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Old 08-24-2013, 09:55 AM   #1
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The Beautiful Game - Closed for DeathsKnight



The beautiful game … that’s what they call it and Lisa had always agreed, though the cold and the wet and the muddy mire which characterised the winter pitches of clubs at this level seemed to contradict that image. To her right sat a business colleague, Martin who though claiming an interest in football had seemed more eager when the offer of ‘pre-and-post match lunch/buffet’ together with free bar and seats in the director’s box was made. Lisa chuckled to herself as she watched the façade of civility slipping slightly as Martin conversed with the home club’s Vice-Chairman. The pre-match chilli and rice had not quite lived up to his expectations, nor the half time coffee/biscuit combination, yet for her part their warming qualities had been all that Lisa needed for indeed though partially protected by the shelters housing the home and away team ‘dug-outs’ it was bitterly cold. A factor not alleviated by perching on the flip-up plastic seats that offered no more comfort that the standard stand seating despite being designated as reserved for guests.

”You know who that is …?”

Martin hissed in her ear indicating the man to her left. Though she nodded, the gesture was most likely lost amongst the swathe of hat and scarf as her colleague continued regardless.

”That’s Ivan Thovenski … the Russian soccer star … he’s manager of … “[/i]

Lisa nodded and interrupted irritated by Martin’s assumption that she knew less about football than he.

”I know who he is … “

She told him in a pointed aside. She had seen Ivan take the seat two down from her and not only recognised him, but had actually been surreptitiously watching him throughout the uneventful first half. It was clear that he was there on ‘business’ rather than pleasure, an impression she had quickly checked by pulling out her phone and scrolling through the future fixtures confirming that Ivan’s team were indeed scheduled to play that day’s away team in just over a week’s time. And as such she was sure he would not appreciate Martin’s overt interest, any more than her own covert observations and with effort dragged her attention back to the lack lustre second half game on the pitch.

She had heard the rumours about him of course, that he had been a player of some standard back in Russia, but she had not listened to gossip as to his reasons for coming over to the UK, much less the speculation of why a man such as he would take on the management of a club at the level at which he was currently involved. Based on having watched a pre-season friendly and again an away game in the October, Lisa calculated that Ivan’s team would be looking at a mid-table team placement at the end of the season, not that she expected that their manager would be satisfied by such a placing. By reputation Ivan was known to be dogged and single minded, but those descriptions did not fully do him justice; she could not help but find him impressive in stature: A ‘great bear of a man’ was the analogy that came to mind. She suspected there was a gentle side to him and indeed she had the impression that he was not one to waste words, even in his mother tongue, yet, in contrast she doubted that he would be one to hold back his feelings when riled either and there had already been some side-of-the-pitch episodes that bore witness to this.

Ivan did not know Lisa or of her business or personal interest in football, but it had crossed her mind that her company might be persuaded to put an offer of sponsorship in his direction. The team were solid and not at risk of relegation and, like it or not, their association with Ivan was actually in their favour from a commercial point of view. She glanced to her side once more and saw him fully focused upon annotating the team sheet and making sketches into a gridded pad, which fascinated Lisa almost as much as the man himself.

A line of expletives emanating from somewhere behind her brought Lisa to the realisation that she had been caught day-dreaming. Looking about she tried to discern what had happened. It seemed the penalty had been taken … unsuccessfully. But there had been an ‘incident in front of goal’ of some sort and the home goalkeeper was on the floor and requiring treatment. She turned to Martin, though reluctant to ask him what happened.

”That doesn’t look good…”

She commented neutrally instead, trying to glean from his reply what might have led to the fact that a player for the home team was being stretchered off. The home crowd definitely weren’t impressed. On the pitch both managers were at the limit of their technical areas. Behind them another stream of ‘choice language’ was directed towards the officials. Instinctively Lisa turned towards the source of the outbursts and noted that Ivan had done the same. Shorter as she was she could not spot the individual, but Ivan she saw had made eye contact with the perpetrator no doubt trying to nip the situation in the bud. Initially the ploy worked and their joint attention returned the pitch where the goalkeeper was limping off and a substitution was waiting to be made. Though this seemed to calm the crowds marginally, behind them the situation became exacerbated by the realisation of who Ivan was. This time it seemed a group of about 3 spectators had decided to provoke Ivan by a stream of heckling personal abuse the content of which Lisa found she was actually shocked by. She was convinced that there was no way this wasn’t going to kick off as she saw Martin and the Club Vice-Chairman looking on helplessly.

To Lisa's surprise it was Ivan who got to his feet and seemed to front up to the hecklers.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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Ivan Thovenski



Ivan rose to his feet and turned to face the people hackling him, his eyes flashing with a clear warning. It also helped that he looked like a man who could break you in half...matter of fact he could kill, but that was in the past, things these people did not need know. When he spoke his deep timbered voice sounded more like the growl from a bear,

"Mind your language plut, if there is something you wish to say, let's step away from the females seated here and we can discuss your problem with me."

There was a sudden intense silence as his eyes coldly searched the group,

"Nyet? Then keep your filth to yourself or I will forget my own manners."

