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Thread: [STORY] The World of Football Management - Chapter 1 - Wheeling and Dealing

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    [STORY] The World of Football Management - Chapter 1 - Wheeling and Dealing

    Chapter 1 - Wheeling and Dealing
    Chapter 2 - Yes, Kaiser!
    Chapter 3 - "You Can't Win Anything With Kids"
    Chapter 4 - "Man City Madness"

    Achievements
    Spoiler!
    Last edited by Mark; 14-06-12 at 12:53 PM.

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    Whenever I look back at my childhood, there's always one word that comes to mind - Football.


    I was as football mad as anybody else in those days, if not THE most football mad child around. You could bet that whenever it wasn't dark, I'd be knocking on my mates doors asking if they wanted a kickabout on the old college fields. If no-one would come out to play, I'd entertain myself with the "kick-master" or shooting a football against a wall. When it WAS dark, I'd spend my time playing on the various football manager games on the PC - Championship Manager and Premier Manager. On the old SNES, I'd be playing on Champions World Class Soccer and Kevin Keegan's Player Manager then when the PlayStation came out - It was all about Pro Evolution Soccer and LMA Manager. Think of any football game in the 90's and there's a 99.9% chance that I owned it.


    During my time at school, I'd be one of the regulars as a striker in the junior school team and during "play-time", I'd be one of those trying to swap stickers for my Panini albums at that time. I'd even collect figurines of footballers when I could, especially during the mania of Euro 96 which is one of my earliest memories of football along with supporting Stoke City back when Lou Macari was manager and the likes of Mark Stein, Wayne Biggins, Mark Prudhoe, Lee Sandford, Vince Overson, Nigel Gleghorn and Ian Cranson were playing for us. I was even mascot for Stoke one day on a trip to Bolton's old ground - Burnden Park. I'll always remember Bolton's skipper at the time (Jason McAteer) flirting with my mum as the players lined up to go out.


    My obsession with football didn't stop there. For years, I'd write down statistics for players for just about anything. I'd tally up the amount of goals they'd scored for each club, write down where they were born and the different teams they'd played for. During my sessions on Championship Manager, I'd get a sheet of A4 and keep track of appearances, goals, assists, man of the match awards and bookings that my players had picked up. I'd even go as far as persuading my mates to join my own fantasy football league where I'd personally run assign valuations to players, organise transfers and work out the total scores.

    Whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer would be the same. All throughout my infant, junior and even the early days of high school, there was just one thing in my head - "A footballer!".

    Yet as I grew older, so did the realisation that being a footballer would never happen. Even when I started to play Sunday league football for "Betley Colts", I knew that I would never get the attention of any scouts despite winning awards each season. So as the dream faded, I carried on ploughing my way through high school, earned decent GCSE's and I grew out of all the habits I had as a child. Especially when I discovered women!

    But one day, all that changed...
    Last edited by Mark; 06-03-12 at 02:09 PM.

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    Chapter 1 - Wheeling and Dealing

    I'd already passed my GCSE's, gone on to achieve an AVCE in Information Technology and was all set to continue my way into IT by starting a degree at Keele University which was just 5 minutes away from home - Nice and local! Despite all this, I never saw myself as an IT geek and still had a love for football.

    I was also still playing football, of course. Betley Colts had long since been abandoned but I soon joined the village side - Madeley White Star where unfortunately, I couldn't seem to cement a starting place in the side. The manager of White Star at the time would often name me on the bench, preferring to select older lads as I was still only a teenager at the time and wasn't enough of a physical player for him. I'd also bought a season ticket at Stoke to see them take on their (then) second division opponents at the Britannia Stadium. By now, we were under the control of Icelandics (Icelanders as most Stokies called them) and were being managed by Gudjon Thordarson who had a horrible habit of playing 5-3-2 at home. Nevertheless, I was still going to support my hometown club and we did get to see some decent players in the shape of Peter Hoekstra, Sergei Shtaniuk and Brynjar Gunnarsson.

