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Chapter 26: Love, well promotion, is in the air

The Bees were still buzzing at they entered February, the month of love. For Basil, the only love he was craving was nine points from the three games that Werribee were to play. Well there was no chance of Jessica Miesel was there? With just three points sharing the top four, Basil knew all too well that a loss could really set the Bees back. Not only would it ruin the unbeaten record but also conceivably send them out of the promotion spots which the team had worked so hard to be in all season.

Basil knew if they could make these three home games count then quite possibly, the P word could be thought of more seriously. It had been banned until now just in case it allowed complacency to creep in; and Basil certainly wouldn't allow that at all.

Matchday 14: Werribee City 3 - 2 Moreland City

The first game in February saw Werribee take on a mid table Moreland City side that had parted with long standing manager Adrian Mathers just a week before. Mathers had been in charge for six years at Moreland and played for them for nine before deciding to take up the manager's role at Altona Magic in the division above. For the game, Basil made a couple of changes from his last line-up. Lisandro Paz was given a well deserved rest with Omar Ammache taking his place on the right wing; and Brandon Zaffina was swapped for Jamie Gorgovski in central midfield.

The Bees took the lead in the 24th minute and what a goal it was. Ammache dispossessed Christopher Cristaldo with one touch and then with his next, played a superb 50 yard pass onto the bootlaces of Alec Goodwin who smashed it over the head of the advancing keeper and into the top corner for the striker's eighth of the season. And that's how it remained until the 52nd minute when it led to three goals in eight minutes. City drew level when Cristaldo's free-kick had Alex Baird flapping at and Conor Rafferty headed in his first career goal unchallenged. Then four minutes later, the visitors led. Tom Lakic backed off Cristaldo a touch, and that was all the former Werribee man needed to create himself a chance which ended up with an arrowed finish into Baird's bottom left hand corner from the edge of the area.

Inspired by harsh words from Brush on the touchline, Werribee were level on the hour. A long range effort from Matteo Ballan was charged down by City's Tobias Haegele but the rebound was fortunate to land at the feet of Michael Holden who took one touch before placing it past the stranded keeper. Could either side find a winner? Yes they could, and it was Werribee. With six minutes to go; Ballan planted a free-kick into the penalty area and central defender Julyan Collett got his head onto it first to plant a header beyond Kieron McDowell to clinch all three points for Werribee City and make it 14 unbeaten.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Pistininzi (Parkinson 71); Ballan, Gorgovski (Murray 68); Ammache (Paz 76), Holden; Goodwin. Unused Substitutes: Elasi, Dunn, Davies, Kessie.
Booked: Goodwin
Man of the Match: Alec Goodwin
Attendance: 465
Position After Game: 1st

https://i.postimg.cc/1tXksCz5/Michael-Holden.jpg
Michael Holden: Three goals in three games for Werribee

Matchday 15: Werribee City 2 - 0 Goulburn Valley Suns

Bottom placed Goldburn Valley Suns arrived at leaders Werribee City hoping to pull off the surprise result of the season on the day after the day of love. However, there was no love shown by the home side as they strolled to yet another win and make it 15 unbeaten. Wingers Paz and Holden were on target with first half strikes and the Suns had no response. The opening goal came in the 26th minute when a high and deep cross from Nicholas Bavcar wasn't claimed by Declan Maiorano in the Suns goal but landed at the feet of the recalled Paz who drove home his fifth of the season from the acutest of acute angles.

The second and decisive goal came in first half injury time. Another deep cross from Bavcar which had the Suns all at sea, and Holden (rested from the start but on as a substitute for an injured Ammache) drove a low effort across Maiorano and into the bottom corner for his fifth of the campaign. Potential banana skin well and truly avoided.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Pistininzi (Murray 72); Gorgovski, Ballan; Paz, Ammache (Holden 32); Goodwin (Elasi 64). Unused Substitutes: Parkinson, Dunn, Kessie, Davies.
Man of the Match: Nicholas Bavcar
Attendance: 224
Position After Game: 1st

Matchday 16: Werribee City 3 - 0 FC Bulleen Lions

Werribee City finished their three game home stand with a comprehensive defeat of a FC Bulleen Lions side that have slipped down the table considerably. The Lions were surprise leaders after three games but now find themselves potentially being drawn into a relegation scrap whilst the Bees continue their incredible season at the top. Werribee made three changes from the side that saw off Goulburn Valley Suns in their last game with Holden, Zaffina and Nathan Elasi came into the starting eleven; Ammache, Gorgovski and top scorer Goodwin making way.

Three goals in 14 minutes proved to be the difference; and with results going their way, the Bees now hold a six point lead at the top of the table. That opening goal came in the 32nd minute when Paz clipped in a cross to the far post where Holden headed in his sixth of the season and third in as many games. The others arrived either side of half time. Goal number two came from another header; this time powerfully headed in by defender Collett for his second of the season following a Ballan corner. Lions keeper Wyatt Chant hadn't covered himself in glory in trying to save those but he stood no chance when the Bees scored their third 50 seconds after the restart. Paz scampered away down the right and his pinpoint cross found Goodwin, on for the injured Elasi, and the striker headed in his ninth of the campaign.

It just seems to get better and better for Basil and his Bees...

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar (Parkinson 63); Pistininzi; Ballan (Gorgovski 74), Zaffina; Paz, Holden; Elasi (Goodwin 31). Unused Substitutes: Ammache, Dunn, Kessie, Murray.
Booked: Pistininzi, Ballan
Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz
Attendance: 670
Position After Game: 1st

With six matches left, these are the standings:

https://i.postimg.cc/xCR14TdN/Werribee-1920-Table-End-Feb.png
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Chapter 27: In within touching distance

Everything was rosy in the Werribee City garden so to speak as the team entered March. The unbeaten run had stretched to a remarkable 16 games, and to go on a sequence like this: it takes some doing regardless at whatever level you play at. With the gap being eight points between the Bees and third placed Langwarrin, Basil was starting to think that something special was unfolding.

Those pundits who had written Werribee at the start of the season, and in December, were starting to be served with a large portion of humble pie and served cold too. Basil opened the latest edition of the Herald Sun, the local newspaper, and saw the following:

Bees stinging rivals

"IF you mention the name Werribee City to most of the Melbourne population, you could be excused for the reply being "Who?" back. But the Bees of Werribee are stinging their rivals in the NPL - Victoria 2 division with an incredible season so far. The Bees have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and ran with it.

Unfortunately none of their opponents can keep up with them.

The Bees have just six games to play this season, the latest next Friday night, and they're in within touching distance of something that has never been seen in Australian football whatsoever: an unbeaten season. Werribee have yet to lose a game in 16 so far, and it's all down to their new Head Coach: a former English professional called Basil Brush. Brush, 38, is making sounds in the suburbs of Werribee and considering it's his first ever Head Coach role: those sounds are positive.

So get yourself down to watch this incredible team."

Talk about high praise indeed in a few paragraphs. A sudden glow appeared on Basil's face, and maybe a wry smile too. A few moments later, the predictable email came from John Waddell.

From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 6 March 2020, 10:00

Subject: March

Hi Basil.

Don't know if you've seen the local rag lately mate. We've got a rare mention. You should be proud with what you've achieved so far here, you've definitely changed the club's fortunes around and it's been reflected in our crowds.

I know though you won't rest on your laurels though, as you're a bit of a level headed guy. Anyway here's the March fixture list, only a couple of games but both away from home. Win these and I can start to smell glory coming our way.

https://i.postimg.cc/9FysqGVW/Werribee-Mar20-Games.png

See you next Friday.

Best,

John W.

John's words really hit a point with Basil; it was like he knew what Basil would be like even before that first ever meeting last July. But Basil knew, and he consistently stressed it when floating ideas with John, it was purely a team effort that had gotten Werribee where they are at the moment and always would be. Because of the way Werribee had progressed, this was probably why Kyren (Harrison) had been poached to become the new Preston Lions Head Coach and John himself was also attracting attention elsewhere. Basil knew he wouldn't stand in John's way should he want to become a manager in his own right but if he stayed put then it would be just grand.

Basil looked to the skies, knowing whatever would happen next would happen for a reason as always. Football had always been a cut-throat industry, Basil had seen managers come and go a plenty, now he had to continually prove that he was not going to be labelled a one season wonder but there might be a time when Werribee had been taken as far as they can. But that could wait, for now.
HockeyBhoy
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Hoping to have some updates soon on here, can Basil finish his début managerial season with silverware?
HockeyBhoy
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Finishing the ninth season of the FM19 save first, Basil will return afterwards. Watch this space!
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Chapter 28: Beware the Ides of March

Said the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in the Shakespearian play of the very same name. Therefore lo and behold, Basil saw a lady dressed in rags whilst walking through the centre of Melbourne a few days before the next game. The lady gave the impression that she was some kind of gypsy, and told Basil to be wary for challenges ahead.

Werribee's next match was at struggling Pascoe Vale, a team needing points to survive the drop. Vale had improved since the two sides had met in November but they were far from out of danger. Could this be Basil's Ides of March? No need to take things easy and assume it was a foregone conclusion.

Matchday 17: Pascoe Vale 1 - 2 Werribee City

Lisandro Paz had been the two goal hero when Werribee defeated their hosts in the previous encounter, and the winger would prove to be a hero again at the CB Smith Reserve with another brace which inched the Bees closer and closer to the title. Werribee were unchanged from their last game which meant Nathan Elasi was given another chance to impress as the sole striker; top scorer Alec Goodwin remained on the bench. Not a bad replacement to have on hand, and proof of the strength in depth that Basil had his disposal.

The Bees immediately took the game to their hosts, and were rewarded with the lead after just nine minutes. Winger Michael Holden sped past Gonzalo Muñoz as if the Chilean wasn't there before lifting a cross deep into the penalty area. The cross was met by a looping header from fellow winger Paz over Luke Gavalas and send the 248 away supporters dancing with delight. It took Pascoe Vale 26 minutes to create their first chance but Alex Baird produced a superb fingertip save to deny Atilia Ofli the equaliser.

Vale did get an equaliser and it came on the hour when Joseph Youssef sent Dimitri Hatzimouratis clear of the Bees defence. The midfielder, who had been pushed up front in a Vale reshuffle, took a couple of touches before bearing down on Baird. He then drilled a low shot beyond the custodian and into the far corner to restore parity. Basil was far from pleased, and shortly afterwards replaced the ineffective Elasi with Goodwin: demanding more out of his side. Then just as Pascoe had had thoughts of a point off the unbeaten league leaders; Paz and Werribee broke their hearts with a 84th minute winner. That came when a free-kick from Matteo Ballan was met by another Paz header that found the net via the crossbar. 17 games unbeaten now for the Bees!

