Neaviepops - At the moment condemning Chippenscum seems both more achievable and desirable than the main challenge, so it's a no brainer really. Down with the Bluebirds!
Last month’s good run continues with a somewhat fortunate 2 – 0 win over St Albans. In the following game we reach new levels of efficiency, taking the lead against Concord without even needing to take a shot. Eventually we somehow win 1 – 2. I will be happy to take undeserved scraped wins for the rest of the season.
Lola Pike is notable by her absence when the bad times dry up, but good old Lilly Crittenden, who must be well into her eighties, likes to share positive news. It’s usually something to do with her grandchildren, but today a record breaker!
Centre back Sami El-Abd, one of the lesser spotted Bognor Regis “influential” players has kicked up about not enough game time. No chance of that happening mate; not now my first chance pairing of Wood and Field have improved to a “fairly decent” partnership. Also, Wood and Field has a ring to it. Sounds like a magazine you’d find in the lobby of a National Trust building. I tell him something more or less to that effect (and that I don’t want to disrupt the team’s good form) and he sneers that it’s just a very convenient excuse. Yes it is – what’s your point? Then the git goes public in what I imagine would be BBC Sport’s biggest scoop of the year. It’s a Football Focus headliner if ever I saw one – imagine Mark Lawrenson and Kevin Kilbane discussing the **** out of that one.
I expect Lola was smirking when she sent that email. Having already had the season (and more importantly my potential earnings) jeopardised once by insubordination I would like to nip this in the bud. Annoyingly there’s no option to discipline him for unprofessional behaviour, which is surely applicable.
In other news I’ve taken a central midfielder called Dean Rance on a trial. I hope he might be able to replace Tommy Fraser, he who got so riled up when he suspected I was trying to replace him earlier in the season. It would be a risky manoeuvre. Since El-Abd shocked the world with his revealing interview, his status has dropped in the dressing room to “other player” i.e. another nobody. No Games Crane has dropped down to Influential, meaning Fraser is one of the two most powerful voices amongst the squad. Rance seems to be better in almost every department and Fraser is on a one man mission to secure as many yellow cards as he can (13 in 29 appearances so far), but I dread the havoc he could wreak if scorned.
We contrive to blow more clear-cut chances and drop two points in a draw at home with lowly East Thurrock. That’s followed by back-to-back defeats against play off rivals Weston-Super-Mare and Chelmsford. Bodes ill. The Chelmsford game is particularly frustrating given that we battered them for most of the game, had 4 clear cut chances to 2 and still managed to lose 3 – 1. Despite an abundance of quality strikers, we continue to drop points by not finishing teams off when we’re controlling games. Pearce has gone off the boil again and nobody is stepping up. In conclusion, March was good first half, not so good second half.
Half of my first choice centre back pairing, Keaton Wood, has picked up an injury that might see him miss the rest of the year. Surprisingly not concussion, but close: fractured cheekbone. He’s gone and broken his face. Step up replacement Corey Heath, aka one half of Heath & Field: a centre back partnership/folk rock duo.
We’re still hanging on in the playoffs in 6[SUP]th[/SUP] place. Mark ****** Collier’s Chippenscum continue to dangle by a thread in 20[SUP]th[/SUP]. Still not had a chance to remind him of our earlier predictions.
Having a bit of a Blockage with this challenge, I guess my brain is kinda Tuckered out trying to come up with new puns to force you to Swallow. And then of COURSE you Wood go ahead and Field a whole new challenge just to wind me up.
Sammuthegreat - there would be no shame in resigning from the Block & Tuck challenge at this stage. The board are delighted you have exceeded expectations in this competition. Although the addition of Heath & Field does add options...
The home stretch is in sight. 5 games left to secure a playoff spot. I have no hopes of getting through the playoffs, but making them must surely boost my reputation above its current level of ‘None’.
Gloucester and Dartford are tough games in which we have next to no chance, but the other three are winnable. I reckon 6 or 7 points should do the job.
Morale has taken a dip and in need of a quick fix I offer El-Abd a mutual contract termination which he takes. That should bring the average unhappiness down a bit. One upshot of this is that I had forgotten he was the captain and I’m more or less forced to name current vice-captain, Tommy Fraser as his replacement. I feel like Fraser is becoming a thorn in my side, but am reassured by the fact I intend to jump from this listing ship, into a better paid vessel as soon as possible.