    By now of course, the famous Championship Manager 2001/2002 had been released. I'd played every version since 1994 but this was truly the best. CM4 had just been released but I absolutely detested it. The layout and generally everything about it was just plain awful and before long, I found myself reverting back to CM 01/02. It was also a game that was very popular with my friends, in particular a cousin of mine who was just as football mad as me. It was during one of our "CM, Pro Evo and tinnies nights" where we started to compare our careers in the game. He ranked bringing European football to Plymouth as one of his favourite games while I classed taking Barnet from the Conference level to the Premiership whilst signing ageing stars such as Edgar Davids along the way as my most successful project. Lee Harrison, Mark Arber, Wayne Purser and Mark Gower were stalwarts of the team at that time. As the ale began to flow that night, so did our ridiculousness as we took things further by compiling our achievements into curriculum vitaes. Then when the darkness outside was beginning to fade in the early hours of the morning, it went even further as we started to email our aforementioned CV's to various football clubs in England. After finally passing out and sleeping for hours, we woke up the next day with no memory of such events and carried on our lives as normal albeit with one heavy hangover.

    Around a month later, it was whilst pondering over which subjects to study at Keele where I received a very random phone call. To this day, I still didn't know why they were calling me or how they had even got my number. Nevertheless, I answered the phone in a manner which was the trend at the time thanks to the Budweiser adverts on the TV.

    "WHASSUUUUUUP!"

    "Oh, erm.... Pardon me. Is this Mark Henderson?" - The called asked, speaking in an intelligent manner.

    "Sorry, I thought you were one of my mates calling... Anyway, yes. This is Mark."

    "Very well. Mr. Henderson, I am calling on behalf of my chairman. My name is Sean Egan and I am a director at Alfreton Town. We wish for you to come to Alfreton for an interview."

    "An interview? In Alfreton? But that's like a thousand miles away!"

    "On the contrary, Mr. Henderson. It only an hour away from you."

    "Oh right. Sorry, I'm shit at geography and all that jazz. Erm, OK. When is the interview? I'll have to see if I can borrow the car for it."

    ".....Tomorrow. We'll be waiting for you at The Impact Arena at 11am sharp!"

    "The Impact Arena? Right, OK. Thanks very much, I'll see you tomorrow then." He then hung up without a goodbye.

    What the heck just happened then? Who the feck is Sean Egan and why is he calling me? What the hell is the Impact Arena?! All I could think of was that it must be for some sort of apprenticeship in IT. I'd submitted a CV after I finished college through one of those sites that send it on to anyone involved in the IT industry. So logic told me that it must be something to do with that. Anyway, I had more pressing issues to worry about. I hadn't yet got my own car having only passd my test a few months earlier and was currently on my mum's insurance for her Skoda Fabia. You know what, Skoda really does get a bad rep. But I quite liked driving the Fabia, it's a proper nippy little buggar. Since Volkswagon took them over, they've rebuilt the company really.


    My old dear didn't have any problems at all letting me borrow her car once I said that I needed it for a job interview. So that was that sorted. The other thing is what to wear.... I didn't have a suit so decided I'd just wear a shirt, tie and trousers. It was just as well that it was Summer time as it'd be warm enough with a jacket so I reckon I could pull it off.

    I was up at 7am the next day with plenty of time to get myself ready. After rehearsing several possible IT related questions, I gathered all of my certificates together with my CV, grabbed my latest CD mix of top tunes and got into the Fabia to make my way to Alfreton.
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:36 PM.

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    Kevin Keegan Player Manager 'Wiggle' your way to success and win the Misawa Cup

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    No faggy fiat this time around i see

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    McAteer I see him taking his children to school by ours, I'll have to ask him about it!

    Best of luck in the interview, I'm confident you'll get it!

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    With the shades on, I was soon driving along towards Alfreton with the windows wound down and the CD blaring out my favourite tunes such as Peace & Quiet by the Rifles, Lucky Man by the Verve and Date with the Night by Yeah Yeah Yeah's.


    The Rifles with music legend Paul Weller

    It was a good job that I had left early as I was soon lost, heading the wrong way on the motorway. Fortunately, I'd asked my cousin to tag along with the idea of having a couple of pints and a look around Alfreton after the interview. So we were soon back enroute to Alfreton thanks to Lee printing out directions from AA as neither of us owned a sat-nav.

    After about an hour, just as Sean Egan had said, we had arrived at Alfreton. But where I was expecting to see The Impact Arena as a warehouse or an office building, I was greeted with the sight of something completely different.


    "What the... Are we at the right place?" I asked my cousin, pulling into a free car parking spot and grabbing the printed directions from his lap. It turned out that my cousin had indeed directed us to the right place for we spotted a man coming out of reception and approach us in the car. I switched the engine off and got out of the car as he came near us.

