10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - Chapter 1


The year is 2016 shortly after New Years day, I think. My memories are hazy after a long weekend. It all began with a Steam sale, a 6 pack of Carlsberg and a book, not necessarily in that order. Life hadn’t been too kind to an out of work painkiller addicted piss poor Scottish footballer let me tell you that much.


Due to being unemployed, in football or otherwise, I have spent a lot of time doing next to nothing with my life. I have watched a lot, and I mean a lot of football during the days and nights where nothing meaningful or productive was going on. Who knew the Mexican fourth division was so exciting?


I remember going to the library before they all shut down, with my pal, who had a car. I did not, and the buses in Motherwell, every single 1 of them smell like 3 day old Chinese takeaway, dog piss and bad decisions. When asked why we’d be heading for the library, I told him ‘did you know, that if they wanted to, Red Bull Salzburg could afford Ronaldo’ he asked me what I’d been sniffing that day, to which I replied nothing, yet.


When pressed, I told him about the aforementioned book. The book is called Moneyball. It’s about baseball I said. He just looked at me as if I’d pissed in the kettle before making a coffee. I then said because of this book, I went onto Steam and saw, quite handily, that a game called Out of the park baseball was on offer. So I bought it, knowing next to fuck all about baseball. You do some stupid things when you’re a member of the unemployed community.


After reading this book on a sport I know nothing about, I now know enough about baseball that on my first attempt on Out of the park baseball I posted a season of over .500. What this means, I found out thanks to Moneyball is that we won over 50% of our games. We won 109 and lost just 45 for reference. Granted I was playing as the New York Yankees, in the 1927 season, also known as one of the best seasons and squads the Yankees have ever had. Also some guy named Babe Ruth was hitting balls and home runs for fun. He ended with 86 homers (home runs to me and you) that season. And Lou Gehrig was named MVP for me too. Household names to baseball fans I’m sure.


I also now know that Moneyball is a concept used by a number of football clubs. In short, it means buying low and selling high, like what the Red Bull teams have been doing. It also encompasses that a team, most noticeably the Oakland Athletics, sign a player that is undervalued by his current club for whatever reason, but has performed better than a player already at the signing club. Simple right.


It also tells us that up and coming players, in baseball players signed in the draft (just like the MLS in football, NBA and so on) could be signed for free (or cheaply) developed and perform well and then sold (or traded) for a higher value. In baseball this could be draft picks or salary sacrifice. In football this would a transfer fee, buy low sell high. See Red Bull Salzburg’s transfer history, they do this a lot.


In short, at Salzburg, a player is scouted and signed. Then plays and gets plenty of training and development, does well and sold on for a profit. Rinse and repeat. This season they just sold Naby Keita to affiliated club RB Leipzig for 29 million Euro, after signing him for 1.5 million 2 seasons ago. Obviously not all players are going to be a success, but that in essence is the strategy.


There will always be an abundance of players that are considered ‘older’, as in over 24/25 that are transfer listed and underappreciated by their current club. Using the Moneyball way of thinking, this player could have played well in certain metrics (passes made / completed, shots taken, shots on target and so on) but as a back up player. He could be bought for less than his actual worth because he’s not needed by his current employer and become a solid player for the buying club. The Oakland A's did this to perfection, despite not winning the World Series. Which wasn’t the point, the idea was they could compete well above their spending level based on statistics and they stabilised the team.


So where could I go with this method of thinking, this way of working at a football club that would work? A club that would be happy to take on a nobody with an idea? I thought maybe somewhere like Blackburn Rovers, you know a team that vilified Steve Kean through no fault of his own, a former Premier League winning club with a decent budget and so-so squad. Or what about a club in Europe like Ostersunds in Sweden, that took on Graham Potter who was a bog standard player with no coaching experience but knew his tactics. Even somewhere like Spain, and a club like Las Palmas, who rely on youth players and sales of better players to keep on going.


Then I thought maybe my own team Motherwell, a team I both love and hate, a team that needs something to happen, not so much get back to a relevancy that hardly ever existed, but to give us some hope of actually winning something. It’s the hope that kills you, but Motherwell just seem content to stay in the SPL. But after pondering (what a great word that is) it for a while, I didn’t think any of those teams would take on such a person and his idea (realism innit), not yet anyway.


But look ashore I did, and found a couple of clubs I would approach that fit the bill. The bill being:

  • A club that would realistically take on a former player with 1 coaching badge (again, realism)
  • A club that is in need of a transfer strategy that would both work at their current level (RB Leipzig springs to mind) and will continue to work if / when progression was made
  • A club that isn’t affiliated with Red Bull
  • A club that isn’t Celtic or Rangers
  • A club that won’t mind me packing my bags, and taking my scouting reports with me whenever a better opportunity comes up, should that ever happen

This brought me to a couple of places. Scotland, obviously. Both Irelands and England. As well as a host of European nations. I’m ruling out the ‘big’ leagues for now, they’ll come calling soon enough once I achieve the everlasting success I’m bound to have (insert fingers crossed gif or emoji here). I decided to propose my idea to teams in North and South America, but the first team I spoke to, an MLS team that shall for now be unnamed told me I sound like I already work for New York Red Bulls, hence the point above about my first team not being a Red Bull team (for now). Also the opening and closing stages and average points system most of those countries use gave me anxiety, so that was a no for the time being.


What I needed was some poor sap to listen to me and my idea, and luckily I managed to find such a person.


But now that I've got you hooked with the intro and a semi decent but totally not my idea, I hope you don't think this is going to be a story just about player stats, match by match reviews, transfers and profit and loss, because it’s not, there's plenty of other places you can find things like that. This is going to be mostly a story about me, little ol' Jock McGhee from Motherwell, with a bit of my football management career chucked in.


== == == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - Every journey has some new beginning


‘Why you telling me you’re shagging your bird in 2 weeks pal?’ my friend asked


‘What?!’ I replied, dumbstruck


‘You’ve just said you’re off to bang her in a fortnight, I don’t care when you bang her, I just….’


I cut him off. ‘You muppet, I said Bangor, as in Bangor, the place in Ireland. I’ve got a job there, you’re coming with me’


‘Oh right, soz I guess’


‘It’s alright’ and that was the end of that conversation. We got our things together for our trip across to Ireland. I’d got a payday loan I had zero intention of paying back, and off we were. We made our way to the coast, specifically Loch Ryan, and got on a boat over to the port in Belfast. From there it was a short trip up to the coast and into Bangor to meet the clubs owner and chairman Trevor Best.


‘First things first, I hate the fact we’re in the third division, I hate that we got relegated last season, and I hate that I’ve lost more money than I ever had with this stinking football club. I want you to get us promoted out of this division this season, you can use any tactics and any players, I don’t care. There’s no transfer fund and the full wage budget, all 600 quid of it is being paid to Pavel. You want to free up funds you need to get rid of him. Any questions so far?’


I liked his forwardness so I asked him ‘So I’m sorting out the last mans mess am I?’


‘Something like that. Any more?


‘Yeah just one thing….’ he cut me off aggressively


‘As noted, promotion this season, and I want you to achieve it on 200 quid a week, but you can live rent free in the club house next to the ground. What do you say?’


I didn’t have any other options really. I’d burned a few bridges back home, and I needed a fresh start, so I said the only thing that came to mind ‘You’re a tight twat that’s obvious, but fuck it you’re on’


‘Anything less than promotion and it’s curtains’ He slid his thumb across his throat the same way that wrestler The Undertaker does, which I thought was a bit weird, but whatever.


And that was that. I rocked up in Ireland on a whim looking for a fresh start, and now I’m the manager of the Bangor FC Football Club.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-3-1024x571.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-4-1024x451.png

'The owner wants promotion, so we've gotta do what we can to deliver on that promise' I told the players on my first day at the club 'The main tactic I think we should go with, is win the ball back, deep, in the middle, high up wherever, just win it back. Then, this is the main and most important part, we look up and try and find Pavel Vieira who I'm sure you'll all agree is the best player in this team by a country mile, get him the ball and let him do his thing. Any questions?' No response, just a look of pure joy on Pavel's face.


To say he's the best player in the team is an understatement. This is a bloke who's played for teams in Portugal and Spain, and here he is loving life in Northern Ireland. I'm a bit worried as all it'll take is a couple of good performances, and let's be blunt it's not gonna be hard in this division which is a glorified farmers league at best, and a team even in the Championship, the second tier offers him any deal and he's gone. 