He turned and sat down again, he had noticed the woman seated just behind him and it irked him that people would use the language these men used near a woman. He shook his head and turned his attention to the gridlined pages on his lap, using a pen to fill in positions, defense zones and attack formations of his opponents.

"Coach, it seems like their defense is weak on the left wing."

He nodded at the player, his midfielder was one of the three players he had brought along to watch and see what they could learn.

"Yes, you will have to remember that it is also their strongest weapon, they get through attacks on the left."

During their discussion, the final whistle blew, 2:1 to the home team, he got to his feet, closing the book and looked behind them, glaring at the group, who instead of meeting his gaze, hung their heads as they filed away,

"Sobaki they would rather bite one in the back than face him"

"Uhm what is a sobahi?"

Ivan looked over his shoulder,

"So-ba-ki, it means dogs"

He pulled on his cap, proudly displaying the Green Dale FC logo as he sauntered towards the exit.
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Old 08-25-2013, 08:11 AM   #3
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Lisa had seen Ivan becoming ‘animated’ in the technical area and knew that he was a man who was passionate about the game and whilst she suspected he had a quick temper she had never actually witnessed it before now. Even the sight of his physique alone as he stood and turned to glare at the hecklers was enough to intimidate, but the angry growl with which he addressed them would surely make any but the bravest, or most foolish back down.

"Mind your language plut, if there is something you wish to say, let's step away from the females seated here and we can discuss your problem with me."

It seemed he had some old fashioned values, something Lisa chalked up in his favour rather than take feminist objection to. She supposed that the ‘official’ way to diffuse the situation was to remind the group of the ‘respect’ rules regarding fan chants and comments, but neither would have been as effective for this particular group.

"Nyet? Then keep your filth to yourself or I will forget my own manners."

His voice carried back to the hecklers behind, the threat clearly issued. The tension lasted but seconds and then Ivan turned round and was instantly back in conversation with his players, the group behind conspicuous by their silence. Exhaling a breath she had not been aware she held, Lisa turned back to the men to her other side. It was time to pull rank over her junior colleague and to free the poor Vice-Chairman from Martin’s endless chatter.

”I definitely think we can do something about cup sponsorship …”

She told the man as the whistle blew to an advantageous result.

”And of course as the ‘hub-club’ of the league I will definitely consider extending our existing contributions to stadium running costs, subject to a review of your deployment of stewards.”

She clarified. Martin, eager to be seen as instrumental in the negotiations interrupted with a glance across at Ivan and his players.

”Obviously they don’t have to follow respect rules in Russia,”

Irritated by his disrespectful remark, Maxine turned to her junior colleague.

”I saw no fault in Mr Thovenski’s response.”

She told him pointedly, her attention returning to the other man.

”If there had been more stewards deployed towards the back of the stadium, then that situation could have been pre-empted. As it was, it needed to be dealt with in an … assertive ... manner.”

She looked from one man to the other to ensure that she had made her evaluation of the incident clear.

”I saw no other club official attempting to control that group of spectators, which of course is the club’s obligation.”

Her accusation that neither of them had felt obliged to get involved was clear.

”Our company cannot be associated with any club where crowd control becomes an issue. In which case, we would have to review our offer to contribute to stadium running costs.”

Perhaps she should not have issued that threat, but it was important that it was understood that despite her interest in that league and that particular competition Lisa was no pushover when it came to business investment. Her comment was not welcomed by either man. Usually she went into the boardroom after the match and chatted with the club officials, but as it was she thought she would leave that to Martin this time and of course it would be a long time before she allowed him to attend a game on a business footing again.

”Lisa!”

She had only made it a short distance towards the exit when she heard her name called.

”Leaving so soon?”

She smiled as she greeted the blazered man who embraced her before drawing back with a grin.

”Still throwing money at us, I hope?”

He asked causing her to laugh.

”It’s not quite like that, as I’ve had to make clear this evening.”

He gave an exaggerated grimace.

”Oh dear, perhaps best you don’t tell me?”

She grinned. She had known Mike for years now and got on with him on a personal as well as professional level as the Chairman of Local Cup Competitions.

”Nothing serious,”

She reassured him.

”But you could help me out. I have an interest in Green Dale FC.
They have a game next week, which I’d like to attend.”


He raised an eyebrow.

” … if it’s sponsorship you’re considering, then I think they’d welcome you with open arms. But to be frank, many potential sponsors seem to be … reluctant … to invest …”

Lisa nodded, she was aware of the rumoured negative associations the new manager brought with him.

”... I prefer to judge for myself. Green Dale FC could prove an … interesting prospect ...”

The two walked companionably towards the exit.

”I would offer you an introduction myself, but it seems Ivan is not one to hang around after a match.”

Paul nodded towards the unmistakeable form of Ivan as he moved out of the main gate.

” … I’m not sure he’d be in the mood to discuss business at the moment…”

She replied cryptically, their companionable chat interrupted suddenly.

”Ivan’s always ready to talk business. Just... just... wait there! … “

Lisa had no time to protest as the young man, a Green Dale FC player judging by his team logo went running after Ivan’s retreating form.

