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The path of an ambitious Scot

Started on 23 February 2020 by Imagine
Latest Reply on 21 April 2020 by Big_Wully_Boly
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Imagine's avatar Group Imagine
1 yearEdited


You shoot me down but I won't fall

It was clear to everyone that I was heading down a shady route, over the past couple of weeks I had slipped in to a dark place and it took a right good ear bashing from David Johnson to bring me back down to earth. He had heard rumours that I was out partying late, turning up for training drunk and someone also told him I was drinking in the office. It didn't look good for me and I really feared the worst but thankfully David gave me a chance to sort myself out after I told him what had gone on. I can't let my life go downhill, not now, not after I've worked so hard to get my foot in the door in the industry I want to make a career in, not over a girl. No more drink, no more drugs and no more strippers! It's time to get my head back in the game again. I have a very promising team here and we're sitting top of the Vanarama National League North. Promotion is in our grasp and I'm acting like an idiot over a girl. Well, it wasn't over a girl really, yes that was the trigger but it was the emergence of the 'Black Dog' that got me in this predicament once again. Now it's time to fight it off yet again, it can never just leave me alone to get on with my life.
What a tale this has been to catch up on! Let's hope Chris can keep on the straight and narrow to ensure Darlington are his main priority over alcohol and strippers from this point onwards.


A lifetime battle with the mind

Why is it that even when things are starting to look up all around me I can't lift my head up to do the same? It's like as soon as things start to fall in to place I can't seem to accept that things are going well and just, I don't know, live in the moment? You see for as long as I can remember I have never been a happy person, sure on the outside I am and I can have a laugh but you can bet your house on it that even when you see me smiling I am dying inside. Even if I look happy and I should be happy you can guarantee it's killing me inside trying to keep up the pretence. I know for a fact that it goes back to my childhood and then raises it's ugly head after every setback I experience. I've suffered in silence for far too long now, I can't do it all on my own. I just wish I could wake up one day and everything was okay once again, I wouldn't get that pang of sadness randomly, that anxious and overwhelming feeling out of nowhere. I've got to get these lads through this season and then sort out a long term solution in the summer as I can't continue without a solid coping method.

Haha that's the reaction I'm after @ScottT cheers mate, let's hope so.


Darlington are Vanarama National League North Champions!


As we continued our unbeaten run which begun in October we went on to secure the league title early by winning it with five games left to play. Wins over Kidderminster, Alfreton, Guiseley, Brackley and a draw with King's Lynn in March were followed up by a draw to Chester and wins over Farsley, Blyth and Spennymoor in April. Millen Baars really established himself as our best player during that period and became the first player to earn a new contract for next season as the future of the rest of the team remains up in the air. I got my fifth manager of the month award in April and Baars got the player of the month for March. In addition, I was named the manager of the year! An absolutely stupendous achievement and a great honour for me. I have been through a bit of a roller coaster of a time mentally in these past few months and this has really given me a huge boost.


After a bit of a rough patch a couple of months ago where I went down a bad path after a bad break up things were looking bleak for me. My job was under threat due to off field issues and I was called in to David Johnson's office to discuss my position. Thankfully, upon hearing my story David was a great source of support and told me that he was backing me to the hilt. Soon after our title win David called me to discuss terms on a new contract that would see my stay extended. We went back and forth on discussions over the length of contract on the table but in the end my insistence on a two year deal paid off.


Miller Baars was undoubtedly our best player this season, Amine Lingazi, James Wallace, Adam Campbell and Gary Martin were also stand outs for us. Martin left us on the twentieth of March and it was a bit of an oversight by me as I wasn't aware that his contract was expiring before the end of the season. We shuffled things around in his absence and didn't seem to miss him too much so I'm not too sure if we'll be looking to bring him back to the club. Max Broughton could be someone of use to us next season and we might look at getting him back. There will be plenty of transfer activity in the summer as we will no doubt go through a squad overhaul in order to achieve further success next year.

Well done on promotion and fleshing out the character of your ambitious Scot. Booze and Boobs seems a likely response to being turned down for marriage.
Excellent win there, will be interesting to see what sort of business you do in the summer and what sort of budget your given
League 2 will be challenging but doable--hope you are able to pull out some gems/formation tweaks to stay up and perhaps get promoted.


