary budget from £1,636 to £1,687 per week by giving the board the promise that I could save the club from relegation :) 

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Last season, the club finished one point above the relegation line after a 1-0 win over East Thurrock in the last match  A draw in that match and Hungerford would have been relegated.

 This would be Hungerford's third season in row in VNS. Best result was sixth place in 2016/17 where Hungerford as newly promoted was close to the playoff places.

The facilities were not flashy either.  Our home ground, Bulpit Lane, with seating for 2,500 spectators had been our home ground since the foundation in 1886, but was not at league level.  Nice but not up to date.

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Training facilities and youth department are at the same low level.  So there was a lot to work on 👍

 On the positive list, I mentioned that I had been favored by a good assistant manager, Kevin Watson, who had played 400 league games himself, including  in the Championship for Swindon, Reading and Colchester.  However, Kevin Watson was out of contract which could make his career with us unnecessarily short.

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Let the season begin :onmehead:

oleDk

 

Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Pre-season 2018

I started to search for new and extra players for our team immediately after the announcement to the press regarding the Manager situation.

I needed a couple of strikers, a left winger and a central defender - in addition to backup players in almost every position on field.

Due to the fact that there was almost no space left in the salary budget my search concentrated on youngsters out of contract with desire to play for us at “bonus per match” contracts  In this way, we picked up some 18-year-old players with potential to develop info first team players - hopefully with a fast development speed!😀

The new players before our first match were:

  • Sam Naylor, GK, 18, ex-Coventry youth player
  • Kris Queeley, DR, 18, ex-Millwall youth player
  • Michee Mbuti, DC, 18, ex-Derby youth player (£30 p/w contract)
  • Ethan Kaiser, DC, 18, ex-QPR youth player
  • Tommy Hope, DL/ML, 18, ex-MK Dons youth player
  • Bradley Bell, MC, 18, ex-MK Dons youth player (Irish 🇮🇪)
  • Edwin Towers, MC, 18, ex-Notts Co. youth player
  • Josh Masters, ML/AML, 18, ex-Maidenhead player (£30 p/w contract)
  • Victor Hamilton, STC, 18, ex-Woking player

(if nothing is mentioned the player has a bonus contract)

I was still in need of an extra striker or two but the scouted strikers had not been interesting for us.

 

After interest from Nigerian clubs for our right back Marvin Ekpiteta I decided to commit him for our side this season by giving him a £300 p/w contract for the season. I regarded him as a key player for our young team this season  

 

I decided to play a classical 4-4-2 in possession style with a few adjustments. In order to make sure the tactical were implemented quickly I arranged extra friendlies in pre-season. After a 2-1 win over lower ranking Swindon Supermarine we were bashed 0-4 at home against Aston Villa’s reserves but managed to get a 0-0 draw against Stoke’s reserves (actually we deserved to win over Stoke’s reserves). 

 

After this, we played six friendlies against lower ranking clubs and won five (one draw) and 15-4 as total goal score.👍

 

I felt we now were very ready to battle for survival in VNS 💪

Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Autumn 2018

Our first league match was away against Torquay. Debutant striker Victor Hamilton gave us a perfect start with a goal in 4th minute but we could not maintain the lead and eventually lost 1-2 and after a 2-0 lead to Woking at Bulpit Lane after only 18 minutes in our next match the task seemed very difficult but a fantastic comeback gave us a 2-2 draw after goals from Victor Hamilton and Tommy Hope in second half. 

This was good for our self confidence and in the following 8 league matches we did not lose a single match (6 wins, 2 draws) and suddenly found ourself in the playoff zone! 😀 Especially our defence with Josh Martin in central defence and Michael Luyambula in goal had been great and also fine display by Darren Foxley and Tommy Ouldridge in midfield and from young Victor Hamilton (a guy really punching above his weight class so to speak) with five league goals.

We had signed contracts with further young players so that now I was both more confidence with the qualitites of my first team squad and also satisfied with the latents in our reserve squad  the new signings were:

  • Nick Hall, GK, 19, ex-Portsmouth youth player
  • Joshua Ryder, DC, 18, ex-Port Vale youth player
  • Joe Mackenzie, DC, 18, ex-Southend youth player
  • Joel Whittingham, DL, 18, ex-Wolverhampton youth player (on a £30 p/w contract)
  • Joshua Emmins, DL, 19, ex-Cambridge youth player
  • Jack Stanley, DR, 19, ex-Swindon youth player
  • Josh Paskell, MC, 19, ex-Mansfield youth player
  • Ben Hornsby, MR/MC, 18, ex-Sheffield W. youth player
  • Adam Davie, ST, 18, ex-Derby youth player (last season on loan at Redditch)
  • Osagi Bascome, AMC/ST, 19, ex-Bristol City youth player (Bermudian national player 🇧🇲)
  • Ibraim So Sani, ST, 19, ex-Cardiff youth player (Welsh 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿)

Especially left-back Joel Whittingham was looking very promising and became my first choice on left-back immediately.

Our talented winger Alex Fragata (17) decided to join Tamworth and I decided to release Callum Willmoth (27) from his contract as I did not see any future for him in our team (released with still five months left of hos injury period) - harsh but necessary. 

Our participation in FA Cup started with a “must-win” match at home against lower ranking Potters Bar from Isthmian League. We did NOT play well but was saves by a long shot goal from Darren Foxley in 85th minute to get us a 2-1 victory and a £9K bonus.

We were lucky to draw Leatherhead (also playing in Isthmian League) away in next round but managed only to get a 0-0 draw in Leatherhead and had great difficulties at Bulpit Lane but managed to win 1-0 after a direct free kick goal from Tommy Ouldridge in 88th minute.

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In 4th Qual. Round we were facing Dag & Red from VNL at home at Bulpit Lane in front of season record attendance of 1,444. We were not facourites but managed to secure a surprising 2-0 win! 👍 We had qualified for First Round in FA Cup!

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The FA Cup success had consequences for our league performances. From 22/9 to 22/10 we played nine matches and I had to rotate more than desired. Twice there had been only one rest day between matches and after only one point in four league matches we had dropped to 9th place in the league table but still with 13 points down to relegation zone. Very satisfying for now  

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Edited by OleDK

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On 29/07/2019 at 23:14, Nobby_McDonald said:

Good luck at Hungerford.

Thanks Nobby 😄

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Posted (edited)

Winter 2018/19

 

As mentioned, we had qualified for First Round in FA Cup; an away match against Blackpool from League One. Most would say an impossible task for the minions from Hungerford Town FC. We did what we could in front of 4,642 football fans (83 of our fans included) but Blackpool did what was necessary for their side to win and we went home with a respectable 0-2 defeat. Respectable but still a defeat. However, the match gave a fine contribution to our club’s finances. 

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In FA Trophy, we had drawn our league rivals from Chippenham in an away match in 3rd Qual. Round. We had previously won there 2-1 in the league match (Chippenham being in the bottom third of the league table) and we produced a new victory with a 3-1 result after two fine goals from our young left winger Josh Masters. 

