Tag Archives: Ross Millen

Part VI: Mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits

Raised on a diet of broken biscuits.

You know, I was actually naive enough to believe, just for a moment, that some of my half decent players would turn deals down elsewhere to stay at a club that didn’t pay them a penny to play each week.

In the end, 15 of my players went to other clubs (including Montrose, Queen of the South, Clyde, Forfar, East Fife, Dumbarton and Dunfermline. Ayr United nicked three of the buggers).

It was a chastening moment.

Faced with a bunch of friendlies that started before June was out, I had five players – my worst five players from last season. I think two of them made the bench at one point, but to be honest I couldn’t tell much difference in quality between them and the greyed out ‘filler’ players in my reserve squad.

The departures included my world-beating right back Ross Millen, who is clearly destined to win international caps now that he’s signed for East Fife. Mate, I thought you’d find a better club than that.

The strangest transfer was my reserve goalkeeper, Andrew Murphy, signing for Rotherham on a two-year, £1,000 p/w deal. He must be a cat, because he’s definitely fallen on his feet.

Anyway, to cut a very long (and very boring) story short, I spent hours sifting through the players that were released by other clubs to see if I could assemble some sort of team ahead of our first friendly against Kelty Hearts.

This I did, but I was like one of those shoppers on Black Friday who bursts into Asda as soon as the store opens and buys a big TV just because it’s there – without considering whether the telly’s actually any good.

So I blindly bagged myself a load of bang average players from the bargain bin.

Now, I had been doubting my ability as a tactician given how rare victories have been for me on FM17, but I’m glad to say that even with a bunch of barely-human misfits I was able to assemble them in some sort of formation and instruct them to beat a fellow amateur side 4-2. It was actually a half-decent performance.

We weren’t convincing in our 1-1 draw at Clyde, and the 2-1 win at Darlington 1883 was, if I’m honest, lucky.

Then followed a couple of catastrophes. We were very lucky to lose by only two goals at Partick Thistle, and then we got an official dicking at Oldham. They could’ve scored ten but settled for just the six.

For those of you who know a bit about Scottish football, you’ll know their season starts with four group games in the Betfred Cup. We won just once – on penalties – so the less said about that, the better.

By this time I’d signed enough players to fill the bench on match days. I don’t recognise any of the names in real life, but a couple of them – Carlo Monti and David Turnbull – look like they might actually be quite good.

This is Monti:

Carlo Monti stats

And here he is, scoring a superb goal against Albion Rovers:

But it’s Groundhog Day. After three games we’re in a familiar position:

League 1 table - Queen's Park 8th

Here are my results so far – slightly worried about the amount of red on this list:

Queen's Park's list of results

The board isn’t overly concerned at this point, given that we weren’t expected to progress in the cup and that the media expect us to finish 9th. However, the players are still playing like the bunch of strangers they really are, and my tactical inconsistency probably isn’t helping.

I think I should be awarded Manager of the Year already on the sole basis that I managed to get around 14 players to sign ‘contracts’ at Queen’s Park that are literally worth nothing.

Oh, and the 16-year old promoted from my youth set-up who was described as the best thing since sliced bread?

Pinched by Dunfermline within two weeks.

With no ability to tie even half-decent 16-year olds down (a sentence that will attract the attention of the internet police, no doubt) there’s no hope for building a bright future.

No, just exist. Turn up, play matches of football, entertain the sparsely populated national stadium as best you can, and go home.

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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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