Finding ways to cope

After my breakthrough season as a football manager last year things were looking up for me as I attempted to make a career for myself in the game that I love. After the break up of my relationship earlier in the year things took a bad turn for me with my mental health suffering. I've long suffered with those issues and they engulf my whole life during most stressful or upsetting times. I went on a bit of crazy spell for a couple of weeks during our season and my boss swiftly called me in for crisis talks upon finding out. Once he learned what I'd been going through though he encouraged me to seek help and provided me with the number of some counselors in the area. So over the summer I spent a bit of time speaking with one of them that he recommended and I also participated in cognitive behavioral therapy too. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes) and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.

With the help that I was now getting things were looking up for me as my life began to change for the better over the summer. After agreeing terms on a new two year deal with Darlington I realised that I was going to be here for a while and I could get used to that. I decided to buy a house in the area as I'd been putting money aside for a deposit for a while now. I bought a three bed detached house on Smithfield Road for £172k and the property is just five minutes away from the stadium so that was an added bonus. I also snapped up a new car and decided to upgrade on my Hyundai Tuscon and leased out a brand new Alfa Romeo Giulia. With things looking up off the field for myself it was time to press on with matters with Darlington on the field.



@Jahendricksi: Thank you very much. It seemed as appropriate as a blow out as can be expected after such a heart break. It's the Vanarama National League next and I hope you're right, will be hoping to add some gems to the squad and see what the league has in store for us.

@Leckuno: Cheers mate. I'm hoping with the right acquisitions I can push for the play-offs again and hope for the best but who knows!


Rebuilding for Vanarama National League

After an unexpected title win last year I had to be careful not to let sentiment get in the way of some important decisions for the year ahead in the Vanarama National League. With the media predicting that we'd finish deal last in the league it was important that we set about building a squad that was capable of much better. So unfortunately that meant that we would have to move on some important players from our title winning season. Players like Adam Campbell, Amine Lingazi and Rhys Taylor were just a few of those departing but each one of them found a club straight away which made the process smoother for myself.

We recruited seventeen players throughout the summer as the squad begun to take shape and look the part. We brought in the experience of Paul Jones with the youth of Ryan Mullen backing him up in goals. Callum Minkley, Jerome Binnon-Williams, Nicholas Hood and Aaron Muirhead strengthened the defence before loanees Max Broughton and Tyler Magloire solidified it. Jak McCourt was a late arrival but he was brought in alongside loanees Tom White and Bobby Kamwa to add competition to an already strong midfield. Dion McGhee and Yasim Ben El-Mhanni were crucial additions on the wings. De'marlio Brown-Sterling joined on loan from Bolton to become our leading striker for the campaign with Virgil Gomis and Fidel O'Rourke coming in as back up.


We also had to ensure that our backroom staff were up to scratch as well and so we parted ways with our director of football, fitness coach and one of our scouts. Journeymen Ben Harding and Iain Howard became our new DOF and scout respectively whilst former Man Utd player Alan Smith joined our coaching staff. Smith joins a set up which includes Jonathan Walters, David Fox, Rory Fallon, Jackie McNamara and the recently promoted Gordon Greer. With our youth intake falling way short of expectations last year we decided to promote Gordon to first team duties after the chairman allowed us to expand the numbers. Our youth manager and assistant remain for now as we may yet acquire some youngsters throughout the season but they'll assist the first team until then.


In order to comply with the rules in the league which we will participate in this season we had to upgrade our stadium this summer. With our expansion set to hold a little over four thousand fans we will certainly be hoping to put in some performances that can fill it this year. Our attendance has improved over the last year and we have sold twelve-hundred season tickets already so I am optimistic for our finances this year too if we can get the fans in.



A fantastic start to the season backs the bookies up




With various media outlets claiming that we would finish at the bottom of the pack this season the bookies disagreed completely as they back us to take a tilt at the title. Thankfully for us, it's the bookies that are looking good for their predictions this season so far. After a mixed pre-season saw us win three, lose three and draw four our league form got off to a mightily different start. Two of our debutants, Bobby Komwa and De'marlio Brown-Sterling, got us off to a flier against Bromley in our first game of the season as a further goal from Millen Baars secured the win. We were disappointed and unlucky to lose against Dag & Red but former QPR player Angelo Balanta was too clinical on the day and we couldn't stop him. That loss only spurred us on though as we went on to win our next seven matches in August. The goals were flying in during our matches and no one got more goals in August than Brown-Sterling who was certainly proving his worth. Flyde, Yeovil, Wrexham, Kidderminster, Boreham Wood, Chesterfield and Torquay felt the wrath of our fired up squad as we soared to the top of the league. We ran away with the awards dished out this month too as we picked up the player of the month, young player of the month, goal of the month and I was also named manager of the month.


