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A Cardinal Sin - Woking our way to the top

An FM19 Story
Started on 20 October 2018 by JT
Latest Reply on 6 February 2019 by mgriffin2012
JT's avatar Group JT
3 yearsEdited

Woking FC - a takeover

So my first game on FM19 will be with the team that were just down the road when i grew up. I am a Gooner at heart but Woking is still the first team i saw live in their relative heydays on the mid 90's. The aim here is to take the side from the doldrums of the Vanarama Conference South to the lofty heights of the Premiership.

Club History

Woking Football Club are a semi-professional side based in Woking, Surrey. Formed in 1889 the club play at the Kingfield Stadium (Named the Laithwaite Community Stadium for sponsorship reasons) and are nicknamed the Cardinals or the Cards. Whichever you prefer.

Now in the 6th tier of English football after their relegation last season, the club is looking to rebuild and in the short term get themselves into the league football season for the first time. A feat the club nearly achieved in 1995 and 1996 where they came 2nd two years on the trot just behind Stevenage on both occasions

As you can see there is some cup history with 3 FA Trophies to our name coming in 1994, 1995 and 1997 highlighting how dominant Woking were in non-league football at one point. It was during this time that Woking famously took than Premiership side Coventry to an FA Cup 3rd round replay where a last minute goal prevented the tie going to extra time.


Finances are especially key in non-league games as you need the money in order to make the jump from semi-professional to professional status. I am pleased to say that the club are in the black and are looking pretty good with £160k in the bank

The finances mean we can go and add some new players to the squad with an extra £2k or so per week available to offer to new signings but we will have to make do with no transfer fee budget for the time being.


Having been relegated last season, i was expecting relatively high expectations by the board and i wasn't too wrong as the Board demand we finish in the play-off spots (Top 7) which nicely aligns with the Media's pre-season expectations where they predict us to finish in 7th as well

However, as you can see the odds between 2nd and 7th are exactly the same, meaning it will be tight. Relative moneybags Billericay are going to be tough, whilst Welling had a decent squad and Torquay have history of being a League side so shouldn't be underestimated either.
JT's avatar Group JT
3 yearsEdited

Woking FC - 18/19 Pre-season


With a revamped tactics module in this years game i was keen to look at how we can set up in the lower leagues where the ability is just not there to play the likes of Gegenpress and Tika taka football. Therefore we needed something a little more simple and ready for the lower leagues. This is what i am opting for

A relatively basic 4-4-2 with the idea to get the ball forward quickly and out to the wings to knock in crosses. With two strikers (Target man and Advanced forward) we should have at least one willing striker to run into the channels and a big man to get on the end of any crosses, we should have the firepower to score the goals. So far i haven't tweaked any of the parts of the formation preferring to see how the out of the box option will do for the first part of the season.

Off the back of this a secondary formation (4-4-1-1) with a pure direct play is being trained as a back up formation should we need it.


After going through the U23's and the U18's i got myself to the conclusion this would be roughly the 1st team squad for the season wiithout any new transfers.

It looks pretty strong but there is some work to do as we do quickly go into teenagers for back ups in a lot of positions and although i do want to give youth a chance, i think we need a few more better rounded players to make a charge over what will be a long season.

Kane Ferdinand is our best player by a longshot and will play as a ball winner in the middle of the park alongside Max Kretzschmar in what looks to be a very strong central midfield for the division. I cant actually remember the last time i had two 4.5* midfielders in the middle of the park. Max will be more likely a box to box engine midfielder to give us some impetus moving forward.

However, it is the two men infront of them that the formation is going to rely on. Jake Hyde is a useful looking target man with 14 for heading and some decent height to boot. He should be able to terrorise defenders in the air and it should mean any floated crosses we will be in the hunt for. Greg Leur alongside him will be the legs and will be the one that will help stretch the back 2 to give Hyde more space. Well that is the plan anyway!

