The final installment. In part 4 it seemed Merthyr’s season had burst into life. With some new loan signings Merthyr had recorded a giant-killing in the first round of the FA cup and climbed up to 7th place in the league, ready for an assault on the top spot and a place in the football league (dependent on ground grading)
I manage only one win and one draw in the next four games including a 2-1 defeat to leaders Kettering Town. The one piece of good news is that I receive an unexpected phonecall from Bromsgrove offering me just under 75k for Jones, a fairly poor defender who has no place in my plans for the season. I accept straight-away. One person shown the door I bring another three in; With just my assistant coach in the boot-room I decided to boost my behind-the-scenes team with the addition of handling, passing and shooting coaches at the rate of £50 a week each hoping that this investment will soon pay off in the form of improved performances.
It seems that environmental health have found something other than prime succulent steak in my ‘special; Merthyr pies; I’ve been hit with a £25k fine for poor hygiene £25k which makes a big looking hole in my finances and just when I’m recovering from this I receive a fax to tell me that Tucker, who had been instrumental up-front alongside the Hutch had left me for Runcorn. I’d neglected the player contracts section of the game and not noticed that Tucker was out-of-contract, so not only had I lost a key player who would be almost impossible to replace, but I’d receive nothing in return. I immediately check all my player contracts.
On the pitch results are mixed. I lose 3-1 to Kidderminster with a defender suffering a broken toe, and am also knocked out of the FA Cup by Torquay in a close game which finishes 2-1. The feeling of confidence from earlier seems to have gone and Mertthyr are gradually sliding down the table again. Robinson’s loan comes to an end and he returns to Bournemouth. I try to renew, but am turned down by the club, so pick up another midfielder on loan from Brentford as well as an out of contract striker, Rogers, from Chesterfield using part of the £62 500 the FA have granted me for ground improvements to pay for the signing-on fee. Two wins see me move back up the table to 12th place. In the meantime the manager of 4th Stafford Rangers , B. Phillips, becomes the first managerial casualty of the season. I look nervously over my shoulder.
Eleven points from the next nine games sees Merthyr consolidate their mid-table spot, I receive another£25k fine for poor hygiene which is annoying, but this is followed by some terrible, disastrous news. The fax machine bleeps and spits out a sheet of paper. The message is short and to the point, but its implications are massive; Hutch, my most influential player and league top scorer has been injured in training. I rush to the treatment room to assess the damage. It’s an achilles and he’s going to be out for an estimated 11 weeks. He’s just too important to lose, so I send him to Lilleshall for specialist treatment at the cost of £750 a week.
Without the Hutch and his goals Merthyr sink to the very bottom of the table before a 3-1 win against Gateshead lifts the side up. The season has now gone so badly wrong that any thoughts of the the league Championship have been replaced by the simple objective of survival. In this battle I’m helped by Phillips a 33 year old attacker I’d obtained earlier from Exeter on a free scores a few goals, including a brace against Northwhich which serves to keep Merthyr off the bottom, but he’s no Hutch. Off the pitch things are also going from bad to worse. I get a fax to inform me of a fire at the ground which the police say was arson. I’m also fined £50k for ‘lack of safety precautions’ and after clicking the wrong button I’m ordering an extra 1000 seats. My finances are now looking bad indeed and to add to it all the board begin giving me votes of confidence.
For some reason I’m also unable to take any more players on loan, whether I’ve reached a limit, or it’s too late in the season I don’t know, but I’ve been left with a rather threadbare squad so I’m delighted when the Hutch comes back and for his part he obliges with a goal in a 1-1 draw with Woking. Finally it comes down to the last game of the season. Going into it I’m 21st out of 22 with Macclesfield Town occupying the bottom relegation spot. They have a game in hand over me, but are three points behind.
I receive my second vote of confidence ahead of the game in which a brave, battling Merthyr side, reduced to 10 men, go down 3-2 to Kettering thanks to a last-gasp penalty. Macclesfield who have won their previous game manage a draw. Merthyr finish bottom.
22nd Merthyr Tydfil P42 W9 D12 L21 F35 A54 Pts39
The conference is won by Halifax Town whilst another fine for ground safety takes my overdraft to £342 k
Nottingham Forest beat Southampton 3-1 in the FA cup final
PSV win the Champions league
I receive a vote of confidence from board.
The game tells me:
“finished 22nd in the conference. You are the worst team in the country”
Managerial rating 9%, Directors Confidence 9%, Supporters confidence 10%
I receive a bonus of £7500!!!!
The game crashes.