#1 First day at the office

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‘Second portable cabin on the left after the Mint Lounge. Door will be open.’

Folding the offer letter back into my pocket I paused for a moment as the grim reality of the situation hit me like the distinctive aromas stinging my nostrils as I made my  approach along the Birmingham Road. I cursed my ignorance. Despite the club finding a temporary home in the north of the county, I had naively expected to remain based in Worcester which suited my loathe of commuting. As it is, I now face a daily 29 mile round trip to a plastic shed in Bromsgrove and I’m starting to doubt whether my request for an antique mahogany desk at the interview was taken seriously.

Stepping into the oversized portaloo I was greeted by Anthony Sampson. The long-standing Chairman of Worcester City had been crouched over a stack of old pallets I realised would serve as my desk for the foreseeable future. This was the man who had apparently bought into my ambitious vision for the club, the man who had promised to arm me everything I needed to take City to the next level. It seems these assurances didn’t stretch to office furnishings… or even an office for that matter. I thought better of asking where he was going to put the fish tank I’d requested – that could wait for now. I had more pressing things to worry about.

Meeting his firm handshake he flashed me a courteous smile and motioned for me to join him at the makeshift desk.

I’d like to formally welcome you to the club,” he crooned, gesturing to the four cheap plastic walls like a proud father doting on his newborn child. “We’re extremely excited about our club’s future under your stewardship.”

He slid a handwritten contract towards me which said little other than confirming my £190 a week salary until June next year. I duly signed the crumpled paper (for what it was worth) and returned it to him.

Now in terms of backroom support I’ve decided to retain John Snape as your assistant. He’s extremely loyal, knows the club inside and out, and extremely popular with the players. I know it’s unlikely to be something you’d consider but he’s told me he’d be willing to accept mutual termination of his contract should you wish to bring your own staff in. Goes to show the type of character he is.”

I did my best to conceal it, but I’m pretty sure Anthony clocked my flicker of delight. No doubt John was a nice enough chap but judging by the team’s abject performances in recent seasons he was a failure. If my ambitions were to be met I needed to bring quality into this club and unfortunately nice guy John was the first name on my hit list. Now the fact that he was willing to leave without asking for compensation meant the club wouldn’t take a financial hit negotiating undeserved compensation. This realisation prompted me to follow up a line of questioning that Anthony conveniently skirted during my interview.

So in terms of transfer budget…” Anthony didn’t let me get any further.

What transfer budget?” The smile to suggest he was winding me up never came. “Listen, we’ve put a lot into this club in recent years and currently that means we’re a little stretched financially. Don’t worry though, I’m confident that season ticket sales will start to pick up and we’ve saved quite a lot on overheads so it’s only a matter of time before things start to look a little more healthy. In the meantime I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

I looked around the cabin, desperately trying to hide my disappointment and trying even harder not to curse aloud his earlier evasiveness about the suggested transfer kitty. This would have been helpful information before agreeing to what was fastly becoming the job of nightmares.

Anything else you want before I leave you to it?,” he enquired, smugly tucking the recently signed contract into his jacket pocket, ink not even dry .

Yeah,” I retorted. “Have you got John’s number?”

Of course.” Anthony beamed, handing me a tired-looking business card. “I think you two will really get along.” He gave me a rather disconcerting wink and rushed out of the office.

I looked down at the details and reached for my phone…

One thought on “#1 First day at the office

  1. I read your blog post with great fascination Tracksuit Tom. It provided a vivid image of the allure of lower league management. As you have expressed in compelling detail, there won’t be state of the art training facilities, presidential style club headquarters or a raft of talent at your disposal. It is a gritty, unforgiving world, but one that offers the opportunity for you to transform the fortunes of faltering clubs and to catapult yourself into the limelight of the footballing world.

    It costs nothing to dream.

    This also allowed me to hark back to my exploits with Worcester City on FM 2011. Tough, uncompromising decisions had to be made to turnaround a then stagnating club. A team meeting was called on day 1 and the majority of backroom staff and number of first team players were told that they had no future at the club. An eerie silence enveloped the room as everyone came to terms with the new reality. Change was needed from the bottom up, coaches recruited from the continent in a bid to impart a more technical, creative style of football and the scouting network expanded to search for emerging talents.

    “We need to transform this football club”
    “We need to focus on the key things and do these well”
    “We need a playing philosophy that all of you understand and embrace down to a tee”

    These were the mantras that I and my trusted assistant, Bobby Fielder, would reinforce to the players. Bobby was a football man through and through who knew the inner workings of the game. A wily character who wouldn’t be scared to say it how it is:

    “Every great team has a strong philosophy, this is the root of success. At the moment, you lot are spending more time at the Lavender Gentleman’s club than on the training field! Sort it out!”

    The fans and the press were uncompromising in criticising the new approach at the club. The first few friendly games didn’t go well, including a draw against a local amateur side, which only added fuel to the fire. All transfer approaches for new players were rejected, existing players lambasted the intense training routine and the flowing 4-3-3 system just didn’t work.

    But everything changed when I had a meeting with my new scout. He struggled to contain his enthusiasm as he told me about a free agent, striker Phil Younghusband. “The lad is a special talent” he enthused and recounted his past at the Chelsea Youth Academy and status as a full Philippines International.
    A tentative approach was made and before I knew it he was a Worcester City player.
    This proved to be one of the key turning points.

    His talent was undeniable and this was a real lift to everyone at the club. Hat-trick in his first game, 4 goals in the next game then a brace, the lad was a goalmachine who would tear apart defences with consummate ease. There were long, tense phone calls with Philippines FA in the early hours every time he was called up for international duty, often resulting in Younghusband missing crucial league games.
    But he set us off on a memorable journey that season…

    That is just a flavour of my time with Worcester City. I look forward to hearing more about your exploits and I would be happy to share some of my experiences to help guide you on the challenging journey ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

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