I will call out more of the squad as we go through the season

Scouting & Transfers

With lower league management it is all about looking for bargain buys which quite often means the free transfer market. A modest scouting budget has been supplied which as expected has gone on scouting the Vanarama North/South to see if there are any decent players we could pick up for next season on frees as we can't afford to pay any transfer fees

Over pre-season a tonne of players were bought in on trial as i looked to add a few more players. The main aims were for wingers, a central midfielder and the defence and it was tough going. A lot of players were either no better or the ones that could make a difference were not interested. However 3 new faces all join the ranks

Max Makaka The first signing ever on FM19 goes on a 20 year old Congolese/Englishman midfielder. Not one i could have predicted but Max has some decent ability meaning he is the natural back up for Ferdinand and Kretzschmar and he has pedigree having come through the books of both Tottenham and Watford. At £50 per week he is even low risk on wages.

Chris Paul
Quickly behind him was Chris Paul, a Northern Ireland U21 International who also started his career at Tottenham before moving to QPR and than out of contract. The coaches really rated him and although a right back wasn't high on the list, he does naturally fit better into a more attacking full back as overlapping is a factor of the playing style we have chosen.

Callum Ellseley
The last man in is another Tottenham Alumni having started there before moving to Norwich and than being cut having not played a game for the Canaries. A very solid centre half with lots of double figures in the physical departments as well as in the key technical stats. He comes in as a starter despite his young age.

There were no other outgoing's but we are still way under budget on wages even when i secured new contracts for our best 5/6 players. To help with the finances i also asked for a senior affiliate and i was pleased to tie up a deal with Sunderland who will pay us £30k a year, come to us for a friendly every season and loan us their youngsters. So far none have come over but in time that could become an important source of players for us.


Things have been going alright on the pitch too as the players have adapted themselves nicely to the 4-4-2 formation.

As you can see goals have been pretty easy to come by so far smashing four goals on 3 occassions but we can't get ahead of ourselves as all of the games were against weaker opposition in lower divisions than ourselves. Newcastle U23's was our one defeat but to be fair i rested the whole 1st choice side as the match came just 3 days before our first league fixture and i didnt want a knackered team for my debut.

Greg Leur caught the eye early on scoring 6 goals in 6 games and could be the main man this season. A young winger Reggie Young who was in the U18's at the start of the game has also come through and is in fact in pole position to be on the left wing for the opening game after some impressive performances including a handful of assists.

So far the cards are looking in my favour. Let the season begin!

Woking FC - August 2018

August 2018

Just like in real life, we got ourselves off to a decent start in the league to stamp our claim as a promotion hopeful

It all started with a 1-0 victory over East Thurrock where their defender was unlucky turning the ball into their own net as he was trying to prevent Leur from scoring himself. In our first home game though we smashed through St Albans 3-0 with the strikeforce working beautifully in tandem. It was the same again in the 2-1 win over Oxford City where we never looked in doubt.

The one blip of the month came at Wealdstone as we looked tired and off the boil having played Oxford just two days earlier. A schedule like that with part time players is always going to make it difficult. However this man was happy with the result

That defeat and the endless chants of us having no fans has though shaken us a little. We lumbered to a 4-3 victory over struggling Hemel Hempstead with Max Kretzschmar banging in a left foot volley from outside the area and slotting home a penalty to go alongside Leur's two tidy finishes. Our second two games in 3 days spell came up and this time i played both games with rotated squads rather than the previous effort of a strong side followed by a weaker side but we still struggled. Two 1-1 draws against Truro and bottom of the table Eastbourne at least mean we avoid defeats but both were lifeless affairs to be honest.

Still after 7 games we find ourselves in 4th spot amongst a pack of teams chasing the very impressive Welling down. We have Billericay up next in what will likely be one of the tougher games of the season. If we can get back to winning ways there we should look good for the rest of September and close that gap with Welling.

