Aesthetically Pleasing Moments From Video Game Football History #4

In a slight twist to this edition of APMFVGFH, we take a look at one of everyone’s favourite football games, the godly Championship Manager 01/02. But it gets even twistier as here we have a save game from the distant, dystopian hell-age of 2027.

This particular game, or rather career, started hilariously. I took over the reigns of Dover to begin with and within two seasons had them finishing 21st in the Conference, meaning relegation. But I was then somehow hired by by Dagenham and Redbridge who, to my surprise and delighted, had actually been promoted to the Football League. This of course was insanely undeserved and the people of Dover were not too pleased with the whole situation as I shrugged and legged it, leaving their club to die.

We’re going to take a look at who’s been winning some of the more interesting leagues and competitions up to 2027, but first briefly a stop back in the hazy, distant, vague past of 2012 and this fantastic anomalous, asymmetrical Northern Ireland formation that does not feature anyone on the left of midfield which makes my heart sing. The team had made the quarter finals of both the 2008 Euros and 2010 World Cup but after one more World Cup group stage appearance in 2014, their stock seemed to dry up.

Now to the leagues and first to Spain. Unsurprisingly Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate…

…until the duopoly is broken for an interesting few years in 2016 onwards by Levante, Recreativo and deservedly Malaga who had finished 2nd for three of the previous four seasons. After this it was back to the big two again:

Grim. In the Netherlands the situation was even more grim with PSV Eindhoven running roughshod, aside from an isolated title win here and there from Ajax and Feyenoord:

But eventually the tables are turned on PSV as Feyenoord emerge as the new top dogs securing an incredible 10 league titles in 11 years. After finishing runners up nine times in the preceding years, this must have been a bitter sweet period of success as it would have gotten quite boring after a while and made their supporters question what was the point in even supporting a team if they were just going to go ahead and win all the time. Aside from the big three, Utrecht, De Graafschap and Vitesse also provided some unexpected but ultimately unfruitful, token challenges:

In England, a similar situation seemed to be developing as Manchester United also scooped 10 championships in 11 years. Arsenal were their main titles rivals during this time and were the team to finally end 5-in-a-row title win streaks in both in 2004 and 2010, but it would be the Leeds who would emerge to take the next three.

Another hat-trick of league wins was to come next, this time from Wolves, but the era of single teams dominating for years suddenly ends here. Perhaps this was due to some sort of economic collapse and/or disease outbreak. Man Utd and Leeds disappear as title contenders, as do Arsenal apart from a brief flirtation back at the top with a title win in 2020. After Wolves period of success, the league is blown wide open with clubs now finding it impossible to win two or more in a row. The supporters of Ipswich, Coventry, Birmingham, Middlesbrough, and Crystal Palace will have no doubt moaned bitterly about this only 12 months after celebrating manically as their sides took up unexpected league wins. And as of the “present day” you will see that a Dag&Red side, amazingly still managed by an apparently ageless yours truly 25 years after being hired, has risen up the ranks from Conference wastemen to lords of the manor.

We now jump across to Italy and Roma were able to take 6 league titles in a row, with the runners-up of the latter four being their fierce rivals Lazio. But the next four years would see Lazio take the scudeto and revenge over Roma who would be runners up for the first three of these. But again they would come back and pip Lazio in 2011 before another Lazio win in 2012 to finish off a crazy era. The following season saw Juventus finally became the first side from outside the capital to pick up a championship in 13 years.

Inter, Parma, Fiorentina and Napoli would steal championships in the following seasons, while the aforementioned three also remained strong. What is most noteworthy from these later years is that Parma could just never again capture the form that led to their title win and went through an agonising period of 7 second place finishes in 9 years.

The European Championships would see a couple of somewhat surprise runners-ups, first with Turkey suffering defeat to Italy in 2004, followed in 2008 by what must have been a tasty affair as Ireland were beaten by England in Scotland. France and the Netherlands would trade championships and 2nd place for the next two tournaments before Sweden would emerge as back to back winners, somewhat reliving their national golden age of 1611-1648 (in war and such, this was before football).

The Swedes though could not translate this form to the global stage. The World Cup would become as boring as most leagues as 2014 saw France claim their fifth bloody title in a row, and would return to champion status in the latest edition after a restbite period which saw first Argentina as champions, and then, delightfully, Croatia. Also worth mentioning that Canada as World Cup 2018 hosts was a selection which took many observers by surprise.

Well that about covers it. To be fair when I said we would be looking at some interesting leagues earlier, it probably would have been more accurate if I had said “some very lopsided and boring one horse (or two horse or three horse) leagues in a theoretical video game universe which is utterly pointless except to point out that the game mechanics may have been slightly flawed when played out over a long period of time”. But then again that exact statement can also be applied to the actual “reality” that we are living in right now, so I don’t know.