I'd also like to point out here, that at no point did I ever mention my Moneyball idea, or anything to do with transfers with Trevor, he seemed desperate to get someone in to manage the team. Bangor, luckily for me, are favourites to be promoted this season, so it's pretty much a guarantee we're going up. Next season is when I'll really get into my incredible transfer strategy.


With everything out the way and done on my first day in the job, I did the only thing I could think of to celebrate my new found employment in the northern part of the Emerald Isle, and that would be getting steaming drunk on Guinness, taking too many prescription painkillers and generally making a fool of myself.


I noticed an 80's theme bar on the drive into town after finishing off my first day at the club, and I thought Northern Ireland of all places wouldn't want be celebrating the 80's, but what did I know? Next thing I thought I would be seeing is a potato superstore on the high street of the town, but I did not.

== == == == ==


10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - Watch out for the lamp post


As a team we'd had a bit of a rocky start to life in Bangor. A good opening day win over Sport & Leisure Swifts was followed by getting knocked out of 3 cups by much better teams in higher divisions, but I wasn't concerned by that.


From getting the boot from the third cup, the Northern Ireland league cup, we went on a good run, in 15 games we lost only 3 and went on a great run of 5 wins heading into a short winter break, topping the table with a 2 point advantage



As for the plus 23 goal difference we had at this point, we have striker Dale Patton to thank. 12 goals and 4 assists so far from him. He's a 19 year old that possibly could cut it in a higher league, which lets be fair we're probably gonna be playing in next season.



Pavel Vieira is also earning his wage, literally the full clubs wage budget is being spent on him, he's rocking 4 goals & 8 assists so far. 


For me though the turning point was the home game against Newington Youth. Up to that point we'd won 3 of the previous 10 games in all competitions. They boasted the leagues leading scorer in Tony O'Hanlon who'd scored 5 goals in the last 4 games, 13 overall for the season. We also needed a center half as we only had 2 at the club, and we managed to sign Sean Adams on a free from Newington Youth.


We also needed a center half as we only had 2 at the club, and we managed to sign Sean Adams on a free from Newington Youth.




The result wasn't even in doubt, at all. Adams had O'Hanlon in his back pocket the full match as we ran out 5-0 winners, and it wasn't even close. O'Hanlon had exactly zero shots on goal in the game and from then on we never looked back, racking up wins and goals, with the 1 loss from after the Newington game being an anomaly.




As for the short break, I told the boys to do whatever they want and I'll see them back on 4th January, a week before the first game after the break. As for me, well I felt it was time to celebrate a job half well done. I'd been to the handful of pubs in Bangor a few times and felt it was time to experience the high point of Northern Irish nightlife, so me and my friend took a bus from Bangor to the heart of Belfast, it took less than half an hour.


During our night of booze and gear I got talking to nice girl, I say nice, she had all of her teeth and she could dance pretty well, both qualities most girls back in Motherwell don't possess. The night was progressing and I had her wrapped round my little finger if I do say so myself.


She said we should get a taxi and invited me back to her place, but me being the gentleman I insisted I drove, problem being I didn't have a car. No issue, she's got her dads car and I could drive it, as long as nothing happens to it. I smiled, took the keys and off we went.


My friend had also managed to find some more people to join us on the drive from Belfast back into Bangor, luckily she lived there so it worked out alright and I wouldn't have to pay for a taxi back to my shack next to the clubs stadium. As we were nearing the road into Bangor my friend passed me a CD case with a fat line of white powder and a rolled up 10 pound note atop it. I did the only sensible thing and took control of the wheel with my knees and proceeded to sniff the powder graciously.


Before long the inevitable happened and I careened into a lamp post. No one was hurt we were only going about 65 miles an hour. As we got out of the car my friend called an Uber as the girl was sobbing uncontrollably, muttering something about her dad and his car.


As I got into the Uber she was yelling all sorts of obscenities at me and told me her dad wouldn't forget this and that I'm the scum of the Earth and something about all Scottish people being bastards. Harsh words but warranted on this occasion I think. I didn't think any more of it as we found ourselves in another bar in Bangor, celebrating a successful first 6 months in football management.

== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - A Scotsman, a football club and a car bonnet

'Remind me again' I asked my friend 'why we're in an abandoned warehouse, with flashlight helmets in the middle of the night?'


'Got a tip off there's some good gear here' he replied


'Right, what gear?


'A car bonnet, a box of amitriptyline and a tin of tartan paint'


'Tartan paint? Are you an idiot?'


'What? I thought you being Scottish would appreciate it'


'There's no such thing as tartan paint ya' fucking whopper'


'Whatever. Anyway the car bonnets also for you'


'What would I want with a car bonnet?'


'That car you rammed into the lamp post a few weeks back, I saw the lass outside Boots, she was crying into a Starbucks, she's got a vendetta against you cos of it, was calling you all sorts of names. Anyway I told her we're dealing with it and we'll repair it double time. I've got her number to sort it'


'Right, and a car bonnet, the exact same style as the one I broke has been left here, in the middle of a warehouse, unattended and......' he cut me off


'Ssshhh will ya, you'll wake the guard. He's an old retiree, packed in from British Rail but works part time here. Anyway the bonnet has been left here, we just need to remove it from the car it's currently attached to'


'And there it is, why did I think this was gonna be easy?'


As we were rummaging around this warehouse the buzz was starting to kick in from the powder my friend had given me. He was draggling his hold-all with various things inside making more noise than I was, but we found the car, bonnet still attached near the rear service door of the warehouse.


As we got to the car my friend pulled out a mallet, an adjustable wrench, a socket set and a pair of safety goggles. He went to work on the bonnet telling me 'keep an eye out for Old Man Morley, he's got a dog and a shotgun' I asked how he knew the guards name, he told me the girl whose car we're doing this for told him.


After about 20 minutes of him twisting, wrenching and sweating buckets he said 'fuck this, here get on top and pull the bonnet from there' he pointed to the joint, and as I held the bonnet he started smashing it with his hammer. After 7 or 8 hits it came off, we repeated the process on the other side. Just as he got to the third hit I heard a voice 


'Who's there? Is that you Janice?'


'Fuck, Old Man Morley' my friend said, but it was too late. 'See em' off Butch get em' I heard him say. Now I'd like to point out that I'm not afraid of many things, but dogs is definitely one of them. In the cavernous warehouse the dogs bark was amplified, not to mention my friends now shouting voice as we yanked the bonnet free from the rest of the car. As the barks grew louder panic set in, I thought we were done for.


I made it to the service exit about 100 yards from the car when I heard my friend yell 'shit, the dogs got me, you go on without me' but I wouldn't let a friend get tore to shreds by this great big, snarling......little puppy. I walked back over to him and the dog, and this tiny little terrier was playfully tugging on my friends laces. I looked up and saw Old Man Morley struggling with the stairs, I doubt he could make out our faces in the dark. So I found a rock nearby and threw it and said 'get it boy' and the pup ran off.


We hauled the bonnet out the warehouse and into the van my friend had procured. I even went back to the door, looked in and saw the old man still hadn't made it to the bottom of the stairs, so I locked the door and got in the van.


== == == == ==


Before the warehouse escapade I had a call from Trevor, telling me that Pavel Vieira had agreed to talk with Ballyclare Comrades about a move there. They were second bottom of the Championship, the division above us. This was bad news for a couple of reasons.




Due to the nature of him being on a part time deal it was inevitable he'd leave at some point. I spoke to him to try and get him to at least stay until the end of the season. I tried pleading the case that we would go on to win the solitary cup competition we were still in, but it was no dice, he was splitsville.


After he accepted the deal with them we went on a horrid fun of form, winning only 1 of the next 7 games, and that was to a lucky 114th minute winner against the Glenavon reserve side in the Intermediate Cup, but as fate would have it we were drawn against Ballyclare fucking Comrades in the semi!




As much as we tried I couldn't get us a replacement for him in, not that any player in the Irish third division could match him. 


Obviously the semi final against Ballyclare was a piss take. Pavel getting 3 assists and having the best game of his career. He'd played well for us but on this day he was so far above the rest of his former team mates it was embarrassing. I didn't shake his hand after the match either. Oh, and Ballyclare went on to the win the cup, so there's some solace in the fact we lost to the winners, I guess.