In First Round of FA Trophy we should play away against another team from VNS - Billericay from the top third of the league table. After an early lead to Billericay we scored an equalizer by experienced Romone Rose and the match seemed to end in a 1-1 draw but in the injury time of second half our young central defender Joshua Ryder (replaced Josh Martin in second half) scored his first goal ever for Hungerford and secured a surprise 2-1 victory 😀

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We picked up Blyth from bottom third of VNN in Second Round of FA Trophy but unfortunately we failed our chances to score and after a 0-0 draw at home at Bulpit Lane we went to Blyth and lost 2-3.  I had replaced Michael Luyambula in goal with reserve keeper Nick Hall to give him some match time and that was probably a bad idea 😱 But the Board were happy with the overall performance in FA Trophy👍

In the league, our performances were a bit bumpy. We made a great comeback home against Slough; going from 0-2 to win 5-2 but in general we had difficulties with teams from the top third and also we had it difficult with too much rotation in lineup but it was necessary from time to time. In February with played six matches in 14 days! 

With two-third of the season played we were seated in a fine 8th position in the league standings just one point below the playoff spots. Relegation was not an issue at all anymore. My goal for the season had changed to try to qualify to the playoff matches or at least maintain the place in top half of VNS.

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We were still on search for new players to strengthen the squad and signed the following players:

  • Lezion Cela, MC, 19, ex-Walsall youth player (Albanian 🇦🇱)
  • Jacob Rammell, MC, 20, ex-Shrewsbury youth player
  • Yohan Rutty-Smith, AM/MRLC, 20, ex-Notts County youth player
  • Harvey Moss, AML/ML, 20, ex-Bristol City youth plader
  • Kyle King, AMR/ST, 20, ex-Walsall youth player
  • Morgan Jones, ST, 19, ex-Crewe youth player (Welsh🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿)
  • Hugo Skepelhorn, ST, 19, ex-Chelmsford youth player
  • Callum Fullwood, ST, 19, ex-Fulham youth player

 

The Board was very happy with our results in all tournaments and offered me a contract for next season which I accepted at once. I was also happy with the situation and our development. 📈

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Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Spring 2019

We did well in VNS after the defeat in FA Trophy. Our squad was better off with playing once a week and we achieved 17 points in seven matches from end of January through February to the beginning of March and we climbed up in the league standings and were now battling fiercely for playoffmatches. 

During this process it was definitely bad timing that Kidderminster offered my Assistant manager Kevin Watson a job. I could not hold on to Kevin and had to start finding a qualified replacement.  I signed a contract with 30-year-old Paul Agu (former goalkeeper) as both the best alternative and also what we could afford 💰

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We signed only a few new players in the period:

  • Christian Mbeta, GK, 17, Sutton
  • Luke Dunn, DL, 19, ex-Brentford youth player
  • Joe Re, MC, 20, ex-Nottingham F. youth player
  • Dion Macfoy-Johnston, AML/ST, 21, ex-Yeovil youth player

I was very happy with the signing of the young goalkeeper Christian Mbeta who immediately became my second choice as goalkeeper. 

With only one league match left we were sitting in 6th position and only needed one more point (away against 3rd placed Chelmsford; and that was exactly what we managed after a goalless match. We had qualified for the playoffs 😀

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We should play away in Billericay in the quarterfinal. We had played against Billericay three times earlier this season and had not lost yet (2 wins and a draw) and after a freekick goal from left winger Harvey Moss we won a surprising 1-0 victory in the quarterfinal 💪

Harvey Moss scored yet another freekick goal in the semifinal away in Torquay this time an equalizer to 1-1. We played a close match against Torquay and the match seemed to go info extra time when Dion Macfoy-Johnstone who had entrered the field in second half as a substitute scored his first league goal ever to 2-1 with a few minutes left of the match! Good timing!

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We then went to London to play the playoff final at Dulwich Hamlet who had finished 5th in the league. The final was yet another close match but this time it was our time to lose in the final minutes. After a 89th minute 1-0 lead to Dulwich Hamlet we had to go home to Hungerford with no promotion bit with a lot of experience in the bag. 😢

Edited by OleDK

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A very good season. Shame about the playoff final defeat, I know that feeling all too well.

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Posted (edited)

2018/19 season review

The season had developed far better than expected. Not only to reach the playoff final but also with better results in both cup tournaments than expected. The good cup results meant that we could end the year with a small profit of £28K too.

The squad had changed dramatically through the season. Only few of the players in squad when I was hired were still in my first team squad when the season ended. A total of 50 players went in and out of the lineup through the season but the players with at least five first team matches were as follows:

  • Michael Luyambula 🇨🇩, GK, 19, 45 matches
  • Marvel Ekpiteta 🇳🇬, DR, 23, 52 matches
  • Jack Stanley, DR, 20, 6 matches
  • Josh Martin, DC, 20, 50 matches (1 assist)
  • Michee Mbuti, DC, 19, 50 matches (2 goals)
  • Joshua Ryder, DC, 20, 28 matches (1 goal)
  • Joe Mackenzie, DC, 20, 5 matches
  • Joel Whittingham, DL, 19, 44 matches
  • Tommy Hope, DL/ML, 19, 24 matches (3 goals, 1 assist)
  • Joshua Emmins, DL, 20, 5 matches
  • Tommy Ouldridge, MR/MC, 20, 44 matches (2 goals, 9 assists)
  • Ritchie Whittingham, MR/MC, 27, 8 matches (1 goal)
  • John Hornsby, MRC/AMR, 19, 7 matches
  • Darren Foxley, MC, 21, 50 matches (8 goals, 7 assists)
  • Bradley Bell 🇮🇪, MC, 19, 45 matches (4 goals, 7 assists)
  • Josh Paskell, MC, 19, 34 matches (3 goals, 1 assist)
  • Harvey Moss, AML/ML, 20, 25 matches (7 goals, 5 assists)
  • Josh Masters, AML//ML, 19, 25 matches (4 goals, 3 assists)
  • Romone Rose, AML/ST, 29, 27 matches (6 goals, 6 assists)
  • Morgan Jones 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿, ST, 20, 34 matches (7 goals, 3 assists)
  • Callum Fullwood, ST, 20, 23 matches (7 goals, 1 assist)
  • Victor Hamilton, ST, 19, 14 matches (6 goals, 1 assist)
  • Adam Davie, ST, 19, 15 matches (3 goals)
  • Ibraim So Sani 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿, ST, 20, 6 matches (4 goals)
  • Hugo Skepelhorn, ST, 20, 10 matches (1 goal)
  • Kyle King, AMR/ST, 21, 6 matches (1 goal) 
  • Dion Macfoy-Johnston, ST, 21, 8 matches (1 goal)

Almost all the players were aged 19-21 years - great potential in both first team and reserve squad.

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Darren Foxley was elected Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year by our fans and Harvey Moss was elected as Signing of the Season 👍

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We were looking forward to 2019/20 season with great enthusiasm here at Hungerford Town FC!

ole dk

Edited by OleDK

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18 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

I have Ekpitete in my Bishop's Stortford FM18 save. He's doing alright.

