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The story of a failed footballer
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  1. The story of a failed footballer

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    Clyde football club are happy to announce that Christopher Burns has joined the coaching ranks at Broadwood Stadium alongside manager Barry Ferguson and assistant manager Bob Malcolm.
    The new coach will be very familiar with the current regime as he came through the Rangers youth ranks with the duo. Despite having come through the ranks with them, Burns never managed to make an appearance for his boyhood side and in actual fact never played for another professional team after leaving Rangers at the age of just
    twenty. Although the trios paths crossed for just four years between 1994-98 a real bond developed between the Glasgowegian diehard 'Gers fans. A bond cemented for life when Ferguson became Christopher Burns' closest ally as the latter went through a hard time dealing with the fact that he had failed to make the grade in professional football. Yet, whilst Barry Ferguson was flying high and becoming a real mainstay in the Rangers team in the late nineties things were not going so well for Burns.

    Ferguson was promoted to the first team squad for the 1996–97 season. He made his debut on the last day of that season against Hearts on 10 May 1997. He would make a number of sporadic appearances the following season under manager Walter Smith. He then went on to become a regular fixture in the first team during the 1998–99 season under new manager Dick Advocaat. The Dutchman soon secured Ferguson on a long-term contract as he became an important member of the squad. He scored his first career goal in a League Cup match against Alloa Athletic on 18 August 1998. Ferguson was so influential the following season that he was given an extended six-year deal at Rangers in October 1999. He was named the Scottish Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year in that year too. He then went on to become club captain at the tender age of just twenty two and led his side to the domestic treble in the 2002-03 season, his final season in his first spell.

    For Christopher Burns though things weren't going anywhere near as good. Having been told by Walter Smith that his Rangers dream was over in the summer of 1998 Burns was beyond gutted at the news. Having been a boyhood fan and lived and breathed the club since birth almost, this was truly devastating news for the youngster. Once he had some time to let the news sink in he thought 'It's not the end of the world, I've been with the best club in Scotland for four years surely someone will take a chance on me'. For whatever reason though, that chance never came. From trials with Motherwell to Hamilton, Clyde to Dundee things just didn't click for him at the time and none of those sides felt that he had done enough to impress them into giving him a permanent deal. The fallout of that was huge for Burns.
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    21st of June 2016

    After getting his life back on track and landing a job within the sport he loves we speak to Christopher Burns as he reveals all about his dark past after failing to make the grade as a youngster with Rangers, his battles with booze, drugs, sex, gambling and the law as well as his gratitude to Barry Ferguson for giving him a chance in football with a coaching role at Clyde.

    There are a lot of people in the world than when things don't go right for them in life, they try to cope in the worst of ways. Ways which include; keeping quiet, drinking in excess, taking drugs, gambling and straying outside the law among others. Well I was no different and in fact I displayed all of the symptoms of a little lost soul. My ways of coping with getting let go by Rangers and being unable to find another club weren't the best. In fact, they were the worst. It started innocently enough with me just keeping myself to myself for the first couple of months as I failed to garner any interest from clubs after several trials. By the time I was given a trial with Dundee though, my head was gone. I had become heavily reliant on drink by that time. The booze started off as being a release from the stress but before I knew it I was on five day benders. Then, before long I found myself on a constant cycle of waking up disorientated, not knowing where I was half the time, heading straight for the fridge for some more drink but of course I had drunk it all the night before so I would head straight for the nearest off sales in god only knows what condition and I'd buy two cases of beer and a litre of vodka. A day. As the good friends I had slowly began to vanish due to my erratic behavior I found myself socialising with some real lowlife, proper wasters. It was in those crowds that the drugs came into it, first it was a line of coke here and there but like the Billy big bollocks that I am, that was never enough. And so it was soon a gram, two grammes, three then an 8-ball. Looking back, I don't know how I put it away but then again, I was never sober so I thought I was invincible. The progression of drink to coke then led to ecstasy and ketamine and ultimately, anything I could get my hands on.

    My family had no idea what to do with me and began to stop trying after a while. I couldn't blame them, like I said, I was never sober so how can you talk sense to someone who's higher than the red road flats? I was in complete freefall and I didn't have a parachute to prevent me falling flat on my face. Then within the space of two months I got the news that I was to be a father, to two kids from two different women. 'how could a degenerate like me be a father?' I thought at the time. I had blown every bit of money I'd ever made and been given. I was a hopeless yet determined gambler, which isn't a good combination, and I was spending £300/400 a week on drink and drugs. I'd sold my house and car to fund my lifestyle but those funds were running way, way low by then. I couldn't afford one kid let alone two! It should have been the wake up call I needed to get my act together. It wasn't.
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    22nd of June 2016

    When my first born baby was brought into the world I was out of my head on drink, coke and diazepam. Oh and viagra, not the best combination! I was in a brothel of all places too. I cringe even reciting the story now but at the time I was in euphoria as I had sex with a stream of girls that night, one after the other, two at a time. The stuff of dreams you might say. Well that would be true, maybe, if I was even able to recall the events of the night and if I wasn't paying for it. I'd had dozens of phone calls from my ex, who I'd promised to be there for and to be there during birth, I ignored her calls as I was 'too busy'. It turned out that there were some complications during birth and our child had a heart defect and so she had to be monitored closely for the next couple of weeks. Things turned around enough for my ex to be sent home with the baby but she would have to have lots of hospital visits to see what could be done and what they could do to help etc. It was great news as they wouldn't be letting them out if they thought it was too much of a risk so things must've been better than initially thought. I took me a week before I got around to seeing my little girl. I was a mess too.

    A couple of weeks later I had stolen a car to get me to the shops quickly, before they stopped selling alcohol. I was over the legal alcohol limit by more than eight times. What happened next won't ever get any easier for me to talk about, till the day I die I will hate myself for my actions that day. On my way to the nearest Asda I was going about 80/90mph trying to get to the shop in time to get some more vodka. I was in the wrong lane. Horns were blaring and lights were flashing as I swerved in and out of the oncoming traffic before I crashed head on into a car in my stolen Ford Focus.


