A sad truth: it would, perhaps, be all too easy to pen another RPG diary. It’s all about the anecdotes, rather than discovery and learning. I’ve had an itch to start work on another mega-long feature for a while, but I’ve struggled to identify a game I’d like to do it with – I want to surprise myself, not repeat myself. So, when a Twitter shout-out brought up the presumably mickey-taking suggestion of Football Manager 2012, it actually made perfect sense. I know almost nothing about football, after all, apart from that it features an angry man called Wayne who has hair plugs and likes prostitutes. Truly, I would be a stranger in a strange land. I would learn. I would struggle. I would suffer. I might even learn a little something about feet and balls. Are you hunching uncomfortably in front of your PC? Then let us begin.
My name is Ian Football, and by an absolutely astonishing coincidence I am a football manager by trade. A first-time manager, admittedly: before that I worked at a cat sanctuary. One day, I will be a great football manager. Today is not that today – which means that, for now, I am lumbered with what some have described as “the hardest club to manage” in the entirety of English football. It’s not my fault. Here’s what happened.
As well as being inexperienced, I was born and raised in the uninspiring West Midlands, UK city of Worcester, therefore I felt a certain duty to begin my career managing Worcester City FC, even though I had in fact fled that dingy, pointless town the instant I reached adulthood and even though the club currently festered in the bottom echelons of the Blue Square Bet North league. It would be noble, and it would be beautiful. Despite this being the town of my birth, I was somehow entirely unaware of the club’s history. So, suffice it to say all colour bleached out of my face, ran down my torso and disappeared out the room at a rate of knots when I read this is in the glossy but confusing ‘welcome to Worcester City!’ brochure I was handed on my first day in the job.
Oh, piss. A 32 year barren spell. Only “semi-professional.” Semi! How are these guys even going to pay me? I fear I may have made some manner of terrible, terrible mistake before I’ve even begun. There are two ways to look at this:
1) Oh God, get out, get out, find another club to manage, no matter what.
2) Well, they’re already at rock bottom, right? At least I can’t make things any worse. Or can I? No, I don’t think so – this, surely, is a path to glory. Onward, then.
For Worcester’s part, they are blissfully unaware that, like a good TV detective, my incomparable genius and insight is accompanied by a terrible personal flaw. Cracker has his gambling, Morse has his drinking, McNulty has his drinking and womanising and disregard for authority and probably gambling too. I, alas, have a pathological fear of the colour yellow. Still, that shouldn’t be any kind of problem, I’d have thought. It’s not like I’m going to end up throwing a game because my squad is up against a team wearing yellow shirts, is it? Oh.
I start where it would only make sense for a club in this town just a stone’s throw from Birmingham to start – by hiring men called Darren and Gavin. Proud, hilariously stereotypical West Midlands names: there were more Darrens and Gavins than I could count at my Worcester school all those years ago. So I take comfort that my assistant manager Matthew Gardiner (I’m going to call him Matt ‘The Garden’ Gardiner until we’re best friends, I’ve decided) suggested these gentlemen as my first signings:
His surname’s even ‘Heeroo.’ Yes, he will be my hero. This is meant to be, surely. His ability? God only knows. We’ll find that out tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have elected to give The Garden absolutely no choice whatsoever about his nickname. I’m already feeling much more confident about by my tenure at Worcester.
The scene is thus set. Ian Football, The Garden and Davin Hero will have glory or nothing. Honestly though, I’ll be okay with nothing. It’s probably all I deserve.