Please welcome new guest blogger Andy Chapman, who you may remember managed Norway during the CM9798 World Cup. Andy has gone to great lengths to create a full Gateshead squad for the 1997/98 season, so what’s the story? Andy explains…
Welcome to the (hopefully) heart-warming
fictional tale of how one of the finest Gateshead teams to grace the pinnacle of the non-league game made it back to the football league after being ceremoniously dumped from it in 1960.
Back in 1996, as Ian Brodie sang What if, we take the squad of 96/97 season, and look what might have happened if Gateshead had returned to the football league instead of Macclesfield, and whether the squad was capable of making the cut and bringing a small amount of delirium back to the south bank of the Tyne instead of being dismantled by Jim Platt and relegated to the Northern Premier League.
So let’s meet the squad…
An FA Cup Finalist, Bryan Robson’s brothers, and you’re favourite cousin of George Weah…to be fair to the test, I’ll not look to make any signings and live with what we have.
We setup in a CM9798 favourite with the Robson’s as the engine. The game has given us some clear weaknesses, poor passing ability, and little flair or creativity…it could be a major issue.
Elsewhere, tired of the music scene in Belgium, an R&B superstar checks in to give the bag pipes a go…
Pre-season and I’m re-stocking the clubs library, only copies of Viz from now on…
It’s a pleasant pre-season visit to Croft Park for Gateshead and the big bos man and Stevie Harkus see us to a derby day victory.
Tyneside talent is finally reaching a peak since producing an England World Cup Winner back in ‘66
First game back in the football league and we score, in Trump’s words, all of the goals…Dowson looking a liability already
Dia Dia like it, is it is it wicked? Dia scores his first football league goals, but on a sour note the main man Harkus is off after five minutes with a back injury. The score is too kind, Scunny had two disallowed.
Nightmare… with talented Harkus injured we rotate the squad for the second leg, bringing the Big Bos Man up top…clear early signs, we are lacking depth significantly
An injury crisis sees me having to stick Pearson (D/MC) up top, a masterstroke that sees him score a hat trick!
We end August with a draw against promotion hopefuls Barnet, which sees us close the month in 3rd behind local rivals Hartlepool. Goals against probably represents the challenge of playing with a 43 year old in goal!
We start September with a grudge match against the team we were booted out the football league for, Peterborough, and we’ve got revenge on our mind…the Big Bos man wastes chance after chance but finally we break the deadlock, lower league goalkeeping CM legend Tyler makes it easier for us
Elsewhere, future Gateshead managers Bogie and Aspin are locked in a relegation battle in division one.
We taste some international action over the border and promotion chasers Cardiff prove my point…we leave it very late to scrape a point, and actually have our 43 year old FA Cup finalist to thank for not getting hit by Cardiff’s 15 shots
Rochdale put us to the test, half time stats tell the story so far…
Living the life of Brian, Rowe comes to the rescue as we finally beat one of the top sides.
The real (Bobby Gould doesn’t count) sack race has started, some of us have “it” and some of us just don’t…
I can see the repeat headlines now…Dodgy Barnet: Heed Struggle.
A Dia-lightful derby day victory, but we’ll miss Thomo’s all-round play for a few weeks!
Michael Rankine’s uncle could not stop us on our roll but 19th placed Brighton send us to our first defeat of the season despite a late push. That leaky defence comes back to haunt us.
It’s a tight battle at the end of September, anything can still happen here on in.
More news from the sack race, back to scratching his arse on BBC 2 then…
He Dia-serves it! (If you can’t stand the puns, this really isn’t for you)
Devine intervention…Barnet are our bogie team…Devine really is a magnificent player on this game.
In typical Heed fashion, we win but give ourselves a massive scare by letting Shrewsbury back into it.
October see’s us start to get our defensive play together as Wrightson is brought in for Rowe.
Typical Gazza…Eileen might be able to fix him up.
Three clean sheets on the bounce, that’s right (son)…
Malcolm Crosby decides to get some practice in for his next job at Gateshead in 18 years’ time…at least it will be great craic off the pitch…
We regain top spot from the poolies, in a tense affair we were lucky not to have two sent off…but Pools could only manage one measly shot on goal.
Thompson saves the boys from a roast of a full-time team talk at the oven chip stadium and we end October top of the pops in possibly one of the wildest title battles of all time.
Here is the table:
Across the rest of the pyramid, John Oster and Everton are in a surprising title battle with Man Utd back in 3rd with a game in hand.
In La Liga, Real are having a Zidane of a league season.
Rangers do their usual…but Aberdeen look like they can compete without Dave’s managerial prowess…
Next time out, we’ll see how we survive winter as the games and disciplinary points wrack up and whether we can keep up the pace at the top.
See you next then!
You can follow Andy on Twitter @KingoftheRooks