Free for All Episode 1 | Free Market | @CornishZak

Happy hump day! We have a debutant today as Zak makes his debut though you might know his work from our sister site CM0102Blogs. He’s beenna busy boy in the editor and I thik you’ll like the outcome…

Hello! Welcome to my first post within the CM9798 multiverse. It’s great to finally be a part of Dave’s #blogsquad proper!

Right, Free for All. What’s it all about?

I have spent a fair few hours in Editor exile and released EVERY PLAYER in the English four-league pyramid from their contract, making them available on a free transfer. That’s right, from David Beckham in the Premiership down to Trevor Benjamin in Division Three – all released and available on a free. And, we’re not stopping there. I also thought it would be fun to release 100 or so of the World’s best, most expensive and more well-known players. After some late night Tuesday Club drinks, I also coaxed a few aged stars out of retirement; Robson, Shilton, Regis, Baresi, and even Chris Kamara. 5202 players in all.

What remains (I hope) will be a cocktail of transfer madness. No teams in England have any players, so everyone will have to start from scratch, clambering to assemble a squad from the stars available. There are also clubs in Europe and beyond who will be seriously depleted. Will the stars of the Premier League migrate to Serie A? Let’s see!

So, to the challenge. I toyed with the idea of being a Champions League club and assembling my own Galacticos-style squad. But would that be too easy?

Instead, I’ll take charge of the team that finished bottom of the Football League in the 1997/98 season – Doncaster Rovers. Can I take the team destined for the drop up to the top?

Rules. (I am a stickler for Rules).

  • 1; Get promotion
  • 2; Make £10 million profit in transfer fees.

To add a further level of difficulty, all signings must be immediately ‘made available’ for transfer. No using the ‘list for loan’ trick to keep hold of the best prospects.

Here are a couple of screenshots of the Free Players available; Lets get going!

Welcome to Doncaster, and the Stadium Belle Vue. We have £100k in the bank, 1400 seats to fill (though can cram in 7794) and a brand new fax machine to get busy!

We dip our toes into the transfer market making offers for youngsters Aaron Hughes (there are two), goalkeeper David Lucas, young midfielder Jamie Day and a blond haired Welshman Robert Savage. Remember there is a maximum of 5 players we can negotiate with at a time, so I add a load of 16-18 y/os to my shortlist. My tactic will be to sign the youngest players in the game (as they will likely come), with a handful of experienced players.

To demonstrate further proof of my madness, here is the list of most expensive English domestic players at the start.. Ian Crook for 500k anyone?

Okay, I’ll admit it. I did leave one player in the DB – friend of Bjorn Heidenstrom. For reasons unknown, him he wouldn’t load in the testers I ran. Rather than be without a ChampMan hero, I left him at Leyton Orient, and promise to watch with admiration, rather than sign him.

I cram in friendlies, so we are able to also welcome Robbie Keane, Carl Cort, Richard Lucas and John Sheridan before we take on Macclesfield in our first match. It’s not enough  for a full team yet, but a start!

We have to rely on a Grey’s player to see the game out – stand-in forward Oatway doing the business.

A few days later Robbie Keane helps us to dispatch Chester in ten second half minutes.

After the game I have no less than five players sat in my office waiting with pen poised…

We welcome CM favorite Tom Youngs, forward Jon Macken, versatile defender Paul Wotton, left back Anthony Tonkin (from non-league Yeovil) and a player fresh from the Costa Del Dons..

Yes, welcome Vinny Jones!!!

The new signings signal the revolving door as teams with higher reputation and cash reserves start circling for our young players. We’ve not kicked a competitive ball and the crows are out.. I reject as many offers as I can, such as this one from Carlisle, but some will go to tribunal….

We have a two-day break before setting up for our final friendly against Bury. We are four-up after only 20 minutes, and Tom Youngs nets a debut-hat trick. The lads are bored and don’t come back for the second half.

After the game we wave goodbye to both Aaron Hughes’ (for £99k and £120k respectively) and goalkeeper David Lucas for £190k.

I need to replace missing central defenders and a goalkeeper, so look to AFC United favorites Roy Carroll and Andrew Duncan. Ex-Utd skipper (and in-game ‘Boro boss) Bryan Robson also joins to give some experience. Finally they are accompanied by 16 y/o Franny Jeffers and young Irishman Willie Boland.

Saturday 9th August 1997, Cambridge Utd.