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Pistininzi (Murray 78); Ballan, Zaffina (Gorgovski 69); Paz, Holden; Elasi (Goodwin 64). Unused Substitutes: Ammache, Dunn, Parkinson, Davies.
Booked: Pistininzi
Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz
Attendance: 373
Position After Game: 1st

That booking against Pascoe Vale proved to be a financial hit for Mark Pistininzi as it was the defensive midfielder's fourth booking of the season. Under the league rules it meant the former Pascoe Vale player would now have to serve a one match suspension. It also meant he would be fined a day's wages under the Bees Code of Conduct.

https://i.postimg.cc/CKTBLNFx/Pistininzi.png
Mark Pistininzi: Will sit out the Kingston game after accumulating too many yellow cards

Now attention was switched to yet another away game, this time at promotion rivals Kingston City. A win there would really put the Bees into the proverbial driving seat as regards the P-word which Basil had banned all talk of the dressing room. Five games left to play, and maybe just maybe dreams could come true.

Matchday 18: Kingston City 1 - 2 Werribee City

Werribee's promotion charge continued with their 11th win of the season and 6th away from home. The win put a massive in Kingston City's own hopes it pushed them three points outside the second promotion slot. The unbeaten Bees made two changes to the side that won 2-1 at Pascoe Vale 15 days ago, and it was an enforced one at that. Mark Pistininzi was suspended for a single game under the yellow card totting up procedure; Bradley Murray came into the starting eleven to replace him. In the other change, top scorer Alec Goodwin was restored in place of Nathan Elasi.

Kingston took the lead midway through the first half, Werribee switching off at a set piece play and allowing central defender Simo Jovanovic to tuck home his first goal of the season from close range. But the Bees were not behind for long as they equalised just a minute later. Good work by Holden down the left saw him tee up Goodwin around the penalty spot and the striker pouched his 10th of the season with a confident finish beyond Dowisha.

The winner came nine minutes from half time, and what a goal it was. Nicholas Bavcar's throw in was headed out to Brandon Zaffina at the edge of the penalty area, and the midfielder took two touches before unleashing an unstoppable effort that just whizzed into the far corner. Some way to open your goalscoring account for the Club, eh? There were no further goals after that but the Bees now go to 18 unbeaten and just need four points from their remaining four games to send those champagne corks a popping.

Team: Baird; Lakic (Parkinson 73), Collett ©, Petrov, Bavcar; Murray; Ballan (Gorgovski 67), Zaffina; Paz (Ammache 81), Holden; Goodwin. Unused Substitutes: Elasi, Dunn, Govedarica, Davies.
Booked: Petrov
Man of the Match: Brandon Zaffina
Attendance: 627
Position After Game: 1st

So with four games to go, this is how the table stands:

https://i.postimg.cc/yYSyvTPm/Werribee-1920-Table-End-Mar.png
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Chapter 29: Don't want to be an April Fool

Four games that's all that remained in Basil Brush's maiden season as a football manager.

The title was within reach, just four points needed. But Basil had been a winner all his life so he set himself a new goal, finish the season unbeaten. That would be some achievement indeed. Even "The Gaffer" had never gone through an entire season unbeaten so this would be one thing that Basil might have over his mentor.

Yet keeping his size seven's firmly planted on the ground and not assuming anything was a given would be just as important as taking three points from an opponent. He opened his emails and there was the fixture one from John:

From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 1 April 2020:, 10:00

Subject: April's Games

Hi Basil,

John here as usual. Inching closer to silverware, four points will do it. Then we can take the champagne out of the fridge and start popping some serious corkage.

You've done a remarkable job it has to be said, even more remarkable considering you had no managerial experience when you came in. I've been so proud to work alongside you and see this Club set record after record. You deserve so much credit for it even though you're not the kind of person that likes to brag about achievements.

Anyway here are April's games:

https://i.postimg.cc/mDsdKJ7F/Werribee-1920-Apr20-Games.png

Both games at home and a chance to lift the trophy in front of our own supporters. It doesn't sound any better than that, does it?

Yours in football as always,

John W.

So that was the stark reality. Should both Moreland Zebras and Brunswick City fail to take maximum points and Werribee did this month then as John said, the champagne could come out of the fridge and corks a popping. Time to finish the job once and for all then plan for 2020-21, but would that be in Werribee still? That would have to wait for now...winning those remaining games was the objective for the Club!
bigmattb28
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Good read mate keep it up

HockeyBhoy
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By bigmattb28 26 May 2021 - 05:18 AM UTC

Good read mate keep it up


Thanks mate, hoping to have some updates on this career in the next week or two.
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Chapter 30: Crack open the bubbly!

It was the penultimate month of the season and it had all the elements needed to spark a celebration in the Melbourne suburb of Werribee. The Bees were on the verge of securing promotion to the third tier of Australian football under their rookie coach Basil Brush. Brush knew it, the players knew it, the fans knew it. Could they finish the job with games in hand?

The team had been unbeaten all season, an invincible season beckoned: the first time ever in Australian football. History books were there to be re-written.

Matchday 19: Werribee City 3 - 0 North Geelong Warriors

The first of back to back home games in April saw a then in-form North Geelong make the trip to the Galvin Park Reserve, could they stop the Bees making it 19 games unbeaten? Werribee showed a couple of changes from the side that defeated Kingston City in their last game, back came Mark Pistininzi after his one game suspension and club captain David Parkinson appeared in central defence. The Warriors had the worst beginning possible when they were reduced to ten men after just six minutes; midfielder Damien Rastocic being showed a straight red by referee Rob Eedy for a late and dangerous challenge on Michael Holden. It was the right decision looking at replays over and over again.

Encouraged by Brush's words, the Bees took the game to their numerically disadvantaged opponents. Yet it took 25 minutes after that red card for the deadlock to be broken. A quick throw-in from Nicholas Bavcar found Alec Goodwin in a pocket of space and the striker crossed for Brandon Zaffina to nod home his second goal of the season from just outside the six yard box. Werribee doubled their lead 40 seconds into the second half when another Goodwin cross was this time headed out by Warriors' Shaun Montagner but straight to the feet of Tom Lakic who took a couple of touches before blasting the ball into the roof of the net for his maiden Bees goal.

The win was sealed four minutes from time, and with another landmark goal. Substitute Omar Ammache showed great persistence to get in his cross from the left wing despite being tightly marked; and there was Nathan Elasi on hand to poke home his first ever Werribee goal of the season at the seventh time of asking. That result confirmed a ninth clean sheet of the season for Alex Baird, and with results going their way: promotion for Werribee.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett, Parkinson ©, Bavcar (Davies 79); Pistininzi; Zaffina, Ballan; Paz, Holden (Ammache 63); Goodwin (Elasi 74). Unused Substitutes: Petrov, Dunn, Gorgovski, Murray.
Man of the Match: Lisandro Paz
Attendance: 245
Position After Game: 1st

https://i.postimg.cc/1XthTncq/Nathan-Elasi.jpg
Nathan Elasi: Finally on the scoresheet...at last!

With promotion secured, Brush's next objective was to secure the title. Then the champagne could really be taken out of the fridge and celebrations could begin. Ever since the media had been talking about Werribee and their title aspirations at the end of the first half of the season, chairman Angus Brown had put a case of the finest Möet Chandon aside; chilling away in a fridge in the boardroom. Now it was just a case when it could be used so to speak. With another home game to come to finish off April, maybe sooner rather than later right?

Matchday 20: Werribee City 3 - 1 Northcote City

Brush and Werribee knew one thing going into this game, avoid defeat and the title was theirs despite whatever everyone else did. It was as simple as an equation as that. So in a surprise move, Brush made one change from the team that had won 3-0 against North Geelong a fortnight prior, Elasi started in place of top scorer Goodwin. Visitors Northcote City and their outspoken new manager Stephen Downes, who played for Grimsby Town and York City, were keen to upset the proverbial applecart.

It was a tense game but eventually the Bees exerted their influence and took the lead in the 23rd minute when Harry Johnson tripped Lakic as the full back charged into the penalty area. Up stepped midfielder Matteo Ballan, who Brush is desperate to tie down on a new deal, and he sent Petrovski the wrong way from twelve yards. The celebrations went up a further notch when the Bees scored their second ten minutes before half time. This time Ballan was the architect as usual with a free-kick deep into the penalty area and Elasi looped a header over Petrovski for his second in as many games. Proper bus syndrome as Brush alluded to.

The champagne was certainly out of the fridge when Werribee scored their third 14 minutes from the end. Zaffina was afforded so much room to measure and pick out a cross which was easily headed in at the far post by substitute Ammache; his first for his new club. Joseph Louey scored his first ever goal for Northcote in the final throes but by then the game was long gone: resulting in this:

https://i.postimg.cc/Nfm7bkHN/Werribee-1920-Champions.png
Werribee City: NPL - Victoria 2 Champions 2019-20!

Team: Baird; Lakic, Collett, Parkinson ©, Bavcar (Davies 67); Pistininzi; Zaffina, Ballan; Paz, Holden (Ammache 74), Elasi (Goodwin 74). Unused Substitutes: Petrov, Dunn, Murray, Weaver.
Booked: Bavcar
Man of the Match: Matteo Ballan
Attendance: 479
Position After Game: 1st

So with just two games to go, this is how we stand:

https://i.postimg.cc/tTsF63bN/Werribee-1920-Table-End-Apr.png
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Chapter 31: A busy final few weeks

A weary Basil staggered into his hotel suite after the NPL - Victoria 2 title had been secured. The party was something else indeed as players and staff celebrated as one in one of the most memorable days in the 50 year history of Werribee City. Fearing he would be pulled for a DUI, Basil hailed a taxi to get him back to the hotel but even that proved a tad problematic. Well...

The fans were so ecstatic about the title win, they were partying themselves in the Galvin Park Reserve car park and making hard for vehicles to enter and exit it. Who could begrudge them though? The last time Werribee had won this honour was way back in 1993, so long overdue indeed. Yet the work was far from done.

A few days before the Northcote game, Werribee had announced that Peter Haynes had been recruited as the Club's first ever Director of Football. Basil had been pursuing this matter all season, and finally the Bees had found someone to fill the role. Haynes, 38, who had a more than decent playing career of 72 goals in just 167 games had been acquired from Goulburn Valley Suns where he was fulfilling a similar role. Then just 24 hours after the celebration, Werribee welcomed another new face to the Galvin Park Reserve. Coming in as the new Youths Manager was four times capped former Croatian internationalist Joey Didulica. Didulica, who had spells at Ajax Amsterdam and AZ Alkmaar in his playing career as well as winning the Austrian league title with FK Austria Vienna, was the standout applicant and Brush was keen to work with him.

Brush was still trying to secure a new deal for star midfielder Matteo Ballan but at the calendar flipped into May, no deal had been agreed with the demands of the player being higher than what the board could afford to pay. Shades of Alec Goodwin earlier in the season, eh? But newly formed Macarthur FC monitoring proceedings, there was a distinct worry that the new Victoria - 2 champions could lose such an influential player whose creativity was second to none. Yet Brush hoped he could persuade the midfielder to stay...

