Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 10

Greetings and welcome back to the Newcastle United “short story”. This was meant to only be a one season thing to see how we did without the injured Shearer but it turns out blooding youngsters and signing nobody is more fun than I imagined. Seeing as we are now Premier League champions, we’ll carry on for a third and final season before moving on with our lives. The only signings I am allowed are re-gens of my players who retire, so with Rush and Pearce hanging up their boots…

Pearce regenrush regen

Sadly Geoff “Psycho” Mail has damaged his spine so we won’t be able to play him until the new year. Rush Hour II will hopefully get a loan move but I’ll keep him in mind for cup games if I can’t shift him.

The last thing I can afford to do is sell players, let alone to rivals, so bids for Gillespie and Disco Des from the red side of Manchester are knocked back.

gillespie biddes bid

They are also sniffing around Steve Watson, along with Liverpool, but they can dream on.

We get to play in the Charity Shield, a fine day in any manager’s life, and despite trailing at half time Shearer sorts them out before Jackie McNamara lashes in our winner.

2-1 CS

It’s an inauspicious start to the season though. Blackburn have Petri Jakonen in goal and play everybody behind the ball. We run out of ideas remarkably quickly and 0-0 is about as good as we deserve.

0-0 blackburn

It’s a tough start to our season as we’re off to Leeds, who we only pipped to the title on goal difference. John Hartson gives us that sinking feeling but those old pals Gillespie and Shearer rally to get us all three points. Phew.

leeds 1 - 3

Elland Road is looking large. It’s time for our derby next and it’s a bit of a ding dong affair, our two goal lead is immediately halved before we get two more. Even though we concede again it’s a welcome home win.

4-2 mackems

We’re still not firing on all cylinders as Coventry get the better of us at Highfield Road. We’re awful, but Chris Woodcock climbs off the bench to nick a point. Sign of a good team or the beginning of the end?

1-1 coventry

Champions League draw could have been a lot worse. Dortmund will be tough but by this stage some of their better players have been poached, I think we’ll get through being very honest.

CL group S3

Middlesbrough are our next visitors and our uncertain start to the season continues. The new craze is for teams to play ultra defensive against us – a compliment, in many ways – but when you can’t find a way past Mark Schwarzer it’s not great.

0-0 Boro

David Batty departs injured and will miss the England game, but don’t worry…

barnes 99


0-0 west ham

Crikey. We just can’t score. A 2-0 win over Derby is more important than I ever thought imaginable.

derby 2-0

Bjarni can start with Shearer going forward, Andersson was immense last season but dreadful so far. Dortmund are smashed to bits.

5-0 dortmund

Before newly promoted Birmingham also taste defeat.

brum 1-2

Our new found momentum even sees us win despite playing with 10 men for 55 minutes. Shearer’s back in the goals and Disco Des weighs in too. He’s still waiting that England cap though he has been in several squads.

3-1 man city

The goals continue to flow in Denmark, Woodcock getting the nod up front and rewarding me with a quick fire brace. It’s closer than it needs to be but who cares?

brondby 3-4

Tottenham were title challengers last year but thankfully aren’t quite as good this year. We’ve hit a groove now and not even Jurgen Klinsmann can stop us

1-3 spurs

After the International break – no cap for Des, no game time for Barnes – it’s Southampton. They are Shearered and those 0-0s of a month ago are a distant memory.

3-1 southampton

It’s four more against the Bulgarian champions. Shearer’s recent return is incredible.

4-1 CSKA

The party is somewhat halted at The City Ground. A ridiculously open game sees us have a winner from Woody chalked off but a point is better than a loss. We’re actually unbeaten still.

1-1 forest

So after 12 fun filled games we’re top, by a single point. But still too early to get excited.

PL table top October 99

Man Utd just don’t stop. No.

MUFC woodcock

He sort of underlines his credentials with a pair at first Division Southend in the League Cup. A complete shadow side also sees Rush II score though we’ll be missing Steve Watson for a month. Swings and roundabouts.

3-0 southend

We’ll resume battle next week. Thanks for your company.



CM9798 Academy – Part 5: Step Up

Welcome back! Season 2 is upon us and after our unlikely run to promotion, the Academy now faces the even tougher challenge of competing at Division 2 level. If you are new to the series, I can only advise starting at episode 1 and going from there.