Looking through the games, the wing play style is generally working as we sit top of the crosses completed stat (17%) and with 8 of our 23 goals (Including friendlies) being assisted by crosses it is definitely forming a strong part of our play. It has also helped we are 2nd on shooting accuracy meaning we are making the keeper work 54% of the time and we are also 2nd in headers won which i think has partly been down to the excellent Ellesley at the back as well as Hyde doing his piece getting on the end of the direct balls and crosses.

Defensively we can improve and we are seeming to have some problems from through balls and assists within the area. I think we need to either drop the defence a little to combat the directness of the lower leagues or try and put more pressure in the middle of the park. Something to chew over for the next month.

August Woking player of the month

The obvious choice could be Greg Leur who leads the scoring charts with 5 goals but instead i have gone for a man who has impressed me because quite frankly his attributes are not that good but he is performing. Reggie Young is just 18 and was drafted in from the U18's during pre-season as we lacked depth on the wings. Since that moment though he has really taken his chance and he leads the assists charts with 3 to his name and his partnership with Captain Casey at left back highlights a really strong attacking outlet on the left. One that is far outperforming the right hand side at the moment.

A takeover looms?

At the start of the game, Woking are set to having the owners open to offers as they are in real life. The old chairman left suddenly and was replaced by former Mayoress Rosemary Johnson a few months ago and the game also believes the owners are looking for a change and it looks like i could be about to happen as this came up

Obviously a consortium could put a fresh spin on the game with the potential for money helping me spearhead a charge up the leagues which finger crossed could happen. Admittedly a few days later i did get some news that a fan group is also interested in taking over. That will be a little less exciting but i am sure more will follow
Great to see you back on the forum writing once again. Nice start to life in the National League South and some interesting developments with a potential takeover straight off the bat. Looking forward to seeing how you do this season and if you can win promotion back to the National League at the first attempt. Good luck!

Woking FC - September 2018

September 2018

Onto Month 2 where we have fixtures against Billiericay and Torquay, two of our potential rivals for promotion, as well as our first foray into the FA Cup. Could we keep up our form?

Well yes and no. We managed to overcome Billericay 2-1 with Greg Luer being on fine form. In fact, that was the story of the month with Luer scoring 6 goals in just 5 games to keep the pressure on. His last minute goal against Dulwich Hamlet rescued us after we made 1 mistake and he helped get us going in what proved to be a trickier tie against Thatcham than i would have liked.

The game against Torquay was a similar game to the Wealdstone one from August where we just looked tired and we couldn't offer anything in the way of attacking threat. It does throw in the question that we might need a plan B and we already look too dependent on Luer to score our goals which is again something we are going to need to address. Still we are in the play-off spots 2 months in

September Woking player of the month

Quite clearly there is just one player in the running and that is Greg Luer who has been superb all season but really hit his stride this month with 6 goals putting his current season total of 11. 9 of which are in the league meaning he is 5th in the scoring charts for the league but if we can keep him going that is one of the key metrics for a successful season.

Transfer embargo now in place

So it looks like the takeover is going to happen but it isn't going to be a consortium which means we will not have a big boost in revenue. The Fan's trust will in all likliehood mean no change at all which isn't the worst of things.
2018-10-21 23:54#251462 ScottT : Great to see you back on the forum writing once again. Nice start to life in the National League South and some interesting developments with a potential takeover straight off the bat. Looking forward to seeing how you do this season and if you can win promotion back to the National League at the first attempt. Good luck!

Thanks Scott. I should be quite regular again

Woking FC - October 2018

October 2018

Month 3 and the FA Cup start to kick into gear as we start the month with the 3rd Qualifying round fixture against Brentwood. A game i was expecting to win relatively easily but in the end a 93rd minute goal from Nicky Wheeler had to be enough to take us to the 4th Qualifying round where we got fellow Vanarama South side St. Albans.