Talking of which….
‘Club improvements’ – what a charmer. Just show me the money Dom. The opening offer is £500 per week. If I increase my salary by 25% a year then in ten years’ time, my salary will be…………something like £3000 per week. Not good enough Reynolds. With some brutal negotiation I argue him up to, er, £525 a week. Pathetic.
After a celebratory bacon bap from Harry’s Hut it’s back to the grindstone. First up, bottom of the table Eastbourne Boro. Boro start brightly and take an early lead, but tire badly and my relatively big and fitter squad pays dividends.
Before the next game I give Rohan Ricketts a trial. Remember him? He’s great at set pieces, but basically unable to run. My scouting budget is kaput, so giving trials to random out of contract players who present themselves at the gates is now official club recruitment policy. I probably should have been doing this from the very start.
Bit of housekeeping as I secure a few of the better players on new contracts early: Wood, Swallow, Mohammed and Field all earn another year. Look how pleased Wood is with his £10 a week paycut.
Next up is an away game to 4[SUP]th[/SUP] place Gloucester. They are 18 points clear of Bognor in 5[SUP]th[/SUP]. I’m targeting zero points from this fixture.
Mission accomplished. As soon as we go a goal down I experiment with a 3-4-3 formation, but that’s cut short when that eejit Fraser gets himself sent off for a two footed lunge. James Crane makes a rare start and naturally suffers concussion, which puts him out for the rest of the season. Is it within the rules of the game to put them all in helmets at all times?
Ben Swallow pulls his stupid groin in the run up to the must win home game against useless Hemel Hempstead. Time for Kyle Finn to shine?
A goal and an assist from Finn – nice. My unexciting, but dependable right winger Jimmy Muitt picks up MoM and with that probably earns himself a new contract. That’s 6 points from 9 and we’re in 5[SUP]th[/SUP] place, 4 points clear of St Albans who sit just outside the playoffs. So far, so good.
Quick update on the training situation.
Is this news? If I don’t hear anything from you Killpartrick, I will just assume the players are still displeased about the quality of the training sessions. How about that?
Next game is away to mid-table Oxford City. A win guarantees a playoff spot, but a draw will probably do it.
Kerboom! We’re in the playoffs!
We have only a final dead rubber home game against probable champions Dartford, before the drama of the play-offs. A shame – I would have preferred a winnable game to keep some momentum, but never mind. Has my reputation been boosted by this remarkable achievement?
In a word, no.
Disaster strikes before the final game of the season and more crucially, the play-offs as my goalkeeper Dan Lincoln is ruled out for 4 - 7 weeks with a thigh strain. Probably my most irreplaceable player. Oh, why couldn’t I be bothered to sign a decent backup?
The final league game against Dartford finishes 4 - 4 with a brace apiece for Swallow and Pearce. In fairness we absolutely robbed them. Ha-ha! Dartford join us in the playoffs.
We finish the season in 5[SUP]th[/SUP] place, best of the rest behind the “Big 4”. You can see the dramatic drop off in goal difference, that suggests we will be also rans in the play-offs. In very sad news Mark ****** Collier’s Chippenham go down in 21[SUP]st[/SUP] place. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.
How amusing that you cost Dartford the title in that last match...
I hereby tender my resignation from the Block, Tuck, Swallow, Heath, Field and... Wood(?) Challenge. Frankly it's getting silly now and I've lost track of which of the above players are still at the club!
Neavie pops23 - Collier's imminent dismissal gives me at least as much satisfaction as reaching the playoffs. It's a shame I can't choose the topic of the press conferences, or they would all contain at least one dig towards him.
Sammuthegreat - Congratulations on the title! Best to bow out on a high - I salute you. If Bognor only achieve one thing this season in denying Dartford promotion then....probably have to say it was an unsuccessful season, but hopefully the chairman won't see it that way.
We draw St. Albans at home in the first round of the playoffs. I had no hope of getting through them earlier, but now we’re in there I’m beginning to hope. Could it be a truly glorious season for The Rocks?
Well that’s that. Time to start sending out some CVs! Applications have been sent to Vanarama National relegation avoiders Boreham Wood, and with outrageous chutzpah, Barcelona B.
Meanwhile, back in Bognor A & E.
How did you fracture your skull? I injured it after jumping. I won’t ask.