Before signing out for this longer than usual APMFVGFH, I am happy to let you know that Dag&Red still sit proudly atop the Premier League and yours truly has just received yet another accolade, hopefully en route to picking up a second league title in a row.

But my greatest accomplishment had come the season before as I guided the team to victory in what was undoubtedly the greatest UEFA Cup Final the world would ever know, beating Gillingham:

(To be honest it’s been a couple years since I played this save and don’t remember alot about it, apart from A: That it was the first time ever playing a Championship Manager or Football Manager that I actually really looked up the best ways to do tactics and training and such after having been infamously bad for years at these games. And B: I was playing just before, during and after a break up and may have been using my career as a coping mechanism which probably explains my long tenure. Surely not the first or last to use football to stave off existential dread.)

What Football Is Supposed To Look Like (Gallery) #2

The second installment of this HOT new series where we get straight to the aesthetics of real football! (For #1, click here)

Unorthodox stadium layout and muddy box, Hungary vs Cyprus, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Classic keeper, Austria away to Sweden, World Cup Qualifier, 1973:

Band, teams, press and officials, Sweden vs West Germany, World Cup, 1974:

Packed Cold War era bowl, Bulgaria vs Belgium, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Insanely packed terrace and classic replay “R”, Scotland away to Wales, European Championships Qualfier, 1977:

Dutch flags, Netherlands vs Hungary, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

Quintessential old school score board, Romania vs Austria, European Championships Qualifier, 1986:

Birmingham hooligans pose mid-riot to have picture take, Birmingham City vs Stoke City, Third Division, 1992:

People On The Pitch #3: RC Narbonne vs Stade Bagnérais, French Rugby Union Championship Final, 27/05/1979

After some rather quaint and joyous pitch invasions in People On The Pitch #2, we are going in an even more innocent and novel direction here as for the first time on this site we are bending the rules to feature a sport which is not association football. Sorry for this, but it does a good job of highlighting the state of supporter culture in general in France heading towards the 1980’s, which was undoubtedly spearheaded by the football scene.

Some great footage exists of the ’79 French rugby union final, and it’s proceeding festivities. Founded in 1907, eventual champions RC Narbonne had only won the trophy once before, in 1936, but had recently been knocking on the heavy oak door of success again as defeated finalists in 1974. Their opponents, Stade Bagnérais, will probably cease to be mentioned from this point on, so my apologies to any of their supporters who may be reading but I’m already pushing it by including rugby at all so be grateful you even received a mention.

Narbonne is in the Occitanie region of France and a large contingent of their orange and black clad supporters (reminiscent of my old primary school’s sports colours) had traveled up the length of the country to Paris from their Mediterranean base. The Champs-Élysées was a natural gathering point and with the Arc de Triomphe standing prophetically in the background, some supporters are in bloody fine spirits:

Amidst much flag waving and general boisterousness one of the novel objects brought to support the team is a creepy baby doll, and one man has apparently gone to the effort of constructing and transporting a painting easel in the club colours:

Upon closer inspection, it appears as if the device has wheels and is possibly a bike or wheelbarrow, although the up-right “RCN” suggests that held in it’s intended position for use:

Some pyro in the form of a flare is released, it’s flames presumably emulating the supporters intense burning desire for victory here. As we saw way back in the bonus section of Pyro On The Pitch #2, French football was already familiar with pyro by this era and it had clearly even been adopted by supporters of clubs in other codes.

Well, I said Stade Bagnérais weren’t going to get another mention but this heroic chap has melted my heart, proudly risking his life by waving his team’s white and black isolated in the middle of a Narbonne ocean:

The next important thing to know is that some people from a running club were out running that day. Classic Paris:

Their sweet Adidas singlets with stripes running down the sides are actually well worth a closer look. And that dude just seems like a cool guy, I genuinely hope he’s doing well these days wherever he is:

Next up, in what is clearly a display of flagrant public corruption, some police officers casually receive a bribe in the form of alcoholic beverages for God only knows why:

Back to the supporters, a corteo forms and it’s off to Parc des Princes:

Now to inside the stadium, and among what appears to be mostly Narbonne supporters, we can see from a Stade Bagnérais flag here or there meaning some of them have indeed survived the Narbonne firm. With Bagnères-de-Bigorre’s population of only around 8,000 compared to over 50,000 in Nabonne, it is natural that they are vastly outnumbered. Hopefully our friend from earlier is among them:

Unfortunately for him, his team do not manage a single point on their big day in the city. Meanwhile, the Nabonne faithful savored the occasion as their side knocked 10 in on the way to victory.

