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Ralf Landgraf - Legend to Legacy

Austria's greatest ever player has hung up the boots. But can he leave a legacy on the touchline the same way he did on the field?
Started on 29 December 2016 by Pie 4 Life / First Post
Latest Reply on 3 January 2017 by Pie 4 Life / Last Post
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August 8, 2037

I was feeling more confident with the squad heading into the opening day of the National League South season. We'd picked up a further five players, most of whom were younger with potential. The board had cracked the sods saying they hoped I'd picked up more younger players. Sorry I thought, all those veterans of 24/25/26 years of age...

The most important pick-up in my eyes was 19 year-old Jimmy Redmond. A Manchester United product who was shown teh door without a game was now here at Maurice Rebak Stadium. He could well be one of the best players going into the future and while Kevin Long might have the number one spot, he was neck and neck with him - and 14 years younger. In my opinion he was a bit of a steal even if his passing could be erratic.

I headed to the rooms where the lads were warming up. I was still unsure as to what team I would go with now, but with so many strikers it waws hard not to have two up front. My strongerst inherited players were the wingers in Cedric Simpson and Paul Harrison so I had to have them which in some way forced me into a 4-2-2-2 wide. We'd battled well against much stronger opposition in the football league so surely we could do it against an opponent of equal stature.

16 minutes. It is all it took for my hopes and ambitions to come crashing down. Cheltenham Town's Brad Thompson has just danced around a couple of opponents and slammed home the visitors' second goal. Three minutes earlier Stephen Wright had booted the opening goal of the season and now Cheltenham had a two goal lead.

I had to make a stand and put my balls on the line. "Jimmy, warm-up," I shouted across to my new teenage keeper. The last thing I ever think of doing is switching keepers, but in a moment of madness, or perhaps pure anger at Kevin Long, I made the switch. The crowd was not happy and I didn't blame them. So much optimism heading into the season to be given this. Luckily it was about to change.

Marty Coyle found space in the box and headed a cross past the opposition keeper at the 21st minute and then two minutes later Cedric Simpson slammed one home and we were level. The crowd roared and I fist pumped the air. We were back! Maybe this wasn't so hard after all...

I spoke too soon. Neil Bonner came limping off at the 34 minute mark, with recruit Mark Thorpe to replace him. As the change was being made, Cheltenham Town's Metehan Wright slammed home the team's third goal of the day and they headed into half-time with a 3-2 lead. It might have been a spectacle for the fans, but we were poor. I let the team know in no uncertain terms that they had to improve. Made worse was the fact that the fresh replacement striker, Mark Thorpe had injured himself and we were forced to make a chance bringing on Robert Powell and switching up the order to a weird 4-3-2-1.

Needless to say with no fresh men and the momentum against us it was not hard for Akgun to find another gap and score just five minutes into the second half. We seemed to have no structure wandering around like lost dogs. I felt sorry for rach and every one of the fans that came out to see us even if the visiting fans outnumbered us. We were poor and needed a change ASAP. But alas there was little to salvage out of the game with time running down and no fresh legs. In a way were were lucky to escape with just the 2-4 loss, but it was pretty awful.

“I don’t know what the **** you ****ers think you were ****ing doing out there but it sure as hell wasn’t playing football. You looked like a bunch of ****ing headless chooks trying to run around in circles finding the ball,” I screamed. “That was ****ing embarrassing and the fact that our fans had to sit through that shit, I feel bad for them. “I want us to put this as the lowest bar and the only way is up. No-one is safe and we’re gonna have a hard week on the track this week. Mark my words.”

Let's just say the players understood how I felt about their performance. Now it was up to me to turn it around for the next match against Dover Athletic in three days time.
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ROCKY START FOR LANDGRAF

WORLDCLASS Austrian player Ralf Landgraf has not got off to the ideal start in his first senior management role since retiring, collecting just two of a possible 12 points to start the season.

A 2-4 loss at the hands of Cheltenham at home was followed up by 1-1 draws to Dover Athletic and Hemel Hempstead Town respectively, both of whom Wingate and Finchley were predicted to beat fairly comfortably.

