bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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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.

 

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

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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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.

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'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.

== == == == ==

 

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

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.

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

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.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

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’
 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

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.

 

 == == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

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.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

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.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

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.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

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’

 

‘Why’

 

‘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.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

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.

 

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

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

The Journeyman Jock - The call


 

The phone rang, a local Ankara number calling so I answered it

 

‘Jock it’s me’ a female voice

 

‘Me who?’

 

‘Alex’

 

I couldn’t think of an Alex, a female one anyway ‘I’m with Turkey for the People, we’ve been at parties together doing snort. The last time the Doctor was dancing with midgets’

 

‘Oh right I thought that was me on an acid trip’

 

‘No it happened. Listen you haven’t got long’

 

‘Shit, long for what?’

 

‘The police are coming for you and the Doctor, they’ve got evidence you both corroborated to fix at least 11 football matches within the last year’ her words coming out double quick

 

‘Get to fuck I’ve done no such thing’

 

‘It doesn’t matter, the current ruling party in the government in Turkey have fabricated the reports from the police and linked it to our political party, to you and the doctor, and have altered the documents to make it look like you’ve fixed some games and we’re all involved in it all together’

 

I didn’t know what to say, I needed to find the Doctor and see what he knows. He won’t have been fixing matches I was sure of it. Other non legal things I can see him doing, but fixing football matches, no way.

 

‘Listen to me, the chairman of Etimesgut will ring you, play dumb, he’s either going to ask you to go meet him, if he does it’s a trap so the police can get you, if not hear him out but he’s probably going to sack you’

 

‘How do you know this?’ I said more than a little bit wary

 

‘I have contacts in the government, as well as some people in football and in the police here in Ankara. The FBI geeks who interviewed you are staying in a Ritz not far from the US embassy, my associate there has been keeping tabs. I’ve got to go, and between us we need to find and warn the Doctor. Listen to me, do not under any circumstances go to the stadium or training ground. I’ll be in touch’ Click, the line went dead. Just like Ray Charles in a fist fight, I did not see that coming!


 

I sat down on the bed in the flat I was renting, through the club no less, and within 20 seconds of that call ending my phone rang again. Erdan Yildiz, the chairman. I answered and before I could say anything he said in his ever improving broken English ‘Jock, there are no time to explain. I’m under a lot of pressure. I like you, I really do but there’s….’ I cut him off
 

‘I know, you want me to come meet you so you….’ he cut me off

 

‘No no no! Do not come here under any circumstance. I am in bathroom in the players lounge, there are armed Turkish police, some with dogs, and US cops are here. They say you’ve been trafficking drugs and people as well as fixing matches’ he said. I tried to speak but he carried on ‘I do not know if you have, I do not think you have and would like to think this is a misunderstanding, so I’m doing what I think I can to help you, and that is I’m going to accept your resignation now, over the phone, and when that’s done you get the hell out of Turkey. I’m going to tell those police I’ve spoken to you and you’re on the way here now to speak about football. That should get you an hour or so before they get suspicious’

 

In shock I didn’t know what to do. Professionally if I leave the job now I might find work elsewhere, that’s if the feds didn’t catch up with me and ruin my career just as it was starting to get going, but I’ve done nothing wrong in terms of fixing matches

 

‘Jock, are you there my friend?’

 

‘Yes I’m here’

 

‘My own solicitor is here with me, he says the charges are only based on things that have happened in Turkey, for you anyway. If you leave now and go to another EU country, the police can’t extradite you from there, at least not easily. Your friends I’m not so sure on, but you must get out of Turkey now and go home to Scotland or somewhere that is an EU country. Jock, my friend I’m risking myself to help you. Tell me you quit now on the phone that way I won’t be lying to anyone about the club, and then you must leave’

 

For the first time in my life I was lost for words. ‘I…..erm…..thank you for every….’

 

‘Jock for fuck, say it quick’

 

‘Okay I qu…...’ I heard a door open down the line and a voice say ‘Mister Yildiz, we’ve been listening to your call, pass me the phone now’ then I heard the voice more clearly 

 

‘Mister McGhee, it’s Special Agent Lance Field, when I find you whether in Turkey or an EU country or wherever else you decide to rock up, I will be doing everything in my power to arrest you and bring you and your cronies to justice’ Click.

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

The Journeyman Jock - Summer 2018

 

10/06/18 - I hang up the phone and hastily throw things into my Nike gym bag. 1 pair of boxer shorts, 2 pairs of shorts (Adidas and Reebok), last seasons Motherwell away shirt, this seasons Etimesgut home shirt (Aktay 37 on the back), my phone charger, headphones (wired ones off ebay), a cup sans handle, 2 cans of Carlsberg Export and 1 can of Red Bull. I get a taxi from the off licence down the road where The Doctor has bought 3 bags worth of ale.

 

We arrived at a bus depot in Istanbul about 3 hours later, and are greeted by a guy called Hermes, like the delivery company. We get a bite to eat and then we’re sat in the back of a white transit van as it proceeds up to the coast.

 

11/06/ - At some time after midnight we’re on a boat, quite a big one to be fair, had a few glasses of wine and some food, some Turkish paella with gyros and some yoghurts. I managed to get a shower by the time we ported in a place called Burgas in Bulgaria. We then got off the boat and found another van, this one black, and sat in the back of it playing cards and drinking the cans of cheap beer we picked up before leaving Ankara, and roughly 4 hours later we made it to an industrial estate somewhere in Sofia.The Doctor hadn’t slept in over 72 hours, so he says, and continues railing lines of powder. I’m too stressed to take anything illegal, I’m already worried up to my eyeballs and I do not need any narcotic infused paranoia as well.

 

12/06 - I slept in the van overnight while Hermes and his contact got things sorted for us in the Bulgarian capital. The doctor had been sat playing patience on his own with the pack of cards all night. I checked a paper I picked up outside the port and saw that the World Cup predictions were officially up, the mighty Tartan Army drawn in Group B with favourites Brazil, as well as Egypt and Japan. I said we’d have to find somewhere that’ll be showing the games. The Doctor yelled TARTAN ARMY to no one in particular. He’s not even Scottish. 

 

Gareth Southgate makes some weird decisions with his England squad and keeps his friends close at the forefront of his selection. Harry Kane (18 league goals, 5 cup) and Marcus Rashford (10 goals, 1 cup)  are 2 of 3 forwards, scoring a combined 34 all season, despite Callum Wilson of lowly Bournemouth who finished sixth, the Premier Leagues top scorer with 29 not making the team. The other forward is Daniel Sturridge, 8 goals for Liverpool whilst playing in only 20 matches in a forgettable season. Jack Butland, Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton are the goalies, Joe Hart nowhere to be found. Chris Smalling of Southampton gets called up despite being labelled as the Premier League's worst signing of the season, Danny Rose gets the starting left full back nod over Luke Shaw, more on him shortly, Dele Alli, injured since December also makes the squad.

 

 

13/06 The official end of the football season in England. Newcastle are back in the Premier League and let everyone know they’re not messing around. Rafa signed left winger / striker Kenedy on loan from Chelsea last summer, who goes and gets 20 goals and 9 assists. Matt Ritchie scores 10 and gets 11 assists to win the clubs player of the year for the second season in a row, The Toon finish second against all odds. Losing only 6 games in the process to league winners Man United twice as well as the blue side of Manchester twice, Arsenal once and Watford away randomly. They won 25 league games and Rafa joins me in the manager of the year club. It’s a very exclusive club. Not only that, but Rafa has lost 11, count it 11, league games in the last 2 seasons. As noted already Bournemouths Callum Wilson is the leagues top scorer with 29 and moves to Chelsea for 42 million. Man United’s Harry Kane gets 18, Eden Hazard is third with 13 goals while Mesut Ozil leads the league with 19 assists.

 

Liverpool continue to make everyone's day whilst simultaneously voiding accas as they sacked Roberto Mancini just before Christmas in 2017 after losing to Bristol City at Ashton Gate, they then hire Ralph Hassenhüttl, who signs Jordan Henderson to a 5 year 190k deal, sells Firmino to Bayer Leverkusen for 39 million & brings in Ruben Duarte to replace Firminio for 7 million. Laughable. They eventually finished 11th. James Milner (32 but fit as a fiddle) Adam Lallana (30, passed his mediocre best and posting 6 goals and 4 assists last season) and Marcel Sabitzer (24, 27 games games last season, huge return of 3 goals & 6 assists) are their key players, and they still expect to finish fourth. It’s not their year no matter how many times they say it.