    "Are you Mark?" I quickly nodded my head.

    "Excellent. I'm Sean, I'm pleased to see that you have made it here. Nice car!"

    "Thanks. Erm... I wasn't quite sure if this is the place...."

    "No, no. It is the right place, come on now!"

    With that, he turned away and walked back through reception. I quickly turned around to wave goodbye to Lee who gave me a thumbs up and then followed Sean into The Impact Arena. As I followed Sean through the ground, I could see people out on the pitch. They were training and I wondered if it was Alfreton's team although I knew absolutely nothing about them, what league they were in or even who played for them. I did think that Louis Moult was on loan from Stoke there though and that his brother Jake Moult was also there. They both went to the same high school as myself and my cousin in Madeley.

    While I was daydreaming, I realised that Sean had stopped outside an office. A very tatty looking old office! He knocked twice and entered without waiting for a response. I followed him in and saw that there were three men sat around a table.

    "Gentlemen, this is Mark." said Sean, introducing me to the three men.

    I walked over to each one, shook their hands and sat myself down at the other end of the table as Sean also settled himself into a fourth chair besides the trio. I soon learnt that the two men on the left side of me were Roger Webster and David Gregory and along with Sean, they were directors at the club who reported to the chairman. The chairman's name was Wayne Bradley and he was the third man in the room who was positioned between David Gregory and Sean Egan.


    Roger Webster, David Gregory, Wayne Bradley and Sean Egan

    "Hello Mark, it's nice to meet you. We were very interested in your application and are pleased to see that you have joined us today, especially at such short notice. That shows commitment."

    I said nothing as I awaited an explanation as to why I was here.

    "As you know, I own Alfreton Town Football Club..."

    It finally clicked in my head. They needed someone to run IT operations at the club - That must be it!

    "We've recently parted ways with Nicky Law..."

    Hang on, isn't he a footballer? I'm pretty sure he used to play for Rotherham... Or was it Bradford?

    "... and we've had to act quickly to find a replacement given that there's only 35 days until our first game of the season."

    Wait a minute... Something is not right here! Alarms bells were beginning to ring in my head.

    "Some of the things that you described in such detail in your CV really impressed upon us. We know you don't have any experience..."

    Too fecking right, I've only just come out of college for feck's sake.

    "... But the fact is, you're the only one who seems to really want this job. We didn't get anybody else going for the job... Unfortunately, we are only a very small club in the Conference with the smallest ground and the smallest squad..."

    Right, I've got to say something now. We're going way off course!

    "... So it gives me great pleasure to offer you the job as our manager. I'm sure you'll understand our financial situation and that we can only offer you 100 per week to start with which I'm sure you'll find is fair. Obviously, we'll review your salary as time goes by if the club shows improvements on and off the pitch."

    I sat there in silence as I was momentarily stunned. I didn't understand what had just happened. Was I really being offered a job as a FOOTBALL MANAGER?!
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:39 PM.
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    I hope your cousin becomes your number two...

    Brilliant start!:clap2:
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:46 PM.

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    What happened next was a complete blur. I found myself back in the car with my cousin shooting questions at me, wondering how the interview went.

    "Well? Are you the new IT manager or what?"

    "Eh? Oh, yeah. Erm, not exactly... You're not going to believe this."

    I explained how they had got hold of my application form and somehow contrived from it that I was a football manager and offered me the job of Alfreton Town's gaffer. Of course, he didn't believe me.

    "It's true... I said yes, they all thanked me and said I start on Monday!"

    "Pure DB! Come off it, konehead. Tell the truth!"

    "I'm telling you the truth! Look, come on. Let's go for a pint!"

    But at that moment, there was a rap on my cousin's side window of the car. It was Jake Moult. Besides him was Louis Moult.

    "Alright! I knew it was you! How's it going?"

    "Alrate, Jake! Didn't know you were here. Thought you were playing for Stafford Rangers?" said my cousin.

    The two were in the same year at Madeley High and knew each other quite well. But as you do after leaving school, they lost touch. My cousin did speak to Louis quite regularly though as he was 3 years younger and still lived in the area, having being signed up by Stoke City. As for me, I'd never met Jake before but I did know Louis.

    "Nah, mate. Left them a couple of years ago, been here ever since. Louis here is on loan from Stoke as well!"