Things started to look up against Dorchester Town with new striker Steven Bitchell showing his class with his first goal of the season, while Laurie Lynch headed one home to make it 2-0 at the half. But alas Dorchester Town hit back with a reply immediately after half-time and then back-to-back goals within the last five minutes of hte match saw the visitors get up by a goal and sentence Landgraf's side to another winless performance.

Landgraf has looked to strengthen his attack further with the recruitment of Jamie Hill and Elliot Dawson of whom the latter is a striker with Championship experience. Cut by Middlesbrough at the end of last season, Bitchell has thrown him a lifeline and many believe he could be one of the best players in the National League South. While his offence is looking good, the defence is still a worry and the Austrian manager will be looking to address this in the near future.
August 29, 2037

Occasionally weird things happen. Some matches involve high scoring, others are tight defensive efforts. Occasionally a player stands out and scores a hat-trick and is head and shoulders above the other finishers on the ground. But rarely do you see three, yes THREE players score hat-tricks. But that is the weird scene that confronted everyone who turned up to Park Lane when the Blues travelled to Canvey Island.

Just four days earlier our season had finally kick-started courtesy of two goals from Steven Birchall who has been sensational since coming down and assisting me. He joined from Reading in the Championship and while he is now 30 years of age and his Premier League days are behind him, I'll always remember him as a Man City boy alongside me. But now he and I are working on rising this team up the ladder.

We'd just beaten Gosport Borough 4-0 away and now had just four days to recooperate. We welcomed another striker who for some reason had been cut from Middlesbrough despite scoring 11 goals in 28 games in the Championship on loan to Millwall. Oh well, their loss is our gain and Elliot Dawson slotted alongside Birchall up front in what was no doubt the strongest 1-2 pairing in the league. The defence was still leaky as all hell and that had me concerned.

But what transpired over the 90 minutes at Park Lane was nothing short of absurd. At first it looked like we would belt the living suitcase out of them with Birchall slotting one home after Marty Coyle set him up inside the box. Six minutes later Julian Egan found the run of debutant Elliot Dawson with a low forward pass and on a tight angle, Dawson found the back of the net. Not a minute later he made it two from two in a stunning opening 11 minutes to have the side up 3-0.

Some players are able to star on debut, but when Elliot Dawson smashed a half volley from 25 yards out at the 22 minute mark, the away fans were in raptures as the Blues led 4-0. I could hardly believe what I was witnessing. It was a case of how far could we go? With eight minutes remaining it looked to be winding down, then all hell broke loose and Canvey Island managed to somehow get back into the game with Joe Howell trying to outdo Dawson, slotting two goals in three minutes before Carl Bryan got free of the last defender and remarkably made it 4-3 heading into the half-time break. Surely we couldn't lose from 4-0 up could we?

Bitchell helped me breathe a sigh of relief when he connected onto a Egan pass and slotted home his second just two minutes into the second half. Two minutes later, Dawson somehow was left open and he slammed home a fourth in the most bizzare circumstances. We were 6-3 up and surely home and hosed.

Except nobody told Carl Bryan. He managed to have a hail mary with his left foot and scored to make it 4-6, before becoming the second hat-trick player of the game in the 70th minute to get them back within one goal. Three minutes later, George Cousins got on the end of a great team move and managed to tuck the volley into the back of the net from a tight angle.

I was stunned. Scores were level at 6-6. What on earth was going on? I increased the attacking mindset for the lads. I told them to roll the dice and go hell for leather in search of the goal. I sure as hell was not going to lose from 4-0 up, or even draw for that matter. But with one minute remaining it looked all but likely to end with teams taking a point home each, until...

89 minute:
Coyle launches the ball forward, Elliot Dawson goes after the ball, Joe Howell sent one down the right, Elliott and Neville chase after it. Elliott has no problem in intercepting the ball, he flicks the ball on. Gee looked to connect with the long ball... Gee headed the ball on Hill passed it down the right to Paul Harrison. Harrison aimed a cross at the far post... Bitchell volleyed it... HE'S CELEBRATED HIS HAT-TRICK. IT'S A GOAL! Wingate and Finchley are back in front!!!