He has been solid as a rock in my defence and very stabil too. The other experienced players in first team lost level through The season but Ekpiteta developed instead. So he’s alright in FM19 too 😄

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Posted (edited)

Pre-season 2019

After the season end I made sure to have my preferred lineup (apart from players on loan at us) on contract for the coming season so that it would be as stabil as possible. Probably a good idea, as other clubs swarmed like bees around my squad and gave them offers and with the limitation in funds here at Hungerford Town FC it was very difficult for me to make all of them stay here. 

I had to say goodbye to the following players from last years’ squad:

  • Michael Luyambula 🇨🇩, GK, 19, 45 matches - returned after loan period to BirminghaM
  • Jack Stanley, DR, 20, 6 matches - free transfer to Brackley
  • Josh Martin, DC, 20, 50 matches - returned after loan period to Birmingham
  • Ritchie Whittingham, MR/MC, 27, 8 matches - free transfer to Brackley
  • Ben Hornsby, MRC/AMR, 19, 7 matches - free transfer to Eastbourne
  • Romone Rose, AML/ST, 29, 27 matches - free transfer to Hendon
  • Victor Hamilton, ST, 19, 14 matches - free transfer to East Thurrock
  • Ibraim So Sani 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿, ST, 20, 6 matches - free transfer to TNS 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿
  • Kyle King, AMR/ST, 21, 6 matches - free transfer to Gosport

I tried several times to persuade Birmingham to send Michael Luyambula and Josh Martin on loan here for another season but their demands were above our budgets and furthermore they preferred they could play together with better players than ours😡

So we had to do without them. Young Christian Mbeta (18) with four first team matches last season should replace Luyambula as first team keeper with Sam Naylor (19, 1 first team match) as backup. Definitely a level down compared to solid Luyambula!

We managed to attract some new players both as substitutes for the players who left us and who could strengthen our first team squad. Furthermore, we signed several young talents for the reserves (not listed here). The new players in our first team squad were:

  • Joseph Jarvis, DR/MR, 18, Northampton
  • Regan Ganley, DC, 18, Burton
  • Jordan Dyer, DC, 18, Exeter
  • Jack Henchcliffe, MR, 18, Notts County
  • James Whiting, MC, 18, Portsmouth
  • Joshua Ede, ML/AML, 18, Port Vale
  • Rio Douglas, ST, 18, Peterborough
  • Liam Bishop, ST, 18, Newport (Welsh 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿)

I was very happy with the signings of Regan Ganley and Rio Douglas - both very talented players with a bright future ahead of them. I believe, we have strengthened the team’s attacking qualities but have levelled down defensively.

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All of the first team players were aged 18-20 years except for Marvel Ekpiteta (23), Darren Foxley and Harvey Moss (both 21) and I named 20-year old Tommy Ouldridge as a very young captain at this level. 

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The Board decided to increase the standing area at Bulpit Lane so that the stadium capacity could be increased to 3,000 fans which is the minimum requirements of the VNS. In total a £50K investment partly paid by the local authorities. Not especially a needed requirement here as last season’s average attendance at Bulpit Lane was 416 fans...

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My budget was increased 25% to £2,140 per week in salaries. Still a very low budget (£110K per season) but still an improvement. This was based on a mutual expectation to end in mid-table of VNS this season (bookmakers put us in 10th place of VNS). I was hoping we could do better but if we failed my job would probably end so better to agree on low expectations!

The friendlies in pre-season went well. We lost 3-4 to Reading (Championship) and 0-2 to Swindon (League One) but apart from those defeats to our affiliates we played against six lower ranking teams with five wins a draw and 25-3 as goal score💪

The season ticket sales was also growing - not rapidly however 😱

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Just before season start our right back Marvel Ekpiteta was injured and away for the first 3-6 weeks. Bad timing! 😩

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Let us see what we can achieve with kids in the lineup!

Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Autumn 2019 

Our first match in VNS was away against Maidenhead (relegated from VNL previous season). We had four debutants in our lineup; Rio Douglas as striker, Regan Ganley and Jordan Dyer in central defence and Joseph Jarvis on right-back (as substitute for injured Ekpiteta).

Our young players gave Maidenhead a real football lesson. Rio Douglas (who turned 18 just a month ago) scored a perfect hat-trick in first half giving us a 3-0 lead at tea time. The match ended with a surprising 5-2 victory 😀

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We kept on performing great and after eight matches we had seven wins and a loss (an unnecessary 1-0 defeat in Dartford on an own goal by Jarvis and a missed penalty shoot by Morgan Jones. Shooting statistics: Hungerford 13 - Dartford 5 😩

Afterwards, the results were somewhat more fluctuating also because of a very tight match schedule with cup matches inbetween. The following five league matches only added four more points to the table with four draws and a single defeat. We were a bit unlucky a times but some would say it was only lack of efficiency and quality.

We were placed fourth in the league after 15 rounds (with a match in hand). Very satisfying - however first place was far away for us.

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We added a few players for the first team squad:

  • Craig Foxall, GK, 18, Cambridge (time would tell if he or Mbeta would be preferred in goal)
  • Ralph Graham, MC, 19, on loan from Swindon (rotation player in midfield)

Joe Mackenzie (DC, 20) left us after being offered a contract at East Thurrock.

After qualifying to First Round in FA Cup last season I was hoping for success again this season (also because it boosted our financials). Therefore, I was very happy to draw Harlow from Isthmian League at home in our first match. Unfortunately we lacked luck and efficiency in front and despite of 17 shots at goal (2 to Harlow) the match ended goalless. 👎

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in the replay in Harlow we got behind 1-0 after only 3 minutes but a penalty goal by Morgan Jones and a freekick goal by Harvey Moss secured a narrow 2-1 win and qualificafion to next round which was a home match agains Staines from Southern  Premier South. This time our concentration was better and we won an easy 4-0 victory. 

In 4th Qual  Round we should play at home against our league rivals from Chelmsford. We played a great match and won 4-0 after two goals from Rio Douglas (who missed a penalty so no hat-trick this time). We were ready to FA Cup First Round again this season! An away match against York from VNN (placed fourth at the moment. More about this in the next update 😀

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Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Winter 2019/20 - Vanarama National League South

Last season, our run in FA Cup ended in First Round with a defeat away against Blackpool from League One. This year, we had reached same round but with an easier but still difficult opponent away against York from top of Vanarama North. I was hoping we could make it to Second Round for the first time in the history of Hungerford Town FC.

Unfortunately we got behind 1-0 after only four minutes and despite the match being very close, our hopes for club records were shattered with a 2-0 goal after an hour of play (Christian Mbeta had grabbed a penalty kick a few minutes before the 2-0 goal) and so it ended. No more FA Cup this season 😡👎

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The FA Cup elimination meant that we could focus more on VNS and it went very well. Very well indeed!

We went from victory to victory and after 21 rounds (exactly half way through the season) we had closed the gap to Havant & Waterlooville and Billericay and entered the leading position in VNS💪 after being undefeated in 10 matches! 

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This was certainly so much better than expected and the Board was very thrilled about this and offered me a contract for 2020/21 which I immediately accepted.

