Tag Archives: Chorley

Part II: Kiddy mix

Right, I’m now 10 games into my Kidderminster career and things are going okay. It feels like they’re going a bit better than that, actually, but such is my cautious approach – and my irrational fear of jinxing just about anything that can be jinxed – I’d rather keep a level head for now.

Plus, although I may have only lost two of my first 10 games in charge, I’m aware we’ve still only moved up the league table by two places.

However, what is good is that we’ve put a bit of distance between us and the relegation zone, which is… what’s the phrase? Over to Louis Balfour for that one.

You can see that although things aren’t as rosy as a Sir Alex Ferguson’s nose, they’re better than being 18th and just two points off the drop zone with the whole squad out of form and in a filthy mood after losing 3-0 at home to Spennymoor:

National League North league table screenshot (Kidderminster 16th)

That goal difference doesn’t look very clever. I’ve improved it by one goal since I took charge – and bearing in mind we lost 5-2 at York, that’s not bad going.

Anyway, here’s a summary of what’s happened since last time.

We avenged that Bootham Crescent mauling by travelling to Leek Town in an FA Trophy 3rd qualifying round match and beating them 4-1. My left winger Charlie Edge, who doesn’t really like playing as a left winger, scored two goals. They might have been weak opposition but any away game at this level is far from a foregone conclusion.

It reminds me of the time my good friend Stuart lost an FA Cup tie 2-1 at Colwyn Bay when he was in charge of Cambridge in League 1.

Then we put in what I can only describe as a ‘bitty’ performance at home to Gainsborough. They were shit, and we really should’ve beaten them, but we still enjoyed more possession and created more chances than them – and it was also the match when N’Guessan, my highest-paid player, finally turned in a decent performance on the right wing.

On the other side of the pitch, the Edge got injured, so he wasn’t fine. Adam Clayton is fine, though. I went out into the loan market and brought the experienced Chris Zebroski to the club for a month, from Eastleigh. And he duly scored both goals on his debut in our excellent 2-1 win at Chroley.

That victory was sweet for two reasons – firstly, they were 7th and so it was a good result on that fact alone, but also, secondly, it felt like revenge for the shit they gave me on FM17, even though that’s irrelevant on so many levels.

Then came our FA Trophy 1st round match at Barrow, who are in the National League play-offs. The media had us down as outsiders, as you’d expect, but we went there and gave them a real game. My midfield maestro, Ngwatala, grabbed a deserved opener but we conceded early in the second half and the game finished 1-1.

I actually fancied our chances back at our place. Games at Aggborough had been rare under my tenure (just two of my first eight games were at home). Once again the match finished 1-1 (thanks to a late equaliser from N’Guessan) and then we took the lead in the second minute of extra time!

Sadly, we conceded immediately – which appears to be a habit of ours at the moment. Maybe I should tell them to concentrate more just after scoring a goal.

We were by far the better team, creating more chances and working their goalkeeper, but the sucker-punch came in the 119th minute when they scored the winner. I won’t say we hammered them, but when you consider they’re 30-odd places higher in the league ladder than us, it was a decent effort by our lads.

Annoyingly, the board expected us to get to the 2nd round of the competition, so we’ve fallen short of expectations without any regard for the quality of opposition or the fact that we created far more chances than they did over the two legs.

One other thing that annoyed me was the match report at full time. More possession and more chances usually brings a tale of bad luck, or that the winning side got lucky, but not this time. Our bad finishing cost us dearly, it reckoned. Funny, that, because when it’s been the other way round (and we’ve won undeservedly) it will usually say we didn’t deserve it.

Side whinge.

Anyway, as a consequence of playing 120 minutes in a week when no other bugger from our division had to play, we were then totally knackered for our home game against mid-table Nuneaton and it finished 0-0. It was the first time I’d failed to score in a game since picking up the reins.

Next up is the festive double-header against AFC Telford, who are just a point outside the play-offs. Away game first.

Oh yeah, and one other interesting thing that’s happened, which I’ve totally forgot to mention, is that we’re now under a transfer embargo because some dick head is interested in buying the club. I wish they’d hurry up and get the deal done because I’m about to lose two decent loan signings in the January transfer window and I won’t be able to replace them as things stand. I don’t think I’ve been in charge of a club that’s been taken over by a consortium before. I have no idea whether that’s good or bad.

Kidderminster fixture list screenshot

So that’s my story so far. Steady if unspectacular. It’s 16 goals scored and 13 goals conceded in 10 games, which is far, far better than at any stage of my stints at Chorley and Queen’s Park on FM17.

I doubt the play-offs are possible, even though we’re only four points short. The sheer volume of clubs between us and that dotted line is so heavy that we’d really have to show championship form to get in there. I’d like to think we’re not in any real danger of getting relegated though.