”Looks like they’re keener than I thought.”

Paul remarked.

”And have great hearing … “

Lisa added realising that the young player must have been eavesdropping on at least some of the conversations she’d been having since the end of the game.

”I’m not so sure this is the best place for introductions,”

She told Paul as she watched the player reach Ivan and point back at her and wondered just how many of her words would be reported to him. Either way she doubted he was the sort of man who would see it his job to go out of his way to accommodate a possible sponsor... and she could only hope that this impromptu interference would not make her approach to the club 'problematic'...

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Old 08-25-2013, 09:04 AM   #4
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Ivan was still pocusing on how to break the left wing spear when a voice interupted his train of thought. He paused and waited for the forward to catch up, who, despite his youth, was one of the natural talents and sure to become a star player.

"Coach, there is somebody you got to meet."

Dan pointed and Ivan noticed the woman who was seated next to him standing with Mike, the Chairman of the club competitions. He arched an eyebrow and slowly nodded,

"I'll take your word on it, tell the others I'll be along."

He handed Dan his book and walked over, people stepping out of his way, without him being pushy or even scowled at them, it was just his size. He stopped short of the pair, nodding at Mike,

"Mike, good to see you."

He faced the woman and stuck out his hand,

"Ivan Thovenski"
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:25 AM   #5
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Lisa watched Ivan looking in their direction and was actually surprised when he turned and began to make his way back towards them. Again she was aware of how other people seemed to give him a wide berth and actually experienced a nervous flutter as he came to a halt just before them.

"Mike, good to see you."

She saw the familiar greeting between the two men, but realised that she should not be surprised that they would know each other.

"Ivan Thovenski"

He held his hand out in introduction. Lisa lifted her eyes to his with a smile and responded.

”Lisa Hammond, a pleasure to meet you Mr Thovenski.”

The strength of his hand compared to hers as they shook in greeting was as impressive as the rest of him.

”Lisa and I were just talking about her interest in your team. One of your players overheard and insisted on dragging you back here.”

Mike explained clarifying the situation.

”This isn’t really the place to talk business, but, my company sponsors the Regional Cup and have an interest in sponsorship within this level of football.
I was given to understand that you might be interested in pursuing sponsorship.”


She allowed Mike to interrupt.

”Lisa here takes a real interest in our leagues… and our teams of course.”

Lisa clarified.

”Negotiations aside, I’d very much like to attend your next home game. As Mike says, my interest goes beyond just providing money randomly. I know that your team is ripe for development and … I think I could support you in that.”

She stated simply.
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:29 AM   #6
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He listened to the explanation and the veiled offer, he nodded slowly, his thoughts still mostly preocupied with the left spear, getting goals without giving away any.

"Well I can not offer you special treatment as there was here today, but I can at least offer you dry seating."

A sardonic little smile touched his lips,

"You have to excuse me, being Russian seems to count against me. The taint that Communism and the KGB left on the world has threatened more than one pottential sponsor away."

He shrugged,

"Given time and circumstances, I feel the team is doing as good as it could and with a bit of support from the community and perhaps a sponsor to motivate the players a bit more..."

He paused for a moment,

"To be totally honest it will be an honor to receive you, if you have time you can visit one of our training sessions."

It was very generous of him and very much out of character, this surprised Mike and the look on his face showed as much,

"But the man you came with..."

Ivan shook his head,

"I do not like him, pompous and no real love for the game. He will not be as welcome as yourself sudarynya. Now if you will excuse me, I have to get going, my companions wish to get home."

As an afterthought, he produced a contact card and handed it to her,

"Pozzhe Mike"

A handshake was exchanged, he nodded at Lisa, producing an almost bow towards her,

"Ma'am"

He turned and walked off
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:51 AM   #7
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"Well I can not offer you special treatment as there was here today, but I can at least offer you dry seating."

She couldn't help but smile at the hidden insult. He assumed she was some executive in search of hospitality and status. It was a fair assumption and one that she could easily refute by action rather than taking issue right there.

"You have to excuse me, being Russian seems to count against me. The taint that Communism and the KGB left on the world has threatened more than one pottential sponsor away."

It wasn't anything she didn't know, but she respected him for being upfront with her.

"Given time and circumstances, I feel the team is doing as good as it could and with a bit of support from the community and perhaps a sponsor to motivate the players a bit more..."

She nodded. That was her evaluation. They had gained less support than the other league teams and were therefore playing at a disadvantage. if things were made more equitable, then she believed that this could assist them to progress.

"To be totally honest it will be an honor to receive you, if you have time you can visit one of our training sessions."

She flushed with pleasure and nodded.

"Thank you, I will definitely spare the time. Just tell me the time and place."

She told him not wanting to miss out an offer so spontaneously given.

"But the man you came with ... I do not like him, pompous and no real love for the game. He will not be as welcome as yourself sudarynya.

She smiled at his reference to Martin and credited him with being a good judge of character. She had no idea what 'sudarynya' meant, but took it to be complementary. There was one thing she felt compelled to clarify however.