Our preparations are dealt an early blow as Gerard “£12k a week” Lyttle is the latest to graduate. That’s yet another centre back who has come and gone, which is remarkable when you consider: a) we can’t defend and b) my front two got 60 goals between them and nobody has even looked at them.

Lyttle to Leicester

A centre half is a priority for me and this man looks a good idea

stones signs

With Brazier still out too it seems wise to get an understudy for him so this man called Gordon will no doubt help

Holden signs

Don’t worry about the injury, he’s fine. Finally I’ve addressed our left flank issues with a set piece expert. He can also tackle and run, I don’t want much else.

golabek signs

Which all means we line up like this for the opening day at home to Grimsby:

team 1st game

*Swap Gallagher and Holden. I’ve put them in the wrong numbers here and then neglected to re-take the screenshot for some reason.

Grimsby finished 6th in Division 2 last season so we’ve got a job on our hands. Chris Pearson gets off and running for the new season and young Gallagher gave us a fine start. Obviously there’s no cleansheet but a win is always welcome

grimsby 2-1

A bit of a conundrum with Gallagher, he won’t extend his contract which expires at the end of the season. There’s no reason for it other than being a bit of a bell so we’ll see.

The League cup 1st round is a 2 legged affair with Colchester, who finished 10th in Division 3 i.e. we are better than them. It’s a match that costs us two injuries – though Gevara’s is just a precaution – and Pearson nets a late, late goal to give us an advantage

colch 1-0

It turns out Gallagher’s season is over. Bet he wishes he’d signed that contract now

gallagher season

Brentford away was not as tough in 1998 as it is nowadays but I am surprised to see us draw 0-0. We never draw 0-0.

0-0 brentford

Gallagher accepts a contract extension to the end of the 99/00 season. Of course he does.

The fun bus moves on to Colchester for the return leg and this is more like the Academy we know and tolerate. Behind twice, level twice, through 3-2 on aggregate. Good job.

2-2 colc

Charlton in round two and 6 weeks out for Crowe. Dropping like flies.

I feared this day would come

barnsley betterton

Noooo he’s the only one who can catch.

He’s clearly in a hurry, he’s gone the next day.

betteron gone

Paul Heritage is back between the sticks for the visit of Watford. Heritage got an Under 21 call up last year, granted he didn’t play but he was still there. That’s got to mean something. Jeff Buckley and Van Morrison give Sir Elton the blues

2-0 watford

That’s not their real names, by the way.

The games continue to come thick and fast and a trip to Plymouth is not what anybody needs on a Wednesday night. Even playing against 10 men for an hour we can’t score and it’s a tough loss to take.

plymouth 1-0

Scoring goals by the boat full is all we have so hopefully that won’t be a pattern this season. Jeff Brazier is back, which might help.

Millwall have 40 year old Nigel Spink in goal. Yet something isn’t right with us at the moment, we’re not creating anything and even when we do the shots aren’t even remotely on target. 0-0 and dreadful.

0-0 millwall

Cassin, along with Nicky Byrne, have been called into the Eire Under 21 squad so to reward Cassin at least he gets a start at Gillingham. He rewards me with a pair of goals and a welcome three points. The slide has been arrested.

2-1 gills

They love Saturday-Wednesday in this league. Sadly we are ambivalent to the idea and fall at home to Bristol City. I wish we had Shaun Goater. Cassin scores again though which is great for him but Pearson, so reliable last season, hasn’t scored since the 2nd game of the season.

1-2 bristol city

I’ll stick with him as we aren’t exactly flush with alternatives. Carlisle away is a goalfest, we share a goal each in the first 2 minutes before falling behind. Pearson finally scores then later has his free kick spilled allowing Twiss to give us the win. Danish International Claus Thomsen is later sent off. I don’t know why he is at Carlisle.

carlisle 2-3

That looks to have breathed new life into our season as we go 2-0 up against Wigan, Cassin from 25 yards and Pearson now he has the taste again. But then it all unravels and Wigan peg us back late on. Lee Sharp?

2-2 wigan

When all else fails, sign a striker. It’s what Kevin Keegan taught us. Besides, why would I not sign this man? He can even tackle. I like that in a forward.


