DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 1 - Club Overview


So I've not posted a career on here I think since FM 12 (possibly showing my age there) but fancied documenting a save again. We are starting in the League of Ireland First Division and have taken over Semi-Professional outfit Bray Wanderers.

Breaking News - Bray Wanderers have a new manager


The concept of the save is pretty straight forward. I've only loaded the Republic of Ireland leagues as playable leagues, and we will attempt to take Bray Wanderers from a 2nd tier, semi-pro club to a 1st tier, pro club. Following that I will attempt to get into Europe, and over time begin to increase Ireland's reputation in Europe, increasing the nations co-efficient in the process.


I don't claim to be very good at FM so chances I won't get very far but we will give it a go! If I really don't think I can take Bray any further then we will try and move on to another club, however the plan will be to stay in Ireland.


So following my appointment of “The Seagulls” let's take a look at the club.

Bray Wanderers Club History

One thing to note is I'm switching the currency over to Euros, for a little extra touch of immersion (as much as I understand the value of the £ more being English, I don't think it's right expecting the club to convert everything over for me!)

A fairly simple set of objectives from the board

I chose to manage Bray mainly because at the club selection screen they didn't have any specific expectations, from either the board or the supporters. I prefer to be able to come in and do the job I want to do, not what they want me to do.


Introduction to the Squad

Below is our initial squad and shape. I'm not sure why but I've never really deviated away from a back 4 in my FM playing days so have decided with a new project to try and implement a 5-3-2 with a Route One style and Positive mentality. Let's be honest at this level I don't want to be making things too complicated at this point.

Starting XI before the first transfer window

I know star ratings aren't everything but with an early look at this my first piece of business will be to look for new Wing Backs, on both sides of the pitch. Potentially an extra CB or two, a CM and a ST. Alongside this because I'm very keen to stick with 5 at the back, I'll be looking to offload any players who are pure wingers and nothing else. Of course the option is always there to switch formations, but if I want to stick with a certain setup, they aren't going to get game time with us.

Full Squad list

The full squad list shows a couple of extra areas to look to strengthen. We most definitely require a new GK, as either a suitable backup to Stephen McGuinness or a first-choice. Luckily there aren't too many wingers at the club so there isn't too much required, although we are probably quite bloated at CM, so some players will need to be moved on so we can replace the areas we want. We might want to sell the likes of Callum Thompson and Marty Waters, as removing them will free up £500 a week in wages (I will change to Euros by the next screenshot!)


Club Finances

We've started the save with €124,703 in the bank which I feel is a very healthy state to be in. Transfer budget wise we had €3,480, but realistically we aren't going to sign anyone for money and will rely more on free agents. Wage wise we have €6,087 a week to spend on wages, however we are already spending €5.790 a week, meaning we only have €297 a week spare. You can tell straight away the need to sell some players who won't be featured to free up some funds. I could potentially ask the board to increase this but from a semi-realism standpoint I don't think I could walk straight into a new job and demand more money to spend!



I don't tend to release staff members unless they are rubbish and are on non-contracts. Worse-case if they aren't very good I've only got to deal with them for 1-2 seasons then I can replace them. Coaching wise we seem fine, actually having the highest rating in terms of attacking, and being right up there in most coaching categories.

Coaching Staff

The board feel we have too many coaches which is fine, apart from the Performance Analyst they will all be out of contract at the end of the season. Recruitment team wise there is already a hole I need to fill, which is the Chief Scout, as we currently do not have one.

Recruitment Staff

We also may look to hire a physio to support the head physio.

Medical Staff

Conclusion/What's next

So there's a little bit of work to be done between now and the start of the season. We have the first transfer window to navigate, as well as assessing the squad in pre-season, and filling a couple of vacant spots we have in our staffing team. The game started on January 16th 2023, with our first competitive fixture on Friday 17th January vs Treaty United. It's a unique league for the British Isles in the sense of being completely out of whack with the season months (Feb-Oct instead of Aug-May).


The next post will be a transfer round-up, a more detailed introduction to the squad, and a look ahead to our league campaign.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 2 - Transfer Business


Transfer Window

We've come to the end of the transfer window, which conveniently comes a day before our first match against Treaty United. After some tinkering with the scouting package and some sales (1 very reluctant sale) we managed to bring in 6 new players to the club. Sadly some of the players I wanted to offload didn't happen, mainly due to them being paid too much money for their ability, so we are stuck with them for now.


Transfers Out

First off our transfers out. Keith Dalton was one of our wingers who didn't have a place in the squad in the current setup. Sherbourne in the Premier Division were happy to take him for a fee of €21k, freeing up about €200 a week in wages. Callum Thompson was another winger in the squad, but because of his €300 a week wages no one wanted to buy him outright. In the end we loaned him to title favourite Waterford, for a small upfront fee, monthly payments, and they are also paying the majority of his wages. The sad departure was of club captain Hugh Douglas to Premier Division outfit Sligo Rovers for €30k. Valued at around the €50k mark, we wanted to keep him, but after rejecting an initial €20k bid from Sligo upset Hugh quite drastically. In the end I managed to calm him down and set an asking price we were both happy to sell him for. The sale price was still less than I wanted however it's a step up in quality for Hugh and ultimately didn't want to get in the way of that.


Transfers In

We managed to bring in 6 players, all of which will start in our opening game of the season.

Lucas Gomes - Our new number 9

Swedish striker Lucas Gomes comes to us as a free agent. At 19 years ago with bags of potential he was a great pick-up for us, instantly becoming our number 1 striker at the club.


Massinissa Oufella - DM/CM

21 year old Frenchman Massinissa Oufella was also a free agent signing to bolster our midfield. Natural at DM but very capable at CM (where he will start in the first match).


Clement Bamelis - Our new first choice goalkeeper

21 year old Belgian Clement Bamelis was another free agent signing. A new goalkeeper was a priority, whether an upgrade on our current GK or a suitable backup. Bamelis however is better than what we have so will start the season as our number 1. This did upset Stephen McGuinness (our other GK) who wanted to leave, however after a chat with him he's calmed down. Depending on performances they might share duties but we will see.