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    23rd of June 2016

    As I woke up in hospital a week later I had no recollection of the events that had unfolded that night. I was informed that I was on a head on collision with a car as I was driving 85mph up the wrong lane. Wow. How low had I sunk? Little did I know. I asked the nurse how long I had been out for to which 'three days' was the answer. As I was about to ask if I had, had any visitors I suddenly had some, two police officers had entered the room. Everything was a blur for me in the following moments but the word manslaughter boomed across the room above all else. Manslaughter? Had I killed someone? What was going on?

    "Mr Christopher Burns you are being charged with the manslaughter of Kenneth McDonald, Jane McDonald and Lily Burns you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present before and during the questioning. If you cannot afford the services of an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

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    24th of June 2016

    No, no, no, no, no, Kenny, Jane and Lily? It can't be. "Officer my little girls name is Lily, her mum's name is Jane and her dad's name is Kenneth. Please tell me this isn't my little girl. Tell me they aren't in their fifties, twenties and the girl isn't a baby. Please, please tell me that." My world came crashing down more than it ever had done as the arresting officer uttered the words "I'm sorry, the casualties in this instance are your little girl, her mother and her grandfather."

    I had wiped out my little girls future and devastated the family of my ex partner by also taking the lives of Jane and Kenny. What was I doing behind the wheel of a car so drunk? What had I become? A down and out waste of space drunken killer. That's what. In one of the worst coincidences of all time I had killed three people I had considered family at one point in my life. As they made their way home from another one of my daughters lengthy hospital visits too. There wasn't and still isn't a day goes past that I don't feel sick to the bottom of my stomach that I am able to wake up and my daughter never will.

    When it came to my trial I had absolutely no interest in defending myself. I wanted the judge to lock me up and throw away the key. Better still, I wanted to be sentenced to death. My nine year sentence in prison was the least that I couldn've gotten, I shouldn't have been allowed back out of prison again. Understandably, Jane's mum Susan was distraught in the courtroom as my paltry sentence was read out by the judge. "This isn't justice, he's ruined my life. He's wiped out my family." I was in tears. I couldn't imagine the hurt and rage burning through her at that moment in time.

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    26th of June 2016

    In the first two years of my prison sentence in HMP Barlinnie I was in suicide watch. I was a wreck, without the drink and drugs I was alive with my own stone cold sober thoughts. I tried to kill myself several times. I tried slitting my wrists, hanging myself, I tried overdosing on tablets I bought from my fellow inmates. I was desperate to die. I hadn't heard from a single family member in four years. I couldn't grieve for my daughter or my ex girlfriend as I was the one to blame. I wasn't allowed to go to their funerals either. I missed the birth of my baby boy and in all honesty I was certain that I would never be allowed to meet or contact him. Life couldn't get any lower for me but then again, I deserved it, how could anyone pity me? They would have to be insane. That being said, I was eventually thrown a lifelife when I met Andy the prison counselor.

    Andy was a really nice guy but in the early stages of our sessions I gave him nothing to go on. Yet still, he persisted with me. He would tell me that we all deserve to be forgiven for our actions should we learn to accept culpability. I had readily accepted the fact that everything that I had done in my life to date was a result of my own actions, my own mistakes and my own fault. As the sessions went on I found myself opening up more and more to Andy as he had this way about him that you felt like you could tell him anything. The bottom line of it all is that when I left Rangers I didn't have anything else lined up. I expected to make it in football as I had been told by numerous players, coaches and managers during my time with Rangers that I had what it takes. So when that call came to say that I was gone I didn't know how to cope. From that point, the path I decided to take ultimately ruined my life as I struggled to deal with several addictions that'd taken hold of me big time.

    Going to those counseling sessions changed my life once again. I started to realise that I had been let down by the club that I loved but also, I realised that football is not everything. I may not have been in the best position sitting in a jail cell but I started to think.. "Maybe I could turn this around". I knew I wouldn't ever recover from the loss of my child nor would I ever find peace with the fact that I ripped her from the world alongside her mother and grandfather. I knew those mental scars were destined to stay with me for the rest of my life but I couldn't wallow in pity and grief anymore. It was time to knuckle down in jail, do my time, continue with my counselling, study for my future. I had to be stronger than I ever had the courage to be before.

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    26th of June 2016

    As I reached my seventh year in HMP Barlinnie I was told that I would be let out in three months time due to good behaviour. I think the rehabilitation put into myself by the prison councilor went a long way in helping the powers that be make that decision. I had come a long way since those dark first couple of years when I was on suicide watch. I felt ready, ready for what life had to throw at me this time. I was no longer a young man I was a fully grown man just shy of thirty and ready to see the world once again.

    Unsurprisingly, when I was released there was public uproar. I was a thug, a monster, a coward and most of all I "didn't deserve to live", according to some people. Susan McDonald was livid, she sold stories on me left right and centre, going through every detail of my past. Still, I was determined not to let it affect me, I couldn't, I couldn't go back to how I once was. I had to have a fresh start, I had done my time and I'll forever remember the dreadful things that I'd done previously. I think I at least should be given a chance at redemption.

    The world of work wasn't quite so forgiving though as my CV bounced around the cyber world without joy. More often than not I was met with an automated 'You have been unsuccessful' email and on other occasions my application was point blank ignored. In fairness I had no skills, no qualifications, no experience, a police record, I'd killed three people including my own daughter and I also didn't have anyone to use as a reference. Not that I'd get the best of those anyway! The one thing that really kept me going in those early months of release was family. Having been out of touch with most of them since the age of twenty one I didn't expect that I would hear from them again. So on the day of my release I was absolutely overwhelmed to find that my mum and dad as well as my sisters and other family members had forgiven me. They knew how much of a state I had been in and wished that they could've helped me more and possibly prevented all of this from happening. As much as I love them all, they couldn't have helped me back then. No one could have. With the support of my family and the determination to turn my life around it was time to get started on a career plan.