That new month meant one more thing, John's fixtures email, the final one of the season.
From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 1 May 2020, 08:30

Subject: May

Hi Basil,

Hope the hangover has subsided now after an amazing last few days. We actually did it fella, we actually did it. I still have to pinch myself that this is all a dream, don't know about your feelings.

Really happy also that we're building something special in bringing Peter and Joey to the Club. To have a former internationalist working with our youth team is a masterstroke. Hopefully it will take the team to the next level in building its reputation. But I know you're ambitious too and if something better comes up then you'd better considering taking it if I was you.

Anyway here are the final two fixtures of the season:

https://i.postimg.cc/Kv8QcMkQ/Werribee-1920-May20-Games.png

Hopefully we can finish the season with a bang, and unbeaten too! Perhaps that'll be enough to try and get Ballan to sign a new deal with us and tell those at Macarthur where to stick it!

Yours always in football,

John W.

Two games from immortality, that's what remained. Basil was more determined as ever to finish this rookie season in the best way possible and that meant one thing, remain unbeaten and create history. Nobody had done it before in Australia, and Basil had never experienced it as a player either so it would be doubly sweet. Time to finish the job!
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Chapter 32: History is made!

Basil and Werribee City entered the final month of the season on the cusp of making more history. Never before in Australian football had a team finished the season without a league defeat. Now the Bees and the rookie Pom Manager stood on the verge of immortality. The task was simple, avoid defeat in the final two games of the 2019-20 season and Brush's name could go alongside Brendan Rogers (Celtic 2016-17), Arsène Wenger (Arsenal, 2003-04), Antonio Conte (Juventus 2011-12) to name just three modern day campaigns but who could forget the original Preston North End invincibles of 1888-89.

Everyone was suggesting they could do it but Brush being Brush, he wasn't getting too carried away with two very hard games to finish with: one which was away to second placed Brunswick City. Brunswick themselves had eyes on a prize, bagging that second promotion spot behind the Bees and a place in next season's NPL Victoria league: two tiers behind the A-League.

Matchday 21: Brunswick City 0 - 4 Werribee City

It was billed as the biggest test for Werribee in their bid to go through the season unbeaten. It ended up being the biggest win of the season for the visitors as they swatted their hosts aside with ruthless finishing. Brush opted to make two changes from the side that appeared in the Bees last game with Cameron Davies and Daniel Petrov coming in for Julyan Collett (surprisingly dropped) and Nicholas Bavcar (injured but also suspended).

Despite the changes, it took Werribee just six minutes to open the scoring. Tom Lakic swung in a cross from the right and Michael Holden planted a header beyond Sebastian Mattei for the left winger's seventh of the season. The lead was doubled in the 27th minute and it certainly sent the 266 visiting supporters dancing with delight. A beautiful through ball from Matteo Ballan sent in-form striker Nathan Elasi racing clear and he slipped the ball under Mattei into the gaping goal.

Two goals in the final stages sealed the comprehensive win. In the 87th minute, James Jones was adjudged to have blocked off debutant Amanze Kessie illegally in the penalty area; Ballan stepped up to ram home the resultant penalty into the bottom corner. It was the midfield playmaker's fourth of the season. Then in time added-on, Werribee completed the coup de grace with a fourth goal to really rub salt into the proverbial wounds. Jamie Gorgovski's cross was headed goalwards by Holden but Mattei could only palm it into his own net to add yet misery to the goalkeeper's miserable day.

Team: Baird; Lakic, Petrov, Davies, Parkinson ©; Pistininzi; Zaffina (Gorgovski 69), Ballan; Paz (Kessie 69), Holden; Elasi (Goodwin 80). Unused Substitutes: Collett, Dunn, Williams, Ammache.
Man of the Match: Matteo Ballan
Attendance: 569
Position After Game: 1st

Matchday 22: Werribee City 2 - 1 Moreland Zebras

History was made at the Galvin Park Reserve as Werribee City completed an incredible season by remaining unbeaten in all 22 league games, the first time in Australian football history. It capped an amazing season for the Bees and their rookie manager Basil Brush who was only appointed last July. For Brush, it represents a remarkable first ever campaign and leave Werribee with a possible fight on their hands to keep him.

Werribee took to the field in front of their largest crowd of the season, and there were two surprise selection choices from Brush. Second choice goalkeeper Thomas Dunn was rewarded with his first start of the season in place of Alex Baird whilst Gorgovski replaced Brandon Zaffina in central midfield. Two goals in nine minutes had them celebrating more on the day that the Champions flag was unfurled in the Melbourne suburb. The first came in the 21st minute, and it was a fourth goal in four games for Elasi. Holden provided a delicious cross from the left and the striker powered home a header from ten yards past Stephen Hatzikourtis.

The second came directly on the half hour and what a goal it was. Lisandro Paz picked up a throw-in from Lakic and fed it duly onto Gorgovski who took a couple of touches before unleashing an unstoppable shot from outside the penalty area that whizzed in the far bottom corner; Hatzikourtis given no chance whatsoever. Despite playing in a kit that reminded those present of Juventus, the visitors were far from being their lookalikes as Werribee controlled matters. However, the clean sheet for Dunn was taken away from him when Nick Niagioran headed in with just three minutes left. Yet the Zebras would finish the game with ten men as central midfielder Jake Barker-Daish was sent off for two yellow cards as the game entered injury time.

All hail the Werribee Invincibles!

Team: Dunn; Lakic, Petrov, Davies, Parkinson ©; Pistininzi (Collett 73); Gorgovski, Ballan; Paz, Holden (Ammache 65); Elasi (Goodwin 81). Unused Substitutes: Zaffina, Baird, Williams, Kessie.
Man of the Match: Jamie Gorgovski
Attendance: 688
Position After Game: 1st
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Chapter 33: End of season celebrations

It was with a very sore head that Basil woke up with the day after the final game of the season. The party had gone well into the night at the Galvin Park Reserve as the team celebrated an incredible achievement. Beer cans cast aside all over the dressing room, or as "the shed" as the players referred to it as, and bottles of champagne equally cast asunder.

Even Basil, normally a reserved character, allowed himself to go wild for a bit and embrace he and his squad had actually performed in the last eight months or so.

The following day, it was the Club's end of season shindig which meant yet party celebrations and more alcohol to consume. The team awards would be handed out, who would be the lucky recipients? For players, fans and management alike the tension could be cut with a razor sharp knife. Therefore at 7:00pm that Sunday evening, Basil stepped into the cab that the reception had called for him and headed to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) where the Club had decided to hold the event...no expense spared by Angus Brown!

It was a proper black tie and tuxedo event, Basil thought he looked more like a penguin than a football manager, with players, fans, the fourth estate and dignitaries sat around tables of ten in the main conference centre. Following an impressive meal, it was time to present the awards with local comedian Tom Gleeson acting as both Master of Ceremonies and entertainment for the evening.

https://i.postimg.cc/qByZ84vK/Werribee-1920-Club-Awards1.png


The first award was the prestigious Fans Player of the Season. It was a hard fought award but midfield playmaker Matteo Ballan came out on top in the end. The 31 year old took the award ahead of winger Lisandro Paz with top scorer Alec Goodwin rounding out the top three. When asked by Gleeson if he was going to sign a new deal and snub Macarthur FC, Ballan was coy with his response: "Guess, we will have to wait and see.": Brush knew in the next few days, this would be his immediate task in hand before he headed back to England for a two week break to see his family.

Ballan's midfield partner Brandon Zaffina was next to take to the stage: his game winning strike at Kingston City being voted as the Goal of the Season. It was a fabulous strike on the day, and when it was replayed on the big screen: everyone was stood up and applauding how impressive it really it was. Award number three was the Signing of the Season, and taking this one was left winger Michael Holden who marked his second spell at the Galvin Park Reserve with some brilliant performances and justifying why Brush was so keen to bring him back home so to speak.

The penultimate award was the Young Player of the Season: winning this was 24 year old striker Goodwin. Before the season had kicked off, he had been in a contract stand off with the Club (similar to Ballan now), but terms were thrashed out just before the big-kick off and the striker rewarded his new boss' persistence with a double figure goal haul despite being out of the team for certain periods of time.

The final award was the Fans Team of the Season based on the 21 players who played for the Bees this season. In Brush's favoured 4-1-2-2-1 formation, the side was as follows:

https://i.postimg.cc/TYhLzY5L/Werribee-1920-Club-Awards2.png
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Chapter 34: We're going through changes

After the party, it was about time to plan for the new season. One of those issues that it was time to tell certain players that they were not needed next season and as a result they would be released on free transfers.

All in all, Basil had to tell seven players they were no longer needed. Those were as follows:

Nemanja Govedarica
Cameron Williams
Shaun Weaver
Bradley Murray
Cameron Davies
Damian Hodgson
Jani Lah


That meant Basil had to find a couple of goalies for his youth team and hope they develop, two new central defenders, a central midfielder and a striker. But with a bit of time on his hands this time, Basil was sure he could find the right pegs to fit in the right holes. There was to be a surprise before Basil boarded the flight back to GB though. Angus Brown called his manager into the office.

"Basil, I know you've got your flight back home on your mind but there's something I need you to know."
"Yeah sure, what is it?" Basil enquired
"Well I'm taking a back seat Basil."
"You what? You can't. I mean..."
"I've decided to cut back on my football commitments Basil. You've brought great pleasure to me and this football club but the time is right to do this."

Basil gulped.

"So what does this mean for me?"
"Nothing is different for you Basil. The Club is possibly being taken over, I've had two very good offers made and need to deliberate which is best for Werribee City. This explains why I haven't been able to sanction any transfers for you. Now you get on that big bird, and go and see that family of yours. We'll stay in touch with developments."
"Oh right, OK."

Four days later, Basil was sat in a country pub with the sun beating down, when his phone rang. It was an unknown number, one that wasn't stored. Sceptically thinking it was a scammer, Basil answered with trepidation.

"Basil? Basil Brush?"
"Erm, yeah that's me. Who is this?"
"Basil, my name is Craig Adam and.."
"Sorry Craig, I'm on holiday and I'm not interested in buying anything."
"No Basil, I'm not trying to sell you anything."
"So OK, how did you get my number?"
"From Angus, y'know Angus Brown. I've just bought Werribee City from him. So I thought I'd give you a quick call and introduce myself."
"Right..am sorry for the misunderstanding."
"Sure no worries big guy, you enjoy the break with the folks. I'll see you back in Melbourne when you're back, me and my chauffeur will pick you up from the airport."
"Yeah OK."

With that in mind, the call ended and Basil messaged his faithful lieutenant: John Waddell. "Start the player recruitment John" was the short and sharp message. The brief was to build a side capable of staying in the NPL Victoria Division, and not being drawn into a relegation scrap. Basil also knew with this being the second year of his two year deal, agreed with the former Chairman, all eyes would be on him. The invincible season that made him a possible wanted man.
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Chapter 35: New faces arrive

Despite being in England for the first couple of weeks, Basil was still very much hands on with his recruitment drive for the new season. Regular Zoom conversations were being held between him and John Waddell. Waddell would come up with a recommendation and then send all the details over to Basil complete with a video of the player in action for the manager to peruse over.