Some great results there. Fully expect a promotion into league 2 now. Any sign of the club going professional yet?


Continuing a great start to the season


We got off to a flying start to the league campaign in August as we won eight out of our nine matches September started in the same vein of form. Harrogate, Dartford, Solihill Moors and Barnet were the teams we played and continued our winning streak against before Dover brought us right back down to earth with a four two win. We won just one more match in the following games and it was an important one too as we overcame our big rivals Hartlepool after going behind early. October saw us turn around our poor recent form as we smashed Macclesfield five one. We drew with Aldershot next and then got back to winning ways again as we beat Havant & Waterlooville three nil. A classic match was played out away from home to Curzon Ashton who sailed in to a two nil lead early on. It was unfortunate that no more than seven-hundred people attended the match as a bumper crowd should have witnessed the second half hat-trick by Virgil Gomis as he won the match for us with a late ninetieth minute goal. That win saw us paired with the 'Class of 92' side Salford in the next round. Wins over Maidenhead and Dartford completed a fantastic month for us which saw both Tyler Magloire and De'marlio Brown-Sterling named in the young player of the month award for October, with the former winning it. Despite us making profit in each of the past few months and sitting with a fairly healthy bank balance my constant requests for the club to go professional are falling on deaf ears. Managing director David Johnson says that although he'd love us to go pro he doesn't feel that we have the finances to cope with the change at this moment in time.


There have been a few comings and goings in terms of the playing squad these past few months as we attempt to constantly improve the side whilst maintaining our form. Former Liverpool academy player Ryan McLaughlin joined us to overtake the starting spot at right back ahead of Shaun Cummings and Callum Minkley. Cummings left us to join Fylde so that we could keep on top of the wage bill. Jerome Binnon-Williams also left us as he joined Kidderminster on a free due to us signing the experienced Rory McArdle and new starting left back Kgosi Ntlhe. In what was a bit of a coup we also managed to attract Jack Baldwin to the club after his past two years were spent at Sunderland and Salford respectively. Baldwin is another that slots straight in to the team and he takes the place of another new arrival, McArdle, in the starting eleven. Our defence was once our weakest component but now I firmly believe that our defence is up there with the best in the league.





@Leckuno: It's been a pleasant surprise that's for sure! Unfortunately not, no, I mentioned above but the managing director(only board member for some reason, no chairman?) says we can't afford to even though we have about £300k+ in the bank.


The unbeaten run continues


Our unbeaten run which begin in October has extended in to January as we've gone seventeen games unbeaten across all competitions. We trounced Notts County in the league in November before going on to secure more respectable results wins against Dover and FC Halifax. We drew with Salford in the first round of the FA Cup and therefore had to play them in a replay. We packed out the stadium for the replay and the fans witnessed a bit of an upset as we beat the newly promoted League One side. A great win over a side we are seriously hoping to emulate in the coming years. The second round followed soon after and we were able to pull off another shock result as another full capacity Blackwell Meadows crowd saw us race in to a three nil lead after half an hour against MK Dons. Despite them scoring two late goals we were able to knock another League One side out of the FA Cup as we held on for the win. We have been paired with Colchester in the third round of the FA Cup which will be our first match in January. I was named manager of the month for November and De'marlio Brown-Sterling was named player of the month, Brown-Sterling was also runner up in the young player of the month award with Dion McGhee getting third place.

Despite continuing our unbeaten run in December the results weren't quite what we were hoping for. We got revenge over Dag & Red's win over us earlier in the season by thumping them three nil. We then proceeded to draw our next three league games which wasn't ideal. Bromley held on to the draw with the skin of their teeth whilst Flyde scored a ninety-first minute equaliser and we threw our lead away against Yeovil too. Sandwiched in between those games was a first round tie in the FA Trophy where we just about managed to overcome a stubborn Macclesfield side. As a result of that win in the FA Trophy we will face Dover in the second round in January. De'marlio Brown-Sterling was third place in the young player of the month award this month.


