Football Manager 2021 ‘The Pasty Men’ #1 – Men of the Marsh

After almost two months since my preview post of this save, I’m finally back. Christ. Thanks to the incredible work of The FMEditors Team, I can stop feigning my interest in short-term beta save ideas to pass the time and sink my teeth into the full-fat edition of Football Manager 2021. That’s right: the Level 10 database is out and – more importantly – The Pasty Men are here.

Meet at the Marsh

As soon as I received the call, I jumped straight into ‘Nobby’ – my 2002 Ford Fiesta – and drove the 2 miles west from my family home to Callington Community College and the adjacent Ginsters-sponsored Marshfield Park: my new home for the foreseeable future.

Since player-manager Sam Borthwick left The Pasty Men a couple of months ago, Callington Town had been in a bit of a slump. Desperation called as all boroughs of the Duchy trounced them weekly and it became time for chairman Shaun Earl to look for anyone who was willing to take the cursed reigns at Marshfield Park. ‘Anyone’, it seemed, includes 24-year-old Janners from across the bridge who have very minimal actual coaching qualifications but a half-decent history in management video games.

Upon stepping into the minimal home changing rooms at The Marsh, my soon-to-be assistant manager Jason Ramsay pulled me in for a gruff hug before introducing himself briskly. Jason handed me a dossier that looked as if it had been complied of notes scribbled down on the touchline during previous matches. “A bit of light reading before you meet the lads for pre-season on Saturday, ha! Once you’ve digested that – all the coaches are meeting down The Old Clink tonight for a couple of pints. We’ll properly initiate you!”

Despite all of the research I had to conduct into my future team, the anxieties I had about meeting the rest of the team lead to me putting down the dossier, chucking a jacket on and meeting Jason and the boys down the pub. Lo and behold, after a very messy evening, I woke up at home with a pounding head and a queasy feeling in my stomach. A cup of Smuggler’s Brew and a slice of toast later, I felt at least slightly ready to find out about my new squad. (If they are anything like my coaching staff, we’re in for a hell of a year…)

The Dossier

Tom Anderson – 21 – RM/CM

  • Former Forest Green Rovers youth player
  • Naturally a right-midfielder but plays best as a box-to-box midfielder
  • Amazing first touch, composure and stamina
  • A quiet lad who is currently studying marine biology at the University of Plymouth
  • Favourite TV show of all time: Top Gear
  • First-choice central midfielder

Jon Basford – 16 – AMR/WBR

  • Came through the Callington Town youth academy
  • Filling in as a backup right-winger while attending Callington Community College
  • Very quick and naturally fit
  • Enjoys going down The Fish Bar with his mates whenever he isn’t in the matchday squad
  • Lack of belief in his ability has lead to Jon considering packing in the amateur game and focusing on a different career

Jay Burke – 22 – DM/CM

  • Callington Town youth product and club captain
  • Used to come to games with his dad whenever The Pasty Men were playing at The Marsh
  • A rock at the centre of midfield, breaking up attacks and maintaining the heart of the squad
  • Works 4 days a week in the Callington Tesco stacking shelves
  • Once got very drunk at a sponsorship dinner and insulted Ginsters pasties in front of Ginsters CEO, Flor Healy

Dominic Claxton – 25 – CB

  • Only took up football this season in an attempt to make it into the pro game at the ripe age of 25
  • Half-decent centre-back but not someone who will be making the starting line-up every week
  • At 6’0″, his impressive 11 jumping reach should do a decent job at this level

As I turned the page to the next of the famed ‘Pasty Men’, my eyelids started to droop and my vision started to blur. Back to bed for a bit I think. I’ll check up on the rest of the squad later, I’m sure.

The Master Plan

Our journey to the big-time

Of course, the ideal plan is to eventually become a dominant force in world football, however the fact that it will take at least 10 promotions before Callington even reach the pinnacle of English football means that ‘the dream’ could be very far away. As I stated in my previous post, the initial aim is for The Pasty Men to find their feet as the most successful Cornish club. Truro City – currently in The Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South – are 4 promotions away. Luckily, the local press believe that Callington have a very high chance of finishing top of the South West Peninsula League Premier Division West this season. Hey – another 3 consecutive promotions after that and we could be facing The White Tigers one-on-one!

Initial Tactics

My usual fare when managing a team far lower down the football pyramid is to go for a late-1990s Manchester United-style counter-attacking 4-4-2, however I wanted to try and be more adaptive to the limitations of Callington and play to the strengths of the players already at the club (in addition to the new arrivals). Although we were to play a 4-2-3-1 instead of a 4-4-2, the aim was still to counter-attack and hit the opponent quickly on the break with some aggressive counter-pressing and fast movement. Against the likes of 42 year-old pub landlords playing Sunday league, the might of my frontline should run rampant.

Pre-season went fairly successfully: creditable draws against decent local teams such as Plymouth Parkway and Weymouth were real highlights while we slowly learned how to keep clean sheets towards the end of August.

To add to the good news, the board agreed to fund a coaching course for me to attend whenever I’m not teaching in my day job or coaching The Pasty Men, making me potentially one of the best coaches in the South West Peninsula Premier Division West…

Next time in ‘The Pasty Men’, we take on our local rivals Launceston in the opening match of the South West Peninsula Premier Division West; face Snodland town in the first qualifying round of the FA Vase; and we see how far we can take The Pasty Men in this first half of the season.

As always, thanks for sticking by and giving this a read.

P.S. If you’d read my prelude you may have noticed a slightly different logo for Callington Town! I decided to give the club crest a fresh, modern re-brand to make the quality-of-life while playing the game that little bit better. It will be a lot nicer seeing the clean lines of my new logo 20 seasons into the game!

My FM21 Save Reveal… ‘The Pasty Men’

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 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

Ginsters Marshfield Parc

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.