Shaun Cummings - Right Wing-Back

33 year old Jamaican Shaun Cummings comes to us with 3 caps for his country under his belt. Not the best signing in the world but at this level finding top quality wing backs is difficult. He's still better than any other option we had and will start the season as our starting right wing back.


Ben Lynch - A natural left wing back


21 year old homegrown Ben Lynch joins us on loan from divisional rivals Longford. With not much time to find a left wing back he was the best I could find. A natural in the position was a big selling point. We are paying 100% of his wages, but at €150 a week that seemed fair.


Leon Clarke - an old man but a tall man


Our last signing of the window is 38 year old English forward Leon Clarke. I don't tend to like signing older players, but I wanted a suitable target forward and he was the tallest striker available that would improve us slightly. All my other strikers are 5'9" or shorter!


Starting Line-up

So with the window closed and no other business to tend to (I'm annoyingly €2 a week over budget!!!) here is our starting line-up to take on Treaty United away in the first league game of the season.


Starting XI for the first game of the season

We've already seen Bamelis in goal, but here are our back 3.


Kevin Knight - One of our starting CB's but can also play WB (L)
Daniel Blackbyrne - Another of our CB's but can also play WB (R)
Joe Gorman - Our final starting CB

We've already seen both of our wings backs. Starting at DM is new club-captain Dean Zambra.

New club-captain Dean Zambra, starting the season at DM

Oufella was another one of our signings, he will be starting at CM alongside the clubs highest paid player (and one of our best players to be fair) in Conor Clifford.

Conor Clifford - a solid DM/CM who is on the big bucks!

Clarke sits in as the Target Forward with Gomes as the furthest forward.


Other players will be shown in detail as and when they get on the pitch.


The League

League odds

Waterford, Cork City, and Galway Utd  are the big 3 in this division. All three clubs are professional with the rest of us semi-professional. 1st place wins automatic promotion, with 2nd-5th entering the playoffs. The winner of the playoffs plays 2nd bottom from the Premier Division, with the winner in the Premier Division, the loser in the First Division. As you can see we are considered the strongest of the semi-pro teams this season, which if we can get near our prediction I'll be happy with the playoffs. We also currently have two players in the Dream 11, with Bamelis and Gomes making the cut. The board are after a mid-table finish, which as an absolute would mean 5th and still the playoffs, so fingers crossed we at least give ourselves the chance of making it.


Conclusion/What's next

It's time to start the season! Next post will be the review of the first 6 weeks of the season, as I will play through until the end of March. 7 league games scheduled a Leinster Senior Cup Fourth Round tie against league rivals Athlone Town to come.

First fixtures of the season


And one last look at the wage budget (it wouldn't let me move over any more scouting budget frustratingly!

How annoying
DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 3 - February-March 2023


With the 2023 season now underway, how have we got on in the last 6 weeks or so? 

Topsy-turvy start to the season

We started off brilliantly with a 3-2 victory at Treaty Utd, with Lucas Gomes scoring a brace before Conor Clifford gave us the win in the 92nd minute. We followed this up with a 1-0 victory against Athlone Town in the Leinster Senior Cup, with Darragh Lynch scoring. Probably our finest result followed, beating promotion favourites and professional side Waterford 2-0, with Gomes again with a brace. Form took a turn for the worse afterwards, with 3 consecutive defeats. Dundalk are 2nd in the Premier Division however so was to be expected, as we bowed out of the Leinster Cup at the quarter-final stage. The defeat to Cobh Ramblers also stung, as on paper they are considered the worse team in the league by far.


We managed to turn it around however, starting off with a 2-1 victory against another one of the big 3 in our league in Galway Utd. Lynch grabbing 2 goals including an 88th minute winner. This was followed up with a 2-1 win against Wexford. The last game of the month pitted us against runaway league leaders in Cork City, in a match we went 2-0 down early on. We fought back to 2-2 before a devastating 93rd minute winner for Cork meant they remained top of the league, only dropping 2 points all season so far.


League Table

Sitting nicely in 3rd presently

Cork City look comfortably the best team in the league at present, however with a small league it only takes a couple of results for teams to shift places. Athlone Town sit 2nd, and we are currently 3rd. On reflection of the games we've played and how well/not well we've played in them, I think the league position is just fine. Must admit though didn't think losing almost as many as you win would put us 3rd but not complaining at the moment.


The Squad

We've had a couple of squad issues emerge over the back end of March. Most of our players have decided they aren't happy with the amount of centre-backs we have at the club (could of mentioned this whilst the transfer window was open, we have to wait until July now!) A couple of fringe players have also complained about a lack of game time. I've managed to calm them down though and have promised one of them I'll give them substitute minutes.


Current Squad Statistics

Lucas Gomes is currently our top performer based on average rating, and is also our leading goal scorer with 6 goals from 9 appearances. Darragh Lynch has forced his way into side ahead of target man Leon Clarke as one of our more consistent performers. Lynch has 4 goals and 2 assists from 9 appearances. We also have three centre backs playing well in Joe Gorman, Jack Hudson and Kevin Knight.


We've been a bit disappointed with our two starting wing-backs so far, with Shaun Cummings and Ben Lynch both struggling. Leon Clarke has also been disappointing so far, however of course it is only early days. 


Below are some of our players who have featured frequently so far this season (but haven't had their profile shared yet).


Jack Hudson - Been a good performer so far at both CB and LWB
Karl Manahan - Been the next CM in line if players have needed a rest or have been injured. 7 appearances so far with 4 starts.
Darragh Lynch - Has forced his way into the starting line-up alongside Lucas Gomes


Conclusion/What's Next

With no other cup competition until the Senior Challenge Cup in July, we now have a run of 17 straight league fixtures, which I'd imagine by the end of that stretch will give us an idea where we really are. We will return and the end of May to see where we are in the league after 16 games played, which will be the halfway stage.

Our next two months of fixtures - all in the league

With a league of 9 clubs we play everyone 4 times throughout the season. Our first game against Longford will mean we've played every team once.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 4 - April & May 2023

Well I'll be honest, the last two months have been a disaster for us!


On a horror run at present

After a couple of 1-1 draws and a bit of tinkering with the formation we started to score goals fairly regularly. Unfortunately we were conceding more! After the 2-0 win against Athlone Town I thought we were doing ok until the next run of 4 games, losing all 4 games and conceding 14 goals in the process. One bright spark though has been the emergence of Marty Waters as our 3rd man up top.

