Ladies and Gentlemen, we will never know. We will never know. I write today with sadness as I announce the end of #HaarlemGlobetrotting. “Why?” at least one of you cry. “Why indeed!” I reply as I wipe a tear from my eye.
I started this save over a month ago and have thoroughly enjoyed writing it as much as playing it. Hell, as I write we sit in second place in the Eerste Divisie with four games remaining, needing a win and a draw to secure promotion to the top flight. Why am I stopping? Because I hate inaccurate databases, simply. I am stupidly OCD about these things, and my friends in FM Society that have been following this save, and live just round the corner from the Haarlem Stadion by all accounts pointed out an inaccuracy in the database which led to me tugging at the thread. Now the whole damn jumper has fallen apart.
In my last update I hoped to guide Haarlem to the play-offs. This was widely applauded until it was noticed by my Dutch follower that the Eerste Divisie had two teams being automatically promoted, and not one. This is not how it works in real life, hence the save being soured immediately. Now, if I had created the database myself I would have gone with it, but as I downloaded it from elsewhere and then added in Haarlem this hurts more for some reason. Then someone else noticed that none of the Dutch B teams, Ajax Jong for example, were in the Eerste Divisie. Two strikes! Whoever had set the database up had removed them from senior football in Holland. The final straw was when I then, myself, realised that no transfer windows were in force – I hadn’t noticed until this point as all my business had been on amateurs or free agents, therefore outside of the FIFA transfer windows. This would effect a season in the top flight massively. I had already looked past the fact that 90% of the teams I was playing against seemed to play in black.
This might sound foolish, to walk away from over a month’s worth of playing and writing because of a few inaccuracies. But the whole project genuinely feels false now. If I had created the database I would have probably just played on, not sure why, but even then I think the transfer window thing would have got to me – I am just gutted I am nearing the end of season five before I noticed these things.
So we will never know – this Haarlem side, playing under the “Soccernomics” rules were looking superb. We would have got promoted and I think we would have been challenging for a European place quite quickly. Some of the players were developing superbly. Vanmaris had scored over 25 goals in the last four seasons and had broken the club scoring record at the age of 24. Ron Janzen was becoming my finest defender ever and in Beumer I had this little determined sod that just kept on proving me wrong. I felt connected to these players, our hearts beat as one.
What next? Well, I have spent today doing some thorough research into where I can go next. I toyed with bringing another defunct club back from the dead, but to be honest most decent names that have gone under have come back in some kind of form – apart from in Spain and I am not going to manage there due to CD Torrevieja. I couldn’t go back to Germany or Italy after Jena and Padova, it wouldn’t be the same. My list was getting smaller.
Fortunately in FM there is always another save in England to be done. My criteria remained the same really, a club rich in history that was not at the level it once was, but also was slightly left-field and non-obvious. Therefore your Leeds’, Sheffield United’s, Preston’s or even AFC Wimbledon’s were ruled out straight away.
My shortlist ended up being very short indeed. There was only one club in the lower leagues of England that I really fancied this time round. They had been denied election to the football league twice in the past, once in the late 1930’s and once in the late 1950’s. They used to be giants of the amateur game in the south of England. Sure, they were no Clapton with lots of amateur cup success, but these boys (before they went bust in the 70’s) used to attract crowds of 7000+. They come one of the biggest towns in England not to have ever had a football league club. They reformed in the early 2000’s with the aim of bringing senior football back to the town, but have not got anywhere near their previous heights of winning the Southern Premier League. I was down to the final three candidates to manage them in real life in 2008, fortunately the guy they gave it to went on to win the league. So yes, I have a connection with this club and it is time to see what I can do with them.
I have now got plenty of experience in managing in the lower leagues and I tend to progress teams through the divisions quite quickly. I have a unique style of playing now that I cannot wait to unleash on the Combined Counties Premier. I have complete faith in my scouting set up and my training methods. I propose to carry my “Soccernomics meets Moneyball” approach across, recruiting U23 players to the club on free transfers, with a view to making the club profitable as well as successful. The only change this time will be, other than taking this club to the football league I have no further aims – once I have done that and proven myself I will be open to offers from larger clubs and I will want to go on and have a fulfilling management career.
I plan to write about it, title as yet undecided. But I am already looking forward to it.
Oh, the club?
You might want to look them up on Wikipedia….
Go on Guildford!!
(if you enjoy my writing, why not spend £1.99 of your hard-earned cash on my first book, “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” here: http://buff.ly/1G0WNV9 or my second one, “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager – The Second Season Syndrome” here: http://buff.ly/1NXwJ4r)