It’s the first of our Football Games World Cup quarter-finals, and without wishing to prejudge it, Emlyn Hughes has it all to do. The one-hit wonder of the late 80s faces a quarter-century’s worth of football management. Make no mistake – it’s a sod of a draw for Emlyn. We’re almost glad he’s not still here to see it.
Can you be persuaded to vote Emlyn over Football Manager? Read our summaries and then vote at the bottom of the page.
Football Manager (nee Championship Manager)
If the BBC had anything about it, it wouldn’t have got Zammo to implore kids of my generation to ‘just say no’ to whatever the glassy-eyed tit was flooding his veins with. It would have urged us to turn our backs on Football Manager, because even a cocaine epidemic wouldn’t have sucked as much life out of Britain’s young men as this narcotic spreadsheet.
To be fair to the Grange Hill writers, it would have taken an act of remarkable foresight to divert Zammo’s mid-80s storyline. Championship Manager (as it was known in those days) didn’t roll along until 1992, and even then it wasn’t great until Champ Man 97/98, where if you had the Big Ron of PCs, you could swank about in the 16MB version of the game and run more than one league at once. Heady days.
Football Manager hasn’t just laid waste to the lives of young men, it’s made them, too. Players such as Freddy Adu, Cherno Samba and Andri Sigþórsson are household names to Champ Man players, even though their own mothers wouldn’t recognise them in the street. I still sleep in a pair of Billy Sharp pyjamas after he scored 46 goals in a season for my West Ham side in Football Manager 2007.
The split with Eidos in 2003, in which Eidos kept the Champ Man name but bugger all else, could have been a breaking point. Instead, the newly rechristened Football Manager – a nod to Kevin Toms’ groundbreaker of the early 80s – strode on like Mickey Owen through an Argie defence. Now with a glorious 3D match engine and the much-underrated Fantasy Draft multiplayer mode, Football Manager continues to leech months out of the lives of middle-aged fathers of four, as well as their offspring. It’s in the dictionary, under ‘unputdownable’.
Emlyn Hughes International Soccer
For some, Emlyn Hughes is best known as the Liverpool and England captain; to others he’s a Royal Family sex pest. To me, however, he’ll never be forgotten for Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, arguably the most ground-breaking football game ever coded for the Commodore 64.
Emlyn Hughes introduced gameplay that had never been seen before. Players didn’t just come to a halt when you yanked your joystick in a different direction, they would slow, stop and turn like proper players did. It was one of the first games to introduce free-kicks, punishing players for mistiming one its filthy, studs-showing sliding tackles.
Better still, you could edit the names of all the players, and it was the first game I can remember to display the name of said player on-screen every time he touched the ball – allowing you to drown out the duff sound effects with your own Motty-like commentary. “Oh, I say, that’s a smashing goal from Collins. What’s that? Baked beans on waffles? I’ll be down in five, mum. Just got to save the game to tape…”