He makes his debut from the bench in a 2-2 draw with Charlton in the League Cup. Twiss is interesting Leeds and Airdrie whilst Cassin doesn’t even have a clause. We’ll do it all again in the second leg in a few weeks.

2-2 charlton

We finish with a home game against Shrewsbury. They came up with us and are making a better fist of Division 2 than we are, as they sit third. They comprehensively outplay us from start to finish and we deserve to lose.

1-3 shrews

We have to play them again 4 days later, this time at their place in the Windscreen Shield. I don’t care though and change the entire team, we’re desperate for a midweek off. We lose 5-0 though and I’m not sure we’re any richer for the experience.

All of that leaves us 12th, albeit one point outside of the playoffs

Div 2 september

Two promoted lubs lead the way, but they were promoted a long way ahead of us so don’t blame me too much.

To date we have had 6 graduates. Betterton is yet to play for Barnsley, Lyttle has managed 3 games for Leicester whilst Simpson seems to be out of favour at Man City. Norfolk and McCaffrey are regulars at their clubs whilst Danny Gee has managed 8 appearances in 11 months for Swindon.


The season is finely poised here I would say. Hopefully we can string some results together but we seem to have problems at both ends of the pitch, something I will need to address before we return next Sunday with the next part. Have a pleasant week.



One Season in Turin – Part 4

Matt is here with part 4 of his adventure back to Turin, where he has assembled some of the cast of Italia 90 to try and help get Torino promoted. Oh and there’s a twist…

Welcome back to Turin, where the Serie B season is drawing to a close and my Torino side are hanging onto 4th spot and the last promotion place. Will Shilton save the day? Can Terry Butcher lead us to glory? Will McMahon keep his temper? Is bombing down the wing too much for Dorigo? Will Lineker keep scoring? Will Schillaci start scoring? Why did I sign Dave Beasant? Let’s crack on.

With 9 games left to go in the season, I’m keen to put some distance between us and 5th place. We struggle against Salernitana, but it’s a point earned when Shilton guesses the right way and saves a second half penalty from Muoio.


The stats page tells me all I need to know about drawing a blank.


Things improve for Torino and Toto in the next game as we beat Castel di Sangro at home…


….and then away to Padova, we fall behind but English grit from McMahon and Lineker secures us all 3 pts.


Meanwhile, over in England, Man Utd wrap up the Premier League nice and early. They are stil in the Champions League so will give them some breathing space to prepare for that.


They really did win at a canter, look at that Goals Against column.


The UEFA Cup semi-finals conclude and its an all-Italian affair.


Whilst in the Champions League, Man Utd see off Bayern Munich to set up a final showdown with Serie A champs Juventus.


The Cup Winners Cup will see Chelsea face off against Betis and their host of attacking talent.


Back to the league we draw 2-2 at home with Perugia and then require a Lineker double to see off Ancona. With 4 games to go, we host Ravenna in 5th place.


A win will see us secure promotion. So, of course, we lose!

The same happens to Inter, giving Sampdoria victory in the UEFA Cup Final – poor Ronaldo.


Our disappointment at losing to Ravenna is obliterated when Verona come to town. Lineker hits 3, Toto gets 2 and former world record signing Lentini is the other goal-scorer. I even let Shilton off for conceding twice.



Promotion confirmed and mission accomplished. I would have liked to have won the title, but getting promoted with 47 year old Peter Shilton in goal for the whole season is an achievement all of it’s own.

Lineker’s form has captured the imagination back in England, with calls for him to be recalled to the England squad being ignored by Glenn Hoddle. Maybe he should have given Gary the chance to equal Sir Bobby’s record, especially when they lose 3-1 to Spain in a friendly.

One England stalwart who definitely won’t be earning a recall is Steve McMahon who is out for 3 months, that’s his season done and dusted.


Chelsea reign supreme in the Cup-Winners-Cup


Middlesbrough celebrate promotion back to the Premier League by beating Leeds in the FA Cup Final. Colombian Freddy Leon with both goals, taking his tally to 32 goals in 34 games for Boro.


Man United edge out Juventus on penalties to claim their 2nd European Cup


And that’s the season over, and as the promotion celebrations die down, attention turns to the 1998 World Cup in France, but there’s trouble brewing in the England Camp.
Reports suggest that after the 3-1 defeat to Spain, the England squad took to the Spanish streets to drown their sorrows and were involved in an altercation with a dentists chair and a faith healer.