Marty Waters - 5 goals from 6 starts this season

Due to the failings of Leon Clarke I decided to give Waters a go, and in 6 starts has bagged 5 goals and 1 assist, which is a great return, but even that hasn't helped our poor run. How does the league table look?


League Standings - 1st June 2023

We are still perfectly fine in terms of where we are in the league, however I'm concerned that if we keep up our horrendous form that we may end up being dragged towards the bottom of the table with Wexford, who are the only real team we have a bit of daylight from. There's still plenty to play for at this stage, we are halfway through the season presently. I just hope we aren't too far behind by the July transfer window opens as we will certainly be looking to strengthen the squad.


Squad Statistics - 1st June 2023

Darragh Lynch and Lucas Gomes are still our best two performers so far this season, with Lynch grabbing 6 goals and 6 assists from 18 appearances. Gomes with 11 goals and 2 assists, also from 18 appearances. Jack Hudson is also still performing well at CB, a 7.08 average rating is a great effort in a back line shipping goals at the moment. Most of the rest of the squad are playing average at best but the really disappointing ratings are still coming from loanee Ben Lynch and striker Leon Clarke. One of my priorities in the window is to sign another LB/LWB, as for as poor as Lynch has been playing, his natural replacement in Paul Fox has been even worse! I certainly won't be extending Clarke's contract at the end of the season either, still yet to score for the club after 11 attempts so far.


Conclusion/What's next

I must admit I almost rage quit after the four defeats in a row but we will keep plugging along for now. Coming up next will be results from June & July 2023 and how we get on in the July transfer window.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 5 - June & July 2023 + July Transfer Window


So we had a poor April & May, were we able to start turning around our fortunes?

We at least started the month of June off with two draws, better than two defeats!

We managed to snap out of a four game losing streak with a crazy 3-3 draw at Treaty United. We were 2-0 up at half time, then before we knew it we needed an 89th minute equaliser to rescue a point. We then erased a 2-0 deficit against Waterford. After that…

5 straight league defeats and then what's this? A win!

We just fell off a cliff. The good news is we started shipping more like 2 goals a game as opposed to 3 goals a game. The downside was we were only scoring 1 goal a game instead of 2! I can't really comment much on the run, it's just going horribly wrong. We will move onto the transfer window shortly, where we only looked to strengthen in defence and midfield. We've also lost Conor Clifford for 3-4 months after damaging his achilles!


We did finally get a victory, albeit against a lower tier club in Carrigaline Utd, but still the way we've been playing to record a clean sheet and score 7 goals was very pleasing. Hopefully heading into August we can convert that into some league results.


League Table - 1st August 2023

So as you can see we have completely dropped off and to be honest despite the horrendous form Wexford have been worse, unless they play us (we haven't got a point against them yet!) With 9 games to go I would say at this stage we are just hoping to close the gap on Longford and Cobh Ramblers.


Before moving onto the squad performance let's head over to our transfer business, as we sold a couple of players and replaced with fresh legs.


Transfers Out

Two of my signings at the start of the season have gone.

I shipped off Leon Clarke and Shaun Cummings. They were two of my worse performing players and were taking up too much money on our wage bill, so just wanted rid of them. Selling them allowed us to bring in some new faces.


Transfers In

5 new signings have come in

Apart from Khalon Haysman, who is a DM/CM, the other 4 new signings are defenders.

Brian Gyan - CB/DM
Andrew Quinn - On loan from Drogheda Utd
Khalon Haysman - Useful addition to our midfield
Michael Gallagher - RB on loan from U.C.D
Jules Garreau - Our last signing, a LB on a non-contract

So with our new signings, who have all played in the month of July, who have the whole squad performed?


Squad Stats - 1st August 2023

It's obviously early days for Jules Garreau but Darragh Lynch and Lucas Gomes continue to be our main men up front. Lynch has 9 goals and 8 assists from 26 appearances, and Gomes has 17 goals and 4 assists from 26 appearances. We will see how the new boys settle in in our push to not finish bottom of the league!


Conclusion/What's next

Next part will be the end of season review, with 9 league games to go plus the Senior Challenge Cup, hopefully we will see an improvement in results!

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 6 - August 2023

So the original plan was to post the rest of the season, but I wanted to get this out there whilst it was going on. Below are our results for August 2023, all in the league.


Form has certainly turned around

The start of the month was business as usual, following a 2-1 defeat to Treaty Utd. Following that though we've gone on an incredible run, certainly considering the fact we hadn't won a game in the league since the 1st May. We started off with a 3-1 win against Longford, a game despite being 3-0 up at around the 50 minute I still wasn't confident we would win. We followed that up with a 4-1 win at Galway Utd, before finally recording a clean sheet with a 4-0 win against Waterford (who are 2nd in the league). We ended August with a 5-1 home win against Athlone Town.


Lucas Gomes had an incredible month with 9 goals, and Darragh Lynch also chipped in with 4 goals. Obviously the goalscoring has been pleasing but perhaps more so is the fact we've appeared to be a touch more defensively solid.


League Table

The league table looks a lot better following this run of victories, now only 3 points off the playoffs with a game in hand. The concern is the fact our next match is in the Senior Challenge Cup against Derry City, who are currently 2nd in the Premier Division. Hopefully it doesn't start another turn in form with us now down to the business end of the season.


Conclusion/What's next

Following an impressive August here are our remaining fixtures for the season.


Last few fixtures of the season

Based of table and form we should be looking at 3 potential games we can win. Cork City are top of the league, but if they've been crowned champions by then perhaps they will rotate their squad. We will be back after the Longford game to see where we've ended up. Will we sneak into the playoffs? The good thing is we only need 1 point to guarantee to not finish bottom of the league!


DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 7 - September & October 2023

So with our final two months of the season incoming and with renewed playoff aspirations, how did we get on? Did we continue our great form and slide in the back door?

September & October Results

We started September off with a 4-0 defeat against Premier Division side Derry City. The result was expected but the worry was the morale dropping at this vital stage. We followed this up with a 1-1 draw against Cobh Ramblers. It was our first point against them in 4 attempts! We added in friendlies around the main fixtures as at this stage of the season we had a fortnight between games, so we wanted to keep morale up and wanted to keep the squad match fit. We then beat Wexford 4-1, before an expected 2-1 defeat against Cork City. This left us requiring a draw in the final game of the season against Longford to secure a playoff birth. Luckily we managed a 1-0 win, with Conor Clifford the hero of the day.


