Author Topic: 1st Nov- worlds worst junior football team entered into NaNoWriMo  (Read 2424 times)

Offline trophy4toon

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Well it's novel writing month in this house as Dolly and Durakan enter for charity. The charity's aim is to use their funds to encourage young people to write through a number of education initiatives and has already raised $215,000 this month so far.

In case you don't know about it you have to write a book in the month of November of at least 50,000 words. You can also join a team and see if you can beat other teams by number of words written. It's all about word counts and Durakan had done 20,000 after day 1 whilst Dolly had done 0.

So given how quiet it's going to be in our house I thought I'd join in with my story of me managing Matts junior football team:

The suggested title is "Sh*t we lost again" but any better suggestions would be considered.

I thought I'd serialise it on Trophy4toon and will put some excerpts on here for you to review and comment on with helpful feedback and suggestions if you wish.
See more details of the competition itself from their website if you fancy a go yourself at this. It is quite good fun.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 12:58:10 am by trophy4toon »

Offline trophy4toon

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Re: 1st Nov- NaNoWriMo sees the Interim Manager exclusive go public
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2011, 12:00:30 am »
Meanwhile excerpts from the opening chapter:

In the short time it has taken me to write up my experience of managing a football team I note in the Premier League Chelsea have had 4 different managers. So there must be some attraction to a job which makes people want to do it as clearly Chelsea have no shortage of applicants for their precarious managers position.

It must be the euphoria of winning, the respect you get from your players as you steer them to a masterful tactical victory, the adulation of the fans when the players lift up yet another trophy. 

That was certainly what went through my mind when I accepted my own football manager job, my sons under 18 junior football team after the manager didn't turn up one day and I suddenly found myself in charge.

But to be fair after taking over in December it was not until one Sunday afternoon on the 5th April some 4 months later that I realised the full engulfing despair of being the manager of a terrible football team. The feeling of utter frustration and abject despondency of yet another week's painstaking preparation totally destroyed in the first 10 minutes of the game. The painful questions of why are you doing this, why do they not listen to me, why will they not play as I ask them to and more crucially how do I get out of this and how many matches now till the end of the season.

I never thought I could care so much about trying to win a football match or that I could fail so badly in the attempt.....

It all finally engulfed me after my 10th game in charge:

Match preceded by usual chaos as 4 players dropped out this morning and the centre back with no boots turned up only 5 minutes before kick off with about 4 pairs of boots one of which seemed to actually fit. So we started the game with only 10 players. 

If you remember the logic behind the team selection. Keeper and centre back swapped last week for last 20 minutes and we looked far better at the back. So this week we were going to play that way. Also stopped the right back and centre back argueing as they had both fallen out.

Well it was probably the worst 10 minutes any manager in any football team anywhere could ever experience.

We let 5 goals in in the first 10 minutes. It was almost everytime they went into our half the ball ended up in the back of the net. The 5th goal brought our new keepers career to a swift end. A weak shot from outside the box bobbled a few times, keeper dived over the top of it and it bobbled into the back of the net. At which point centre back and keeper then swapped back again which intially steadied the alarming defending for a brief period.
Following that:
- the centre back with no boots gave up and joined the attack so I moved our central midfield into centre back
- central midfield then told the ref to "Fxck off" and not surprisingly got a straight red card. Thats three home games out of the last 4 we have had a player sent of in the first 15 minutes for swearing. Anyway, after 15 minutes, down to 9 men and 6-0 down.   
- our defensive midfielder then also disappeared up the left wing as the goals continued to rattle into the net
- at half time I told them that if they did not play second half it I would fold the team and it was season over. Had a go at the centre back with no boots for just leaving his position and wandering up field. He then said that if I didn't think he was trying then I could "fxck off" and he stormed out the dressing room and said he was off. And he took all his pairs of borrowed boots with him.
- we managed to get the centre back back on the field as we were already down to 9 men, bribing him by putting him at centre forward
- the second half was a great improvement for 15 minutes till the opposition scored again and they all just gave up.
- then the fighting amongst themselves started and the shouting at the ref. The ref called our captain over to tell the team to calm down and he had two further players on final warnings. But he knew if he sent them off we'd be down to 7 players and match would have to be abandoned.