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But we did not stop here. After yet another seven matches unbeaten - a total of 17 unbeaten league matches in a row so far we and Billericay had taken the lead with seven points down to Havant & W in third position. We had the direction to a duel between Billericay and us regarding direct promotion to Vanarama National League for the rest of the season😀!

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Our players were ranked High in the league statistics. Morgan Jones and Rio Douglas with 14 and 12 league goals were in top of the goal scorer list and midfielder Bradley Bell, wingers Tommy Ouldridge and Harvey Moss, left back Joel Whittingham and central defender Regan Ganley were among the players with best ratings. I had become Manger of the Month once and Morgan Jones had been awarded as Player of the Month once in the season so far. Not bad for a first team squad with 19.6 as average age.....

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We had also started our participation in FA Trophy. We had a fine draw with Cirencester from Southern League Division One (Tier 8 in the English league system) but struggled to win 1-0. Next Round away against Hayward Heath from same level. Despite getting behind 0-1 we won a secure 6-1 victory and was qualified to Second Round of FA Trophy. We had drawn league rivals from Woking in an away match in next round and despite seeming as a difficult task in advance we strolled past Woking with a very impressive 6-0 victory after a hat-trick by winger Tommy Ouldridge 💪

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I’m looking forward to tell you how the season enes in a few days. I hope it ends well!😱

 

Edited by OleDK

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Funny timing... Ekpiteta has just got injured in my game too. He damaged his shoulder in a match and will miss 2-3 months.

And you said the ground capacity increase wasn't needed due to your average attendance being 416. It was needed to meet league requirements.

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Posted (edited)

Spring 2020 - Vanarama National League South

We had drawn Tranmere from top half of National League away in Third Round of FA Trophy. We played a fine match considered that Tranmere were big favourites but eventually we lost 0-1 on a goal in the middle of second half😢. So now we could concentrate us fully on the battle against Billericay in VNS.

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We played well and kept on getting points in all league matches (among others a fine 5-0 win at Braintree) but Billericay just kept winning and winning. With seven league matches lef in the season we were heading to Billericay for a real top match between the two best teams of the league. Billericay was four points ahead of us after 11 victories in a row (!) and an unbeaten run of 17 matches (!!). Hungerford went to the match with 25 matches unbeaten (!!!). We needed a win to reduce the gap to Billericay.

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We were definitely the best team this Saturday afternoon but we failed to score on our chances and we had to take home with a 0-0 draw as the result. Now it looked very difficult for us 👎

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But after a Billericay defeat against Havant & W (after 19 matches undefeated) and a couple of wins for our side we were only 1 point after Billericay with three games left of the season. But when we were required to produce a victory in an “easy match” against East Thurrock just above the relegation zone we failed. East Thurrock won the three points after a 2-0 win at Bulpit Lane after a collective offday by our side, ending a unbeaten run of impressive 28 matches. As usual Billericay won so with two rounds left of the season we once again were four points after Billericay. Billericay just needed three points in the two matches left to celebrate their promotion and we could start our preparations for the playoffs.

However, a 2-1 defeat to Billericay in Woking and a fine 3-0 Hungerford win at home against 3rd placed Havant & Waterlooville re-established the thrill. One point between us and Billericay before the final round and with us having a better goal score as advantage so if we could beat Oxford away and Billericay did not beat Dartford at home (or we had a draw against Oxford and Billericay lost to Dartford) we would win the league and gain promotion to Vanarama National League. Neither Oxford or Dartford had anything else but honour to play for in the final round, both being placed i the middel of VNS.

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It seemed quite difficult and that was also the opinion of our fans. Only 34 supporters from Hungerford bothered to drive the 35 miles from Hungerford to Oxford to support our players.

But my young players didn’t bother. They played a fantastic match and smashed Oxford 6-0 after a hat-trick by our top goal scorer Morgan Jones. But how about Billericay ? They had a fantastic start of the match against Dartford with a very early lead. Dartford scored an equalizer a few minutes later but Billericay regained the lead with a 2-1 goal after only 9 minutes of play. But once again Dartford scored an equalizer, this time to 2-2 after 36 minutes. And despite many chances to Billericay no more goals were scored in that match. We had won the league and was promoted to Vanarama National League 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

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Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Season review 2019/20

The promotion to Vanarama National League was the best result in the history of Hungerford Town FC and therefore the season could only be categorized as a major success. But getting to Third Round in FA Trophy (personal record and maybe also for the club) and reaching First Round in FA Cup (as last season) were definitely also good results and better than expected.

The squad had improved a lot since last season despite losing two key players after last season (Michael Luyambula and Josh Martin, both returned to Birmingham after loan spejls at Hungerford). Rio Douglas in attack, Regan Ganley and Jordan Dyer in central defence and Joseph Jarvis in right back had been great and many of the profiles from last season had developed well.

Many of our players made it to the top lists of VNS. Among those league top goal scorer Morgan Jones and Harvey Moss with the best ratings 👍

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The following players had represented Hungerford in the season (minimum five first team matches):

  • Craig Foxall, GK, 19, 36 matches
  • Christian Mbeta, GK, 19, 15 matches, 1 assist
  • Joseph Jarvis, DR/MR, 19, 50 matches, 6 assists
  • Marvin Ekpiteta 🇳🇬 DR, 24, 20 matches
  • Regan Ganley, DC, 18, 49 matches, 2 assists
  • Jordan Dyer, DC/MC, 18, 45 matches, 1 assist
  • Michee Mbuti, DC, 20, 12 matches
  • Joshua Ryder, DC, 19, 11 matches
  • Ollie Swain, DC, 19, 6 matches
  • Joel Whittingham, DL, 20, 50 matches, 2 assists
  • Luke Dunn, DL, 21, 11 matches
  • Tommy Ouldridge, MR/MC, 21, 43 matches, 13 goals, 9 assists
  • Jack Henchcliffe, MR, 19, 12 matches, 1 assist
  • Bradley Bell 🇮🇪 MC, 20, 47 matches, 3 goals, 10 assists
  • Darren Foxley, MC, 22, 41 matches, 4 goals, 3 assists
  • Ralph Graham, MC, 20, 26 matches, 2 goals, 1 assist
  • James Whiting, MC, 19, 12 matches, 2 assists
  • Harvey Moss, AML/ML, 21, 48 matches, 14 goals, 15 assists
  • Joshua Ede, ML/AML, 19, 14 matches, 1 goal
  • Morgan Jones 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 ST, 21, 51 matches, 26 goals, 5 assists
  • Rio Douglas, ST, 18, 50 matches, 23 goals, 6 assists
  • Callum Fullwood, ST, 21, 22 matches, 6 goals
  • Liam Bishop, ST, 19, 17 matches, 1 goal, 3 assists

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Harvey Moss was elected Player of the Season by our fans and also Young Player of the Season. Rio Douglas was awarded Signing of the season by our fans.

The Board was very happy and I could probably not get much more confidence from the Board than right now.