    Jake and Louis Moult are brothers who went to Madeley High School which is the same school me and my cousin went to.
    Louis is currently on a loan spell from Stoke City.

    "Sound! Bet it's mint, you two playing together?"

    "We've not had a game yet, pre-season only started today but the gaffer got sacked last week!"

    "No way... Hang on a minute! He got sacked? But konehead here reckons he's the new manager!"

    ".......... What?!" exclaimed Jake.

    "Is that right, Mark?" asked Louis, speaking for the first time.

    "Yep, it's true. Don't ask me how it's happened as I haven't a clue. I've just had the interview and they said I start on Monday!"

    "That's mental - Why would they do that?" asked Jake.

    "What are you two doing now, going home?" said Louis.

    "Nah, going for a pint before we do that."

    "Good. 'Cos if you're going to be the manager, then I'm probably the best person to speak to about this football club. C'mon, there's a Wetherspoons round the corner." said Jake.
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:41 PM.
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    Players sucking up to the new manager already, I don't know!

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    Goalkeepers - Joe Day, Dan Lowson, Ross Turner
    Defenders - Josh Law, Matt Wilson, Greg Young, Connor Franklin, Leigh Franks, Adie Hawes, Darran Kempson, Nikolas Kudiersky, Adam Quinn, Theo Streete
    Midfielders - Anton Brown, Nicky Deverdics, Nathan Jarman, Jake Moult, Nathan Arnold, Jordan Hall, Jamie Mullan
    Strikers - Jordan Hall, Drewe Broughton, Paul Clayton, Louis Moult, Chris Senior

    It turned out that Jake was the captain of the club and he wrote down the squad for me on a napkin in Wetherspoons and as I looked at the names, I started to feel woefully out of my depth. I only recognised a handful of the players that I'd be managing which I didn't take as a good sign!

    "Oh, by the way - Chris Senior is out with Guiseley at the moment and Adie Hawes is with Altrincham. Nathan Arnold is also out injured at the moment 'cos he broke his foot when his car ran over him.... Don't ask!" said Jake as I raised my eyebrows at the news of Arnold's injury.

    "Obviously, I'm on loan from Stoke but I'll be here all season if you keep me on. But Joe Day is from Peterborough and he's only here until November." said Louis.

    I made a mental note to recall Chris and Adie back from their loans. May as well ensure I have everyone at my disposal.

    "I remember Nicky Deverdics from Barnet and Drewe Broughton has been about a bit - Must be at least 40 by now?!" piped up my cousin. Evidently, he knew more than I did about the players.

    "Yeah, he has a lot of experience which we hope will help us. But yeah, he is getting on a bit!" revealed Jake.

    "I saw you lot training before I went in for the interview. There were two guys out there, who are they?" I wanted to know who I'd be working with, after all.

    "The main guy was Russ O'Neill, he was the assistant to Nicky. Steve Chandler is the coach. They're both OK really."

    Russ O'Neill was Nicky Law's assistant and remains at The Impact Arena


    After we'd finished our pint, we said our goodbyes to the Moults and started the drive back to Madeley in silence.

    Cutting into my thoughts, my cousin asked whether I'd any thoughts about tactics and stuff like that.

    "Jesus, I haven't even thought about that! Why did I say yes to the job?! I haven't got a clue what I'm doing!!"

    "Relax, Mark. I'm sure it'll all work out. You just need to get into it and learn as you go along. Every manager has to start somewhere."

    "You're right... Look, you seem to know more about the players than I do... Why don't you help me out? Be my assistant!"

    "I'd love to... But I can't. I've got to go back to Uni remember, it's my final year though."

    He was right - He was doing a sports degree in Devon. It was beginning to look as though I was going to have to go through this venture on my own.

    "Look, maybe I can help out when I've finished. It's going to be a tough year for me because of my dissertation but once that's out of the way, maybe I can help. In the meantime, why don't you just speak to that Russ for anything you're not sure of. There's that Steve Chandler as well..."

    He was right again. A part of me was beginning to think that it should be him going for the job, not me. My cousin was the older head and seemed to have all the answers whereas I was just panicking at the thought.