Once Basil had completed his due diligence, Basil and John would then convene and a decision whether or not to offer that player a contract. That process brought the Bees four new players as the calendar ticked over to July 2020. Having released seven at the end of the season, Basil knew he had to bring some new faces to provide healthy competition to those currently at his disposal. Those new faces were as follows:

Jordan Wilkes - D R: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/qMY4rcs3/Werribee-2021-Jordan-Wilkes.png
Despite being only 25 years of age, Jordan has accumulated over 150 appearances since debuting for Heidelberg United in the 2013-14 season. Last season wasn't a good season for the defender though as he failed to tally a single outing for St. Albans Saints after joining them from Altona Magic. Predominantly a right back by trade, Wilkes can fill in as a central defender should circumstances call on him to do so.

Jordan Thurtell - GK: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/DznD3mMG/Werribee-2021-Jordan-Thurtell.png
Signed to provide extra competition to both Alex Baird and Thomas Dunn, Thurtell came through the Australian Institute of Sport programme before being snapped up by Perth Glory. Although he failed to make a single appearance for the Glory, there seems to be some untapped potential there which Brush is keen to take advantage of. Whether he displaces Baird as first choice is uncertain at present.

Oskar Dillon - D C: On loan from Western United
https://i.postimg.cc/mDM8csJ4/Werribee-2021-Oskar-Dillon.png
If at first you don't succeed then try, try again. Well that's true of the third Werribee signing for the 2020-21 season. Dillon was a target for Brush last season, but opted then to sign on loan for Oakleigh Cannons where he missed just one league game. Western United were keen for their young prospect to gain more experience and this time Brush and Werribee succeeded. Could he be the steal of the season?

Michael Cole - ST C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNctKjN/Werribee-2021-Michael-Cole.png
With Shaun Weaver leaving the Club, there was a vacancy in the striking department that needed to be filled. Although, Cole is just 19, and unproven: there's something that Brush seemed to like in the former FC Bulleen Lions striker. It will be very interesting indeed to see what role he plays in the season ahead although he will be possibly a starter for the youths.

Added to that, there has been a further boost for the season ahead. Midfield playmaker Matteo Ballan has agreed terms on a new one year deal which will take him past his 32nd birthday on its conclusion. Brush had been keen to get his midfield maestro under contract and hopefully will be rewarded with more stellar performances as the Bees plan for life in the next level.
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Chapter 36: On the move?

Basil knew that the first season had done wonders for him. He was no longer seen as an unknown; taking on a role which he had no experience of whatsoever. Although it was just that one season, it had been a productive one and one that some media pundits tipping big things to happen next for him.

The success had even hit back home in the UK; and especially in Basil's native North East. "Local boy done well" was the headline of the Hartlepool Mail as they ran a story on Basil's success at Werribee. And his name was being linked with vacancies albeit some of them not massive. Geosonic Lowland League side Vale of Leithen had reputedly been interested in acquiring Basil but nothing came of it: Werribee had apparently asked for a compensation figure but the Vale baulked and pulled out. Then one day....

Basil was relaxing in between player searches when his mobile rang, once more it was a number that he didn't recognise.

"Hello?"
"Hi, is that Basil Brush?"
"Erm, yeah speaking. Who is this?"
"The name is Lederer, Paul Lederer. I'm the Chairman of Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club."
"Right..."
"I just wondered if you could pop over to Sydney today. I'll get a flight booked for you as you don't want to be driving for nine hours..."
"Um, yeah. What time's the flight?"
"Couple of hours from now."
"OK."
"We will look forward to meeting you then, I'll be in a car parked outside whilst my chauffeur will be in the meeting hall holding a board with your name on. Just follow him from there on, please. Oh, and thank you."
"Thank you."

Basil quickly showered, changed into his suit and hopped into his car. Thirty minutes later, he was all checked in at the airport and waited for the call for the flight to Sydney. Whilst sitting in the departure lounge, he decided to do some research. Wanderers were a Hyundai A-League side which represented a massive step up in class from Werribee. The PDF email that Paul Lederer had sent showed that Wanderers were financially sound which meant, if appointed, Basil wouldn't be raiding the bargain basement. Former Liverpool and Germany defender Markus Babbel had been a previous manager for a short spell before being succeeded by Ernie Merrick. Merrick had decided to retire from the game at the end of the season hence Lederer was keen to fill a role.

As he boarded the Airbus A319, Basil knew he was on a possible winner if he impressed Lederer enough. He could improve on their 11th position in the 2019-20 season, after all nobody had expected him to do what he did when he took over at Werribee did they?

A shade over four hours later, Basil brushed through security to be met by the chauffeur and led to a jet black limousine where Lederer was sat in the rear. The car then sped its way, its two passengers sharing a few jokes here and there in the back, to the Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta: 24 km west of Sydney City Centre but a shorter hop of 25 minutes from the airport. Once at the Stadium, Lederer ushered Basil to the board room and the two men talked in earnest for a good hour or so.

The chauffeur returned to whisk Basil back to the airport, and as he eventually took his seat on the return flight, Basil smiled to himself. "I think I did alright," Basil muttered to himself. "What will be, will be." Until he knew otherwise, Basil Brush would honour that second year at Werribee but if a new challenge presented itself to him then he'd take it with open arms. In the world of football management, Basil knew that was oh so true.

But was this too big a jump? Especially for a manager with very little experience.
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Chapter 37: A knock back leads to looking forwards

Basil sat in the hotel bar, laptop open and drinking a soda as the world passed him by. He was thinking about the Western Sydney Wanderers position he had just been interviewed for a couple of days previous. To be courted already by a Hyundai A-League side despite only having one full season's managerial experience represented a feather in the proverbial cap for Basil. Obviously the invincible season had done wonders for the Werribee manager.

Brush called "The Gaffer" (Sir Alex).

"Hello Basil," came the warm and welcoming Glaswegian tone.
"Hi Gaffer, how's things? Still enjoying that retirement?"
"Of course, been tending to some plants in the garden. What can I do for you?"
"Gaffer, I've had an interview for another managerial post."
"That's good son, you thinking about leaving Werribee after one season then?"
"Well not really.."
"Would it be a step up the managerial ladder then?"
"Yeah, Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League."
"That's the pinnacle of Australian league football right?"
"Yup."
"How do you think you did?"
"Well, I thought I came across well to them."
"That's alright then. Just don't take it to heart if they turn you down, you've still got Werribee."
"Thanks Gaffer, you're the best."
"Haha, anyway I need to walk the dog. Let me know if you need anything else."
"No problems."

The call had only just finished when Basil received an email in his inbox. He opened it immediately.

From: Paul Lederer, Chairman

To: Basil Brush

Date: 8 July 2020, 16:43

Subject: Wanderers

Hi Basil,

Many thanks for taking the time to come to Bankwest and speak to me about the vacant managerial position here.

I really liked your enthusiasm for the game and what you want to achieve. You strike me as a manager that really wants to go places in football. However, I regret to advise you that you haven't been successful in your application. The Club have gone with another applicant whose experience in Australian football slightly edged it for him.

That's not to say you're not good enough, I am sure you will land a big job soon. Just keep believing in yourself and your abilities.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Lederer
Chairman - Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club


The first managerial knock back of his fledgling managerial career. Basil sighed and took a further gulp of the soda until it was well and truly empty, crushed the can, and composed himself. Werribee were his focus now, time to finish off the two year plan and then re-evaluate at the season's end. He had hardly time to compose himself when a second email arrived, this time from a more known source: John Waddell.

From: John Waddell

To: Basil Brush

Date: 8 July 2020, 17:00

Subject: Pre-Season 2020-21

Hey bud,

Good work on the transfer front so far, still think we need a few more acquisitions though. I've enclosed the pre-season schedule that I've been busy putting together. The Melbourne Victory game is obviously the stand out, it'll be a good test for us against the big boys like we did with Western United last season.

https://i.postimg.cc/fyLpRksq/Werribee-2021-Pre-Season.png

I never read much in these results though, it's the league that matters and now we have a new chairman: a new face to try and impress. Don't think we can expect to have a season like last but if we finish top half then that'll be a real statement.

I'll see you at the Reserve tomorrow for the first team meeting with the players of the new season. They're itching to see what you have planned.

Yours in football,

John W.

Time to kick on, and prepare notes for that meeting. Basil was sure that the players were gonna be moaning about something, but he had no idea what. He would soon find out in a matter of hours.
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Chapter 38: Grumblings

It was that time again, the first meeting of the team for the season ahead. At the back of his head, Basil sensed something wasn't right but he couldn't fathom out what. Sure seven players had left the Club but none of them figured in the plans for the new season so those decisions were pretty much no brainers. The four newcomers would all be present so it was a good chance for everyone to become reacquainted after a summer break.

Time to clear the air.

Basil parked his car at the stadium and was met by John Waddell, his trusty lieutenant.

"Afternoon Basil."
"Afternoon John, anyone here yet?"
"Nope, just us at the moment."
"OK, we'll hold the meeting in the main stand instead of trying to squeeze into the sheds."
"Sounds good."

Then shortly one by one, the players arrived in dribs and drabs: senior and youth players alike. Each of them looked relaxed and disturbingly, confident as they started to seat themselves in the main stand. Basil and John remained stood out front, ready to address. Ten minutes later, all were present. Basil looked at his notes, composed himself, and spoke:

"Good afternoon guys, and for the newcomers here: my name is Basil Brush and I'm the First Team Manager here at Werribee City. I'd like to welcome you all to our first team meeting of the new season. First of all, it's good to see all of you looking so well after your break."

There was no noticeable reaction.

"I'd like to say to you, I think I was being a shade unrealistic when I said I thought we should aim for a mid-table finish this season. It's a step up in quality for us all, and we know we need to be on our A-game all season long."

There was a distinct grumbling as Basil finished those words. Basil noticed it, and looked at Waddell, his reaction said everything.

"OK then lads, you've got some kind of beef here and as the manager, I don't like this disharmony. Especially after what the majority of us experienced last season. Has anyone got the nerve to tell him what's amiss? After all, that's what these team meetings are for. If you're gonna stay silent then that's not gonna help anyone."
"I'll tell you what's up boss," Julyan Collett said as he rose from his seat. "I'm personally disappointed by the fact we look very lightweight in our midfield at present. It's as if you're just gonna rely on everyone that did well there last season and that's not on."
"Oh, is that it Julyan?"
"Yeah it is."
"Right. Anyone else think Julyan's right here?"

Alex Baird stood up, then Thomas Dunn and in the end, eleven players stood up to back up the vice-captain's comments. It was a real show of strength and unity something that Basil had never encountered before.