"For the record Mr Thovenski, I regret to tell you that man you refer to came with me."

She quirked a smile.

"However I can assure you that I will keep him behind a desk from now on and not inflict him upon the footballing world anytime soon..."

She had responded with good humour, but made it clear that it was she who was very much in control of her errant junior colleague.

"Now if you will excuse me, I have to get going, my companions wish to get home."

She accepted the card he drew out and handed to her.

"Thank you, I'll send you my contact details so that you can let me know about training."

She told him.

"Pozzhe Mike"

He shook hands with Mike, but this time gave a courteous nod in her direction.

"Ma'am"

She nodded and watched him make his way easily through the crowd.

" .. wow ... "

Beside her Mike grinned.

"Interesting isn't he? Our 'ex-communist' friend?"

She laughed.

"He's certainly a no-nonsense type. I like that."

She approved.

"But ... is there anything I should know before considering a business link with Green Dale? You seem to know him pretty well. You would tell me if there were anything beyond simple prejudice behind the lack of sponsors wouldn't you Mike?"

She asked.

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Old 08-25-2013, 11:21 AM   #8
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Mike shrugged,

"First time news reached us that he was coming over there was quite some stir, he was well-renowned in his playing days, not for his skill, but for his mind. He read the game perfectly. Many clubs wanted that kind of coach, who could adapt as the game went on. There was quite a squabble and then he did show up, as manager of Green Dale, it ruffled the whole hen house and of course made him a black sheep."

Mike shook his head,

"To be honest he weathered it all and even got the team back into shape, his training is quite demanding and from the sound of it, he made the guys run themselves into shape before he started working on game-play and tactics. Most of the original team quit, the sub bench got their chance and they have made vast improvements. The only thing that keeps sponsors away is mud thrown onto him from the guys who left and his rather blunt attitude towards people who want to tell him how to run the club. He can be quite a hardnose if he wish, but he can be civil as you saw, that is what I know, I'd still caution you to tread lightly though."
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #9
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Lisa listened with interest and Mike filled her in on a few details about Ivan. Nothing she heard put her off the man or the team he ran, but it was worth having that information all the same.

"The only thing that keeps sponsors away is mud thrown onto him from the guys who left and his rather blunt attitude towards people who want to tell him how to run the club. He can be quite a hardnose if he wish, but he can be civil as you saw, that is what I know, I'd still caution you to tread lightly though."

She kissed his cheek reassuringly.

"You know me, I don't take gambles in business."

She reassured him as they parted company. And of course this was all business. Naturally she was intrigued by the Russian manager, who wouldn't be and how he was perceived would definitely make a difference to the viability of the sponsorship, but she loved football and felt that in this case she could really make a difference to the team's chances by a relatively small financial contribution.

She waited until the following day to contact him and decided to text her details to him. She gave him her personal mobile number rather than an office contact.
She couldn't risk him having any dealings with Martin after all, she justified.

It would now be up to him to make the next contact she decided as she settled down to read the Sunday papers as she always did after lunch.

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Old 08-25-2013, 01:12 PM   #10
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Ivan had dropped off the players and have settled into his small apartment, it was enough to house him and that suited him just fine, since he wasn't there most of the time. Sunday morning found him in his tracksuit, working up a sweat, he made sure that he never asked more from his players than what he could do himself, fitness-wise of course. The jog was a leisurely one in fact and even though he never asked them for it, various members of the team joined him on his route, it was more team-building than anything strenious. All of them had jobs and usually weekends was the best way to get heavy training and team-building done.

When he got home, he noticed the led light flashing, he picked it up and saw it to be a text message, he didn't know the number, so he went for a shower, fixed a meal and went back to his study of the tactics to get onto the field that week. It was only when he was heading for bed that he noticed the still flashing light, the frown he had as he opened the messaged disappeared as he read the message, he typed his reply:

"Tuesday, 17h30 start, at Green Dale field, wear something warm"

He sent it and placed the phone on charge as he went to bed, Monday morning he was up early, again jogging along his route, his mind not taking in any of the scenery as he formulated plans for the upcoming match. By the time he made it home, he showered and went to work on writing down the new plans and which players to use in the match.
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Old 08-25-2013, 03:34 PM   #11
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"Tuesday, 17h30 start, at Green Dale field, wear something warm"

He sent her the information by text. He definitely wasn't trying to 'woo' her sponsorship she surmised, but then again it was somewhat refreshing to find a guy who didn't play games. Or rather find a manager, she corrected mentally. She definitely didn't see him as just a guy ... no way ...

Monday was interesting. Martin it seemed had more than outstayed his welcome at the club. Given her words to the Vice Chairman and her early exit which was a break in her usual routine, she had received a call from the Club Chairman in an obvious attempt to mend bridges. After doing some reassurance work she summoned Martin to her office and lectured him about 'conduct when representing the company' and watched him slouch off sullenly and stay out of her way for the remainder of the day. She was busy and decided to clear her diary for the next afternoon and the following morning, opting to work from home on the Wednesday to give her chance for 'follow up' on the possible sponsorship deal with Green Dale FC.