 

Davey Moyes is eventually sacked by Sunderland once the Championship play offs ends, which they missed by some margin after they ignored my email last year and don’t get promoted back to the Premiership.. They hire Claude Makelele who was in charge of Norwich, guiding them from playoff hopefuls at the start of the season to 17th in 6 months. 

 

Man United boss Jose Mourinho seems intent on pissing his players off, as he signs Robert  Lewandovski from Bayern for 81 million who immediately pushes Harry Kane out of the starting line up, and Theo Hernandez from PSG for 32 million who sees Luke Shaw, Man United’s player of the year, make way. He requests a transfer.

 

The dog nonces at Celtic won the SPL for the 2 millionth time. They sell Kristoffer Ajer to Champions League winners Monaco for 6 million but make no incoming signings. Rangers sell a load of young players and bring in another 7 players, like they did last year that no one knows. They finish third behind Hearts. They're a massive club remember.

 

Wigan won the Championship, Brighton came second and Ipswich saw off Sheffield Wednesday in the play offs. Wednesday also lost last year's playoffs. Maybe third time lucky next year lads?

 

Monaco beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions league final. Radamel Falcoa grabbing the winner late in the second half.

 

Inter beat Real Sociedad in the Europa league final. Joao Mario (keep him in mind) scoring twice in the second half to secure a 2-1 win.

 

Motherwell bring in the big guns in the form of Che Adams for 2.4 million from Birmingham, Darron Gibson on a free, Ryan Colclough from Wigan for 450k, Daniel Barlaser on loan from Newcastle, Timi Elsnik on a free from Derby, Andrea Rossi of Pescara, no we don’t know him either, on loan, and all come in to build upon the teams Championship win last season and SPL survival this, hopefully.

 

Timo Werner left the bright lights of Leipzig for the megabucks of Man City for 58 million, Leipzig immediately replaced him with City’s Gabriel Jesus for 56 million, for a 2 million profit.

 

Europa League winning goal scorer Joao Mario takes his winners medal and leaves Inter Milan to head to Barcelona for  57 million

 

Joelinton, fresh off 2 seasons at Rapid Vienna on loan from Hoffenheim and scoring a solid 48 in 72 in Austria, leaves Hoffenheim permanently to move to Arsenal for 40 million. He played exactly 0 minutes for Hoffenheim.

 

Hakim Ziyech leaving Ajax to go to Real Madrid for 25 million is the Eredivise’s big transfer out. No incoming transfers come close to price or relevancy.

 

14/06 - The Doctor finally falls asleep in the back of the van with his headphones in playing the This is Action Bronson playlist on Spotify. I drink some cheap Bulgarian ale we’ve picked up in Sofia and been to a couple of bars without the Doctor. As far as I can tell there's been no FBI or Turkish police tails on us, yet.

 

15/06 - 20/06 - We move around the outskirts of Sofia in the van hitting some nondescript looking boozers and greasy spoons, trying to keep out of trouble. The Doctor has other ideas as he challenges 3 men to a fight, 2 of which claim they are French Army reserves, who I’m sure are undoubtedly trained in unarmed close quarters combat. The Doctor, about 6 grams of coke and 4 MDMA tablets deep claims he’s the Mike Tyson / Brock Lesnar illegitimate love child. Me and Hermes get him out of Dodge by the skin of our collected teeth.

 

We do enjoy a couple of quiet days as the Doctor sleeps off his comedown and I get to enjoy my cheap Bulgarian beer hangovers with nothing of note happening. My heart does skip a beat as a couple of uniformed police officers ask Hermes some questions, although it turns out they’re lady boy prostitutes playing dress up. Hermes declines their advances however the Doctor goes to speak to them. We don’t see him for 3 hours.

 

I keep an eye on football news and see that in Asia the transfers continued making no logical sense, only big money sense. Felipe of Portuguese champions and Champions 

League semi finalists Porto leaves to go to Qatari side Al Sadd for 10 million. That’s his wage, the transfer fee was 6.

 

Allan of Serie A runners up and Coppa Italia semi finalists Napoli gets to fly to China and sign for Huaxia for 49 million. Napoli spend 2 million of that money on some Serbian kid called Stefan Subotic from Red Star Belgrade.

 

Solomon Rondon, 12 Premier League goals the season just finished, leaves West Brom to follow Allan to China but signs for Quanjian for 34 million. He’s given squad number 34 as well. Ironic.

 

Victor Wanyama has been threatening to leave Spurs all season since Harry Kane left last summer and finally got the green light. He leaves for China to join the Rondon-revolution at Quanijian for 12 million. He’s given the number 6 shirt.

 

21/06 - We’re in a pub in Sofia we've not been to yet,  and the sign outside says кървавият чужденец  which Hermes translates as The Bloody Foreigner. Brazil v Scotland is showing on the telly. I tell the Doctor not to bring any attention to us or let them know I’m Scottish, to which he shouts DEATH TO THE JOCKS! And proclaims that no one will know we’re there supporting the Tartan Army with that yell. They get beat 2-0 by Brazil.

 

26/06 - We’re back in the Bloody Foreigner to watch Scotland take on Japan. The last time these played each other was last summer, the Japs winning 2-0 but they didn’t play against the world class strike combination of Jordan Rhodes and James Morrison that day. Morrison grabbing 2 assists for Rhodes from his 2 open play goals in his first half hat trick to go with his penalty after 14 minutes, Rhodes then returning the favour by letting Morrison thunder the ball home to get an assist to go with his 3 goals. 4-0 at half time and I won’t lie, I was worried they’d lose it, it is Scotland after all. Lose they did not but they sat back for 45 minutes and saw the game out 4-0. Scenes in the Bloody Foreigner. 

 

For a brief moment Jordan Rhodes of Middlesbrough and Scotland was the leading scorer at a World Cup finals. 

 

 

The Scots followed that win up with a close 3-2 win over Egypt to progress. We then ruined every Englishman's day as we beat Austria on penalties in the second round, and got drawn against Croatia in the quarter final. Germany knocked England out in the second round courtesy of 2 Robert Muller (with reported interest from Qatari side Al-Sadd)  goals in the last 5 mins. Southgate's job isn't even in doubt.

 

30/06 - We’re back on the move as the route from Sofia through Romania, Hungary and Slovakia is clear, or at least as clear as it can be. We’re in Budapest 3 days later.

 

03/07 - World Cup semi final today, which we managed to watch in a small ale house somewhere in Budapest. Not a lot to report really, as Scotland bowed out gracefully to eventual runners up Croatia. Budapest is welcoming to the 3 strange foreign men (1 Scot, 1 English and 1 Turkish) in a black transit van with Turkish plates, and most people speak English. We get fed and showered at a budget hotel and I try and relax after watching the Scots somehow get to a semi final of the World Cup

 

 

 

04/07 - On the road again except this time we travel a short distance and hit Graz in Austria just after 2AM. A train takes us from Graz into Venice no questions asked. Another stopover at a cheap hotel is followed by a drive from an Italian guy who’s friendly with Turkey for the People, up to Milan. He’s called Luigi, I’m dying to ask if he’s got a brother called Mario. The Doctor is sat railing lines and playing patience again, this time listening to Westside Gunn’s album Supreme Blientele

 

06/07 - We get to a hotel, the best looking one on our journey so far. We’re in room 316 and all I can think about is Stone Cold Steve Austin, so grab 2 ice cold beers from the fridge, open them up and smash them together and drink them at the same time, and lay on the bed, not really sure what’s going to happen next or when it’s going to happen. The Doctor is smiling his usual smile and says ‘I’ve clocked a dealer kid downstairs, I’m gonna go score some shit, back soon’ and off he went. I didn’t want to get caught up anything, so stayed in the hotel room without much left to be done but watch tv and relentless masturbation.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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The Journeyman Jock - Three is the magic number

 

‘For the sake of the tape please can you confirm your name?’

 

‘Just call me smacktalker Skywalker, bada bing bada boom I’m the realest guy in the room’

 

‘And how do you know Joseph?’

 

‘Joseph? Like Mary, Jesus and Joseph?’

