The clubs recent history has a lovely beginning, back in 2008, at the final of the FA Vase, Wembley stadium. The game was lost 2-1 to a team from the North-West, but that didn't matter, 19,000 of Lowestoft's finest supporters had gathered in the capital, to echo the sounds of Lowestoft Town through the hallowed turf.
A young boy sat in the front row with his family members, cheering as vigourously as the rest of them, initiating Mexican waves and the like.
Fast-forward 7 years, and 3 promotions later, the young man is now able to take his beloved Lowestoft Town to the tip tiers of English football, living the dream, courtesy of Football Manager.
SEASON 1 - Vanarama North - Use what you have (and Saul Deeney)
Looking through the squad, thinking "I've actually seen that man in the flesh, and know his family quite well", made me a bit reluctant to change any of the team, which was good, as I had a transfer budget of 0. A little flexibility in the wage budget however meant that I was able to bring in the immense experience of Saul Deeney, both in the goal, and in the bar. Steven Smith was also brought in the bolster the defence, also Irish, as it happens.
A goal filled season or Lowestoft, scoring 96 goals, courtesy of Jefferson Louis, Jake Reed, and the big-header Smith. Central Midfielder Rossi Jarvis topped the team performances with an average score of 7.19 that year.
By the end of the campaign, we found ourselves in 5th place, scraping into the play-offs, courtesy of a late surge in form. Three playoff matches later, and the Crown Meadow is set for a capacity increase up to 4000, thanks to the board.
SEASON 2 - Vanarama Conference - Time for some attackers
After the success of the last campaign, I didn't fancy my chances of doing too well, especially with a fairly weak squad, and a very meagre budget.
Three flagship signings were made to bolster the squad to cope with the immense speed of the Conference,
- Louis Theophanus - Brought in from staines as a target striker, with immense ability, but a cumbersome stature.
- Cory Galvin - A right sided midfielder, from a local team, Ipswich, was able to loan him for 6 months, and then signed him on at Christmas.
- Lyle Della-Verde - A very stylish central midfielder, with plenty of goals in him, signed on a free from Fulham, after he'd been on trial with Staines.
- Ray Golbourne - A young 16 y/o regen centre back, managed to snap him up on a very little contract.
A horrible start to the season saw me out of both the FA Cup, and the FA trophy before the second rounds, leaving me to stare at my dismal performances in the league, losing 16 of the 46 matches in the end, scrapping into 5th place again, but defying the hardship of another playoff final, to take the team into the football league, for the first time in their history.
I'd like to note at this point I was given a contract improvement, to £250 per week, less than most of my players.
Della-Verde performer of the season with an average score of 7.24.
Season 3 - League 2 - The club turns Professional!!
No takeover just yet, but as a newly professional club, I was given a transfer budget for the first real time, and the Crown Meadow terraces were upgraded to 1400 seats.
A lot of transfers happened over the break, to try and keep the club floating in League 2, I'll try and list them all below.
This season also saw the appointment of Manuel Almunia as my assistant manager, leading to the possibility of many Spanish loan signings.
- Shani Tarashaj - Influenced by my love for the Swiss football league (and Grasshoppers!) I decided to take a chance by signing an unhappy Swiss striker for free, to lead the line in League 2.
- Altin Osmani - Striker - After scouring the Swiss Leagues, I saw this man had not agreed a new deal with Old Boys, so snapped up for my new-look side.
- Alban Bunjaku - Left Winger - Looking for another Albanian to help Osmani integrate into the club, didn't have to look much further than Derby County, after he was released by them.
- Sandro Galli - Another Swiss gentleman to try and bolster the middle of my defence, the weakest point (conceding 74 goals) of the previous season, brought in on a free transfer.
- Abdulgabar Al-Abbadie - Defensive Midfielder - Just to try something different, I signed him so I could have some more flexibility with formation choices
- Anton Ferdinand - I couldn't resist the opportunity to bring a Ferdinand to Lowestoft, even in his aging years, still didn't want a huge contract.
- Raphael Spiegel - Swiss goalkeeper, to try and boost the defence
Loaned Players in
- Guillermo Carillo - Right Back - Picked up by Almunia, allowed to join us for the whole season by Sevilla, with no outlay from us.
- Jose Carlos - Centre Back - Valencia Mestalla, much the same as the above player.
- Iosu Jimenez - Left Back - Baskonia, again, the same as above.
- Alberto Garcia - Central midfielder - quite possibly the best signing of the campaign, much better quality than the rest of the team
- Carlos Salinas - Striker - brought in as cover for the injured Altin Osmani
I think that's all the transfers for that season.
I started in a pre-season friendly against Leiston, where Osmani had his leg broken by a horrific challenge from the opposition.