Glenn Hoddle refuses to accept any blame and the FA swiftly remove him from his position. With the World Cup looming, fans are obviously anxious as to who will lead England in France, especially with Sam Allardyce just being given the boot by Notts County.

The FA speak with the Torino Chairman and it seems our exploits in Turin haven’t just caught the imagination of the press and fans back in England. I’m offered the chance to lead England into the World Cup, but there is one catch – I have to take the players from Italia 90!

The FA have had enough of the tabloid exploits of the current England stars and reckon that the last time England were proud of their team was in 1990 (We’ll ignore Euro ’96 for the sake of this nostalgic fantasy!)

I don’t have much time to prepare and only 2 warm up friendlies before I face off against Germany, Cameroon and Japan.

I’m sure I can get the Italia 90 squad back together, but where are they and what have they been up to?

Well, Shilton, Beasant, Butcher, McMahon and Lineker have all been with me in Turin, but what of the rest? Let’s have a look.

Chris’ Woods and Waddle have just finished 17th in Division 2 with Burnley, finishing 6 pts above the drop zone. Waddle of course is player-manager and helped out with 6 goals and played 49 games to Woods 27.

Paul Parker, Steve Hodge and Neil Webb have all spent the season as unwanted free transfers, so they’ll no doubt be as rusty as Rusty Rustison. While technically Bryan Robson has been on a free, but he’s also managed Middlesbrough to a league and cup double.

Gary Stevens has played 44 games for Tranmere, while Stuart Pearce and John Barnes have been performing for old mate Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle. Des Walker has played 20 games for Sheff Wed and Mark Wright has been at the heart of the Liverpool defence. Gazza is in his pomp at Rangers still and Platt likewise at Arsenal. Trevor Steven has played an impressive 52 games for the less than impressive Bristol City/ Beardsley has 8 goals in 39 games for Bolton and Steve Bull has 19 in 42 for Wolves to compliment Lineker’s 28 in 40 ratio at Torino.

Of course, the Italia 90 squad was a 22 man squad and now the upper limit is 25, so I can add some more faces to this aging side. Of the original call up, Tony Adams, David Rocastle and Alan Smith, all of Arsenal were dropped. Adams and Rocastle are still around, but Alan Smith isn’t, so I opt for those two plus Mark Hateley and Ray Wilkins from Mexico ’86, and why not?

This is the squad I have, and isn’t it a thing of beauty? Steve McMahon you remember is out for 3 months, so he is dicarded, but then Wilkins gets injured and I have left it too late for a replacement, sorry Ian Wright!



For my first friendly against Scotland, I opt for the line-up which started against Germany in that famous semi-final, which means I have a right wing-back who hasn’t played any football all season, genius!


Wembley is packed and sensing the enormity and history of his last appearance there, Hendry gets himself sent off for a foul on Gazza after 7 minutes, which surely helps our cause.


Chris Waddle starts this brave new/old reign with a fizzing shot past Andy Goram, and Platt takes us into half time, two to the good. Wembley is bouncing.

On 48 minutes, Gary gets his 49th goal for England, equalling Sir Bobby C and delighting Sir Bobby R in the stands.

With 10 minutes to go I enjoy the luxury of using all 5 subs and Trevor Stevens wraps things up on the last minute with number 4.

We’re all over the front and back pages of the tabloids the next morning and people are starting to talk up our chances of going all the way, steady on.


Before all that, it’s the small matter of Brazil and Ronaldo, Romario, Denilson and Rivaldo away.

I stick with the shame formation and line up, but it’s an altogether different result in the Maracana, and not even a sending off and an own goal can help us. Denilson lobbed Shilton twice, 3 minutes from the start and 3 minutes from the end – what is it with England keepers getting lobbed by Brazilians?


Oddly, amongst the friendlies, I notice that Germany, our first group opponents, lost to our recent foes, Scotland, 1-0, so England > Scotland > Germany means we should beat them, right?

Join me next time to find out, cheers.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills

Short Stories: Newcastle United – Part 9

Hello! Welcome to the end of season 2 of my Newcastle United save, which started as a short story to see how we coped without Shearer but has evolved into so much more. I’m refusing to buy anybody and just blooding the youngsters. It’s lead to us being involved in the title race and the League Cup final whilst still maintaining an interest in the Cup Winners Cup. Let’s dance.