 

‘Joseph Mc…, Jock you call him’

 

‘Oh that square, erm, dunno, think I bumped into him when I got here few months ago, seems like a nice guy’

 

‘You know fine well you’ve known him most of your life, spill on that’

 

‘Well if you think that why you asking me? Hey wait a minute, I know this routine, you’re asking me questions you’ve already got answers to and then if I say something different you’re gonna implicate me in the murder’

 

‘What murder?

 

‘Ahh see, there it is. What murder exactly hahaha’

 

‘You do realise, or at least you have comprehended that you’re being questioned in relation to a number of serious offences?’

 

‘Yeah mate sure do, I’ve got a serious case of the heeby jeebies’

 

‘I’m obliged to tell you that the case we’re building against you and your friends is gonna see you in prison for a long time, but you can help yourself by helping us’

 

‘Yeah whatever’

 

‘Let me get to the real reason you’re here today Mister Robson. You’ve been involved in trafficking narcotics into and around Ankara. As well as that you’ve been involved in match fixing football games, most notably games involving Besiktas and Etimesgut. Oh and let’s not forget the extortion and bribery you’re partial to, whilst in cahoots with the Turkey for the People political party. Spill it’

 

‘I’ll spill nothing. A spilt drink is like a broken heart’

 

‘You had the chance to cooperate with us but it seems as though you’re dead set on being unhelpful. I have to ask you, how did you come into contact with members of the Turkey for the People political party?’

 

‘No idea who that is’

 

‘What about on the night of January 1st, you were seen leaving a house on the outskirts of Ankara with a lady half your height, you were wearing a Scotland flag around your waist and a clown mask, the lady you were with happened to be wearing less, as in nothing. Tell me about that’

 

‘How do you know it was me if the person was wearing a mask?’

 

‘The Spongebob Squarepants tattoo on your back, the one that takes up your full back which is exactly the same as the one the person had leaving at that time’

 

‘Spongebobs a popular guy, loads of people have tattoos of him’

 

‘I doubt that, but okay, what about the tattoo on your left leg of Ronald McDonald and a Burger King Whopper meal, or the one on your right leg of Papa Smurf gardening a field of marijuana leaves, both of which were on the person seen leaving the house?

 

‘Another case of popular tattoos mate’

 

 

The Doctor turned the tape off and said ‘loads of bullshit really, I didn’t drop you in anything trust me’

 

‘I wouldn't trust your corpse to take a punch’ a lie but a joke, I trust this man with my life  ‘What did they say when you got up and left?’

 

‘Something about getting a warrant from the court then coming to get me. Lucky we got out of Turkey when we did, that politician broad came good didn't she’

 

‘Yeah she actually did. She’s put me in touch with a guy, apparently he’s got me a job’

 

Before my friend could say anything else, I told him we’ve got to do everything we can to keep our heads down and wait for this case to blow over. I was under no illusions that it would blow off quietly, but I’ve done nothing wrong, well nothing wrong in terms of fixing matches anyway.

 

‘Don’t be such a saint, live life to fullest man’

 

‘That’s easy for you to say, you’re not a football manager that’s stuffed 2 jobs in 2 years in 2 different fucking countries!’

 

I settled down on the sofa in the hotel room in Milan, put on by Alexa, all I was told I had to do was wait for a call, which didn’t take long.

 

I answered ‘It’s me, how you feeling?’ she said, compassion clear in her tone

 

‘Like shit, like a fucking illegal immigrant’

 

‘Don’t worry, as long as you stay in the EU you’re safe, well as safe as you’re going to be. It’ll take a hell of a lot for the British government to sanction an extradition, and based on the evidence the FBI have got, it’s circumstantial at best’

 

‘Yet I’m backtracking across Europe…’ she cut me off

 

‘Don’t worry. I’ve told you about the job already lined up’

 

‘A wise man once told me that if something seems too good to be true then it usually is’

 

‘This isn’t too good to be true, one of the contacts we have in Milan is a football agent, he’s got contacts all over the world in football. He’s been able to put your name out there and he'll represent you, so any fallback from this slander campaign against you will be irrelevant’

 

I’ve got no other choice really. I’m stuck in a hotel in 1 of the less posher areas of Milan, with my oldest friend in the world, who somehow keeps finding dealers with gear and booze in all the places we’ve been to, and god knows where his money is coming from, I swear he’s not worked a day in his life.

 

The more I think about it the worse it gets, and my headache just keeps coming and going. The Doctor tells me it’s the comedown from the acid and coke we’ve been taking the last few days. I say it’s the fucking stress he’s put me under! Which football club owner or chairman is gonna take on an out of work manager, that’s stuffed it at the last 2 jobs he’s been at? Not to mention one that’s been implicated in a high profile match fixing scandal that’s been going on?’

 

‘One at a club that’s either going nowhere or is too irrelevant to have much of a choice’ the Doctor said

 

‘How did you know what I was thinking?’

 

‘I know you like the back of my hand. Plus I spoke to the agent’

 

‘What? When?’

 

‘Earlier. We’ve got 2 days here in Milan then we’re off on a train down to San Marino’

 

‘San Marino? Aren’t they the worst football country in the world?’

 

‘Yeah, they’ve got a team in the Italian league though, you’re the new manager’

 

‘Shut up you can’t be serious’

 

‘I am, they’re expected to finish bottom of Serie C, that’s the third division. Like I said, too irrelevant to be picky about who their manager is’

 

‘What happened to the last manager?’

 

‘No one knows, he just disappeared’

 

‘Great’ 

 

And that was how I became the new manager of the newly promoted San Marino Calcio, another third division club, in my third country in three years.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
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8 hours ago
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The Journeyman Jock - This isn’t the great FM San Marino challenge

 

I was given the objective from Stefano de Luca, the San Marino Calcio chairman ‘I need you to survive, by any means necessary’. I asked him what means those were, and he said ‘oh anything, and I mean ANYTHING (he emphasized this word), just like you did in Turkey’. I assume he was alluding to the match fixing scandal that I didn't have anything to do with. 

 

Also as an aside, not that I’m playing a video game that may or may not have a scripted match engine, but I need to point out that at no point from being told 2 days ago that I’m the new manager of this club until now have I decided that this is now going to be the great San Marino challenge. I’m just happy to be in a job, and a job that there’s not much pressure to succeed in. Plus I don’t know who’s worse, the standard of manager in me, or the standard of players this country generates in the youth intake. Again, not that I’m playing any computer game. Also another aside, I’ve still not had any chance to implement the Moneyball idea that started me on this managerial journey, but if there’s 1 place in the world of football that I should be able to do that, it’s gotta be San Marino right?

 

San Marino, as a nation of people as well as a footballing nation, just seems to be happy to be there. I mean, it’s like this little village that’s been plopped randomly into a nondescript spot in Italy, near the coast and a bus ride away from Florence. Side note, I’m going to go to Florence and watch Fiorentina play when time allows. Last season the idiots got relegated to Serie B. Plus their home kits have always been nice, I had 1 with Batistuta on the back once, what a player he was.

 

The nation is known as the whipping boys of Europe so I’m expecting the football team, which plays in the Italian league pyramid, think Cardiff and Swansea in England, to be the same. But with that in mind, I felt coming here would be good for me on 2 counts. The first being if we get dicked every week it won’t matter, because San Marino and shit football go hand in hand and we’ll be expected to get smashed more than an Edinburgh prostitute on a weekend. If by some miracle of God, who by the way is quite popular round here, we manage to win some games and stay up, I’ll be heralded as a mastermind tactician and I’ll have overachieved and any pre-existing thoughts of match fixing will be forgotten. Win win all round, hopefully.

 

 

I felt to really give me and the club the best chance of survival, illegal activities on and off the pitch be damned, that I would need people I can rely on, that are somewhat knowledgeable in football and are cut out for it, which immediately rules the Doctor out, despite his protests. So I used the new phone Alex sent me to ring my old assistant in Turkey, Mark Jauk

 

‘Now lad, it’s Jock, you got a few minutes’

 

‘You stinky no good poker cheating low life scum ball’

 

‘I see your English has improved’

 

‘Funk you and your money stealing ways’

 

‘I don’t really know what to say’

 

‘Ahh is fine Jock, I’m just breaking your balls’

 

‘It’s called busting, but anyway how's it been at the club since I left?’