"I see, well we need to do something about it then."
"Yeah get some flipping reinforcements in otherwise we won't achieve whatever you're aiming for here." Collett replied, forcibly.
"Well, we're going to do something then. I do appreciate your honesty."
"Thank f**k you're listening then."
"No need for that kind of language Collett, I appreciate we've not brought in that many new faces at the moment but this is going to be a priority for me and the Club. We don't have much in the shape of cash to spend on these reinforcements, in fact I'm not going to lie: we have nada, nothing. So I'm going to have to raid the free transfer and loan markets to strengthen. That process starts later today, I'll be sitting down with Wads (John Waddell) and we'll look to get the transfers done as soon as possible."
"We're hoping to have added to the squad come start of the season, this argument ends here." John Waddell added.

The players who had stood up, sat back down like a set of dominoes, one by one.

"Now that's addressed, I've got two more new faces for you. Please welcome to Werribee Steve Bebic who will help coach you and Robbie Cole as our Head of Youth Development. Robbie will address all the youth prospects separately."

The meeting carried on for a good half an hour after that, but Basil was still very unhappy with the atmosphere as the players drove away. "We're gonna need a few more newcomers Wads. Otherwise there's a potential storm brewing." Basil said to his assistant manager. John Waddell sighed and nodded, the second season preparations hadn't got off to be the best possible start at all.
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Chapter 39: We're going shopping

As Basil and John Waddell sat in the offices of Werribee City, Basil couldn't help but think about how uncomfortable that team meeting was. He had hoped that, despite the loss of seven players, the players would come back happy and ready to keep up the good work that had gotten them promoted. What he got was a squad that was on the verge of mutiny, led by Julyan Collett. Reinforcements had to be sought to try and get the harmony back in that dressing room. It would be a shame to let player power take over, and with a new Chairman to please as well. The team had to get back down to focus and ironing out their differences.

As the week towards that first pre-season game ticked on, Basil managed to bring in five newcomers. Two of them were against his transfer principles but when you have no money to spend, like Basil did, then every new face would be welcomed with open arms.

Lachlan Scott - ST C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/hGDkWvfw/Werribee-2021-Lachlan-Scott.png
Basil had been tracking the striker all summer, and after weeks of negotiations: finally got his man. Scott was a poacher's poacher and had played in the A-League despite being only 23 now. He made 20 appearances for Western Sydney Wanderers in the three and half seasons he was there but as Wanderers cast their net further, the chances slowly dried up. A spell at Wollongong Wolves failed to kickstart his career so Brush has brought him to Werribee. His signing should put more pressure on Alec Goodwin and Nathan Elasi to deliver in front of goal.

Josh Gaspari - M C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/NFFXW6cM/Werribee-2021-Josh-Gaspari.png
The first of four midfielders to arrive that week. Josh is a hard working midfielder who was released by Gungahlin United at the end of a two year stint there. He's not afraid to add bit of aggression to his game so might be suited to breaking up team's attacks in midfield when called upon to do so. He has very good passing abilities which make him an asset to the Werribee midfield contingent and is always willing to support the attack and chip in with a goal or two.

Marinos Gasparis - M C: Free Transfer from Altona Magic
https://i.postimg.cc/hvXJCKLQ/Werribee-2021-Marinos-Gasparis.png
Basil didn't want to sign veteran players at all but when someone like Marinos seemed to be available then perhaps this is what the team needed to achieve what he wants to happen this season. Alongside Matteo Ballan, the new signing is one of the most technically gifted midfielders in the squad and if Ballan is not producing then Marinos can take over the mantle in game. He was named in Altona Magic's team of the season last season which goes to show how good he is despite his age. A risk worth taking on low wages, eh?

Michael Jessup - M C: Free Transfer from Yarraville Glory FC
https://i.postimg.cc/sfbPtLMC/Werribee-2021-Michael-Jessup.png
The second veteran midfielder signed by Basil in as many days. Although he's at the tail end of a career, Brush sees this signing as an impact player who could change the game Werribee's way if circumstances dictate it to be. The board will obviously not be pleased with this signing or the one before but sometimes there's no actual substitute for experience. He has the potential, like Gasparis, to make those younger midfielders around him better players than they are now. And if that benefits Werribee then it was a short term risk again on low wages that paid off.

Brayden Holmes - M C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/NM5Tn8Y0/Werribee-2021-Brayden-Holmes.png
The final signing of this frenetic period of recruitment was youngster Brayden Holmes, one that Basil sees as a work in progress. The youngster made 16 appearances for St Albans Saints last season after coming through their youth programme and was surprisingly not offered a full contract by them to continue his development. Capable of playing in central midfield or in the hole behind strikers, Holmes could be a diamond of a signing just waiting for a manager to let him unleash his full potential. He'll begin the season in the Werribee Youth squad but is one to keep an eye on.

So with these players in, Basil at least thought that this would improve the mood. In fact, it didn't. Collett was still moaning around that it wasn't good enough, and was refusing to talk with the manager at all. Basil decided action was needed and put the central defender on the transfer list as punishment. There was only room for one person to call the shots here and that certainly wasn't Julyan Collett. One player did seem happy about the recruitment drive though, left back Nicholas Bavcar came to see Brush personally and told him it was a smart stroke of business dealing the manager had done. Now if the others could see it that way...

Perhaps a signing of another central defender would really put the wind up Collett. Now that would be some statement...
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Chapter 39: Back into the routine

As the hours ticked on, Basil waited and waited. He had agreed terms with a new central defender but the question was: had the paperwork been registered in time for him to debut in the prestigious home friendly against Melbourne Victory which would start the pre-season preparations. Unfortunately for Basil and Werribee, time ended up being against them so Basil had to keep with what he had, and with the youths having a friendly same day, it meant a depletion of options. It also meant that Basil couldn't leave wantaway Julyan Collett out of the matchday squad this time out.

Collett was still unhappy, and nearly half the squad were siding with him. Now if the actual season got off to a more than decent start, perhaps the tide would start to turn back towards supporting the manager and stop being a bunch of spoilt brats. That Basil envisaged was one way of proving his way was indeed the right way. Then take stock from there.

Pre-Season Match 1: https://i.postimg.cc/j2BfkfwP/Werribee-2021-PSGame1.png

A capacity crowd of 4275 flocked to the Galvin Park Reserve to see the City's principal Hyundai A-League side roll into the suburb of Werribee top open the Bees' pre-season campaign. The visitors were treating it with respect as they named their senior squad to face their part-time hosts. All the goals came in the first half. The first arrived in the 14th minute when right-back Leigh Broxham floated in a cross which met by a flicked header from former PSV striker Ola Toivonen into the top corner.

Five minutes later, Victory were 2-0 ahead. Former Danish internationalist Jakob Poulsen picked out the run of Toivonen and he sprinted clear to drill home a fierce right foot shot. The gulf in class was being very evident but Werribee halved the arrears five minutes from half time; Marinos Gasparis picked out Lisandro Paz unmarked on the right and his half volley whizzed home. Yet Toivonen completed his hat-trick in the 44th minute when Traoré picked him out and he ensured it was a perfect hat-trick (header, right, left) with a directed finish. There were no further goals after that but plenty of things for Werribee to look at in their usual post-game video analysis.

Team: Thurtell (Baird 56); Lakic (Wilkes HT), Petrov (Collett 69), Dillon (Zaffina 71), Bavcar (Parkinson 45); Pistininzi (Gorgovski HT); Gasparis (Jessup 56), Ballan © (Gaspari HT); Paz (Davis 56), Holden (Ammache HT); Scott (Elasi 56)
Scorer: Paz

Before the second pre-season match, Brush added a 10th and 11th new signing to the squad to add even more competition for places. The signings meant that Werribee had cover for every position in their side. However the dark mood generated by the Collett outburst meant that there was still work to do to get back to a happy dressing room. Brush welcomed the following players to Werribee:

Brendan Gonano - DM: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/XY9CvXm7/Werribee-2021-Brendan-Gonano.png
After the release of Bradley Murray in the close season, Werribee had no real cover should Mark Pistininzi get injured or be suspended. Thus when the opportunity to sign Brendan Gonano arose, Brush was keen to bring the 23 year old to Galvin Park Reserve. Like new team-mate Jordan Thurtell, Gonano came through the AIS ranks before turning professional with Melbourne Victory. He didn't make an appearance for the A-League side but then bounced around before settling down at Richmond SC (in a second spell). Can fill in at right-back if needed.

William Abbott - D C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/kGfdsN2X/Werribee-2021-William-Abbott.png
Adding more competition to the central defence positions is the 11th new signing, William Abbott. When Collett had his outburst, Brush set to work in bringing in a quality replacement and he thinks he has found it in Abbott. At 27 year old, the new signing has plenty of time to get even better in a career that has seen him play for a number of clubs. The Tasmanian ticks all the boxes that Brush likes in a commanding central defender, height and a defender who just wants to er; defend. He also can fill in as a right-back if required such is his versatility.

Then to really turn up the heat, Brush asked Collett to show the newcomers and to help get them acquainted to their new playing surroundings. The rebel did as he was asked, but Brush spotted a scowl as the three players walked around. Talk about putting down a marker on someone.

Pre-Season Match 2:
https://i.postimg.cc/rmRBxXkj/Werribee-2021-PSGame2.png

Werribee's second pre-season saw them travel to take on minnows North Caulfield Maccabi, and a good chance to bag a hatful for goals to improve confidence. New signing Gonano went straight in the squad, but Brush landed a surprise by fielding youngsters Nemanja Kojic and Vinnie Jarvis in central defence. This luxury meant that Collett was missing from the squad entirely which Brush saw as a way to teach the player a lesson, and to be honest the team didn't miss his involvement. Everyone in the 22 man squad got minutes, and as a whole it proved to be a good workout for the Bees.

The scoring started in the second minute. After Maccabi had halted one move, Gonano put the ball back into the mix and as the keeper came then hesitated, Lachlan Scott looped his header into the gaping goal. The 3 away fans were celebrating again in the seventh minute, Brandon Zaffina picking up a pass from Josh Gaspari to lash home an unstoppable effort from outside the box. Scott was back on the scoresheet in the 10th minute when he collected a pass from Zaffina, charged forward with intent, and hammered it in from just inside the right hand corner of the area and beating the luckless home keeper at his near post.

It was only a matter of time before he completed his hat-trick, and he had it in the 17th minute. Omar Ammache clipped in the cross and the striker just simply directed his header into the far bottom corner. Easy. Then he got a fourth and Werribee's fifth in the 29th minute, Jordan Wilkes stood a cross up to the far post and the striker did the remainder. A sixth came five minutes later when Scott got baulked in the penalty area as he challenged for a Paz free-kick. Paz stepped up and confidently dispatched from twelve yards. Brush changed the side completely which caused a lack of tempo but there was still time for a seventh in the 53rd minute, Michael Holden applying the finishing touch to what looked a goal bound header from fellow substitute Oskar Dillon. Seventh heaven indeed.

