Welcome, welcome. Today we celebrate a quarter of a century of Academy updates. If you’re new to this, the challenge began 24 episodes ago where the newly formed CM9798 Academy took their place in division 3. Owner Ike Mashley wanted to build his dream club and put in a blueprint. Only players under the age of 23 and available on a free transfer could be signed, whilst all offers to buy players would be accepted. It has aged me terribly. Nevertheless, progress through the lower leagues was relatively easy but the Premier League has seen us scrapping for survival every year. Here we are in season 8, our first in European competition (via a losing FA Cup final appearance) and yet again we’re in the bottom half. Now, let’s get back to it. 13 games to go and this is the table:
It’s not great news to begin with. West Ham have discovered Gazza junior and launch the bid.
He tickles Everton’s fancy too and that’s where he goes. So long, Tarkan.
A bad week gets even worse when the hero of the last update gets crocked for 6 weeks. Whoever knacked him in training is in bother.
After a great week off the pitch, a trip to Old Trafford probably won’t help. Naturally, the people’s champion Michael Owen scores four and I question why any of us do this.
Sheff Utd are probably the closest thing we have to a rivalry. Steffen Iversen fuels my fire and I hope he is enjoying propping up the division. Ferguson and Shearer junior net goals and the hoodoo is over. A much needed win.
We have a good chance to build on that but Chesney Hawkes pegs us back and Sheju’s equaliser should send us on our way to a comeback victory, but it doesn’t. A point is a point.
The European tour is back, several months after we saw off Deportivo. Brann take an early lead but it doesn’t last and we come back with a vengeance. It’s 4-1 at half time and although we don’t add to the lead, it should be more than enough.
Two days later and it’s off to Wolves. Heritage saves an early penalty and we even take the lead. All that seems to do is anger Wolves who come back with three quickfire goals and it’s another defeat on the road.
SHOCK DEFEAT GRAPHIC KLAXON. A surprise win at Newcastle eases any relegation fears. Yay.
The return leg with Brann is basically over when Landonio nets just before half time. He adds another and young Mark Woods wraps it up. A semi final, how exciting.
Anyone but Marseille, I’d say.
Oh good! Arsenal want one of my centre backs. McAteer and Lawrie have formed a great partnership but off he’ll go. Liverpool also bid, who are on the verge of a second successive relegation. He picks Arsenal.
Can things get any worse? Yes they can. Sunderland bid for Shearer junior. Thankfully, so do Everton and Leeds. Everton and Leeds end up withdrawing their bid as their squads are full and he joins Sunderland. Anyone but them.
It’s deadline day so I’ve had to act quickly. Bert is the code word for danger so hopefully it’s a sign that he can fill the void.
The early signs are that he won’t.
He can’t play in Europe and Marseille are somewhat better than most of the teams we play. Trezeguet has a great time and when he makes it 3-0, I fear that’s it for us. Morello pops up with a late away goal and that gives us something to cling on to.
We don’t have a game for 9 days so we’re nice and recharged by the time Fulham are in town. It’s a bit of a struggle until they get a red card on half time and it is rather easier after that.
It’s another ding dong just two days later. The Easter fixture list sees us make the trip to Birmingham where we trail twice but go on to win 3-2 with a 91st minute header from Les. We’re not going down.
It’s all eyes on the Marseille game now. A 2-0 win would take us through, a theory that goes out of the window in the 3rd minute when Marseille cancel out our away goal. Boo. Still, we’ve spent our illustrious 8 season career that we can beat the odds and when Ferguson junior and McBRide put us 2-1 up after 20 minutes, the tie is alive. Little Dunc makes it 3-1 before half time and that’s how it remains – extra time.
No sooner have we kicked off the extra half hour, Trezeguet is back to haunt us. We need two now, but we need two for less than a minute. Little Dunc completes his hat-trick, burying a one on one like a seasoned pro. One more needed! Landonio though picks up his second yellow and our task becomes even harder. Tell that to little Dunc. He has the strength of two men and heads home his fourth and our fifth. We manage to see it out. We’re in the final!
We have Arsenal two days later and honestly, I couldn’t care less. The entire team is changed to allow the heroes to do whatever they want on this April afternoon. Lopez and noodle soup score, like they always do against us, and we lose 3-1. I don’t care.
An International break later and we’re off to Sheff Wed. We lose here too. McBride picks up an injury that means he’ll miss the final.
We do at least edge past Man City. Our midtable position looks safe.
A draw with Sunderland is our penultimate league game. Our eyes are on a prize…
Naturally, I rest the first 11 for the last league game. Chelsea need to win to stay up and we do nothing to stop them. Leeds ultimately lose out.
Take that, Steffen Iversen. 13th is our highest ever position. We’re only 16 points off the leaders…
Arsenal are the champions when Everton manage to lose on the final day of the season. Not only does it cost them the title but it costs them a Champions League place. Probably should have won.
Whilst that’s all fine and dandy, we’ve got a cup final to win if we want to be in Europe next season. Aab have the famous Icelandic re-gen. They also have Jari Litmanen, but he’s out.
The game is at Goodison Park, so almost a home game for us. It’s tight and the longer it stays 0-0 the more nervous I get. Just 9 minutes from time though a hero is needed. Gareth Billing, almost the forgotten man, goes through on goal and rounds the goalkeeper. It’s the biggest goal of the Academy’s short history and our first ever trophy is in the bag. What a man. What a night.
The Champions League is back in Turin. Not Juventus though, it’s Torino who we’ll face in the Super Cup next season.
It’s been a long update. A lot has happened. Here are the awards to finish with:
Join me next time and we go on the regen hunt and prepare to do it all again next season. Goodbye for now!