Free for All Episode 2 | Revolving Doors | @CornishZak

Happy hump day! Here’s Zak with the latest from a world of freebies – the database download is at the end of this post.

Hello! Welcome back to Free for All. A quick recap for those joining for the first time. There are 5202 players available on a free transfer, released from every playable English team, (plus some of the World’s best players and ex-retirees). All teams are starting from scratch building their squads.

You join the action as my Doncaster Rovers team – relegated from the football league in real-life 1997-98 – are battling to keep hold of players and find ourselves top-half after 5 games.

This is how we lined up for our previous match – a 2-1 win at Mansfield.

3rd September 1997, Brighton

As we wave goodbye to August, so too do we have to wave goodbye to Stephen McPhail (Bradford, £150k), Michael Appleton (Swindon, £110k) and James Beattie (Bradford, £240k). McPhail only featured once before we fell foul of the tribunal!

I should remind that my self-imposed rule is to ensure every player is made ‘available’ for a transfer and that we have an aim of generating £10 million in transfer fees… We’re halfway there already. (Whoa, living on a prayer…)

Back to football. With Beattie off McVeigh takes up the central striker role. I sign Brett Ormerod who replaces McPhail in the left AMC role. McVeigh scores a hattrick, though we cannot shake Brighton off. It’s a thrilling 3-3 draw.

6th September 1997, Colchester.

I am able to add four more players to the squad in the three days between fixtures. We welcome Ray Wilkins, Mark Bowen, Dean Saunders and AMC United favorite Danny Hall.

Saunders goes straight into the team partnering McVeigh up front. We are comfortable winners, despite being pegged-back in the second half. Craddock, Ormerod and Saunders all break their Doncaster ducks!

10th September 1997, Peterborough

There’s certainly no rest for the club secretary in this save, as the revolving door continues. This time we lose three forwards; Paul McVeigh leaves for Chesterfield for £300k, Francis Jeffers signs for Sheffield Utd for £475k and Brett Ormerod joins Huddersfield for £200k after a two-game cameo.

A young Welsh central midfielder called Craig Bellamy joins the squad, and goes straight into the team (and out of position).

This game has one player out-of-position too many as Peterborough rip through our team four times, and we lose 4-2. Only positive is that a Grey player Whittle scores… (Is that positive?)

13th September 1997, Scarborough

We keep the squad together for this one, and hold off a late Scarborough challenge to win 2-1 thanks to Wayne O’Sullivan and Danny Hall.

17th September 1997, Coventry, League Cup

Our preparations are marred by the departures of Willie Boland (£140k to Crewe), Dean Saunders (£220k to Norwich) and Craig Bellamy (£150k to Oxford). I’m able to recruit Michael Twiss, Jon Harley, and Paul McCarthy to help plug holes.

This is how the squad looks prior to kick-off;

Premier League side Coventry have been having recruitment issues, so with less than eleven senior players in the squad, (and three of those cup-tied) they find themselves no match for my Division 3 side. Michael Twiss introduces himself to the Donny faithful with a hattrick.

We lose a further four players on the coach back from Coventry… Wayne O’Sullivan, Roy Carroll and Jon Harley all go to Oxford for a combined £520k, and Michael Twiss is poached by Stoke for £300k. (Oxford have now signed six players from us).

This time I call on Anthony Betterton, Richie Wellens, Tony Grant, Jason Roberts and Michael Ricketts to plug the gaps! Grant gets himself injured in the first training session, so is out for a couple of months. Great!

20th September 1997, Rotherham

This is how the squad looks as we travel to Rotherham. More and more greys needed to fill the gaps!

The new faces have no trouble settling in as we score three first half goals and see the game out. Chris Waddle is a man in-form, with four from his last four!

I should probably check-in on some of the other teams/leagues and see how they’ve managed in the Free Transfer market! (I’m sure you are all interested, constant reader!)

An undefeated Man Utd top the Premier League after seven games, with Jim Smith’s Derby in pursuit.

Sir Alex Ferguson has prioritized defense in his rebuild, recruiting Sammer, Worns, Desailly, Hierro and Maldini! There is a familiar feel to the team with ex-Utd players Ince, Beckham, Giggs, Barthez and Scholes resigned to the squad.

I’m surprised to find ex-Donny forward Jon Macken in the Arsenal squad as I scroll through.. he scored one in four for us, before moving to West Brom for £250k. For West Brom his record improved to four in seven. Arsenal signed him for the exact same £250k fee… Anyway. Once a judas, always a judas for Sol Campbell… and what was Roy Keane thinking?

24th September 1997, Wrexham, Auto Windscreen Shield

Back to Doncaster, and I would normally rotate the team for EFL Cup fixtures, but currently don’t have enough players for that luxury! Betterton makes his debut in goal, otherwise its unchanged, as we see out a boring goalless draw. Jody Craddock is named MoM in central defense.

27th September 1997, Barnet.

Another week, another load of exits. Michael Ricketts opts for Reading for £220k; Anthony Betterton fresh from his debut, joins Port Vale for £200k; veteran Mark Bowen gets a move for Watford for £110k; and Jason Roberts signs for Tranmere for £100k! That one hurts. I definitely got cheated by the tribunal there!

We respond by signing Iain Dowie, Stan Lazaridis, Marcus Bent, Mark Wilson and Matthew Stevenson!

The new lads are thrust straight into the team, and battle away. We look set for a second successive goalless draw but are undone by a late (late) goal. Richard Mooney on the money for Barnet.

The end of September is upon us and the secretary gets more deals completed before the end-of-month accounts are due. Mark Wilson join Tranmere for £250k (I dare not risk the tribunal again) and Matthew Stevenson joins Ipswich for £170k.

The board declare they art delighted with the progress and post a hefty profit for August!

1st October 1997, Coventry, League Cup.

We have a comfortable aggerate lead as we host Coventry for the League Cup return leg. 7500 fans witness us put the Premier League strugglers to the sword again – this time Iain Dowie getting on the scoresheet with the ever-injured Eddie McGoldrick. It’s great progress!

The squad is bolstered with arrivals Nicky Culkin, Efe Sodje, Stuart Brightwell, Paul Emblen and a scout-recommended Irish forward, Desmond Baker. I’m running out of known players in the domestic free transfer market so need to turn my head to the foreign market…We welcome Tony Yeboah!

I hope this signing will lift the lads as much as it has me! Blog Squad author and Leeds superfan, Ross Bell, is salivating.

Out go Marcus Bent (Barnsley, £190k), Eddie McGoldrick (Bournemouth, £160k), and Richie Wellens (Birmingham, £180k).

4th September 1997, Notts County

The new lads Yeboah, Baker and Sodje go straight into the side as we play Notts County.

It’s a see-saw match as we go behind, then 3-1 up. County peg us back to 3-3 before Iain Dowie scores a winner on 61 minutes, The lads hold on, and it’s another win in the bag! Tony Yeboah gets names MoM for his brace. I wonder how long we can keep him?

After twelve league games that seems like a sensible place to pause for this week. We are in the top-six but it’s very tight!

Join us next week as we play through another round of games and see how many players we can transition in/out, and how many can last longer than 2 bloody games! Until next time, bargain hunters.

Photo Yorkshire Post

To download the Free for All database click here

2 thoughts on “Free for All Episode 2 | Revolving Doors | @CornishZak

  1. This is such a crazy idea, but I love it! Can’t wait to see what happens next in this blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. Pingback: Free for All Episode 3 | Squad Replenishment | @CornishZak | CM 97/98

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