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I’ve always had a keen interest in sporting video games. I love the competitiveness both in single player modes and multiplayer mode. Championship Manager was introduced to me by my older cousin Liam who had the 98/99 version for his computer. Prior to Champ Man, I was too used to Player Manager or LMA on the original Playstation, Championship Manager blew them both out of the water. The one thing that left the biggest impression on me was its attention to detail. You could also control teams in the Conference. Not a big deal but still the option was there for a challenge further down the line. I decided to start a new game with my beloved Sunderland and despite being the strongest team in Division One (The Championship), I lost 3 games on the trot! Damn this game was hard! So I stayed away from club management and focused on international management. I remember on the older Champ Man games if you named yourself after one of the international team managers of the time (Glenn Hoddle for England, Mick McCarthy for Ireland etc) you could take over the national team as oppose of building up your reputation.
I liked the game but I thought it was hard. I stuck with LMA Manager as that was more of a pickup & play game (plus there was a cheat where you could get £500million!) Things changed when our Adam bought Champ Man 2001/2002. It’s a game which is often referred to the best game in the series. It sure was. It turned out to be one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played and once I got used to club level management I was on a roll. At school, me and my mates used to use chemistry lessons as a way of comparing teams and tactics. Our teacher was a pushover so there was no problem there. To this day I still can’t get over the fact that I managed to pass GCSE chemistry when all I did was talk about winning the Champion’s League with Sunderland! I’m pretty sure that whoever is reading this has at least signed Freddy Adu, Tonton Zola Moukoko & Cherno Samba at one stage of their Champ Man careers. Those guys were the best players in the game who had the highest potential. I remember in reality there was a lot of hype surrounding both Samba & Adu but it never really worked out for them. Samba, who was once touted by Man United & Liverpool, is currently a free agent and Freddy is applying his trade in the Serbian SuperLiga with Jagodina. Adu has always joked about his reputation as a “Champ Man/ Football Manager Legend” and how it never went according to plan in reality. The other thing I used to do was to create myself in the game but also gave myself 200 max potential which would practically make myself one of the best players in the game.
If I had to choose my greatest ever save from any of the Championship Manager games it would have to be my York City save from 03/04. What an amazing save that was! At the time, York were a mid-table team in Division Three (League Two) who had been relegated from Division Two back in 1999. In reality, 2003/2004 saw York finish rock bottom of the league and slip into the Conference. My goal was to take them as far as I could but I could never imagine where it would end up taking me. I spent 35 seasons leading York from Division Three all the way to the Champion’s League final, beating Manchester United in the final at Old Trafford ironically enough! With all of my success, millions in the bank and the global reputation of the Minstermen , the local council would turn down my request to expand the stadium or develop a new one so I spent those 35 seasons at Bootham Crescent which was a 8,000 seated stadium. At least we sold the ground out every week!
After years of success, Edios and Sports Interaction decided to go their own ways. Edios continued with Championship Manager but were forced to create a new game from scratch since SI kept the base code, game database and the programming of the game. With all that they made their own game, Football Manager 2005. For legal reasons the split was never revealed and I doubt it will ever come to light. Football Manager was an awesome game. It was everything that made Champ Man great and much more. As for CM, CM2005 was originally set to come out in October ’04 but got held back to March ’05. At that time, the football season was coming to an end so the game would be out of date so I decided against buying it. I did buy CM’06 and what a disaster it turned out to be. I still remember Roy Keane moving to Charlton for £8million in the first season! It was riddled with glitches and lacked the detail which it once processed. Championship Manager turned out to be the final CM game I ever bought. Since then, Football Manager was my game of choice.
Championship Manager 2010 was the final in-box game in the series. CM 2011 was never released on the PC but available on itunes. It’s sad that such an iconic and immensely popular series like Champ Man had to go down without a fight. Football Manager just got stronger and stronger whiles Champ Man just couldn’t catch up and was left for dust. Putting the decline of the series to one side, Championship Manager is the reason why I continue playing Football Manager to this day. Champ Man 98/99 will always have a special place in my heart because let’s face it; you never forget your first time.