That interest extends to the semi finals, as our 1-0 with at St James’ is followed up by a 2-1 win in the Portugese capital. We are loving life.

2-1 sportin

Battle of Britian anyone?

Rangers SF

The League Cup final brings no actual reward but it’s against first division Wolves and a trophy is a trophy. Yoink.

LC win

The fixtures are coming thick and fast but it’s soon time to meet Rangers. Shearer gets us off to the perfect start before his old mate Gary Speed adds a second. Gillespie and Batty depart injured though which stretches our resources somewhat.

rangers 0 -2

The reason we’ve had such a good run recently is our final league fixtures are mostly all pains in the arse. Little rat Kieron Dyer takes a point off us at Pride Park

1-1 derby

Whilst lovely Kevin Gallacher does the same at Ewood. Two future Newcastle players doing their bit to mess us around.

1-1 blackburn

It’s a relief to be back on Tyneside but there’s no let up, as Liverpool are in town. Disco Des puts us in front but we are immediately pegged back before Mr Reliable pops up with the winner. A good Easter Monday.

liverpool 2-1 home

With 5 games to play it’s very tight at the top. We still have to go to Spurs whilst Man Utd are coming up strong on the outside.

5 games to go

4 games in 7 days will decide out season, a pesky International break in between times.

remaining games

First though it’s Rangers and Shearer continues to annoy the Scottish, scoring twice and missing a pen which he blazed over the bar. Antti Niemi in goal for that one after Goram’s dismissal. Quite the day, really.

3-0 rangers

It’ll be Lazio in the final


Lazio who have decided they need Roberto Baggio to beef up their attack…

lazio squad

Uh oh.

Off to Spurs then for a huge game. Klinsmann and Les Ferdinand have been great for them but Peacock and Albert cope admirably with them and Andreas Andersson does the rest. Big result!

2-0 spurs away

That International break arrives and wouldn’t you just know it…

shearer injured again

That is a pickle. It’s atrociously timed as it accompanies suspensions for Andersson and Tomasson, with Bjarni the Gud already out for the season. So it’s Rushy and Woodcock against Chelsea.

squad vs Chelsea

We’re behind, we’re in front, we’re level. 20 mad minutes bring all the goals but a point, in the circumstances, is not a bad result. But we can afford few slip ups at this stage

2-2 Chelsea

Three points behind Leeds. Their run in is ok but they finish at Arsenal, for all we have scored more goals we’ve also shipped far more, it’s going to be tight.

3 games to go

A big win at Sheff Wed on bank holiday Monday at least keeps us competitive. Shearer’s early return is nothing less than I expected from the great man.

4-1 sheff wed

Hold on, what’s this?

leeds loss

Yes! Thank you Everton. It’s on!

top 3

Just two days later the title rollercoaster is back in action. Man Utd are 5th but have oddly sold Peter Schmeichel to Man City and replaced him with Neil Sullivan. That, you would think, can only help us.

game in hand

Get it up ya

4-1 man utd

Leeds win 3-0. But that doesn’t matter. We are ahead by 2 goals. Three really because we have scored loads more.

1 game to go

I watch the Arsenal/Leeds game. Leeds win despite Lee Bowyer being Lee Bowyer. That means as long as we beat Coventry, we are the champions.

leeds 1-0 arsenal

Coventry set up with a flat back 9. Thankfully Magnus Hedman is injured and it’s old man Ogrizovic in goal.

2-0 coventry

CHAMPIONS. You can almost imagine the special 40 page pull out in the Chronicle to celebrate such an achievement.

title win

Kevin Keegan would be proud. Who said attacking football wouldn’t pay off?

We’re not done though, it’s off to Amsterdam – not to celebrate, but for the Cup Winners Cup final.

Lazio though, bloody hell. To make matters worse, we don’t have Brian Pinas who is suspended.

lazio team

No Pinas no party

CWC final

We are soundly beaten. I can have no complaints, we’ve won the league man!

Shearer finishes top scorer with 30, though Andersson’s 27 is a great effort.

goals scored

Plenty of assists from the front 2 as well

assists s2

The average ratings aren’t really that impressive. Rush only played twice, once against Portadown, so you probably can ignore that.