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Due to extra league requirements of VNL the Board decided to expand Bulpit Lane once more so that the future capacity would be 4,300 fans. However, only 497 had attended our home matches in average (growth 20%) so it was not a demand from our fans. A big investment for a small club (£700K but partly paid by local authorities)

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I decided to spend £8K on improving our medical staff (because of extra League matches next season) by hiring a new head physio (Josh Price, 28 years old) and sack our present (Liam Sterling, 30 years old) head physio. Almost all stats and personalities were in favour of our new head physio 😀

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The financial situation was still okay with a £41K profit and with £67K deposits in the bank 💰

Harvey Moss was elected Player of the Year in VNS and I was elected Manager of the Year in VNS 😀

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We were ready for our first season ever in Vanarama National League 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Edited by OleDK

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1 hour ago, deltablue said:

Good luck in the Bananarama National. 

😄🍌

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Posted (edited)

Pre-season 2020

Being debutants in Vanarama National League everyone said we were favourites for a quick return to VNS. The bookmakers gave us only a small chance to survive with the odds 1-5 to be relegated but I convinced my Board that we could avoid relegation and they handed me a budget of £7,276 per week in return (more than a tripling of last season’s budget and £378K per year)

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The extra funds were also very much needed as it was obvious that we needed to strengthen our squad to survive in our VNL debut season. As in previous seasons our target were young players with no transfer fees required.

After many attempts we agreed with Swindon’s young midfielder Ralph Graham about an extra season on loan at Hungerford Town but our central defender Joshua Ryder decided to leave us on a free transfer after many complaints last season about more playing time.

Instead we loaned 18-year-old striker Sonny Haynes at our affilliate club Swindon. Haynes could become a very important player for our side this season with his fine pace and accelleration.

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The first team-squad was strengthened with the following players:

  • Bradley Foster-Theniger, GK, 18, from Derby U18
  • Blaine Rowe, DR, 19, from Coventry U18
  • Avan Jones, DC, 18, from Luton U18
  • Duncan Idehen, DC, 18, from Lincoln U18
  • Ryan Law, DL, 20, from Plymouth
  • Tom Hillman 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 MR/DR, 19, promoted from reserves (last season free transfer from Newport U18)
  • Stan Bridgman, MC, 18, from Portsmouth U18
  • Sonny Haynes, ST, 18, loan from Swindon
  • Zach Robinson, ST, 18, from AFC Wimbledon U18
  • Maxwell Chimenes, ST, 19, from Port Vale U18

We said goodbye to:

  • Joshua Ryder, DC, 20 (39 first team matches), free transfer to Hampton & Richmond
  • Liam Bishop 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 ST, 19 (17 first team matches), free transfer to Maidenhead 

With 10 players joining first team squad and only 2 players leaving the club so far some players were demoted to the reserves. Most notably striker Rio Douglas due to the new and better players. But Rio Douglas is young (19) so I hope to keep him at the club and hopefully he will come back to first team later. Other players would probably leave us in the coming months if they were too far away from playing time in our first team squad. 

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The Chairman announced a partnership with Winchester City (35-40 miles from Hungerford) from Southern League Division One South (Tier 8). I used the opportunity to send some of our young players with no chance of getting  playing time here at Hungerford on loan at Winchester hoping they could develop better there. 

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The ticket office informed about a doubling in sale of season tickets - from 56 to 121 💪

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Let’s play!

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Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Autumn 2020 - Vanarama National League

Bulpit Lane was the scene of our first match in Vanarama National League ever in the club’s history. The opposition team was Dagenham & Redbridge who - of course - were favourites to win. Dag & Red had the lead 1-0 after only 13 minutes bit we were the best team on grass rest of the match but it took a long time until Morgan Jones scored the equalizing goal after 71 minutes. We should have won the match but failed to score on our chances  We gave debut to four players from start:  Bradley Foster-Theniger in goal, Avan Jones in central defence, Stan Bridgman in midfield and Sonny Haynes in attack. During the match, Blaine Rowe (DR) and Zach Robinson (ST) also made their debut for Hungerford Town FC.

We followed up to the draw with three wins in a row among them a merit 3-0 victory away against Macclesfield before Aldershot beat us 2-1 at home in our first defeat in the season.33BFE06B-5FB0-423D-A7CA-463D16DC5811.thumb.png.d0a618eb1278d2374704f9aa2ac12c44.png

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We remained seated in top half and after 15 rounds (one third of the season) we were sitting comfortably in 5th position in the playoffzone 👍 with 13 points down to the relegation places. My calculation said that 50 points are necessary to avoid relegation and we already had 27 points in our possession. I Think we can start dreaming about more this season 🙏

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Sonny Haynes (7 goals) and Morgan Jones (6 goals) had been very good for us and also fine performances by midfielders Bradley Bell and Harvey Moss.

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The Board was very happy with our results and already in October they offered me a contract for next season (10 months in advance!) with a small wage rise to £875 per week. I accepted, naturally 😀

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The squad was strengthened in midfield when signing a contract with 19-year-old Portuguese midfielder João Rangel 🇵🇹 from Mansfield (former youth player at Barnsley) who seemed as a very promising player. Our depth in midfield was fine and Darren Foxley had difficulties maintaining his Seat in the match squad. Despite only being 23 years, Darren was passed by younger players in the struggle for first team matches.

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I also said goodbye to a few reserve players:

  • Jamie Smith, DC/DR, 22, free transfer to East Thurrock (8 first team matches)
  • Josh Paskell, MC, 21, released (37 first team matches)
  • Josh Masters, AML/ML, 20, released (25 first team matches)
Edited by OleDK

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Fantastic season for you so far. Great to see you have such a good defensive record for a newly promoted side - good luck!

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Excellent beat Billericay to the National League South title, and going great guns so far this season.

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Posted (edited)

Winter 2020/21 - Vanarama National League

The ground expansion of Bulpit Lane was completed mid-October as planned. Bulpit Lane’s capacity was now 4,300 (800 seats). Between 750 and 1,000 spectators per match had been attending our home matches so far this season. And now the facilities were very suitable for our fans 👍

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Until now the record attendance at Bulpit Lane had been 1,684 in a match against Sudbury in 1989. This record was about to be beaten 😱

In FA Cup we had started with a home match against Hemel Hempstead from VNS which we won 2-1 after a solid but not impressive performance. In First Round we had drawn Southend from the top of League Two in an away match. Southend had 21 shots at goal (11 shots on target) but a great performance from Christian Mbeta in goal and our defence in general we went home to Hungerford with a sensationel 2-0 victory 💪😀 after two goals by Sonny Haynes. 

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For the first time in my Hungerford career (and probably in the club’s history) we had qualified to Second Round in FA Cup. The  £18K bonus also did well on our bank account! We picked another top team from League Two (Rochdale) in Second Round at home at Bulpit Lane and with 1,717 attending the match we had a new record 😀 and also new club record with £35K in gate receipts (previous record £28K).

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But how about the match? We put in a fine effort and did fine but Rochdale showed their class and they pulled a close 1-0 victory home to Rochdale - like most people had expected in advance. But we had earned much pride from our performance in FA Cup this season .