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    27th of June 2016

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    As much as I tried to work 'normal' jobs, I couldn't help feeling that I wasn't going to get any satisfaction out of life working in the catering or retail or whatever similar industries that were willing to give me a job. I tried it for about a year before realising what I really had to do; I had to get back in to football. I didn't know how I was going to, or if I would even be accepted into the sport given my past but I thought 'I've got to give this a go'. So I looked into getting my coaching badges as soon as possible. It was going to cost me quite a bit but thankfully my grandad offered to loan me the money needed to get through my first couple of courses.

    Over the course of the next three years I went to college to study sports fitness and coaching whilst also attending night classes studying psychology. I felt that I should improve my knowledge in many ways. I felt that trying to learn more about how the mind works would stand me in good stead both for myself and also for anyone I would encounter professionally. I also managed to gain levels C and B of my coaching license which was a huge success for me! It was on this course where I bumped into an old friend.

    Barry Ferguson and I had gone through the Rangers youth academy together as sixteen year old's before our paths were changed dramatically at twenty year old. Barry went on to have a fantastic career with Rangers whilst I found myself down a very different route. He was a great friend to me initially when I was let go and he was always there for me whenever I needed picking up or just wanted someone to talk to. Then I became a bit of a loose cannon as my life went upside down and we drifted apart. Barry was doing fantastically well for the biggest team in Scotland so at the point I was in at life, he just couldn't be seen to be with me. I also didn't want to drag him down with me so I let him move on with his life. Almost fifteen years later though who would I happen to bump into on a coaching course but Barry Ferguson himself! We got talking away and after being a bit apprehensive about how I would be treated by Barry and the others on the course I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was taken for who I was face to face and not on past stories and mistakes. Myself, Ferguson and a couple of the other lads like Bob Malcolm went out for a meal after the course was finished and we agreed to keep in touch. If I'm being honest I didn't expect any of them to keep in touch at all. However, true to their word, they did keep in touch and I found myself with a network of football contacts as we set up a WhattsApp group with all the lads on the course.

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    28th of June 2016

    Fast forward another couple of years and I found myself on the phone to Barry Ferguson out of the blue and he had a proposition for me. "Come meet me in Uddingston if you can, I've got a proposition for you and I think you'd like to hear it," he enthused. When I rocked up to meet him in Angels in Uddingston I didn't quite know what to expect, I mean, I thought it'd be football related but I didn't know in what context it'd be. So when he offered to give me a coaching job I was absolutely gobsmacked.

    Fergie had taken the Blackpool job on a caretaker basis from January, 2014 till the end of the season before shocking everyone by switching to a player manager role with Clyde of all teams! I must admit it took me back a bit when he moved there, I personally thought he could and should've been brought in by a much bigger club! In his first season he led the side to a disappointing sixth place in the table. Not quite what was expected from the team but not the absolute worst either. The following season was a lot better as the team came third and reached the play-offs, where they defeated Elgin City 5–1 on aggregate in the semi-finals. In the final however, they lost 3–2 to Queen's Park, despite winning the second leg 1–0 at Hampden.

    "So like I was saying Chris, I would love to be the man that gave you the chance that you really want in football. Football is my life and I know it was yours before too. I want you to have that again. I know there's every chance that this could backfire given your past but I'm prepared to take that risk. There's not many people that don't know about your past but there's also not many people that know you as you are right here and now, I do. You have done so well to come back from the tragedies in your past. You can make a name for yourself if you take this job on. It may be a coaching job for now but who's to say you won't get a managing job further down the line? Anyway, what do you say Chris? Do you want to join myself and Bob at Clyde?" he asked. "Barry, I would be delighted to join you both. Are you sure you want to take the risk? I knew before I got into coaching that I would struggle to find a club, you don't have to feel sorry for me. I've been doing decent enough with the school and boys club recently." I replied. "Chris all I'm going to say at this point is welcome to the team."

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    I was absolutely buzzing on life being back working in the sport I love. Sure, I was a failed footballer but I now have the chance to make it another way in the game. Working alongside Barry and Bob is great as we got along fantastically well like we did twenty odd years ago as youngsters. We have a good set of lads in the team as well which helps. I thought it might be a bit awkward for me if anyone took a dislike to me because of my past but to my knowledge, no one has mentioned a thing about it nor do they appear to dislike me. Things were going swimmingly well until my new boss and old friend dropped a bombshell on me two days ago. "Listen, I don't want this to go any further Chris but I think it might be time for me to call it quits here. I just don't think this team are good enough to get promoted next year and I'll be doing my reputation even more damage if I fail to get them promoted again. Not a word to anyone for now though, I want to see what the chairman has to say about budgets for the upcoming season before I make any decision." he explained. Well that was a shocker to say the least. I've only been in the job a week and the person that hired me want's to quit which will no doubt land me back on the dole too. Great. I might as well get prepared.

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    30th of June 2016

    Barry Ferguson quits Clyde

    After two seasons in charge of the Bully Wee Barry Ferguson has stepped down from his position as manager. Having led the side to sixth and then third place in the league many people felt that the side were making real progress. Ferguson wasn't one of those people though and has 'a lack of funds and a less than able squad' as his reasons for stepping down. In what is sure to be a kick in the teeth to his players who managed to get to the playoffs Ferguson has claimed they aren't good enough. Going further by saying that he didn't want to do anymore damage to his managerial reputation by failing to get promotion for a third season running and felt the best thing to do was to step down from his position. Assistant manager Bob Malcolm and newly signed coach Christopher Burns are expected to follow suit.