Tuesday morning was back to business proper. Real Estate was the day job that enabled her to pursue her 'hobby'. After responding to email and attending meeting after meeting, she headed for a business lunch that went from a 1 pm start and lasted until 3 pm. An hour and a half for her to head home, power nap off her excesses and then she headed for the shower before dressing appropriately and heading off to Green Dale field, arriving at 5 pm.

Lisa:

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Old 08-25-2013, 04:01 PM   #12
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Monday afternoon was spent on fitness, he ran the whole group ragged and sent them home, Tuesday passed far too quickly and he found that he was running late, setting his woodwork aside, he went through the checklist of items he still needed to make and then headed for the field, as he pulled into the parking area, he was surprised to see a strange car parked in the lot, but it didn't bother him. He pulled out the training gear from the boot and backseat, lugging it all to the entrance, he glanced back at the car and the face looking back at him seemed familiar.

He frowned, he didn't expect her to come, then he shrugged, she was here, so let her see his team go through their paces and talk to them herself, that was as good as it got around here. He went onto the field and set up the dummies for the goalkeeper and the cones for the tactic practices, when he was done he did a few warm-up stretches and as there was still time left, he drew a ball from the bag and started to dribbel with it, visualising what he wanted the players to do, how to attack through the left wing, finishing off with a pin point strike on the goal. Of course all too easy with the lack of opponents, only then did he notice her standing next to the field,

"Ah miss Hammond, I am glad you could make it."

He picked up the ball and came walking over to her,

"And you took in mind my suggestion of warm clothing. That is good, the evenings can become cold even in summer."

Any further comments from him got cut short by a wolf whistle, he turned his attention at the group of players who have just arrived,

"Just for that you lot do six laps! Double time, we have much to do!"

There was a good natured groan and grumble from the group, but they warmed up and started running around the field,

"I am sorry miss Hammond, at times they act before thinking, like bunch of kids."

He looked at the group as they came passed,

"Here is coaching box, please have a seat, you will be able to see and hear everything."

He led her to the clear plastic shelter, the bench cushioned, but threadbare, the chair next to the bench in a much better condition and also much more comfortable.

"If you will excuse me, I have to help them pick up the pace. I will be back to answer any question you have."

He caught up with the group on their second pass and soon had them running faster, he kept up with them until they finished, then he explained the plan, setting up his best defensive players against his attacking players, while the forwards took their shots at goal, keepingg the goalkeeper busy. He watched as the drill was performed and then headed back to where Lisa sat, taking a seat on the bench he kept a sharp eye on the guys as they practiced.
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Old 08-25-2013, 04:22 PM   #13
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She saw him arrive and saw him look towards her car, but assumed that he had not realised it was she who was sat there. She contented herself by watching him unload his gear and set up the equipment on the filed. Locking the car, she headed towards the field in time to watch him being his own warm up. She couldn't help but admire him as he warmed up and then set to working with the ball. It was then when he realised that he was being watched.

"Ah miss Hammond, I am glad you could make it."

He approached her unselfconsciously ball in hand and Lisa couldn't help but notice how different he was to all the guys she knew, both in football and out.

"And you took in mind my suggestion of warm clothing. That is good, the evenings can become cold even in summer."

She was intending to tell him that she didn't need any advice on how to dress appropriately for football or anything else, but a wolf whistle interrupted them. She looked across to see a group of players arriving.

"Just for that you lot do six laps! Double time, we have much to do!"

She couldn't help but notice the good natured banter between Ivan and his men, though it didn't prevent them from obviously respecting him as was evidenced by the way they set about their 'punishment'.

"I am sorry miss Hammond, at times they act before thinking, like bunch of kids."

She laughed and shook her head.

"Boys will be boys ... "

She commented unperturbed moving the to coaching box and the seat that he directed her to.

"If you will excuse me, I have to help them pick up the pace. I will be back to answer any question you have."

She assured him that he should continue as if she wasn't there and watched as he joined the team and began to put them through their paces. With no team sheet and of course no numbers by which to identify them she had no idea of their names, but there were a few faces she recognised who had transferred into the team after previous players had left after Ivan's arrival. The attack was developing, she noted and the defense was actually surprisingly solid. The goal keeper had been promoted from the rank of sub goalie and seemed to be developing well.

So concentrated was she upon the drills that she only belatedly realised that Ivan has taken a seat on the bench in the box.

"I heard you'd signed a new substitute goal keeper, how's that working out?"

She asked watching the play as one of the forwards attempted an unsuccessful shot on goal.

"This one's right handed...?"

She nodded towards the goal keeper. That would be good for left winged attacks of the next team that they would play against.
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:12 AM   #14
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"He is very young, barely out of school, but he is determined and fearless, good qualities for a keeper."

He nodded at her remark,

"Yes he is, I have been working on his left as well, he is turning into quite a good player, have six clean sheets by now, much better than it was before. He is learning how to organize defense and he moves exactly when he must."

This time Dan took his shot at goal and it snuck passed after the goalie couldn't block it, nor tip it away, he nodded towards Dan,

"That is the one who you met at the game. Dan Summers, he is also young, but a natural goal scorer, I think he will make it big."