This is how the squad looks for the season opener against Cambridge. You can see the ‘Bid’ and ‘Wnt’ tags in the corner… looks like this could be a constant merry-go-round of transfer activity.

We line up with a classic narrow attacking CM formation. I’ll keep this formation for the duration. Vinny Jones is named captain and Jamie Day is on set piece duties.

It takes Tom Youngs half an hour to score our first competitive Doncaster goal. It to draw us level after Cambridge took an early lead. Ironically, it’s against his former employers.

Youngs adds another before halftime to give us a lead and Jeffers and Macken complete a comfortable 4-1 win. We are under way!

13th August 1997, West Brom (League Cup)

We wave goodbye to Paul Wotton in the week (Ironically, West Brom for £180k), meaning Vinny Jones will deputize at CB and Robson starts in the DMC role. Wotton and former goalkeeper Lucas line up against us for the Division 1 favorites. It makes no difference as our young forward line rips through the grey defense.

West Brom only had four senior players on their books – and three fit – so I’m sure the return leg will be more difficult.

We wave goodbye to another CB after the game, as Andrew Duncan joins Oxford for £150k. Richard Lucas also packs his bags, leaving for Watford for £170k, as does Robert Savage (£250k to Norwich) and our captain Vinny Jones (£220k to Plymouth). Its relentless! It also takes us past the £1million mark for player sales – after only 2 competitive games!

I react by bringing in Eddie Howe and Hayden Mullins to cover in defense. They are joined by Andy Dibble in goal, right sided Irishman Wayne O’Sullivan and Irish midfielder Eddie McGoldrick.

16th August 1997, Torquay.

This is how our new-look team lines up.. Howe, Mullins are O’Sullivan are thrust straight in. Looks like I forgot to switch captain and set-piece takers…

It’s a tight game, separated by a late Robbie Keane penalty. Our 100% record continues.

It’s John Sheridan’s turn to wave goodbye after the game as he heads for Charlton. We cash-in for £325k.

Just to give some context to the squad obliteration – this is how it looks! Mullins and Howe have played ONE GAME and the bids are flying. It seems central defenders are the order of the day!

20th August 1997, West Brom (League Cup).

The Baggies return leg is just in time before another exodus of players. Jeffers, making his first start, scores as does substitute McGoldrick. We progress 8-3 on aggerate, to the disbelief of the board.

We immediately lose Howe (£180k), Mullins (£170k), Jamie Day (£300k), Carl Cort (£450k) and Jon Macken (£250k), taking our income over £3million!

I respond by bringing in Jody Craddock, Paul McVeigh, Matty Appleby and veterans Niall Quinn and Chris Waddle.

23rd August 1997, Lincoln

Here’s a squad update prior to the Lincoln match.

You can see Robson, Waddle and Boland are injured, so for the first time am forces to play a Grey’s player in the starting XI. Welcome Scott Grant!

The unsettled side are not enough for Lincoln, who inflict our first defeat of the season.

If you combine Curtis and Hunt you get how I l feel about the news that Robbie Keane is sold to Stockport for £600k and Tom Youngs to Bradford for £325k! Youngs’ tribunal fee hurts, as he should be worth so much more! It’s close to one more million in the bank, as we close in on £4 million in player sales – and we are still in August!

27th August 1997, Macclesfield

We’re not able to get any reinforcements before our next fixture, so need to play another Grey’s player. This time Stuart Whittle joins the lads in the left AMC role.

Macclesfield see us off to help demonstrate the need for more squad depth!

30th August 1997, Mansfield.

I’m able to bring in Stephen McPhail, James Beattie, Wayne Carlisle and Michael Appleton in the days prior to Mansfield. We also wave goodbye to Niall Quinn who leaves us after 2 games and 2 losses. Quinn cost Oxford United £250k.

This is how we line up for the final game of the episode. Beattie leading the line in place of Quinn. Fullback Matty Appleby is brought in as a make-shift CB.

Beattie scores within 60 seconds of his debut to give the team a dream start. Mansfield hit back before a late Paul McVeigh goal sees us back to winning ways!

We are well placed after five games, despite the squad upheaval.

Our league cup exploits see me claim the manager of the month award for August. 

I hope you enjoyed Free for All. We’ll be back next week, and I’ll be sure to give an update of what the Premier League clubs have been up to! Until next time.

Image Daily Mirror

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