I was really hoping that David Johnson would have allowed us to go professional by now as we are looking pretty secure financially. We have just over £500k in the bank and we've made a £576k profit so far this season. Gate receipts, season tickets, match day income as well as the usual fund raising have seen our profits soar this season whilst our cup runs have brought in £115k too. If and when we go up to League Two I know we'll turn professional but I was really hoping to get ahead of the game by turning Pro first. As well as turning professional we are going to have to consider improving our facilities around here soon as well if this rapid rise continues.


Former Fleetwood player Kyle Dempsey joined us in November as we again bolstered the squad. In order to keep the wage budgets under control Aaron Muirhead was given a free transfer to Barrow. Callum Nicell had played fairly decent for us but with the additions of some better midfielders this season his lack of abilty and consistency in comparison was evident. We sold him to St. Pat's Athletic for £70k(rising to £90k) which brought in my first fee for a player after the board intervened to cancel Liam Smith's sale earlier in the season. We have Sammy Ameobi and Jordan Rhodes in on trial at the moment and we've fielded offers out to their agents to bring them in permanently. Both players have a reputation which speaks for itself and would be great additions. Ameobi could really add a different dimension to the side on the wing whilst Rhodes could prove great competition for De'marlio Brown-Sterling. Should both of these lads sign we'll have pretty good strength in depth to the side for the first time and it'll prove handy too as we're doing well in the cups which of course means more games to be played.

Congratulations on the unbeaten streak and good luck with maybe getting Amoebi or Rhodes in. Your season is shaping up rather nicely!
Imagine's avatar Group Imagine
1 yearEdited


Transfer window closes as a busy January ends


After a spell on trial with the club both Sammy Ameobi and Jordan Rhodes signed for us this month. Rhodes joins us after six years of struggles in the Premiership and Championship which results in us only offering him a deal until the end of the season, such as the risk he poses. Ameobi had a poor season with Nottingham Forest last year but at twenty-eight he has it in him to resurrect his career and he could do it here as we've signed him on a two year deal. Aaron Muirhead and Callum Nicell departed having already agreed moves prior to the window opening but they weren't the only departures. With Rhodes joining the club it became clear that we weren't going to need both of Fidel O'Rourke and Virgil Gomis. We decided to sell O'Rourke and managed to get an excellent offer from Burton who clearly saw potential in the former Liverpool youngster. He had made just ten sub appearances for us and never looked like making much of an impact. On the contrary, Gomis looked impressive and took his chances when he was given them, like his hat-trick against Curzon Ashton and most recently his double which saw us overcome Colchester in the FA Cup. Soon after that Colchester game Gomis voiced his displeasure as we signed Jordan Rhodes and I was disgusted by his attitude. Another fantastic fee was arranged and this time we'd receive £115k from Chesterfield and although they are in the same league as us and he's a good player I really think we got the best part of that deal.

We pulled off another major coup this month by adding the vastly experienced David Lee to our coaching staff. Lee comes with great pedigree and adds great knowledge and experience from a much higher level. After fearing that we'd have to lose one of our other coaches to bring him in I requested that we be allowed another coach and our managing director obliged this time around. With incoming fees totaling £275k and our recent cup runs and subsequent prize money, gate receipts etc.. Finances were looking good as we reached the £1m mark, a great achievement for a club at this level and a clear indication why David Johnson is willing to let me add some more staff.




It appeared that Colchester didn't see us coming in our FA Cup match as they failed to turn up as we outclassed them and ran away with a three nil victory. That win set up a fourth round tie with Birmingham which didn't got as well for us despite Kgosi Ntlhe equalising for us before the break. Dion McGhee's sending off after receiving two yellows knocked the stuffing out of us as Birmingham piled on the pressure and got a couple of goals soon after. To go all season with no red cards to then getting two in one game is quite unthinkable but that's what happened in that game. James Wallace joined McGhee in getting sent off, only Wallace' red was much worse as a two footed lunge led to a straight red and a two match ban in the FA Cup. We fared better in the FA Trophy this month as we took Dover to a replay before knocking them out in order to face Maidstone in the next round. It looked like we were heading out at one point as Dover led throughout the first tie before a late, late goal from Ameobi, courtesy of an attacking overload, sent the match to a replay. Our league form was pretty mixed this month with our form reading LWLW which doesn't make for good reading at all. Still, with us ending the month on a high I'm hopeful that we can rediscover some fine form and wrap up a second consecutive title win.



@Jahendricksi: Thank you mate, as you can see I added both so here's hoping we can go on another one now.

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