From complete obscurity to a playoff place, we've turned the season round fantastically, and seemed to settle on a formation that's worked for us.


Final League Standings

We managed to leapfrog Longford with our victory, meaning we avoided Cork City in the playoffs semi finals (a team we've lost every game to this season), and instead meet Athlone Town, who we've won 3 and lost 2 against this season, which gives us a much better chance of moving on. Chances are we will meet Cork if we get through, but there's always a chance!

Playoff Semi Final Fixtures

I will post a full end of season review after the playoffs, but for now we've also been extending certain contracts for next season.

Players locked down until at least the end of next season

Most of our new signings were already locked down so the task was to try and get some more current players on board for next season. We currently have a squad of 12. The good news is a good chunk of our contract extensions actually took pay cuts which was nice. We will look to add a few more to this list by the end of the season. For example Marty Waters wants too much money at the moment, I'm happy to keep him on board as a squad player but he hasn't warranted a €350 a week wage, considering the performances compared to Darragh Lynch. I've noticed I've missed out backup keeper Stephen McGuinness as well, who took a €50 a week pay cut to remain. Gives us plenty of room in terms of wage budget for next season.


Conclusion/What's next

Result of the playoffs and end of season review.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 8 - 2023 Season Review

The 2023 season has concluded, and before we get to the season review the big question was, how did we get on in the playoffs?


We almost made it but fell just short

I was confident with the Athlone Town tie and was right to be, with a 4-2 win at home to set us up nicely for the return leg, where we drew 2-2. We then met Cork City in the Playoff Final (technically semi final as the winner plays 2nd bottom in the Premier Division) and raced to a 4-1 lead after 51 minutes thanks to a Lucas Gomes hat-trick. Sadly I felt we bottled it from here, as Cork scored 3 times in the last 15 minutes to draw the game 4-4. In the return leg away from home it was always going to be a big ask, and we gave it a good go, but sadly ended up losing 1-0 and 5-4 on aggregate. This does mean we will be remaining in the First Division for another year, but after not winning a game for nearly 3 months I think it's perfectly justified, and with a winter of clearing out the deadwood and really putting our stamp on the team I'm not too disappointed.


End of season squad stats

So with the end of the season let's see who were our top performers. Lucas Gomes finished the season with 35 goals and 6 assists from 40 games which was a tremendous return, and with him secured for another season hopefully we can push for promotion. I do feel if we don't get promoted we will almost certainly lose him, as he's far too good for this level. Darragh Lynch was also a top performer and a bit of a surprise package with 17 goals and 13 assists from 40 games. Andrew Quinn came in on loan in July and was a solid addition, I did look at bringing him in for next season but his parent club want €250k, so that won't be happening, although with his contract expiring at the end of the year perhaps if he doesn't sign an extension we can pick him up as a free agent signing. Jack Hudson has played well when called into the side, however he may not have the ability to stick around in our plans for the following season. I have offered him a contract for next season on reduced wages however, as we probably need to keep hold of a couple more players so it's not a complete rebuild of the squad.


End of Season Review

Final League Table - A C+ from the board seems a little harsh!
Memorable moments
The financial situation isn't great at the club at present. 
Don't agree with this as our best eleven!
I think Lucas Gomes was our best player this season


Things to note before the January transfer window

We've been given our initial budget for the season:

A nice increase to the wage budget

I plan on bringing players in for no more than €300-400 a week so there's room for plenty of signings. 


We are also now being expected to make the playoffs next season which I think is a fair target, from both the board and the supporters.


Conclusion/What's next

Coming up next is the transfer window before the start of the season. I've already had some of my best players want to leave for higher level clubs, in most cases I've managed to calm them down for now, and will let them go for the right price as the club is struggling a touch financially. We will see how this goes!

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 9 - 2024 Season Preview & Transfer Window

After a rollercoaster first season in charge it was time to start looking ahead to the 2024 season and my second season in charge of Bray Wanderers. There was plenty of ins and outs so let's start with who has left the club before the start of the season.


Transfers Out

Transfers Out before the year turned over

Cathal Levingston, Augustine Ortega and Ruairi Douglas were all youth players so that was some free money (we had a 190k cash injection from the owners and we were still 200k in debt). Callum Thompson was a winger who didn't fit into our plans and was away on loan all season so was happy for him to leave to free up some wage budget.


Players released at the end of their contracts

Jamie Hollywood probably played the most out of the 5 names on this list but none of these players were really featured and really were a couple of steps below the first team (and were too old to play in our U19s). These players were all released at the end of their contracts.


Three more releases that ticked over in to 2024

These three were out of contract but we kept them around until we'd found replacements.


Onto the bigger news though as unfortunately we had to say goodbye to some key players.

Was sad to see all 3 of these players go, they were all in our starting line up for the season

Jules Garreau joined us during our excellent run at the back end of the season. Sadly he was on a non-contract and wasn't interested in signing a proper contract so we ultimately signed by a new club, nothing I could do with that. Lucas Gomes who was our star man wanted to leave after I rejected a bid of 25k from Shamrock Rovers. The only way I managed to keep it from escalating was by putting a price tag on him, and €250k was the most I could do without upsetting him. Shamrock came in with that offer and I had no choice but to let him go. He should be playing at a higher level to be fair. Finally we also lost number 1 goalkeeper Clement Bamelis in a similar situation to Gomes, but for a smaller fee. Whilst we were obviously disappointed to see these players leave, it did give us some budget to play with.


Transfers In

So with the transfers out, who have we brought in?


New players into the club for this season

Overall we have lost 11 players from our first team and brought in 10 so not too bad. Derin Adewale & Pharell Manuel were signed for our U19s.


Nathan Itangishaka

Nathan Itangishaka is a 19 year old Belgain who can play in a number of positions for us. A few of our pickups are versatile, which with a small-ish squad could prove very useful. Natural at CB/DM and more than capable at RB, Nathan looked like a good pickup for us. We were shaky in defence last year so our priority was too strengthen up in those areas.