It was a great pity today because I'd actually eventually got a decent backroom team in place for the first time. I had Slam Dunc on the line, our female physio and another parent helping coach the team and there was quite a big crowd of spectators there today as well, being a beautiful warm, sunny day.

Making the performance from the team all the more embarrassing.

However a quick straw poll of fans said the entertainement value was excellent and they would all be back for our next match to cheer the team on. I resigned at the final whistle but was then persuaded by our enthusiastic fans that we had to carry on, it was such good entertainement. For them maybe, but not for me.

Oh, the final score was 14-2, yes we scored 2 excellent goals during a few moments of effort in between the self destruction.

Training Tuesday then, can't wait             

Slam Dunc did really well as linesman actually, specially as it was his first time. He only did the first half though as one of the parents had volunteered to do it today (Hallelujah !!!) so they swapped at half time.
Today also highlighted another role I need in the backroom team, rather like cricket, any more games like this and I'm going to need someone to keep score   

Manager... you are good. Today was not a good day but I have a feeling it is just the beginning. Those boys need to get a lot fitter. Smoking on the sidelines should be banned, and they should have elocution lessons. ...Saying the F word Quietly (or even  with a posh accent) is much less offensive! Better just not to swear and to get on with the game with out arguing at all !!
Joking aside, I think most of  these young men tried very hard today, only 6 matches left to prove themselves......
Good Luck xxxxx

Sounds good John   :)
Have you managed to work out why the last manager quit yet? Seems a mystery to me  ;)

The last manager resigned quoting work pressure and health issues. Probably sleepness nights and nervous breakdown.
Personally I'm going to start applying for Premier League manager jobs, these are a lot easier than running U18 football. Portsmouth or Sunderland, they both look pretty cushy.
Though I accept my current cv of 10 matches, 2 draws and 8 defeats and my lack of a pro licence may be limiting factors in my applications. But at least I have more management experience than Alan Shearer.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 07:03:33 pm by trophy4toon »

Offline trophy4toon

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Re: 1st Nov- NaNoWriMo sees the gripping tale of Interim Manager go public
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2011, 08:44:35 pm »
After I took the interim manager job at my club, jumping on the bandwagon in the Premier League was Alan Shearer trying to do a similar rescue job at Newcastle with an equally dysfunctional football team.

The big story that week was Shearer complaining that his preparations for the Stoke match were ruined by Obafemi Martins phoning him up 6 hours before kick off to say he was injured. This claimed Shearer totally destroyed his preparation for the game and he was furious threatening never to pick Martins again.

I guess 6 hours is not that long to think about who in your 26 man squad you might pick instead then have to phone him and tell him then work out a new game plan. I can see his point.

It was easy for me to empathise with such frustrations as preparations for my matches in the U18 league were also often disturbed by the players. I'll leave it to you to judge which is the most disruptive and stressful, Shearers phone call 6 hours before the match or down in U18 land as we prepare for an evening 6:30 kick off against the league leaders:   

Well try this the hour and a half before the game Mr Shearer:
- 5:00 pm
Two players phone up saying they can't get to the game (our home venue). I offer to pick them up but they will not be ready till 5:45 which is after the team meet up time. Also they are on the other side of town and it's rush hour
- 5:15
We have to get there early to get the nets up so we leave picking up 1 player on the way
- 5:30
Arrive at the ground with our keeper and centre back who are told to start putting the nets up as I have to go off to pick up other two. Keeper shouts for keys as clubhouse is locked. I throw the keys for our keeper standing on the clubhouse veranda. Our keeper drops the keys, he can't catch lol. Keys fall through floorboards of veranda floor so we are locked out and nets and corner flags are locked in
- 5:35
Find a net peg lieing on the ground which someone has been using to stir white gloss paint with. Using the peg manage to hook keys from under veranda floor and gain access to clubhouse. White gloss paint on peg was still wet and my hands now covered in white gloss paint.
- 5:40
faced with getting into my car with hands covered in wet white paint I decide I need to find something to put between my hands and car parts before writing off the inside of my car
- 5:45
set off through rush hour traffic to get two players
- 6:10
arrive back at ground to find nets still not up but opposition there. Get nets finished and agree with ref and opposition manager that if we start at 6:20 we can play 40 minutes each half, go for that
- 6:15
striker arrives with no boots saying his boots are in the coaches car alongwith our centre back, thats the centre back who has not had boots for 3 weeks now. They are on their way but not here yet.
- 6:17
in the dressing room I go through the team sheet and tactics. The lads point out that my 4-5-2 formation is not going to fly as we are only allowed 11 players on the pitch, got a bit confused as still not sure who has boots and who has not and where are the boots and where is our centre back
- 6:20
kick off, striker with no boots is definately on the bench till his boots arrive. Centre back I'm told is less than 5 minutes away and has some boots this week. I really don't want to be without him so we start with 10 men awaiting his arrival.
- 6:25
We are doing well with 10 men holding comfortable. However a number of the team and a number of parents and fans are screaming abuse at me saying we can't play with ten men when I have three players sitting on the bench. I hold my ground as I really want our centre back on the pitch
- 6:30
At last centre half arrives, but he's not ready and he has boots but does not have them on. He gets ready I call to the ref to let him on and he's vanished. Ref shouts "where is he then", I'm told he's in the toilet
- 6:35
Centre back now on the pitch, his warm up consisted of trotting from the toilet to the penalty box. Ref points out there are no corner flags up, b*gger, wait till I get my hands on our goalie !! Quick dash to clubhouse to get and erect 4 corner flags.

