So then…FM20 is over! I’ve had a great time in my first year trying my hand at blogging my favourite game, Football Manager. Instead of relentlessly pestering my girlfriend with the latest story of how I took my beloved Plymouth Argyle from League Two to the Premier League by replicating Ryan Lowe’s attacking 3-4-1-2 system, I decided to take the plunge and share my ramblings with my fellow addicts. Last November rpwfm.com was born and I spent a good seven months regularly releasing updates on the progress of my young Pilgrims through the English football pyramid and I absolutely loved it! I cannot thank those of you who read any of my blogs enough for putting up with my constant in-jokes, irreverent characters and writing style which eventually became part-save update, part-complete and utter nonsensical fantasy.
As I reached the back-end of May 2020 I decided to take a step back from Football Manager for a bit and spend some time pursuing my music while off work and in lockdown. A couple months later and having released my debut solo EP (another thing I did not expect to come out of 2020!) I had a hankering to get back to FM. I had the exciting – albeit over-ambitious – idea to try and tackle the Pentagon Challenge to keep me going until FM21 releases in November. Although I had completed two seasons with Swedish minnows Norrby IF, the save file corrupted and I unfortunately lost all my motivation to pick the save back up again from the ashes. I decided to pack in my FM20 journey and prepare for an even bigger and even better year with Football Manager 2021, and with that came the first hurdle: who do I start with?
The Pasty Men – Callington Town Football Club
Callington Town Football Club are a non-league semi-professional club based in Callington, a small town in East Cornwall. Affectionally nicknamed ‘The Pasty Men’ due to their close proximity to the Ginsters factory and headquarters, Callington play in the South West Peninsula Premier League West in the 11th tier in the English football pyramid. The club play their games at the Ginsters-sponsored Marshfield Parc, situated on the grounds of Callington Community College. The question is: why Callington?
In FM20 I chose to go with my hometown and favourite club Plymouth Argyle, whereas Callington Town are local to me in a different way. Although I grew up in Plymouth, my family moved a forty-minute drive into Cornwall when I was 17 to look for a nice house in the countryside. They settled in a small hamlet down the road from Callington and – despite moving back to Plymouth when I moved out a couple of years later – I still regularly visit Callington to see my parents and know it as my second home. I’ve never been a supporter of the big clubs further up the line in the Premier League and have never considered myself a ‘glory supporter’ so it made sense to me to try a save with the only other club that is personal to me in Callington Town!
Callington are certainly not a club that is cemented in local folklore as being a highly-reputable and ‘winners’ club; no, as long as I have been following them Callington have struggled amongst some bigger rivals in the South West Peninsula Premier League and I regularly see updates of the latest drubbing they have received on their Twitter feed.
Despite often finding themselves near the foot of the league table, The Pasty Men faced a bit of a resurgence under the leadership of manager Sam Borthwick. Unfortunately, however, a string of bad results and a disagreement between the board and Borthwick led to the fan-favourite manager leaving Callington Town with a piece of pasty still in his heart.
That is where I come in. Back in FM16 I managed to take Callington as far as the Vanarama National League South before losing my job and ending the save and in FM21 I intend to go far further. My goals while in charge of The Pasty Men are simple:
- Stop being sh*te: The first – and hopefully easiest – goal is to simply stop losing. Callington made the drop from the South West Peninsula Premier League to the South West Peninsula Premier League West in recent years and it is important to stop this downward trend fast.
- Become the most reputable club in Cornwall: While Devon houses a number of semi-professional teams higher up the pyramid, most Cornish football clubs languish around level 10 or lower. The only anomaly to this is Truro City, who have floated between the Vanarama National League South and Southern Premier League in recent seasons. As I stated earlier, I had previously been sacked as Callington manager on an earlier edition of Football Manager while managing The Pasty Men in the VNL South and I look forward to (hopefully) growing bigger than The White Tigers and becoming the most reputable football club in Cornwall.
- Be the first Cornish football club since Truro City to win a piece of national silverware: We’re not obsessed with being better than Truro, I promise… One step on the path of becoming the most reputable football club in Cornwall is to match (and hopefully exceed) the successes of our local-ish rivals. Back in 2018 The White Tigers won the F.A. Vase for the very first time and I intend on winning more national silverware to raise the reputation of Cornish football.
- Get a Cornish football club into the English Football League: Again, see previous points. The highest a Cornish club has been up the English football pyramid is the 6th tier and it would be nice to finally make those extra jumps and have Callington in the EFL. Devon have had three such clubs in Argyle, Exeter and Torquay in the EFL recently and it would be nice to make Kernow football more reputable rather than simply being the location of everyone’s favourite staycation.
- Expunge quality young players at the same rate that Ginsters pasties leave Cornwall: I’ve sort of carried a gripe that I’ve had with my own club (Argyle) across the Tamar Bridge to Callington. While the bigger cities and more heavily populated regions of England are hotbeds for the brightest prospects and young talents, many exciting youngsters prefer to avoid the isolation of starting their professional career in the South-West and as a result I haven’t seen many professionals come out of Devon and Cornwall. I’ll have to swallow my pride for a bit and give my most-hated club Exeter City the credit they are due; they are currently the only club in the South West consistently producing hot prospects from their academy. My beloved Plymouth Argyle are getting on the right track but are still very much behind and Cornish clubs – like in many aspects of life – are about 20 years behind everywhere else in the country.
The final thing I will say about the future of this FM21 save is that I will be trialling a different format of blogging while writing about my journey with The Pasty Men. While I wrote 3 or 4 updates per season while managing Argyle, Callington are much lower down the leagues and it may be a struggle making that long journey up to our goals. As a result, I will instead be writing one post for every season that I manage at Marshfield Parc. I will also endeavour to regularly release these fairly often, however due to the nature of my job I am putting less pressure on myself to put out any work that I am not happy with on time at the expense of quality.
Thank you for sticking with me for all this time so far – I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the new game in just over a month’s time and look forward to getting back to my nonsensical ways again, albeit with the flag of St. Piran wrapped around me.