Spot on Ronnie.
Mark ****** Collier did of course get the boot at Chippenham. I don’t want to miss a chance to have a dig, but he’s not playing ball.
Give it time Mark.
Back in Bognor the chairman is playing fast and loose with his fiscal responsibilities. We’re £50k in the red Reynolds! I need to get out of here before he totally cracks and gifts the stadium to a cat. Come on Boreham Wood, take the bait….
Boreham Wood do eventually offer me an interview – which I obviously smash if Reynold’s panicked response is anything to go by.
Sammuthegreat - Happens to the best of us mate, don't worry about it.
It’s Boreham Wood or bust. Meanwhile back on the south coast I pick up veteran left back Dan Harding on a free. No legs left, but technically one of the best players at the club now.
I also pick up a centre back, Harry Hickford and the luxuriously named right winger, Armani Daly.
It’s a no from Boreham Wood. Nil desperandum!
Looks like Reynolds is playing hardball with Solihull Moors.
I try to persuade him to please release me, let me go, but obviously I have no leverage. Even a death stare from the icy eyes of doom does nothing to sway him. I could just quit, but I don’t even know how much the Solihull job is paying. As they will be in the same division as Bognor next season it could conceivably be even less than my current wage, which would surely represent a failure of the challenge. What a shambles. In the end I hold fast – better the devil you know.
It’s a no from Macclesfield. They go for Kenny Brown who is 3 times better at defending coaching than me. Fair enough. The board at Bognor refuse my repeated requests for a training course. Back me or sack me Reynolds! He chooses option C: neither. One piece of good news – my sarcastic job offer seems to have done the trick in cementing Collier as an enemy. Not sure what I did to AVB or who Mark Jones is.
I risk the wrath of Fraser and sign Tommy Rance, who I intend to partner with Evans in the middle (if I’m still around, which looks increasingly likely). The midfield is now looking pretty good. I need a backup right back and at least one target man type striker. Poachers are ten a penny, but big lumps up front are apparently impossible to come by. Portsmouth have no interest in letting me loan Ljubicic again, the gits. I offer trials to a bunch of available strikers who are 6 foot 1 or taller. That’s some innovative, industrial style recruitment right there. Billy Beane, watch and learn.
To formalise the end of the Block & Tuck challenge, Doug Tuck is released on a free. It’s a sad day in the history of the club.
Sammuthegreat - I also find it quite endearing that the pettiness of AVB could extend to hating a manager with no reputation in the Vanarama South. It's hard to imagine we move in similar circles, so I can't imagine what prompted it. Maybe I've been playing with too low a block. A low Block! Oh, an opportunity missed.
July - preseason
Well here we are, still in Bognor ****** Regis. During the pre-season meeting the squad tell me my goal of achieving the playoffs is unambitious and we should be looking to win the league. I don’t even recognise these people any more. The hunt for a striker and right back goes on. I don’t understand how it’s possible to get decent loan signings at this level – it takes me months to scout a player and figure out if they’ll be any good or not.
All job applications during the summer have failed, so it looks like it’s another crack at the Vanarama South. One of my main concerns about this is the perilous state of the club finances. £88k in the red does not convince me I’m going to make my fortunes here.
In transfer updates I pick up striker Declan Daniels from Ipswich. His main strength is being tall, hopefully providing occasional knockdowns vaguely in the direction of the quick players. Eli Phipps is more of the same, but slightly taller still. Ben Cull is a left back from Southampton who looks very limited to me, but everyone else seems to think is great. Joe Dandy is an 18 year old centre back on loan from Portsmouth. He combines being tall with being quick and so has all the attributes required to be an absolute legend in the Vanarama South.
Try as I might I can’t find any right backs who could provide competition or even competent cover. If I can rustle one up from somewhere, that should finish off the summer recruitment drive.
Pre-season fixtures are mostly positive, although we are clearly missing the presence of Ljubicic up top.
The bookies have us at 6/1, predicted to finish 4[SUP]th[/SUP]. Seems a tad optimistic to me.
Sammuthegreat - If you ever do need a criminal lawyer on the south coast I strongly advise not contacting any of those. And your money is as good as in the bank on the Bognor bet - I strongly advise spending it now in anticipation of the nailed on winnings.
The top 5 paid managers as we head into year 2 are un-changed. I notice none of these big time Charlies managed to increase their salaries by over 31% in the past year. So if I was putting a positive spin on it, I can say I’ve closed the gap.