We did however grind a couple of draws out and we found ourselves third in the table with 1 game to go. We had a late kick off game against Lisburn Distillery, and we only needed a draw to secure a place in the play offs, and a final chance to gain promotion that I promised the chairman.


You already know what happened in the game as Lisburn did fuck all, we did even less and came away with a 1-0 home loss



I was called into to see Trevor after losing 1-0 at home to Lisburn Distillery on the last game of the season, a draw would've been enough to get us into the play off place as Dundela had lost their last game and we had a slightly better goal difference.


'Give me 1 good reason why I should keep you on for next season, and make it a good one' he said to me, this before I even had chance to speak to the players after the Lisburn game


'Because if we had kept Pavel we'd have gone up'


'But you didn't, and you pissed promotion up the wall'


'Yeah but with your help I'm sure we can get a couple of players in, rebuild the midfield and crack on, job done boss'


'Okay, that's convinced me to keep you on' I thought what a stroke of good luck that was. 'However, footballing reasons aside, the reason I'm sacking you is that you coerced my only daughter into doing drugs in Belfast, kidnapped her and her friends and drove my car into a fucking lamp post!' the vein in his neck working overtime

Not to be deterred, and I had a sneaky feeling this was coming, I said 'fear not valued boss of mine, I've got a replacement bonnet for her, it's in the club house right next to my bed, me and my friend will sort it tonight'


'You fucking idiot Jock. That bonnet is red, the car you fucked is yellow. And that warehouse you stole it from, ALSO BELONGS TO ME! Get out now before I call the police' I sat up not really knowing what to say before he said 'Oh and one other thing I forgot to mention. I'm on the board of the Northern Ireland Football Association, and I have friends and business partners all over the UK, and trust me when I say you won't be finding work in Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales for a very long time'


'Good, Irelands a shit hole anyway! I yelled before dodging his mobile phone that he'd thrown at me.



I was officially sacked that afternoon and left Bangor with a record of 33 games, 16 wins, 5 draws, 12 losses & 1 stolen car bonnet in red. As well as the red bonnet, I had a bill of £375 to repair the bonnet on the car I broke, the yellow one as well as another bill for £590 to order and fit a replacement bonnet for the other car, the red one.


== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - Back home

Date 01/05/17 - I’m sat on my parents sofa back in Motherwell contemplating what to do with myself. I’ve been out of work 3 days since that cuck Trevor sacked me from Bangor. 


06/05/17 - Bottles on the kitchen side, cheap whisky & even cheaper vodka, empty McEwans lager cans mixed in amongst empty Spar brand cola cans I mixed with the vodka. The old boy, my dad, ever keen to get me out of his house, takes me to go see my beloved Motherwell at Fir Park, a ground I’ve been to many times, to watch them play Partick Thistle.  A win here would be 1 step closer for them to secure survival in the SPL and keep Partick second bottom, 3 points behind Motherwell on 29. It’s 2-0 to Thistle at the half, 3 at full time. Pathetic. Boos rain down from the mostly sold out ground. I saw a young boy crying too. Chin up son, 2 games to go yet, plenty of time to save the season.

08/05/17 -  I apply for the managers job at Forfar Athletic stating a lifelong desire for the club (a lie) and its fans (another lie) and the unearthing and mentoring of young Scottish talent (slightly true). I also email Sunderland FC saying if they want a Scotsman to do a slightly better job than the current Scot they’ve got, Davey Moyes, I’m the man for the job.

10/05 - Sunderland reply saying they’re fully behind Moyes and are confident they can win their next 4 games (away at Chelsea and Bournemouth, at home to Man United and Stoke) and survive relegation. Forfar replied saying no thanks to the application but thanks for the time taken sending my 1 lined CV in. Newcastle United win the Championship, losing only 5 all season to go with their 36 wins, Bristol City finish second on 81 points, 32 points behind Newcastle. Matt Ritchie wins player of the year. Tammy Abraham on loan from Chelsea to  Bristol leads the scoring charts with 21 in 39 league games.

13/5 - Motherwell are 11th and Partick Thistle with a better goal difference are 10th, both are level on points with 32 each, with Dundee sitting bottom of the league in 12th, 3 points behind on 29 with a game in hand.  Motherwell play Dundee away today. I go to the local boozer, The Black Flag, with my dad and meet a few old pals and watch the game. Motherwell batter Dundee for 87 minutes straight, 14 shots, 9 on target, 2 disallowed goals for offside, dubious at best and a stonewall penalty denied by the ref. They slow down for the final 2 plus 4 added minutes on, content with a draw. The result? A 92nd minute winner for Dundee. Sickening, heartbreaking, depressing. My dad orders a curry and goes home. I order an eighth of coke and 3 acid tablets in The Flag from a guy called Giles, and don’t end up back on my parents sofa for 3 days.

16/05 - 19/05 - I’m as rough as a badgers arse and my throat is as dry as a nuns twat. I’m laid up at my mams house drinking water and watching shitty day time TV. Reruns of Ricki Lake from the 90’s peak my interest, I never knew how fit she really was. Mental note to Google her later on when I can be arsed to move again. I can smell the comedown sweat and hangover booze reeking off me, no wonder my mam hasn’t spoken to me properly. No new jobs interest me in football management, not that I could be bothered to apply anyway

20/05 - I email Portadown FC in Northern Ireland, just relegated to the Championship. I figured that all teams in Northern Ireland are desperate and they hire anyone, so they’ll hire me, I’ll sign Pavel from Ballyclare on a free and we’ll piss the division and get promoted. I also email Gap Connahs Quay in Wales and try my luck by emailing Stranraer, where my mate Bazza plays right full back.

22/5 - The final game of the SPL season. Motherwell sit 11th on 32 points, as do Dundee who lost their game in hand away at Livingston. Partick Thistle are almost safe on 35 points with a goal difference of plus 3, so a win by 3 clear goals for Motherwell and a Dundee and Partick loss each will secure survival. If Motherwell match the Dundee result and Partick don’t lose that will see us in the relegation play off place. Kilmarnock are the visitors.  Kilmarnock have nout to play for but start strong and take the lead in the 7th minute, twats. Mortherwell responded well and are level at halftime. They come out all guns blazing in the second half, fans on their side making a lot of noise, they rattle the bar and the Killie keeper makes a number of saves. I tell my dad if I was in charge I’d bring on Jacob Blyth and Craig Clay, and go 4-4-2, and as if by magic Billy Stark does just that. 

For the final 20 minutes of the game the subs link up really well and yet again we’re fucked by the linesman as he’s flagging as soon as Blyth heads a perfect cross from Clay into the net. Another dubious offside call. Still 1-1 with 5 to go. Well are on the attack, every player but our keeper Craig Samson & Killie forward Connor Sammon are in the Killie half, and as a shot is blocked on the edge of the box, it’s booted up field from the Killie defence to Sammon who’s in the Motherwell half with only Samson in goal for company. A guy next to me shouts asking why the flags not gone up, I tell him he’s not offside because the ball was played from his own half. He sits down knowing exactly what’s coming. 


Sammon dribbles forward it’s like he’s in slow motion, the Motherwell players sprinting to catch up to him to no avail. Sammon gets there and looks up from the edge of the box, opens his body up as if to shoot, and as Samson rushes out to the edge of the box and goes down to try and take the ball, Sammon skips around him to his left and taps the ball into the empty net. The silence at Fir Park is deafening. The only solace being he doesn’t celebrate, he just jogs back to the center circle. Shafted by a last minute goal in the final 2 games of the season. As the match restarts the ref blows his whistle for full time. Dundee beat Saint Johnstone 3-1 to finish in the relegation play off place, Motherwell relegated to the Championship. There was no booing, no jeering, just stunned silence and plenty of shaking heads for the most part. Gutted.

23/05 - Motherwell sack Billy Stark. Stranraer email back saying despite Bazza (David Barron, back up right back) giving me a glowing reference, they aren’t going to sack their current manager. Connahs Quay email back saying I didn’t meet the criteria. I am invited to a Skype interview with Portadown however, so things are looking up.

01/06 - China’s transfer window opens and like last year they’re just spunking money up the wall. Lucas Mendes, John Obi Mikel, Nikola Kalinic, Pepe, Fred, Yann M’Vila, Lucas Leivia and Arda Turan all make big money moves to China. Zlatan Ibrahimović falls out with Jose Mourinho over the rumored signing of Harry Kane, and signs for LA Galaxy on a free transfer. 22 goals in 29 league games from Zlatan is not enough for Man United to keep him.