Nooooo/oh well I’ll get his re-gen

rush retires

The awards and the football journalists of the world have decided Andreas Andersson is the best there is.

awards S2

So that’s it, season 2 is in the bag. I think I’ll be back with a third season – we have a Champions League to win!

Pain in the ASSE – Part 2

Frank is back with the 2nd part of his St Etienne story. His first task is to get them out of Ligue 2 and then build towards being a superpower, with a squad of all French players. So, can he do it? Part 1 is here

Welcome back to my French challenge with ASSE, with only signing French players.

Last time I left you, we were sitting pretty at the top of Ligue 2 heading into March. Well I can tell you, we ended up running away with the title, scoring over 100 league goals in the process.



Didier Thimotée carried on his great form finishing 1 goal of the top scorer, but as you can see from his stats, he wasn’t one for fair play, getting his 2nd red of the season on the final day, meaning that he will miss the 1st 3 games of Ligue 1…



Although Philippe Chirstanval was a coup for Ligue 2, the signing of the season has to be free transfer, Remi Luc (just a shame about his injury record)



We win Ligue 2 by 16 points, with a much higher goal difference, after an expected relegation battle and still don’t win the Ligue 2 Manager of the Year!


Now that we have made it to the promised land of Ligue 1, we need to sign some re-inforcements.



2 fantastic midfield signings means we have a strong chance of survival and maybe even a push for top half in our 1st season.

The fixture generator is kind to us as we start the season at home to fellow promoted side, Nancy. With Thimotée suspended for the 1st 3 games of the season, we look for another hero and the man is Christophe Lagrange, who’s dad just happened to be a huge ZZ Top fan…


Lagrange doesn’t dissapoint, bagging a brace in his Ligue 1 debut.

Match day 3 gives us our 1st big challenge as we travel to Marseille, Lagrange getting in on the action again…


Unfortunately, there is bad news for Philippe Christanval…


Lagrange start his Ligue 1 career well with 4 goals in 7 games, until…


Didier Thimotée comes back into the side full time and it takes him 7 games to bag his 1st goal of the season…


10 games into the season and we sit comfortably in mid table, 13 points off the top, but 9 points from the drop zone.



Join me next time to see if we can achieve our target of finishing in the top half of Ligue 1 in our 1st season.

You can follow Frank on Twitter @FrankHirst84

What If? Part 3: Dia Know What I Mean?

Andy is back with the end of the season with his Gateshead team. The series asks what would happen if Gateshead had been promoted in 96/97 and we’re about to find out. Over to Andy…

It’s the start of February and we enter the home straight with our sole focus on staying in the top 3 as the season draws to a close. So far, we’re top dogs in Division Three’s North-East battle having scored 14 and conceded 3 (with two away days left to enjoy). Thomo and Dia are about to return to full fitness, so the Foreman and the big Bos man can be relieved of their duties. There is a fair amount of unhappiness in the squad, poor players are not getting rotated in; hopefully this doesn’t unsettle our run-in.


Latest news in the sack race; we’re not going to speculate about reasons at this stage…


Bobby’s got a brand new swing!


Dia know what I meaaaaaan yeah yeah! A real struggle against 20th placed Colchester, but we find a way and that, is all that matters.

We can’t afford to pay much, and unfortunately the loan sharks have come to collect Sam Kitchen’s debt.


A very boring derby sees a 30 yard screamer the dia-ciding goal. Gary Robson has picked up a knock so Justin will have to step up his return from injury and stand in.


Our first big club release clause nightmare has taken place;

BREAKING NEWS: Gijs Lands In Belgium.


This time Scarborough are McCain it too easy at the GIS, and despite the loss of the Big Bos man we end February in stunning fashion with the man from Senegal filling his very small boots!


Here is the table:


After some great form it’s not so gay at the meadow for us as we succumb to an abysmal defeat at 15th placed Shrewsbury. Dia adds to the injury count and the stand-ins fail to impress…and we don’t get goal number 100 just yet.



Scraping the barrel now; Bos gone, Harkus out, Dia out. But at least we’ve reached 100 goals! We’ll go into the final run without Harkus and Dia for some of it.

