What If? Part 3: Dia Know What I Mean?

Andy is back with the end of the season with his Gateshead team. The series asks what would happen if Gateshead had been promoted in 96/97 and we’re about to find out. Over to Andy…

It’s the start of February and we enter the home straight with our sole focus on staying in the top 3 as the season draws to a close. So far, we’re top dogs in Division Three’s North-East battle having scored 14 and conceded 3 (with two away days left to enjoy). Thomo and Dia are about to return to full fitness, so the Foreman and the big Bos man can be relieved of their duties. There is a fair amount of unhappiness in the squad, poor players are not getting rotated in; hopefully this doesn’t unsettle our run-in.

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Latest news in the sack race; we’re not going to speculate about reasons at this stage…

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Bobby’s got a brand new swing!

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Dia know what I meaaaaaan yeah yeah! A real struggle against 20th placed Colchester, but we find a way and that, is all that matters.

We can’t afford to pay much, and unfortunately the loan sharks have come to collect Sam Kitchen’s debt.

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A very boring derby sees a 30 yard screamer the dia-ciding goal. Gary Robson has picked up a knock so Justin will have to step up his return from injury and stand in.

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Our first big club release clause nightmare has taken place;

BREAKING NEWS: Gijs Lands In Belgium.

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This time Scarborough are McCain it too easy at the GIS, and despite the loss of the Big Bos man we end February in stunning fashion with the man from Senegal filling his very small boots!

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Here is the table:

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After some great form it’s not so gay at the meadow for us as we succumb to an abysmal defeat at 15th placed Shrewsbury. Dia adds to the injury count and the stand-ins fail to impress…and we don’t get goal number 100 just yet.

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Scraping the barrel now; Bos gone, Harkus out, Dia out. But at least we’ve reached 100 goals! We’ll go into the final run without Harkus and Dia for some of it.

Away to the Donny Soldiers and our away kit gets it’s first outing on the 11th of April, and it is beautiful. Dia-bolically, we only put 2 past 23rd place, a wins a win and we march on.

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And with that, comes the first triumph! The board are “very pleased” (how cordial) and the heed army faithful go wild as we stick two fingers up to the rest of the football league.

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No doubt Hateley will wrack up yet another manager of the month for this against my zero so far this year despite 100+ goals etc…even CM9798 knows the footballing bodies hate us.

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Oh my…

…we beat Mark Loveley’s Hull City 2-1 and that closes the gap to their games in hand, the trophy is ours!

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With games to spare, and despite a horrendous injury spell in the last month we scrape home. Dia has dragged us there scoring 1/3 of our goals. Southampton clearly made a big mistake letting him go. Bloody hell we’ve done it…get innnnn!

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With Cuggy back from his broken pelvis and Harkus back from a broken arm (what do these lads get up to in their time off around Gateshead?) we return to full strength and smash high-flying Cambridge for the laughs. Typically, not many turn up the see the league champions.

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Well…Orient have pissed someone off then…

And we close out the season with a face off of 1st vs. 2nd

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Dia-know where he’s gone? Ali goes missing in the final game failing to get any of his 8 shots on target. Unintentional utility man Pearson gets his 10th of the season.

And here’s the final table:

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The vindaloo approach of scoring one more than you appears to have worked better for me an multiple MotM winner Mark, all Orient needed was an Ali Dia.

So what happened elsewhere?

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Man United cantered to their usual victory…and collected the Worthless Cup for good measure.

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Arsenal won the FA Cup…

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Over in Spain, Barcelona managed a point more than Gateshead;

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And Rangers walked it…

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There were some tasty European Finals…

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And then some not so much…

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Finally, we have lift off…I best re-call that email to the league…

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It’s coming home!

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What an absolute downer…

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The exodus begins…55 games of pro-football at 44 was enough for Steve.

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Kenny handle anymore? In short…no

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And so we’ve taken the journey, the dust has settled. What have we learned?

Gateshead would have more than handled the pressure of league football had the team of 96/97 been promoted. Ali Dia was a diamond in the rough just waiting for an opportunity, and goalkeepers do improve with age like a fine wine…

We pretty much coasted the season, a lot of credit to dropping out all the cups early, and thankfully to the talents of Prince Ali.

Oh, and just for a nice end of season warm-down…

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I hope you have enjoyed the ride, maybe we’ll see how those who hang around handle a further step-up in the challenge (minus retirees, contract rebels, and big-club dreamers). Apologies for a rather long-winded final stage of the season.

I do hope you’ve had fun. See you again soon. And thanks to the heed class of 96-97.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @KingOfTheRooks

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