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The Journey

Started on 3 January 2017 by InvertedWingbacks
Latest Reply on 5 January 2017 by InvertedWingbacks
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"Well, Thomas, If you think you're up to this..."

I gritted my teeth, knowing that he was baiting me. Cardiff Metropolitan University had a football team that was without a manager. Ever since I had done my knee playing for them, I had been studying for my coaching badges, and trying to get work experience from anywhere I could.

The team were looking for coaches, and I had tossed my hat into the ring. Now, sitting in front of me, Robyn and Christian, the Uni's sports development heads, had thrown down the gauntlet.

"I'm ready, Christian" I addressed the head of the football programme.

"Ok..." Christian seemed to be battling with something internally. "This programme is counting on you, Thomas. You may only be a coach, but you'll have a massive impact on how these guys play. They looked up to you as their vice-captain, and they'll look up to you now."

I closed the office door behind me, and took a deep breath. I could hear the shouts of the squad from the training pitch, and figured that, with 15 minutes until training ended, it was worth taking a saunter over to see what was going on.

The whole thing was a bit of a mess, since Freshers Week had just started, and most of the first years were already half-cut ahead of initiation, the training session had turned into some 5 a side and the odd game of keepy-up. I walked along the touchline, and met the rest of the coaches.

"Hey Thomas, Christian wanted you to have these" Martin dumped a pile of folders and DVDs in my arms. "Have a look, identify any weaknesses and any players you think are worth moving to the 1s. We're going for mid-table."

I sighed, and headed for my car. This was going to be a lot of hard work.
1
August 8th, 2016
Forest Road Stadium, Hay-on-Wye

"Ok Guys" I looked around the dreary dressing room as the team got ready for the game. "We may not have won a game yet this pre-season, but this lot today are in for a shock."

Truth be told, I think I was more trying to convince them than I was myself. We'd held trials a few weeks ago to get some new players, and I'd been pleasantly surprised by a few of the players coming through; a couple had been let go by Premiership and Championship clubs, and had chosen to study.

"Ok, so our starting 11..."


CMU: Fuller, Woolridge (c), Parry, James, McCarthy, Omerovic, Taylor, Barnett, Lam, Giglio, Griffiths
Subs: Jones, Riley, Prosser, Miguel, Emmanuel

We started brightly, and I was delighted that the team finally seemed to be gelling into our new tactics. Former Cardiff City youth player Dane Griffiths was leading the line, and he immediately made an impact, almost scoring in the 4th minute from 25 yards.

However, it was our passing which was giving us the edge: Hay St. Mary's just couldn't cope with not having the ball, and were picking up niggly fouls, while we stuck to our game plan. It was one of those niggling fouls which opened the door for our first goal. Josh Barnett floated a cross in from a free kick, and Griffiths made no mistake burying the header.

Kyle McCarthy - a 23 year old Post-grad student - buried our second from a free kick on the edge of the area, having been brought down in the middle of a mazy run from left-back. We were 2-0 up and coasting by this point, and Griffith's second - our third - only sealed the deal.

A smooth finish after a Woolridge cross gave Griffiths his brace, and put us thoroughly in control after just 44 minutes. Hay St Mary's pulled one back with 8 minutes to go, but it had little impact on the outcome of the game, as we coasted into the second round of the cup, in front of 49 people.

August 31st, 2016
Cae Chwarae Bryncurg, Tywyn

I leant my head against the locker behind me, trying to process what I had just seen. Our promising cup run had just been brutally cut short in front of 43 people in Twywn. Having gone 1-0 down after an hour, we had levelled through Brad Miguel with 10 minutes to go, and had started pouring forwards, searching for a winner.

That search had dragged us right through to the 119th minute, when a defensive lapse allowed Tywyn striker Luke Howarth to drive a short-range shot into the roof of the net, and give Tywyn the win.

I leant forward, head in my hands, and tried to play the game back to analyse what went wrong. We had been loose with our passes in the middle of the park, and thats what had ultimately cost us the game. I pulled out a notepad, and started taking notes, ready for the next training session. I could feel my phone vibrating in my pocket, but I was too involved in what I was doing to answer it. It rang out once, and immediately started ringing again. Annoyed, I pulled it out to answer it.

"Hello?" I snapped

"Hello, Mr Lynch? Thomas?"

"'Speaking."

"Oh. Hi, sir" The voice on the other end of the phone was hesitant "My...My name is Liam Griffin, and I'm coming to study at your university....I was just wondering if there was space on the team? Or have I missed my shot?"

"Liam..." My mind was working overtime, It sounded like I should have known who this kid was..."Liam....you were at Liverpool?"

"Yes!" He sounded thrilled to have been recognised "Yeah, that's me! Have you got a space on the squad?"

"Yes, of course! Swing by the sports office once you're enrolled and we'll sort you out!"

"Sure!" The phone clicked dead, and I grinned into my hands.

A former Liverpool midfielder was maybe the solution to our midfield issue, even if he was a released youngster...Liverpool's loss would be our gain!

You are reading "The Journey".

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