Away to the Donny Soldiers and our away kit gets it’s first outing on the 11th of April, and it is beautiful. Dia-bolically, we only put 2 past 23rd place, a wins a win and we march on.


And with that, comes the first triumph! The board are “very pleased” (how cordial) and the heed army faithful go wild as we stick two fingers up to the rest of the football league.


No doubt Hateley will wrack up yet another manager of the month for this against my zero so far this year despite 100+ goals etc…even CM9798 knows the footballing bodies hate us.


Oh my…

…we beat Mark Loveley’s Hull City 2-1 and that closes the gap to their games in hand, the trophy is ours!


With games to spare, and despite a horrendous injury spell in the last month we scrape home. Dia has dragged us there scoring 1/3 of our goals. Southampton clearly made a big mistake letting him go. Bloody hell we’ve done it…get innnnn!


With Cuggy back from his broken pelvis and Harkus back from a broken arm (what do these lads get up to in their time off around Gateshead?) we return to full strength and smash high-flying Cambridge for the laughs. Typically, not many turn up the see the league champions.


Well…Orient have pissed someone off then…

And we close out the season with a face off of 1st vs. 2nd


Dia-know where he’s gone? Ali goes missing in the final game failing to get any of his 8 shots on target. Unintentional utility man Pearson gets his 10th of the season.

And here’s the final table:


The vindaloo approach of scoring one more than you appears to have worked better for me an multiple MotM winner Mark, all Orient needed was an Ali Dia.

So what happened elsewhere?


Man United cantered to their usual victory…and collected the Worthless Cup for good measure.


Arsenal won the FA Cup…


Over in Spain, Barcelona managed a point more than Gateshead;


And Rangers walked it…


There were some tasty European Finals…


And then some not so much…


Finally, we have lift off…I best re-call that email to the league…


It’s coming home!


What an absolute downer…


The exodus begins…55 games of pro-football at 44 was enough for Steve.


Kenny handle anymore? In short…no


And so we’ve taken the journey, the dust has settled. What have we learned?

Gateshead would have more than handled the pressure of league football had the team of 96/97 been promoted. Ali Dia was a diamond in the rough just waiting for an opportunity, and goalkeepers do improve with age like a fine wine…

We pretty much coasted the season, a lot of credit to dropping out all the cups early, and thankfully to the talents of Prince Ali.

Oh, and just for a nice end of season warm-down…


I hope you have enjoyed the ride, maybe we’ll see how those who hang around handle a further step-up in the challenge (minus retirees, contract rebels, and big-club dreamers). Apologies for a rather long-winded final stage of the season.

I do hope you’ve had fun. See you again soon. And thanks to the heed class of 96-97.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @KingOfTheRooks

CM9798 Academy – Part 4: Promotion Push

In the words of Michael the Geordie: What’s it all aboot? Explanation is here and last week’s effort can be found here

Welcome back to our little experiment. This team of young freebies have acquitted themselves well in Division 3, and we’ve got an outside shot of a playoff spot. We’re off to Lincoln though, who are also in the mix. Here’s the table as it stands:

Div 3 Feb

It turns out to be our first defeat for a while. No shame, though sideshow Luke Perry (not his real name) gets sent off just minutes after coming on. He’s really useless.

lincoln 1-0

With Morrison crocked for the foreseeable future, Twitter has told me to get Michael Twiss. He was in Man Utd’s academy and it seems everybody else in that position seems to do ok. Though he’s still on a free in February, so how good can he really be?


Got to love that flair. He makes his debut at home to Cardiff, who are 3rd. We go behind but that just sparks us into action, admittedly against 10 men. Twiss nets on his debut. What a day.

4-1 cardiff

Slowly working our way up the table and 2nd place Hull are our next opponents. Nobody will want to play us in this form. Another win, another grand day out, we are the greatest academy of them all.

3-1 hull

Barnet are not in the top 7 so it’s finally a break in this ridiculous fixture list. So you know the result…

2-1 barnet

Pah. Jeff Brazier even scored. We bounce back at Field Mill and you know, maybe we could get automatic promotion?