It took going to a replay (Which we didn't need) but we eventually got free. Jake Hyde scoring in the first game to earn a 1-1 draw and hitting two in the replay in another 3-0 romp against St. Albans. In fact Jake Hyde has now scored 5 goals in 3 games against them this year. This has got us to the 1st round proper, meeting the board's expectations where we have a tasty home tie against Vanarama Premier side Barnet. Onto the league table.

Four more games down and 7 points collected in what highlights some of our struggles (Scoring goals) but does highlight some of our strengths (Defence). We can be very tepid and if Greg Luer is not playing well than we do really struggle to score goals. Jake Hyde has played himself into some form partly as i loves ripping apart St. Albans so we might have finally got him back to the scoring ways i expected but we do need the midfielder chipping in more with some goals if we are going to make a concerted effort to get back to the top.

It is though still pretty tight towards the top and in the month of November we have lots of the teams in and around us which if it goes in our favour means we could get ourselves comfortably into the Play-off spots. A nice 5 point gap over 8th place Slough is good to see though at this stage.

October Woking player of the month

Looking back at the month it was pretty hard to find that stand-out player. In the end it came down to two players who i can say improved from their first two months form. Jake Hyde and Nicky Wheeler were the the two men but in the end i will give to to Wheeler whose 2 goals and 2 assists helped us get through two rounds of the FA Cup and show there is some potential in our right hand side.

Takeover is complete

The long winded takeover is now over and it couldn't have been more anticlimactic as the fans trust take over and simply change nothing. Well apart from removing the need to play direct football.
Averaging just under 2 points per game is a very strong start, I'd be interested to see if you can further improve on that return!
JT's avatar Group JT
2 yearsEdited

Woking FC - November 2018

November 2018

A much quieter month in the end with just 4 games and a much needed two week break at the end of the month to rest these part timers. Although all 4 games were tough with the three league games all against teams fighting for the play-offs and that 1st Round FA Cup tie against Barnet. A Young Albie Hopkins was added on loan from Oxford United on a 3 month deal to cover whilst Wheeler and Jolley sit injured on the sidelines.

All in all a good month with 9 points from 9 in the league. Enough to win me manager of the month and more importantly keeps us right in the hunt for promotion come end of the season. In fact the top half of the table is looking very very tight indeed.

Two points off the top and a very nice gap formed between ourselves and Chippenham just outside of the play-offs. As you can see our three games were against 8th, 9th and 5th meaning the 9 points have been vital in propelling us up the table.

Therefore the only blip this month was the FA Cup where despite taking the lead in the 1st minute through Jake Hyde we were dominated by Barnet and in the end their class overcame our side as we exit the competition. We move on to the FA Trophy which starts in December with Torquay our opponents in the 3rd Qualifying round.

November's Woking player of the month

It could only be one man as Greg Luer takes the award banging in 5 goals in the league putting him on 17 for the season so far. He also came 2nd in the League's award as he sits 2nd in the scoring charts. Without him we would be screwed!

Brexit is here

Not sure if on this version of FM there are different outcomes from Brexit but it has been announced and it is going to look like this

It seems pretty soft with Ireland still counting as non-foreign and just a limit on the number of foreigners in the squad. To be honest i am quite looking forward to trying to go up the leagues with as an all british squad as possible. Bring it on!

Woking FC - December 2018

December 2018

The end of 2018 is upon us already as we moved through the festive season and progressed past the half way point in the season. The FA Trophy also kicked into life and was the jumping off point for the month. In the 3rd qualifying round, we entered and it was a home tie against fellow Vanarama South side Torquay that was in our way. They beat us in the league earlier in the season and it was always going to be a tough draw, but when you have Greg Luer, anything is possible and it was Luer's two strikes that were enough to progress 2-1 into the first round proper.

