Starting from Scratch – Part 16

Matthew Cooper stands on the verge of a second successive promotion with Altrincham. He still doesn’t have Twitter. Can he finish the season in style? Catch up with part 15 here.

Yay, it’s the exciting part of the season. Or it would be if it were closer, but with an 11 point cushion this should really be a formality. Let’s get it sorted.

The first trophy of the season is up for grabs, and Fergie misses out on it again:


They’re also out of the FA Cup so the league is their only target left now. It’s a champion’s league place rather than the title they should be aiming for though, as they’re way behind in third


Their dominance appears to be over, temporarily at least. You may recall Shearer made a blistering start for them with 6 goals in the first 5 games, but he went pretty badly off the boil since and only scored 2 more goals in his next 26. They were dumped out of the Champion’s league this earlier on by Ajax, so it’s been a season to forget for the red devils.

Anyway back to Altrincham, and it’s not the news I wanted to be greeted with


Curse that sodding big club release clause, that’s the third left wingback I’ve had poached in the 2 seasons I’ve been here. I’ll have to go hunting for yet another one. This guy looks like a decent all-rounder, and at 28 won’t have a need for that accursed release clause thank God


Eek, it had better go smoothly as we won’t get a second chance


You can sod off though Ipswich, you’re not big enough to bully me


It looks like 3rd placed Brighton are going all out to catch up with Millwall, they spent £2m on Jamie Cureton and make another big outlay 2 days later


Well, at least we wrung another £200k out of them


His replacement swiftly comes on board so it’s not a complete disaster, thankfully


Bird is serving a 2 match ban starting with the away trip to Bradford, he kept that quiet when he was signing with us the devious little git. Ah well, Tommo can have another shot at returning to form, in the other change Grossi goes straight into the team to replace Hughes. We should hopefully have enough to get the three points today


Ah, bollocks. It was going to plan right up to the 89th minute, but we’re sucker punched and have to settle for a point. In truth we’re maybe lucky to get that, as Bradford created a whole host of clear-cut chances but Roberts was in top form and repelled (nearly) everything they threw at him. Ah well, it’s a point closer to the line anyway. Millwall only drew as well so no harm done.

The fairytale FA Cup run is over for Wrexham as they get well beaten by Villa. Wimbledon will be their opponents in the final after overcoming Newcastle


I really am not having the best of luck with my strikers this season


At least Bird will be back after the next match. We’re against York at home next, and they’re desperate for points to avoid going down so I’m expecting a frustrating afternoon of their keeper stopping just about everything:


Am I crap at predictions or what? It’s a seesaw kind of game and the lead changes hands 3 times before we close it out for a narrow victory. N’Diaye’s goals have been vital this season, not to mention his consistent performances. We wouldn’t be in the top spot without him for sure. We secure a playoff place with that win, but as per last season we’re going for the big prize so it means little.

The champion’s League is coming to a conclusion and it’s an all German affair this time as Dortmund and Bayern get past their opponents to reach the final


Next up is Brighton. They’ve fallen well off the pace despite their £5m+ outlay around deadline day and find themselves in the final play off place despite being two points off second a couple of weeks ago. That doesn’t mean this game will be easy by any means but I’m confident heading into it. Bird is the word as he returns from his ban.


Fiddlesticks. Brighton are the better side but it’s a game of very few chances and a draw is just about fair on both of us. Unfortunately my new left wingback gets crocked and Palmer sees red so availability issues are about to rear their ugly head yet again.

Still, we’re 9 points clear with only 4 games remaining so we’ll get there even if we have to limp over the finish line. We’ll have to do it without Grossi as he won’t be back until next season


The next game could be the one that confirms our place in Division 1 next season as we face Stockport at home. They are 7 points adrift from safety so pretty much doomed, but they’ll probably put up a fight.


I’m right for once, they put up a hell of a fight and we could have lost this on another day. We were in fact staring defeat in the face at 2-1 down until the 80th minute when Bird rescued a point. Ah well, we’ll have to wait at least another game to be mathematically uncatchable.

N’Diaye is doubly unavailable for our visit to Peterborough, being both suspended and also on International duty. Zerrouki replaces him in the middle as we look to seal promotion with a win


It’s party time as Allardyce blows them away with a 30 minute hat trick, finishing the half with a rating of 10 out of 10. Taggart gets himself sent off towards the end so I opt to sub Allardyce to give him the standing ovation he deserves.


Hurray! It’s another successive promotion and we’re just 1 league away from the Premiership now.


Really, just very pleased? Not delighted? You want the moon on a stick you lot.

We haven’t had a look at the fight to avoid the non league trapdoor for a while, and it’s a very interesting situation


Darlington have climbed off the bottom again and are hoping it sticks this time. Brentford are the ones facing oblivion now but with the table being as close as it is, it might not be resolved until the final day.

We play out our remaining couple of fixtures but with promotion secured, it’s simply a case of going through the motions. We end up winning the final game but it’s pretty lucky as we’re decidedly second-best all afternoon.


On the final day in Division 3, Walsall have swapped places with Brentford and realistically need a win, as their goal difference is slightly inferior. If they do win though, they can drag 3 other teams into it so it’s a very tense day for all concerned


It’s a pretty good day in the end for most of the bottom three as Walsall, Brentford and Darlington all win leaving Oxford, the highest placed team going into the fixtures, slipping into the void with a disappointing defeat to none other than the recently promoted Colwyn Bay. Farewell Oxford, maybe we’ll see you again in a few years but for now you’ll have to be content with the FA Cup as your only games all season.


As you can see from the results, Colwyn Bay confirm their place in the playoffs and have as good a chance as any of going up. It would be a pretty amazing year for them considering the early chaos of their 16-strong loanee squad.

So who’s taking their place in the league? As it turns out, it’s one of the “big four”


Boro pull off a shock result in the UEFA Cup and get the better of the Galacticos after extra time


Unfortunately, Colwyn Bay’s season is over after getting a spanking by Mansfield in the playoffs


Villa lift the FA Cup at the crazy gang’s expense


Kidderminster opt for Mick Jones to steer them to safety next season. He started off as Plymouth manager and was most recently in charge at Preston before being sacked in January. It’s not a bad appointment really so they should be ok.


Finally, Bayern Munich take the ultimate prize with a solid victory over Dortmund in the final, which is coincidentally held at their home stadium


I forgot to immortalise my players last year with the squad stats so here they are for this season



Finally, it will be Plymouth joining us in Div 1 next season after overcoming big spenders Brighton in the final


So that’ll be it for this season. See you for the next one, when we’ll be plying our trade in the First Division!

Thanks to Matthew for a great series so far, negotiations are underway to renew his contract for the new season. 

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