 

‘Terrible. The owner told us you left him a note to pass on to the rest of us saying thanks lads for the memories, and that you hired 2 high class hookers, bought a bag of blow and got a plane to Nepal to live in the mountains there, I didn’t believe it at first but then I thought that is something you’d probably do’ Couldn’t argue, sounds like a good thing to do to be fair.  He continued ‘The owner brought a new guy in, some hump from South Korea, he sacked all the staff apart from 1 scout, some punk kid I never met, he stripped Ummy of the captaincy and said he wants nothing to remain of your ill fated spell that has brought shame and dishonour to the club and to Turkish football’

 

‘Shit, well look I had noth….’ he cut me off

 

‘Oh I know you didn’t, I was approached by some dweebs wearing 3 piece suits and headsets about leaking team informations and asking players to take dives and so on, but I never obliged and I don’t think you would either’

 

So Mark was approached, I wonder if he was ever interviewed by the FBI? I’d ask another time. ‘Oh right, erm, not really sure what to say, other than I’ve got a new gig lined up, if you’re interested?’

 

‘Oh Jock my friend, I’m on a train into Vienna to accept a job as under 18’s manager at Sturm Graz, what job you have for me?’

 

‘Well I was gonna ask you to be my assistant again’ An awkward silence on the phone, I swear I could hear the cogs turning in his head

 

‘Fuck the under 18’s, I’m with you, where’s the job?’

 

‘Mark, please under no circumstances say that out loud again, I’m already wanted by the police, I don’t want be labelled a fiddler as well as a fraud’ I let the moment hang before saying ‘I’ll text you the details’ 

 

 

As that call ended, the Doctor just popped up out of nowhere like a wild Pokemon in the room I was in at the San Marino Stadium and said ‘remember that night in the van, we were in Sofia, the place not the prozzy, and I said about Bazza needing a job?’

 

‘No’

 

‘Corse you do, I told you that Bazza had been in touch, he’d ripped his foot on a barb wired fence and had to retire, but Stranraer said because of his disciplinary record and his tendency to not turn up to games and training that they couldn’t keep him on the coaching staff’

 

‘You’ve literally never said any of that to me, until now. Anyway how the fuck has Bazza managed to get in touch with you? And not me for that matter?!?’

 

‘Behave man, you said yeah once we’re sorted with a new job Baz can have a job as a coach’

 

‘Mate you’re tripping, I’ve never said that’

 

‘But hypno thetically, if he was available would you hire him?’

 

I couldn’t be bothered with the Doctors antics at the minute, and I hadn’t spoke to Baz for about 5 weeks, and even then it was on XBOX live while we were playing Fifa, I beat him 6-2, and I thought no way Bazza has been in touch, we’ve got new phones for a start, so I just said ‘it’s hypothetically, but if Bazza has retired and he wanted to come all the way out here, to San Marino then yes, he can work on my staff’

 

The Doctor got up, smiling and opened the door and said  ‘here lad I told you he’d take you on, he’s had me tagging along for 2 years’ and as he finished talking another figure walked into the room wearing a Rangers shirt, a white bandana and a pair of Speedo’s with the S worn out and rubbed off

 

I shook my head and said ‘For fuck sake. First of all take that shite off right now Baz!’ and watched as 1 of my oldest friends in the world took his Speedo’s off, letting his Winston hang out and his smile stretching across his full face ‘bit of a weird request, but as you’re my new boss I oblige’ he said before we embraced with a hug.

 

David Barron, 2 years my junior and someone I’d known since I was about 9, had had a so-so playing career in Scotland never really making it to the top leagues, content with playing League One at the highest. He told me his achilles is done and he needs surgery on it, and that his playing career is over at the age of 30. Sad times.

 

‘What’s all this about you sneaking across Europe running away from the pigs?’

 

‘That’s not exactly true, I’m running from the FBI not the police’

 

‘Woooooooow what the fuck have you done this time?!’

 

‘Nothing, literally nothing, it wasn’t me’ Baz turned and looked at the Doctor ‘and it wasn’t him either, for once’ I said

 

‘Right, whatever I don’t care. I’m here to get pissed, sniff some Italian Molly and fuck anything with a pair of tits and a heartbeat, although the heartbeat is optional. Shall we find a boozer then lads? And we left the hotel in Milan and made our way down to a pub on the high street.

 

 

 

During the next couple of hours we talked strategy, tactics and plans for the season, and it was nice to finally speak to someone logically about football and with someone who has experience in it, not just watching it like the Doctor. Despite Bazza knocking back pints of Perrotti like it was going out of fashion and the Doctor supplying more and more powder, pills and spirits we got a good deal sorted out. I told him I’ve briefly met the players but I do have control over transfers, and from my last 2 clubs there’s 2 players I’d love to speak to about coming over

 

‘Gimme the numbers I’ll call them’ Baz said

 

‘It’ll look better coming form me’ I said 

 

‘Nah, listen if anyone’s tapping calls coming from here they’ll get you, let me ring them. Plus if you ring Ballyclare and their gaffers cush with that Irish prick from Bangor you’ll never get to speak to Pavel will ya’ he had a point actually, he continued ‘also I’ll ring this Mark lad the new assistant, he’ll have the Turks number won’t he, we can let him talk to him about coming in’

 

To say I was impressed with Bazza’s professionalism would be an understatement. He’s really taken on the role of first team coach much more than I thought he would. He’s always been a bit of a liability at best, so to see him embracing his forced retirement is great, and it’s something I didn’t really know I needed until now.

 

San Marino, under Jock McGhee, Mark Jauk and my mate Bazza fresh off the back of being investigated by the FBI, are going places, I know it.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

The Journeyman Jock - If you’re going to San Marino, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

We were sat in a small tavern in what is the town center of San Marino’s capital, also named San Marino, known as Citta locally. I’ve been here a couple of weeks now and you know what, I’ve not actually taken the time to appreciate it’s beauty. All I’ve done is stare at Bazza to make sure he’s not doing anything stupid, while trying and mostly failing to keep an eye on the Doctor to make sure he doesn’t do something even more stupid than anything Baz can do like try and rig football matches, or what was the other charge the FBI said? Oh yeah, distribute narcotics and people around. 

 

He seems happy enough though and has kept out of trouble, and he’s made a few friends in the small country. As well as that for the most part I’ve been sat with the laptop, a pen, a note pad and copious amounts of coffee trying to scheme and figure out a way of not embarrassing myself and the club this season. I need a rest, and I’ve only been 2 bloody weeks!! 

 

Pre season is just about done, we’ve got 1 more friendly match, against La Fiorita, the San Marino league champions, a league my San Marino team aren't in. I looked at things to do while I’m here, there’s a bunch of old castles to visit, a big ass mountain to climb, plenty of eateries serving authentic Italian food, a couple of night clubs and surprisingly, a chess club. Bazza found that one. He tells me this last year while he’d been injured and not in the Stranraer team he’d been hammering the gear, and him and our mate Runner Up, called so because he’s been a welterweight boxer since he was about 12, and every fight he’s had, bar 1 against a lad who’s blind in 1 eye, he’s been the runner up in, they’d been sniffing powder and eating pills for nights on end while playing chess. Runner Up apparently wins more games of chess than he does prize fights.

 

I’ve got Mark Jauk my assistant with me, as well as The Doctor, who keeps popping up and disappearing at an alarming rate, as well as a couple of folders on things such as team reports and transfer targets

 

‘We need a central midfielder, we’ve only got 2 natural in the position’ Mark said

 

‘I’m on that, Baz has called a guy I know in Ireland, and remember this club has got an affiliation with Cesena, I’ve got a call booked in with their gaffer this aft to discuss loaning someone in’

 

‘A forward would be good also, only Di Curzio in the team, and he won’t be able to carry the goal scoring burden’ I just nodded in agreement.

 

As he stopped speaking I went and ordered 2 more pints of cheap Italian beer, and took a look around the cozy pub I was in. The place had a couple of San Marino shirts on the wall, a picture of Andy Selva taking most of another, some pictures of what looks like some Mafia Wiseguy types, but the barmaid was the clear attraction in this place. Tall for a woman, about 5 foot 9 maybe 5' 10'' I’d guess, long black hair, blue eyes to go with a nice smile and a chest that demands your attention.