From there, I locked down the game and changed to a counter attack, enjoying the narrowest of escapes in a game that is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. It broke the league record for most goals with a massive 13 scored in the 7-6 win. It also gave us confidence going into September.
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SEPTEMBER SPOILS FOR SASSY BLUES

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IT was a month to remember for Wingate and Finchley fans as the team went through collecting maximum points in what seemed like the greatest month in the club's history. After the stunning 7-6 win at Park Lane, the Blues would front up at home against the lowly St Albans City.

Led by Steven Bitchell who slotted two goals in front of 159 fans (99 of which were Blues fans), Wingate and Finchley ran out 2-0 winners. Defender Laurie Lynch was also impressive while Charlie Burns also stood out beside him. After four goals teh week before, Elliot Dawson had a day to forget as the lowest ranked player on the pitch.

A week later it took a 41st minute strike from 23 year old striker Mark Thorpe to be the difference against Bath City. In what was sad more than funny, just one away fan turned up at Twerton Park to watch us knock them off by the narrowest of margins. Bitchell had a rare slow day while Dawson came on for him at the 61st minute without finding a winner. Experienced centre back Paul Brown and striker Francis Harrop were the two best along with Thorpe on the day.

Just four days after the narrow Bath City win, the lads had to travel to War Memorial Sports Ground to face relegation contender Carshalton. But it was the lowly Robins that off to the perfect start with striker Jack Cooper breaking through the defence and going 1-0 up at the 30 minute mark. Luckily Wingate and Finchley fans, that's right, two turned up this week so it's a plural, saw Steven Bitchell score truly from the penalty at the 34 minute mark when defender Daniel Canham was sent off for a poor tackle trying to stop Bitchell. Heading into half-time at 1-1, something needed to change and the team all lifted at my stern words that it was not an acceptable performance. Julian Egan went first with a goal at the 53 minute mark before Elliot Dawson scored a brace two minutes later and then at the 65th minute. When Bitchell was again awarded another penalty, the Blues were 5-1 up against a 10-man Carshalton. Cooper, who never stopped trying got a consolation goal t the 75 minute mark but it was all too late. Dawson, Bitchell and left winger Cedric Simpson were the top players for the Blues.

A comfortable 3-0 win over Regional Premier League side Hungerford Town in the FA Cup followed with Francis Harrop, Cedric Simpson and Danny Robinson all finding the back of the net at Bulpit Lane. With Bitchell and Dawson rested along with right back Andy Elliott and midfielder Jose' Ricardo, of whom I rated as teh four best players of the team, the side got the job done what it needed to do in front of 409 fans - 408 of which were Hungerford supporters.

For the home fans who hadn't seen their Blues side in a while were treated to the Steven Bitchell show when Farnborough fronted up to the Maurice Rebak Stadium. Bitchell claimed a hat-trick on his way to another Player of the Match honour with goals in the 6th, 59th and 81st (penalty). It had been far from smooth sailing for the home side however with Robert Lowe equalising for the visitors in the 52nd minute causing me some headaches.

Finally a 3-0 win over Gloucester City away capped off a perfect month for the side. It was a polar opposite to the struggles of August and while I knew it would not hold up forever, we had shot from bottom half strugglers to second on the table behind Torquay. It was a good feeling. Bitchell had scored another two goals at Whaddon Road, with Elliot Dawson finding the net in extra time before the break to make it a comfortable win over Gloucester City.

The month was made extra special for Bitchell and myself, as we claimed Player and Manager of the Month awards respectively in narrow victories over other talented and successful players and managers.

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WINGATE AND FINCHLEY OVERCOME EARLY OCTOBER BLUES

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Wingate and Finchley manager Ralf Landgraf collected his second consecutive National League South Manager of the Month award after a solid October that had its early challenges. After 11 consecutive victories, including two at the start of October, the Blues fell in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup to lowly Chelmsford City. It was then followed by a 2-3 loss awar against Dulwich Hamlet.

Trailing relegation candidates Hastings 0-1 away, it looked as if the Blues were in a complete form slump, but a superb second half saw the visitors turn it around and win 3-1 before backing up with another away win against Eastleigh 3-1.