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We made new contracts for 2021/22 with most of the first team regulars but I could not convince one of our most important players; left-back Joel Whittingham wouldn’t extend his contract with us 😩 and we received offers from Torquay and Chester but both were non-negotiable offers with 0 transfer free so I turned down both of the offers. I was hoping he would change his mind on a later stage but the odds for an extension of contract were not good.

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The squad was still under development. I promoted 18-year-old midfielder John Dickinson (free transfer from AFC Telford in June) and striker Archie Elemore (18 - free transfer in June from Shrewsbury)  from the reserves after a fine development and Rio Douglas re-entered first team squad after fine performances in our Reserve matches. I had quite fine hopes for the future regarding Josh Dickinson who - with further experience could become a very fine player for us).

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We had to say goodbye to further reserve players, most notably former first-team regular right-back Marvin Ekpiteta (25, 72 first-team matches), Joshua Emmins (21, DL, 5 matches) and Hugo Skepelhorn (22, ST, 10 matches).

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Our league performances were quite difficult to predict in advance. We had a fine period in October/November with four wins in five matches (only defeat 0-1 at home to leaders Stevenage) and 13-7 as goal score but after this followed a period with only one point in five matches in November/December (goal score 3-7) until beating Sutton 2-0 at New Year’s Eve but after 31 rounds of VNL we were sitting in 6th position with 7 points down to Dover in 8th position below the playoff zone. We had reached more than 50 points already so another season at this level had been secured and now we were hoping to qualify for the playoffs or at least finish in the top half of VNL which would be a very fine result in our debut season in VNL.

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We had drawn Maidenhead from the top of VNS in First Round of FA Trophy. We should play in Maidenhead and despite dominating the matched we failed to score. 0-0 and a replay match at home at Bulpit Lane. The replay match was more succesful for us with a 2-0 win without major difficulties. Our opponent in Second Round would be York from the top of VNN which could become a fine chance for us both to qualify to Third Round like last season but also to get revenge for our FA Cup defeat last season.

Let’s admit it. For the neutral viewer the match was awful. After 85 minutes there had only been five shots on goal (4 from our side) and only one shot at target (ours) but the match seemed to end goalless and therefore we could have a new replay match at home until defender Regan Ganley decided to kick the ball back to our keeper but hit it a little too hard and beside our keeper so the ball ended behind our keeper as a shameful own goal. We pressed a lot in the final few minutes but ended as losers. I was 😡 very angry but nothing could change the fact that our cup run of the season had ended 👎😩

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So we could now focus on VNL and the battle for playoff seats

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Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

April 2021 - Vanarama National League

The success we had enjoyed in the first two-third of the season had put us in the top of the league with good chances of qualifying to the playoffs. One of the primary reasons for this had been our talented strikers Sonny Haynes and Morgan Jones who had scored 14 league goals each out of our total of 51 league goals.

But both of the strikers dropped in efficiency in the final third of the season and that had a massive negative effect on our results. I tried to rotate more (Rio Douglas was given some starts) but nothing seemed to help so in the final 15 league matches of the season they only scored a total of four goals. The goal scoring crisis had great negative impact on our results and our fans’ happiness 😩👎

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After only two points in five matches in January/February (goal score 2-5) we had fallen to 8th place which wouldn’t qualify for the playoff matches. However, our defence was still very solid and the following five matches (goal score 6-1) earned us a total of 13 points which mad us climb back into the playoff zone.

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After three defeats in Round no. 43, 44 and 45 (in which our defence crackled in a 2-4 defeat away to Sutton. The situation before last Round was that we were placed 8th one point behind Fylde and two points behind Dag & Red in 6th place. A win in our last match at home against Hartlepool (placed 4th) was necessary for us. The final match was a good reproduction of our season finish. We failed to score but our good defence kept Hartlepool away from goals so 0-0 and a finish on 8th place - one point behind the playoff zone 😡

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Despite the disappointing season finish it still had been a great debut season in Vanarama National League for us and our strikers ended fine in the goal scorer list, too. But it was necessary for us to improve our efficiency next season to survive in VNL next season!

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But at least one thing went my way in the spring of 2021: 💪

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Beside from renewing contracts with all first team regulars not a lot happened on the transfers. We signed a 22-year-old striker Brandon Taverner on a free transfer from Welling as backup player in front. Grimsby showed interest in our former first team keeper Craig Foxall (20, 36 first team matches) and I decided to let him go on a free transfer as he was only our third choice in goal. Midfielder Joe Re (22, 8 matches) also left us on a free transfer in favour of Worcester.

Edited by OleDK

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Posted (edited)

Season review 2020/21

Despite the disappointing season end we could be proud of ourselves. To finish in the best third of Vanarama National League in our debut season in the league - and thereby making the best result in the club’s history was far better than anyone could have expected from us. 

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At the same time, our squad was very young (average age 19.8 years) and with a prospective future ahead. Many players had developed well in this season. 

The following players had represented Hungerford this season (five first team matches as minimum):

  • Bradley Foster-Theniger, GK, 19, 40 matches
  • Christian Mbeta, GK, 20, 10 matches
  • Blaine Rowe, DR, 19, 47 matches
  • Joseph Jarvis, DR/MR, 20, 24 matches, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Avan Jones, DC, 19, 47 matches, 2 goals, 3 assists
  • Regan Ganley, DC, 19, 47 matches, 1 goal
  • Jordan Dyer, DC, 19, 23 matches, 1 assist
  • Duncan Idehen, DC, 18, 10 matches, 2 assists
  • Joel Whittingham, DL, 21, 50 matches
  • Ryan Law, DL, 21, 11 matches
  • Tommy Ouldridge, MR, 22, 49 matches, 6 goals, 3 assists
  • Tom Hillman 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 MR, 20, 9 matches
  • Bradley Bell 🇮🇪 MC, 21, 48 matches, 4 goals, 11 assists
  • João Rangel 🇵🇹 MC, 19, 42 matches, 1 goal, 3 assists
  • Ralph Graham, MC, 21, 26 matches, 4 goals, 4 assists
  • John Dickinson, MC, 18, 17 matches, 4 goals, 1 assist
  • Stan Bridgman, MC, 19, 16 matches, 1 assist
  • Harvey Moss, AML/ML, 22, 44 matches, 5 goals, 10 assists
  • joshua Ede, ML/AML, 20, 11 matches
  • Sonny Haynes, ST, 19, 51 matches, 19 goals, 2 assists
  • Morgan Jones 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 ST, 22, 51 matches, 17 goals, 3 assists
  • Rio Douglas, ST, 19, 12 matches, 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Maxwell Chimenes, ST, 20, 9 matches
  • Zach Robinson, ST, 19, 9 matches
  • Brandon Taverner, ST, 23, 7 matches
  • Archie Elemore, ST, 19, 6 matches

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Many of the players from this season became members of Best 11 among them Morgan Jones with now 50 first team goals and Joel Whittingham with 144 first team matches.

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Our fans elected Bradley Bell as Player of the Year and also as Young Player of the Year. Our young defender Avan Jones was elected Signing of the Season.

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The Board decided to increase our youth development budget. In future, we could hope for better youth players. At the moment we had a couple of our own youth players in our reserve squad but not with substantial potential.