We kick off against fellow playoff contenders and one of last season’s “Big 4” Gloucester. Joe “Hand” Dandy makes an impressive debut and Evans continues last season’s good form as we scrape an unconvincing 1 – 0.
That’s followed by an equally unconvincing 1 – 2 victory over Weston-Super-Mare and a poor 0 – 1 defeat to Concord. I feel like we never do well against Concord. In the absence of Mark ****** Collier (still unemployed) I apparently have a new nemesis in the shape of Whitehawk manager Steve King. Flicking back through last seasons posts I recall that he wanted to “bring me back down to earth” for no apparent reason. Well, he didn’t learn his lesson.
Oh really, Steve? Pray tell.
That utter Steve Hunt at the Non-League Paper has always had it in for me and here he is again, stirring it up. I scoff that I’d long since forgotten what it was all about or who Steve King is. Is he the drummer in that covers band that sometimes plays at open mic night in the Hothampton Arms?
Must beat Whitehawk, must beat Whitehawk, must beat Whitehawk…..
Oh Steve King, you will rue letting your emotions influence decisions.
I told you so.
Final game of the month is against Hereford, who I’m surprised to see are in the division as a result of promotion rather than relegation. I recall them being a relatively bigger club. 5000+ seater stadium, recent history in League One and Two. Of course I had forgotten about Hereford United being wound down by HMRC in 2014. Hereford FC are the phoenix club. Nice to have a little bit of background before our trip to Edgar Street.
Meanwhile, in another edition of Training Complaints, a number of players voice their displeasure over the quality of shooting coaching.
Let’s see if they can put a few past Hereford despite the improvable coaching.
Point taken. A good performance from new centre back Hickford though – the first eleven is taking shape.
A decent month for results feels a bit misleading. We were pretty lucky in the wins and deserved to lose the game we did. It could be a long season. We finish the month in 7[SUP]th[/SUP] place. King’s Whitehawk in 16[SUP]th[/SUP].
Sammuthegreat - I think Nosibor has answered your question....
Nosibor - Thank you very much, I hope we see another Derby Jack story soon and if I only achieve just a fraction of DJ's in game success, then it probably won't have been worth it. I hadn't seen the parallel between AVB's pettiness and my own, but I suppose I wouldn't. Food for thought. The Vanarama South doth make AVBs of us all. And I'll admit it took me a few reads of the comment to get the "It" reference. Cap doffed.
First game of the month should be an absolutely routine home win against Braintree. We create 5 clear cut chances to 0 and contrive to draw the game 0 - 0. The ****** shooting training. I don’t know what I can do. The club is almost £100k in the red, there’s no way the board will let me hire another coach. I should have twisted their arm when I was getting all those interviews.
A 1 - 1 draw away to Margate makes it three draws on the bounce. This challenge is feeling increasingly impossible. Next up…another 1 – 1 draw, this time to bottom of the table Hungerford. 4 draws in a row – couldn’t achieve that if I tried. Bored of these interminable stalemates I mix it up and try an untested 3-5-2 for a home game against St. Albans. I’m hoping an extra man in the middle will give Evans more time on the ball and improve the attacking play.
Remarkable. A remarkably dull run.
We eventually secure a win against Chatty Ham in the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round. That came courtesy of an early fluke own goal (we didn’t register a shot for about 35 minutes) and a harsh red card. Hopefully the morale boost can carry us into a bit of league form.
Next game is away to Truro, who are languishing in 20[SUP]th[/SUP]. Games don’t come much more winnable than this and we do secure a 1 - 3 victory.
Even when it’s good news Lola manages to find an article that gives her a chance to get a sly dig in.
September’s results can only be described as uninspiring, although we were undefeated. We finish the month in 10[SUP]th[/SUP] place, narrowly ahead of Whitehawk in 12[SUP]th[/SUP].
The description page describes the finances as ‘Okay’, but we're haemorrhaging cash fast. Reynolds has sent me a financial update, maybe because he feels like a problem shared is a problem halved. It isn’t. We lost £20k this month, which is almost exactly the cost of the player wages. If we can’t actually afford players, that seems like a pretty fundamental problem for what is essentially supposed to be a football club.
It’s a familiar story in the opening game of the month at home to rubbish Oxford City.
