Return of the Summer Special – Grey’s Athletic: Grey All Over

Hello and welcome back to this year’s ‘Summer Specials’ or in this case singular special. Now, after all last summer’s madness, how could I possibly begin to top it all again? Well…have you ever tried to play a season without a signing? Have you ever tried to never replace a player? Have you ever…played an entire season with ‘grey’ players…

The mission is simple; survive in Division Three without a single real player. And Graham Taylor thought he had an impossible job!

It will be a revolving door squad, never guaranteed the same players match to match – and we should be prepared to deal with this all year:

We set up the best way possible for the lower division and 4-4-2 as opposition:

Wayne Haydon on both wings at the same time should hopefully confuse the opposition a bit. Pre-season gives us positive vibes:

If we can retain the same ‘keeper, we should be in with half a chance:

The opening day comes, and Hartlepool do us 2-1. We’re in for a tough season. Having won in the League Cup 1st round against Division Two opposition, we go out on away-goals thanks to a limp third second leg. We size up an opportunity for a win…the chip men:

Disallowed goals and our ‘keeper sent off. That might be a game changer. Torquay visit and we hold out for 75 minutes until it ends in a haze of static and tears. The tears continue, until we switch to this:

And get a 0-0 draw with 22nd and then:

WE’RE OFF THE MARK!!! We needed that win.

Happiness is a warm gun (bang bang, shoot shoot, score!).

Play well, keep it tight, get sent off, crumble. Repeat. This is traumatic. It’s taken 10/11 games, but we’ve finally sunk to the bottom. We lose to 19th Rotherham. We need to be beating or at least drawing with those around us. We come close to a result but just not enough:

Never before have things been this bad:

Yet still we survive the sack. DESMOND!!!

We should have won. We follow up by losing, Scarborough draw and the gap is back to 2 points.

If we could keep it tighter at the back, we could draw our way out of trouble. It’s the cup, its Barrow…we WIN!

Cambridge destroy us 6-2 in the league but we’re still flying so high. So high…

Scarborough win too so it means nothing. Peterborough are 5th, so this is quite the scalp. We follow it up in style:

How many reds now? I’ve lost count. We throw a 2-0 lead away to draw with Darlington and then at 4th placed Hartlepool…

We survive yet ANOTHER red to scrape a victory. We’re still not off the bottom, however.

It ain’t over until its…oh.

Tears for heroes dressed in grey…Scarborough appoint Aldridge and they turn it round. I think that’s the end.

We get the sack…

But immediately reinstate ourselves. We might as well see out the season. This is the s**** we’re up against, can’t even come back against 10-men!

Following defeats to Shrewsbury and Doncaster (whom we beat 2-0 at the beginning of the season) we have an absolute Danny Baker VHS of a game. Own goals and gaffs indeed.

We can’t finish except in our own net. We get red cards every other game. The run of luck is never ours (excluding that 10-game period where we won and drew a few mid-season). One player was suspended for ‘one match’ for three consecutive games. It’s brutal. If we are going to survive now, we need to more than double our points with 15 games to go. And they say the England job is impossible! Leyton Orient say no as they diddle us with the best McVeigh I’ve ever seen:

We get lashed 6-1 at Scunthorpe as I half forget to set my formation (we were moving to 2-2-2-2-2), we proceed to tighten up and only lose 3-0 at 5th Hull then…

We even had 2 disallowed. We follow up with a loss to Chester (4-1), but the follow-up gives me real faith we can nick 12 points from 4 games…

Scarborough, however, win 3-2 to send us down to non-league and myself to the second (and now unrecoverable) sacking of the season:

So close. If only we’d moved to 2-2-2-2-2 earlier.

A success? Far from it. That said we didn’t do too much worse than Scarborough but without any players. There are no vitals as none of the stats stick. And the proof we didn’t cheat:

Just as they drop into non-league, all of a sudden, the squad has twice the volume of players, who are, stats wise, a million miles better. That awful run from December to April without a point killed our hopes off. I think the game engine is stacked against this in 97-98. And so, I hope you’ve enjoyed the one and only sad and lonely Summer Special of 2021 – I think this one might get a re-run with 2-2-2-2-2 all season long. We’ll see. Thanks for reading – see you again at some point for another dose of complete madness.

You can follow Andrew on twitter: @KingOfTheRooks

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