Team: Baird (Thurtell HT); Wilkes (Lakic HT), Kojic (Petrov HT), Jarvis (Dillon HT), Parkinson © (Bavcar HT); Gonano (Pistininzi HT); Gaspari (Gasparis HT), Zaffina (Holden HT); Ammache (Davis HT), Paz (Holden HT); Scott (Goodwin 59)
Scorers: Scott 4, Zaffina, Paz (pen), Holden
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Career snapshot


Here we will document what has been achieved in the career so far, including any managerial changes. It will be updated at the end of every season.

1 July 2019 - present Werribee City https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png: Playing Record: 15-7-0, Trophies Won: NPL Victoria 2 Championship, Personal Accolades: None
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Chapter 40: Friendlies and finances

It was a busy August for Basil and Werribee City, five games to be played with all but one played away from home. That meant that was hardly income coming into the Club which meant, despite the takeover, the Club was still far from solvent. Basil was stringent with the contracts he was offering, trying to get the player to accept a lower than normal requested wage.

As August stood, Werribee were spending a shade of over £9,000 a week on wages against a budget of £11,949 a week. That was good but the financial experts in the board room were limiting what the Club could offer a new signing or any existing one. This was something Basil had to deal with. It was what it was.

Pre-Season Match 3: https://i.postimg.cc/L5ZZtqpx/Werribee-2021-PSGame3.png

The first friendly in August saw Werribee travel to the Freeway Reserve to play Brandon Park. It was an entertaining spectacle and Basil walked away quite frankly, very disappointed indeed. Werribee controlled the game but their finishing left a lot to be desired and that angered Basil. However the Bees were the first out of the traps, opening the scoring after just seven minutes. With the rain lashing down, Michael Jessup progressed down the right wing before sweeping in a cross that was volleyed home at the near post by Nathan Elasi.

Brandon equalised on the 17th minute, the first of three goals in eight minutes. Lovro Tomic's free-kick wasn't properly dealt with the Bees and Vincenzo Vigano swept home the loose ball. If Basil was unhappy with that goal then he was hopping mad four minutes later as the hosts took the lead. Again Tomic provided the delivery, Thomas Nelson got above Tom Lakic at the back post to head home. The scores were level in the 25th minute, and again the defending left a lot to be desired when Lisandro Paz clipped a cross into the six yard box and Jessup ghosted in unchallenged to score.

The winner came with 17 minutes to go, Anthony Williams unmarked at the far post to squeeze in a volley that substitute keeper Thomas Dunn really should have kept out. So the Bees experience their first pre-season loss, how will they react now?

Team: Baird (Dunn 69); Lakic (Wilkes 53), Abbott (Dillon 53), Parkinson © (Gorgovski 71), Bavcar (Jarvis 61); Pistininzi (Gonano 61); Jessup (Zaffina 69), Gaspari (Gasparis 61); Ammache (Davis 53), Paz (Kessie 69); Elasi (Goodwin 69)
Scorers: Elasi, Jessup

Days before the second friendly, Basil and the Bees received a financial boost. The board, conscious that the Club were not making any money due to away friendly after away friendly, pumped £140,000 into the club's coffers. Sadly for Basil, none of that was for transfer purchases as it was to deal with running costs and any revenue from transfer fees obtained will also go into the same pot. Basil scratched his head, was this the place he wanted to be at still?

The following Saturday, it was back on the road as Werribee travelled to Beaumaris SC. Could they bounce back?

Pre-Season Match 4: https://i.postimg.cc/Tw6XT1dZ/Werribee-2021-PSGame4.png

After losing to Brandon Park seven days ago, Werribee got the winning feeling back when they produced a polished performance to see off Beaumaris SC. They opened the scoring in just the third minute when a cross from Lakic, playing unaccustomedly at left-back, was headed home from a close range by Omar Ammache. The outstanding Ammache created the second in the 52nd minute when he stood up a cross to the back post where Michael Holden volleyed in via the post.

Werribee thought they had a third in the 72nd minute when substitute Nicholas Bavcar lofted a ball forward and fellow substitute Alec Goodwin steered it home. However, the striker's celebrations were muted immediately with the assistant's flag for offside. Replays shows the striker a good ten yards between him and the last defender. The third did come, and in time added-on. Bavcar provided the cross and Paz nodded in from the edge of the six yard box; completely unmarked.

Team: Thurtell (Dunn 71); Abbott (Wilkes 67), Dillon (Gaspari 71), Petrov (Parkinson 67), Lakic (Bavcar 60); Gonano (Collett 60); Gorgovski (Gasparis 60), Ballan © (Zaffina 71); Ammache (Davis 60), Holden (Paz 67); Scott (Goodwin 67)
Scorers: Ammache, Holden, Paz

Before game three, Basil was able to announce his latest capture.

Aleksandar Putilin - ST C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/1thNPGNs/Werribee-2021-Aleksandar-Putilin.png

Aleksander is another promising young striker that our scouts have identified for us as we look to scour the best talent out there for Werribee. A local youngster, born to Macedonian parents, he played 24 times in this division for St.Albans Saints last season. He also bagged four goals for a talent so raw. Blessed with pace, the youngster is a natural fox in the box type player. We have awarded him a two year contract as we think there is something special in his ability. He will start the season in the youth team but isn't too far from a first team call up should those in the pecking order above him, fail to deliver.
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Chapter 41: Getting up to speed

After the signing of Putilin, not Putin as some comedians were making out, Basil switched his attentions to the next three friendlies scheduled for Werribee. The month would end with a much needed home game against South Melbourne, and that would be a test in itself. But still there were two matches before that came around and a chance for everyone, Julyan Collett included, to get up to speed and gain some valuable match fitness with the start of the season less than two months away.

Pre-Season Game 5: https://i.postimg.cc/WbRyHn6S/Werribee-2021-PSGame5.png

The middle of August saw Werribee face Doncaster Rovers in their fifth pre-season encounter. No, they hadn't travelled to South Yorkshire to face the English League One side but an amateur side of the same name in Melbourne. And it proved to be a very good workout for the Bees as they coasted to what was pretty a comfortable victory.

Werribee opened the scoring after 16 minutes when David Parkinson swung in a corner that Nathan Elasi to touch back to Brandon Zaffina who lashed into the net from twelve yards and before the keeper could even move. Rovers' afternoon got tougher after 36 minutes when Lefteris Vliasroulis was dismissed for a crude two footed challenge on Lisandro Paz as the inverted winger rampaged forward to launch another attack. The Bees were determined to make the extra man count as Brush encouraged his troops to pass the home side ragged, Rovers knew it was going to be a hard game.

In a strong line-up, it was back up winger Lachlan Davis who really stole the show and he scored the second just four minutes after the red card. Nicholas Bavcar swung in a deep cross and Davis peeled away from the Rovers defence to volley home at the far post. The same two combined for the third which came five minutes after the restart, another deep cross from Bavcar and Davis provided the finish at the far post. Nine minutes later, Werribee had their fourth when Jordan Wilkes crossed and Michael Holden powered home a header from six yards. It came from both substitutes first touches, talk about making immediate impacts!

Team: Baird (Dunn 54); Gonano (Wilkes 59), Abbott (Dillon 59), Parkinson © (Collett 54), Bavcar (Gorgovski 66); Pistininzi (Lakic 54); Zaffina Gaspari 59), Ballan (Gasparis 59); Davis (Ammache 66), Paz (Holden 59); Elasi (Scott 59)
Scorers: Zaffina, Davis 2, Holden

The fourth away game in succession followed a week later, as the Bees travelled to the Power Reserve to face Endeavour Hills Fire. In fact, the only fire was the Bees attack as it steamrolled their opponents with a comprehensive victory. The Bees had an astonishing 31 shots at their opponents goal in the match, leaving the home keeper complaining to his manager of a bad back by the time he was substituted in the 70th minute. Basil offered very little in terms of sympathy, smiling to himself and sticking a thumbs up to his squad.

Pre-Season Game 6: https://i.postimg.cc/nh30pY7y/Werribee-2021-PSGame6.png

Last season's top scorer Alec Goodwin was given the start to lead the attack and the gangly number nine opened the scoring after just nine minutes when Omar Ammache got to the by-line and he measured his cross onto the head of the striker to simply direct a header into the bottom corner. Five minutes later, Werribee had their second. A free-kick from Matteo Ballan was met by the head of Ammache which struck the post but straight to Brendan Gonano who tapped home the rebound.

In the 25th minute, the Fire provided a sensational goal to halve the deficit when Doug Salik drilled one in from 30 yards which Jordan Thurtell had no chance of saving whatsoever. It was their highlight as three minutes later, Werribee restored their two goal advantage, Goodwin unselfishly teeing up Ammache who slid the ball with ease into the far corner. Then two minutes before half time, Werribee made it 4-1 when Gonano scored his second of the game with a superb strike into the top corner or as Brush referred to it post-game "Top Bins!". It was some strike from the defensive midfielder.

The fifth arrived in the 54th minute when a free-kick from Ballan was met with a powerful header into the net from central defender Daniel Petrov. Could they make it six? The answer was a yes as it came with two minutes left, Parkinson with the cross and a fierce volley home from Holden. A thoroughly impressive performance from Basil's Bees.

Team: Thurtell; Lakic (Wilkes 59), Dillon (Abbott 59), Petrov (Elasi 59), Bavcar (Parkinson 59); Gonano (Pistininzi 67); Gasparis (Gaspari 72), Ballan © (Gorgovski 59); Ammache (Holden 67), Paz (Zaffina 67); Goodwin (Putilin 59)
Scorers: Goodwin, Gonano 2, Ammache, Petrov, Holden

Having signed on non-contract terms at the end of June, Michael Cole had been showing a fair bit of promise in training and rumours were circulating that the young striker could leave. However, Brush was confident he could fend off those advances so he got Cole and his father down to talk. The result was that the 19 year old signed a deal that would keep him at Galvin Park Reserve until the end of 21/22 season, similar to the deal that attracted Aleksandar Putilin to the Club.

Pre-Season Game 7: https://i.postimg.cc/4NVxDWC3/Werribee-2021-PSGame7.png

The final game of August was the visit of divisional rivals South Melbourne to Galvin Park Reserve. South Melbourne had won the division last season but were eliminated in the NPL Championship Play-offs by Sydney Olympic on penalties. This would be a benchmark of what Basil and Werribee could expect in the new season.

The game though was a bit of a dull spectacle with the visitors edging it. However, Werribee scored in the opening minute with what was to prove their only shot on target all game. Lachlan Scott saw a shot blocked but straight to Ammache, who continued his impression on the right wing, by slamming it into the net. The time 57 seconds on the clock. South Melbourne levelled midway through that first half when Jade North headed home at the far post.

But other than that, that was as good as it got for the fans. A real bore draw.

Team: Baird (Dunn 72); Lakic (Wilkes 72), Dillon (Abbott 72), Collett © (Petrov 58), Bavcar (Parkinson 64); Pistininzi (Gonano 64); Zaffina (Gaspari 58), Ballan (Gorgovski 58); Ammache (Davis 72), Paz (Holden 58); Scott (Goodwin 64)
Scorer: Ammache
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Chapter 42: Should I stay or should I go?

