Championship manager changed my life

by Mystical Mike

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

I am not going out; I am staying in…..Yeah all night!

First of all, it would probably be wise of me to point out that I am not an employee of Sega’s Football Manager, nor am I being paid hard cash in brown envelopes by dodgy looking blokes in black suits and cool shades.

But, it is true – it has got to be the best/worst game ever for any football lovers with too much spare time, and too little talent to make the dream reality.

I got into ‘Champ Manager’ about ten years ago, when I was just starting secondary school. At first it was quite a laugh, just a bit of fun on the side y’know. (Isn’t that how all addictions start?)

It grew from there. I, like every other boy my age, realised I had a Woolworth’s chance in a credit crunch, of making myself into anything other than a shit five-a-side player, so the importance of Championship/Football Manager grew.

Trying to brush off this addiction, I didn’t play it for a couple of years, convinced it was route of all evil (or in my case, anger). However, I dabbled it in a couple of times – had a few decent runs at it before ultimately deciding to ditch it before I went to college to study journalism.

I’ve been busy most of the day so that wasn’t a problem, but stuck in bland student accommodation in Portsmouth during week nights can be pretty boring. I first started getting films from the library but then I ran the stock dry! I then picked up my guitar and attempted to play it before it went woefully out of tune (and I being an idiot I don’t know how to tune it without an electric tuner.)

Finally, I bought my weights but honestly, do you really expect me to do a six-hour work out before I go to bed? So I bought Football Manager 2008 with me, to my girlfriend’s dismay and to my course mate’s regret.

I don’t propose to be an especially decent manager on FM. I remember on the old games, cheating my way to 2nd in the Premier League with Sunderland by taking over rival teams and fielding players waywardly out of position. (Andy Cole never was a top-flight goalkeeper.)

I also remember getting to grips with one of the games’ editing software, and blessing Derby County with some of the finest world talent.
It’s not been all bad though.

I can remember the good old days of leading Burnley to UEFA and FA Cup glory and 4th place in the Premier League, with a world-class Jason Quell leading the way. I can also remember leading Manchester City to back-to-back promotions although obviously this is not as impressive as it looked back then.

Strangely, I have never taken over MY club, Tottenham Hotspur. I think I’ve always been too scared I will ruin them, although some would argue that previous incumbents and owners of such positions have done that for me.

Now, I am at the helm of the mighty Leyton Orient, doing a decent job there – 12th in League One in my first season at the moment, and I am moulding a bunch of hard-nuts who can mix the long ball with the intricate.

Sadly, reality checks are the sad thing about the game. In my four years as manager of a five a-side team, I never so much won a raffle (although lots of Spurs style near misses, 5th place, 4th place and bucket-loads of semi finals.)

Of course, my coursework has suffered but my slack lecturers don’t seem to mind unduly, and it certainly has saved me many bored nights stuck in cultural capital of the world Portsmouth.

I welcome your experiences of this national treasure, but should probably point out before I leave that hitting the computer gets you no where in this life, least of all when all you are angry about is losing a fictional football game.

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  • Stevie

    it was Sensible World of Soccer for me, I remember skiving of work to do a whole season, I took Fulham from the old 3rd division into Europe, ah yeah, they were the days!!

  • Sam

    Ha! you’ve got to love the effort put into making such a plethora of detail. Although I feel it loses a bit of realism when the new generation of players come into it and their pictures are just some stupid chav at home who’s sent in a pic of himself with a grimace on his face and a cap covering his greasy barny – they always seem to look reminiscent of Stephen Ireland…but anyway.

    Its nice when they throw up a bit of a glitch. I think somewhere into the 2010/11 season with United, Scholesy had a bit of a ‘moment’ after a bad call by the ref and the bar at the bottom read:

    “And its RED! Scholes has run up to the referee and floored him with a headbut. You just can’t get away with that in the modern game.”

  • Darren

    I heard a rumor that some teams have actually found talent through Championship manager? I’m not sure how true this is of course, personally I think you’re better of using UK Football Finder!!

    An old friend of mine did actually divorce his wife due to his excessive obsession with Champ Manager!

  • Ray Stantonberry-banks

    champ-man rules (football manager 2007 now). i’ve broken the disk twice and bought another. its very addictive.

  • Chris

    I actually harp back to the original Champ Man, in about 1992, on the Amiga. They didn’t even have real players back then – just the made up ones for that season.

    I am proud to say I have owned every single version since that moment, following it from the Amiga to the PC, from Champ Man to Football Manager (even though it will always be Champ Man).

    I failed my A-Levels because of it. I failed my first year at Uni because of it. But I became a football manager because of it.

    Personal highlights include on the Amiga my first ever Barnet side that I took to the Premier Division title. Getting Luton Town into Europe. Getting Cantona to score 87 goals in a season for Juventus. Who remembers the fact it used to take 2 hours or so to load the next season??

    On the PC my great Everton team – no money and constantly waiting for the takeover (my mate said it would happen late September – it never did) but took them to 2nd place with Barmby in the hole and Matterazzi being a great centre back. Taking Aldershot Town from the Conference to the Championship in successive seasons. And finally, finally winning the Premiership – with Newcastle United last year in my first season playing a bog standard default 442 tactic.

    Happy days.

    Now married with a kid – still buy it, sadly never play it 🙁

  • James Webb

    I am with you Chris, bought my first copy of Champ Man in the early 90’s on my Amiga 600 and have bought every version right up until the latest FM09 including all the patches and updates.

    My little brother who is 7 years younger than me began playing it when he was 8 and although at first I used to persuade him to sell me his best players on the cheap he soon got wise. He is now 22 and a qualified accountant and still puts his love of money and numbers down to his early introduction to the game, buying and selling players etc.

    Most of my football knowledge and stats come from playing years of the game. Also helps with geography knowing where places are from playing in leagues around the world.

    Since the birth of my son Jack my gaming time is limited to late nights and the occasional Sunday afternoon. I no longer can get away with getting in from work at 6 and playing it until the early hours of the morning with Sky TV next to my monitor watching any games or sky news with my GF bringing me dinner and the occasional beverage lol !!!

  • Darren

    good point there James, my European Geography is pretty good thanks to computer games.

    I remember Match Day on the Spectrum, it was brilliant for its time, but for me Sensible Soccer was the king, spending hours with your mates after Friday nights down the pub, priceless!

    I’m a bit disappointed with Pro 09 and the new FIFA which still plays really badly, ooops, don’t tell EA that otherwise we’ll get no more free games!

  • Dan Church

    I was fixated on Soccer Boss on the C64 from the ages of 12-16. 8 hour sessions watching the border of the screen flash to tell me that some unknown had scored for Swindon. For some reason Bristol City were the team to manage. Only team to get 10’000+ gates in the 2nd Division.
    And only last night i was playing a football management game on the internet, albeit a crap one. and you will see the link, if you have a few hours to spare on a rubbish sim.

  • JP

    Amiga eh? I had a version on a BBC Micro in the ’80s… Beat that! Also, I know (because I worked on the Official Champ Manager magazine a few years ago) that the player stats are put together with the tireless help of club fans and so there probably is a good correlation between how a player performs in the game and how good they are in real life. I don’t play it any more. But I did. Oh yes.

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