Managing At The Grassroots #1 – The Tale of a Tough Season

Welcome to a new series on The Long Ball – Managing At The Grassroots. In this series, Huw Owen takes us with him through the trials and tribulations of being a manager at grassroots level. Today, we find out more about the man and the club in question…

So, welcome reader, to this, my first blog. The aim of this blog is to give you an insight into life as a grassroots manager throughout the season. Before I launch into the story of how I ended up here, let me give you a little bit of background. I’m Huw Owen, 25, soon to be 26 and about 2 weeks before the start of last season, I was appointed as Manager of the Cardiff Academicals FC second team.

The club was founded in 1979, playing in the Cardiff and District Amateur football league. A year later, the second team was founded, and since then, we have gone from strength to strength with the Firsts playing in the Premier Division and the Seconds in Division Three. The club also has an Over 35’s and 45’s veterans teams, playing in the Bristol Casuals League and a Youth Team playing in the South Wales Youth league.

Since then, various managers have taken the reigns and, two weeks before the start of the season, it was my turn. I’d joined the club in November 2014 due to lack of playing time at my old side, and having been through a season where we finished bottom, was expecting to line up as a player for the new season. However, that was all to change when I got a Facebook message asking if I would take over as the old manager, appointed a month previously, had to stand down due to work commitments.

I hastily took over, and having not had any pre-season games to shape my squad, went straight into the first league game, against one of the favourites for the league. This game was to set the tone for our season; with about 20 minutes to go, we were 3-2 down, when we thought we’d equalised. However, that was not to be, as the referee (who happened to be the opposition manager – a common occurrence at grassroots level!) blew up for a dodgy offside. Despite our best efforts to attack and equalise, we conceded two on the break and went down 5-2.

This game set the tone for our season, and despite some great wins, a 6-0 and 4-0 against the same team, a 2-1 after starting the game with 10 men, and another 2-1 victory over the same team in the cup, after going down to 10 men to a stupid red card, we finished bottom again.

This all sounds like doom and gloom, however, we actually picked up more points than last season, and the performances we put in over the course of the season and the way we fought back from seemingly insurmountable deficits suggest to me that we’re actually a mid-table side. We need to work on our consistency and our start to games, but with the majority of last season’s team re-signing, and a few new faces coming in, I’m quietly confident for the new season.

On a final note, at our club AGM, I was elected as Club Secretary, so there will probably be updates on the life as a Secretary as well!

The next blog will feature the first couple of weeks of pre-season, hopefully some signings, training and news of our first few friendlies.

You can find Huw on Twitter @HuwOwen12. Let him know what you think and tune in for the next instalment of Managing At The Grassroots.

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