Brian McManus - a useful option at DM/CM

Brian McManus is a 21 year old Irishman who comes in as competition for both the DM and CM positions. His wage demands were more than reasonable so thought he was a good pickup for us.


Adam Wells - brought in for competition at LB

Adam Wells is a 20 year old Irishman who gives us some more depth at LB. He's actually considered more of a CB but at 5'9" I'd much rather him provide cover at LB.


Eoin Farrell - Very versatile signing 

Eoin Farrell, a 21 year old Irishman cost us €100k but at the time we were really struggling to find suitable options at right back. However his versatility made him an important signing, as he can also play at DM and is natural at CM. 


Michael Gallagher - managed to pick him up on a permanent deal after his loan spell

Michael Gallagher came in after Farrell but he became available after his loan spell with us last season. He played well enough for us for me to pursue him on a permanent basis.


Matthew Briggs - Our new starting left back

We brought in Matthew Briggs from Gosport for about 10k to slot in as our starting left back. Again I'm not a fan of signing older players but we were struggling to find suitable replacements for Garreau after he left.


Sigurdur Hrannar Porsteinsson - Not quite Lucas Gomes but a huge presence (literally) upfront

Our final signing of the window was Sigurdur Porsteinsson, a 23 year old Icelandic striker. At 6'5" he will be a big presence in the air, and whilst certainly not at the standard of Lucas Gomes he's an upgrade on what was left at the club.


Squad list for the start of the 2024 season

So after our transfer business concluded before the start of the season, here's what we are left with. We've taken a slight hit in terms of star player quality, however we have improved massively in terms of depth, which will allow us to rotate the squad without too much drop in performance. We still have Enda Douglas and Karl Manahan at the club on month-to-month contracts, I plan on releasing these two by the July transfer window where hopefully we can add in the last few pieces. We will definitely need to add in another GK. Again whether this is to replace McGuinness as our number 1 or to be a more capable backup will depend on what's available. I'd also like to bring in one more striker, but I don't think I need to do too much else.


Nicely within budgets for now

Budget wise we are fine, I actually took a chunk of transfer revenue and put it into our scouting budget as I was desperately trying to replace Bamelis and Gomes!


Season Preview

Bookmakers have us finishing 3rd

At one point we were clear favourites for the league, however losing Bamelis and Gomes have dropped the prediction down to 3rd. We would be more than happy with a 3rd place finish though and another trip to the playoffs.


Conclusion/What's next

With the season about to begin I will come back at the end of March 2024. We got off to a good start last season until the wheels came off, hopefully we can start well again this season but actually continue it for a bit longer (or at least not have a horror run like last season!)

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 10 - Feb & March 2024

So with the new season underway how have we got on?

A familiar sight

Much like last season we got off to a great start, winning our first 4 games of the season, and very comfortably. Then the form dipped as the goals dried up and we are currently winless in 5. The upside is we are definitely much more solid in defence, but really missing those goals from Lucas Gomes. We've been ahead on xG in virtually every game we've played so far though so despite the results we are playing well.

League standings

So we are in an ok spot in the league at present. Providing we don't go on another run without winning a game for a few months I'm not worried about making the playoffs, based off of the games we've played so far. It certainly highlights the need for an extra striker to bring in to provide some more quality upfront.


Squad stats

Brian McManus has been our best performing signing so far (not including Michael Gallagher, whilst technically a new signing he was with us last season). In terms of goals Ben Feeney leads the way with 4 goals. Little disappointed with Porsteinsson so far, after making his debut from the bench and scoring he's not done a lot for us, hopefully once settled he will start finding the back of the net a bit more.


Conclusion/What's next

Upcoming fixtures

We will come back at the end of June just before the transfer window opens. 13 games in the league to play, hopefully we will get back into form and keep up with the top end of the league before adding in the pieces we need.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 11.1 - 2024 End of Season Review

So I got a bit carried away and ended up playing through until the end of the season, so we will start by going through the transfer business we did in July, the players we've signed and the ones we let go. I will break this down into two parts, first off our transfer business and performances in the cup, the next post will be our league performances and squad review.


Summer Transfer Roundup

Players Out
Players we let go during the mid season transfer window

So first to leave was club captain Dean Zambra, who went to Cobh Ramblers on a free. Dean was a loyal servant to the club however expressed his ambition to leave the club after the 35 year old was lower down the pecking order this season. To be fair the same can be said for all 4 departures, these were all players that were with us from the beginning. Daniel Blackbyrne went to Treaty Utd in a €5k deal, and Kevin Knight went to Wexford for €6k. Lastly we let goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness go to Drogheda Utd on a free. We didn't want to sell him but he was upset about us signing a better goalkeeper and knew his game time would be limited so requested to be moved on.


Players In
The players we brought in

I won't post screenshots of the players this time because as you can tell, we brought a fair bit in. Sam Bone is a 26 year old Malaysian international defender (17 caps to his name) who can play in a variety of positions. He featured for us most prominently as a CB, but is also a natural RB (I feel standing 6'5" isn't a natural right back though!) and capable of playing RWB, DM and CM. Jonathan Afolabi is a 24 year old former Irish U21 international striker who came in to improve our attack. We noticed before the window that we weren't scoring too many goals so needed to add in some extra firepower. The same can be said for 29 year old Zimbabwean international Macauley Bonne and 21 year old Englishman Taj Sodje. Afolabi and Sodje tended to start more games us in the end, with Bonne playing more of an impact sub role.


24 year old English goalkeeper Thomas McGill came in to become our new number 1 at the expense of McGuinness, and we also brought in 21 year old Mathyas Randriamamy, who since appearing for us as made won his first two caps for Madagascar. 27 year old Irish midfielder Jason McClelland was a bit of a panic buy from me, as I was looking to alter our formation following a poor run of games. However I went against this in the end and Jason sadly didn't get too much game time. 


Our last 3 signings was 20 year old Spanish right back Marc Jurado, who went straight into the Dream 11 as being considered the best right back in the league. We brought in another Zimbabwean in 33 year old left back Adam Chicksen. We had no real starting left back and to be honest Adam probably shouldn't fit the bill either but was the best we could get. Finally we brought in 18 year old Italian midfielder Francesco Crapisto, who was a great signing for us, despite only being 18 was easily one of the best players at the club and in the league, and perhaps has one of the greatest names I've seen in FM!