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Our financial situation was also improving. After a £73K profit of the season we now had accumulated more than £140K in the bank - fine for a VNL club.

 

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Edited by OleDK

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Disappointing to miss out on the play-offs by just a point but what a great first season in the National League! I'm sure with some good summer additions, promotion will be on the cards next season!

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2 hours ago, King Costly said:

Disappointing to miss out on the play-offs by just a point but what a great first season in the National League! I'm sure with some good summer additions, promotion will be on the cards next season!

Thanks hoping for playoffs next season if it works out for us!

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Excellent first season at this level, though a shame to be so close to the playoffs.

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Posted (edited)

Pre-season 2021

I was really looking forward to strengthen our squad in the summer of 2021 to put even more quality into my first-team squad but out of nowhere came a bid for our captain Tommy Ouldridge.

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The bid from Boston United was only on £10,500 plus bonuses (I suppose I could increase their bid to £15K-£20K through negotiating) and I had signed two young promising right wingers, aged 17 and 18 and being 22 Ouldridge could probably be in his final season with us if the two youngsters developed as good as I was hoping they would.

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I simply had to take a break from the game to think it through. Tommy Ouldridge was on a £300 p/w contract so I could probably strengthen our financials with £30K-£35K through a sale. But selling our captain and basing our hopes on two youngsters in right midfield  was not attractive so the final decision: I declined their bid (even though it would have been a record sale for the club).

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The expectations for the seasons were still very low. The Board expected us to fight to avoid relegation (probably based on the poor season end last season) and the bookmakers also predicted us finishing 21st (meaning relegation) but I added a bit to the Board’s expectations and they provided me with a wage budget of £10,443 per week and a transfer budget of £32K. A total budget of approximately £575K which was far above our previous budget. It meant we could attract a bit more experienced players now.

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The Board announced a new partnership with Ascot from Hellenic Premier. We already had a similar (free) partnership with Winchester from Southern League Division One South so to be honest I found it a bit difficult to see the purpose of this partnership - I’d rather find a promising youngster for my squad for the same amount 😩

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My good Assistant Manager received a offer from Chelmsford to become their First Team manager and when I heard about the offer I knew I couldn’t hold on to him.

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So I went to see who was available and suitable in the rolle of our future Assistant Manager (my third in this Hungerford career) and I decided to offer the job to 33-year-old Stephen Brogan with an active career with 228 league matches as defender from League One to non-league football. A very suitable replacement instead of Paul Agu but with different strength areas than Agu.

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Besides these activities we did sign new players. A lot actually 💪

  • Alex Higgs, GK, 18, free transfer from Burton
  • Lawrence Mensah 🇬🇭 DR, 18, free transfer from Barnet
  • Stephen Edwards, DC, 18, free transfer from Leicester
  • Rian Bray, 23, DC, free transfer from Hampton & Richmond (a total of 93 league matches)
  • Callum Martin, DL, 20, free transfer from Coventry
  • Tom Arnold, MR, 18, free transfer from Boston United
  • Mark Baker, MR, 18, free transfer from Walsall
  • Craig Taylor, MC/DM/DC, 18, free transfer from Oxford
  • George Hughes, MC, 22, free transfer from Hereford (a total of 87 league matches)
  • Greg Brooks 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ML, 18, free transfer from Bristol Rovers
  • Luca Carter-Henry, ML, 20, free transfer from Leyton Orient
  • Chris Sadler, ST, 18, free transfer from QPR
  • James Griffiths 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 ST, 18, free transfer from Oxford
  • Josh Walker, ST, 23, free transfer from Barnet (a total of 52 league matches)

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Note the many new players with attacking qualities. Now we should score some goals  I has great hopes for Sadler and Friffiths in attack and Edwards in defence.

Transfers out:

  • Michee Mbuti, DC, 21, released (62 first team matches)
  • Ollie Swain, DC, 20, free transfer to Welling (6 first team matches)
  • Luke Dunn, DL, 22, released (15 first team matches)
  • Tom Hillman 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 MR, 20, released (10 first team matches)
  • Darren Foxley, MC, 23, free transfer to Chelmsford (91 first team matches - a key player in my first two seasons at Hungerford)
  • Lezion Cela 🇦🇱 MC, 22, released (8 first team matches)
  • Callum Fullwood, ST, 22, free transfer to Welling (45 first team matches)
  • Brandon Taverner, ST, 23, released (7 first team matches)
  • Archie Elemore, ST, 19, free transfer to Chippenham (6 first team matches)
Edited by OleDK

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October 2021 - Vanarama National League

We started our second National League campaign with a 3-1 win at home against Dagenham & Redbridge. Important for us after the weak season end to get a fresh start. Stephen Edwards had made his way to central defence together with Scottish Greg Brooks on left midfield and James Griffiths in attack plus Tom Arnold instead of an injured Tommy Ouldridge on right midfield as debutants it marked a stronger lineup and with more offensive firepower this season.

We had a small increase in our season ticket sale (from 121 to 129) but welcome to all new fans - we need you! At times, there were more away fans than homeside fans at Bulpit Lane so if Bulpit Lane should become our fortress, more fans would be required 😀

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The fans had a good time when viewing our games in the beginning of the season. We went through our first nine matches undefeated and after 15 matches we were placed 3rd in Vanarama National League just one point away from top spot 😀👍

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The Board was almost ecstatic and offered me a contract extension until 30 Juni 2023 with a small rapse to £925 per week. Naturally, I accepted the offer !😱

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In the first two months of our season we did attract more experienced players as support for our youngsters and also a very promising Welsh midfielder:

  • Jack James 🇮🇪 DR, 22, free transfer from Luton (25 league matches for Dartford)
  • Johan Abdoul 🇫🇷 DC, 22, free transfer from Boreham Wood (29 league matches)
  • Ashley Harper, MR, 23, free transfer from Eastleigh (59 league matches)
  • Lee Williams 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 MC, 18, free transfer from Crystal Palace
  • Max Smallcombe 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 MC, 22, free transfer from Exeter (37 league matches)
  • Callum Jones, ST, 22, free transfer from Colchester (1 league match)
  • Jamie Philpot, ST, 24, free transfer from Welling (129 league matches)

The competition among our players for first team playing time was hard and first team players like Morgan Jones, Sonny Haynes, Bradley Bell and Ralph Graham now had to see the matches from bench or from the spectator rows.

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Transfers out:

  • Joshua Ede, AML/ML, 20, released (25 first team matches)
  • Adam Davie, ST, 22, released (15 first team matches)
  • Zach Robinson, ST, 19, free transfer to Nuneaton (9 first team matches)
Edited by OleDK

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January 2022 - Vanarama National League

Our participation in the FA Cup tournament begun with a home match against Concord Rangers from VNS. A match in which we were big favourites and after a solid effort we won the match 2-0 after goals from our young midfielders John Dickinson and Craig Taylor (both 19 years old) in second half.