Mid-table beckons!

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Part V: Queen Victorious

The Queen lives! Long live the Queen (in Scottish League 1).

Yes we survived, but in the most unconvincing fashion possible. Things were going swimmingly in our penultimate match at home to Alloa, 1-0 up with 10 minutes to go… and then we threw it away.

Hilariously, having lost the game 2-1, it actually assured us of our safety despite being just two points clear of the relegation play-off place because a) there are actually three other teams worse than us, and b) two of them had to play each other on the last day, so we couldn’t slip any lower than 8th.

We won our last game at home to Livingston, who had just been crowned champions. We took the form book, yeah, and wiped our royal arse with it.

It means that I won one, drew one and lost two of my four games in charge, scoring four and conceding five. Both those defeats came at home. You know, something tells me we’ll never make our stadium (literally one hundred times bigger than is necessary) a fortress.

I’ve had little time to get to know the players, so I’ve got to be pleased that they did the business.

And allowed myself a good, hearty chuckle at Chorley getting relegated on goal difference.

I have no idea what the summer will bring. As I’ve mentioned before, every single one of my players is on an amateur contract so the half decent ones will walk.

We don’t do such things as transfer and wage budgets at Queen’s Park. You can forget any of that stuff.

“Do you fancy playing for us? Yes, I know you can get paid more playing for Gala Fairydean in the Ferrari Packaging Lowland League – but do they play their home games at the home of Scottish football? I think not. No, we literally cannot give you a £1 goal bonus. Sorry.”

Here’s the final league table:

Scottish League 1 final table, Queen's Park 8th

And this is Josh Watt scoring what turned out to be our goal of the season. Foot like a traction engine, and all that (nice forward roll-and-punch celebration:

 

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Part IV: The reign of Queen Dick

When you’ve been sacked by Chorley, and you’re staring at the bottom of your pint glass in the corner of a pub frequented by just one regular who suffers from phlegm and catarrh, where else can you go?

Who’ll take a manager who lost 50% of his matches and couldn’t even motivate his side to score an average of one goal a game?

Queen’s Park. That’s where.

Yes, I’m now in the third tier of Scottish football, where all my players are on amateur contracts. I’m on an amateur contract. None of us are being paid a penny to turn up and play (or manage) games of football.

The fact that we’re in the third tier, and not fourth, is remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is that we play out home games at Hampden Park – a 52,000-seat stadium for 500 fans. If I know my fractions like I think I do (and I’ve always said betting is a good way to learn maths) that’s just under 1% of its capacity.

I’ve gone from being chucked by Chorley (who, hilariously, play their home games at Victory Park) to spending my Saturday afternoons in Scotland’s best stadium.

The fact that any of my players could walk out of the club at any time is a small price to pay to find a chairman that’s willing to give me a second – and possibly final – chance.

The situation is this: with four games to go, Queens Park are three points clear of the relegation play-off spot. My remit is to keep them clear. In fact, everything about this job is startlingly similar to the situation I was in at Chorley. Except no one gets paid.

I’m doing it for the love of the game. It’s work experience. It’s better than being at Sports Direct on a zero hours contract where they pay you peanuts and sack you for daring to take a long shit break.

I barely had a day to assess my squad before we took on second placed Airdrie at home – a team still with a chance of claiming the title – so I left things in the capable hands of my assistant, Chris Hillcoat.

We lost 1-0.

Same old story, really. We had plenty more chances – I was actually impressed by the way we played – but we conceded in the first minute and never looked like recovering, despite having more of the play.

Next up was a trip to Brechin, who occupied the relegation play-off spot. A defeat would see us swap places.

And if the game had finished in the 87th minute, that’s exactly where we’d be. But striker Anton Brady broke his barren spell to equalise in the 88th and we nicked a point. I say ‘nicked’ – again, we played fairly well, had more of the ball and created more chances.

That’s where things stand right now. With two games to go, Stenhousemuir (or Stenhouse Manure, as a few of us like to call them) are relegated – they’re long gone – and Brechin stay 9th on 34 points. Peterhead are in 8th on 35 and we’re in 7th on 36 (so the point actually moved us up a position.

There’s no time to look for reinforcements, so I’ll have to do this with the players at my disposal. I seem to have inherited a world-beating right back, who has four goals, four assists and an average rating of 7.25. His name is Ross Millen.

My two remaining fixtures are, unusually, both at home. We’ve got Alloa (in the play-offs but nothing to play for) and Livingston (top of the league with a four-point advantage over Airdie).

Also, my chief scout, Bobby Dickson, is amazing. No wonder we’re in the third tier if he’s in charge of recruitment.

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