#FM15: To The Top! 3.4 – Chasing a Third Title

Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the last post of 2016. Hopefully this next year will be an even better year than 2016! To wrap up the year for TMOD blog posts, we’re going to go over the rest of the Division Nine season with AFC Bolnore.

We last left off in a bit of a rocky patch on the last day of December 2016. Our performances were wins for the most part, but injuries at poor times coupled with sub-par performances during those wins and several losses had let me down a bit. I don’t expect my team to win every single match and have numerous consecutive invincible seasons, which seems extraordinarily unreasonable, but I do have a winner’s mentality, and I have a really high expectation for my team. Now, let’s get to business… Did we meet those expectations?

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We start off with some good news in the first weeks of January – our talisman Terry Rymer has come back from injury a bit ahead of schedule following his trip to a specialist.

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Our first match of the new year was against Handcross Village III, and it was a 3-0 win. Terry Rymer came back from injury to get his name on the score sheet. We’re in the lead by one point, though Ridgewood have a game in hand.

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Our next match was in the Tester Challenge Cup Quarterfinal, and disappointingly enough, we lost to Buxted III, who are in a lower division than us. It’s disappointing to say this, but we won’t be defending the title this season.

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Leigh Overton, our starting goalkeeper, took a bad injury in a training session and will be out for most of the rest of the season, meaning we have to look around for an emergency goalkeeper to replace him.

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Our next match was a 1-2 victory in the league. With everyone except for two teams lower in the table at 14 games played each, we’re two points below Ridgewood, a team who’s consistently been a thorn in our side and our first serious challenger for a title spot in this career. As you’ll remember if you read the blog, we were comfortably ahead of second place in both of the last two seasons.

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The next match was in the Parsons Challenge Cup semifinal, and we took a 0-1 victory away to Hartfield. We’re going to the final on our first season in this cup competition. Who’s in this final, who may be asking?

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We’re facing off against Ridgewood, our title challenging rival for this league, who as you may remember also has the distinction of being the team to eliminate us from the Mid-Sussex Junior Cup! We’ve got everything to fight for in this match-up, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win it and get revenge against them.

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Next up was a 4-3 home win against Maresfield Village II in the league. Another good win, though we’re still two points below Ridgewood. We’ve only got three matches to go, so hopefully the results can go our way and give us that title. If not, at least second place and a promotion spot is still looking likely, should we fail.

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The next match was a home result against Ridgewood, and we took a very comfortable 4-1 victory to put us a point ahead of them and top of the table in the league! Now, we just need to hold it!

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Our next match was a 1-5 away win where we smashed Barcombe II. Ridgewood also lost their match that week, meaning we’re now four points ahead of them with one match left to play in the league. For the third straight season, AFC Bolnore wins a league title and secures automatic promotion to Division Eight.

Scaynes Hill and Ridgewood are tied on points, so either one of them can advance to the next league in this next match.

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Here’s our confirmation as Division Nine winners.

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The final match of the season was against Crawley United, our rival for the last two seasons who finished runner-up behind us both years to get here with us. They are sitting in mid-table and safe from relegation, which looked likely for a while, although they have no chance of following us up a division for a third year in a row.

In this match, gave Crawley’s fans a comfortable 1-3 smashing to remind them who was in charge in this rivalry between the teams, as well as give the handful of traveling fans something to celebrate as the league season comes to a close.

Now, we have one last match left – that Parsons Challenge Cup final against Ridgewood.

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We lost it 1-0 away at Ridgewood, with one of our guys being injured and Talisman Terry being sent off at the end of the match. It was a disappointing result, as I really wanted to win at least one cup this season.

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Here’s the overview of the competitions. We won the league by four points, with Ridgewood also getting promotion. Ridgewood also won the Parsons Challenge Cup and the Junior Cup, and Scaynes Hill won the Tester Challenge Cup.

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Here’s our schedule for all of our competitive matches so that you can look at the scores if you want. It was a good season for us, although it wasn’t perfect. Actually, in hindsight, it was a pretty great season, and I was probably holding unrealistic expectations all season, expecting massive wins and an invincible season a second time in a row, plus cup wins. With a couple of days to relax in the time between being stressed by the rough patch and the actual writing, I’m feeling a low more pleased about our run of form.

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Looking to the next season, I’ve decided that some changes need to be made, and it starts with a new assistant manager. This is Jon Holloway. I loved having Oliver Busby around, and it’s been a great couple of years, but despite his coaching courses, he’s the weakest link in the coaching staff by a bit, and after having a lot of the same backroom for the last three years I’ve decided that this preseason will be spent revamping the backroom, as well as the playing staff.

He’s a pretty solid guy, great in several coaching areas.

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We have a new kit sponsor for the next two years, so that means there will be new kits for the team for these two years. As I said at the start of the second season, there will be a new kit each time there’s a new sponsor so that we can freshen up the paint around here every so often.

Those two kits will be “officially” unveiled in the next post when we go over the start of season four, although you can look at my kit history page and see them a bit early.

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The last news item I’m covering before wrapping up the “season three” updates is that I’m now taking my next coaching course, which will get me my first Continental license.

Now, what our the objectives for the preseason?

As I said, I’ve had some pretty average backroom staff, and I’m planning on revamping the backroom, bringing in better scouts and physios, and I’m going to sack the weakest links in the coaching staff and bring in better coaches, ideally aiming to have specialised coaches (ie. a strong, dedicated attack coach, defense coach, good dedicated fitness, etc) to balance the workload better and maximise the potential of the coaching staff.

We’ll also have to do the usual preseason scouting to replace our weakest links in the starting eleven as well as replace the men who will inevitably be poached by bigger teams.

As for goals for the competitive season, I will of course aim for promotion again and hope for at least one or two cups.

That will wrap up what’s been a slightly longer than usual update, and in a couple of days we’ll be back to get to the season 4 preseason update and go over what’s been going on with the team.

P.S. Want to find some more Football Manager blogs, video series, or story-telling or want to share your own? Check out the new subreddit The Manager’s Corner, a subreddit spun off from the main FM subreddit and dedicated to such content.

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