 

‘Now Jack, been climbing any beanstalks recently?' Bazza said to me as he strolled in and sat down next to Mark

 

‘Jack’? Mark asked

 

‘Don’t ask’ I replied and let Bazza continue

 

‘Anyway the Turks on board, the whopper that replaced you at Etimesgut released him from his contract, so he pretty much jumped at the chance of joining us’

 

Emrre Ozturk, my vice captain at Etimesgut, and scorer of 18 goals in all competitions and provider of 20 assists, joins me in San Marino. He’ll maybe not be vice captain for me again, but his experience will be vital to our ongoing survival battle this season

 

‘Spoke to the yip at Ballyclare, turns out your mate Pavel was on a non contract there as well, but they were paying him more per appearance than you were at Bangor. Anyway he’s said he’s happy to join the club as well. I’ve told him you’ll have him as a rotation option, hope that’s alright mate’

 

‘Aye no bother Baz, I wanted Pavel and Emre to both be starters, I need people I can rely on’

 

Pavel Veiria, easily the best player I had in our 6 months together at Bangor, before he jumped ship to Ballyclare and won the cup. He was their player of the year last season, grabbing 19 assists and 12 goals. Okay so it’s standard is probably on par with an under 12’s reserve league, but I’m confident Pavel will come in and help us out this season.

 

‘Oh and one last thing, the agent you spoke to in Poland, he’s got back to us, and that forward from Lego, Legoia, Legion Warsaw, I can’t remember the name, he’s signed and on his way in too’

 

‘What agent from Poland?’ I asked

 

‘It’ll be Legia Warsaw David’ Mark replied

 

‘What bloody agent?’ I demanded again

 

‘I dunno Jock, you’re the one with the contacts, he just rang the clubs phone in the office, I answered and he said the deal to send Vamara, that’s Sanogo’s first name, has been done and he’ll be a the club in 2 days, we just to find him some digs’

 

Vamara Sanogo, never heard of him and I’d never spoke to any agent about him either. But the chairman confirmed the deal, which I signed off apparently, has been done. 47 thousand Euro the transfer fee, the only transfer fee I’ve spent so far in my career and I knew nothing about it!

 

Leaving the rest of my backroom team to concentrate on training, I had a call with the manger of Cesena, a team that has an affiliation with us, and we’d agreed to loan in Mirco Severini, an attacking midfielder, for the season. 21 and confident in a number of positions, I’ve seen the scouting reports on him and he looks decent, well decent compared to the rest of the San Marino players.

 

As with the rest of the players I tell young Mirco that this season is all about having a go. Having a go at staying up, having a go in the Coppa Italia Lega Pro, the lower league cup competition we’re a part of. We’ve been drawn in Group D alongside Carrarse and Pro Piacenzo. Not knowing any teams here could be an advantage to me, or not. 

Like the country we’re in, we’re expected to be the whipping boys in every game we’re in, but with a bit of hard graft, confidence if or when we go down, we might surprise some people.

 

My reputation can’t get tarnished any more than it already has, so if we stay up it might just be the first step to getting my career back on track. Or we might stuff it spectacularly and I’ll just pack it in and go back to Scotland and get some shitty job and live out my days as a failed player and even more of a failed manager.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
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Premium

The Journeyman Jock - Confidential information 2

 

Subject - Reaching out / catching up

 

Dear Joseph,

 

I hope this email finds you well, and that you still have access to it. I had typed out this letter in physical form to mail to you, but I have no fixed address for you so I am sending this correspondence by email. 

 

I have spoken to Erdan Yilmiz, chairman of Etimesgut FC in Ankara, who told me you’ve resigned and mentioned something about Nepal. I had briefly spoken to a press officer from the Turkish Football Association who advised I look at the San Marino web page, that was all she said regarding your employment, but was quite brutal in her opinion of you as a person, things I won’t repeat on this mail. After a bit of digging I happened upon the Italian FA’s Twitter page and subsequent links to their Serie C webpage, and found that you’ve taken on the role of head coach at San Marino Calcio FC, congratulations on the new job. I hope everything goes, and is going well there for you.

 

This correspondence relates to the ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation (printed as FBI from here on) probe into match fixing, I’m sure you’ve not forgotten about it. I have had a meeting with the chairman of the Turkish Football Association (printed as FA from here on), as well as speaking directly to the chairman of the Scottish FA, Ian Maxwell.

 

During both conversations I made them aware of your innocence and under Great British law and legal aid act, I am to represent you should anything further come of it. Mr Maxwell agreed that as a British citizen you are covered by legal aid, and that should you be taken into custody relating to this ongoing match fixing investigation by the FBI, Turkish police or otherwise, extradition to the UK would be prioritsed. He did point out that your name has been mentioned in various circles around the British FA, particularly in Northern Ireland, where you’re blacklisted. Can you shed any light on this for me? Does it have anything to do with the match fixing case the FBI are looking into? If so I will need the details. 

 

As for the Turkish FA chairman, he praised your work at Etimesgut despite the allegations of match fixing, but did concede you seemed like a good manager. He also said that as the investigation is ongoing he wouldn’t comment further on that, and that if you were ever to be employed in Turkey again then you would be subject to Turkish law, which I agreed you would abide by. He did say he was informed by the Turkish Police that they would only pursue anything if advised to do so by the FBI.

 

Speaking of the FBI, I have also been invited to a Skype meeting with the investigating officers, namely Lance Field and Hunter Smith and their superior, Associate Deputy Director Marshall James, as well as an officer from the Italian FA, whose name hasn’t been confirmed yet, and the Metropolitan Police Chief Derek Payne. As your advocate I highly recommend you join the call as I do not know what the reason for this is, or if any new evidence that may implicate you has come up. The date for this call is Friday November 23rd at 11:15.

 

Please reply at the earliest convenience, and confirm if you are able to attend the call on the 23rd.

 

Regards, Wilson Barnes.

 

P.S I’m sure you already know but Motherwell winning the cup must’ve put a smile on your face.

 

== == == == ==

 

Re: Reaching out / catching up

 

Dear Wilson

 

How goes it my old mate? I’m happy you emailed, means a lot.

 

Firstly, yeah I sure do know we smashed the dog nonces in the cup, about bloody time we won something, not to mention knocking those Auld Firm twats right off their fucking perch eh! Second, I didn’t go to Nepal, wish I did, Erdan had told the players that story when I was forced to quit Etimesgut. He said I went with a few hookers and some Molly to go live in the mountains, would be ace that!! My mate Alexa, some guy called Hermes and a Bulgarian fella brought me to San Marino where I took this job. My pal The Doctor reckons he knows a canny bit about EU law and that as long as I’m in an EU country I can’t be kidnapped by the dicks at the FBI and tortured into giving myself up, please confirm if this is true. I did not, repeat did not fix matches in Turkey. If I did surely we would’ve won the league and not stuffed it in the play offs?? Thirdly ignore whatever that prick Trevor Best says. I did not, repeat again DID NOT sleep with his daughter, in fact we were up all night! I wasn’t even in the warehouse when his car bonnet was stolen, I just took the bill on the chin, I’m a nice guy.

 

Lastly, what’s this about the Italian FA getting involved got to do with anything? I’m not trying to piss Italian people or anyone in San Marino off yet I’ve only just got here, no matches have been fixed, at least to my knowledge, and the Met Police gadgie what has he got to do with anything? Glad the Scottish boy’s got my back though. Also yes I will attend the Skype call, I will install the app on my phone.

 

Your friend, Jock.

P.S that press officer chick, did you get her number? I hung out with her a few times last year, and all I will say is she could suck a marble through a straw that 1, top tier mouth work on her.

 

Sent from my iPhone 10

 

== == == == ==

 

Re: Re: Reaching out / catching up

 

Hello Jock.

 

Thank you for your reply. I am glad to hear you’re fine and doing well in San Marino.