The opening game of the month resulted in the most impressive performance of the season, albeit against a regional division club in Hendon. Travelling to Silver Jubilee Park, the Blues had five individual goal scorers in teh 5-0 win, with poacher David McDermott, defender Charlie Burns, Steven Bitchell, Francis Harrop and winger Paul Harrison all finding the net.

Just a few days later a refreshed Elliot Dawson and Jose Ricardo scored at home against Maidenhead United in a tight contest. It looked a balanced match until Ricardo got free and sloted a beauty past the keeper to guarantee the win.

The largest home crowd greeted the Blues players when they welcomed ladder leaders Torquay United to Maurice Rebak Stadium. Dawson got the fans up and about early, nailing a goal at the 28th minute, but Torquay was showing how it was a promotion contender with constant challenges. Young keeper Jimmy Redmond showed he was up to the task, having not let a ball past him in the past four games. Ricardo doubled the score in the 54th minute before Francis Harrop scored truly from the spot. The win was made all the more impressive because Steven Birchall was out on international duties with Wales.

When pundits were predicting Wingate and Finchley's droughtbreaking loss, very few would have predicted it woudl come against Chelmsford City. The Division Premier League team stunned the two away fans when Lee Shenton found the net past new Blues keeper Jason Morris. The former Wolves keeper was a Championship keeper and came highly reccommended from our scouts. But he would not have enjoyed his opening game as we were bundled out of the FA Cup but a lower ranked side 2-1.

Three days later Jimmy Redmond returned between the sticks, but the Blues form did not return, as a full-strength Wingate and Finchley side had a shock loss to Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill Stadium. The home side raced to a 2-0 lead in front of 555 fans. Steven Bitchell outsmarted the keeper with a clever header in teh box before Mike Harding scored truly with five minutes remaining to level the scores. The visitors celebrations were short lived as Ethan Archer scored his second goal of the game just a minute later and the striker handed the Blues their first loss in the division in more than a month.

Jason Morris got his chance in goal again against Hastings United at The Pilot Field but it was opposition danger man Lee Powell who put the home side up after 17 minutes. I was frustrated heading into half-time given we were 1-0 down at the break and looking poor. It took a huge 25 foot attempt from the edge of the box from Steven Bitchell to break the deadlock and score the equaliser. Elliot Dawson was having a shocker however and while I wanted to see him play through it, I gave Francis Harrop a chance and he did not let me down, scoring to help us take the lead. Six minutes later, Jack Westwood pounced on a rebound after Bitchell had a shot and Westwood found the open net to win 3-1.

Despite his poor form, I gave Elliot Dawson another chance given he had earned it throughout the season. He did not let me down with a brace either side of half-time in the final match of the month against Eastleigh at Silverlake Stadium. Kieran Gray dragged the margin back a goal for the home side, but a penalty to Steven Bitchell put the result beyond doubt with the talented goal scorer netting his 19th goal of the season.

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November 1, 2037

On the field we were firing on all cylinders. We were a point ahead with a game in hand and a month ahead with teams all outside the top 10. It had been disappointing to miss out on advancing further in the FA Cup, but that was part and parcel of this standard of football. We were making a lot of money but also loosing a lot of money at the same time.

Gary Hodge had made the decision to sell the youth facilities and take out a loan. They in no uncertain terms said the fans weren't showing up and they were strugglign with that income. It was a bank loan that kept hte club in the black and he said we needed to keep winning and go up to maintain survival. It was pretty shattering considering how well we were going on the pitch. As we had done all season, we picked up another non-contract player in Kieran MacAskill, an unattached full-back who had spent most of his career in League 2 and then the National League for Stevenage after originally coming from Crystal Palace's academy before they were relegated to the Championship in 2026/27.