Starting XI
What we settled on as our strongest XI

Took a bit of time for the new players to settle in but eventually this pretty much turned out to be our strongest XI and the side I'd try and get out most games if possible.


Competitions Review 

Leinster Senior Cup

Board Expectation: None

Fourth Round

Quarter Finals

As noted above there was no expectation in this competition. We beat Ulster Senior League side St. Mochtas in the fourth round thanks to a Colin Kelly brace and an effort from Marty Waters, before losing 2-1 to another Ulster League side in Malahide Utd. Ben Feeney gave us the lead early but we gave it away. Because of the lack of care for the competition we weren't too upset with this.


Senior Challenge Cup

Board Expectation: Reach the quarter-finals

First Round

We played league rivals Athlone Town in the first round of the Senior Challenge Cup. The first round is the last 32 so essentially we had to win two ties to meet the expectations of the board. We ended up going to penalties after full time finished 0-0. We thought we'd won it after a 96th minute goal from Taj Sodje however a heart-breaking 120th minute equaliser forced the tie to penalties. We prevailed in the shootout, scoring 5 from 5, with Athlone missing the crucial penalty from their third attempt. Penalty takers for us were Clifford, Afolabi, Bonne, McManus & Bone.


Second Round

Well this was a wild game. We were given an away tie against Premier Division side Cork City (the team who beat us in the playoffs last season) and we wanted to exact some revenge on them. It was a real back and forth tie, with Cork taking an early lead after 4 minutes before Afolabi equalised after 11 minutes. Cork went back into the lead just before half time to give them a 2-1 lead at the break. We came out swinging in the second half, with an immediate Afolabi goal ruled out for offside before Porsteinsson went crazy, scoring seconds after our disallowed goal. Before he could score some more goals were conceded a penalty and were 3-1 at the hour mark. Porsteinsson then scored twice in 17 minutes to record a brilliant hat-trick, and the tie looked secure until a devastating 91st minute equaliser from Cork, meaning yet again we went to extra time. This time however we didn't need penalties after Porsteinsson added a 4th to his evenings work and a 5th for us, and we managed to hold them off and win 5-4.


Quarter Final

Our quarter final tie was against Wexford, and truth be told we played a perfect away game. Sodje got an early goal, Porsteinsson gave us a cushion and we defended brilliant for the rest of the match to move onto an improbable semi final. Wexford are league rivals, and by knocking them out we were the only First Division side left, with 3 Premier Division sides left in the competition.


Semi Final

This was honestly one of our most pleasing performances of the season, brushing aside mid-table Premier Division side Sligo Rovers to book our place at the Aviva Stadium in the final. Porsteinsson was on fire again, grabbing a hat-trick, and basically had the top scorer award in the bag at this point. We bossed the first half and went more defensive in the second half, as Sligo could not break us down.



After a magical run we met Shelbourne in the final in front of 7,132 fans inside the 66,000 seat Aviva Stadium in Dublin. There was definitely a gap in class here as Shelbourne finished the season 2nd in the Premier Division.

Sadly it wasn't to be but we certainly could hold our heads high after making it to the cup final. In fairness we were outplayed throughout and the early goals knocked the stuffing out of us, but was a nice way for us to end the season.


Coming up next

Next post will be the review of the league campaign, our squad review for the season, and plans for the next season. The board expected us to make the playoffs again which seemed a reasonable request, however as you can tell from the last post, we hadn't won in the league in 5 after a brilliant start.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 11.2 - 2024 End of Season Review

In this post we will go over the 2024 Irish First Division league season.


Irish First Division Season Review

February 2024

There was only one game in February in the league but we started off well, beating Athlone Town 3-1 at home. Feeney, Waters and new signing McManus on the scoresheet for us. Top of the league at the end of February get in there!


Month - P:1 W:1 D:0 L: 0 GF: 3 GA: 1 PTS: 3

Season - P:1 W:1 D:0 L: 0 GF: 3 GA: 1 PTS: 3 

League Position: 1st


March 2024

We started March off brilliantly with two straight wins. We first beat Galway Utd 2-0 away from home in a controlled displayed. Porsteinsson opening his league account for us and Feeney scoring again, before we trashed Treaty Utd 4-1 at home. It was a game of two halves, despite creating plenty of chances in the first half we didn't find our scoring boots until the second and eventually ran away as comfortable winners. Gorman started things off from the spot, before a Lynch brace and a first goal for Farrell saw us remain top of the league with 3 wins from 3. Sadly this is where form began to take a bit of a dip. The main issue was the goals dried up. Defensively we weren't conceding more than 1 goal in a game, but if we aren't scoring that's still not good enough! We drew 1-1 with Longford away with Feeney scoring, before consecutive 1-0 defeats to U.C.D and Wexford removed us from the top of the league. We ended March with a 1-1 draw against Cobh Ramblers, who I'm sure at this point were becoming a bit of a bogey team for us. Versatile new signing Itangishaka scoring his first goal for the club in the second half. 


Month - P:6 W:2 D:2 L:2 GF:8 GA:5 PTS:8

Season - P:7 W:3 D:2 L:2 GF:11 GA:6 PTS:11

League Position: 4th


April 2024

April got off to a good start with a 1-0 victory away at Athlone Town. We left it late as Kelly scored an 85th minute winner. We then lost 2-0 away at Finn Harps, who were one of the relegated sides. We ended the month well however with another two victories. Firstly a 2-1 win against Galway Utd at home, with Oufella and Afoladi on the scoresheet, before we came away from Treaty Utd with a 3-1 win, with a brace from Lynch and a penalty from McClelelland. At the end of the month we were in a good position in the league, sitting in 3rd place.


