Let’s get the big news out of the way:
Yup. With 7 games of our season still to play, we’ve won it. We’re promoted to the phenomenally dizzying heights of the Ryman League First Division. The league is split into North/South teams, and I expect we’ll be placed into the North side like FC Romania were. And yes, they are still set to be promoted again. Good omen for us perhaps?
In the previous post I was concerning myself with whether I thought we had improved since our inaugural season as a club. I’d like to think at this stage we have. We’ve been a lot more consistent this time around, not dropping points in silly games as often as the season prior, and it’s led to a relatively stress-free season. We’re comfortable.
If we continue the way we are, we might even be able to break the points record FC Romania set last season, and that now is my short-term goal. 104 is the target, 18 ahead of our current tally. Meaning we must win 6 of our last 7 – and remain unbeaten during that period – to get past the mark. I’m not settling for matching anyone. We’re better than them and we’ll show it.
Some sadder news, and you may have already seen this if you follow me on twitter (@footballcjw – where are you if you’re not already there, seriously), but 24 goal striker Tristan Abrahams left us in February, leaving a gaping hole in our striking department. We of course had two back-ups, but neither had impressed me all season, albeit they struggled to get any game time at all with Abrahams around. Javlon Campbell did bag a hattrick in our first game without Abrahams, but it was a hattrick of penalties. I didn’t even think he played very well. In the same week, we lost two centre-backs in Ryan Bernard and Joe Tennent to other clubs too. Bernard was very much a back up player but dependable when called upon, whereas Joey boy was our starting centre back. That left us very short at centre-back so I needed to sign people here too.
Having been deeply hurt by Tristan’s departure, I sought vengeance. Unfortunately for Sawbridgeworth, our main rivals over the course of the season, that meant signing their top scorer for the season, Will Bird. He’s nowhere near Abrahams’ level, but he was scoring plenty of goals and I decided why not bring him in, at least until the end of the season. Also, quite brutally, it meant worsening our opponent’s (incredibly) slim chances of ever catching us. We were 13 points clear of Sawbridgeworth when we signed Bird. Now the gap is 21. Sorry, not sorry.
To replace Bernard and Tennent, in came Sean Connor and Jack Broadhead. No real stats involved here, Broadhead was available on a free and has very appealing stats at this level, even if his Jumping Reach is oddly low for someone who’s 6ft3. Sean Connor is also 6ft3 but has an even poorer jumping reach and is probably better suited to playing right-back, but I like the versatility he provides that way, which is vital down in these leagues. You only have 5 slots for substitutions and having players who can play 2 positions or more is very helpful. Coming in at right-back does mean however that we have 3 right back options. Donny Barnard who, while a club icon apparently and our leading appearance maker, is steadily declining, and I’ll be looking at asking him if he wants to be a coach to keep him around.
And this is kind of the thing about amateur contracts. We could lose any player at any time to someone offering bigger wages, better bonuses, long-term stability, full-time training and therefore development and the like. Abrahams was always going to upsticks and move on. Fair play to him, I’d have done the same. There are advantages though.
All transfers in are very low-risk. You can sign a player just to find out how good he is, and if it doesn’t work, you release him. There are always more players out there too. Tons slip through the cracks every year, it’s just my job to find them.
That said, I am very looking forward to being able to offer longer-term contracts, and have a better chance of holding onto players like Tristan. Being able to become a club that develops young players is always something I like on FM. And it’s self-sustaining too. The more players we bring through; develop; give gametime to; the higher their stock rises and therefore their value. As things stand we lose everyone on frees. When we can start making profits transfer wise, we’ll really boom.
Thanks for reading. There’ll probably be one more update before S3, another scouting based one probably. If of course there’s anything else you’d like to see me write about, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or get at me on Twitter. Anything to make the posts more entertaining or insightful. Feedback appreciated. (:
P.S. I’m sorry that this may have taken a little longer to come out compared to previous updates. I lost a bit of motivation and took a bit of a break.