As soon as the South Melbourne game finished, Basil didn't hang around and headed back to his hotel. That left assistant manager John Waddell to deal with any media questions.

Something was on Basil's mind.

What was bothering Basil, was the lack of transfer funds the board were promising. It was quite simply nothing and if the Club sold a player for a transfer fee, none of it would go into the transfer budget..not a single penny! So Basil sat there in the hotel room, crunching numbers. The wage budget was still under control, so Basil reduced it to allow himself some transfer funds of £62,000. However, Basil knew if he needed to have money for wages then transfer funds would be adversely affected. It was this and that.

But this was also the second year of the contract initially handed to Basil by previous chairman Angus Brown. Another conundrum to deliberate.

Basil loved Melbourne, he loved Werribee. However, would it be a good idea to move on? Basil was still young as a manager, plenty of time to build a legacy. Yet the finances at Werribee were potentially crippling his masterplan. Depending how the Bees performed, that would make the decision at the end of the season. However, if anyone else was open to appointing Basil then he was all ears. Sometimes you gotta think what's best for you and your future Basil said to himself as he downed yet another VB.
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Chapter 43: New Season, new expectations

There were four more games to come and the preparation work would then be all complete. Three more away trips before finishing off with a home friendly against Northcote City. In the meantime, John Waddell would get the fixtures sent to him and that meant the regular email to be forwarded onto Basil. 26 games for the new season, an increase of four on last.

The board had already emailed Basil though with their plans for the season ahead.

From: Craig Adam

To: Basil Brush

Date: 1 September 2020, 10:00

Subject: Board Expectations

Good afternoon Basil.

Just a wee email to let you know what we're expecting this season. Apologies I haven't been able to arrange a face to face meeting to tell you personally but I've had meetings and meetings so it's pretty hard at the moment.

* Ensure a top half finish in the league.

* Keep the wages under budget, do not spend more than we can afford. Every penny counts.

* No signings of players over the age of 30, they're too old.

* Bring in players under 23 for the first team, these are our future.

* Have a team that is defensively sound but will harry opponents into mistakes.


Not too much to ask, but I don't think we're being unrealistic. Everything here is very much achievable.

Up the Bees!

Craig
.

Basil read through it a couple of times, then looked at his squad list which he had spent the last couple of months or so building. He next looked at the finances which got updated to him every week. Yeah, Craig was talking a great deal of nonsense Basil thought. "Does he know that this is not NPL - Victoria 2 anymore? And what does he know about footballers themselves?" Basil asked himself. Then Basil remembered something that his grandfather told him when Basil just a little boy.

In 1956, a former England internationalist called Len Shackleton released his autobiography and one chapter was more famous than anything. That chapter was entitled: "The Average Director's Knowledge of Football" and was simply a blank page. That summed up Craig Adam and his footballing philosophies and practices, so Basil sent him a quick reply back in two words: "Yeah OK" before deleting the Chairman's email.

If he didn't achieve what Adam was asking for then it would be tough. Basil knew it was a different challenge ahead and the team wouldn't find these opponents as easily to dispose of as the teams last season. The feet were getting itchy, it was time to have a peruse of the job market and see if anything took Basil's fancy.

Now if Angus hadn't sold the Club in the summer, Basil was sure that the expectations would have been different. That passport might come in useful soon...
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Chapter 44: Agents and another arrival

Basil still couldn't get his head around that email from the Chairman, it was like he was expecting things from season one to be almost as good in season two. The standard was higher and there was more games to play. Werribee were the new kids on the block and Basil knew that he couldn't rely upon the same names that had done so well for him in that unforgettable opening season, this was why he had to buy, buy, buy in the close season.

Make sure, there's more than adequate cover in every position in case there's injuries or suspensions. That was why Basil decided to bring 13 new players, and not because Collett's outburst had forced his hand. But there was something gnawing at the back of Basil's head, that was whether to jump ship or not. As it stood, even if Werribee won a second successive title (highly unlikely) then there was no way they could advance to the A-League. Therefore, even if Basil saw out his contract, he would have taken Werribee as far as it was genuinely possible in the Victorian football structure. So he contacted his agent, and asked for updates on managerial vacancies worldwide. 

Stewart Smith was a man that Basil had used as an agent since those heady days as a young professional, and was someone that Basil trusted implicitly. The days before the latest friendly were spent thinking things over whilst welcoming yet another new face to Galvin Park Reserve. Meet arrival number 13:

James Karvelis - D C: Free Transfer
https://i.postimg.cc/CxLfwrWw/Werribee-2021-James-Karvelis.png

Another centre half to take the number of centre halves on the first team books to eight, now that's called having strength in depth in a position. James is aged 25, and joins Werribee after spending last season at Northcote City. He has experience of the new division with South Melbourne and Oakleigh Cannons, both whom Werribee will face this season, so this should help those lesser experienced names out. James provides height and presence to the defensive corps and his 6'3 frame should be something to look out especially on set-pieces. 

That same day had been a busy day off pitch for Basil as Stewart had come back with a couple of possible options for future destinations. Option number one was Madang FC, who featured in the exotically sounding Kumul Petroleum Resources National Football League in Papua New Guinea. The city, as Basil researched, was on the Eastern side of the country and 308 miles north of the capital Port Moresby although the two cities were just a 30 minute flight apart. Option number two was a bit closer to home though; as in closer to home back in the UK. Former Crystal Palace defender John Pemberton had been given his departure cards from Chesterfield, a town not far from Mother Brush's and of course famous for its crooked spire which dominated the town centre skyline. That would be a step up in standard.

Pemberton had, whilst Basil was doing remarkable things in that rookie season, taken the Spireites into the National League play-offs. They were unable to regain their league position as they slipped to a penalty shoot out loss to eventual winners Dagenham and Redbridge but were one of the favourites this season. Yet the new season hadn't started well, Chesterfield picking up just three points (all draws) from their nine games so far which had left them bottom of the National League. Thus David Sharpe, the grandson of Dave "JJB Sports" Whelan had seen enough and Pemberton's tenure was ended. Basil knew this would be a challenge he'd relish should Chesterfield offer him the job. Smith had sent Basil's CV to both sides and it was now the waiting game.

The night before the friendly, Basil got a call from Stewart. Madang's Chairman, Matheson Kanake, was flying into Melbourne in the morning and wanted to talk about the job. With the Bees playing in Bendigo later that day, it was going to be an early morning meeting. Basil decided to have an early night, a good night's sleep would do just the trick.
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Chapter 45: Wake me up when September ends

Basil opened the curtains that Saturday morning and was greeted with incessant rain and grey skies. He showered, shaved and changed into his suit which he would normally wear on a matchday but with one exception to the rule: the Werribee City blazer was cast aside for a basic black one. The lift arrived in the main hotel lobby, and the staff advised Basil that Kanake was in one of the hotel's conference rooms waiting for his respondent.

Kanake was a well dressed and well spoken man, and immediately thrust out a warm and welcoming handshake the moment Basil opened the conference room door. Nothing like creating a good impression straight off the bat. Basil sat across from his host, his eyes focused on what was being said. The interview actually started with Kanake waffling on about the City of Madang like it was a salesman's pitch on Dragons Den. All this went in for a good 10-15 minutes and Basil was struggling to keep his focus. Kanake then asked Basil if he had a female partner. Taken aback, Basil responded in the negative to which Kanake then went about crime in the country and that violence against women was particular rife as well as carjacking. "Don't worry about this Basil, it's under control." Kanake added, causing Basil to shift a bit uneasily in his leather backed chair.

As regards the interview, once it got going then it was about bog standard as an interview as you could have. At 10:00am, the two men shook hands and Kanake advised Brush he would be in touch with a decision in due course. The conference room opened and the men went in their separate directions: Basil back to his room to change into his Werribee blazer before the bus would pick him up for Bendigo in half an hour, and Kanake to a waiting car which would take him back to the airport and a flight to Port Moresby and home.

There had been no word from Chesterfield though, and Craig Adam had been kept in the dark with these covert movements. "Just looking after my own interests." Basil said to him as he finished getting ready and headed back to the lift so he could await the arrival of the team bus. Focus back on Werribee now.

Pre-Season Game 8:            https://i.postimg.cc/cJpPf7JK/Werribee_2021_PSGame8.png

Basil selected a fairly strong squad for the game in Bendigo, and told the lads he wanted plenty of goals to help boost the team morale. The team provided the perfect start, scoring in 25 seconds when Lachlan Davis crossed for Michael Holden to loop a header into the far corner. The encouragement was for more, and the players responded with some excellent attacking movement which left the home team chasing shadows in the sunshine and rain. Goal number two came in the 14th minute, Papadimitrou upending Holden as the winger advanced into the area. skipper for the day Matteo Ballan converted expertly. Two minutes later, Ballan had his second and Werribee their third when a Holden corner was nodded down by newcomer James Karvelis and the central midfielder rifled the ball home.

With the home side struggling to match Werribee, the game was as good as over so it became a glorified training session from then on with the visitors hardly getting out of first gear. Two minutes from half time, Werribee had a fourth. Once more Holden tortured Papadimitrou on that left flank like the defender was standing in treacle before measuring his cross onto the head of the attacking Josh Gaspari for 0-4. The home support had a rare moment of happiness five minutes after the restart when Werribee failed to clear their defensive lines and Lukas Durand scored, Brush was furious and took his frustrations out on a water bottle whilst berating his team for conceding a sloppy goal. The team knew they had to put that right.

And they did so with a fifth in the 55th minute, and it came when a Ballan corner found its way to the far post and Nathan Elasi headed in unchallenged. Five minutes later, it was 6-1 as Werribee were awarded their second penalty of the game when Holden was baulked in the area by Sevin. With Ballan off the pitch taking a deserved breather,  substitute Marinos Gasparis stepped up and made no mistake. The goal fest was complete in the 73rd minute with goal number seven for the Bees, Lisandro Paz with a sweet half volley following some more less than convincing defending at a set-piece by the home side.

Team: Dunn (Thurtell 66); Abbott (Wilkes 57), Karvelis (Petrov 57), Dillon (Parkinson 57), Lakic (Bavcar 57); Gonano (Pistininzi 57); Gaspari (Jessup 63), Ballan © (Gasparis 57); Davis (Ammache 63), Holden (Paz 63); Elasi (Goodwin 63)
Scorers: Holden, Ballan 2 (1 pen), Gaspari, Elasi, Gasparis (pen), Paz

With no word from either Chesterfield or Kanake, it was business as usual in the week leading up to the penultimate away friendly of the season. That would see the Bees go play Moreland City, a team that Werribee had swept aside last season. Moreland fancied their chances, which had become a bit of a friendly slanging match on social media between the relevant sets of fans, but Brush was out to prove a point and to show that the title win was far from a fluke.

Pre-Season Game 9:           https://i.postimg.cc/kMQKZ0bD/Werribee-2021-PSGame9.png

Three goals in the first 25 minutes proved to be the difference as Werribee picked up another win in their pre-season schedule. 

