This season we’re widely predicted to fail again and be relegated by the media despite making it to the playoff final last season. To be honest I’m targeting to be there-or-thereabouts regarding the playoffs this time around, whether we get there will be determined by how much we can strengthen the team, and how much more our promising young squad can develop during the season.
This is our tenth season, and we’ve come much further than I anticipated in that time. From the twelfth tier to the third. It’s been an incredible journey, and one that has still really only just begun.
We’ve turned professional now that we’re in the Football League so most of the players will be moved onto new full-time contracts so that we can train them more efficiently. Unfortunately we’ve now reached a point where many of the original Hackney Wick players just won’t cut it any more, and so there’ll be a fair amount of transfer activity this season to rebuild the squad for our new life as a pro club. To be honest we reached that point a long while ago with some of them but my attachment to them got in the way of making sound footballing decisions. Not any more…
I forgot to screenshot the email message with the expectations but they were:
Avoid relegation from League Two
Reach the FA Cup 1st Round
Reach the EFL Cup 1st Round
Reach the EFL Trophy Group Stage
These expectations are realistic. I’m not expecting to get anywhere in the EFL Cup/Trophy but I’m hopeful of a better finish in the League, and a Third Round appearance in the FA Cup would be good for the finances.
We’re in the National League, which is the highest division in the semi-professional game. If we can go up from here, we’ll be a professional Football League outfit! But before we get carried away with that idea, we have to face a division filled with a good few professional sides that have been relegated over the years and the very best of the non-league…
These were the agreed expectations with the board, which I feel are very achievable. I didn’t bother taking higher as we are already way under our wage budget and it didn’t alter our transfer budget either.
As we failed to win promotion last season by finishing second and losing the playoff final to Harlow, we have another bite at the Ryman Premier. We definitely had the potential last season to win the division, and with it automatic promotion, but we didn’t show it at times, letting good leads slip to draws and draws slip away to losses. This season we’ll do it. We’ll go up to the National League South. Won’t we?
We’ll be moving from Mabley Green to groundshare with Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road which is a pre-planned move I made before starting the career because Mabley Green in reality isn’t a stadium, it’s a caged astroturf pitch in a park. I could have set it to force a new stadium build once we outgrew Mabley but it wouldn’t have the expansion capacity to fulfil our future dream of Champions League football, and would cripple our already delicate finances. Brisbane Road is the closest stadium to Hackney Marshes (as close as London Stadium, but 60,000 capacity is a bit much for us!) so we’ll share with Orient until we have the finances to build our own home.
Those of you that follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve had numerous restarts with this career, but the last one, the one I was blogging, I believed to be the last. I thought I’d chased all the bugs out and that it was as stable and as good as it was going to get. Alas, it was not. I’d noticed our ticket prices – match and season – were increasing exponentially year on year, far more than teams around us, to the point we were charging Arsenal prices (commonly known to be the most expensive in England) whilst in the seventh tier. There were also contract type issues again, which was the main cause of my original attempts failing, as well as some niggling database issues which were more irritating for me than game-breaking. An in-game editor couldn’t fix any of the issues so the last option became the only option – attempt to fix it all in the pre-game editor and start again. To allow myself time to catch up to where I was I decided not to blog until we’d reached the Ryman Premier again, and that I’d quickly sum up the seasons taken to get there in a single blog post. This one. So here goes…