02/06 - I log on to my dads computer for my Skype interview with Portadown. As soon as the interview starts, Roy McMahon tells me he’s obtained a reference for me, and Trevor Best, wearing a Bangor scarf around his forehead like it's a bandana slides into view with a big shit eating grin on his face. I just exit the call pissed off. I ring my mate who’s finally back from Northern Ireland, being detained on suspicion of a number of break ins and grand theft autos in Bangor & Belfast. No further action taken, however he’ll be watched like a hawk should he return to Ireland, Northern or Republic.

14/6 - More transfer news as Harry Kanes on again off again transfer is completed from Spurs to Man United, 101 million the quoted fee. Spurs fans are livid at Daniel Levy and protest outside the clubs training ground which is shown on the hour every hour on Sky Sports News.

13/06 - Scotland lose to Japan in a friendly 2-0. It was like watching Motherwell these last 3 games, play really well for the most part, switch off for a moment and concede. Both Japan goals came from counter attacks.


19/06 - Toby Alderweirald gets his wish after flapping in a press conference after Belgium's game at home to Russia and joins Harry Kane at Man United for the sum of 49 million. Everton join Sunderland in the Championship in a rebuilding phase, and have the audacity to attempt to lure Rafa Benitez from Newcastle. The idea being he’s just won the Championship with Newcastle, he could do it again with Everton. Rafa just laughed when about it asked in a press conference. The Everton squad is piss poor at best, many managers, myself included, think they’ll be in the second division for a while. Sunderland don't reply back despite another mail from me, reminding them I can do a better job than Moyes, especially in The Championship. Aston Villa scraped survival in the second division, Norwich stuttered in the playoffs. Leeds, led by Harry Redknapp since January, propped up the league for most of the season and are relegated to League One. Brentford are promoted through the play offs, beating Sheff Wed on penalties.

20/06 - Scotland redeem themselves after the Japan game and beat the mighty Malta in a friendly 2-0, Matt Ritchie of Newcastle and Scott McTominay of Man Untied with the goals. Scenes at Hampden Park.


21/06 - 19/07 - Nothing of note happens in football. No managers jobs come up and no matches are played. I spend my days between my parents living room and The Black Flag.


20/07 - Motherwell legend and my spirit animal James McFadden officially retires from playing and joins new Well boss Stephen Robinson on his backroom staff. The dog nonces at Celtic win the league for the millionth time, but do sell Moussa Dembele to Lyon for 9 million. Not surprising really he was far too good for the SPL. The knuckle draggers from the blue side of Glasgow, under Steve McClaren since November, finish 3rd behind Aberdeen and bring in a load of players no one has ever heard of. 

21/07 - 01/08 - I email the following clubs, in no particular order asking about the vacant managers position knowing fine well I wouldn't get an interview. These clubs replied saying thanks but I'm not what they're looking for but good luck for the future - AFC Wimbeldon, Cardiff City, Gateshead, York City & Canvey Island. Deciding not to look at English teams, I emailed Molde in Norway claiming to be Ronny Deila's mate. I emailed Malmo in Sweden saying I've just been on a coaching course with Zlatan, and Barcelona saying I'm the man for their B team in the third division. Barca do reply saying I need certain coaching badges and a bit more experience before they'll talk to me, and to reach out when I do. Molde sent an automated reply saying my email has been flagged as spam and Malmo don't bother replying at all. I email Stranraer hoping they've forgot about my previous email, Bazza says the chairman's a bit forgetful, but I get the same email reply as I did previously, copy and paste at it's finest. I found out teams in Malaysia are looking for managers, so send off a cheeky email to Pahang and the Malaysian Under 21's, but get rejected on both counts. Shamrock Rovers in Ireland, Republic not Northern, are looking for a new manager, but I don't bother wasting my time with them. 

14/08 - Liverpool's laughable year continues. After sacking Klopp in December and hiring Roberto Mancini, they sold Sadio Mane to Real Madrid for 50 million in January. This is followed by them selling Coutinho for 30 million and Emre Can for 22 million both to Bayern Munich. They reinvest the money in Marcel Sabitzer for 13 million and  the unproven Breel Embolo for 9 million. As I say, laughable, you love to see it.

15/08 - Stephen Robinson makes some transfers to begin life in the Scottish Championship. He brings in big names such as Mark Gillespie from Carlisle, Hamza Choudhury from Chelsea, Jay Spearing on a free & Tom Adeyami on loan from Birmingham for the (hopefully) whistle stop tour of the second division. Dominic Samuel also joins on a free, his 18 goals in 42 league games for Ipswich Town last season enough to tempt Robinson into making the deal. Most of the players from the season just ended that helped relegate Motherwell leave, thankfully.

16/08 - I get a call from unknown number. I don’t usually answer withheld numbers but on this occasion I do. ‘Mister Jock’ the caller started ‘I have a proposition for you’

== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - All roads lead to Ankara


In my gym bag alongside clothes for a week, I had 4 cans of Red Bull, 2 cans of Carlsberg Export, 45 tramadol & 18 oxycodone tablets,  2 inhalers for my asthma, a bottle of Lynx Africa, 1 toothbrush and a small bag of white powder, believed to be cocaine, that I bought from someone outside the airport. In my friend's bag was 1 pair of boxer shorts & 1 pair of jeans. Underneath the only clothes he’d brought to Turkey was a full bottle of tequila, another half full bottle of tequila, a full bottle of diet Pepsi, 3 cans of Fosters, 18 ecstasy tablets he somehow managed to blag onto the flight into Turkey and out of the airport, something about them being his psychotic meds as well as a whole rainbow of different coloured tablets he’d managed to procure during our meagre 4 hours in the country. These other pills were a mixture of uppers, downers, levelers, laughers, lovers and killers apparently. That may seem excessive but when you’ve got a narcotic dependent raving lunatic of a friend tagging along, and with yourself being a borderline alcoholic with a complete disregard for common sense, the tendency is to see how far you can push things.

'Pass me the fucking map' My friend yelled. He’s started asking people to call him the Doctor. I gave him the map as we tried to figure out where we were 'It's all in fucking Russian or Chinese or some shit' he said back to me


'Turkish you fucking mallet, how many times do I need to tell you, we're in fucking Turkey!'


'I tell ya what, this gear we picked up from that lad on the corner outside the airport is absolute class' he said as he turned the map upside down and back to front a number of times.


We eventually stop the rental car, a Ford Escort that has long ago seen its best days, outside what looks like a bar of some sort. I say bar, it was a wooden building with a red flashing sign that says bira on it next to the door. I know bira means beer in Turkish, it was the first word I looked up before setting off from Glasgow airport.


We walk in and immediately look out of place. A couple of what I'd say locals turn their heads toward us both, me wearing a blue New York Yankees cap, a pair of Nike shorts, a pair of white and blue Converse All-stars and last seasons Motherwell away shirt, McFadden on the back. The Doctor wearing a pair of sandals (with socks), a pair of black jhorts and a white vest with a brown stain on the collar. Oh and his prized possession, his Aviators that I swear he's not taken off since we were kicked out of college during the first week


After what seemed like hours which in reality was probably only 6 seconds, the powder we'd acquired was taking its hold on me by this point, the locals went back to their drinks. We took a seat at the bar, at least it looked like a bar and my friend waved the man behind over


'Barkeep, uno pint for my amigo por favor, and uno whisky no ice for moi, por favor' the good Doctor said enthusiastically. 


I shook my head and said 'That's a combination of Spanish and French you fucking melt'


'Oui amigo. You need to fit in around here, don't want them knowing we're not locals do we'. Idiot.


After the bartender gave us 2 pints of what could best be described as tar with a hint of beer flavouring, I found myself talking to an older guy who spoke really good English. 

I didn't try to speak Turkish, I only know hello and beer. The old boy told us we'd found ourselves in the Mamek district of Ankara, also known as 1 of the poorest in the city and just on the outskirts of where tourists tend to go. He told me this is the kind of place people move to when they've had 1 too many run-ins with the law in Ankara proper and they're not welcome in the more civilised areas of the big city.