 

A word of advice however. I’m sure the people at San Marino Calcio have mentioned this and the Italian football league have standards and practices officers in place, but until I get your name cleared I would advise you tone down your posts on Twitter. The reason for this that it could go against you and give your character a bad perception. I am specifically relating to a series of tweets by you regarding Motherwell FC and some recent results in which you posted:

 

Love to see the Steelmen absolutely [expletives removed] the sister [expletives removed] webbed toed knuckle draggin’ [expletive removed] Weegies #thewell #motherwellfc #[expletive removed]rangers[expletive removed] #steverobinsonisnumberone

 

Also the tweet regarding center forward Che Adams after his 4 goals against Falkirk in the FA Cup:

 

@CheAdams_ is the best [expletive removed] striker in the [expletives removed] world and anyone that disagrees with me is an [expletive removed] from [expletive removed] and a complete [expletives removed] that [expletives removed] and I will fight to the [expletive removed] death #iloveyouche #chechechebaby

 

As well as the tweet relating to the Motherwell / Celtic game:

 

Everyone loves seeing the [expletives removed] at [expletive removed] Celtic getting [expletives removed] by the Steve Robbo army and the boys from Motherwell. Just a shame the [expletive removed] at the [expletive removed] SPL keep stopping us from progressing #steelmen #wewillnotbestopped #motherwellornothing

 

I won’t copy the tweet you shared regarding the Pope, Neil Lennon and Michael Jacksons white glove, but I am sure you know which one I am referring to. Please try and keep as low a profile as possible Jock. Everything we can do to keep your character in a positive light we must do it.

 

Onto the investigation itself, and Special Agent Field has confirmed they do have more evidence, and the call is to outline this in preparation of a formal arrest. I do not know what evidence this may or may not be, so I implore you to think what you have done, or said, and to who you may have been in contact with since leaving Turkey in May. As your advocate I advise you to prepare yourself for bad news, and anything other than bad news we can take as a positive.

 

Lastly I would just like to say I have seen your recent results at San Marino, and think you’re doing well. 7 wins and mid table for a promoted team is nothing to shy at. Keep up the good (legal) work.

 

I will ring you on Skype at 10:30 on the 24th before we both join the call at 11:15. 

 

Take care, speak soon

 

== == == == ==
 

Re: Re: Re: Reaching out / catching up

 

Now Wilson me old fruit.

 

Thanks muchly for the kind words regarding my incredible team here at San Marino. I held a team meeting with the lads after our incredible 2-1 home win over Alto Adige, where Emre scored a worldie of a tap in and my main man Sanogo scored a right diving header, proper Roy of the Rovers stuff it was. In the meeting I told the boys of your kind words and it pretty much did my team talk for me. It doesn’t matter that we’ve eaten back to back losses in the league, we’re still in the cup and just thumped Monopoli 3-0, not the board game, the club in Italy.

 

I’m not aware of anyone here at the club that deals with things like tweets or procedures, but I take your advice on board, and will stop tweeting the truth about the Auld Firm, as well as toning down on the strong words I tend to use, I am Scottish remember, profanities and questionable language is a way of life for us.

 

As for that wee shite Lance Field there’s nout I’ve done that he can hold against me or my pal The Doctor am sure of it. They had nothing concrete in Turkey and will have even less now.

 

See ya, speak next week.

 

Sent from my iPhone 10

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

The Journeyman Jock - Notes on the investigation

 

Friday November 24 2018

Time 11:15

Interview via Skype. 

Subject - Operation Rolling Thunder. Person of interest in this meeting - Joseph Mark McGhee junior aka Jock

Status - classified / only viewable by authorisation from Associate Deputy Director (or higher rank)

Attending officers representing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, abbr. FBI - Lance Field (Special Agent in charge of the investigation), Hunter Smith (Special Agent, second in command of the investigation) & Marshall James (Associate Deputy Director)

Attending officers attending from The Metropolitan Police (UK) - Derek Payne (Police Chief)

Attending officers from The Italian Football Association (FA), locally known as Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio - Roberto Fabbricini

Attending as legal counsel representing Mister Joseph McGhee - Wilson Barnes  (Solicitor)

 

Notes as follows. Submitted officially by SA Field November 24 at 18:09.

Mister McGhee is aware of the following criminal activities he is suspected of, in no particular order:

Item 1 - Suspicion of fixing football matches in Turkey by way of bribes, asking players to take dives, purposely let in goals etc.

Item 2 - Linked to and / or involved in bribing members of Turkey’s political parties for his own and associates monetary gain

Item 3 - Distribution of narcotics, performance enhancing drugs (PED) and opioid painkillers to professional athletes, most notably footballers in Turkey and possibly Greece.

Item 4 - Perverting the course of justice by intentionally misleading the FBI during 2 voluntary interviews in February 2018.

Item 5 - 1 of 3 new charges added to the investigation as of 11 June 2018. Evading local police in Turkey by way of illegally leaving the country

Item 6 - 2 of 3 new charges added to the investigation as of 11 June 2018. Resisting arrest of the FBI in Turkey by way of illegally leaving the country

Item 7 - 3 of 3 new charges added to the investigation as of 11 June 2018. Entering Bulgaria using a stolen vehicle. This coincides with the Bulgarian police’s investigation relating to many stolen water vehicles. No charges from them on this thus far, however their investigation is ongoing and they have cooperated fully. Charges expected once proven Mister McGhee had used a stolen vehicle.

Item 8 - 4 of 5 new charges added to the investigation as of 11 June 2018. Illegally entering and exiting Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria in that order.

Item 9 - 5 of 5 new charges added to the investigation from 11 June 2018. Follows from item 8, as newly acquired information obtained. Purchasing with intent to supply class A narcotics in the aforementioned 3 nations

Item 10 - New charge pending investigation - Possibly entering Italy illegally

Item 11 - New charge pending investigation - Possession of illegal passport and / or visa

 

Comments from Mister McGhee and his counsel during the November 24 call as below, listed in order of item as above:

Wilson Barnes confirms for the record that Mister McGhee is not under arrest and attending this call of his own will, and under no duress or pressure from any authorities attending the call or otherwise. Mister McGhee responds - fucking right I am. Mister Barnes also confirms for the record that Mister McGhee is attending to show he is being cooperative

 

Item 1 - SA Field shares screens and shows documents pertaining to football match fixing. 11 Etimesgut matches, during Mister McGhee’s time at the club are confirmed to be fixed in some way. in those 11 games Etimesgut didn’t lose in any, winning 9 of the 11. Mister McGhee comments - I won’t no comment here, I’ve done nout wrong and yous all know it. I’m [inaudible] not dropping anyone in it, but 3 of those [inaudible] games you shown are back to back to back in the league, Aktay hat trick in the first, Emre brace in the second and Emre & Aktay dominating the third. If you bothered to see we went on a horrid 8 game streak with no wins after that which coincided with our first choice full backs being injured and Aktay being out. Mister Barnes tells Mister McGhee he doesn't need to get into specifics and to keep in mind what they spoke about prior to joining the call. Mister McGhee responds with - Righto me old fruit.

 

Item 2 - Wilson Barnes - My client has stressed on the record to you, and to me privately that he has nothing to do with anything pertaining to illegal activity regarding political parties in Turkey, or any other country. SA Field asks Mister McGhee to confirm again for the record why he was seen leaving at least 3 parties arranged by members of Turkey for the People (semi right wing political party) as well as having correspondence from members of said party on his person. Mister McGhee - It’s not against the law to have friends and go to any party you’re invited to. SA Smith - No but being in possession of narcotics is, which brings us to item 3

 

Item 3 - Mister McGhee again denies the charge of intent to supply - Fuck that, why would I sell Molly to anyone? And you’ve never arrested me so how do you know I was in possession of anything to sell? SA Field - Your accommodation, which had it’s costs covered by your previous employers was searched and a number of narcotics recovered. Mister Barnes - I am directing this straight to Marshall James, at no point during this investigation has a warrant been issued to my client to search his premises, nor has one been given to Erdan Yilmiz, the owner of that property. No charges for possession have been brought and no mention of this search has been made until now. I implore you to drop this charge otherwise we will be counter charging for illegally accessing my clients private home without proper authorisation. Mister McGhee - Yeah put that in ya pipe and smoke it you [inaudible] snot gobblers. Mister Barnes - Calm down Jock. Mister McGhee - Sound.

 

Items 4 through 6 - On advice from counsel Mister McGhee denied to comment on these new charges. Mister Barnes confirmed until solid evidence is presented that his client lied to police or perverted the course of justice there will be no comment on these items. SA Smith confirmed that the FBI are in the process of collating this evidence to present to Mister McGhee, and it contains a number of witness statements, phone call logs and CCTV of Mister McGhee’s evading authorities. Mister McGhee flipped the middle finger into the camera.

