No amount of shouting, gesticulation, pointing, waving arms around and wearing a 3/4 length sheepskin coat has any affect on the outcomes of a football management game. Just don’t tell RetroBear that, especially as he wears a suit when playing……yes, it’s the wacky world of PC footie management games.


You. The stadium. The fans. The players. And the balls - you definately need balls


Way, way back when I was still making my way through the educational minefield (College) I happened to stumble across a game which through one form or another would stay with me for the next 13 years. Other things I have picked up and either dropped or gone back to and wished I hadn’t, but there was something about this one game. I just couldn’t get enough of it no matter how hard I tried. It would come back to batter me senseless at university where it was a toss up between “extra reading” or playing this game. My degree (3rd Class) indicates what won my heart.


Whilst most men in their 20’s would be out lording it up, getting drunk and trying to gain interest from the opposite sex, I was married to my PC. My achievements were many, my standing amongst my peers legendary. Many tried to topple me but none could, and when I had had enough of being successful I chucked it all in and started again at the bottom. I even had a spell in Germany where my influence was felt right across Europe. I inspired those who people had long given up on and made individuals great where others might not have nurtured them so.


I am, of course, talking about the gaming behemoth that was Championship Manager, and the subsequent offspring that is Football Manager. I should point out that my affiliation with Championship Manager finished when Sports Interactive were poached by Sega to create the Football Manager series and as such I never bothered with Championship Manager again after Championship Manager 03/04 – well aside from one brief crack at Championship Manager 5 which had more bugs than the Ugly Bug Ball.


The 93/94 version of the game contained many great players from the past - here are 26 that were rubbish.....


NOTE : From this point on I shall refer to Championship Manager as CM and Football Manager as FM, as I really can’t be arsed typing the full names for each of the games.


I first played CM with the 93/94 version. Stunned as I was when I was told it took about 12 minutes to create the game on an unexpanded Amiga 500, I still none the less gave it a go. Being a statistic freak I revelled in the sheer detail and attributes levelled to each player. My goodness this was in depth. As with all new versions of this game, I took an age before getting into it and being very successful took a long time (There were 2 well known cheats at the time – using a 2-3-5 formation and taking control of Tranmere which then gave you around £36 million to spend on players – formations such as these gradually evolved into what it is known as Diablo tactics i.e. a killer formation and guidelines which makes you literally unbeatable).


Each new update released by Eidos was then a must have – CM 93/94 was the first to provide a data disk release, allowing you to update all the latest transfer moves. Then came CM2, CM The European Editions (versions of the German, French and Italian leagues as stand alone releases), CM3, CM 97/98 etc – I could go on.


I couldn't find a screenshot of the German Edition of CM I had - so here is a photo of everyone's favourite flying German


I found success on all of them, each new version bringing new achievements. Taking Rushden from the bottom division to the Premier League, getting Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) to play for Sunderland and one of my best moments – taking the boyfriend of a girl at work who played for one of my local non league teams to Manchester United for £30,000 and then bringing him on as sub in the European Cup Final – and seeing him score the winner.


I was almost heartbroken when I saw what the CM series had become when CM5 was released. Things were never the same again – it just wasn’t the same. Even playing CM 02/03 on the XBOX was significantly more fun than that. The match engine was unrealistic, player transfers to and from clubs didn’t happen and the game was riddled with bugs. It was so bad Eidos released a patch less than 24 hours after the game was released to correct all the errors.


Uruguyan CM fans erupt at the sheer awfulness of CM5


I suppose it was like Star Wars fans having to cope with Jar Jar Binks – yes it looks like Star Wars, sounds like Star Wars but what the fuck is going on ? That’s not to say all the previous CM titles were brilliant – CM4 particularly stands out as a stinker because it was released with so many bugs in it (luckily with patching available all these things were resolved easily enough – and if you scour the Internet you can even update older versions of CM to include all today’s current overpaid footballers)


Luckily Sports Interactive took their box of tricks to Sega – and thus Football Manager was born – which probably explains why Eidos were left so high and dry on CM5, after all Sports Interactive had developed the game engine and rightly took it with them. Essentially it was the same old format not altered a great deal apart from the new features such as updated leagues from around the world, an improved game engine and all the players you could wish for.


For me FM 2005 is without doubt the pinnacle of the series. I have not played any other version before or since then as often and as long. Yes I am aware – in real time terms, after playing for 2 days or more the game told me that my underpants needed changing – but so what ? I swear I may have put more hours into other versions, maybe I didn’t, but FM 2005 is by far and away the most immersive football management game I have ever played.


THE greatest football management game EVER.


Some people were brought up on the Kevin Toms original Football Manager on the Spectrum, which were great for their time but not to be confused with these newer games. Some people preferred the more stat heavy Tracksuit Manager series of games. None though could ever knock CM off it’s perch back in the day. I have to say both FM 2006 & 2007 left me feeling a little cold. I did revisit the series for FM 2009 but after playing it for a short while longed to load up FM 2005 and see if I could take Barnet back to the Premier League…….


PS I should add that I have quite a few versions of the old CM series knocking about – CM2, CM 97/98, CM 00/01, CM 4 and CM 03/04. If you can get it to work you might be interested in downloading the game that started it all for me at this address – which works perfectly well in DOSBOX :


If it wasn't for this game and that beard we wouldn't have football management games. Nuff Respect Kev.....