He noticed a slight deviation on the exercise,

"Kurt! What are you doing?"

The midfielder paused, sensing danger in the voice that called out,

"Adapting coach! What if they have a backup attack which we didn't see?"

Ivan looked at Kurt for a while and then nodded,

"Show me!"

The team continued, but the defense kept solid, it was clear that his defensive backs was determined to not let anything passed them.

"Kurt Thatcher, he sat with me, he is the vice-captain and working really hard to get the captain's armband. He is just too impulsive at times, act without thought."

He watched as Kurt tried another tactic, switching to a midfield attack, but again it got smothered and he nodded,

"Defense is good, we will need an attack."
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:04 AM   #15
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She listened to Ivan tell her about his goal keeper and as she had known he knew his players well.

"That is the one who you met at the game. Dan Summers, he is also young, but a natural goal scorer, I think he will make it big."

She nodded recognising the eager young man then watched the interaction between the midfielder Kurt and Ivan's directions to him.

"Kurt Thatcher, he sat with me, he is the vice-captain and working really hard to get the captain's armband. He is just too impulsive at times, act without thought."

She chuckled.

"Yes, I saw that."

She commented briefly and watched the young man playing. She loved this level of football, everyone concerned was just so passionate about the game.

"Defense is good, we will need an attack."

She knew that he had lost a few of the key attack players when he had taken over and perhaps it was those players who were the hardest to develop.

"If you had an injection of money, how would you want to see it spent?"

She asked him.

"I know that traditionally sponsorship goes to the club Chairman and it is he, or she who decides how it is channelled, but that's not the way I work. I want to make a difference, so who better to ask then the manager?"

She rationalised.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:14 AM   #16
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"Training facilities."

He glanced at her, before turning his attention to the group again,

"Attack Congo!"

Immediately a shift in attacking positions happened and the defense had to scramble into mark their men.

"It is all well to chase them around, but they need more development, road work and dribbling on a field is enough if you wish to remain in the competition, but to win it you need power and of course tactical knowlege. I can teach them only so much on the field with limited equipment."

He motioned to the stadium, or rather lack thereof,

"Fans will come if the team performs, that will bring in funds needed to upgrade, that will bring even more funds to actually give the players a match bonus."

He spread his hands,

"These guys are here because they love the game, I would want to see them rewarded with more than just good words from me. Of course it will encourage them to do their best if I buy Dobermans with the cash and set them loose on them if they lose, but I fear the dogs may die if they bite them."

He chuckled,

"A bad joke, but they always think I am serious when I say it."
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:40 AM   #17
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"Training facilities."

He told her simply.

"It is all well to chase them around, but they need more development, road work and dribbling on a field is enough if you wish to remain in the competition, but to win it you need power and of course tactical knowlege. I can teach them only so much on the field with limited equipment."

She looked back towards the stadium. To compete at this level there was a minimum requirement of a stand offering seating. There was of course limited shelter for standing spectators on either side as per regulations, but the structures were far from permanent and she knew from experience that they were partially dismantled when not in long term use and of course if there should be anything near even moderate wind speed forecast.

"Fans will come if the team performs, that will bring in funds needed to upgrade, that will bring even more funds to actually give the players a match bonus.
These guys are here because they love the game, I would want to see them rewarded with more than just good words from me."


It was the rhetoric, the frustration of so many managers at that level. Ivan had ambition, but no business plan. He was all heart and passion and she found no fault in that.

"Of course it will encourage them to do their best if I buy Dobermans with the cash and set them loose on them if they lose, but I fear the dogs may die if they bite them."

She laughed at his comment.

"A bad joke, but they always think I am serious when I say it."

She grinned.

"And would gain you a reputation for animal cruelty ..."

She commented lightly.

She watched the team in silence for long moments, her mind working rapidly.

"What you're describing is a five year plan."

She said finally.

"We're already towards the end of this season, so it would make sense to work towards plans for next season as our year one ... "

She was lost in thought.

"It gives me a lot to consider ... "

She murmured almost to herself.

"I think in the first instance, I'd need to have a clearer idea of what you'd want as the essentials for effective training and what an ideal wish list would be. I have no idea what equipment you consider you'd need to be able to teach them effectively."

She looked across at the big man beside her.

"Once I know what it is we're talking about then I can submit my plans to our board and once an offer has been ratified, then I'll approach your chairman.
What's your relationship with him like?"
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:40 AM   #18
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"Well first of all we will need on-field training aids, a basic gymnasium will also make the working out part easier. For a start of course, I know of various equipment to get as I trained for years with it, but it is also very expensive and like you said, long-term. The ideal wish-list will be something you will find on the Premier teams' shopping lists, but for now I would need ankle weights, training rings, speed rungs, training arches, adjustable hurdles, passing gates and speed resistors."

He ran a hand through his hair and turned his attention to her,

"It is a long list, but as you can see, we don't have much to work with right now. Even the defender wall for the goalkeeper and place kick practice is what I made myself."