I hoped for an easy opponent in First Round of FA Cup. That hope wasn’t fulfulled but after all we were happy with the draw anyway. We should play at home against Charlton from League One and with only 75-80 miles in distance between Charlton and Hungerford we were hoping for a big crowd at Bulpit Lane. We were even more happy when we heard the news about the match being shown on tv with a £35K payment to us in tv money 💰💰💰A lot of money for a club in our size!

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The previous attendance record at Bulpit Lane was 1,717 from our FA Cup defeat two years ago to Rochdale but since then the capacity at Bulpit Lane had been increased to now 4,300. The record was effectively smashed by a crowd of 3,022 (1,000 from Charlton) was our new record high. The gate receipts - £60K - was also a new record high for Hungerford.

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But how about the match? We suffered two injuries in first half which ended goalless. Charlton took the lead in 49th minute but we were awarded a penalty 10 minutes later. Unfortunately the pressure was too much for our young striker Chris Sadler (18) so he shot beside target 😟 Perhaps I should have elected another shooter in such an important match but I didn’t think about it until it was too late 😩 However, I had to admit that Charlton deserved to win so we could accept the 0-1 defeat to a better opponent in all ways.

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I decided to spend some of our FA Cup money (£9,700) on staff improvements. So far the youth intake had been less than impressive (best player is a defender in second team who is not even close to first team and with an unambitious personality (...) so I decided  to replace our Head of Youth Development Richard Parsons (age 50) with a more suitable candidate. I decided to offer a contract to 41-year old Michael Nelson with experience from more than 600 league matches from Championship to League Two in a fine career that lasted 17 years! After this substitution it started to look better regarding our staff. Next person to feel the pressure could be our Director of Football 😈😈😈

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We could see a fine development among many of our young players. Lee Williams (young midfielder) became Young Player of the Month in November (and I became Manager of the Month too) and after seven matches undefeated we had climbed back in first place 💪 and should play a home match against second-placed Bromley. Unfortunately our fine defence (conceived only 17 goals in 23 league matches) crackled and we lost 2-4 (didn’t deserve much better on the day either 👎)

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But young John Dickinson made it to both Player of the Month and Young Player of the Month in December after many good performances in the Month!

With 2/3 of the league matches played we were positioned on a very fine 2nd place in the league table with 55 points - three behind leaders Bromley and just five points ahead of last season’s 8th place. Actually we had only earned two points extra compared to a year ago but it was a lot more close this season so anything from first place to 12th place was still possible for us. I hoped we could keep up the good form for the rest of the season and avoid the frustrating season end we had last season.

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Dartford from VNS would become our first opponent in FA Trophy (First Round) at home at Bulpit Lane. An easy match we would expect but we failed to concentrate us and after a late equalizer from Dartford the match ended 1-1. A bit unnecessary but we dealt with the matter and went home from the replay match in Dartford with a 2-1 victory (Dartford scored their goal in 89th minute) and should now play away against King’s Lynn from Northern Premier League in 2nd Round. Yet another “easy” match we should believe but King’s Lynn gave us a shock with an early lead but this time we managed to break down the “easy” opponent and went home with a fine 5-1 victory. More about our FA Trophy run in my next update!

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I signed two young players in the period: left winger Gary Barlow (18) from Ipswich and striker Garry Dennis (18) from Exeter. Unwillingly, I said goodbye to two right backs who went home to their home countries; Lawrence Mensah (18) to a club in Ghana and Jack James (23) to Derry City in the Irish First Division. Instead I promoted 19-Year-old Ashley Webb from the reserves as backup (joined us from Southend in June).

Midfielder Stan Brightman went on loan at Alfreton and goalkeeper Christian Mbeta went on loan at Hendon to get more match experience. We terminated the contract with 24-year-old striker Josh Walker who didn’t impress enough in his five first team matches - I preferred to focus on the young talents in the squad instead.I believe our squad is a lot stronger than a year ago so I was looking forward to this season’s end!

Ole DK

Edited by OleDK

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April 2022 - Vanarama National League

Welling from VNS was our opponent in FA Trophy 3rd Round at home at Bulpit Lane. With a fine performance we won 3-1 and was qualified to the quarter finals in FA Trophy - the best result in the club’s history.

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Before the quarter final we had a job to be done in VNL if we were to keep our place in the top fight. We made a remarkable performance in our away match in Wrexham - one of our opponents in the top fight. After four goals from young James Griffiths we managed to win a fantastic 5-3 victory. The Wrexham manager lost his job after the defeat. James Griffiths became Player of the Month and Young Player of the Month in February 💪

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League rivals from Gateshead was to be defeated at their home field in the quarter final. We were very lucky to get a draw away in Gateshead after a 89th minute equalizer to 2-2 by Chris Sadler. We were looking forward to the replay match at Bulpit Lane but after a poor performance from our side in first half (behind 0-3 at teatime) Gateshead qualified to the semi final after a 3-2 victory 😩

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We could now focus 100% on our league matches. We had played two draws and suffered a 0-2 defeat at home to Dover before we were to play away against Fylde in a top match between no. 1 and 2 in the table. Midfielder Bradley Bell secured a very important victory for our side with an early goal. We were now leading VNL with only six matches left in the season!

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Our next league match at home against Tranmere became quite an ordeal for our fans. After 10 minutes we were behind 0-2 but we never stopped fighting. James Griffiths once again became our one-man army with his 1-2 goal before teatime, his equalizer in second half and his winning 3-2 goal in injury time. What a performance! 👍

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After another fine win with 3-1 in Aldershot we were in the lead with five points down to Port Vale (Port Vale with seven wins in a row) with four matches left. Our four matches were against Maidstone (18th), Macclesfield (14th), Barrow (16th) and Dulwich Hamlet (23rd) - not a difficult programme for us. We would definitely end at least in the playoff matches but we wanted more than playoffs! 😈

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However, we needed to bear in mind that our youthful squad had little experience with this pressure and we failed to win our first of the four matches - lost 0-1 at home to Maidstone despite 14-7 in shots at goal in a hard-played match with 11 yellow cards (7 to Maidstone). We desperately needed a win away against Macclesfield and this time we delivered as wished with a 3-0 victory after a fine display by our side. We now only needed two points in the two final matches (probably just one point) to achieve a sensationel promotion to League Two. Only Fylde could possibly catch up with us.

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We had a home match against Barrow in 45th Round and the match started out great and after 33 minutes we were in the lead 3-1 but after a goal to Barrow just before teatime the young players once again became insecure and after a 90th minute goal we lost 3-4. But Fylde lost 2-0 in Dover so we maintained our lead. HUNGERFORD WAS PROMOTED TO LEAGUE TWO!

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Edited by OleDK

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Always a bit of an anti climax when you win the title after losing :D

Regardless, really well done! All the best for League Two - it's a big jump from Non-League!

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On 09/09/2019 at 23:22, Nobby_McDonald said:

Very well done Ole.

 

On 10/09/2019 at 00:31, King Costly said:

Always a bit of an anti climax when you win the title after losing :D

Regardless, really well done! All the best for League Two - it's a big jump from Non-League!

Thank you to both of you.

I will be making updates later today and it was both a very big pleasure to get promoted but also a very big challenge to go from semi Pro to Pro.

Ole Dk

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