Monthly Archives: April 2015

Mystic Rich is right – the slide begins

I suspected as much. Top of the table after four games, now outside the play-offs after 13 games. When something amazing happens you hear commentators say that you couldn’t write the script. Well I’m the opposite of that analogy. Sadly – and I do mean sadly – my script was written before the season started, and we’re following it to the bloody letter.

Let’s get the whiny bit out of the way first – the bit that makes me sound like I’m blaming the run of results on stuff out of my control. We’ve had a few injuries.

Jack Mackreth, who admittedly isn’t an automatic first teamer, has missed the last few games.

Ryan Jarvis, my big striker signing of the summer, has only just come back into the reckoning after being injured since pre-season.

Will Atkinson, the player who was meant to set my midfield alight, is out for two to three months (and he didn’t bother to set anything alight before dislocating his shoulder).

Jeremy Balmy, the Frenchman from Notts County I brought in to replace Mackreth can’t play for two weeks because he’s got a poorly face. Soft bastard.

And Lenell John-Lewis, who’s scored 7 in 12, is out with a damaged heel.

Of the nine games I’ve played since the last update, we’ve won three, drawn four and lost two. Our first defeat of the season came at Alfreton, who were sat right behind us in second. I accepted it gracefully.

Grimsby's fixtures so far in 2015/16

We then had a favourable run against teams that were doing shit all down near the bottom. We failed to punish Harrogate in a game where they failed to have a single shot on target, and then followed that up with a disgusting 1-1 draw at home to Nuneaton, in which Eoghan Stokes scored his debut goal.

There then followed two very winnable games at Blundell Park against Chester and Sutton. We dealt with Chester the way all promotion hunting teams should deal with painfully average sides, scoring well and not giving them a sniff. But then, inexplicably, the players found themselves 2-0 down at half time to newly promoted Sutton. John-Lewis and Aswad Thomas of all people got us level, but despite the opposition playing the last half an hour with 10 men we failed to get a winner.

Then we lost 3-0 at Barnet, who were insanely good. Keanu Marsh-Brown ripped us a new hole in the first half, scoring a hat-trick (although I was left more impressed with the way that our up-until-then tight defence were made to look like a bunch over overweight Sunday league cloggers).

All of which means we now find ourselves outside the play-offs (see below), with a tricky looking tie at Northampton to come.

Conference table at the end of September

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Back into it: the Grimsby save continues – second season starts

Well it only took me five months to complete my first full season as Grimsby Town manager on FM15. Even by my standards, that’s slow. But the crucial thing is that I’m beginning to enjoy it – much more so than I was back in November and December, when I struggled to accept SI’s claim that the game wasn’t ‘buggy’. It was. But last week, when I had the burning desire to return to the game, I noticed there were several updates to install, and since then everything has been smooth – and enjoyable.

I had about eight games left of my first season to play. We had fallen out of the play-offs and looked certainties for a mid-table finish, and despite winning five of those eight (drawing two and losing one) we still only managed 9th – six points short of the play-offs – which was disappointing for me but acceptable for the board.

Shaun Pearson, one of the nicest, dedicated and most loyal non-league players you’re ever likely to meet in real life, was an absolute nob on the game. Despite being my best and most consistent performer, he refused to sign a new contract. The sticking point was his demands for a quite ludicrous £1,500 a week, which was far, far above his existing deal of £650 a week. I’ve played four games of my second season and so I can reveal he got his move to a League 2 club, but he’s actually on just £600 a week at Bury. Work that one out.

Scott Neilson was another greedy bastard when it came to contract negotiations. I was having none of it, so he left in the summer too. He’s being a tosser at Tranmere, if you’re interested. Ross Hannah, my 15-goal striker, proved a prickly customer when it came to money. I eventually managed to persuade York’s Ryan Jarvis to join us for less than what Hannah was asking, so he was shown the door. He’s still without a club.

In all honesty, the change in personnel was relatively low-key for a Conference club. I made five signings that would be considered first teamers, plus a loan and a back-up. Southend’s versatile midfielder Will Atkinson, Bristol Rovers’ towering centre back Mark McCrystal, Scunthorpe’s Andrew Boyce and Wimbledon’s winger Chris Arthur all joined Jarvis in travelling to the east coast for a crack at promotion. Like the board’s expectations for the season, my wage budget has risen – just a bit – and I’m expected to get the team in the play-offs, reach the first round of the FA Cup and semi-finals of the FA Trophy. Or else.

Right now I’m ok with that. My first four games of the season have gone well – an opening day 1-1 draw at home to the much fancied Forest Green has been followed by a 3-1 win at Telford, a 1-0 home win over relegated Wimbledon and a remarkable 4-0 win at Eastleigh, who had won their first three games of the season. Next up is a home game against 17th placed Woking.

I think that brings you up to date for now. I’m sure I’ll be back before long with another update, which will probably detail our fall from grace and struggle to get back into the play-off places in a manner that mirrors the events of last season.