And despite a good recovery, and a strong end to the season (Osmani and Tarashaj ended with 20 goals each, Osmani from 33 matches, Tarashaj, 42), all we could muster up was 21st place, amassing 49 points in the process.
Season 4 - League 2 - Motivate, and Consolidate
The pre-season break saw the upgrade of the Meadow to a 5000 capacity stadium, something I could only dream of 3 seasons ago.
It also saw the new appointment of Anton Ferdinand as the new club captain, due to the departure of the old captain, Rossi Jarvis.
Some of the better loan signings were kept, Jose Carlos, and Alberto Garcia found themselves selected again, and a few extras were made as well.
A new formation was also adopted to try and dry up the leaking defence of previous years, 5-2-1-2 was chosen.
- Nicholas Luchinger - A new right back, in from St Gallen for free, to play in the RWB position
- Joss Labadie - A strong central midfielder, to make the team a bit more physical
- Gregory Karlen - Backup striker to Osmani and Tarashaj, brough in for nothing
- Khalid Abdo - Secondary midfielder, should Garcia be called back from his loan
- Meriton Bytyqi - Signed mostly because of his name, and he's Swiss, a central defender just to make up the numbers for the new formation
- Erik Santamaria - The highest rated player in the team, at LWB, brought in on loan from Spain again.
- Franck Boumal - A very strong Belgian goalkeeper, brought in for a small monthly fee from Liege, Belgium.
A much better season defensively from the Trawlerboys, and it was nice to change the tactics around with the 5-2-1-2 as well.
Shani Tarashaj impressed again, amassing 33 goals for the season. Despite this, Carlos and Garcia both out-rated him, with averages both around 7.20.
A slight improvement in performances on last season saw me (once again) reach the last play-off place, and 3 more playoff games saw us advance to League 1.
We also hold the record for the most team goals in the league this season with 88 goals.
Season 5 - League 1 - Just more of the same, and a couple of marquee signings.
After sitting in League 2 for two years, I decided than Loan signings were possibly not the best way to deal with the extra demands of League 1, so they were all released back into the wild.
The summer also saw Dave Green fail in his attempted takeover, and the appointment of a new captain.
There were a lot of expired contracts by this point, and I decided to keep a very thin squad, with only the better players I could find, with larger contracts.
It also saw a new formation, the 4-1-2-1-2, as I like having a defensive midfielder to hover in front of the defense.
- Luke McGee - A permanent goalkeeper, scouted using the Genie tool, and snapped up just before our first league match.
- Saidy Janko - A Left Back, capable of playing as a wing-back.
- Ben Wyatt - A very capable right back, one of the higher rated players in the team.
- Dmitri Lavalee - Definitely didn't spell his name correctly, but he's a very competent centre back, very young too.
- David Davis - form the upper tiers of English football, I assumed he'd be a good central midfielder to have around.
- Fabian Delph - Brought in because I support Leeds United, and because he's a very good player.
- Mustapha Bah - My most expensive transfer to date, 40k well spent though.
- Vilmos Vanczak - An experienced Hungarian centre-back, appointed as the new captain.
- Ola Aina - A left/centre back brought in from our parent club, Norwich, as cover.
- Julian Osia - Very highly rated defensive midfielder. Dropped Al-Abbadie to the bench.
Much better season from my team, goals coming from all areas of the pitch, only 4 of the seventeen squad didn't score, Vanczak, Delph, McGee and Karlen.
I must have been carried away with all the new transfers because, by October (5/10 league games) I had failed the financial fair play rules.
By the end of the month, Dave Green and his consortium had attempted, and failed at another takeover bid, with me hoping that I'd be able to make some transfers in the January Window.
Our season was really beginning to take off by March, which meant that the attempt at a fans-trust takeover was not welcomed in the middle of the season. A new chairman was appointed in Bobby Nightingale.
By April we'd been promoted to the Championship, and were back within the FFP rules, lifting the embargo.
Season 6 - The Championship - Uncharted waters, and some dough.
Another year, another upgrade to the terracing at the Crown Meadow, this time, 3000 more seats installed instead of the standing room, making the stadium an all-seater, still at 5000 capacity. In the meantime, we were moved into the nearby Carrow Road, ground sharing with Norwich City.
Many of the attacking players at the club were reaching their playable limit last season, so I decided to let the majority of them go, and build from the ground up again.
A change of assistant manager for the campaign, Gary Kelly brought in. A whole bunch of new coaching staff as well, to improve the training state of the team.
Many changes to the squad, and the formation was moved to a 4-3-3 DM-wide-ish formation. Most of the team had very large promotion bonuses, leaving my wage budget a bit stretched.
- Antonis Grigoriou - Striker - Fantastic rated striker released from an Australian club, so snapped up with a healthy contract.
- Corentin Fiore - Central defender released from Standard Liege, highest rated DF in the team at this point.