we scored straight after kick off whilst I was in the toilet, so I missed our first goal.

You were obviously more effective from the WC

Well it might be better if I spent the whole game in there except it is very small and very smelly.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2011, 08:48:50 pm by trophy4toon »

Offline trophy4toon

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Re: 1st Nov- worlds worst junior football team entered into NaNoWriMo
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2011, 12:38:54 am »
The squad

If a key component of being a manager is putting together a squad then I can see how an Interim Manager of a football team can struggle. You inherit someone else’s team, the squad they have put together.

It may not be what you would have chosen and it may not be balanced in the right way but that is what you have got and that is what you have to make work.

Surprisingly just like in the Premier League, junior football has strict guidelines for signing on players and transfers too. Also like the Premier League junior football has a transfer window too.

So while you might think changing the squad would be easy, loads of kids around that I know who are good footballers just sitting at home watching tv on a Sunday afternoon.  Actually getting the FA to agree to let me sign them on is a very difficult matter which I was going to find to my cost later on.     

To mask everyone’s identities and allow me to tell you what really went on in this team I have made great effort to disguise any recognition to true identity. The events in this story are in no way fictional, but the nicknames used in this story are purely functional and any relationship to actual names is purely co-incidental.

I have also related their nicknames to the actual football figures whom they in my mind most closely resemble. This I hope will help you build up a picture of the atmosphere inside the dressing room and help explain what happened when they crossed the white line and walked onto the pitch into the battle their matches always were.   

Mario (Man City’s Mario Balotelli )

Joe  (England and Man City goalie Joe Hart)

JT (England and Chelsea Centre Back John Terry)

Stevie G (England and Liverpool midfielder Steve Gerrard)

Lee (Lee Catermole, Sunderland)

Joey (Joey Barton)

Jermaine (Jermaine Pennant)   

Scotty (Scott Parker) 

Phil (Phil Neville) 

Gary (Gary Neville)

Frank (Frank Lampard) 

Andy C (Andy Carroll) 

Charles (Charles N’Zogbia) 

Craig (Craig Bellamy) 

Andy (Andy Reid, once of Sunderland) 

Carlos (Carlos Tevez)

Michael (Michael Owen) 

Wayne (Wayne Bridge) 

Later arrivals

Owen (Owen Hargreaves)

Chris (Chris Smalling)

Each of those players brought his own individual character into the dressing room which was quite a lively place before matches and at half time and they all displayed their full attributes where it mattered most, on the pitch !!

« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 01:10:51 am by trophy4toon »

Offline trophy4toon

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Re: 1st Nov- worlds worst junior football team entered into NaNoWriMo
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2011, 09:51:01 pm »
Despite the season starting  in September we had managed to reach the 30th November , close to half the season gone and we’d only played 6 matches out of the scheduled 20. This was the point the cracks were beginning to show as I turned up as usual to be linesman to find out that Keano the manager was not coming and get a message from his son Mario to ask if I could look after the team.

Most previous weeks we struggle to field a team, our first game of the season we only had 10 players and by last week we were down to 8 which is the minimum you can actually play a match with.