 

Items 7 & 8 - Same situation as items 4 through 6. Mister McGhee denied entering Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria illegally but refrained from producing his passport or confirming he had entered customs at any of the 3 aforementioned countries. As for producing evidence, SA Smith confirmed that on advice from the FBI, local customs officers and police in the 3 countries had reviewed inbound flights from Turkey, as well as CCTV at airports in each country and confirmed Mister McGhee wasn’t present on any. Mister McGhee - what if I went in by train dickheads. Mister Barnes - As your counsel I am advising you not to comment until any solid evidence is produced that demands you do comment.

 

Item 9 - Mister McGhee allowed Mister Barnes to comment, stating - As with your item 3 this charge has no evidence to support it. My client strongly denies distributing narcotics in Turkey, and you seem to have added this charge as he has passed through, legally I might add, the 3 countries in question.

 

Items 10 & 11 - Mister McGhee confirms he has entered Italy legally, although refuses to confirm which airport, sea port or border crossing he used. He states his passport, issued in Scotland, is valid and legal. Mister Barnes also commented - San Marino FC have done their due diligence and confirmed my client has the right to work in and reside in San Marino on a work visa, application still pending but the club have confirmed there won’t be any issues with that.

 

SA Smith makes a note of the visa application and states for the record - should the application for residence in San Marino be denied for any reason Mister football manager, I want you to know that that will be grounds for your extradition, by force if necessary, back to Turkey. Mister McGhee refuses to comment.

 

Derek Payne of the Metropolitan Police also confirmed for the record - As a British citizen should the visa be rejected for any reason, Mister McGhee would need to either get himself back to The UK or another country where legal residence would be permitted. If not and he is to stay somewhere illegally then the British government will be obliged to extradite Mister McGhee back to Britain. However should any of the charges this call relates to prove true, and if the FBI have any solid evidence, so far all you have produced to me is circumstantial, then we would fully support extradition to Turkey for questioning and charges by the law there.

 

Mister Barnes confirms they are ending their participation there, on the back of Mister Payne saying the evidence is circumstantial. SA Smith ends the call.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

The Journeyman Jock - The day I met The Old Lady’s favoured personnel

 

 

Despite the recent hounding of the FBI and the Met Police kind of having my back, by the time December came around, I was happy with how we’d done. 13th in the league, there are 20 teams, the bottom placed team goes down, then the 4 above them go into a relegation play off. Teams placed second to tenth go into a promotion play off against other teams in the other 2 groups of this league. Still with me? Good.

 

Starting off strong with back to back wins in the cup that saw us progress, and a so so run of form in the league meant we were above where I genuinely thought we’d be by this point of the season. 1 thing is for sure, we are a threat going forward, it’s just on the defensive end where we lack confidence. 

 

I got the scouting team to go on the hunt for another center half, as the 2 we’ve got, Marco Gorzegno (35) & Ivan Knezovic (36) are, in no way do I mean disrespect, but they’re getting on a bit and their pace isn’t what it was. Upon hearing this Pavel Veiria told me he knows someone that we could possibly get in, and he’s interested in the move

 

‘Isn’t that tapping up tho Pav?’

 

‘Oh no no no, it is no tapping if I ask my friend, I mean team mate internationally’ Pavel said, trying to reassure me

 

‘Okay, well I’ll get Mark to make the call’

 

‘No need, he is here in San Marino today’

 

I appreciated the forward thinking but things are going okay for me at the minute, and I do not need to be charged with tapping up to go along with the match fixing allegations I’ve still yet to receive the all clear from. But what’s done is done, and we had a meeting with Anibal  at the club, and we ironed out a deal after a quick medical cum trial.

 

A full international of Guinea Bissau, and international team mate of Pavel, Anibal looks a strong player and I’m certain he’ll be a success, if for nothing else he’ll be able to track back and close down quicker than Marco or Ivan. He’s got everything I want in a center half, tall at 6 foot 2, can jump, head and tackle as well as looking so bad he could make onions cry. He’ll be a star in this league I’m certain of it.

 


Before our first game of the new year, I was sat in a cafe in San Marino when I saw a bit of commotion from the staff and the other customers. A man walked in with an air of grace and giving off an aura of I’m better than you. But being a narcissist myself I don’t like seeing or being around other big headed knobs so I turned away and went back to my newspaper, of which I could hardly read. My Italian wasn’t as good as I thought..

 

The man pulled up a chair beside me, waved to the waitress and said ‘due caffe, per favore, tesoro'

 

In quite possibly a new world record the girl vanished and reappeared with a tray with 2 coffees, some milk and 4 Biscoff biscuits on

 

‘I recognise you, you arrogant twat’ I said taking 1 of the cups ‘I don’t care if you don’t speak English either’ I added. This is good coffee. Best quality I’ve ever had.

 

‘My Friend Fabio, he owns this shop, really good quality, no?’ This guy said

 

‘Aye, banging coffee like, bit short on the Peruvian condiments though’ 

 

He didn’t bat an eyelid before saying ‘My friend also says you’re a bit, erm, how the English put, full of yourself?

 

‘I’m Scottish ya’ cunt’

 

‘And you like to swear’

 

‘As I said, Scottish. Anyway who in the blue hell are you, I recognise you’ As I said that a young lad, 12 maybe 13 came and spoke in Italian and handed the man a piece of paper which he signed and then took a picture with the boy. ‘I am your opponent tomorrow, my team is Latina, we will be winning the game, I just wanted to see if the rumor about you is true’

 

‘What rumor?’

 

‘Oh you know, you’re a fraud and you fix matches. I do not mind, I am here to see if you will accept a bribe?’

 

‘Fuck you’

 

‘Well in that case I will bid you a farewell Jock. I have your friend the Doctors number, maybe he will be more receptive to our offer’

 

‘Who are you? Has that Canadian Yank prick from the FBI sent you? And before he could answer Mark Jaulk, my assistant had come into the cafe and said ‘that is Ciro Ferrara, world class player in his day’ then turned to Ciro and said ‘but I think you’re not so much a great manager as you were a player’

 

‘Bloody hell, yeah that’s how I reognise this prick from. What’s up chico you can’t cut it as a manager so you’re making bribes eh?’

 

He just smiled and walked out the cafe, the gaggle of adoring young Sammarinese people following him out the door.

 

‘We play his team, Latina tomorrow. What did he say?’

 

‘Something about bribes and he’s going to ring the Doctor, don’t worry about it, it’s nothing, he’s just trying to play mind games’

 

We played Latina the next day and the game will go down as one of Serie C’s, if not all of Italian footballs finest. In my humbled opinion we matched them all over the pitch, and it ended 8-6 to them. I wasn’t even mad, every player for us put their best effort in and left it all out there on the pitch. 

 

Before the match I strategically stayed in the dressing room to avoid shaking Ciro Ferrera’s hand, but at full time I walked over to him in the away dugout and before I could say anything he said ‘glad you did not take the bribe my friend’ to which I said ‘that’s not me and you know it. Tell whoever’s pocket you’re in I’ll never take a bribe. Prostitute’s and class A’s every day, but fixing games in the sport of kings just isn’t me’. 

 

He looked down his nose at me and said ‘pity, we’ll see each other again’ and left the dugout. I shook every players hand from both teams as they left the pitch. What a game, I’m exhausted just watching it never mind being involved.

 

== == == == ==

bigmattb28
10 years ago
8 hours ago
1,479
Premium

The Journeyman Jock - One small step for San Marino

As I look at the paperwork Pavel Veiria has just signed and the ink is still somewhat dry, a nice 1 year extension to his current deal, I think to myself this could be the start of building this team up for success. He’s been a key player for us this year, just like he was for 6 whole months in Bangor, which seems a lifetime away when in reality it’s only 2 years since he upped sticks and bolted for Ballyclare fucking Comrades, winners of the Northern Ireland Intermediate cup courtesy of knocking me and Bangor out on the way. I don’t hold a grudge but a Scotsman never EVER forgets. Sorry, where was I?