The 1st round tie was tougher and on paper it had a bit of spice as we were drawn against local rivals and Vanarama Premier side Aldershot. A game the fans always want to win and i was happy to give them what they wanted, with centre half Kiran Khinda-John getting on the end of a corner to score the only goal of the match to send the fans into raptures. The 2nd round will be played in January where we have Dartford as opponents. The board are happy that once again we have met their expectations for progression.

In and around these games, the league has continued to move ahead with 5 more fixtures and for us another 10 points picked up.

As you can see it is still incredibly tight at the top and really at this stage it could be anyone in the top 5 finishing top of the table. Dartford proved too tough for us and it puts an interesting spin on our upcoming FA Trophy match where we will seek revenge. The Billericay match was also crucial as i was sure we were going to end up losing that but we seem to have some fighting spirit at times and again prevented them from opening up too big a gap on us.

Really as it stands now, i have to be looking at play-offs as a bare minimum. We have a nice gap over 8th and unless our form dips we should be able to hold on. To keep us going though, i have added two new midfielders into the squad over December as legs start to tire going into the home stretch. Luke Fairlamb joins on a free until the end of the season having been released by Vanarama North side Brackley and he provides more competition for that left wing slot. The 2nd signing comes from our parent club Sunderland as Jake Hackett joins on loan. Predominantly a central midfielder he provides options if Ferdinand and Kretzschmar are tired but he can also go on the left wing if needed. Lots of double figure attributes making him a potential star for the 2nd half of the season.

December's Woking player of the month

An awkward month for voting as again lots of players got on by without doing too much but Kiran Khinda-John takes the award for me. Two goals including a crucial goal against local rivals Aldershot and some assured defending in place. His average rating for the month was just over 7.00 and he has been an ever present alongside Ellesley.


In some ways a quiet month with no takeover's or brexits but i wanted to shine a spotlight on the finances which have surprised me.

They have surprised me in a good way, i may add as we are a Non-league side making money. A big part of that has been the cup runs with our game against Barnet in the FA Cup being on the TV meaning we have decent TV income and prize money rewards. Equally our gate receipts have been key as we have an average attendance just short of 2,000. It means we have the highest attendance in the Vanarama South, we would be the 7th most attended in the Vanarama Premier and we even have higher attendance than two League 2 sides. The fan's are there and it gives me hope that should we progress further with this side that we can cope with the financial pressures on the club
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 yearsEdited
Things seem to be going rather swimmingly at the moment, keeping in pace with top spot and a bit of a gap between yourselves and the teams outside the playoff places.

Woking FC - January 2019

January 2019

New year... new Woking? Well in a way yes. The first half of the season saw us playing well and winning games through tough sturdy play with many games finishing 1-0 or 2-1. Defensively the team were the best in the league and although not the nicest football it was effective.

Well January saw a slight change to the formula but the most important part was that we were still winning. The main change was the sheer amount of goals that were going in as we found our goalscoring boots in what proved to be a great month for the club.

Looking at the results you can see one name dominate as Greg Luer carried on his amazing season banging in 8 goals in January as not only did we keep the pressure on Torquay and Billericay but also progress in the FA Trophy beating Dartford in a what was a tricky tie.

From a league perspective, that draw against Wealdstone hurt as Torquay now sit 4 points ahead of us and the league title is going to be a real battle this year as both Billericay and Torquay look like they can more than match our form this season. The good news though is that the gap between us and Dartford is growing and at 7 points gives us some breathing room. It is important as 2nd and 3rd will have to go through one round less in the play-offs which might prove crucial in our hunt for promotion.

January's Woking player of the month

Let's face it. Greg Luer was never not winning this. 8 goals throughout January showed that he is in a different league this season.
Things going really well so far, promotion could well be on the cards!
Great month once again, fingers crossed Billericay and Torquay slip up. It must be difficult competing with a side of Torquay's stature and Billericay with their money to splash.
A very strong month! Well and truly in the title race now, and well above the following pack! The title is yours if you can string together another impressive month or two!

You are reading "A Cardinal Sin - Woking our way to the top".

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