The defence was still iffy, and it showed from our top five players of the season being from forward of midfield. Steven Bitchell had been the standout, scoring 19 goals and having nine assists from 14 games and average rating of 8.03. Elliot Dawson had scored 11 from 11 games but just the one assist, while Francis Harrop was third with four goals from four games coming on as the super sub in each one. David McDermott had similar stats with three from three as the sub. Jose Ricardo continued his fantastic form despite being 36 years of age and quietly was a coup for our club having spent the best part of a decade in the Premier League with Newcastle. How he had been cut was beyond belief and while he was not fastest player and he was losing agility by the game, he was still as skilful as ever and one to watch in the midfield.
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MIXED BAG FOR BLUES IN NOVEMBER

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Wingate and Finchley remained in second spot at the end of November after one win, two draws and one loss from four National League South matches. Just four days after the win over Eastleigh, the Blues hosted Sutton United at Maurice Rebak Stadium but found the going tough against the 14th placed side. IOppositiion striker Callum Mackay got on the board at the 14 minute mark before Steven Bitchell responded with an impressive strike 11 minutes later. When Mackay made it two just 10 minutes into the second half, and the visitors held the lead until literally the last second. Super sub David McDermott came on and got free, finding the back of the net and the equaliser to split the points.

Only four fans travelled to Queen Elizabeth II Stdaium to face Enfield Town on November 14, and were greeted to a stunning array of goals equal to the 7-6 victory earlier in the season. Like that match, Elliot Dawson was dominant again booting four goals, including two in the last 10 minutes. While Francis Harrop, filling in for Steven Bitchell who was missing due to international fixturing put his claim in for a permanent spot scoring a hat-trick to be the outright third highest goal scorer in the team. The team won 8-5 in a thumping win, having led 4-2 at half-time.

Unfortunately for the Blues, the same team was not able to produce the same output three days later against Hampton and Richmond Borough. The Blues were outclassed by Hugo Blackwell who powered home a a hat-trick and despite leading 2-1 at one stage courtesy of goals to Paul Harrison and Julian Egan, the Blues fell away and went down 2-4.

The draw against Folkestone in the final league game of the month was dull compared to previous matches with just the two goals coming, and both were within three minutes of the opening kick-off. Ricardo Flemming scored in teh first minute, while Andy Higgins tried to stop a Blues attack but knocked it past his own goal keeper to level the scores at 1-1. Despite our best hopes we could not find a winner and again split the points.

With a week's break between the previous game and a week until the next game, Wingate and Finchley could afford to go all out against Larkhall in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round. The class of Elliot Dawson and Ste.n Bitchell stood out once again with Dawson slotting another hat-trick and Bitchell scored two. Josh Williams and Cedric Simpson both found the net as the Blues enjoyed a thumping 7-2 in a thumping victory to send them through to the FA Trophy First Round against Bromley.

Dawson's impressive month earned him Player of the Month, which included four goals from three appearances and of course anotehr three goals in the FA Trophy match,.

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Table as of December 1:

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BLUES CELEBRATE SUCCESSFUL DECEMBER

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The end of 2037 was a good one for us. While we won each of our four games and moved through to the second round of the FA Trophy, there were still patches of inconsistency that plagued the team.

There was little to complain about against Cheltenham Town when the side travelled to Whaddon Road. Cheltenham Town fans sure know how to create an atmosphere with 1955 people turning up with only three Blues fans there. Luckily the three that bothered to turn up were treated to a show as Elliot Dawson scored a hat-trick and the Blues raced to a massive 5-1 half-time lead. The Cheltenham Town fans filed out halfway through the second half and would have missed a late goal to Cedric Simpson in the dying minutes.

Heading to Hayes Lane the Blues took on National League side Bromley and showed what could have in store next season. Wingate and Finchley went 2-0 up at half-time courtesy of another two goals from Elliot Dawson before Simpson made it three in the 68th minute. Jose Ricardo and Bitchell were named among the best with Bitchell finishing off with a penalty in the 83rd minute.

There is little doubt without Elliot Dawson this month could have ended a lot worse. The talented striker put on another clinic scoring two goals before half-time in the 2-0 win over Dover Athletic at home. He uncharactersitically missed a penalty as well to narrowly miss out on scoring a hat-trick.