    I had the weekend to get used to the idea and to break the news to my family and girlfriend. I wondered whether Gemma would be happy about me working away from home. But I suppose it was only an hour away so I wouldn't have to move away from the area or anything like that. It's not as though our relationship was serious yet either as we'd only been seeing each other for less than a year... We'll see.
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:44 PM.
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    Gemma was a blonde girl who was a year younger than me. I'd met her through a family friend at her 18th birthday party and soon got together with her. I found her to be quite shy but we got on well and seemed to have an interest in the same things. When I told her I'd been offered a job as a manager, she was delighted for me as she knew I was a big fan of football. She didn't have any issues at all with me working an hour away as she was due to start University herself in September but she was going to Keele, where I had planned to study a degree myself before all this business came out of the blue.

    Before I told Gemma, I'd told my family as soon as I returned from Alfreton. My parents were both also pleased for me and my dad being my dad, soon talked up the prospect of taking board money from me. That was typical of him, an old fashioned bloke who didn't show much emotion and was always thinking about money. He and my mum were going through a bit of a rocky stage in their relationship at the moment which hadn't really been helped by the unexpected arrival of my brother who as he grew older, appeared to have learning difficulties. My sister was also very supportive and told me that she knew in her heart that I will make a success of it. No pressure there then!

    So with everyone's approval, I soon stopped panicking and started planning for what lay ahead. I knew that I couldn't keep using my mum's car to commute to Alfreton as she needed it to work each week. So I knew that I was going to have to start looking for my own car and knowing that I'd now be pulling in 100 a week, I managed to secure a loan and spent the weekend looking for car of my own and before long, I'd picked one out:


    During my driving lessons, I always thought about what type of car that I wanted to begin with. It'd obviously have to be a 1 litre or 1.2 litre engine but there weren't many options out there. I'd learnt in a Ford Fiesta which I absolutely hated. A Ford Ka was out of the question given that I was a lanky so and so. I did like a Renault Clio but another cousin of mine had just bought one. So it was a toss up between a Vauxhall Corsa or a Fiat Punto. I settled on a Punto as I just liked the shape of the car at the back where the lights are and although I really wanted one in black, I couldn't find one cheap enough and eventually settled on a Sky Blue Fiat Punt for just 1800.

    So, Monday came and I was off to Alfreton once again! But this time I was on my own and I was about to embark on a real adventure! Time flew as I knew where I was going this time and before I knew it, I was once again parking up outside the reception. I got out of the Punto, walked into the reception where it appeared a woman was waiting for me.

    "Hi Mark! Welcome back and congratulations on getting the job!"

    She was quite nice in a way and blonde too. I do have a weakness for blondes....


    "Oh... Shit!"
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:46 PM.
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    Return of the Fiat!

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    Yes... Zan spoke too soon
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    Glad you didn't let us down with that one, it isn't a Mark story without a faggy Fiat

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    I bet Gem gets some right Cock at Keele University.....
    Last edited by Mark; 23-01-13 at 02:46 PM.

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    Bellend!
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    It's alright mate you can pull the bird who's quite nice... in a way

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    "My name is Amy Bradley, I'm the Commerical Executive here at Alfreton Town"

    "Bradley?" I asked, wondering if it was the chairman's wife.

    "Yes, I'm his daughter."

    Oh for fuck's sake...!

    "Oh right, very nice! So are you full-time here?"

    "No, I also work in another company. I work here three days a week, including matchdays. Anyway, Mark. I'm here to tell you that Wayne - I always call him by his first name - has requested a meeting with you before you get started."

    "Uh-oh, in the dog house already?"

    "Haha, I'm sure it's nothing like that. He probably just wants to get to you know you a bit more. Well, you know where it is. I'll leave you to it."

    With that, she left me wondering why on Earth did she have to be the boss's daughter and I turned the other way to find the office where the interview was held. After getting lost and being pointed in the direction by a cleaner, I eventually found his office.

    "Mark! Welcome, I thought I saw you pull up outside. Had a new car, have we?"

    "Morning, Sir. Yep, the Fabia wasn't mine so..."

    "No need to say Sir, just call me Wayne. Ah, fair enough. Fair enough. Listen, I wanted to meet up with you today to outline your objectives before you get started. I didn't really give you the full details of the job in the interview."

    This didn't sound good. I waited for Wayne to go on.

    "As I told you before, we are the smallest team in our league in terms of squad size and capacity. This obviously means that there's not much going on in terms of working a profit behind the scenes which leaves no money in the pot to buy new players. I'm sure you understand..."

    I didn't.

