Birthday Boy (Part II)…

So today was the last part of the birthday weekend, which meant it was a trip to Liverpool and the tour of Goodison Park, home of the mighty Everton FC.

Yes, I’m a Crewe Alexandra fan, however I have more than a little soft spot for Everton. I’ve done the ground tour previously (some 7 years ago!) but it was great to be back.

Does this blog have anything to do with modelling? Well, now you come to mention it…



All Change at Crewe!

No, I don’t mean the railways. Today brought in the end of an era as Crewe Alexandra announced that they had ‘parted company’ with First Team Manager Steve Davis after five years in charge.

The general response on Twitter and Facebook was ‘good,’ as ‘SD’ seemed as though he was unable to halt a slide that had seen the team drop out of League 1 last season and slip down to 18th in League 2 this term. The irony of the decision that the board announced today being that when Davis took over he took over a team in 18th place in League 2.
I’ll be honest. For the good of the club I think that the right decision was made today. League status is paramount to a club of Crewe’s size. If we went down we might never come back; look at Macclesfield, Wrexham, Kidderminster. Yet on a personal level I felt very sad. SD seemed a decent, honest man. When manager at Nantwich Town he used to come in to a school I worked in to coach football as part of Nantwich’s community programme. He was great with the kids and, indeed, the school. Ultimately, today boils down to the fact that someone lost a job, no matter how good he was or wasn’t. 
However, one man’s loss is another’s gain. Hot on the heels of the departure of SD came the announcement that David Artell – formerly a promotion-winning captain of the club and Academy Director – was appointed as his successor. It’s his first job in management and everyone will wish him well. Passionate, whole-hearted, courageous and intelligent, (probably the first football league manager with a degree in forensic science!) Artell is already a popular, if somewhat left-field, choice.
But back to Davis. There is no skirting around the act that the last two or three years at Crewe have been poor. A small budget, player sales and youngsters not making the required grade all added up. Today it reached it’s head. But this troubled times, particularly the last 18 months, should not subtract from Davis’ achievements at Crewe Alex; A record-breaking unbeaten run that ended in Play-Off glory at Wembley and winning the Johnstones Paint Trophy in 2013 – another glorious Wembley triumph – that meant he was the first Crewe Alexandra manager to EVER win a competition outright. That’s how SD should be remembered by Crewe Alex fans, and that’s why my last comment on it isn’t a comment; it’s a picture. And it says a thousand words.
Thanks for the memories Steve. It’s been a pleasure and I wish you all the best in the future.

Bits and Bobs…

It’s been over a week since my last blog and things have been a bit hectic. So, now I have five minutes I thought I’d put together a ‘multi-post’ featuring several things I’ve mentioned in previous blogs.

Football Manager
Since I’ve been back at work FM has taken a back seat… thankfully! After guiding Telford to the brink of promotion I was offered the Sheffield Wednesday job and helped them stave off relegation. Having signed Ben Garratt from the Alex to fill their void in nets and Nick Powell to provide ammunition to Fernando Forestieri I started the season quite well. However, their chairman’s itchy trigger finger meant that after a few defeats I got the sack. After this I decided to head back down to the lower leagues and applied for – and got – the Worcester City job. I only played one game with them before the summer holidays ended and haven’t been on it again since. Ah well…

Crewe Alexandra
I blogged about Crewe’s impressive start but mentioned that I thought that I had probably jinxed it by talking about it. Since then they’ve won both games and sit third in the league! Nose-bleed territory!

Derbyshire County Cricket Club
At Derbyshire, things haven’t gone so well. They’ve won something, however it’s the wooden spoon. A few of the better players have signed up to new contracts, a few promising youngsters have done so too and, just today, the club announced that Gary Wilson has joined them from Surrey – something of a coup. Yes, he’s a keeper/batsman and Harvey Hosein – a cricketer I rate extremely highly – is the same, but surely the thinking is that Wilson can play as a batter when Harvey has the gloves and – if and when – the youngster needs a break, Wilson can don the gauntlets. A good signing and hopefully a good winter of recruitment.

Chetwynd Aston
I’m now on ‘Mk II.’ I wasn’t happy with the cluttered feel to the first version so have ripped up a siding and some of the scenery. We’ll see how things progress on this one as and when.

Four quick updates. One blog post. I’m happy with that!

Up the Alex!

It’s been a while since I blogged about the Alex. Added to that the busy nature of my summer holiday and the new school term (and job) means I’ve not spoken about the start of the season. So let’s put that right.
Last season, obviously, was a total bust. 24th out of 24. Knocked out of the cup by a non-league team. A pitiful amount of points and a protest against the manager. Not one to look back fondly on.
However there were some signs, even in that car-crash of a season, that indicated there was hope for this year. The loan signing of Ryan Lowe saw the Alex have their best run of form all season, so when he signed permanently in the summer, hopes were raised. Zoumana Bakayogo was, when he regained match fitness, an impressive addition to the left back spot. His contract renewal in the summer was also looked upon as something of a coup. The club held on to highly-rated goalkeeper, Ben Garratt before manager Steve Davis pulled off a couple of great deals. Chris Dagnall, lower-league goal-getter-extraordinaire, signed on a free for two years. He was soon joined by young Chelsea winger, Alex Kiwomya, who made such an impression in his first month he scored 3 goals (one of which was nominated for goal of the month) and was nominated for Player of the Month too.
All of this has added up to make the fans, many of whom feared the club dropping straight through, amend their initial expectations. An away win on the first day of the season (which hadn’t been achieved since 1994!) was followed by another away win against Sheffield United. Two draws against Hartlepool (a six-goal thriller, decent for a team that scored as little as Crewe last year) and Portsmouth followed before taking Blackburn to extra time. A late winner in the home win against Doncaster was the icing on the cake. Things look promising. 9 points on the board – which didn’t happen until late November last year – and a goal threat that hasn’t been seen at Gresty Road for a few years means that. hopefully, Crewe can have a good season, far better than what all fans expected.
Of course, they play Exeter tomorrow and after all that I’ve written… I’ve probably put the kiss of death on them!

Who’d be a Football Manager?

Back in February Amy, my other half, bought me Football Manager 2016 as part of my birthday present. She knew that ‘back in the day’ I’d been a bit of a FM ‘junkie,’ guiding my beloved Crewe Alexandra to the promised land of… the Conference or, in the case of one noteworthy save, guiding Sunderland (no idea why I picked them?) to Premier League glory with a team packed full of Senegalese talent!

The last version of the game I really got into was FM 2012. Since I played that I’d only ‘toyed’ with other updates before giving up with FM 2014. For the spare time I had it was too in-depth. I bought an X-Box One and focused more on FIFA. Until I opened FM 2016, a purchase I think Amy will soon regret…!

Having installed it I must confess I had a quick go with the Alex (always my team of choice) before thinking it was, like 2014, too complicated. Two days ago I decided to give it another go and discovered the ‘Touch’ version. Streamlined and quick. Just what I need. So I decided to start a new game with AFC Telford United – my new local team – and have absolutely fallen in love with it. There can’t be many people in the world who hang on every touch of the ball Ryan Rowe makes, will Lucas Dawson to boss the midfield or gasp in awe as James ‘Monty’ Montgomery flings himself to his right to make a wonder save, but I’m one of them.

I’ll try and post the odd update on here as and when possible, or rather when there is something to post about such as promotion out of the Vanarama Conference North!

Best go, need to iron out the details on trialist Greig Stewart’s contract…