    "I would just like to thank the Clyde board and more importantly John Alexander for giving me this opportunity. It has been a pleasure working for the club these past couple of years and I couldn't have asked for more from the lads either. I will admit that, selfishly, I don't feel that staying another year will do myself any good as I don't think this side has what it takes to compete for promotion again. I want to move on to bigger things and I don't think I can take Clyde there or they can take me there so I think this was the best outcome for all parties. Furthermore, with the sad passing of Chris Mitchell just before the summer the sadness around the club was truly devastating. It really put life into perspective for me and despite my initial plans to see out my contract I felt as though I just couldn't any longer. I truly hope that the board take into consideration my recommendation for the position. I also hope that the next manager can lead Clyde back up the leagues and honour the memory of Chris in the best way possible." read Barry Ferguson's statement.
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    I am happy to announce that myself and the board here at Clyde have made a decision on the next manager of the club. It was with regret that I accepted Barry Ferguson's resignation just a couple of days ago, that being said, I completely understand his point of view. We wish Barry the best of luck going forward and I can categorically deny any rumour of there being any sort bad blood between us. Infact, I believe we will retain a great mutual respect for one another. As such, I was happy to listen to Barry's recommendation for the role he was vacating. I was shocked when he put forward Christopher Burns' name as he had just joined us here at Broadmoor but I was also surprised that the name he was putting forward wasn't Bob Malcolm's. From what I hear though, Bob is happy enough to take some time out of the game before inevitably linking up with Barry again in his next post. Now, I wasn't sure on Burns. He had joined the club just a week previous and he also comes with some major baggage. Still, he had shown that he knew what he was doing on the training pitch in the short space of time that we had got to see him. I also felt that we should be treating him like any other individual interested in the job and not judging him purely on his past. So we set up an interview with him.

    After calling Christopher Burns into my office I got the impression that he thought he was being relieved of his duties, he had a nervousness and wariness about him at the time. "Don't panic son, you're job is perfectly safe here. I have something I'd like to speak to you about; I would like to gauge your interest in the manager's job here, when Barry left the club he put forward a glowing recommendation on your behalf. I was told that you were a highly determined individual and you were ready to make a real go of things in football. Is the position one of interest for yourself?" I asked. "John, I would be absolutely honoured to take the job on. I thought I was in here ready to pack up my bags! Are you considering me for the job?" he countered. "Son, we need someone with the ambition to take us back up the leagues, someone with the drive and energy to turn our fortunes around. Make no mistake this will not be an easy job, quite simply, it's about a 22 hour a day job. And you'll be lucky if those other two hours in the day are spent sleeping. Do you think that would be a problem?" I enquired. "I would have no problem with those terms, I've wasted a lot of my life already, I don't intend to be wasting anymore of it so I'll manage to cope with the long hours so long as I'm proving my worth and giving something back to society. I will certainly put in the time and effort that is required, trust me. Burns said. I had heard enough. 'we need someone with this guys personality' I thought to myself. A deal was thrashed out in no time and we now had our new manager for the season and it wasn't exactly a big expense or risk, given the one year contract and wage of just £500 per week that was agreed, either.

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    I cannot believe how much my life has flipped over the past month! I am now a manager of a professional football club. Eh? How's that happened!! I owe my life to Barry Ferguson and now John Alexander! What an opportunity this is. It's been a shock to the system but it is what it is and I am loving it. If I was still a partying man I would be out partying and celebrating. I'm not though, and that doesn't bother me as I'm quite happy to go home to my girlfriend Jessica and share the news with her and the rest of my family. Now I just need to make sure I can do this job properly and to the best of my ability. And I'd better get to work.
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    It has been a tough first couple of weeks as the manager of Clyde as I quickly found out it was no easy task. Telling fifteen lads that their future with the club was over was horrific to deal with, particularly as twelve of them were young lads of no more than eighteen. It made me realise how tough it must be to release someone and shatter their dreams but I came to the realisation that it was a necessary evil as the players didn't have a future here. I guess Walter Smith must have felt the same all those years ago too. Whilst we let a lot of players go I had a feeling that funds would still be a bit tight which is why we didn't target too many players to join us. I was really happy when we managed to get former QPR defender Pat Kanyuka into the team though, at twenty-eight he is a fantastic age too. Young Sam Evans was the other player we lined up on a permanent deal and we were delighted with his acquisition too, given his previous club was Swansea we considered the deal a bit of a coup.

    I also had to go about recruiting my own staff as Bob Malcolm had left with Barry Ferguson and I had released Jon-Paul McGovern who was a player-coach. The coaching staff was pretty thin as there wasn't many other members left and so, with the help of LinkedIn I brought in an assistant manager, three scouts and a fitness coach. It was a busy first couple of weeks and I must admit the mood dampened a little after our friendlies as were beaten by Peterhead and then failed to beat Junior sides Musselburgh Athletic or Whitehill Welfare. My first major test is in a week though as we come up against Berwick in the Scottish League Cup Group game. We were drawn with Ayr, Raith, Hamilton and of course Berwick. A pretty tough group but that's to be expected for a team such as ours.

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    As you will see from our line up we managed to add a further two players to our squad; Stephen Maher is a solid defensive midfielder and a terrific professional and I'm please to have got him. It's fair to say Conor Bell is a player I'm familiar with too, he's only my cousin! I knew Airdrie were prepared to let him go out on loan as he wouldn't be featuring for their first team this term. I gave him a ring and asked if he would be interested in joining me which was a bit tricky, tricky because he had grown to dislike the club a little. Before he signed for Airdrie he had a trial with Clyde at the start of Barry Ferguson's tenure and was with the club for the full summer. He was led to believe he would be getting a deal after training with the first team the majority of the summer only for the deal never to materialise. He was not a happy boy believe me! It's funny how things work out though and given that it was me that was now in charge and I promised him first team football he was happy to join.