The game itself was just four minutes old when the first goal arrived. Wearing their white away colours, Werribee made the initial run and were rewarded when Paz attacked the left wing before pulling the ball back for Lachlan Scott to finish with a low finish from six yards out. Midway through the half and Werribee put some daylight in the game with two goals in three minutes which had Brush purring with happiness. These had come after both Omar Ammache and Scott had efforts chalked off for offside. In the 22nd minute, Munn sent Scott tumbling with a reckless challenge and referee Adam Kersey pointed to the spot. Ballan stepped up and made no mistake.

The teams had just regrouped when Werribee added a third in the 25th minute and it was a move right off the training ground. Ballan swung in the free-kick and new signing Karvelis powered in a header that went in via a tickle off the post. Whatever Moreland attempted, Werribee repelled with confidence, Still there was time for a third disallowed Werribee in second half added-on time, Davis this time having the effort chalked away for another offside decision.

Team: Thurtell (Dunn 74); Lakic (C,Holmes 65), Karvelis (Abbott 60), Collett © (Dillon 65), Bavcar (Parkinson 60); Gonano (Pistininzi 60); Zaffina (Jessup 65), Ballan (B.Holmes 65); Ammache (Kessie 60), Paz (Davis 65); Scott (Goodwin 65)
Scorers: Scott, Ballan (pen), Karvelis
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Chapter 46: Stick or Twist

It was a sunny morning when Basil awoke from a decent night's sleep, and he had only been awake for less than five minutes when the mobile rang. On the other end of the line was Kanake, probably telling Basil the result of the interview.

"Morning Basil, Matheson Kanake here."
"Oh, good morning Mr Kanake." Basil replied.
"I was just calling to say the manager's job at Madang is yours. I was very impressed in your interview, you are very passionate football man."
"Oh right, thank you."
"You don't have to tell me straight away. Call me back when you've made a decision but it's yours."
"Appreciated, I'll be in touch."

That call now left Basil with a dilemma, the first real one of his rookie managerial career. It was a case of stick or twist as his late father would have called it. Stick with Werribee or twist and move on, that was the conundrum. Basil fired off a text to John Waddell, he needed to speak to his able assistant. The text was short and to the point: "John, come to the hotel ASAP. Need to chat." Whilst he awaited the arrival of the likeable Victorian, Basil showered and shaved. Eventually he arrived.

"Wads, good morning. Take a seat."
"Sure mate, what's up?"
"Wads, I've been offered a managerial role at Madang FC in Papua New Guinea."
"Woah, really?"
"Yeah, and to be honest I don't know what to do. I really don't."
"Well, you follow your heart buddy. That's the best thing I can advise."
"Yep."
"You're happy here, and I know you want to progress. But why not see this season through mate then take stock after that. Challenge yourself one more time and then leave with your head held high at the expiry of your contract."
"Um.."
"Yeah sure we can't go further than this but let's enjoy this ride Basil mate. The players, despite Collett's outburst, appreciate what you've done in such a short space of time."
"I guess."
"But that's how I see it, and what I'd do. You make your own choice though. Look after number one."
"Thanks Wads."
"Anytime, anyway here's the opening month's games."

John handed over a sheet of A4, on it was the opening month of games. Two at home and two away:

https://i.postimg.cc/9fS806my/Werribee-2021-Oct20-Games.png

John Waddell had said his piece and Basil respected the honesty. What a decision to be left to make. Whatever Basil chose, someone was bound to be upset but then again this is football management. He paced up and down the room for a good ten minutes, Waddell looking on, before picking up his mobile and dialled Kanake's number. Time to give a decision.
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Chapter 47: Thanks but er, no thanks

Basil waited for the call to be answered and continued to pace the hotel as if he was desperate to go to the toilet and couldn't find one. After about eight rings, the call was answered but picked up by Kanake's voicemail: "Hi, this is Matheson Kanake. I'm sorry I can't get to the phone but if you kindly leave me a message then I'll get back to you later." then a beep.

Basil disconnected, he had a pet hate of leaving voicemails. "Damn voicemail Wads, " he bemoaned to John Waddell who was relaxed in the armchair and helping himself to a bottle of Bundaberg Ginger Beer which Basil had a stock of in the fridge. Waddell shook his head, and carried on drinking.

He tried again, voicemail again. And so the charade continued for the next half an hour, Basil was getting rather annoyed as each minute passed.

"I'm going to give him one more try Wads, you hear me?" Waddell shrugged his shoulders and sighed.

And so he did, this time Kanake answered. Success at last.

"Hello Basil?"
"Mr Kanake, oh it's so good to get in touch with you." Basil responded, tongue firmly in cheek.
"I'm sorry Basil, I had a board meeting with my company. You have to excuse me."
"It's fine, I do understand."
"Anyway, how can I help?"
"I'm just phoning back to advise you that I won't be taking the job. I thought long and hard and whilst you made me a great offer, for personal reasons I just can't accept it. I'm sure you'll find a new and willing candidate to offer it to in my place."
"That's a shame Basil, but of course I do accept this. You will be good manager in the future, I wish you the best."
"So no hard feelings?"
"None."
"Thank you for the understanding, and good luck to Madang FC."
"And to you, goodbye."

The call ended, the deed had been done. Now it was time to focus for the next friendly against Eastern Lions as well as work out the squad numbers for the new campaign. That said, Basil was unaware that he had been earmarked elsewhere and would need to decide again.

Waddell got out his notepad from his tracksuit pocket, ready to write.
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Chapter 48: The numbers game

For the next couple of hours, Basil and John Waddell started to discuss numbers. Not financial numbers, but squad numbers for the new season ahead. The players would be notified in the team meeting before travelling for the next friendly against which was a matter of just four days away. And this was the final list:

GOALKEEPERS:
1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Alex BAIRD
13. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Jordan THURTELL
21. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Thomas DUNN

DEFENDERS:
2. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Tom LAKIC
3. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Nicholas BAVCAR
5. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png / https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3e/Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg/23px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg.png Julyan COLLETT
6. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png William ABBOTT
14. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Oskar DILLON - on loan from Western United (A-League)
15. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Daniel PETROV
20. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Jordan WILKES
22. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3e/Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg/23px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg.png / https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png David PARKINSON
23. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png / https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5c/Flag_of_Greece.svg/23px-Flag_of_Greece.svg.png James KARVELIS

MIDFIELDERS:
4. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Brendan GONANO
7. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Brandon ZAFFINA
8. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/03/Flag_of_Italy.svg/23px-Flag_of_Italy.svg.png / https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Matteo BALLAN
12. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Mark PISTININZI
16. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Amanze KESSIE
25. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Josh GASPARI
26. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Omar AMMACHE
33. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Michael JESSUP
34. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png / https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5c/Flag_of_Greece.svg/23px-Flag_of_Greece.svg.png Marinos GASPARIS

FORWARDS:
9. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Alec GOODWIN
10. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Lisandro PAZ
11. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Michael HOLDEN
18. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Nathan ELASI
19. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Lachlan SCOTT
28. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg/23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Lachlan DAVIS
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Chapter 49: Preparations complete

Two more Saturdays remained before Basil and Werribee could determine that their pre-season preparations were completed. After turning down Madang in the week, Basil got his focus back. What John Waddell had said, had really hit home. Yeah, the Club couldn't go any further than the league they were in at the moment so seeing out his contract seemed to be the correct choice.

That was unless there was an offer that Basil found too hard to resist.

Pre-Season Game 10: https://i.postimg.cc/dtkwQv4s/Werribee-2021-PSGame10.png

It was a sloppy performance that Basil experienced in the penultimate friendly as Werribee laboured to a draw against Eastern Lions.

After a goalless first half, it was the home side that grabbed the lead in the 53rd minute when Jordan Tsekenis crossed from the right for Ziggy Razuki to volley home past a static Thomas Dunn. Brush's response was almost immediate as he changed his entire line up six minutes later, giving concern that he was seeing a probably defeat as an embarassment. Thankfully for him and the 119 visiting fans out of 156, Werribee equalised ten minutes after that goal.

The goal came when Brandon Zaffina teed up Michael Holden to hammer an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net. It was so fiercely struck by the winger that Keegan Coulter in the home goal didn't try to get a hand to it in case it broke said hand; Holden really put some venom into the shot. Neither side could manage to get a winner after that and the teams shook hands on a draw, Brush looking far from pleased as the teams left the field.

Team: Dunn (Thurtell 59); Abbott (Collett 59), Dillon (Karvelis 59), Lakic (Petrov 59), Bavcar (Parkinson 59); Gonano (Pistininzi 59); Gasparis (Gaspari 59), Ballan © (Zaffina 59); Davis (Ammache 59), Paz (Holden 59); Scott (Elasi 59)
Scorer: Holden

Basil resisted the temptation to delve back into the transfer market after the Eastern Lions draw. He had got an astonishing 45 players registered for Werribee for the season ahead. Granted he obviously couldn't play them all but he sat back and reflected on that there was more than enough cover now to see the team through the season ahead. It was at that time that he also received an email from David Sharpe, telling him that Chesterfield wouldn't be taking Basil's application any further for the position at the Proact Stadium.

The Werribee chief would later learn it had been given to Paul Tisdale, the former manager of Exeter City and MK Dons. "Their loss," Basil reflected, "I'll go and prove a point elsewhere." Basil said to himself. Back to Werribee business.

Pre-Season Game 11: https://i.postimg.cc/yd8CMzDz/Werribee-2021-PSGame11.png

Two goals in the late stages ensured that Werribee City would finish their pre-season schedule with a win and a clean sheet. It was particularly satisfying for new central defender James Karvelis who had played for Northcote City last season and gave Brush reasons for optimism that his reshaped squad can hold their own this season.

Despite creating the best of the chances, it seemed for a long period that Werribee would rue missed chance after chance. That was until 11 minutes from the end when they were awarded a penalty when Dunlop obstructed Lachlan Davis in the penalty area and right under the referee's nose. Marinos Gasparis stepped up and coolly placed the resultant spot kick low and into the bottom corner. Then in time added on, the victory was secure when Josh Gaspari produced a sublime curling effort into the corner from range. It was a goal that was worthy winning any match, never mind a pre-season one.

Team: Baird (Dunn 60); Wilkes (Abbott 60), Karvelis (Petrov 65), Dillon (Parkinson 60), Lakic (Bavcar 60); Gonano (Pistininzi 60); Zaffina (Gasparis 60), Ballan © (Gaspari 65); Paz (Davis 65), Holden (Ammache 65); Goodwin (Elasi 60)
Scorers: Gasparis (pen), Gaspari

So the pre-season record stood at played 11, seven wins and two draws and losses apiece. A win percentage of 64% which pleased Basil no end but as Basil reminded the players in the shed after that last game; pre-season means nothing to what the real stuff is like.

The following morning, Basil would receive a surprise call. One he hadn't seen coming for sure.

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