He gave a dry chuckle,

"Our chairman, we have a love-hate relationship, he hates my methods to instil discipline, but he loves the winning and when we draw against the stronger contenders. More wins, more supporters and perhaps promotion might be a very good carrot, but with every carrot there should be a stick. What would your's be do you think?"
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:10 AM   #19
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She listened to him list his needs, mentally taking note and actually impressed by the scope of his ambition. It was clear that he came from a much higher ranking level of football, but she saw no harm in aiming high. In fact she was becoming increasingly impressed by the Green Dale FC Manager.

"It is a long list, but as you can see, we don't have much to work with right now. Even the defender wall for the goalkeeper and place kick practice is what I made myself."

She nodded. She had seen similar throughout the league, but no teams were so disadvantaged as this one she realised.

"Our chairman, we have a love-hate relationship, he hates my methods to instil discipline, but he loves the winning and when we draw against the stronger contenders. More wins, more supporters and perhaps promotion might be a very good carrot, but with every carrot there should be a stick."

Again that was nothing new; such seemed to be the Chairman-Manager
relationship at every level of football.

"What would your's be do you think?"

His attention was all on her and she was uncertain as to what he was asking her.

"My carrot or my stick?"

She asked him with a smile.

"Good question, you don't know me from Adam, apart from the prospect of money coming to your club, which of course you'd tolerate my attendance at a training session and a match for, am I right?"

She queried good naturedly.

"Over all, my carrot ... is simply a love of football and the ability to help out financially ... and in that way I hope that I can be involved and really support local success. My stick, again, just generally, that clubs and leagues I have an involvement with are ethical, support the community and play in the best possible spirit of the 'beautiful game'."

She leaned back to watch the players as they continued with their practice.

"As regards your club, Mr Thovenski ... "

She paused seeming to reflect.

" ... as a business woman I know better than to put my eggs all in one basket, but ... it's tempting none the less ... "

She smiled across at him.

"With some serious sponsorship, we could make a real difference here, but ... only given the appropriate carrot and stick from both sides ... "

She assessed him seriously.

"I'll be honest with you, I've been advised to 'proceed with caution' in regards to connecting myself and my business with this club, but ... I prefer to make my own judgements."

She paused.

"Most of this would depend on you. How would you feel entering into a partnership of sorts with a woman? Do you think we could work together on any level?"

His cooperation would determine just how much Lisa felt she could consider committing in that one direction.
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:01 PM   #20
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He listened in silence, a frown creasing his brow as she asked if he only tolerated her because she was a potential investor, but he said nothing until she asked her last question, he glanced at the players, whistled, made a come-hither motion and held up three fingers, they switched positions once more and he looked back at her,

"Let me clarify one thing Miss Hammond, I do not tolerate you because you are a potential investor. That fickle I am not. I invited you over as you are a friend of Mike and stated interest in the team. I wish to show you how they train, then you can see this weekend how it works out for them."

He softened his words with a smile,

"But what I based my decision on to invite you over for today, was that you sat in the cold and wet not to impress a man, but for the love of the game. That told me enough about you. That said, the love you cradle for the most beautiful game is one that I have and that is a good basis for any relationship based around football. I do not care if you are a woman or a man, all I want is to improve my players and any help to further their advancement is something I will crawl over broken glass if I have to. But if you and me can work in a business, there is only one way to find out, I can give assurances and promises, but in my experience a trial period is the only way to truly see where you are going and what the result is of your investment."
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Old 08-26-2013, 01:45 PM   #21
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"Let me clarify one thing Miss Hammond, I do not tolerate you because you are a potential investor. That fickle I am not. I invited you over as you are a friend of Mike and stated interest in the team. I wish to show you how they train, then you can see this weekend how it works out for them."

He was stern in the way he spoke and perhaps realised that as he gave her one of his rare smiles.

"But what I based my decision on to invite you over for today, was that you sat in the cold and wet not to impress a man, but for the love of the game. That told me enough about you."

His smile, the compliment, somehow flustered her. She found herself blushing as she responded without thinking.

"I don't impress many men... "

The throwaway comment to cover her embarrassment perhaps more telling than she ever intended.

"That said, the love you cradle for the most beautiful game is one that I have and that is a good basis for any relationship based around football. I do not care if you are a woman or a man, all I want is to improve my players and any help to further their advancement is something I will crawl over broken glass if I have to."

She nodded, finding herself increasingly impressed by him. It was what she had hoped he would say, for it was clear that, at present, only he would be able to turn this club around, without him, Green Dale would be a bum investment.

"But if you and me can work in a business, there is only one way to find out, I can give assurances and promises, but in my experience a trial period is the only way to truly see where you are going and what the result is of your investment."

Her smile broadened.

"Exactly my thinking Mr Thovenski."

She confirmed.

"I was thinking perhaps an initial plan until the end of the season, which after all is only a couple of months and then we consider if we can negotiate an on-going year's plan, or indeed one which goes beyond that."

She watched the players for a few moments, then turned back to the big Russian beside her.

"I hope I can be honest with you. Any interest I have is centred on you,"

She blushed realising how those words might sound.