I'd liken this to be Ankara's answer to downtown Glasgow, or somewhere like Sunderland or Middlesbrough in England. A slum and a graveyard mixed in together, or possibly the last stop on a persons complete exile from the main areas of Ankara. It's the kind of place a lady of the night, sex worker they preferred to be called now, goes when they've turned 40, had 3 abortions and the pimps realise they're no longer making enough money like the higher paying hookers. Or a drug dealer who's ran up too much bad credit with the high rolling bars and night clubs, or what my new friend told me the locals call a keko, street trash. This can be anyone from a thief, rapist, arsonist and so on but basically you've burned all your bridges and here you are living in Mamek district.


The popular places in Ankara proper pay a lot of local muscle to keep these lowlifes out, not just of their establishments but the main tourist areas of Ankara itself, as well as making sure there's not even a slight chance of any miscreant causing but an inconvenience. Public drunks, drug dealers even people selling fake Primark clothes are dealt with easily in Ankara's main areas, dragged into a secluded spot and given a not so subtle lecture about never coming back, but not out here in Mamek, so my new elderly friend tells me.


For those connected to the right people, Ankara is a gold mine. In an economy when a bar owner could make over 5 grand on a quiet night it pays to keep the down and outers, the scum, the lowlifes out of sight and out of mind. These muscle types don't care who pays them and Ankara breeds its own community of hired muscle that accumulate around the power players and where the money is. Basically, once you're out of the main square in Ankara centre, you're out for good, out here with the hustlers, the pimps, the dealers, the crazies addicted to anything in powder form. In short, places like Mamek are where you go to score some gear with no references and no questions asked, before heading into Ankara and acting like a moral citizen. A week in Mamek would be like stepping into a time machine and going back to a long forgotten time, probably sometime around prohibition.


I'd also heard rumblings of a new political party making waves in Ankara, and apparently they had ties to the Turkish Mafia. My new friend told me that the new party, Türkiye halk için, Turkey for the People, were apparently slightly right wing but had everyone's best interest at heart, which, according to the old man was saçmalıklar, bollocks. The organised crime ties were too strong to hide but somehow the party were taking hold on Turkish politics and had already managed to elect a member to the Grand Assembly, which is Turkey's House of Parliament. I told the old man that I'm simply here on a work visa (yet to be granted) and not going to get involved in politics. It's not my business, I don't do politics, every time I've mentioned politics, or religion for that matter, I've lost friends and gained entries on my criminal record. The less said the better in my mind.


Back to speaking about Ankara and not politics with my new friend, I was not to be deterred, I told him 'Mate this is nout, Glasgow is full of wrong uns, pimps, pushers and thieves. Motherwell isn't too bad though' He shook his head and said 'I never go Scotland, too cold' I had to laugh at this, people always moan about the weather in Scotland but it never stopped them coming to the greatest nation in the world.


Moving on with my time in the bar, I was told if you've got the money and you're looking for the best cocaine in Ankara, you're in the right place. My friend had found this out from the barkeep apparently. All you need to do is get in touch with a Dutch lady of the night called 2 Penny Jenny. However at this moment in time we didn't fit the mould or have the characteristics of the general populace of Ankara. We had a rental car for starters, when most of the regulars to this bar don't have cars. I had a job, well I was in Ankara to accept a job, which is a foreign word to most of the people in this area as well.


So finishing my pint of beer flavoured tar, off we went. Me, half cut from cheap piss poor ale and the Doctor absolutely leathered and looking for another fix. We eventually found our way across Ankara to Etimesgut Stadium, where Erdan Yildiz, the chairman was waiting with a big smile and a hand shake 'Welcome my Jock friend' he said in broken English 'You came at right time, team just finished training and waiting to meet you, come quick' and we made our way to the meeting room in the stadium, where I signed a 1 year deal to become the new manager of Etimesgut Belediyespor FC. 


No, me neither.


 == == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - A new day in Ankara


‘Check’ we both said at the same time as I burned a card and laid the final card in the middle of the table


‘Son of a, what you call in your language?’ Mark Jauk, my new Austrian assistant manager, who’s quite good speaking English, minus the swear words, said


‘Well where I’m from we usually say son of a fucking Glaswegian, but the actual saying is son of a bitch. Why?’


‘Well you might want to be saying it in a moment, all in’ he said whilst moving his remaining stack of chips into the middle of the table


‘Are you sure? I’ve won every hand so far mate’ 


‘Not this one. This is where I start to get my money back’ Mark said as he sat smugly holding his 2 cards


In the middle of the table laid face up is the 8 of hearts, Jack of clubs, 4 of spades, 8 of diamonds and the 2 of hearts. I counted the same number of chips out that Mark had pushed to the middle, a lot less than my own amount, and said ‘Go on then, show me’


‘Read them and then wee boy, 2 pair!’ He shouted with a big smile on his face as he laid his cards down, the 3 of clubs and 3 of spades


Shaking my head and trying and failing not to laugh I said ‘It’s read it and weep, but do you ever listen? I’ve won again’ and I turned my 2 cards over and revealed the King of clubs and the 8 of spades ‘I’m sure the first hand you lost was my 3 of a kind to your 2 pair’


‘This is wrong. I have 4 winning cards with 2 pairs. Your 3 cards should not be beating me’


‘They do, as we’ve been over already. Give me your money, again’


He pushed his chips over to me, more than reluctantly and with a scowl on his face, not for the first time today either ‘Don’t spend my 5 Lira all at once will you’ he said sarcastically


Prior to that poker game we’d had a training session with my new team, and what a difference to the players I was responsible for in Bangor. There was some actual talent in this team, I’m still not sure how I got the gig, but I was here, and ready to implement my style on the team


'I expect a lot of work both on and off the ball. I want aggressive pressing and tackling to win the ball back, and I want us to get it up top as quickly as possible. I'm not expecting any of that one touch no look ticky tacky crap or using buzz words like gegen pressing or whatever. We've got 1 objective this season, and that's becoming a secure side and putting the building blocks in place to eventually get us out of this division' I said, quietly assuming to myself that I’ll last to the end of this season, never mind beyond.


The rest of the day was spent with me meeting the players individually, discussing their strengths and weaknesses and giving out individual aims for the upcoming season.


After meeting and assessing the players, I met with the other staff the club had on it’s books to compliment Mark. On the staff are Mehet Taskin & Yuel Alva, both first team coaches. In my mind I’d figured I’d see how tactically savvy they are, and based on ratings of 1-20 they’ve got a tactics coaching rating of 7. That’s a combined tactics coaching rating of 7. Mark gets a 10 on his own. I won’t bother you with what other stats they don’t excel in.


I thought I’ll have to get my own backroom staff in eventually, not that I knew many players yet alone staff available in Turkey anyway, and I would have to spend the first part of my time in Ankara tolerating the skills, or lack of, from the clubs existing backroom staff. The difference between their skills and that of a dead ferret was that a dead ferret wasn’t employed at Etimesgut at the same time that I was. I looked at them in a pitiful sort of way, and I don’t know who felt more fucked, them for having me as the boss, or me for having that sorry lot to rely on.


Before the last man got the boot he’d signed Fatih Aktay on loan from recently relegated to our division Altinordu FC, and he looks like he’s got potential to be good, and I’m sure he’ll do the business for us. At 6 foot 2, he can jump, get into good positions and has decent strength and he’s got target man written all over him. The other starting forward is right winger-cum striker Emre Ozturk. He’s not as strong or imposing, is slightly shorter at 5 foot 10 but is quicker being a natural right winger, got a decent touch on him and it’s an easy choice to go with the big man / not as big man combo up top. Both look solid enough for the Turkish third division but both look a world apart from the forwards that reported to me in Bangor. Sorry Dale Patton, you did the job in Ireland but I've got Fatih Aktay to scratch my center forward itch this season.



Ending the first day I was greeted by one of the clubs longest serving players, center half Umut Gedik. He’s as tall as me at 6’ 3’’, slightly better looking with long flowing hair I’m dead jealous of, but an all round pro. 


After reading my coaches report given to me by Mark earlier, I note that Umut, despite being labelled the best center half in the squad, apparently has low concentration. I don’t want to think of him chasing butterflies around the pitch while the other more illustrious teams in Turkey’s third division rip through our defensive line, so I make him the captain in the hopes that it makes him more focused. He did help me settle in the capital to be fair and he showed me around the town after training. I told him I’d been drinking in that bar in the Mamek district and we should go there for a few



‘Fuck no bossman. We go to a place of culture, of real beer and real women’. I told him women I’m a fan of and culture is always nice. He smiled and led the way to a taxi rank which took us to a better looking boozer than the one I’ve been frequenting these last couple of days. 