 

Oh yeah, so we’re not totally clear of relegation yet, we’ve still got just under half the season to go, but we’re looking good. I’ve got 2 cans of Red Bull to open, I’ve just downed 3 Tramadol tablets and an Oxycodone tab to relieve the pressure in my back, excessive I know but I’ve been on opioids for years, as well as having Bazza and Mark here with me as we’re talking transfers

 

‘I don’t know anyone in San Marino pal’ Bazza says in a concerned sort of way

 

‘I know that ya dafty, am not asking you who we can sign from here, I’m just saying we need some reinforcements, specifically wingers’

 

‘Why? Sevvers is doing just fine and Emre….’ I cut Bazza off, he’d been out last night with the Doctor, who I’d not seen for a couple of days, so Baz was probably still half cut and certainly not been to sleep yet

 

‘Emre's knackered, I mean he’s older than me and I get fatigued just looking as the poor twat’s playing 90 minutes twice a week! He’s played more for us this season already than he did in the last full season in Turkey! If either go down injured we’re totally fucked out wide’ That was an exaggeration of the truth, but Emre has played a lot of football, and I do look at him and think how in the fuck is he gonna carry this on? I need this man to be my leader on the pitch, him going down is a thought I could be doing without.

 

Mark and Bazza go about their day with the objective of going through scouting reports and speaking with the club's scouting team to see who they can dig out. Now between us I know next to no one in San Marino that will come and play here, Andy Selva maybe, he’s probably still banging the goals in for some Sammareese pub team, and even the lure of playing in the Italian leagues third division may not be big enough to tempt some players here. 

 

With Brexit being confirmed and The UK, long live the Queen by the way, love ya’ Liz, now officially confirmed as leaving the EU, all players from Britain are classed as non-EU, and the Serie C league rules state in that regard as follows:

 

Teams may not sign any non-EU players from abroad. Teams are permitted to sign up to 2 non-EU players from within Italy. San Marino being included as a non-foreign nation, and can be classed as a home nation. 

 

So going back to Scotland and giving some of Bazza’s old team mates a call is a no go for now. In Serie B teams are allowed to sign 1 non-EU player from abroad, which I’m not even thinking about yet. San Marino Calcio being in Serie B seems a million years, if not more, away at the minute.

 

My phone rang, the one Alexa got me on my way into San Marino, and it was an unknown number. The last time I answered an unknown number was when I got offered the Etimesgut job 18 months ago, and I would be getting offered something this time as well, although not a job

 

‘Hello?’

 

‘I hear you’re in the market for some players, wingers specifically?’

 

‘Who’s this? Is that you Bazza?’

 

‘No, it’s not David’ David, can’t remember the last time anyone, myself included, had called him by his real name.

 

‘Oh don’t tell me, Bazza has brought Runner Up to San Marino as well has he? That prick takes some fucking liberties let me tell….’ the man cut me off

 

‘No, it’s not your friend Simon Ewing’

 

‘Huh? How’d you know Runner Ups real name?’

 

‘I just do. Listen, the club has made a couple of deals. Mark Jaulk and David Barron are with your scouts, but they don’t need to look for wingers’

 

‘Oh right, Pavel, I told you when we signed Anibal I don’t want to accused of tapping up, luckily Tomas Grenisz (the clubs Head Scout) was there to secure the deal before it got out of hand and….’ cut off, again

 

‘No this isn’t Pavel or Tomas. You need wingers. I’ve arranged for the agent of a current international player that plays on the right and…’ My turn to cut this wide head off

 

‘No stop it, this isn’t funny. I’m up to my fucking eyeballs with accusations I can’t be doing with any more bullshit thrown my way’

 

As if he hadn’t heard me he carried on ‘You’ve also noted you want a left winger. Another current international is on his way to you for you to agree terms. You can thank me later’ 

 

Click, he hung up. As I tried to get my bearings and reassure myself this was just Bazza and the Doctor, and possibly Runner Up playing a joke on me, there was a knock at the door. ‘Yep’ I said as the door opened

 

‘Jock, there is man to see you’ it was Antonia the clubs receptionist, who spoke little but ever improving English

 

‘Erm, thanks. Is he alone?’

 

She took a minute then said ‘No, he is with another male and seems to be, erm, in a rush’

 

‘Send him in I guess’

 

She let this register then nodded and smiled. As she did, a man much shorter than me walked in and sat down. He had a dark complexion, face covered with freckles and is clearly not European. He looked me dead in the eyes and said ‘nice to meet you finally. You keep dodging my calls, luckily we both have same agent eh’

 

‘I don’t have an agent, who are you?’

 

He just dismissed my comment, turned to the door and said ‘Yannick, hurry up, money is on my mind and time is on my money’. I didn’t correct him.

 

Just then another man walked in, a bit taller than the first man and sat down next to him showing a look that was one part contempt, one part confusion and two parts couldn’t be arsed at all.

 

‘This is Yannick Tewelde, but you already knew that’

 

‘Erm, aye corse I did’. I lied

 

‘He just finished his international duty with Eritrea in Ethiopia and he is hungry for club football’

 

I resisted the massive urge to make a Live Aid joke, instead going with ‘Righto, erm, so the deal then yeah?’ hoping beyond anything that this guy would take the lead on this meeting I had no idea about until around 45 seconds ago

 

‘Yes of course. You already offered him 500 Euro a week to play back up to the young man from Cesena, erm that Sever boy’

 

‘Severini, yeah he’s played a lot of football and will need to be rotated’

 

‘Yannick also needs a rest, Eritrea have played a lot of football too’ Great, I thought he’s not even signed and he’s already wanting a rest. Give me strength!

 

As the meeting went on I let this guy talk and talk while I pretended to write things down on the laptop I had, and found that Eritrea had in fact played 3 games in the last 10 days. Two at home against Kenya & Somalia and the last one away in Ethiopia. I appreciated that the time taken flying from Ethiopia to San Marino by way of Italy probably had worn my new back up winger out.

 

The deal was sealed and as I use Great British Pounds as opposed to Euro when working out deals, he signed an 18 month contract, on the equivalent of £475 a week deal. Naturally left footed, can play both sides I’m quietly happy with whoever arranged this transfer.

 

As the second Yannick in our squad (leading scorer Sanogo’s first name is also Yannick) left the room another meeting took place. Antonia came back in and said ‘another man to see you’ and she guided the next person in.

 

‘Let me guess, you’ve just finished international duty, you’ve agreed the deal and are here to sign it?’ I said. The other chap smiled and nodded.

 

‘You’ll be wanting a rest as well I take it?’

 

Again another nod, but with a wry smile this time

 

‘Remind your name, I’ve had that many meetings I’m losing track’

 

‘Eric Veiga’

 

‘Ahh yes, bare with me’ I said as I turned to my laptop and found him. Eric Veiga, right midfielder, had just played 3 games for Luxembourg, two away at Gibraltar & Kosovo and the final one here in San Marino. He’s been released from his contract at Luxembourg side Mondercange (great team name by the way) and has come to sign the deal I apparently already discussed with him. I also note a message on Skype from Tomas Grenisz 4 minutes ago which I missed:

 

Jock,

Veiga on his way as discussed. 

Backup midfielder, same contract as Tewelde. 

Great guy, loves jazz music, big on religion (Christianity), hates chocolate milkshakes. Favourite drink is lemon tonic water with ice. 

Go to meal is pasta and pesto with a bit of grated cheese.

Muchas gracias

 

A couple of brief meetings in the space of 5 maybe 6 minutes, I knew football management was a whirlwind job at times, but getting 2 new players in without lifting a finger has got to be up there as strange if not ever been done. I don’t know who arranged these deals, I’m a bit nervous to start asking around, it may drop me into some hot water with the feds, so I’ll keep quiet for now.

 

As for our next few games, we’ve got Paganese Calcio next up, in the semi final of the Coppa Italia Lega Pro, basically the lower league cup. Think the Scottish Challenge Cup that Irn Bru sponsors, or the Johnstones Paint Trophy in England. I don’t care what anyone says about it’s prestige, I’m taking this cup seriously, and let the team know in our meeting on the day before the game

 

‘We’ve got 1 foot in the final already I can feel it. We’ve got a couple of new players to welcome to the team’. I look over at Tewelde and Veiga, who are sat next to Emre and Pavel respectively. ‘They’ve come in and will do a job on our rotation, but that doesn’t mean any of you lot (I point out Emre, Severini, Berardi and Sanogo) can take it easy going forward. We’re still fighting on 2 fronts, this cup which I know we’ve got a chance of getting to the final and winning, and surviving relegation’

 

== == == == ==

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