- Kenji Gorre - Right winger, but capable of playing of the left.
- Casper de Norre - Right winger only, also rhymes nicely with Gorre.
- Daniel Toszer - A new-look central midfield for Lowestoft, with Labadie gone, I needed some physicality.
- Barry Bannan - An ex Leeds loanee, and also a very good central midfielder.
- Petteri Forsell - Left winger, as cover for either of the wingers. Finnish international, high stats.
- Hugo Cuypers - Belgian striker, young, lots of potential, and happy to sit on my bench.
- Charlie Taylor - Left back from Leeds, due to an injury to Ben Wyatt, finished out the season.
A couple of players were also sold during the summer window, such as Khalid Abdo, Gregory Karlen, and Louis Theophanus.
A very slow start to the league, saw us sat in the middle of the table by Christmas, but just 9 points between us and the top of the league.
A formation change back to a 4-4-2 due to injured midfielders, saw the team climb briefly just below the playoff, and then back to the 4-3-3 formation took us up to second place.
It was a good season defensively, with 3 of the 4 first team defenders averaging ratings above 7. 64 goals between the front 3 players also played a very large part. Just 59 goals conceded, and 90 scored.
I discovered the wonders of signing players very late for this season, making sure that the contracts were as low as I could get them, as my maximum allowed was £12500 per week (up to £15k after 5 league games)
Season 7 - We're THERE!!! The Premier League!!
Due to the youth of the team, and the very pleasing performance from last season, most of the team was kept very similar, with a few chosen (and expensive) additions.
The new campaign also saw the appointment of Corentin Fiore as the new captain, as Vanczak retired at the end of last season.
A very nice 11m transfer budget was also very pleasing to see, and a monstrous wage budget of something like 350k per week.
- Andrea Michaelides - 6.25m - Right back - With Saidy Janko as my only defender with average ratings under 7 last year, I splashed out on a 22 year old Cypriot from Genk.
- Timm Klose - 2m - Strong Swiss international centre back from Wolfsburg, marquee signing.
- Levent Gulen - Defensive cover, versatile player, average rating.
- Fabio Celli - Young Italian regen striker, more of a target man, very nice companion for the faster Grigoriou.
- Tom Lees - More defensive cover, and I've met the man, quite average.
- Shkelzen Gashi - Attacking midfielder, but can play on the left wing as well, signed because he's versatile, used to play for Grasshoppers, and topped the Swiss league goalscorers last season in real life.
- David Silva - (Yes, David Silva) - Couldn't believe he was being let go by Man City, even though he's now 34 years of age in game. Plays on the left wing.
- Roman Burki 12m - One of my favourite players of all time, fallen out of favour at Freiburg behind a ridiculous regen called 'Jo', very happy to make him my highest payed player, and breaking the bank considerably.
- Bas van de Berg - A young Swiss left back from Basel, has a higher rating than Ben Wyatt, and I had a £2.5m offer rejected, as they wanted £19m for him.
A few very good signings (Burki, Silva), and a few that I probably got carried away with (Lees, Gulen)
Strong pre-season match (just the one, as the team wasn't ready for any more) against Rochdale, saw us run out comfortable as 5-0 winners, with Bas van de Berg injured for 4-6 weeks.
There was also a new Stadium added to the pipeline, with Lowestoft due to move into the 14999 capacity Brian Cockrill Stadium on 20/6/2021, for the start of next season, will we be in the top flight or not?
I was offered a meagre contract of £500 per week as a top flight manager for 2 years (up from £475), so I suggested they raise it to £1200 and a new 4 year contract, which they brought back down to the original, so I suggested the 2 year contract with a raise to £750, at which point they walked away. Contract expires next June.
First match of the new season in the top flight. An away game. At Manchester City. 3-0 down by half time, so I bring David Silva off, and put Kenji Gorre in his place. 10 in-game minutes later, Gorre makes a run into their penalty area, and kicks the ball very hard at one of their defenders, and I watch, as the ball ricocheted into the goal, our first Premier League goal, and own goal. A 'drab match' as quoted by the text commentator, ending 3-1, not too disappointing, all things considered.
Second game, a home tie against West Brom, surely a better chance of securing our first win in the top flight? Nope, despite out-possessing our opponents 61%-39%, the game ended a very boring 0-0.
So not the most exciting start to the top flight, but that's where I sit currently, 13th in the Premier League, 1 point on the board. Next up is a League Cup game at home to League 2's Oxford United.
I sit 26k per week into the red of my wage budget, with 0 funds left in the transfer pot, but we're still very well within FFP, so no worries there.
6 years and 45 days into my managerial tenure, I still have the same motivation I had back in February, when I started playing this years iteration of Football Manager.
Additionally, if you want any full/partial screenshots, just ask.