Goddamit Bognor! How much longer must I watch clear cut chances being shanked pathetically wide? 13 shots, 0 on target?! Are you just taking the ****?
With goals proving incredibly hard to come by, we waste three in the next game in the FA Cup, beating Hampton & Richmond Borough 3 – 2. Any momentum is immediately lost as we immediately lose away to East Thurrock, who thoroughly outplay us.
We can’t buy a win in the league at the moment and if we don’t win when we play well and lose when we play badly, this is going to end in tears. We squeak a pretty lucky 1 – 0 win at home to Poole before going out of the FA Cup to Concord. I hate Concord.
I feel like we need a change, so I play around with the tactics before an away trip to playoff contenders Havant & Waterlooville. I want to try again with three in the middle to get the most out of Evans abilities. I’m moving to a 4-5-1 with the wingers pushing on.
The result is we’re back to drawing ways, finishing up 2 – 2 against H&W. But for periods in the game we dominated in a way we have struggled to do for most of the season. I decide to stick with it for the visit of high flying Maidenhead.
It never rains in Bognor, but very occasionally it pours. We’re 3 – 0 up inside the first 15 minutes with three near identical goals – Evans cuts the defence open with a through ball, Pearce runs on and smashes it in. I think we’ll be sticking with this for the rest of the season. It does mean we have way too many strikers in the squad and in particular my two new target men don’t have much of a future, but you can’t make an omelette without freezing some eggs out of the first team.
The month is rounded off with Jake Evans winning player of the month. Look at his happy little face and his clumsily photo-shopped Bognor training top.
We finish in 7[SUP]th[/SUP] place, into the playoff places. You don’t have to do much to get into the playoff places in the Vanarama South. Whitehawk in 11th.
We kick off with a truly dreadful game of football that finishes 1 – 1 with Brackley. Same tactics, same personnel, playing against the same system as our 5 – 0 rout in the previous game. Go figure. Pearce strained his groin and will be out for a month. Sigh.
Maidstone give me an interview and hit me with a curve ball question about the perilous finances at Bognor. Surely a question for Reynolds, no? These things take time I waffle. Not even sure how that answer relates to the question. Let’s hope Maidstone chairman Bill Williams interprets meaning where there is none. Why do you keep applying for other jobs, he asks? Surely that’s not an appropriate question. I can’t reply that I’ve set myself an impossible goal of earning more money than any other manager, so I mumble something about having always wanted a fresh start whenever I’ve applied elsewhere. This is going badly. Maidstone are currently 23[SUP]rd[/SUP] out of 24 in the Vanarama National League. They want to avoid relegation (duh), but could I do better than that, Bill asks? I play it safe and say I can avoid relegation. I have no positive feelings about this job. Let’s see what happens.
It’s a reversion to the norm on the pitch as well, as the 1 – 1 draw is followed with a 1 – 2 home defeat to Billericay, who were one place below us. It seems the 4-5-1 revelation was just the latest in a series of false dawns down in Bognor Regis. But the consistent inconsistency of my team seems to have put me in demand (at least in the Vanarama South) – not one, but two unsolicited job interview offers.
EU update. I suspect Lily would have preferred a harder Brexit.
The job hunt continues.
Brackley get in touch to “invite you to suggest any changes you would like to make to Brackley’s backroom staff setup”. That sounds a lot like trying to get me to work for free. As it happens none of my staff want to move to Brackley anyway. Do they not realise it’s equidistant between Oxford and Northampton? That’s the genius of it’s location.
The interviews are coming thick and fast now.
As are the rejections. That’s the double: Maidstone and Maidenhead. Are there any other footballing maids that can knock me back?
We finish the month in 10[SUP]th[/SUP] after another blah series of results.
Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on your hard work and efforts down there on the South Coast, you are obviously a manager with plenty of........well....a manger with plenty.
Now, about the relationship with myself I would like to offer an explanation if I may. You see, ever since your ridiculous 'Block, Tuck and Swallow' strategy, Mrs Villas-Boas has had some of the most outlandish ideas in her head, the likes of which I haven't seen since Lilly Crittenden sent her a sticky copy of "50 Shades of Andy Gray".
The positional play of the woman has stretched even my tactical abilities and frankly, I am ****** knackered. God only knows what injuries I might suffer if she ever gets her hands on Wood in the Field.