But the game of the month had to be the trip to Hartsdown Park to face relegation favourites Margate. Normally top versus bottom is not a game many would bother attending and it proved so with just one Blues fan makign the trip. They witnessed Margate take a shock lead in 12 minutes, and the Blues had to wait until the dying moments before they ran over the top of them. Reliving the last two minutes:

Jacobson sprayed the ball out to the left wing, Simpson hit the ball back 45 yards towards Miller. Miller passed forward to Gosling, Kye Gosling slowed things down, he searches out simpson on the left wing. Simpson played the ball right to Steven Bitchell's feet... BITCHELL SCORED FOR WINGATE AND FINCHLEY!!! IT'S 1-1. Two minutes remaining and they have levelled.

Kieran MacAskill intercepts the pass and sprays the ball out to the left wing for Steven Bitchell's run. Bitchell played the ball to his right, Harrop hit a hopeful shot with his left foot. Soares did enoguh to get in the way of it... Harrop tried a left footed volley... FRANCIS HARROP SCORED FOR WINGATE AND FINCHLEY!!! They've scored twice in two minutes... that could be the winning goal! Two minutes later the final whistle was blown.

Table as of January 1:

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BLUES OVERCOME SLOW START TO NEW YEAR

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While many were celebrating the New Year, it was not as happy over at Wingate and Finchley as the Blues suffered back-to-back losses to start the second half of the season. They maintained a one-point advantage on their competition, but a 2-3 loss away against Hemel Hempstead Town before a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Gosport Borough lost them some momentum.

The goalless effort in the latter match was a shock to the home fans with the Blues having scored a goal in every other match for the season as their attack had never been in question, just their defence. But that was soon a different story when the Blues knocked off Dorchester Town 2-0 four days after the Gosport Borough loss. Steven Bitchell put in another promising performance, goaling in the 22nd minute and the visitors held on until Cedric Simpson put the full stop on the performance just two minutes out from the final whistle.

Wingate and Finchley advanced through to the third round of the FA Trophy with a high scoring win over National League side Wealdstone. Defender Laurie Lynch and winger Cedric Simpson scored early goals and Steven Bitchell made it three within 21 minutes. Wealdstone got its two goals either side of half-time, but a nice goal from Elliot Dawson made the game score 4-2 and locked away the victory. The team will now face Boreham Wood, a side in second spot in the National League in the final 16.

The remaining three games of the month gained the full nine points for the Blues, defeating St Albans City 4-0 and Canvey Island 5-3, both sides in the top six teams. Charlie Burns starred and came third overall in the National League South Player of the Month, while Elliot Dawson came out of his form slump earlier in the month to slot four goals in two matches including a hat-trick against Canvey Island.

Ray Miller scored his first goal for the Blues to be the difference at home against Bath City. Wingate and Finchley won 1-0 and moved eight points clear on top of the table heading into February. With a 14-point cap inside the playoffs it is beginning to look likely at worst the Blues will secure a playoff spot. More importantly, they are 36 points safe of relegation - the aim for the season - with 13 games remaining, meaning they are one win away from being mathematically impossible to drop out of the division. Dover Athletic, Carshalton and most likely Margate look set for the drop, however Enfield Town and Farnborough are only one point ahead of Dover Athletic.

Table as of February 1:

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This is definetly very interesting starting from the future. I've done stuff like this before but viewing it from a former players perspective is very original. Nice Work!
1
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BLUES ON TRACK DESPITE MARCH ROADBLOCK

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Wingate and Finchley produced its most disappointing month of the year, winning just one game from five, but only four were National League South matches. They knocked off relegation bound Carshalton, but fell to bottom half teams Farnborough and Gloucester City, while split the points with Maidenhead United. The Blues were also bundled out of the FA Trophy by Boreham Wood with the League 2 bound side just that bit better.

After four league victories in a row, it was bound to hit a road block sooner or later and the month of February started off with a loss to Farnborough at Cherrywood Road. While Steven Bitchell found the back of the net with seven minutes remaining, the home side already had three goals on the board by that stage. Jason Morris who had begged me to give him opportunities did not exactly strike a good chord with the worst performance in goal for some time.

It was a similar story against National League promotion candidates Boreham Wood, scoring two goals in the first half to lead the entire game at Meadow Park. A solid 27 Blues fans made the trip to see Elliot Dawson score a late consolation goal with four minutes remaining, but we were bundled out of the FA Trophy in the third round. It was not the end of the world for us, as the FA Trophy does not carry the same prestige or prize money the FA Cup did and that loss was more disappoininting. We could now focus on the last couple of months of the league to get promoted.