"That is, though I obviously have to put any deal through the my own board and the Chairman here; I am interested in this money actually going into football proper and making a difference to the players and on the field. And I know that you are the person to do that. It would be inappropriate for me to ask what your medium or long term career plans are, but I do need to make it clear that I intend to make any sponsorship offer conditional upon you being the contracted manager with authority to make the decisions needed for team development."

She wondered how he would react to that news.

" ... I hope you don't see that negatively. I intend to take an active interest in the club, but I do not intend to interfere at any level; I simply want to ensure that it is you rather than uninformed board members who actually get to spend the monies received."

She watched his reactions closely.

"If that isn't acceptable, then I will respect that of course."
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:06 PM   #22
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He stared at her, wondering for the first time what her business was. A woman this striking, especially when she blushed, could not be in a modeling carreer, but the way she spoke told him that she wasn't, also her words of business made that clear. Also for the first time in his life he found a woman who could speak his language and that alone was a huge attraction, but of course she was here for her interest in the team and the game.

"I think those terms are acceptable, I can not see anything wrong with them. Since I am aiming to stay here at Green Dale. It reminds me of where I started and to give back is my goal, even if this is not my country, the guys who play will benefit from what I can offer."

He looked out over the pitch,

"And here there is no ice on the pitch, so I prefer staying here and be a thorn in the side of the snooty high heads. Call me a rebel, I have been called worse..."

A shadow flitted across his eyes for a second, a loud TWANG making him focus on the forwards.

"Excuse me"

He got up and walked over, shouting another tactic to the group practicing and continued to his forwards, he was upset, but not angry as he gave his forwards a dress down about their posture and feet when striking, then sent them running as punishment. He returned to the bench and sat down, watching his group,

"Still I think your offer will be a good enough carrot and your stick too short."
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:29 PM   #23
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"I think those terms are acceptable, I can not see anything wrong with them. Since I am aiming to stay here at Green Dale. It reminds me of where I started and to give back is my goal, even if this is not my country, the guys who play will benefit from what I can offer."

She was relieved at his acceptance. He was more difficult than most to read, but seemed single minded when it came to his football. It seemed that they could work from a starting point of mutual respect at least.

"And here there is no ice on the pitch, so I prefer staying here and be a thorn in the side of the snooty high heads. Call me a rebel, I have been called worse..."

She laughed at his comment, his strong accent somehow making the term 'snooty high heads' all the more amusing. She nodded as he excused himself and watched as he dealt with his players. She knew Mike had warned her to 'tread lightly' and she would heed the warning, at first anyway... The prospect of what could be achieved long term was very tempting, but she had to reel in her plans and deal with the short term. Two months was not very long in which to start making a difference.

She made no comment as he returned to sit beside her. The chastened players were running past them for the second time before he spoke.

"Still I think your offer will be a good enough carrot and your stick too short."

She laughed again, finding his company surprisingly easy.

"I can work on lengthening the stick if you insist..."

She offered.

"But I think you have enough stick to deal with getting this team into shape.
Not many men want to 'give back' the way you do. It takes a very special generosity, especially if you've travelled away from home to enable you to do so."


She blushed and turned the focus back onto the team.

"I'm sure the players realise that they're lucky to have you at least."
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:12 PM   #24
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He looked at the squad and a proud smile touched his lips,

"They are good guys, I am glad to have them."

He turned to face her again,

"Have you played the game? Even just kicked the ball around a bit?"

He was fishing for some background as to her love for the game, he was sure that it didn't just popped up out of nowhere.

"Or perhaps you have somebody in the family who likes to play?"
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:31 PM   #25
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"They are good guys, I am glad to have them."

She nodded; she definitely admired their commitment.

"Have you played the game? Even just kicked the ball around a bit?"

She blushed at his question. No one usually thought to ask that.

"Or perhaps you have somebody in the family who likes to play?"

She shook her head.

"My family were all into watching rugby and playing cricket."

She grimaced.

".. I have two elder brothers, they were born less than 2 years apart, then I came along 8 years later ... I think I was a shock to them in many ways ... "

She chuckled.

"And they're all scandalised by my interest in football."

She paused as if to consider whether to tell him the full story or not.

"You won't believe it, but I was a bit of a tomboy at school. I used to join the boys, just kicking a football about. Women's football has progressed so much lately, but you can imagine that not all of the boys were happy about a girl trying to join in even at Primary school. I got into a few arguments, a few scraps ... got told not to beat up the boys and my parents despaired."

She was smiling widely as she recalled her childhood capers, but sighed as she continued.

"Well, you grow up and somehow become more 'ladylike' and I didn't play anymore. I still followed football on the TV, but only really started to go to live games when I went to Uni and got hooked all over again. And so when the company started making money and the whole 'investment in the community' agenda came up there was only ever one direction I was going to invest it in."

She watched the players then turned back to Ivan.

"I've all but hung up my football boots, the only time I play now is on those company team bonding activity days ... though that didn't go so well actually..."

She held back a giggle as she tried to look contrite.

"Last time I played I kicked Martin in the air and got sent off.... "
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