Month - P:4 W:3 D:0 L:1 GF:6 GA:4 PTS:9

Season - P:11 W:6 D:2 L:3 GF:17 GA:10 PTS:20

League Position: 3rd


May 2024

We continued our decent start by beating Longford 2-0 at home. Oufella scored again from midfield, and left back Briggs scored a screamer in stoppage time to secure the three points. Unfortunately the good times were over for a while after this, as we lost 2-1 away to U.C.D, with Feeney on the scoresheet again. We managed a 1-1 draw at home to Wexford thanks to a 68th minute equaliser from Porsteinsson. We then came up against who I've decided is our bogey team in Cobh Ramblers and lost 4-3. We were awful for the first hour, going 3-0 down inside the first 12 minutes. Porsteinsson got a goal back before half time before Cobh took a 4-1 lead. We came back to life in the last 20 minutes with Bonne getting his first league goal for the club. Oufella then brought it back to 4-3 before Bonne scored again in the 88th minute, only for it to be disallowed for offside. We then lost 2-0 to Finn Harps to finish the month in poor form.


Month - P:5 W:1 D:1 L:3 GF:7 GA:9 PTS:4

Season - P:16 W:7 D:3 L:6 GF:24 GA:19 PTS:24 

League Position: 5th


June 2024

We started June by extending our winless run to 6 games. Firstly a 1-1 draw against Athlone Town, with a Lynch penalty rescuing a point, before being thrashed 4-0 by Galway Utd. Then finally a win as we beat Treaty Utd 2-1 at home, with Feeney and Clifford on the scoresheet, before we blew a 2-0 lead against Longford and ended up holding on for a 2-2 draw, with Porsteinsson and Bonne scoring. The good news was we actually only lost one game in June, however the gap between us in 5th and those outside the playoffs is beginning to shrink.


Month - P:4 W:1 D:2 L:1 GF:5 GA:8 PTS:5

Season - P:20 W:8 D:5 L:7 GF:29 GA:27 PTS:29

League Position: 5th

July 2024

Just the two league games in July. We were trashed 5-0 by U.C.D at home which was honestly a shocking display (the water bottle came out!) We did respond well to a degree against Wexford. In a game we were outplayed in for the majority of the game we needed a 71 minutes equaliser from Crapisto before a fortuitous 94th minute penalty from Afolabi gave us the three points.


Month - P:2 W:1 D:0 L:1 GF:2 GA:6 PTS:3

Season - P:22 W:9 D:5 L:8 GF:31 GA:33 PTS:32

League Position: 5th


August 2024

August started with a 4-2 defeat to Finn Harps, another team for whatever reason we just couldn't seem to get a result against. There were goals for Sodje and Lynch but it wasn't enough. It was at this point I finally decided to tinker with the tactic a bit, as we moved from essentially a 4-1-2-3 (DM, 2 CM, 3 ST) to a more flat 4-3-3 (3 CM and 3 ST). Early indications suggested that it was a good move as we then won our next 3 games in a row, starting off by finally beating Cobh Ramblers 2-1. This also began the improved performances in Porsteinsson, who grabbed a brace in the match to overturn a 1-0 deficit. Then we compiled two clean sheets in a row which is unheard of for us, beginning with a 3-0 win against Galway Utd. There was another brace for Porsteinsson as well as a solo effort from Lynch, before we beat Longford 2-0, with Afolabi and Oufella on the scoresheet. We disappointingly blew a 2-0 lead against bottom of the division Athlone Town and drew 2-2, with Porsteinsson again scoring twice, however we were down to 9 men for half the game due to a moment of insanity. So really to escape with a draw was a very good effort. We sadly ended the month with a 3-2 defeat to Treaty Utd, with Porsteinsson and Bonne scoring.


Month - P:6 W:3 D:1 L:2 GF:13 GA:10 PTS:10

Season - P:28 W:12 D:6 L:10 GF:44 GA:43 PTS:42

League Position: 5th


The results in August all but secured our place in the playoffs at this point, and we actually already had more points than we did at the end of last season despite being in the same position in the league. With four games to go the only real plan was to get into form for the playoffs.


September/October 2024

We couldn't of asked for a better run in at the end of the season, winning all 4 of our league games. Since the change in formation and up until the end of the league season we played 9, won 7, drew 1 with only 1 defeat so apparently by simply moving a player from DM to CM made the difference! We got a big 3-2 win away at league champions U.C.D (this win delayed them securing the title), thanks to a brace from Afolabi and an effort from Sodje, before another close 3-2 win at home against Wexford. We made it difficult for ourselves after storming to a 2-0 lead within 3 minutes, Afolabi scoring after 18 seconds, and Crapisto scoring in the 3rd minute. Porsteinsson added a third just before half time. We stumbled in the second half but managed to hold on in the end. We followed this up with a 2-0 win again Cobh Ramblers, with Porsteinsson continuing his turn in form and Sodje also scoring again, before finishing the season with a 3-1 win against Finn Harps, with Oufella, Sodje and Clifford scoring.


Months: P:4 W:4 D:0 L:0 GF:11 GA:5 PTS:12

Season: P:32 W:16 D:6 L:10 GF:55 GA:48 PTS:54

League Position: 3rd


Our top form at the end of the season meant be finished 2 places higher than last season, finishing 3rd in the league, with 13 more points. 2nd plays 5th and 3rd plays 4th in a two-leg semi final, and we were matched with Longford who finished 4th.


Promotion Playoff Semi Final

We done the business here in the first leg, winning comfortably 4-1 away from home in the first leg, thanks to goals from Porsteinsson and Afolabi, with Sodje also grabbing a pair of goals. We controlled the second leg at home and ultimately won the tie 2-1 (6-2 on aggregate) with Afolabi and Bonne scoring, to set us up for a two leg tie against Galway Utd. We got to the same stage last season and ultimately bottled it, throwing away a lead and coming up short so hopefully history didn't repeat itself.


Promotion Playoff Final

My word we certainly gave it a good go to bottle it again! We dominated the home leg, winning 3-1, with Afolabi scoring and two goals from Porsteinsson, and at that point we thought the dream was on. We felt that way even more so in the 2nd leg, as when Porsteinsson scored in the first half and with only 45 minutes left to play we were 1-0 up on the night and 4-1 up on aggregate. Then the wheels came off, Galway scoring 3 goals in 10 crazy second half minutes to take a 3-1 lead on the night and the level the tie 4-4 on aggregate. We went to extra time and the sides couldn't be separated, and it went to a penalty shootout. I was sitting there thinking how had we bottled this, as we were in such control. Luckily for us however the 5 penalty takers did the business, with Afolabi, Porsteinsson, Bonne, McManus and Haysman scoring all of their penalties, with Galway's 2nd taker missing, meaning after all of that we had made it through to the actual final. Whilst winning the First Division playoffs we now had to face the side who finished 2nd bottom in the Premier Division, with the winner having a place in the Premier Division the following season.


