#11 And they’re off


So, after six hard-fought games, the day had finally arrived. 

The tweaking of tactics, recruitment of fresh faces and refining of individual training schedules all led to this moment. My first competitive match in the Vanarama North League at home to Harrogate Town, and with it, my first meaningful step towards Champions League glory.

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#10 Last chance saloon


Ahead of our penultimate game of the season I was dealt with two blows.

Firstly came the devastating news that my Chairman Anthony Sampson had failed in his attempts to identify a suitable senior affiliate club. This ruined my foolproof strategy of bringing in a dozen youngsters on loan from a high calibre Football League team and blowing away my semi-professional counterparts.

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#9 Crossing the border


Having shifted out some undesirables last week and slashing £350 from the wage bill it didn’t take me long to undo most of that good work.

It took little persuasion by my Chief Scout Patrick Andersson to convince me to snap up young Burundi-born and exotically-named Mo Shariff on a free transfer. I was desperately short of depth on the flanks, and the fact that he could play on either side was enough to convince me to offer him £190 week (the grainy YouTube footage that Patrick shared with me also played a big part in assuring me that this kid could be the next Messi!)

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#8 Trimming the fat


Now I’m not one for figures but even I knew were were in a bit of a sticky financial situation.

On top of having no transfer budget I had been reliably informed that I had little ‘wiggle room’ (the descriptive didn’t help soften the blow as presumably the club’s accountant had intended) when it came to our transfer budget.

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#7 Invincibles?


Having won all three pre-season games so far I welcomed the opportunity to get straight back into the action a few days later with a short trip up to Butlin Road to play Rugby Town. 

The quality of opposition to date had – at best – been questionable. However with the team becoming more familiar with my high pressing/short passing tactic, and with a clean sheet in our last game, I’d convinced myself we were already fast becoming invincible. If I could take this pre-season form into the full season we’d surely walk it, wouldn’t we?

I wonder if any one has ever gone a whole season undefeated in the Vanarama North? 

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#5 Success on and off the pitch


With a desperately unconvincing victory against the Stourport Swifts under my belt, and with my glamorous Chief Scout Patrick worryingly unable to identify any prospective signings, it was with some trepidation that I headed into an encounter with similarly low-level opposition in Bromsgrove Sporting. 

As a ‘home game double header’ (we were sharing the Victoria Ground with our local rivals this season) I was expecting an impressive turnout for Tuesday night’s game and with 223 spectators cramming into the terraces I was not disappointed. In fact it was downright intimidating.

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#4 Let the games begin


With the majority of my time at the club to date spent on establishing an elite backroom made up of former professionals brimming with domestic and European experience, today’s friendly against local rivals Stourport Swifts gave me a great opportunity to better understand what I had to play with this season. 

I have to admit I was impressed with what I had seen from our few sessions together.

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