In keeping with showing him who’s boss, I nine balled him 3 times in a row as we played pool but he had my number at darts. My friend the Doctor got talking to a girl at the bar and she told us about an all night poker game at the club next door. I’m fresh off winning a few rounds against Mark earlier in the day so felt it was only right to take my winning form into the all night game, my friend also tagging along with me and my newly appointed captain.


Umut told me I can rely on him this season, anything I need I can rely on him. He told me he’ll keep the lads in line, hand out punishment when needed and generally have my back. I said ‘thanks Ummy, but you’re not getting out of giving me back the 300 Lira you just lost to me’ He smiled and grabbed a couple more beers from the bar as we sat down to carry on the poker game.


Before the opening game of the season, I’ve missed the pre-season friendly games the team have had while I got my shit together for the move over to Turkey, we go right into competitive action, well, as competitive as Tokat Sports Club away can be. 


I’m also provided pre season odds by the local media, who reckon Etimesgut are good for a mid table finish. I feel this little piece of information is rendered ineffective seeing as how the manager is Jock McGhee and not an actual football manager with any level of meaningful experience or competence.


== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - Another new day in Ankara


All things considered (beer, drugs, women, football in that order) life in the Turkish capital couldn’t be going any better. By December 17th and heading into a short break the team has been very accommodating to me and my tactics. 18 league games producing 11 wins, 2 draws and 5 losses, not bad for someone like me eh, but I’ll take it. My predecessor leaving before he got the chance to see the 20 goals (19 in the league) scored by the kid he signed on loan, Fatih Aktay, or the 14 goals (10 in the league) and 9 assists by his strike partner Emre Ozturk.


Those 11 wins mean we are good for fifth place heading into the new year. My worry now is twofold. Firstly I’m concerned with a repeat of the second half of the season in Bangor, we started really well, lost a key player and stuffed it in the second half of the season. The second worry is Fatih Aktay has got himself injured, a key player for us just like Pavel Vieira was for me in Bangor this time last year. He’s out for at least 3 months tearing a muscle in his groin. He assures me this was done in training and not doing something else, apparently he's got a number of different women on the go, I see a lot of myself in him at times. 


The saving grace is Mark, my assistant manager has used his connections in Germany and we’ve managed to sign young forward Ugur Turk on loan from 1860 Munich to play cover for Aktay, and unlike in Bangor I’ve got more than a 1 man team here in Turkey. 



Also we’d been informed by the Turkish FA that a police investigation was taking place in relation to match fixing. The investigation had been going for a few weeks and they’d apparently implicated players at teams in Turkey, as well as other players in other places in Europe. I’d not bothered keeping up with it, I was doing my best to keep my head down and out of any trouble that might end up with me getting the boot like I did at Bangor not too long ago. There were no disclosure agreements in place and that no one that has been accused of match fixing would be made public until the courts have everything they need, but it seemed obvious to fans as a couple of prominent players from Beskitas had been missing the last 2 weeks.


My friend, The Doctor told me ‘Now there’s a potential earner, we should fix your matches’ I shot down his idea rapid quick ‘Shut up. Gear and prostitutes I can get on with, but match fixing I draw the line’


‘Right, you respect the game too much’


‘Something like that’


He just shook his head and then said ‘New Years day we’re invited to a party by the way’


‘Right’ I said, not really wanting to think where he’d got us an invite for this time. Since being in Turkey we’ve been to a number of these parties the Doctor has found for us, and all of them have involved copious amounts of powder and beer, and have lasted more than a couple of days each, not that I’m moaning. Me enjoying myself and letting the team play without any pressure has gotten us a lot more wins than it has losses, so I think we’ll keep doing things the way we already are.


== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - The great equaliser, and the common denominator


The Doctor was sat in the driver seat, I was trying to get the seatbelt on in the passenger side as he dodged and weaved the rental car in and out of the rush hour traffic of the Monday afternoon of New Year's day in Ankara


Answering him when he arrived at my flat with his question 'We gonna celebrate then?' was my first mistake of the day, the second being drinking out of his hip flask as I was getting in the car


'Whisky?' I asked, immediately regretting my decision to take a swig. I knew straight away it wasn't just whisky


'Yeah, I crushed and tipped 4 of these acid tabs I picked up earlier into the whisky bottle, emptied out a full strip of your Oxycodone tablets, crushed them up, mixed them with a gram of this banging coke I got off some geezer last night, put that in the whisky bottle, mixed it up with a drop of vodka and half a bottle of lime juice and poured it in that hip flask. Give it a minute will ya'


'A minute for what?' I asked, instantly realising the situation would be changing any minute. Booze, piece of piss easy, takes me a while to get really drunk, I am Scottish afterall. And acid I can deal with, I've done it plenty of times and on occasions still do take acid but that has calmed down since I became a football manager. Any acid freak can handle hallucinations, but mixing my opioid painkiller tablets with acid and coke is another deal altogether


'The Molly will kick in first that's gonna bring you up, then the booze and painkillers is gonna make your nerves a bit jittery, it's good whisky by the way I paid a pretty penny for it. After that the painkillers are gonna do whatever they do to your pain receptors in the brain and then....' he sort of just phased out of my vision as I became lightheaded and my head started spinning, a feeling I’ve not felt in a while. I looked up and saw a giant man that looked familiar. I rubbed my eyes and realised it was Axel from Streets of Rage, and he was hanging off the side of a big building knocking airplanes and helicopters out of the sky 'You seen that Bob?' I asked the Doctor, who was still talking but his mouth was getting wider and wider and on his teeth I could see a little mouth with even smaller teeth of its own talking to each other, seemingly in an argument of some sort.


Trying to figure out the scene in front of me I noticed he'd gotten up from in front of the steering wheel, leaned into the back seat of the car and pulled out a bottle of water, while the car was still moving in and out of traffic. The water then smiled and asked me if I wanted any of him, I said no I don't think so, and my friend then sat back down and asked 'you alright kidda?'


'Yeah, your teeth, they're talking to me, the water asked if I wanted some of it, some of him?'


'You're not turning gay on me are you? What ya' mean my teeth are talking to you?'


I didn't know if he said that out loud or if I was thinking it, either way my head was frazzled, and the teeth had stopped talking and looked back at me, folded their arms and was giving me the evils, the sort of look your mother gives you when she says 'when I say no I mean no' and you stop nagging and pestering for whatever she had said no to. I looked away from the teeth and then back to the road. It opened up into a big driveway, a huge house at the end of a cul-de-sac with bright purple lights that reminded me of Big Gay Al's animal sanctuary. 


Then the pterodactyl landed within an inch of my face, pointed its big wings to the left and said in a Geordie accent ‘that way to the party hinny’ then nodded to the right ‘that way to Greggs’ and flew back behind the house.


We carried on going left, the leprechauns and swans were perfectly lined up singing a song, something about a sixpence and being none the richer, they all looked happy enough despite being chained together with shackles on their ankles. I was getting a bit jittery so I took another swig of the whisky drink, then had a lager drink, and then a vodka drink and then I sang a song about a good time.


My friend pulled the car into a parking space and said 'mixing painkillers and acid, that shit's insane innit mate' I could only agree, I've not had a trip this strong since before I got to Turkey. I got out of the car by tapping A three times doing a Mario 64 style triple jump and I vaguely recall coming to this house at some point and meeting with the girl, how I got into contact with her I can’t remember or even when I came here the first time.


Apparently she was one for the people, a peoples champ so to speak, and dismayed at the government for lack of everything and wanting to fight back against the man. I remember speaking to her last time, and she said she’s from Canada, or America, or was it Ireland?  She greeted me on the way in and said 'I'm glad you're back, last time you left without giving me a goodbye kiss' I just played the cool guy and shrugged her off with a wink. She was wearing a green silk dress, the green against her brown hair and blue eyes stood out to me, I’m a sucker for that combo in a woman. I got a bottle of Turkish beer from the cooler on the way into the main room of the house and heard a guy saying, in perfect English no less 'It's all going to come down to money comrades. The great equaliser, and the common denominator'


I was starting to come down from the cocktail of substances the Doctor gave me on the drive over, and the cold sweat came on next. There is nothing more helpless to me that I'd found in this world than an acid comedown. Heaven knows why I keep taking the shit. I'm nothing if irresponsible when I'm flowing in the depths of an acid comedown, and I knew I'd be knee deep in that rotten shit very soon. 'Ignore the sweat and jitters flower' I said to the girl 'been a long day, and stressful as a football manager'. She smiled and did that giggle thing those trophy bird types do.


