Growing up we all looked at our clubs and thought, sack him… I could do better! From Ron Atkinson and Graeme Taylor and co, we looked at this guys and dreamt of leading our very own club to glory.
The world of football management simulation was here and we could emulate our heroes and the goal was to lead them to glory, no actual football, the ultimate 100% football geek mode of gaming.. becoming a manager.
My first taste of this was Premier Manager 95 for the Sega Mega Drive. Looking back even now the basics of the game were fantastic and realistic. For the first time ever we could select our own team and formation, tailor your team to your own needs, manage finances, simple as it was, at the time it was the be all and end all.
You can buy a sponsor a board at the side of your stadium, the likes of “Steve’s pork pies” and “Dartbury Plasterers Ltd” hoarding the limelight of the sponsorship boards around your stadium. Once enough money was accrued you could, and why wouldn’t you expand your stadium, with a request to your chairmen a whole side of the ground demolished, 6 months later a brand new stand to the dell had been created! Entering the transfer market was a real novelty, for some reason, the beginning of every season had the same 8-9 players transfer listed, the cheaper, higher rated but elder statesmen of the game, Peter Beardsley and Neil Shipperley were often snapped up on the cheap, they would do a job, but as your experience in the game grew you realised an error in judgement, the following season they would retire and you would be left broke and short!
Championship Manager! The greatest gaming franchise to ever grace football management. The database was huge, you can manage teams from abroad, sign players on a free transfer and something so simple yet so satisfying was the simple image of the stadium of the team you were managing in the background on your screen.
Half term in October arrives, it’s winter, the weather is grim, we did not care, let’s boot up the old rackety clunky beast with tiny monitor beefier in size than the actual screen itself, close the curtains, ignore calls from your mother that your dinner is ready and engross yourself in the fantasy world of football management. Occasionally after winning everything there is to win with the likes of Manchester United and having a squad that no longer remotely resembles the team you began with due to departures and expensive arrivals you fancied a change.
I’m going to win the Champions League with Accrington Stanley!
Curtains drew, multi pack of fizzy pop and king size bags of wotsits at your disposal you begin this ridiculous idea with optimism and hope, within 20 minutes your enthusiasm begins to dwindle, struggling to come to terms with any of the players in your squad and unable to buy any notable players of any importance.
What’s happening? I’m in a relegation battle and i simply cannot win a game! After 2 hours of toil, boredom has set in, the board about to sack you, bed looks more appealing and with that you awake the following morning to a bottle of flat pop and empty crisp packets and do it all over again.