    "... What we want this season is pretty simple. We just want to avoid relegation, I don't care whether we survive on the very last day but as long as we stay up, that's all that matters. What I've got in my head is something of a long term plan. If we can just get by year by year and pull in a little profit each time, we may be able to expand and improve as a football club. It's big thinking but it all comes down to how we play on the pitch..."

    All talk... No action...

    "... Now that I've made that clear, let's move on to transfers. As I said earlier, we don't have the means to go out splashing the cash on players and I can see that being the case for years to come. One of the things I was impressed with on your CV was that you fancy yourself as a bit of a wheeler dealer. So if you want to sign players, I want you to only sign players on a free transfer. If you can make a profit on them, then fantastic - Do it."

    This CV business again! I was starting to think they'd mixed my CV up with someone else's.

    "The last thing is signing on fees. I don't believe in that nonsence. Why do we have to pay someone money to come to this club, it's just not right. I don't want you to give any money to anybody to sign. They should sign for us because they want to play for this football club, not for the money that we put on the table. Players should join us, earn their money on the pitch and that's the end of it!".

    "So let me get this straight. I'll never have any money to spend on players. Even if I do, I can only still buy players on a free transfer? Then if they want a signing on fee, then we're pulling out of the deal?"

    "Well, you don't have to pull out of the deal. Just see if you can get them to come to this club without a fee. Although if they still want a fee, then I wouldn't want them at the club anyway. Those type of players are not coming near here. I absolutely hate prima donna's! So! Any questions? No? Right then, off you trot! The players are out on the pitch training. Perhaps you'd better go meet them!"

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  34. #21
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    classic... making me wana start a new game 2nite...


    Oh - And you'll definitely be shagging the boss's daughter in his office, on his desk !!


    i want video footage of that bit!

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  36. #22
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    There's the kicker! I also believe in not giving signing on fees, but in practice I have too, although a lesser figure then asked for.

    Don't get involved with the bosses daughter either, believe me!

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  38. #23
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    So cliche lol



    Next you'll know AMC will be killed

    Top stuff

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  40. #24
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    I started to leave Wayne's office when he called me back.

    "Oh! Mark - I'm so sorry, I forgot one last thing! Wages! Again, there's not much there to offer in terms of wages. The max we can go to at the moment is just 600 per week..."

    What the fuck, I'm only on 100 per week and he's saying I can offer people five times that?!

    "... But you need to know how this will work as well. The wage structure will only increase by 1,000 each year depending on how we do on the pitch. Now, let's just say you exceed expectations and finish in the top half of the table, then I'll happily increase the wage structure to 1,000 per week. Then, say you finished 8th that year and finish 5th the following year, I'll increase it to 2,000 per week. But if you finish 8th again or lower than that, then the budget remains exactly the same. Hope that makes sense? Only when things have improved on the pitch each year will the budget increase!"

    "Yeah, that makes sense to me, thanks. Right, best get to the pitch then."

    Thanks? I should have told him stick it up his arse...

    But as I walked towards the pitch, I started to think about the bigger picture and realised Wayne's way of thinking wasn't that bad. You look back and see how certain teams have dealt with their finances and ended up going bust like Leeds nearly did and the various lower league sides who've gone into administration. Wayne's way of thinking is just common sense and ensuring that the club doesn't spend beyond their means. Sure, it'll be tough but we've got no money anyway. I'll worry about the wages in the future if I am still in the job and have managed to improve results on the pitch.

    "Hey up lads, here he is. The new gaffer!"

    Jake Moult was at the front of the training group who had been jogging around the pitch. I waved to him and signalled the two coaches to come and join me.

    "Russ? Steve? Nice to meet you both, I'm Mark."

    They shook my hand but didn't speak, looking at me skeptically. I realised why they were acting this way. They were both Nicky Law's men. Of course they were going to treat me with suspicion.

    "I just wanted to introduce myself and assure you both that I'm not looking to replace either of you. You both know the players, you both know the club and I value that tremendously. If anything, I will add to the coaching staff if possible. Not replace it!"

    They chuckled and looked a bit happier.

    "If I could just ask you both to carry on handling the training sessions. I'm not a coach so wouldn't want to step on your toes, I'll just observe the players and concentrate on other matters. I'll meet the players, introduce myself and see what they can do."

    After that, they called the players over and just as I said, I introduced myself and informed all of the players that I'd be keeping an eye on their efforts.