    I thought we would try something a bit out there and just flood the centre of the pitch with players in a 4-1-3-1-1 system. It's something I've had the lads work on in training and it's definitely a work in progress. This match was certainly not one for the purists as we played out a dull 0-0 draw with Berwick and the match went to penalties. Both sides scored five a piece before the Berwick lad Brian Martin's spot kick was saved by our young keeper Mark McMillan. Matt Flynn stepped up and converted the winning penalty to earn us the two points. It was a decent performance from the lads and I was particularly happy with our defence as they stood together like a brick wall.
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    With Hamilton up next we stuck with almost the same line up as we did in the Berwick match, Conor Bell was the sole player to drop out of the side as he was replaced by Scott Linton. Merely a fitness issue rather than anything else. It took just six minutes for the first goal to go in, Rakish Bingham the scorer for Hamilton. Dougie Imrie followed that up with a twenty-five yard screamer. Despite the match looking like it was going to be a hammering it didn't turn out that was as Imrie's twenty-five yarder in the twenty-fifth minute was the final goal of the match. A match we went on to dominate but not come back into.
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    With the games coming thick and fast over the coming weeks I decided that it'd be ideal for us to set up another tactic as I wasn't too impressed with how we created chances in the 4-1-3-1-1 and so we set up a 5-3-2 with wingbacks. It utilised the best players we have at the club as we have good wingbacks, centrebacks, decent strikers and a strong couple of players in midfield too. We haven't been able to bring anyone else in on a permanent deal yet as we are lacking in the wage department. We have had a plethora of trialists join us over the past month and to be honest I can see it happening throughout the season as we are allowed to feature the players in a couple of games each which will give us the added depth we are missing. We managed to strengthen the backroom staff further by bringing in a Head Physio, Head of Sport Science, Under 20's coach and a Head of Youth Development as we look towards the future. I was impressed with our new under 20's coach Christian Dailly and look forward to working with him and given that he's a former international footballer perhaps I could learn a thing or two from him as well.

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    Going into the match against Ayr we felt that the lads had been doing better in training with the 5-3-2 formation so we decided to use against them. There were several changes to our side and Martin McNiff, Michael Oliver, Conor Bell and Sean Higgins made it into the line up this time out. The first half was a bit of a wash out as there was nothing major to take note of, aside from the fact we were heavily dominating the match. After big Pat Kanyuka conceded a penalty on the 52nd minute I really feared the worst but I needn't have as Mark McMillan pulled off a brilliant save to keep the scores level!! Big Pat was in full redemption mode ten minutes later when he nodded the ball into the Ayr net from Craig Easton's cross. Just as we were nearing the final minutes and I was preparing the lads for a bit of good old time wasting Peaso(Peter MacDonald) only went and scored again! 2-0! Fantastic result for the Bully Wee over a side two divisions above us. We are second in the group. The one downside to this game was the resulting injury to Michael Oliver who joins an injury list that's going six strong at the moment.

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    We didn't want to change to much after our win over Ayr so we kept it simple and made just the one change, which was forced, with Lewis Clark coming in for Michael Oliver. Raith were going to be a much bigger opposition for us so it's fair to say I was a bit apprehensive for this one. Particularly as we were right in the mix and could qualify if we could get a good result. As I shook hands with Gary Locke I hoped that my apprehension this time would be turned into joy by the end of the match when we shook hands again. I put the lads under pressure for this one by telling them I
    expected them to win. Heroes are made in games like this! Not this game though. Declan McManus netted for Raith five minutes from halftime, then on the hour mark before completing his hat-trick on eighty. Martin McNiff's red card on the seventy-first minute didn't help us. Peaso managed to pull one back late on though it was merely a consolation. It was a valiant effort overall from the lads but in the end we didn't have enough about us to qualify.

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    It was an Irn Bru Challenge Cup game for us next with Rangers Under 20's as our opponents. Much like our last game we didn't want to change anything but were forced into it as Ewan McNeil had to be replaced by Phil Johnstone due to injury. A huge blow to our chances in this match as McNeil is a fantastic player for a club of our size. Between the twentieth and thirtieth minutes it was an absolute miracle that we didn't go behind but testament to the outstanding defending by our lads! Big Pat Kanyuka then went one step further than a defender as he turned goalscorer to put us infront on the thirty-fifth minute from a Matt Flynn cross. Much like the Ayr game, in circumstances almost identical we headed into the last five minutes of the match with a one goal lead we wanted to protect. As such, we told the lads to knock it about a bit and waste some time but oh no, that wasn't enough for our lads! They wanted a second! And a second they got. Dylan Easton's fantastic through ball put Peaso straight through on goal and the wee man scored for us once again. 2-0 against Rangers(Under 20's) superb! As strange as it sounds our defence were equal world class as they were bomb scare today. Bonkers! Stranraer will be our opponent's in the Second round.

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    It was the turn of Martin McNiff and Sean Higgins to sit this game out as both lads served a suspension. Youngster Kyle Barr came in to make his senior debut, in place of Higgins upfront, at the age of seventeen while Ross Perry returned at the back in place of McNiff. After Conor Bell's cross was headed away by the Forfar defence Matty Flynn let rip with a terrific dig from the edge of the box that boomed past the Loons goalkeeper. We went in to the break deservedly leading a distinctly average side who were supposedly the favourites to be champions. Not long into the second half and we got goal number two as Peaso netted his fourth of the season from Stephen Maher's long raking ball through the middle of the park. Our entire defence, goalkeeper and infact our team in general were incredible today. Really solid performance as we get the league campaign off to the best possible start with a 2-0 victory.

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    We don't seem to have much of a break between games at the moment but despite that, the lads are still raring to go and to start every match. Subsequently, we only had to make one change to the line up as Craig Easton unfortunately picked up an injury and will be a big miss to the side, trialist Isaac Osbourne comes in for him. Ewan McNeil returned to the bench after injury too. The lads were told that I expected them to carry on where they finished off last time out. Montrose scored on 20 seconds. Thirteen minutes later, after being laid off by Osbourne, Stephen Maher evened things back up with a strike just outside the box. Maher then had to come off at half time through injury and was replaced by Sam Evans. Lady luck was on our side fifteen minutes into the second half as a defensive mix up by Andrew Steeves and Ryan Ferguson resulted in an own goal by the former. That wasn't an ideal performance but we recovered well from that really early lapse of concentration in the game to go on and win 2-1 to send us top of the league after two games.

