Championship Manager Addiction Strikes Again

It all started innocently enough. I was walking with Fe and Charlie yesterday and we were debating the current situation in the UK.

She was saying how she felt sorry for all the kids currently being forced to stay at home and how it affects their grades. The conversation swung to how potentially they could improve their prospects by doing extra work, but that if it was her, she probably wouldn’t at their age.

I would have said how if it were me, back in the summer of 1995, I’d probably take the time to play Championship Manager ’93. I would have explained to her how I used to love that game, spending hours as Crystal Palace manager (I liked the colours and Lincoln weren’t on it), but I don’t think I did say that. Why?

Because my mind was on my laptop, back at home, where I had left a crucial FA Cup 5th Round tie with Blackpool delicately poised at 2-2, heading to penalties. I pressed go on penalties and went for my walk, the equivalent of turning your back on the shootout.

For those who don’t know, I’m not talking about Football Manager, the current incarnation of a series that started back in the early nineties. I’m talking about a ramped-up version of Championship Manager 01/02, a seminal release in the long-running franchise which gobbled up hours of my time, but by ‘hours’ I actually mean ‘days’. Maybe even months.


I first played Championship Manager back in ’94 when a lad in the village leant me the disks for my Amiga 600. It was instantly appealing to a huge statto like me, especially as Mark Collyer and Ferrah Orosco led my team to European Cup glory. When the disks had to go back, I sold all of my Subbuteo to but the game myself.

It accounted for sick days, often I missed double physics on a Tuesday because I had an important top of the table clash coming up. As I got older, the passion remained and I remember falling out with the family when we bought our first ever PC because spent too much time managing Lincoln City. Occasionally, I skipped my work at McKechnies to manage England when that facility arrived.


I suppose time eventually got the better of me and despite dropping in on a couple of later Championship Managers, they flopped pretty much 03/04, when Sports Interactive moved over to produce Football Manager. Sure, I’ve played a few seasons on FM too, but the most recent was the 2015/16 season as Lincoln after Gavin Andrews gave me a Steam login to play with (and someone sent me a copy too, I want to say Charlie Russell but I might be wrong).

That leads us carefully into the last week. Ash Meikle, my ‘boss’ of sorts, is a big FM fan as is Rob Makepeace and both have mentioned I should get on board in recent weeks. I don’t have the funds lying around to splash out on the game at present, but I saw a link to a free copy of CM01/02 with modern-team updates. Running it in windows, alongside my work, seemed like a good idea.

It’s not.

The appeal of Championship Manager is also its problem; it’s like crack cocaine for your laptop. The later versions have got a little complex and require time to set your team up and get everything right, but a season on CM01/02 can be nailed in an eight-hour sitting, no bother. The transfer window is open all season and that increases your need to keep dipping into the game. Champ Man, as it was always known, is just easy. It’s easy to get into, easy to get lost in and easy to understand.


Is it easy to win? Absolutely not. I spent the first few games being hammered by the likes of Cork City in friendlies, being told by Michael Bostwick he was unhappy with our league position (23rd after four games), getting moaned at by Josh Vickers because I find him for poor performance (it was a 3 for heaven’s sake in a 4-3 defeat, that’s not allowed) and desperately looking for a striker as Tyler Walker failed to bag.

Luckily, I do have the willpower to work and the current season has been running four days. The story about the FA Cup tie is true though, I eventually got to the quarter-final against Spurs and went in with a team well below 100% condition who had been beaten by Tranmere 4-1 the week before. A 3-2 win has set me up for next week’s session, but it came at a cost; my dinner started to get cold as I desperately waited for the game to bloody finish so Fe and I could watch ‘Wanted’, an Aussie series we found on Netflix.

The next few weeks, maybe even months, are going to be tough for us all and not everyone can afford to go out and spend £25 on Football Manager when it stops being free later this week. However, everyone can follow the easy instructions here to bag their copy of CM01/02, maybe using the proper teams, perhaps even using the updated ones like me.

I promise you if you do, you’ll find that it just takes the edge off the worry and stress of the real world. It might also take a few months off you, but it’ll be worth it when you find that first £1m player for the Imps or see them lift the LDV Vans Trophy years before the real Imps ever stepped foot in Wembley.


As for me, I’ve got West Ham in the FA Cup semi-final next (at the Ricoh Arena, oddly), the same side who hammered me in the League Cup. Both my new signings up front are injured (Glenn Murray and Charlie Wyke) so I’m relying on Bruno Andrade (who has 17 goals in 38 matches but has already signed a pre-contract agreement with Luton, the bastard) and Jordan Adebayo-Smith (debut hattrick against Wimbledon) to maintain my push for a play-off place.

Wish me luck, perhaps not so much with the upcoming games, but in carrying on with my real life after this massive relapse. I was clean for almost 20 years, but it seems my crack is back.

I am aware I promised to do a Vice City playthrough a few months back, but it sadly led me straight to GTA V Online which I’ve been playing since. I will get on it, but even if my work did stop (which it won’t) I suspect a hunt for a Bruno Andrade replacement will take me a little while yet.


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