This is the story of one man’s valiant efforts to take the fledgling English side from the East part of Brighton, Whitehawk FC, up the English footballing pyramid in Football Manager 2017. This will not be pretty, but I will unflinchingly and bravely take the post and vow never to conveniently turn off my computer in the midst of a particularly dire performance. (Note: I’ll do my best to also explain some aspects of FM17 to those who don’t know the game, but if there are questions, throw them in the comments).
In Episode One, we met Doug, Whitehawk, and the plucky band of cast-offs he was assembling for the 2016-17 season.
In Episode Two, Doug lurches between extreme confidence and abject failure. Whitehawk begins its FA Cup run beating Chester and earning a date with Wrexham.
In Episode Three, crap journalist Andy Lacey pesters Rugley and Whitehawk’s FA Cup dreams are ended.
The week after the Concord match we were busy in the warroom planning when the physio ran in: Frankie Teardrop had broken a leg during training. What useless bastard was responsible? I asked. The players don’t snitch, I’m pleased to report.
Westy would have to fill in, moving from the right to the No. 10. I am not confident enough in this team to shift to an out and out 4-4-2. We need to fill in the midfield and dictate possession.
Going into the final day of the season, the title race couldn’t have been tighter. We had finally evened up on points and sat off the top of the table only by one goal differential. We faced the already relegated Gosport, while Maidenhead played the other relegated team Margate. There will be goals.
I don’t eat anything the morning of the match so it’s just dry heaving in the locker room. But as Lacey walks up to me I suddenly wish I had something to throw up onto his goddamned penny loafers. I know they don’t pay you much, man, but have some self-respect.
As the match kicks on, I’m frequently glancing at my phone despite the crap wifi in the Gosport stadium. Maidenhead hasn’t scored. I am also watching my own match mind you, but five minutes in Westy fires in a thunder-bastard from the top of the box, I look down, no goal yet from Maidenhead. We’re top of the league.
Five minutes later, former Whitehawk man, Tony Lee, sent in an easy ball across the face of the net and it’s put in: 1-1. I was giving up hope. Maidenhead were now 2-0 going into the half. I gave my best Shakespearean speech, but I felt all was lost.
Early in the second half, though, Margate pulled one back against Maidenhead and then the Iron Maidens had a man sent off. What’s more in the 67th minute, Philpot was pulled down in the box. Westy puts away the penalty and it’s game on. We still needed another goal to go ahead on the tie-breakers, though.
I started to get desperate and I pulled off our right back to put in Mills-y up top. 3-4-1-2: the formation of champions. By god, it worked, too. In the 84th minute Mills-y tucked in a header and we were up 3-1 and top of the table.
In the 89th, a speculative cross was sent in by a Gosport defender and holy hell we were up 4-1. Maidenhead scored again and now we were even on points and goal differential. But we’d scored 75 goals to their 70 and so the title was ours.
We did it!
I didn’t even have champagne prepared. All I had was a fifth of Johnny Walker Red, which I dispatched into the air and pour all over the locker room. I would regret this decision later.
Look at it. That’s my trophy, ye bastards. A title in my first year of managing. Where the fuck is that Lacey? LACEY!
Tune in next week for the off-season shenanigans as Rugley prepares for the fifth division.
FiftyFive.One is now on Patreon. Do you like the independent coverage of soccer news from Minnesota and beyond that FiftyFive.One offers? Please consider becoming a patron.