Hackney Wick FC are a semi-professional football club from Hackney, playing in the Essex Senior league (Step 9 of the football pyramid). Their nickname is ‘The Wickers’. Those of you who followed my career with The Wickers last season will recall that we began in the Middlesex Football League Division One (Central & East) which is at Step 12 of the pyramid. This three step jump in leagues is because at the end of the 2016/17 season, The Wickers merged with London Bari FC in the ESL, bringing with them the club name, some of the board and a few of the squad.
We’re home! We’re finally back in Hackney after nine years of ground-sharing around London with our own home, Kasanga Park, named after our founder, captain and now Director of Football Bobby Kasanga. We had an amazing first season in the Premier League last season and also in Europe. Can we improve on our 10th position? Will we be able to make a mark in the domestic cups without the distraction of Europe?
- Avoid Relegation
- Reach the FA Cup fifth round
- Reach the EFL Cup fourth round
Here we are! The Premier League! After only fourteen seasons we’ve climbed from the twelfth tier to the summit. I predict a difficult season having to juggle a European campaign in the Europa League as well as our Premier League and domestic cup obligations, but we have a good young squad and with the right additions I think staying up should be a very realistic goal, as well as reaching the group stage of the Europa League. I won’t be placing much emphasis on the FA Cup nor the EFL cup this season, especially if we go anywhere in Europe – we just don’t have the squad depth.
These were the minimum expectations from the board. Whilst I felt we could achieve a better League finish, I didn’t want any added pressure with the Europa League games as well to contend with.
This season we’re widely predicted to fail again and be relegated by the media despite making it to the playoff final last season. To be honest I’m targeting to be there-or-thereabouts regarding the playoffs this time around, whether we get there will be determined by how much we can strengthen the team, and how much more our promising young squad can develop during the season.
ExpectationsThe expectations are realistic for the cups but as I’ve already said I’m really aiming higher for the league. We started with an £11m budget but this is what remains after our initial transfers.
Continue reading Hackney Wick FC – 2028/29 Season Review
We’re one promotion away from the promised land, though it’s probably going to be the hardest one to achieve – the Championship is widely regarded to be the toughest second division in the world. We’ll be playing teams where one of their players can earn more in a week than we pay the entire squad in a month. Our reputation is still somewhere around that of a decent League Two side, so attracting players of the required calibre will be extremely difficult. We’ll have to rely on our young squad hopefully developing faster with the higher standard of football on offer…
This is our tenth season, and we’ve come much further than I anticipated in that time. From the twelfth tier to the third. It’s been an incredible journey, and one that has still really only just begun.
- Avoid Relegation from League One
- Reach the FA Cup Third Round
- Reach EFL Cup First Round
- Qualify from EFL Trophy Group Stage
We’ve turned professional now that we’re in the Football League so most of the players will be moved onto new full-time contracts so that we can train them more efficiently. Unfortunately we’ve now reached a point where many of the original Hackney Wick players just won’t cut it any more, and so there’ll be a fair amount of transfer activity this season to rebuild the squad for our new life as a pro club. To be honest we reached that point a long while ago with some of them but my attachment to them got in the way of making sound footballing decisions. Not any more…
I forgot to screenshot the email message with the expectations but they were:
- Avoid relegation from League Two
- Reach the FA Cup 1st Round
- Reach the EFL Cup 1st Round
- Reach the EFL Trophy Group Stage
These expectations are realistic. I’m not expecting to get anywhere in the EFL Cup/Trophy but I’m hopeful of a better finish in the League, and a Third Round appearance in the FA Cup would be good for the finances.
As we failed to win promotion last season by finishing second and losing the playoff final to Harlow, we have another bite at the Ryman Premier. We definitely had the potential last season to win the division, and with it automatic promotion, but we didn’t show it at times, letting good leads slip to draws and draws slip away to losses. This season we’ll do it. We’ll go up to the National League South. Won’t we?
We’ll be moving from Mabley Green to groundshare with Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road which is a pre-planned move I made before starting the career because Mabley Green in reality isn’t a stadium, it’s a caged astroturf pitch in a park. I could have set it to force a new stadium build once we outgrew Mabley but it wouldn’t have the expansion capacity to fulfil our future dream of Champions League football, and would cripple our already delicate finances. Brisbane Road is the closest stadium to Hackney Marshes (as close as London Stadium, but 60,000 capacity is a bit much for us!) so we’ll share with Orient until we have the finances to build our own home.
Following on from my earlier post introducing the real-life club, here’s how it translates into the game.
Just as in the real world, the virtual club begin life at level 12 of the football pyramid, in the Middlesex Football League Division One (Central & East). Home is Mabley Green, an all-weather artificial pitch in Hackney Wick, which in reality has no proper capacity but for the purposes of the game is set at 1000, all standing, with the ability to expand up to 5000 – the required capacity for entry into the Football League. Facilities for youth players and training are terrible. The club in the real world are Amateur, but due to database issues, we will start as semi-pro.
Less than two years ago, Hackney Wick FC didn’t exist. One man, ex semi-professional footballer Bobby Kasanga, formed the idea to create a football club while campaigning to get more recognition for non-league football, where he came across many disgruntled players on Hackney Marshes who complained about the long distances they had to travel in order to play football at a competitive level. Borne from his time in prison and shaped by the rehabilitation he received, he decided his club would be heavily involved in the community. He wanted to bring together the residents of Hackney, especially those marginalised by society and the disaffected youth with nothing to look up to other than the gangsters. Hackney, in times past was known as being a rough place, rife with gang warfare and high crime rates, though somewhat seen now as an up-and-coming trendy area. Of his prison experience he says: “It definitely helped. Before that, it was all about making money and my ego but I became more of a listener and, as I started helping other prisoners, I thought I could continue that on the outside.”