2-0 mansfield

Or bigger teams will realise we have some great players coming through. Premier League Bolton want the boy Simpson. He’s been an absolute rock at the heart of my defence since he joined part way through the season

bolton bid for simpson

It’s not just Bolton either. Man City and Barnsley join the race and he picks Man City. Boo to you, Gary. Our third graduate.

simpson to man city

He played 16 times but was a real leader, looking at his stats he was your stereotypical shithouse football league defender. GET RID.

simpson factfile

Nevermind though. McCaffrey has recovered, so he’ll be ba…oh ffs

hudds bid for mccaffrey

Stoke and Norwich also come in and faced with an impossible choice of choosing between Huddersfield, Stoke and Norwich, he picks Stoke.

mccaffers to Stoke

I need deadline day reinforcements and I choose this man.


He wants £12k a week but seeing as we don’t spend transfer fees I’m more than happy to pay him it. Welcome aboard.

We face Chester and lose two more to injury. Fatigue starting to show for the young lads, I think. A point is not the best result.

1-1 chester

We’re 2-0 up at Torquay but end up losing 3-2. Some things never change.

torquay 3-2

With 6 games to go it’s not going to be automatic promotion but the playoffs are…possible.

6 games to go

Exeter are in a similar position to us and they should really beat us but big Davies climbs off the bench to steal us a point. It could be vital.

2-2 exeter

Spotland on Easter Monday, why don’t you try and stop me? Kevin Lisbie looks like taking points off us but the boy Twiss pops up with a late winner. Great recommendation!

rochdale 2-1

We shared 9 goals with Cambridge earlier in the season and we share just the 8 here. Thankfully, 6 of them are ours. Inexplicably, Davies nets 4 of them. The Welsh Dion Dublin. That momentum is back as we pass 100 league goals for the season.

6-2 cambridge

It’s Shrewsbury away next and they are 2nd but we have a stroke of luck – most of their attacking options are out!


It’s like taking candy from a particularly depleted baby. Davies’ odd scoring run continues and it’s a big win at the Meadow.

4-1 shrews

Two games to go then and it’s in our hands. Hartlepool threaten to ruin us but Cassin climbs off the bench to score twice. Somebody always comes up with the goods.

3-1 pools

The final game of the season is against Peterborough, who also in the playoff places. That’s a tough game, a point will secure us a spot but we might be ok even with a loss depending on other results. As it is, Pearson comes up with the goods.

0-1 peter

Yippeee, 6th! But that means we’ll play Peterborough. Again.

Div3 top final

So we are at London Road, again. But it’s not the party it was 5 days earlier. Pearson nabs us an away goal but bloody hell, we have a mountain to climb.

playoff 1st leg

A bad weekend is made even worse with Monday’s training session

brazier done


All we have to do is turn around a 3-1 deficit without our engine room. I tell the lads what I tell myself every day – Do it for Jeff Brazier.

And they bloody well do!

4-1 peterborough

Guevara is out for 6 weeks. Dropping like flies. But what a result! We go behind early on but drag it back to force extra time. Buckley wins it in the first half of extra time. We’re going to Wembley!

Leyton Orient are awaiting. They still don’t play Heidenstrom, which is inexplicable, but they have Malky Mackay. We however have Chris Pearson, who scores his 38th and 39th goals for the club. He hits the post in the 86th minute to deny him his 40th. Who cares. We’re going up!

PO final

In the words of Susan Boyle…PEARSIE BABY

pearson season

The average ratings are nothing special. Obviously Simpson’s dwarfed all of them but he’s not here.


As I prepare for  life in Division 2, it’s worth noting that Gerard “£12k a week” Lyttle is wanted by 4 Premier League clubs. Gulp. Ryan Morrison is interesting a trio of Division 1 clubs, so we’re going to be quids in this summer. Let’s just hope there’s some good freebies available. In a world where Riccy Scimeca is the PFA Player of the Year, anything is possible.

awards S1

See you next time for life in Division 2. The challenge is about to crank up a notch.

Hall of Graduates

Danny Gee – Graduated October 97, played 4 times for Swindon (Div 1)

Gee end

Lee Norfolk – Graduated February 98, played 10 times for Huddersfield (Div 1)

Norfolk end of season 1

Gary Simpson – Graduated March 98, played 10 times for Man City (Division 1)

Simpson end of season 1

Stuart McCaffrey – Graduated March 98, played 6 times for Stoke. (Division 1)

McCaf end of season 1