'We've been watching your team with great interest. You’re doing really well I’m sure the people backing your team are happy’ she said with another giggle. Her perfect brown hair and blue eyes illuminated with every motion.


Again I played the cool guy schtick ‘Ahh it’s nout love. Pick 11 players from the team, tell em in no uncertain terms to turn up, freak out and win the match, job done’ Not wanting there to be an awkward silence I quickly said ‘remind me again what it is you do. You know I’m an up and coming world class football manager’ with another wink.


‘Oh you’ve forgotten, have you?’ giggle again ‘I’m with Turkey for the People, you know the up and coming political party. We’ve got interests in all sorts of ventures’


Opening my fourth bottle of cheap Turkish beer and not being remotely interested in her other ventures,  I said ‘such as?’


‘Oh you know, commerce, sporting projects, property management….’ She kept rambling off words and phrases, I didn’t have a clue what she was babbling on about I could feel another trip coming on, I also just assumed she was drunk so passed her another bottle of beer, the Doctor then appeared like an RKO from out of nowhere, with a plate with 4 lines of powder and a 10 Lira note on it, me and the girl hoovering up 2 lines each. 


‘With politics everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, loan sharks, pimps and killers, the final sin is stupidity’; she said it in a perfect way that just rolled off the tongue, as if practiced. 


She wanted me to carry on drinking with her, and being Scottish, I drank. Not only did I drink but I drank this little cow under the table. Bottle after bottle I was absolutely leathered. She's definitely one for small talk and never really shut up, and she asked me, with both of us steaming drunk by this point, how I get by with the pressures of being a football manager. Not really sure she realises that I’m at a lowly third division club, I replied by saying ‘I hate to promote hard drug use, excessive beer drinking and the occasional prostitute, but they’ve always worked for me’. She smiled, kissed my cheek and said ‘I’ll see you around. I hope’


I hated to see her leave but I loved watching her go, and I went for a walk around the spacious house after she left. I found my friend who had a clown mask on and was wearing exactly no clothes but had a Scotland flag draped around his neck and wearing it as a cape as he was dancing on a table with 4 midget ladies all of whom were also wearing masks of various designs and little to no clothes themselves. I then went further down the corridor and into a small kitchen area, where I saw 2 Elvis impersonators arguing over who could sing Jailhouse Rock better, whilst someone that looked an awful lot like Noel Edmonds stood by and agreed with the fatter of the 2 Elvis’s. I carried on my blissful walk and found myself turning into another spacious living room, where I saw Max Payne and Baseball Bat Boy deep into a game of chess. I leaned over and said to Baseball Bat Boy ‘move your bishop 3 spaces that way (I pointed where) take that rook and he’s in check’. The Baseball Bat said thanks and did as I suggested. Max just looked at me and moved his hand slowly, as if in bullet time. That was my cue to leave the room.


I said goodbye to one of the Elvis's, got a hug from Noel and I shook hands with 3 of the 4 midgets my friend was dancing with earlier, number 4 and my friend conspicuous by their absence, and I tried to find my way home. Trouble being, I had no idea where I currently was.


== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - Confidential information


Time 14:05

February 09 2018

Interview 1 of 2.

Attending / questioning officers - Lance Field and Hunter Smith

Present - Joseph Mark McGhee (questioned). Wilson Barnes (solicitor representing Mister McGhee)

Mister McGhee attended under no duress or arrest. No charges made against him at the time of the interview. Investigation is still ongoing.


The rain was falling in buckets in central Ankara. It was cloaking the city in a shroud of mist and bad decisions. I saw the first detective light a cigarette, the glow casting eerie shadows across his fuck ugly face as he stood across the table from me in the dimly lit room in 1 of Ankara's police stations. His name is Hunter Smith from some place in America, who tells me he’s knee deep in a conspiracy to rig football matches, and that naturally brought him to Turkey and asking me to attend this interview. His words not mine.


The other rent a cop already in the room, wearing a pinstripe suit that looks like he’d slept in it in his car, spoke with an American accent ‘Spill it shitbird, we know you’re fixing games’


‘Another Yank, cute. I can’t fix myself a decent meal how the fuck am I gonna fix a football match’ I said before the solicitor I said to me ‘You don’t need to answer any questions, you’re not under arrest’ I just nod back to him. He’s been sent to me by the British embassy in Ankara, and his time is covered by legal aid we get in The UK, thank you Your Majesty.


The Yank said ‘I’m Canadian, but let's keep it tight shall we. Your team, doing well, no?’ said with a hint of a snigger, he’s got prick written all over his face.


‘Magic’ I said with a smile, the brief shakes his head and writes something down in his notepad while telling me ‘again, you’re under no obligation to respond’. I nod again, I’ve been interviewed by the police enough times, I know how this is gonna go.


‘Some say overachieving, we say cheating. Spill on that’ This time it was Lance, he’d finished his smoke and had a look on his face like he’d just finished runner up in the national lemon sucking contest.


Me, in my most professional voice ‘The squads got a great manager, a good assistant who thinks just like the manager, and we’ve got some great players. I’m good at what I do’ The brief still writing in his book.


Behind the Yank-Canadian, Lance stands up and walks to the opposite side of the room, where he lights another smoke. Before the voluntary interview started the solicitor, from Oxford in England, told me this Lance guy has a reputation as murky as the shadows of the Glasgow underground. He’s clearly the puppet master pulling the strings on this investigation. I size him up with a look that’s part suspicion to keep him on his toes, and part defiance. I’m guilty of a lot of things, but match fixing isn’t one of them.

‘Riddle me this mister football manager. Fatih Aktay, 20 years old, 5 years at a pro club, 1 season in the first team at Altinordu last year, manages 1 goal in 10 games. This season he’s buried 22 so far. That seem off to you? Lance said from the dimly doorway of the room while taking a puff on his cigarette


‘Like I said, great manager. We play to his strengths’


‘You’re team is relegation fodder at best, there’s no way you would be fifth in the league without some outside interference’ this time the Yank-Canadian Hunter speaking


‘Outside interference?’ I said before saying ‘this isn’t wrestling you crank, it’s me and my team playing out of our skins every week and getting the results we deserve’ the solicitor took my hand and turned me and him to face away from the cops ‘I’m advising you, again, that you don’t need to answer anything, remember you’re not under arrest, and anything you do say could implicate you’ I could see he was either getting sick of me or sick of being here. Probably me.


‘Right, but I’ve got nout to hide so why don’t…..’ he cut me off ‘So say no comment from now on, and if they had anything to arrest you with they’d have produced it by now’


From then on I was asked a handful of questions that were unrelated to the investigation, what I think to the weather in Turkey, things about life in Scotland, how I’ve managed to piss off the full Northern Ireland Football Association, how many women I’d taken to bed, irrelevant stuff. I just no commented my way through the next 20 minutes


Lance, 5 cigs deep said ‘that’s it for today Mister Football Manager, however we will have more questions for you, I just need to get some documents together, if you’d grace us with your presence again, say in the next couple of days?’


The solicitor says it’s up to me, I’m not under arrest (yet) and if anything comes from it being cooperative will go some way in my favour. I just nod, say yeah whatever, and we leave the station.


Interview  2 of 2

Time 11:15

February 13 2018

Interview 2 of 2.

Attending / questioning officers - Lance Field and Hunter Smith

Mister McGhee attended under no duress or arrest. No charges made against him at the time of the interview. Investigation is still ongoing.
Agent Field has procured more evidence since the last interview, not disclosing as labelled as circumstantial. Mister Barnes has declined to view the evidence obtained so far.


‘How did you meet Robert Robson?’ Hunter Smith, the prick from Canada speaking


‘The doctor, known him since I was about 10, why?’ the truth.


‘The doctor, hmm, why do you call him that?’


‘I actually don’t know’ Another truth, he just asked me to start calling him it not long after we got to Ankara.


‘He’s been known as other things though hasn't he, spill on that’


‘He’s a big unit, and at school he used to be called the bridge cos of his size, but he insisted everyone stopped people calling him that’




‘Because nobody crosses him and gets away with it’ another truth, he’s massive.