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    With Isaac Osbourne having played four games for us his trial comes to an end. Another two players joined on trial though; Jacob Esposito and Steven Ross. Ewan McNeil makes a return to the side at wing back as he replaces Phil Johnstone. Esposito and Sam Evans come into the midfield in place of Osbourne and the injured Stephen Maher while Ross takes the place of young Kyle Barr upfront. Mark McMillan's three game clean sheet run came to a halt when Jordyn Sheerin let fly from outside the box to give Berwick the lead. A lead that lasted the full game as the match finished 1-0 in Berwick's favour. We just weren't at the races as Berwick dominated today.

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    We managed to get a player in on trial who would be considered a bit of a coup. Alan Forrest joins us from Ayr and I must admit I'm surprised they let him leave as he is an outstanding talent who had played all of their games thus far. Still, we're happy to have him and hope that he can give us a couple of magic performances that we'd come to expect from his older brother James. He comes into the side to replace Jacob Esposito and in a further two changes Craig Easton and Sean Higgins regain their places from Sam Evans and Steven Ross. We didn't get off to the best of starts and Scott Agnew put Stranraer ahead early on in our Irn Bru Challenge cup tie. We went into the second half with nothing to lose and I told the lads to just go all out and attack them. It backfired. We were 2-0 down ten minutes later. Luke Watt then rounded the match off with a third goal for Stranraer as we crashed out of another cup.

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    We made quite a harsh decision ahead of this game with Stirling as we dropped seventeen year old 'keeper Mark McMillan despite him keeping four clean sheets in nine games. Simply put, I felt we needed a more experienced head in goals and James Severn has been on trial with us for a couple of weeks now. I am looking at giving Severn and Steven Ross a deal if they impress me in the next two games. Sean Higgins was the player to drop to the bench for Ross. With both Severn and Ross in our squad we had to drop Forrest as we can only use two trialists per game so Sam Evans came in for him. Ross justified the decision to include him when he headed in from Craig Easton's cross on the twenty-fourth minute. It took just five minutes for Stirling to equalise though. We gave away a penalty on the sixty-fifth minute of the match after Ross Perry appeared to fouled Blair Henderson. 2-1. We almost pegged them back immediately but we skelped the post twice. This was a really poor result and it showed up how poor the quality is at this level.

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    I had apparently misread the rules about trialists playing and in actual fact it appears to be three games they are allowed to play in and not the four that I thought it was. As a result of this Steven Ross had to miss this game but will be signed permanently. James Severn's trial period has come to an end but he is mulling over our contract and may still sign. Mark McMillan returns between the sticks and Alan Forrest gets a chance upfront in place of Ross. Forrest wins a penalty in the eleventh minute! Craig Easton steps up.... AND SCORES. The lead last a mere two minutes before Craig Gunn gunned(sorry) us down to score an equaliser for Elgin. And Peaso nets a beauty of a free kick from the edge of the box!! Thomas Reilly wouldn't let us get carried away with ourselves either as he brought us crashing right back down to earth with another equaliser two minutes later, once again. Elgin took the lead for the first time in the match after the hour mark as Gunn fired a shot(can't help it) past McMillan for the second time in the match. Peter MacDonald didn't want to let Elgin have all the fun this time though as he pulled us back level to score his second in the match too, class from Peaso. A truly fantastic game of football that was and it was a fair result for both teams as neither one of us was going to lie down and be beaten.

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    We lined up to face Annan exactly the same way as Elgin as we had a fully fit squad raring to bounce back with a win. Steven Ross is on the bench after joining permanently. The goalscoring got underway in the most bizarre of circumstances as Ewan McNeil's intended cross sailed over the full box, the goalkeeper and into the net! There's a recurring sense of déjà vu with this team there really is. Entering the final minutes of the match we go with the now famous 'waste time and knock it about' approach and we only go and score a second goal don't we! And who's that goalscorer you ask? Peter 'Peaso' MacDonald = Superstar. Luckily he did as Annan nodded in from a corner on the ninenty-first minute to make things awkward for us in the last minute. But that wasn't all this match had to offer. No, no. It should've been finished. The game should've been done. Well into the third minute of injury time, only two were added, David McKenna dived at a corner and the referee pointed to the spot. We were cruelly denied victory as the diver McKenna leveled things up to give his side an undeserved point which stretched our winless run to five games. Heartbreaking result and one that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth due to the circumstances.

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    I'm really starting to question if I am cut out for this football management malarkey. I can't cope with the opposition fans shouting obscene things at me about my past. As if it isn't hard enough to deal with! I can't let the boo boys stop me from doing what I need to do to bounce back from adversity though. I have to succeed here. I just have to. It's going to be an exceptionally huge season for me as I'll have to deal with the criticism leveled at me whilst also remaining focused on getting Clyde promoted too. I can see what Barry Ferguson was saying back when he quit, this side don't look good enough to gain promotion and with the bank balance and wage budget already in the red it's not looking good for the club if we don't get promoted. With six games gone in the league we sit in fourth spot, one place below our media predicted finish for the season. Scott Ferguson makes a return to the team from a three month injury lay off. I really hope he can adapt to playing in midfield instead of on the wing as he is a real game changer. Ultimately, we don't play with wingers so he just has to change position if he want's to play. James Severn turned our contract down and I'm not too disappointed by that as young Mark McMillan has been decent enough for us. Alan Forrest becomes the latest trialist to leave the club after making his three appearances. With my first two months out of the way the honeymoon period is well and truly over. Let's do this!