    "My policy is simple. Work for the shirt and you will be rewarded. I don't like slackers, I like players who work hard and that's what the fans like to see. Sure, they like a bit of showboating but they appreciate someone tracking back and putting in a last ditch tackle just as much. Those are the ethics that I like to see and what I hope to see from each and every one of you."

    I let Russ and Steve carry on the training session and politely requested that they meet up in my office afterwards to discuss the squad. I needed to make a couple of phone calls as well. I was feeling happy, the day was going OK and I was feeling comfortable in my new surroundings.

    I spotted Amy in reception once again and asked where my office was. She politely told me that she wasn't the secretary but would be happy to show me where it is. It turned out to be located next to the treatment room, if you could call it that. There was a single table in there with medicine and all sorts of physiotherapist stuff all over the desk and a treatment table with a player bring treated.


    Nathan Arnold - Broke his foot in the first training session of the season

    "Hi. I'm Mark - The new manager. You must be Nathan?" I said as I walked into the room and shook hands.

    "Yeah... Nathan Arnold. This is the club doctor, Paul Madin." nodding towards the man who was treating him.

    "Nice to meet you, Paul. What's happening here?"


    Paul Madin, "chief" physiotherapist

    "Hi Mark. Erm, well. Nathan broke his foot yesterday and I'm just checking the cast and everything is in order. Neil took him to A&E yesterday so I don't know what the hospital have said..."

    "Neil?"

    "Oh, Neil McKay. He's the other physio around here. We're both part time and work half a week each. His notes here says that the operation on the foot went well and he should back in about 3 months. It's difficult to say with long term injuries though it is easier with broken bones. They heal better than muscle injuries."

    While he was talking, I noticed Nathan was looking a bit dejected.

    "You alright mate?"

    "Nah, I'm gutted. I was really looking forwards to getting the season started and then this happened..."

    "I understand that, completely. But don't worry about it, you just concentrate on your recovery and I guarantee you'll get your chance when you come back. The season is still a month away and you'll be back in no time."

    Leaving him looking slightly cheerful, I went next door into my office. Half a day had already flown by and I was shattered!
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  41. #25
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    My office wasn't all that. It was another tiny room with just a single desk with a telephone on it. No such thing as a computer here! I rooted through the drawers and found an address book. It looked like Nicky Law had left it behind and within it was the phone numbers of all managers in the Football League. I leafed through it and found the numbers of two managers that I needed to speak to and picked up the phone.

    "Hello, is that Lee Sinnott?"

    "Speaking."

    "Right. My name is Mark Henderson and I've just taken over at Alfreton Town. I'm sorry to spring this upon you during pre-season but I understand that Adie Hawes is currently on loan to you?"

    "...Yes, that's right. Nicky Law agreed that he could join us for the season."

    "Yes, I understand. However, Law is no longer the manager here. I am and I'm afraid that I'd like Adie to come back to us. You see, I want to have all Alfreton players here so I can see what they're like."

    "......... Ok, Mark. No problem, he is your player after all. I'll speak to him and tell him that he's to return to you tomorrow."

    "Thanks, Lee. I'm sorry to do this to you. Listen, I'll be in touch in the future if I have any players who you may be interested in."

    "It's not a problem. At least I have a month to find another centre-half. Best of luck in your new job."


    Altrincham's Lee Sinnott, a pleasure to speak to

    With that, he put the phone down. What an understanding bloke. I remember when he was Port Vale's manager and they sacked him after less than a year in the job. Seems like an OK bloke to me. Right then, one more phone call to make...

    "Hi there. Is this Mr. Kittrick?"

    "Yes, I'm Steve."

    "Excellent. I'm just calling to say that I've been appointed the new manager of Alfreton and I notice that you have one of our players on loan. I'd like Chris Senior to come back to us."

    "You fucking what?! I worked hard to get him to come here on loan for the year, you can't fucking recall him now!"

    "I'm sorry! I'm sure you understand... I need..."

    "Fuck you! You can't do this!"

    "... Well, actually I can. We have the right to recall any of our players whenever we want to. I know it's not ideal for you but I want him back ASAP."

    "FUCK YOU! Typical! Fucking typical! You wankers don't give a shit about us non-league sides!"

    He slammed the phone down. Jesus! That is one angry man... I hope I never have to meet him personally! I bet we'll land Guiseley in the FA Trophy or something now!


