Diamond Geezers, Episode 25: Another Legend Signs, a Great Destroyer Arrives
It was a bit of a foregone conclusion if you ask me, but now it’s official: Les Ferdinand is your Fans’ Player of the Year, and well deserved it is too. 48 games, 31 goals and 13 assists, 9 man of the match awards, and a season average rating of 8.17 — Sir Les, as we all knew already, is peerless. If anyone has any contacts at QPR, let me know. I will happily present him with a real-life award for being a Rushden and Diamonds legend, if anyone has any way of explaining this utter nonsense to him in a way that won’t make him take out a restraining order. I really could do without another one.
Byron Bubb also wins Young Player of the year, and upon seeing photos of the ceremony, bloody Fulham come back with a £1.2m bid for him. I am sorely tempted to accept the offer, since his actual value is only £160k, but I decide to hold firm and demand £2m. If they return with that, I’ll have to let him go. A single trip to the bargain basement with that kind of money could buy me a whole new midfield.
Hannu Tihinen completes a £900k move to Crewe, and is immediately valued at £2.7m and listed as one of their star players. I leave a rambling voicemail on the answerphone of my PA going into detail about how not jealous I am. Also, Ibrahim Said agrees a move to Ipswich, pending a work permit. Absolutely dreadful decision, Ibrahim. If you’d even looked around the Nene Wetlands before you dismissed a move here, you wouldn’t have considered going anywhere else.
My wonderful board of directors, with whom I’ve had no gripes so far at all, announce that they’re expanding Nene Park by 3,000 seats. Hopefully it’s for the Rushden Ultras in the Peter De Banke Terrace, without whom we’d be nothing. Then, they also tell me that they’ve upgraded the training ground, and I’m stunned to see that we now have “Top facilities plus a youth academy”! I am overjoyed by this news, and can’t wait to debut some local Irthlingborough lads in the first team in the years to come. I’m also surprised they managed to build world-class training facilities nearby without my noticing them, but if my board are going to be sneaky in ways that benefit me, I can certainly let it slide. What a wonderful bunch of people they must be.
Then, my scouts recommend Jim Paterson to me, a left-back I’m already fully aware of. I go to see if I can make a cheeky bid in for him… but what’s this?
Hah, that’s a good joke, Board. Very good. You’re all very funny people. But seriously, where has my £2.3m transfer budget gone?
YOU BUNCH OF IRRESPONSIBLE CRETINS. HOW AM I MEANT TO COMPETE IN THE TRANSFER MARKET IF YOU SPEND ALL MY MONEY ON A NEW TRAINING GROUND?! I NEVER LIKED YOU! I NEVER TRUSTED ANY OF YOU!!
Just like real life, the Rushden board have plunged the club into the red for no good reason. I tell you what, if this scuppers my already-agreed deal for Marcel Mahouvé, I’m going to start pulling down the chandeliers in our gold-plated nutrition centre. The youth players I get from this extravagance had better be wonderkids.
I’m almost spitting with fury as the board tell me they demand a respectable league position after shearing me of all my funds — but suddenly, the clouds part as quickly as they appeared, as the league write to me to say that we are being allocated £2.5m in TV rights for this season. THANK GOODNESS. Crikey, what a rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been on in the last ten minutes. It’s almost like the board knew what they were doing all along.
My transfer war chest has turned into a kitty, halved to just over £1m, but at least I *have* a kitty. I’m instantly told that Iván Moreno y Fabianesi and Gustavo Cañizares have paltry non-promotion release clauses activated, and I submit poacher bids for both. Onésimo decides he’d rather retire than play for us, despite finishing last season with 35 goals and 32 assists in 43 games, clearly still able to do the business. I note to keep a beady eye on Spanish regens for his reincarnation.
I am concerned with what to do about Mahouvé. At £600k, he is now going to cost more than half my remaining transfer funds, and even though he will have to be registered under the Offensive Weapons Act (1996) if we do sign him, I’m now questioning how much I really need him. I have Kah and Mad Dog who can play in there, and although Marcel is a significant upgrade on both, does that mean I should spunk half my cash? I have much to consider. Left back and a backup keeper are my priority, though I might be able to cover both of those with free transfers or loans. I shall try to bide my time. I really want Mahouvé. I mean, look at this.