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    Chris Smith has been complaining about his lack of first team appearances this season so he was put in ahead of the under performing Lewis Clark for this game. Scott Ferguson was also given a start and he took the place of Sam Evans. Steven Ross was the final change to our side as he replaced Alan Forrest upfront. By the twentieth minute Nikolay Todorov had netted a double as we looked like a team completely devoid of motivation and ideas. Cowdenbeath battered us! Peter MacDonald pulled one back for us but despite dominating the final twenty minutes of the game we couldn't snatch an equaliser. The winless run goes on and we drop down to fifth in the league. The bad news kept coming as Peter MacDonald was ruled out by injury for five weeks with a twisted ankle.

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    With Peter MacDonald ruled out for five weeks we brought in Paul Harvey on trial to cover for him for a couple of games and so he was the only change we made to the starting lineup to face Edinburgh City. A minute into the match; 1-0 to Edinburgh City. We immediately changed our counter attacking approach to an all out attacking one, we couldn't lose to the leagues new boys. Steven Ross pulled one back for us just before half time. Game on. Ross doubled his tally on the fifty-sixth minute to give us the lead. Steven Ross was fantastic for us today and as the match finished 2-1 it was his double that earned is the victory. We moved up to third place in the league to end our six game winless streak. Scott Ferguson had only been back for two games before getting another five week lay off after this match. The boy has no luck!

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    With Scott Ferguson out injured Stephen Maher found a way back into the side in what was the only change to the winning team against Edinburgh City. After a great spell of domination we eventually took the lead as Paul Harvey netted his first goal for us. Ewan McNeil's cross was rammed into the Forfar net by the striker. It was hero to zero for McNeil seconds later as he picked up his second yellow card and earned himself a red card. Fifty minutes with ten men couldn't be too hard, could it? Well another goal cushion would help and that's exactly what we got when we were awarded a penalty and Dylan Easton stepped up to convert. 2-0. The match finished up 2-0 as our ten men done superbly well to hold out for the win. Two on the bounce now, let's keep this up!

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    Phil Johnstone comes into the side to take the place of the suspended Ewan McNeil whilse Scott Ferguson and Peter MacDonald make the bench after their return from injury. In the twenty-third minute Paul Harvey netted his second goal for us on his trial period after some great wing play down the wing by Conor Bell resulted in a sweet ball whipped into the box. Just twenty minutes later though and the game was all square once again as Arbroath's Josh Skelly pulled them level. Stephen Maher is a champion at finding our strikers with a long ball over the top and he done so for us once again with Steven Ross the recipient this time. A slotted past a flailing Robbie Mutch in the Arbroath net to put us 2-1 up. Our leaky defence were nowhere to be seen at a corner though and Jassem Sukar made us pay with a composed equaliser. A 2-2 draw was all we could muster up from this game and by the end of it we were lucky to even hold on to that.
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    We had started to put together some much improved performances in recent weeks but the amount of goals we're conceding and leads we're letting slip is ridiculous. We're already doing overtime on the training field to try to rectify our mistakes from games but my focus is on continuing to score for now. If that means we become a team willing to play the dangerous 'we'll score one more than you' tactic then so be it. We have had rotten luck with injuries this season as well, it seems like every game we have a played ruled out for a minimum of three weeks! Which is quite hard to deal with when you're squad is already stretched thin as it is. The bond we are building as a squad is great though, you can sense a real togetherness among the players and they have grown really close in my time here. I guess it helps that there aren't loads of players in the team and so they have become a real tight knit group. Any youngster we bring upto the match squad and into training or any trialist we bring in are all welcomed and made to feel at home by all of the lads. A truly great thing to see I must admit. We were drawn with our county neighbours and feeder club East Kilbride in the Scottish Cup. A truly winnable tie which would help us financially should we progress to the next round. With East Kilbride up next, all of our efforts will go towards ensuring we complete a thoroughly professional job against the Junior side. It's been a stressful couple of months as I was warned by John Alexander but I am starting to enjoy it that little bit more. I am really happy to be working towards my Continental C Licence too as I am continuing to learn as I go along. John Alexander was more than willing to pay for my course as well which was a great thing for him to do. I'm a bit gutted that Paul Harvey's trial has ended and we can't afford to sign him as he's the first trialist we'll have who I feel that we'll miss. I would like to sign him and if the opportunity to do so arises I will be right on it.
    I was very happy to be name third in the manager of the month category for October. I consider it a great honour to have been mentioned.

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    With Paul Harvey's trial period now over Peter MacDonald made a return to the starting line up and he was joined on it by Ewan McNeil who makes his return from injury to replace Phil Johnstone. As East Kilbride raced into a two goal lead after twenty minutes I really feared the worst for my side. I shouldn't have. Peter MacDonald pulled one back on twenty eight minutes and then Steven Ross pulled the match level again. 2-2 going into half time, not ideal but fantastic given that we were two nil down very quickly. With fifteen minutes to go Ewan McNeil's hopeful cross bounced off a couple of EK players and into the net for an own goal by David Munro. We had the lead! It was a nerve shredding end to the game as we held out for the win, just. It could've been a disaster but instead it was a really spirited performance in a really good game. Progress in the cups is ideal for us if we want to earn some money. We have been drawn against Dalbeattie Star in what is a very favourable draw for us in the third round of the Scottish Cup.

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    We made two changes in personnel for our game against Montrose as we switched back to our 4-1-3-1-1 formation. Martin McNiff and Peter MacDonald were the ones who dropped to the bench as Sam Evans and Scott Ferguson took their places. The move back in formation looked to have backfired when Montrose forward Scott Hynd put his team ahead just before half time. That changed things and the lads got an absolute rollicking during my team talk. I guess that made them get their act together sharpish as Steven Ross drew us level less than a minute into the second half. Yet, despite some good play the lads just couldn't get that all important second goal and we had to settle for the draw. I'm not happy with how our team are playing, they're spraying passes straight to the opposition time and again, we're not getting into good positions and to be honest I would say we are generally just playing really poor. That might be harsh given that we are on a five game unbeaten streak but I want more from them.