Premier/First Division Playoff

And we'd done it and gained promotion! In a game to be fair we deserved to win, the xG flattered Drogheda, as this only really increased during the closing minutes. We thought we'd taken an early lead from Afolabi before it was ruled out for offside, however Sodje scored a legal goal just two minutes later. In fairness neither side really created much after this and we managed to hold on to secure a famous victory, and Bray Wanderers were back in the Irish Premier Division for the first time since the 2021 season.


Coming up next

Next post will be a review of our squad and plans for next season, with our status now confirmed as a Irish Premier Division side! 

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 11.3 - 2024 End of Season Review


Squad Review

Francesco Crapisto was our highest rated player this season, with a 7.22 rating. In 19 appearances he scored 2 goals and added 7 assists, playing as a Mezzala in Central Midfield. 

Jonathan Afolabi came in second with a 7.11 rating. In 29 appearances he scored 10 goals and added 4 assists, playing primarily as a Poacher in our three-man attack.

Rounding off the top 3 was top scorer Sigurdur Hrannar Porsteinsson who finished the season with a 7.09 average rating. He came to life during the second half of the season, scoring 25 goals and adding 2 assists in 40 appearances.

Special mentions go to pressing forward Taj Sodje (7.08 average rating - 19 appearances - 9 goals - 3 assists) and central defender Sam Bone (7.02 average rating - 24 appearances)


The rest of the squad in general performed well throughout the season.


Club News

We have some major club news as well which may have an effect on our recruitment for next season. One of the first things I did when we won promotion to the Premier Division was to ask the board to allow us to turn professional. Here was the reply:

Which was great news, as it allows us to increase the staffing levels. To be fair though at this point the board will allow us to add another scout and a sport scientist and that's it! However this does mean we will need to start giving players full-time contracts, which will mean more training for the side, and hopefully more development for our younger players. To coincide with this we were given our new budgets for the season:

Our budget has almost triple which is fantastic news, however I'm fully aware of the increase in wages for the current squad will take up a chunk of this. We should be able to attract a higher quality of player though.


However before we can make any new signings, there was another piece of news that came through:


The board are trying to sell the club, which means they have placed a transfer embargo on us which isn't ideal. However before January hits I'm only really going to be focused on our current Player/Staff signings to get them on full-time deals.


Coming up next

We will come back at the start of the 2025 as we begin life in the Irish Premier Division. Hopefully the takeover is complete and we can start signing players, but we will wait and see.

DJ Raan
5 years ago
1 month ago

Building a Nation - Bray Wanderers

Part 12 - 2025 Season Preview

It's now the 21st February 2025 in game and our first game of the season is today against Bohemians in the Irish Premier Division. I'm quietly confident entering the season that we've recruited as well, added some quality to the squad as well as adding in some squad depth. As mentioned in the previous post we were under a transfer embargo due to an impending takeover, which luckily was completed fairly quickly, allowing us to get straight into business without too much time lost.


Players Out

As always we will start with the departures first.

Released Players

First of we said goodbye to striker Marty Waters, who had decided after not getting much game time with us that the time was right to retire, and did so at the age of 33. We also released defender Jack Hudson and striker Darragh Lynch at the end of their contracts. Hudson was a solid performer in our first season but didn't get much game time last season. Lynch formed a deadly partnership with Lucas Gomes in the first season and scored a few goals this season, but really was behind the pace of the game most of the time so the timing was right to say goodbye.

Transfers Out

We let four players leave permanently and four go on loan. Colin Kelly went back down to Division 1 with Longford, as did Joe Gorman to Galway Utd. Kelly bagged a couple of goals at the start of the season but couldn't do much else for us throughout the season. Gorman was a solid centre back, but again due to the increased quality of our squad wasn't going to get much game time for us this season. Matthew Briggs went to Fylde for €7.75k, meaning we took a small loss but was being paid too much really for what he was giving us. Thomas McGill wouldn't accept shared responsibilities with Mathyas Randriamamy and wanted to leave, so managed to get €75k for him as he moved to League One side Shrewsbury Town. Due to the signings we've made in the squad, this obviously knocked squad players down the pecking order, so after offering them out and not getting very far we managed to get Jason McClelland, Eoin Farrell, Conor Clifford and Adam Chicksen out on loan to other clubs for the season. We are still paying their wages but it gets them out playing football for the season and hopefully won't be moaning at me!


Transfers In

So we brought in 11 new players this window, and were a mixture of starting XI upgrades, squad depth and youth.


Logan Pye - 21 year old English left back, plan is to start the season in that position

Jean-Pierre Tiehi - 23 year old French striker who will be one of our squad options upfront

Lucas Gomes - 21 year old Swedish striker, returning to us on loan from Shamrock Rovers. Absolutely delighted to get him back for a season, with an option to buy at the end of the season if we want to!

Sadou Diallo - 25 year old English midfielder, joining us from Derry City. A capable squad option in midfield

Brandon Kavanagh - 24 year old Irish central midfielder. Another squad option in midfield

Evan Weir - 24 year old Irish left back signed from Drogheda Utd. More than capable deputy in this position

Matthew Connor - 27 year old Irish goalkeeper, brought up to be our number 2 GK

Joe Manley - 25 year old Irish defender signed from Wexford, looking to challenge the likes of Gyan and Bone for starting role at CB

Paddy Barrett - 31 year old Irish central defender, may start the season at CB alongside Gyan

Cory O'Sullivan - 18 year old Irish central defender, brought in for the U19s

Ben Lynch - 23 year old Irish left back. 3rd choice left back to add some depth and understands place in the squad. Was on loan with us in 2023

The Squad

So with the business complete for the season here is our squad list for the season:

Squad of 28 which I feel is a little heavy however some players I couldn't sell or place on loan no matter how hard I tried, so will have to just do for now, we will try again during the July transfer window. Next is our starting line-up for our first game of the season.


Coming up next

We begin life in the Irish Premier Division, we will come back at around the mid-season mark.


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