The players tried to give me heart failure against relegation bound Carshalton. It took until the substitutes came on to do damage with Paul Harrison scoring in the 66th minute and Francis Harrop netting a goal nine minutes later in the 2-0 win. Steven Bitchell suffered a back strain at training and would miss the next four weeks. We'd brought in unattached striker Michael Shanahan who had been a solid scorer at League 1 level but now was slowly sliding down the hill in terms of ability. His first game as striker alongside Elliot Dawson was underwhelming to say the least.

The loss of Bitchell was profound as we slipped to a 2-2 draw against Maidenhead United in a disappointing performance at York Road. Liam Foster-McGann got the home side off the mark in the dying moments before half-time and it took until Paul Brown directed his head truly in the 58th minute to equalise. They got back in front 11 minutes later before Elliot Dawson put one in the back of the net in the 76th minute to grab us a point. Paul Harrison and Brown were the two best in the draw and guys that had not been first choice but were performing when needed.

The 2-4 loss against Gloucester City was the final game of the month but by far our worst performance. We looked pitiful at times and while Elliot Dawson and substitute Mike Harding managed to score goals, a brace from Marc Clifton secured the upset win for the visitors. We were still clinging onto top spot which I found remarkable considering we'd picked up just four points of a possible 12 in the month, but the eveness of the competition meant the top five was rapidly changing.

We had dropped one point closer to second, which honestly, I was thrilled about because I was expecting to lose top spot or only be a point or two ahead on top based on that month. We were still seven points in the clear with Bitchell to return in the next match against Hastings United. The toughest month may well be ahead of us with Torquay United (2nd), Hampden and Richmond Borough (6th) and Dulwich Hamlet (8th) following Hastings (13th) in the next month. If we could pick up maximum points, we'd head into April all but looking good for promotion.

Table as of March 1:

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2017-01-02 01:56#239670 Ta31_a : This is definetly very interesting starting from the future. I've done stuff like this before but viewing it from a former players perspective is very original. Nice Work!

Thanks!

Yeah it's something that's always fascinated me looking into the future and I did one just on my own computer typing up a story about a player from Blackburn Rovers who ended up at Man City (they always seem to end up there?) and then the Rovers were available when he finished and he applied and got the job so that was even more so a good heart warming tale.

This I'm not sure where he will go, but given the way it's looking he could well be offered jobs at a higher level and I'll weigh it up. Some of my players are already been looked at from Championship/League 1 clubs so I'll be wary of that when it comes to the off-season :)
http://wingatefinchley.com/img/logomain.png

BLUES MARCHING TOWARDS PROMOTION

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v631/DanielaHantuchova/march%202038_zpskxjyfnkx.png

A five minute lapse against Hampton and Richmond Borough stopped Wingate and Finchley from recording a perfect month in the National League South. Despite going down to 10 men, Hampton and Richmond's Hugo Blackwell snarred two goals in two minutes to score his second hat-trick against the Blues this season. Otherwise it was an impressive month as the Blues moved within one win of locking away a playoff spot.

March began with playmaker Steven Bitchell returning to the team and it was like he had never left, producing a matchwinning performance with a couple of assists as winger Cedric Simpson scored two goals either side of half-time before Elliot Dawson capped off the win with a goal in the 74th minute. Hastings United managed to score from a corner in red time before the final whistle, but it was nothing more than a consolation goal.

Against Torquay United, Jason Morris returned to the team replacing Jimmy Redmond between the sticks and was okay in a tight 3-2 win. Elliot Dawson again found the net in the opening two minutes, but the two promotion contenders traded goals up until the last five minutes. At 2-2 and in the 85th minute it took a magical moment from Steven Bitchell to separate them and take home the three points.