‘How don’t they get away with crossing him, what does he do?’


Fuck, have I dropped him in something? ‘No comment’


‘What’s his daily routine like?


‘He drinks at least 15 drinks a day, every day, his livers made of pure steel’ the number of drinks is probably true, I’m surprised his liver hasn’t packed in yet though

Lance Field, the other rent a cop in the room, making notes in his notepad, I look over and I’m sure my solicitor is trying to hide a little laughter


‘Where’s he living, is it with you?’ The Canadian this time.


‘Nah not with me’ my first lie of the interview


‘Where then?’


‘Well his house in Ankara burnt down, so he’s moved to the Koroglu mountains and has a mountain lion as a pet’ I waited until Lance wrote that down and continued ‘My mans friends with Mufasa, he loves animals, he says unlike humans they don’t talk shit, it’s a genius point’ another lie, he lives with me, minus any lions, mountain or otherwise in my rented flat round the corner from the stadium


‘He’s a crackhead dope seller isn’t he’


‘I dunno about selling, so no comment on that. But before we left Scotland for Turkey he had all his and my family around for Sunday dinner, and at the end of the main course he dropped a bag of meth on the table and declared it’s time for dessert. Such a sweet tooth’ A white lie mixed with exaggerating the truth, he did drop the meth on the table, but only me, the Doctor and our mates Trev and Bazza were present, and it was in a KFC in Edinburgh.


‘So he’s out of control then?’


‘Nah he’s kosher, he’s completely in control of himself’ Biggest lie yet.


‘Tell me something about him I don’t already know or that’s not in this folder I’ve got on him’ Lance pulled the folder from his side of the table and let it sit in front of me. The folder was quite thick, I was starting to worry a bit now


‘Well we had a bet once who could go longest without showering and still get laid, all I can say is he won, and it wasn’t even close. He’s a fucking legend’ the most solid truth yet.


‘Okay, I can see you’re not taking this very seriously Mister McGhee, so I’ll lay it out like this although I’m willing to bet you know all of this’ he took a sip of his drink and continued  ‘your friend, and you by association for now, are involved in a number of illegal activities’ I was dying to say it’s only illegal if you get caught, but thought better of it. ‘Match fixing is the reason why we’re here from The States, and have got officers and detectives from The UK, Spain and France involved in this thing as well. From what we’ve learned so far, it’s not small time games, it’s far reaching and there’s some big names implicated in this’ I looked to the solicitor but the cop clocked me ‘No, no you don’t need to say anything or get advice just yet, let me finish’ He pulled another folder out of his bag, just as big as the first one he pulled out.


He opened the first page and I saw a list of what looked like football results ‘here’s a sample of the games we’ve found to have been influenced’ I tried to look but he covered the sheet ‘how many Etimesgut games do you think are in here?’


I looked at the solicitor who was making notes in his pad, and decided not to say anything.


‘Your silence is very telling Mister McGhee. Let me ask you this, since the last time we spoke your team has lost a few games and drawn the other, that not concerning to you?’


‘No, why should….’ he cut me off


‘You were flying up until the new year, won your first game after the break and now you’ve dropped to sixth and could miss the playoffs’


‘Not sure what you’re getting at, but let me remind you that we boast the leagues leading scorer who’s injured and won’t be back for another 2 months. We’ve got the leagues leading assist man as well as the keeper with the most clean sheets in the league. 4 games after a break don’t define a season inspector’


‘It’s Special Agent, but go on’


I didn’t have much else to say on it really. We’d lost 2 and drawn 1 after the break, so what?


‘Beating teams for fun, scoring loads of goals with a team of nobodies and no hopers, almost like your team were given opportunities to win’ he took a moment and pulled a sheet out of the file ‘not to mention the sudden surge in bets being made on your games, not just in Ankara but we’ve seen bets made on your games all over Turkey and in Greece. What can you tell me about that?’


‘Winning is the whole point of a football match is it not?’ I was getting a bit annoyed now ‘Look, I’ve done a lot of things, a lot of bad illegal things in my time, but not once, and never will I ever ask a player to take a dive, or let a goal in or get a yellow card on purpose, it’s not….’ cut off by this Lance prick, again


‘Who said anything about asking players to get a card on purpose or let goals in? We never said that, what do you know of this?’


Fuck. The solicitor pulled me around to have our backs to the police ‘I told you to keep quiet, now you’ve dropped yourself in it, no shut up now (I tried to speak), just either say no comment to their questions or we say we’re leaving, they’ve got no hard evidence, or if they do they’re withholding it’ 


‘They’ve got nothing on me’ I said before turning back around and just no commenting everything from then on


‘You’re clearly taking the quiet approach, which is fine. But trust me when I say this, I’ve got enough on your pal the Doctor and those political nobodies that you both hang around with that I’ll be bringing you both down before long’


‘If there’s nothing else, special agent Field, we’ll be going now’ the solicitor said as we got up and left the police station.


== == == == ==

10 years ago
13 hours ago

The Journeyman Jock - The end is in sight


I walked into the room, and sat there was Umut Gedik, my captain with a shallow look on his face


‘Where is he?’


‘I don’t know bossman’ he said in his gruff voice, his English getting better by the day, my Turkish stagnating


‘He’s a prick, he knows I wanted him to be here with us to go over the last game of the season’


‘I think he’s with 2 Penny Jenny again’


I’d heard that name before, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it ‘Where do I recognise that name Ummy?’


‘I am not 1 to tell tales, but she’s a prostitute’


‘Ahh right, that’s it, I remember being told about her when we first got here’


‘Yes, well, she’s in demand. I mean, I think she is. He told me it’s not the first issue he’s had with her’


Now I was worried, issues with a prostitute? ‘He’s not killed her has he?’ was the only thing I could think of asking


‘No. Well I don’t think he has. He sent me a text saying he’s at the doctors again’


‘Again? What’s he done this time?’


‘How you say, erm, he had a clap?’


‘The clap? Fucking idiot, from this Jenny?’


‘He’s been there 3 times since you’ve been in Turkey’


‘3 fucking times, with the clap?!?’


‘No, the first time he got something stuck and had to….’ I cut him off


‘Don’t tell me what he got stuck and better yet don’t tell me where he got it stuck, I don’t wanna know. We’ll have to deal with this ourselves’ but before moving on to the final league game of the season, I had to ask ‘why is she called Two Penny Jenny?’

‘Well in a bar in a small part of Ankara there is a machine that sells flavoured cigars that she always smokes, and they’re 2 Lira each and you can only pay with 1 Lira coins. As long as you pay her with at least 2 Lira coins she’s yours, Two Penny Jenny’

‘That can’t be true’

‘I wouldn’t know bossman’ he said, sheepishly




We stumbled our way into the final game of the season, managing to sit fifth in the table on 55 points with a 1 point advantage over Gumushanespor. All we had to do was match their result in the next and final league game and we’d be in the playoffs.  The game against Polati Bugsasspor ended with us scraping by 2-1 to seal a fifth place finish.


I say scraping by, we lost Umut a couple of weeks before the game with a sprained ankle, Aktay came back from injury but went down again the week leading up to the final game but just passed a fitness and managing to score in the game, first choice right back Alaettin Tur had his season ended in February with a broken ankle and Mo Bayr, first choice left back, and the only left footed full back in the team missed a few games with a muscle issue. 


We also went 8 games without a win from February up until the start of April where we managed to win 4 in a row, with impressive back to back 5-1 wins to secure the play off finish






We’d been drawn against Aydinspor in the play offs, who we beat 3-0 earlier in the season, but who took the piss and battered us 6-1 in the 8th game of that run of no wins.



They carried that form against us into the playoffs as they secured a 2-1 win at our place with a late winner, but absolutely cemented the win with a 4-2 victory at their ground, to go through 6-3 on aggregate







A play off finish was more than I was expecting and the result in the play off aside, I was happy with how my first season in Ankara had gone. The league had even been gracious enough to ignore the recent match fixing speculation and award me with the manager of the year award, which in a meeting with the team I told them I wouldn’t have won the award without their efforts. 


I also told them I expected to sign Aktay permanently, we’d agreed the fee with his parent club, Ugur would be coming back and we’d be aiming for a top 2 finish next season, something we all agreed was a realistic aim.


== == == == == ==

You'll need to Login to comment