I click Continue, and the news is not about Marcel Mahouvé. Oh no. It’s about something far more exciting. My latest pursuit of CM legends has ended with a massive signing: Bristol City, Barnsley and Santos (SA) are no match for the lure of the mighty Diamonds, and I’m over the moon to announce that, in December, Teddy Lucic will be moving to Northamptonshire! We’re getting a Teddy bear for Christmas, and I’ve never been more excited. Between him, Barzagli and Chiellini, I think it’s probably time to move John Convery out to a farm in the country. He’s transfer listed for £250k.
I make bids for several keepers and most of them fall by the wayside — either my bids are rejected, the players reject me outright, or they want far too much money every week just to sit on the bench and watch Hugo Pinheiro be much better than they are. I manage to sign a young keeper who’s definitely one for the future by the name of Jackie Wright, but I wouldn’t want to have to rely on him in a pinch. However, eventually, a gentleman keeper by the name of Lee Jones, who’s 31 and playing for Stockport, is gracious enough to understand that his future lies as number two to my great Portuguese stopper. He only asks for a few hundred quid a week, has all the important stats a lower league goalie should have (including Flair 1), and as an added bonus, has exactly the same name as a mate of mine, so he’s in. Welcome, Jonesy.
I’m delighted to get my keeper situation sorted out — and now all my attention turns to a new left back. I’ve got a few bids flying around, most notably for Christian Kalvenes, who broke my heart around a six months ago, but is far more interested (presumably) now that I’ve been named Manager of the Year. Oh, and we’re league champions and Vans Trophy holders, sure.
My bid for Gustavo Cañizares comes to nothing, but in better news, Cambridge United and Bournemouth both meet my £250k valuation for John Convery, he picks the Cherries, and I wave him a half-hearted goodbye with a smirk in the side of my mouth. They’ve paid well over the odds for him, and we’ve made a profit. Thank you Sean O’Driscoll.
And the hits keep on coming! He’s agreed, he’s signed! Another CM legend joins Cristiano Ronaldo’s house share on Diamond Drive! #WelcomeKalvenes
Big news from the 2002 World Cup — England have crashed out in the second round to the Republic of Ireland, of all teams. A 2–1 victory for the men in green presumably means that Sven-Göran Eriksson’s days as manager are numbered. Perhaps it’s time for a certain Manager of the Year in a very fetching ruffled shirt to take the reins?
The days tick by, and all of a sudden, it’s the 1st of July. The promised land. The day where all our dreams (and transfers) come true. Barzagli joins, and tons of absolute legends are out of contract: John Heitinga, Matt Le Tissier, Roberto Baggio, Aldair, Nicolas Anelka, Denis Irwin, David Seaman, Paul Gascoigne, Alessandro Costacurta, Rob Lee, David Ginola, Ole Solskjaer and Laurent Blanc are all free, and they’re just the ones on my shortlist. The long list is even longer, and I chuck money at virtually everyone. I’m particularly excited to see that Heitinga is happy to be a hot prospect (?!) on relatively low wages, so I offer them, but fully expect someone else will steal him before I get the chance to show him around our ostentatious new youth and training facilities.
We miss out on Michael Clegg, Ole Solskjaer, Nicolas Anelka (phew), David Ginola and Iván Kaviedes. I’m still waiting to hear about Mahouvé — it feels like weeks since he agreed to my terms. I lose Jim Paterson to Derby County, but they bid three times my transfer budget for him, so I didn’t have much say in the matter. I’m very happy with my squad, I just want to augment it with a homicidal DMC and maybe a legend or two, and we can start preparing for our first game of the season against QPR at Nene Park. That is, unless, I can convince some world-class sides to play money-spinning pre-season friendlies against us. I fax Ajax, Barcelona and Juventus asking if they want a game. There’s no response.
And then, suddenly, it happens. Whoever holds the stamp at the work permits department in some dreadful office in London finally gets their act together, thumps that ink down, and I’ve got my man. QPR, Cardiff, Norwich, Brighton, Blackpool — you’d better buy some extra Deep Heat for your attacking midfielders, because their groins have never been in so much danger.