And yes, the final whistle, they’ve done it! The gods of victory have smiled on the Narbonnese this day and in a moment of spontaneous group ecstasy, many of their fans cannot help but to storm the playing field. Complete with flags and banners, it makes for an impressive visual:

The heroes of the day are swamped and suffocated beneath a loving swarm of orange and black:

To top off the afternoon, the “trophy” (which is mostly a wooden board, but a handsome, presumably sacred wood) is presented and paraded around with every fan trying to get at least one scintillating touch:

And soon after, large mobs begin to quietly and politely leave the field:

And there we have it, people on the pitch at a rugby match. The end? Yes, it is most likely we will never feature rugby again. And we definitely will never feature Stade Bagnérais again, although they/he have undoubtedly earned a place in the Pyro On The Pitch Hall of Heroes if ever such an institution should exist.

Youtube Link

Retro Shirt Reviews #1

  • Club: ???
  • Year: ???
  • Make: Erima
  • Sponsor: STORR
  • Number: 4

One word: STORR. Which is altogether appropriate, as on a recent trip to IKEA I noted that the shirts the staff were forced to wear are quite similar to this remarkably beautiful jersey. I even considered taking a sly photo of one of the staff members to include on this blog and refer to the top as “the IKEA shirt” from now on. But I feel that would be doing it a vast disservice.

This classic, slim fitting Erima work of art was most likely used by some sort of non-league/regional/amateur West German club side from the 1980’s, (which hopefully will be a reoccurring flavour in this series). In a look reminiscent of something Eintracht Braunschweig might have worn (perhaps I should have used them as a comparison instead of IKEA earlier), the unique blue/white/blue striping combined with smart wrap-around collar, raglan sleeves and “box” number on back make this an amazing shirt. “STORR” on the front pushes it to possible “Best Thing I Own” status.

Erima are also one of those brands that has a special place in my heart, possibly due to a love of general West German aesthetics on my part, and when I think of them I’m reminded of West Germany’s white/black/green kit combination at the 1978 World Cup which is a very good thing.

Overall, I give this shirt my highest grade: 7 and a half thumbs up.

Bonus, International Selection:

  • Country: West Germany
  • Year: 1988-1991
  • Make: Adidas

Ok, I know it’s nearly cliché to be highlighting what is generally accepted as the greatest shirt of all time, but it seemed appropriate to include this masterpiece. There is nothing to say about it that hasn’t already been said, except that when I mentioned the Erima shirt being possibly the best thing I own, this one was definitely the undisputed king for a while. I enjoy wearing it for the feeling I get attracting many glances and double takes from men, to which I’m like “eh, my eyes are up here, boys”. This also applies to some other shirts which will be highlighted in upcoming editions of this new feature, so stay tuned for more jersey porn!

International Duty: Group Banners At National Team Games #1 (Gallery)

In YET ANOTHER new feature (We know, our work ethic and dedication to this site is baffling), we take a look back at the days when it was more likely for ultras and hooligan groups to show up to support their national team if they happened to be using their teams ground, or traveling overseas on tour. Note: The last entry listed here MAY be a tongue and cheek effort and was never an actual group.

Spain vs Greece, friendly, 1986:
“Norte Gijon” of Sporting Gijon

Italy vs Scotland, friendly, 1988:
“Covo Rosso”, “Alcool”, “Vecchia Guardia”, etc of Perugia
Noteworthy: With CCCP, hammer and sickle, and Che Guevara on display.

England away to Hungary, friendly, 1988:
“6.57 Crew” of Portsmouth FC

Italy vs Norway, friendly, 1988:
“Bad Boys” and “Park Kaos” of Pescara

Ireland away to Poland, European Championships Qualifier, 1991:
“Bray Seaside Firm” of Bray Wanderers
Noteworthy: Great “Dalkey” banner.

Pyro On The Pitch #6: Sweden vs Italy, European Championships Qualifier, 03/06/1987 (with Bonus)

The game featured in this edition of Pyro On The Pitch is noteworthy for the fact that this writer completed his very first full orbit around Earth’s sun on the day the match was played. I.e., it was our first birthday. But this entry might have been more appropriate last week on Halloween, as this is somewhat of a ghost pyro on the pitch.

Here we have a very similar situation to that featured in Pyro On The Pitch #4, when Denmark showed their supporter pedigree against the highly feared English in 1982. This time it’s their Scandinavian brothers in Sweden welcoming another of Europe’s premier supporting class, Italy. The pyro for both games revolved around a possible foul by a goalkeeper on an attacker and whether it should have been a penalty.

Just over 40,000 were in attendance at the Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm, which was the home of the Swedish national team until it’s demolition in 2012. Anticipation was high for the high profile game with the crowd perhaps particularly buoyed on by the reputation of the visitors in the football supporting world and smoke can be seen rising from the terraces before kick off in pictures.