    A man requiring anger management - Guiseley boss Steve Kittrick

    No sooner had I put the phone down, there was a knock on the door and Russ and Steve came into the office accompanied by a third man that I hadn't yet met. He approached me with his hand out.

    "Hi Mark, welcome to Alfreton. My name is Dave Foster, I'm the scout here. I just bumped into these two outside and they said you were going to discuss the squad and I thought you may find my opinions useful as well?"

    "Yes, absolutely. Pleased to meet you, Dave. In fact, I wanted to speak to you anyway so thanks for coming along."

    After two hours of discussion, I felt that I knew a bit more about our players. Russ and Steve had passed on an incredible amount of detail regarding each and every one of the current playing squad, including the two due to return from their loan spells tomorrow. In summary:

    Goalkeepers
    The jury was out on Dan Lowson who appeared to have been groomed to take over from current number one Ross Turner who was now 31. Joe Day is on loan from Peterborough and has shown some good reflexes in training so far and at 20, looks to have a good future ahead of him. Law had brought him in to keep the other two on their toes.

    Defenders
    We were a bit heavy on centre-backs with Theo Streete, Adam Quinn, Nikolas Kudiersky, Darran Kempson, Adie Hawes, Leigh Franks and Connor Franklin all competing for the two spots in defence. Greg Young was also a centre-back who could also play on the left. Josh Law was the only recognised right-back in the squad and also Nicky Law's son! But they didn't believe he would cause any problems for me. That left Matt Wilson who could play all across defence and also in midfield who I'm also told is a real leader on the pitch.


    Would Josh Law be a Daddy's boy?

    Midfielders
    Russ and Steve were very complimentary about Jake Moult who despite his young age (22) was captain on a number of occasions last year. He competes for the right wing spot with Nathan Jarman. They felt he had a very good future ahead of him. Jamie Mullan, Jordan Hall and Nathan Arnold were the left wingers and they were all gutted for Nathan with his broken foot. Dave the scout was impressed with Nicky Deverdics, indicating that he looks like he could "pull the strings" in the middle of the park. He and Anton Brown seem to understand each other well.

    Strikers
    It sounded like the trio were excited at the prospect of seeing Louis Moult in an Alfreton shirt and linking up with his brother. They feel that it could be a lethal combination in the division. Chris Senior and Drewe Broughton were both centre-forwards of the old-fashioned mould who offer something different and also have plenty of experience. The fourth striker was Paul Clayton who'd been the regular striker for the past four years, scoring 52 goals in 130 appearances. He was a fan favourite for his work rate and commitment to the club.

    It sounded like Nicky Law had built a decent team to compete sufficiently in the Conference and a big part of me was grateful for that. The amount of centre-halves worried me though and I asked if there was any player in particular who didn't seem good enough. The response was that Nikolas Kudiersky could be quite infuriating at times due to his inconsistency.

    I thanked the trio for their feedback. They had not been aware of the financial restrictions placed upon me in terms of seeking new players and seemed quite shocked when I shared the conversation that I'd had with Wayne this morning. I asked Steve and Russ to go to Wayne and advertise that Nikolas Kudiersky was for sale, advising that they also notify Lee Sinnott first.

    That left Dave Foster on his own in my office.

    "Right, Dave... As you know, it's going to be difficult to attract players with the wage budget that we've got and no signing on fees allowed."

    "Just a tad!" smiled Dave.

    "But I don't see that as a great issue right now. From what you've all just told me, we have a decent enough squad so I think the best thing to do is to find some young talents out there to add to the squad and possibly see them develop into first team players. It'd be good to have a few young enthusiastic lads who can learn from the crop we have at the moment. The likes of Drewe Broughton and Ross Turner will have lots to pass on to them."

    "Yes, I agree. So you want me to scout out a few players?"

    "Yep, take in a few Sunday league or schoolboy games. Anyone who looks like they've got something about them, invite them down here for a trial with us and we'll take it from there. In terms of postions.... A right-back, a defensive midfielder and a central midfielder are the top priorities for now."

    "Understood! Right, I'll be off then!"

    Dave's departure capped a hard day's work for me in my first day at The Impact Arena. It had been truly informative and despite Steve Kittrick's rudeness, I'd quite enjoyed it.

    Here's hoping for more days like today!
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