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    In the lead up to our third match of the season against Berwick I had the lads doing some intense training. We were working on ball control and I have set almost all of the lads to work individually on their short passing too. In terms of formation we also worked on a new set up which is essentially an asymmetric 4-5-1 as we've decided to use wingers for the first time this season. This could be the game where Scott Ferguson and Scott Linton prove their worth as the best wingers at the club. The only change in personnel was the inclusion of Linton who takes the place of Sam Evans. With the first half a bit of a dead rubber I thought that maybe we had got it wrong after going into the interval still at 0-0. Steven Ross put my thought's to bed quickly into the second half though. A fifty-fifth minute goal from the striker put us in front finally. When that goal went in the confidence oozed through the team and we begun to play like a team of champions. We added a second and third goal to kill the game off and win our first game against Berwick at the third attempt this season. My cousin Conor Bell grabbed the first professional goal of his career when he let fly from the edge of the box after a great ball was whipped in to him from a Dylan Easton corner. A great goal by him and one for the family to be proud of. Easton was again the provider as he set up Ross' seventh goal in as many games. A comfortable, confident and assured performance here. That's more like it. For all you statistic lovers out there we completed 81% of our 565 attempted passes or 463/565 if you would rather. A much better passing display from the lads and I was pleased that I didn't see any hit and hope passes. We had 55% possession in the match too, another thing to be happy about. Oh and did I mention this was the team that was top of the league?

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    After a fantastic performance against Berwick we would ideally have kept the same staring line up to face Annan however, an injury to Steven Ross forced us into one change as Peter MacDonald took his place. The first goal of the match had been coming for some time for Annan and they eventually got it in the twenty-third minute as Barry Cuddihy nicked in ahead of Mark McMillan in our goal and knocked the ball into the net. Goal number two almost came five minutes later but we were saved by the post on that occasion. Matt Flynn got mixed up and thought he was Ronaldinho for a split second as he back heeled the ball past the Annan defence and into the path of Peaso who scored his tenth goal of the season. We got a right kick in the teeth when Annan went back in front just shy of the half time whistle which changed my team talk big time. David McKenna followed his first half strike up with a neat free kick from the edge of the box to sink us even further. We crashed right back down to earth with that one.

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    It has to be said, Scotty Ferguson has not impressed me in his five games so far this season and he deserved to be dropped for this game. Our trialist Jacob Esposito would get his chance in his abscence. Unfortunately, he couldn't provide a spark for us in this match either. Neither he nor any of the other twenty-seven players that made an appearance in this game could. A dead rubber of a game and a miserable set of supporters went home aggrieved with a boring game. For me, a point is a point and we hold on to third place in the league on twenty points.

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  39. Any feedback or advice welcome. Let me know if you're reading and enjoying the story.

  40. Really enjoying this mate, like a story with a bit of background to it KIU

  41. Quote Originally Posted by neavie pops23 View Post
    Really enjoying this mate, like a story with a bit of background to it KIU

    Nice one mate cheers!

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    It was a welcome break from the league for us next as we went to face Lowland League side Dalbeattie Star in the Third round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. We decided to go with an unchanged line up from the game against Stirling last time out. We didn't get off to the best of starts again in the cup as Dalbeattie took the lead on twenty-seven minutes. Peter MacDonald completed hit hat-trick on the sixty-third minute as we pulled back to within touching distance of progress to the next round. Dalbeattie weren't ready to put up without a fight though and when they scored a second on the seventy-ninth minute I feared the worst. They scored less than sixty seconds later, 3-3 now. Thankfully, we just about held on as the home side let fly with shots from all over the place trying desperately to get a winner. We have it all to do again in a replay and this time we'll be at home.

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    After a week of preparations for our Scottish Cup replay against Dalbeattie star we were confident of a result and raring to go! Trialist Jacob Esposito has now left the club and Dylan Easton was carrying an injury which meant Scott Ferguson and Sam Evans would make a return to the starting line up. With Steven Ross back from injury we had a bit of a dilemma as to whether he should start but after Peter MacDonald netted a hat-trick last time out, it wouldn't be fair. Was that a good idea? Well he missed a penalty on the seventh minute of the game. Having shown some more faith in MacDonald he proceeded to play terribly for the rest of his time on the pitch. Steven Ross came on for him on the sixty-fifth minute but we still couldn't break the deadlock and the game went to extra time. Three minutes into extra time it took for us to take the lead, why couldn't we have turned up earlier eh? Typical. Steven Ross with the goal. It was a crushing blow to the Junior outfit but we deserved the win in the end. Dundee United here we come.

  44. This career/story deserves more recognition then it's currently receiving as I've been reading since the beginning but it's the first time I've actually commented on it (couldn't remember my password lol) but yeah, I've enjoyed the detail you put in even before the actual season with Clyde began.

    Last edited by Shedender; 30/10/2016 at 09:41 AM.

  45. Bloody hell what a background story, this is very very well written, keep this up man

  46. Very well written story mate

  47. Quote Originally Posted by Shedender View Post
    This career/story deserves more recognition then it's currently receiving as I've been reading since the beginning but it's the first time I've actually commented on it (couldn't remember my password lol) but yeah, I've enjoyed the detail you put in even before the actual season with Clyde began.

    Thank you very much mate that means a lot man! I like to have more of a story to mine particularly because I like to read a lot of the story parts that other people put in so it's only fair to reciprocate. Glad there are readers!

  48. Quote Originally Posted by dani3w View Post
    Bloody hell what a background story, this is very very well written, keep this up man
    Cheers mate that's a big compliment! Appreciate it getting noticed.

  49. Quote Originally Posted by PafcLad View Post
    Very well written story mate
    Much appreciated my friend, thank you!

  50. Had a bit of trouble with FM cutting off and getting a message saying that it'd 'stopped working' hence the lack of updates. I had some written out but lost the match progress so they were useless.

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