Early in the first half, Roberto Tricella breaks free down the left for Italy and into the Swedish box. Famous Swdeish goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli comes out to challenge and his outstretched right leg appears to take down Tricella:

Immediately after the foul we can just about see a dangerous/exciting crowd heave (or avalanche) in the terrace behind the incident, typical of the time:

The penalty is given much to chagrin of the home supporters triggering a wave of protests in the form of projectiles on the pitch (Note to self: Possible future series “Projectiles On The Pitch”), and of course booing and jeering. Initially ticker tape/til roll is thrown into the box:

As paper rains down from the surly Swedish supporters, referee Dieter Pauly notices and picks up an altogether more serious foreign object:

Pauly, in nice Ermia ref shirt it must be said, sternly displays a golf ball which has just come from the packed terrace behind the goal. Now, either the golf ball was brought preemptively with a view for malicious activity at such an occasion in the match, or one supporter had simply come straight from the golf course and had merely let one of his/her balls slip from his/her pocket on to the pitch.

Pauly is not impressed at all and tosses the golf ball to a Swedish official with somewhat of a disgusted sneer, but with form as to suggest that this is not the first golf ball that he has had to remove from a field of play that wasn’t a golf course.

What happens next is extremely unfortunate for the interests of this website as another replay of the foul/maybe dive is played in slow motion and when we retrun to live time it is clear we have JUST missed some pyro being thrown on the pitch. What remains is a plume of smoke from a flare which has just gone out, or else the smoke is from it’s own weak smoke bomb:

A large cloud can be see coming from more pyro out of view to the left of the goal and a steward removes objects from the grass which may or may not have once been the flares. Unfortunately this is as close as we come to seeing any real pyro, but a bit of smoke, eh? Not bad. Or is it a cop out to include this?

All this combined to create quite a beautifully chaotic scene to be fair. But wait, that’s not all! Just when it seemed order is restored, more projectiles come hailing down including a possible coin which is a direct shot on the hear of poor, young 27 year old Ravelli. Other Swedish players can be seen removing more objects as Ravelli reels in shock at this apparent betrayal by his countrymen, although he also comically puts out his hand in a sort of “is it raining here or what guys, eh??” gesture:

Although more than a bit miffed, Ravelli is fine and returns to his goal ready for the penalty. But the supporters have one last laugh as one more roll is thrown into the box delaying things slightly longer:

Pauly makes a hilariously slow and deliberate walk over which just screams “…sigh” and takes so long to remove the paper that it has to be divided in to two gifs:

After all this, Ravelli saves the penalty with a nice one handed save to the left onto the post and the rebound is driven over the bar. Cue ecstatic jubilation from the terraces as the entire previous five minutes is forgotten:

Sweden would go on to win 1-0 for a famous victory, but Italy would ultimate pip the Swedes for top spot and qualification (not that that part is relevant but just thought I’d throw it in there to sound professional).

Youtube Link

Bonus: Greece vs Cyprus, European Championships Qualifier, 14/01/1987:

Even though I think the incidents covered above are a stellar example of a classic 80’s atmosphere, I do hold my head out for the chopping block for not being able to produce any physical pyro on the pitch in this edition. So for this sin, here is a special extra bonus…where unfortunately once again we cannot actually see pyro on the pitch. I am sorry about this.

Unlike with Sweden-Italy though, here we actually do see some flames. As Greece go 1-0 up en route to a 3-1 win against their Mediterranean rivals Cyrpus, what some would call an orgy of joy can be seen erupting in the crowd. Among this nearly cinematic scene of gay abandon, we catch a flare ignition, which is no sooner let off before the handler is launching it picth-ward. It is nearly in his/her blood to do so:

Unfortunately, in an inverse to the Sweden incident, the director cuts off to a replay just before we get to see if the flare actually reaches the picth or just lands on the running track. I would like to say I will make it my mission for the next several years to gain a categorical confirmation of this. But instead, I will just say that yes, it did reach the pitch.

Youtube Link

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What Football Is Supposed To Look Like (Gallery) #1

Some classic grounds, shirts and general aesthetics of what football used to be.

Sand dunes, a car park, unorthodox ground sectioning, other random stuff laying around (handy for a riot) and a beautifully filthy pitch at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea vs West Ham, Division 1, 1986:

Away shirt of vintage post-Cold War side Representation of Czechs and Slovaks vs Wales, World Cup Qualifier, 1993:

Ireland away to Northern Ireland, World Cup Qualifier, 1988:

Classic advertisements, Brazil vs Chile, Friendly, 1985:

Brentford FC vs Blackburn Rovers, FA Cup, 1989:

Malta score away to Hungary, World Cup Qualifier, 1989:

“English Supporters Please Remain In This Stand”, England away to Luxembourg, European Championships Qualifier, 1983:


(Taken from Pyro On The Pitch #4)

Dutch flags, Netherlands vs Greece, European Championships Qualifier, 1987:

“HOOLIGANS”, Italy vs Scotland, Friendly, 1988:

Armed guards behind the goal, Ecuador vs Romania, Friendly, 1984: