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The Steel of Britain (and Ireland)

  1. The Steel of Britain (and Ireland)

    The British Steel Challenge


    It's been a while since I previous posted a proper long-term career on here since my "Building a Nation: Northern Ireland" abruptly came to an end due to laptop issues which unfortunately couldn't be addressed - which was a shame as I was 22 seasons into the career which had everything domestically possible - relegation's, promotions, title wins, cup wins, heartbreak, drama and some talented players (for Irish League standards) on show but I've decided I want to try and conquer the British Steel, a challenge I believe only @[Gendo] has managed to succeed in.


    There's just a few rules which I need to abide by:
    • Only use British and Irish players
    • Must start with Sunday League Reputation
    • You may start at a club or start unemployed, your choice


    I have decided to load up all the leagues and divisions within the United Kingdom and Ireland on an advanced database which basically means all non-playable clubs have at least a few players in their first team squad and just like the norm with most of my careers, I will be starting unemployed with the reputation of a Sunday League footballer as per the rules and I'll also be starting with zero coaching badges as I feel it's more 'realistic' to build up from having nothing. The estimated game speed is four stars which is excellent and there's an estimated thirty three thousand six hundred and twenty available to choose from.



    Unfortunately there's not a tons of jobs available from the get go and it looks like I'll be beginning this career in Northern Ireland as it seems to be the more realistic opportunity as I'd get laughed at if I even considered applying for the jobs at English League One side Port Vale and the Scottish Premiership duo Kilmarnock and giants Rangers. I'm not one hundred percent sure whether I'd be able to get the job at English National League North side Worcester but I may take a nosey at their squad and media prediction before deciding whether to apply or not - the likelihood would be to begin in Northern Ireland as theirs three vacancies available - one at Championship side Loughgall and two at Premier Intermediate League sides Dundela and Newry City.



    And lastly, this is how my managerial page looks one day one and there isn't much to look at but I'm sure that'll change soon enough once I get some managerial experience under my belt. I'm twenty nine years old who is Northern Irish and part Irish who was born in Dundonald (east Belfast) and I've got a very poor reputation but that'll change I'm sure once I'm on the map. I've gone with the 4231 as my preferred formation although it's not set in stone that'll be used while my secondary formation is like a 433 wide although I'm undecided on whether I'd drop one of the central midfielders to a more defensive - it's all down to who I manage.


    Playable Competitions:
    England
    Fa Trophy, Vanarama National North/South, Vanarama National, EFL Trophy,Sky Bet League Two, Sky Bet League One,Sky Bet Championship, League Cup, Community Shield, FA Cup, Premiership


    Scotland
    Challenge Cup, League Two, League One, Championship, League Cup, Scottish Cup, Premiership


    Ireland
    Munster Senior Cup, Division 1, League Cup, Senior Challenge Cup, Premiership, Presidents Cup


    Northern Ireland
    Mid-Ulster Cup, Steel & Son's Cup, Intermediate Cup, County Antrim Shield, Premier Intermediate League, Championship 1, League Cup, Irish Cup, Premiership


    Wales
    League Cup, FAW Cup, Premiership


    Once a competition has been won it'll be marked off - like this
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  2. Starting in Northern Ireland




    Whenever I had a look at the available jobs, there was just one country I could've ideally started in and that would've been Northern Ireland as three jobs were available from the beginning. I had a look at the National League North side Worcester and they were predicted to finish sixteenth - no thanks - while I would've been laughed off, as mentioned in the OP, for the vacancies at Port Vale, Rangers and Kilmarnock so didn't waste my time applying for them.



    I ended up applying for the vacancy at Dundela which in hindsight made the most sense as they're favourites to win the Premier Intermediate League this season and compete in both the Steel & Sons and Intermediate Cups which are also both winnable. They've offered me the job which will see me agree a one year deal at Wilgar Park and get a staggering one hundred and sixty pounds a week. There's no transfer budget but you don't need one at this level as you can only sign players on non-contract/amateur terms and that's not ideal because then your star players can clear off mid-season to a bigger club.


    You can see the league exception is promotion by winning the league so the pressure's on should I end up taking the job.



    And I've taken my first step on the managerial ladder as I've become the new first team manager of Northern Ireland's Premier Intermediate League side Dundela with immediate effect. It says I'm 'relishing the opportunity' and they're absolutely correct as I'm finally on the map but I'm well aware the pressure's on - our first competitive game will be in the Premier Intermediate League which will see us welcome Donegal Celtic to Wilgar Park.

  3. Dundela - Preseason round-up 2016





    I've only been in football management for a cup of coffee but I've already concluded my first preseason and it turned out to be a quiet one at Wilgar Park, more so than I had expected. There was five preseason friendlies already arranged by the club, one which I cancelled as it was a testimonial game against Bangor (I 'refuse' to play clubs in the same division in preseason) and the testimonial game was rearranged to be at home against local side East Belfast.




    It turned out to be a quiet preseason on the transfer front as I decided against bringing any players in thus far as I'll like to see how the squad copes before deciding whether to make changes or not. Reserve goalkeeper Johnny Sergeant was the only player to depart the club, joining Championship side Lurgan Celtic while several other players were being approached by other clubs but we've managed to hold onto them, for now.




    This is the squad that'll begin the twenty sixteen twenty seventeen campaign and it's a decent, if not, small squad that will need to remain injury free if we're going to have a successful season as we attempt to get out of the Premier Intermediate League. Former Linfield goalkeeper Alan Blayney will be our first choice between the sticks while I'm hoping Colin Smith can be solid at the back, Nathan Jones can bang the goals in and Jamie Jackson can provide some quality from the right wing. No offence to the rest of the squad but they're all replaceable.




    And finally this is how our first preseason went and it was an unbeaten one which saw us pick up a credible scoreless draw against Premiership's (and feeder club) Glentoran at Wilgar Park. The other results saw us beat Downshire three nil on the road (before I arrived), East Belfast two nil in Steven Gourley's testimonial, Annagh United two nil and Groomsport three two. Our league campaign begins with a tough home game against Donegal Celtic.
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  4. Dundela - August 2016





    With preseason done and dusted it was time to begin the competitive campaign. Six games awaited us throughout the opening month with four of them being in the Premier Intermediate League while we will entertain fellow PIL side Queens University Belfast in the second round of the Steel & Sons Cup and in the League Cup second round we face a daunting trip to Premiership giants Linfield.




    And it's been a solid start to life in the Premier Intermediate League for the league favourites as we've won three of our opening four games - beating Donegal Celtic three one, Moyola Park two one and Sport & Leisure Swifts one nil before losing to Distillery two one. A one nil home win over Queens saw us advance in the Steel & Sons Cup while Linfield, as expected, easily beat us in the League Cup as the Premiership side won two nil.


    It's early days but we're currently top of the table but only four league games have been played while both Moyola and Newington have a game in hand. Despite being top of the table, I'm refusing to get carried away as there's still a lot of football to be played and with no disrespect intended, tougher games await. Sport & Leisure are currently exceeding expectations early doors.

  5. Dundela - September 2016





    The start in the Premier Intermediate League has been solid enough for the promotion favourites as we recorded three victories from our opening four games before a frustrating late defeat away to Distillery. September would see us play just three more games in the league along with the possibility of two Steel & Sons Cup games - we'll face Immaculata in the third round.




    It turned out to be a difficult enough month for the Wilgar Park side as we recorded just the one league win throughout the month, one nil away to Newry courtesy of an Ian Curran own goal but then we crashed to a seven three defeat to Limavady United and a one nil defeat verses Tobermore, both at home. We advanced in the S&S Cup with a four one success over Immaculata in east Belfast but the Duns would exit the competition in the fourth round, crashing one nil to Championship side Knockbreda who struck on the hour mark.




    Those two home defeats have seen us slip down the table as we're now sixth after seven league games and we've a minus one goal difference. Queens University Belfast are the surprise early season leaders while Distillery (whose only league win came against ourselves) prop up the division on goal difference.



    At the end of the month I asked the board about the possibility of beginning to study for my National C Licence and without any hesitation they agreed - it will take approx. four months worth of study to complete and the football club are covering the six hundred pounds fee for me to attend the coaching course.





    Finally just before September closed I decided to bring in two new faces, both from Bangor, as I began to want to make the squad look like my own. With no PIL goals in the opening six games, I lost my 'temper' with Nathan Jones and brought in striker Dale Patton who has scored eight goals for the Seasiders this season and I'm confident he'll find the net for us and help us with our promotion push, with centre back Steven Gourley being thirty five, I've brought in a new centre back in Brett Widdowson - both players will make their Duns debut against Banbridge Town which is our next league fixture.
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  6. Dundela - October 2016





    September turned out to be a poor month for the football club, winning just one of our three league fixtures and losing back-to-back home league games in the process and as we enter the month in October it's important we bounce back and get back to winning ways as soon as possible - Dundela have three Premier Intermediate League fixtures this month with two of them being on the road while we'll welcome Championship side Annagh United to Wilgar Park in the first round of the Intermediate Cup.




    Two league wins from three games happened this month as the team bounced back with a three two success away to Banbridge Town as new signing Dale Patton netted on his debut but then Bangor beat us two nil before goals from Colin Smith, Daryl Bright, Matthew Kerr, Dale Patton and Jamie Jackson saw us beat Queens in an eight goal thriller - October concluded with a three one win over Championship side Annagh in the Intermediate Cup first round.




    And those two league wins has seen us climb up the league table and now in fourth place. Queens continue to be the surprise package and still lead the division, Distillery with still just one league win this season continue to prop up the table and my beloved Bangor are currently in second place. The division continues to be tight as just four points separate leaders Queens and sixth placed Donegal Celtic.





    Before the month concluded two more players arrived at Wilgar Park as I continue to attempt to make the squad look like my own. Arriving first was left back Nathan McConnell who has joined from Championship side Lurgan Celtic and has a little Premiership experienced at Portadown, advanced playmaker Mark Anderson has also joined the club from another Championship side in PSNI and both players will make their Duns debut in the next game which will see us make the trip to Seaview to face Newington.

  7. Dundela - November 2016





    The penultimate month of twenty sixteen was a short one as just two Premier Intermediate League games were played and both of those were short trips across Belfast as the club headed to the North and then the West but in between those two games was another trip, this time down to Windmill Stars in the Intermediate Cup second round.




    One win and one loss happened in the league this month. A brace from target man Mark McClelland saw us secure a hard fought two one success at Seaview against Newington before comfortably seeing off Windmill Stars in the second round of the Intermediate Cup, the month ended though with a two nil defeat at Suffolk Road against Donegal Celtic.




    And this very tight division has seen us slip down to sixth after suffering just one defeat from the two league games this month. We have new surprise leaders and they're Sport & Leisure Swifts who were predicted to finish bottom, speaking of bottom, Distillery still continue to prop up the table. The PIL still continues to be extremely tight and just two points separate ourselves in sixth and the leaders S&L who are top only on goal difference.

  8. Dundela - December 2016





    We have reached the final month of twenty sixteen and it's been an inconsistent season thus far for the east Belfast outfit as we find ourselves down in sixth place, due to a postponement, December saw us have NO Premier Intermediate League fixtures - we travelled to Derriaghy in the fourth round of the Irish Cup while Cliftonville Olympic awaited in the Intermediate Cup third round




    Second half goals from Aaron Keenan, Dale Patton and Mark McClelland saw us ease past Derriaghy and record a three nil win, our reward is a fourth round home tie against Premiership's Coleraine, our PIL game at home to Moyola Park was postponed, twice throughout the month and then we needed a penalty shootout to see of Cliftonville's reserve team in the Intermediate Cup.




    We didn't play a single league game throughout the month, Dundela remain in sixth position.

  9. Dundela - January 2017





    Happy New Year folks and welcome to the first update of twenty seventeen and it's been a mixed, but enjoyable campaign thus far at Wilgar Park. We currently find ourselves down in sixth place but only three points behind the surprise (maybe not so surprising now?) leaders Sport & Leisure Swifts who we face this month. Four Premier Intermediate League games await us along with a home game against Coleraine in the Irish Cup and Dromara in the Intermediate Cup.




    Twenty seventeen kicked off with a two goals to nil defeat at Glen Road Heights against the leaders S&L but we did win the remaining three league games against Lisburn Distillery, Moyola Park and Limavady United with Dale Patton hitting a purple patch as the former Bangor striker scored four goals in three PIL games. Our Irish Cup run came to an end following a single goal defeat at home to Coleraine while Dromara were easily deposed off in the Intermediate Cup as goals from Dale Patton, Mark Anderson and Aaron Keenan saw us record a three nil win.




    With those three wins on the bounce, we've began climbing the league again and now find ourselves in third position behind Donegal Celtic and Sport & Leisure on goal difference with Queens just a point behind and both Bangor and Limavady six behind. Distillery continue to prop up the division but have now won two games but while it's tight at the top, it's also tight at the foot of the table as just five points separate Distillery and tenth placed Banbridge.


    This turned out to be a pointless signing at the moment but I returned to the transfer market to purchase Kevin Hagan from Mid Ulster side Dollingstown, he turned out to be ineligible to play for the remainder of this season. He'll hopefully be a key member of the first team next season.

  10. Dundela - February 2017





    On a good run in the Premier Intermediate League with three consecutive wins, February would see us just face two games with one of them being in the league as we'd travel to Tobermore United as we look to continue our promotion push while we'd welcome Carrick Rangers reserve team to Wilgar Park in the quarter finals of the Intermediate Cup.




    And the month began with the trip to Fortwilliam Park and the points were shared following a two all draw as Jamie Jackson (pen) and a Tom Smart own goal scored for us but unfortunately we couldn't get a win. Just four days later we hosted Carrick's reserve team and crashed out of the Intermediate Cup at the quarter final stage following a two one loss as Matthew Kerr, playing in a more central midfield role, scored our goal on nineteen minutes.




    That point at Fortwilliam has seen us climb up a place to second with just five league games remaining and it's going to be tense. Donegal Celtic are the new leaders as the former leaders, Sport & Leisure Swifts have slipped to fourth but still remain three points behind. Distillery remain at the foot of the table but only one point from safety and six points behind tenth placed Banbridge.

  11. Dundela - March 2017





    The penultimate month of the twenty sixteen twenty seventeen season is upon us and it's been an enjoyable campaign thus far, even if the Duns have been a little inconsistent for my liking. Despite losing six games from the seventeen that's been played we find ourselves up in second place, two points behind the leaders Donegal Celtic while we are only five points clear of seventh place Newry City as this division continues to be extremely tight. Just two league games await us this month, both at Wilgar Park as we entertain Newry and Banbridge.




    Back-to-back 2-0 wins were recorded this month as both Newry and Banbridge were sent home pointless. First up was Newry City and two goals inside the opening twenty minutes from Darryl Bright and Matthew Kerr was enough to secure the points, the game against Banbridge was the same as we bagged both goals inside the opening twenty minutes again - Dale Patton and Mark Anderson the scorers on this occassion - two wins that could prove vital.




    But we still aren't top of the table at present, only goal difference is keeping Donegal Celtic at the summit. Distillery remain bottom and barring a miracle look set for relegation.




    The final piece of news this month is that the board are letting me go on my second coaching course which, if I'm successful, will see me capture my National B Licence, like the previous course, it's going to take approx. four months worth of study to complete and the football club will be covering the six hundred pound fee required.

  12. Dundela - April 2017





    We have reached the end of the first season and with the club still in a title challenge the final three games will prove crucial as we football club face promotion rivals Queens University Belfast and Bangor before the league campaign concludes with a home game against strugglers Newington who cannot be relegated.




    The twenty sixteen twenty seven Premier Intermediate League campaign with a trio of draws. Dale Patton's goal on eighty six minutes saw us salavage a draw at The Dub against Queens, Brett Widdowson broke the deadlock at home to his former employers Bangor while we also had taken the league against Newington at Wilgar Park through a Darryl Bright goal but like the previous game against Bangor we couldn't hold on. Yes it was three draws that concluded the season but we're unbeaten in five.




    Unfortunately the hat trick of draws has seen us miss out on not just the Premier Intermediate League title but also the promotion/relegation playoff as the Duns have finished in third place, two points behind the shock champions Sport & Leisure while my beloved Bangor finished fifth. With just two wins all season, Distillery were relegated.

  13. Dundela - End of season update 2017





    So season one at Dundela Football Club has been completed and it wasn't the worst season I've endured even though we failed in our quest for promotion to the Championship - remember, we were favourites to win the league - but a third place finish means it'll be another season ahead in the Premier Intermediate League but I'm sure next season we'll once again be favourites for promotion and I'll right the wrong. Surprisingly I'm not under pressure despite failing to get up.




    Over the course of the campaign I brought in five players while the same amount ended up departing Wilgar Park. Two players arrived from my beloved Bangor as centre back Brett Widdowson and striker Dale Patton both made the switch and were excellent, left back Nathan McConnell arrived from Championship side Lurgan Celtic, attacking midfielder Mark Anderson joined from PSNI and ended up playing on the left winger while our last signing saw Kevin Hagan swap Dollingstown for ourselves and made just the one appearance due to being ineligible. Johnny Sergent, Michael Herron, Kyle Dillon, Jordan West and Michael Halliday departed throughout the season as they joined Lurgan Celtic, Malachians, Tandragee, Islandmagee and Ballyclare Comrades respectively.





    As much as I'd like to say the six defeats cost us the league title, well, that would be a lie as the champions Sport & Leisure lost the same amount of games, as did second placed Queens while fourth placed Donegal Celtic only lost five. We had a few frustrating defeats to the 'lesser' teams in the division, including a two nil loss at champions Sport & Leisure who I really thought we could've beat. The campaign ended with a hat trick of draws but also a five game unbeaten run but it just wasn't enough to even sure a playoff position.





    These are how the players performed over the twenty sixteen twenty seventeen season and I was impressed with the impact striker Dale Patton had and if he can be more consistent next season then I'm confident enough he'll be able to fire us to glory while the striker he replaced, Nathan Jones, well, was useless to say the least. There's room for improvement but I'm also contemplating changing the entire formation for next season so it's something I'll need to consider before making changes. Darryl Bright scored six goals over the season from centre midfielder which I'm satisfied with.




    The last piece of information is that I've put pen to paper on a one year contract extension that'll now expire at the end of June twenty eighteen and I'll remain on one hundred and sixty pounds a week.The football club will receive twenty percent of the club compensation required if I was to move clubs. Garth Scates left Bangor at the end of the season but don't worry, I won't be applying this time.

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