They were not as fortunate a week later when the Blues travelled to Devonshire Park to take on Hampton and Richmond Borough. Having lost to them earlier in the season, it was obvious the team was a bogey side. Elliot Dawson looked set to see the Blues home and hosed, heading into half-time with a hat-trick. Unfortunately Hugo Blackwell had other plans, scoring in the dying seconds of the half-time whistle and making it a 2-3 deficit. When Mike Harding came on to replace Dawson, it took him less than a minute to find space and slot one home and at 4-2 the team seemed secure. Opposition captain Sam Cooper replied just two minutes later, but when Shaun Wheatley was sent off for a crude takle on Jose Ricardo, there would be few who would have bet against the Blues with a one-goal lead and an extra man. But their arch nemesis Hugo Blackwell stood up again, scoring in the 84th and 86th minute to stun the Blues bench and hand his side second spot on the table with a 5-4 win.

Jason Morris put the disappointment of the past week behind him when he was given another chance against Dulwich Hamlet, a side the Blues had lost to earlier in the season. The fans turned up for the eagerly awaited clash at the Maurice Rebak Stadium and were not disappointed with three goals in the opening six minutes as Dawson and Simpson found the net as did opposition striker Ethan Archer. After more than an hour without a goal, Steven Bitchell took it upon himself to liven up the contest, slotting it past the keeper twice in 10 minutes to hand the Blues a 4-1 win.

With five games to go, Wingate and Finchley lead all comers with a 10-point advantage on Maidenhead United who are among as many as 10 teams that could slot into the top five spaces. The Blues need two wins in their remaining five games to secure the title, and have reached the 100-goal mark comfortably. They have scored a whopping 33 more goals than their nearest rivals (Hampton and Richmond Borough), but are also ranked the fourth highest for goals conceeded. It has been a strange season, but certainly anything short of boring.

The Blues would be comfortable with their run home having Eastleigh (11th), Sutton (10th), Enfield Town (19th), Folkestone (6th) and Margate (22nd) to round of the season.

Table as of April 1:

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April 24, 2038

You could hardly hear the whistle. The roar that erupted across the stadium was profound. All I felt was my legs being taken from under me and swept up in a tide of emotion. A sea of blue ran to the fence to try and get a glimpse of their heroes. My name was being chanted around Maurice Rebak Stadium. We had been promoted and it felt good.

I would be lying if I didn't say I'd been shitting bricks throughout the match. A controversial penalty to Steven Bitchell had been the difference between us and Enfield Town, a side struggling to stay in the division. We'd failed to secure the win two starts ago against mid-table team Eastleigh and then were belted by Sutton United 1-4 in an embarrassing loss that could only be decribed as choking. With just two days until we faced Folkestone and then another two days until the clash with cellar dwellars Margate, the game against Enfield Town was the last chance we had realistically of having a strong win without fitness being a factor.

The last two minutes were horrific as they charged time and time again with several shots just missing. Then the whistle came and it was complete euphoria. I'd won the English Premier League as a player four times, but this was different. People had taken time off work to witness it. This was a team that had working class followers without having ever tasted success. Now we were going to the National League. It would not be without its challenges, plenty of players were already fielding offers from locally and abroad, but for now we could sit back and just enjoy what we accomplished.
April 25, 2038

I stormed into Gary Hodge's office with a grin on my face. "Ralf my boy you sir are a legend!" he said beaming back at me. "Cheers Gary, but I think you know what I'm here for now," I replied back. "You want a raise..." he said. "That's right," I responded. "I'm no doubt going to have a few clubs higher up interested in me, but I want to stay here. "But you need to be serious and show me that I should stay here."

"We'll offer you £600 a week, which is a £125 increase and extend it by another year to have you here until 2040," the chairman responded. "It's a good start," I replied. "But I also want you to improve the youth facilities. The ones you sold, I wnat them back," I demanded. "We feel the youth facilities are good enough here," he replied sheepishly. "You've got to be freaking kidding me right?" I responded. "They're a joke and if they're not upgraded then I might need to start entertaining those offers coming in..." "Alright, we'll upgrade them," Hodge replied.

I signed on the dotted line with a guaranteed £350,000 youth facilities upgrade to be completed by October. It also had a promotion raise of 15%. But that was a while off. It was a case of keeping my players and bringing in fresh blood.

You are reading "Ralf Landgraf - Legend to Legacy".

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