However Keano had been on a big recruitment drive and as we pulled into the usual meeting place in Tesco car park I was greeted by 17 players this week looking for a game. We did not have far to go, 5 miles up the road to Kidders so we all set off for the 10 minute drive.

In the car my son and team captain Joe quickly went through the players we had available and told me what the team should be. We also had his mates in the car Scotty and Phil who also chipped in a bit till we agreed the starting 11 leaving 6 players to sit on a rather crowded bench.

We got there to find after heavy overnight rain one of the goalmouths flooded and pretty much a quagmire. However the rest of the pitch looked like Wembley and given it was a nice sunny day and both teams had turned up and we had a referee it was decided to just play the match.

I called the lads in and read out the team, laid out in 4-4-2 formation and wished them luck. Given the evil eye I was getting from the 6 not in the starting line up I backed away from asking one of them to run the line and took the flag from the referee and carried on my normal weekly duties of team linesman.

First half we defended the quagmire end which proved a bit troublesome to be honest and with the defence all over the place pretty quickly went 2 goals down.

One thing I’d noticed about Keano was his frustration once the boys went behind which resulted in him launching a series of stinging attacks on their ability and character. In the highly emotive world of U18 football I observed this to usually having the effect of whipping the boys up into a frenzy of aggression which inevitably resulted in their fighting either with the opposition or with themselves or indeed anyone within punching distance. 

So I was determined to not follow Keano’s lead and try a different approach of encouragement and praise when things were done right, easy to do I may add when you are not the one under the weekly pressure and daily grind of trying to get this lot to play good football.

Well I thought my positive approach to life was having an exceptional effect as the team started playing well, got back into the game and by half time were still only 2-0 down, to these boys that almost felt like a victory.

Having seen the team perform and with a quick chat to captain Joe I had to make some snap decisions at half time regarding substitutions given I was conscious I had the eyes of 7 young men focused in my direction  who had just spent 45 minutes standing on the touchline watching.

Decision was to bring on the full allocation of subs at half time such that a lot of lads at least got half a game. So I quickly shouted out the 3 players off and the 3 players coming on for the second half. A quick few words of encouragement and a few tactical adjustments and we were off for the second half battle kicking into the quagmire end.
It was at roughly this point I had my first of many short, intense discussions with JT our brick sh*thouse centre back. He really was an intimidating figure, 6 feet 4 tall and the size of a house end with a short fuse to match.

At this point I did not know JT from Adam or anyone else for that matter, he was one of the new players Keano had signed up this week and turned up for the first time. I had resumed my position with the flag on the touchline and spotted out the corner of my eye JT leading a deputation of 4 players heading rapidly in my direction.
My first conversation with JT went something like this:

“How many subs are you allowed”
“so you’ve made 3 subs already”
“so we are not getting on then ?”
“You f*cking w*nker”

Then off he strode taking his 3 friends with him as they marched straight to their car and sat in it for the rest of the game without even watching the match from that point on.

Meanwhile, back on the pitch my astute substitutions and positive encouragement were working wonders as we were actually outplaying Kidders who were maybe suffering slightly from over confidence given that they had beaten us 17-1 earlier in the season at our ground.

With the help of the quagmire goal we miraculously scored 2 goals and found ourselves at 2-2 and outplaying the opposition big time. The lads were enjoying themselves, playing great football and were on the brink of our first win with me quietly congratulating myself on what a great job I’d done turning this round in only 45 minutes of football.

Then sadly tragedy struck, the Kidders goalkeeper, a rather large heavy lad, rushed out to make a clearance, got into difficulties in the quagmire, slipped, went over on his right ankle and with his weight taking his momentum sideways badly fractured his ankle and ripped his ligaments in true “Eduardo” style. He lay screaming in agony, his foot hanging at right angles to his leg and not one of our players anywhere near him.
The referee quite correctly immediately abandoned the game and we all concentrated on sorting the poor lad out and getting him to hospital. With all our best get well wishes we left Kidders in rather sad circumstances at seeing a rather gruesome and painful injury.

But all of that aside, from a football perspective the word was out, we had played well, my tactics and substitutions worked, we would have won had it not been for the injury and no one cared about JT’s little outburst as we had done so well.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2011, 05:39:38 pm by trophy4toon »