Much has been said about a good preseason. The number of friendly matches has to be right, the intensity of aerobic training vs the correct level of recovery and rest has to be just right. And no distractions.
After the melee of celebrating not just promotion to the seven tier of the English football pyramid and the winning of the league and cup double, I eventually managed to sit the board down to discuss my future as TS Sports FC manager. The conversation was held in the canteen, with Julie the head of catering in full earshot. Bob scoffed down a cream donut whilst Dave tells me to go and get a brew.
DH – There you go son. I think that is what you have been working for???
ME – I look at a piece of paper that resembles yesterday’s newspaper. Then blurt out “Tits!”
DH – Were you expecting more? It’s all we can afford!
ME – No Dave. All you are showing me are tits.
BB – Look beyond page 3 Brook. Try page 5.
ME – I turn to the next page and see Dave had hidden a one-page document in the newspaper he had handed me. “I’ll take it, but what would it take for us to go professional?”
BB – We have things in motion, but Dave needs to sweet talk that apprentice bird at West Ham over what we really need.
ME – So, do you have an idea of when that could change our status?
DH – No. But we do have another thing that you should understand.
ME – Oh… What is it?
BB – We are closing the park!
ME – What!? You’re closing the fortress? Where are we going to play?
BB – We have signed a deal to get the park up to scratch, so we do plan to come back home but in the mean time we’ll be playing home games at Keys Park.
ME – Oh good… Keys Park! Where the hell is that?
DH – Hednesford!
ME – Could we not find a temporary home any closer?
BB – No fuckers would help. Burton couldn’t care less. Derby was too expensive. And Rovers is like playing on field!
ME – So we have to travel to Stafford to play our home games?
BB – Its closer to Cannock, and I have a static caravan in the woods nearby, so I’ll be able to make every home game and get to have a few beers after the matches.
ME – Well thought out then! Keys Park it is. Do I have any cash in the kitty?
DH – No. Until I cast my magic on Ms Brady, we’ve not got a bean.
ME – Right! Can I go on a course?
BB – Yes, but you had better make sure you spend time here and not just swanning it up with that lot in Burton!
ME – Right I’ve signed. I have no money, no home ground, we’re waiting on Paul Daniels to pull a bloody rabbit from Karen Brady’s arse and somehow, I’m gonna have to keep the boys sweet with the peanuts we do have!
BB – Good lad! Can I have my paper back? I have a few words left to do on the crossword.
So, what happened next in the game?
Dave and Karen cement a deal which sees TS Sports take home £8m a year and West Ham get to send their kids to the “Youth Club”. Also, Bob severed the link with Burton Albion over the lack of support for a temporary ground share. After getting lost from Hednesford he popped in to Walsall and got a deal out of them, where they are the senior affiliate, and support the club financially too.
The money from the West ham deal gives the board the confidence to push the club to professional status.
I then get told the stakes have been raised and that I must get the boys firing this season and the playoffs is a minimum requirement. (No pressure there then!)
The offers come in for practically everyone on the books. Somehow, I manage to sweet talk everyone in to staying and signing new deals. Everyone except Ben Hinchcliffe. Ben was a freebie last season, who had not nailed a first team place but certainly contributed, with 7 goals in 28 appearances for the club.
With Ben gone, the club now holding professional status, the opportunity to woo players should have improved. I one way it did. We managed to sign Callum McFadzean, Max Clayton, James Wallace and Nathan Phillips to join us with all out of contract. We also convinced Left back George Cox to leave his home town club Brighton with the promise of playing a game of football.
Yet the money to make lavish transfer bids was still missing.
The guys brought in were to supplement what we had in the first team. Along with the host of potentials that had come through the youth intake back in March.
We seemed to have drafted a Westlife tribute band!
With the ins and out, out of the way we progressed through preseason in a bid to make a good start to life in the Vanarama National League North.
Thank you for your time ducky, the next update will detail how we did during preseason right through to the end of December 2019.