I’ve been playing Football Manager 2019 a lot recently, because I love a game that’s basically a spreadsheet and databases!
I’ve been playing this sort of game for over 20 years now, all the way back to the Championship Manager 3 days, and I remember quite a lot of the teams I played as! I’d often do random choice and let the game decide where I go and what I do, and curiously this led to me following the IRL versions of the teams too, to see if they replicate the success (or failures!) that I had when in the hot seat!
So with that in mind, here’s some of the teams I’ve managed before:
Rochdale (England, currently League One)
Back in the Champ Man 3 days, this was the first team I took control of. A friend and I were doing a 2 player game, and they picked Torquay, while I picked a random Third Division team so I could be in the same league as them, which ended up being Rochdale (though looking up the 98/99 season, it could have potentially been Brighton or Cardiff, present day Premier League teams!). I was 13 at the time, and my statistical know-how and tactical mind was not fully developed, and we both ended up getting our respective teams relegated. Huzzah!
Also horrified to learn that because of a sponsorship deal, the Rochdale stadium Spotland is not named Spotland anymore, but the Crown Oil Arena. Yuck!
Arsenal (England, currently Premier League)
LMA Manager was the first console-based football manager game I played, back on the PS One, and I wanted to take control of a team that was already a powerhouse because I was a glory-seeking arsehole. In a topsy-turvy simulated world, one of the seasons I finished top, but Manchester United, often my biggest rival, ended up finishing 16th, because all their good players just got poached by me, Liverpool and (weirdly) QPR.
Odense Boldklub (Denmark, currently Superliga)
This one I played on Football Manager Handheld on the PSP, and again was a consequence of the random selection feature. Odense were the perennial mid table team, in a league dominated by FC Copenhagen, and Brøndby IF. In the 14 seasons I played as them, we won 13 league titles in a row, the Danish Cup 11 times, and never progressed beyond the Champions League group stages. Also FCK and BIF started to become mid table teams themselves, as Odense, Nordsjælland and Midtjylland vied for superiority!
I do like to check up on them every so often, because of my success as them in the game, and I’m always pleased to see them keep on keeping on. especially when I see this:
SUCK IT, MIDTJYLLAND.
Newcastle Jets (Australia, currently A-League)
Did you know that Australia, despite being in the continent of Oceania, do not play continental football with other Oceanic leagues, but in the Asian leagues? This is because the Australian Football Association grew frustrated with FIFA’s reluctance to give Oceania an automatic qualifier spot for the World Cup (the winner of the Oceanic World Cup qualifiers win A CHANCE TO QUALIFY for the World Cup by playing one of the lower placed teams from a different continent) which damages their qualification hopes, so they applied to join the Asian Confederation, as that was geographically close by, and had at least 4 automatic qualifying spots (technically they have 4.5, with the .5 being a possibility from the aforementioned intercontinental match between lower placed teams; North America, South America and Oceania also have x.5 qualifying spots, but Oceania has 0.5 meaning it’s the only football-playing continent that could theoretically not have a representative at the World Cup Finals), and the other Oceanic teams welcomed this as it gave more of them a chance to qualify for the World Cup themselves, because Australia were too dominant down there.
Anyway, a random selection picked the Newcastle Jets for me one time, and I did fairly well as them. Won 1 title, got absolutely smashed in the Asian Champions League by the Japanese and South Korean teams, faded into mid-table obscurity.
FC St Pauli (Germany, currently Bundesliga 2)
Now this one was not a random pick. I first learned about FC St. Pauli a few years ago, when a football magazine I read (Four Four Two) did a feature on them and their fanbase. It’s a club that is very specifically associated with left wing politics, and both club and fans are staunchly anti homophobia, anti fascist, anti-racist. They’re more well known and supported around the world than even most Bundesliga teams!
At the time of the rise of decidedly right-wing hooliganism among Hamburger SV fans in the 70’s and 80’s, left-wingers from the city (including former HSV fans!) flocked to St. Pauli (the other Hamburg-based team) to oppose them. St Pauli was the part of Hamburg that had a large proportion of punk residents, it had the country’s largest red light district, it was where the entertainment was found, and soon the area and the football club became so interconnected that you can’t really separate the two!
They are of course not the only left-wing football club, but they are probably the most famous of all of them.
Anyway they’re my most recent game in FM19, and we’ve won 10 in a row so we’re doing pretty well.
Salisbury City FC (England, currently A DIFFERENT TEAM!)
Before I moved to Cardiff, Salisbury, home of a nice cathedral and also Novichok, was my local team. They were also riding quite high in the football ladder, sitting in the then Vanarama Premier. Unpaid debts then led to their expulsion from the National League, but they reformed the following season as Salisbury FC (dropping City from the name), and they now play in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division South, which is a heck of a mouthful.
Anyway, when I took control of them, we made it all the way to the Championship, where I kept getting cockblocked in my attempts to reach the Premier League every season in the playoffs by the two Welsh teams, who spent the majority of their time alternating between getting promoted then relegated each season, and thusly kept beating me in the playoffs EVERY DAMN SEASON.
Fuck you Cardiff and Swansea.
Bolton Wanderers (England, currently League One)
Yeah we got relegated again in real life.
Do you know why I support Bolton Wanderers, despite hailing from Wiltshire and never having been to Bolton? It’s because I’m a dick. You see, years ago I went to school. as did most children, and one of my friends was a Blackburn Rovers fan. He mentioned that he considered Bolton to be their main rivals, and so I, as a Junior Troll Dickhead In Training, decided that I would support them out of (friendly!) spite. Possibly the earliest form of “MAD BANTZ!” I’ve ever participated in.
Anyway, that banter support ended up turning into genuine support as even when I moved away to Cornwall, I was still interested in how Bolton were doing, and I would cheer for them without it being in spite of someone else, and that’s how I accidentally became a football fan.
I mean I liked football before that anyway, but I just liked the spectacle of it all, I had never supported a specific team up until that point.
In FM19 Bolton news though, I am doing very well, though we have just dipped into the red financially, so maybe Fake Bolton will share the same fate as Real Bolton? Fuckin’ hope not!
With the wonderful news that my beloved Bolton won their match (an away match! Against a newly relegated team that are one of the favourites to win the division outright!) against West Brom yesterday came the news that the aforementioned opponents have a new mascot. A boiler.
They also have their other mascot but who the fuck cares because THERE’S A BOILER WITH LEGS RUNNING AROUND WEST BROM GAMES.
And so I looked into the other mascots of the Championship clubs, and then I decided to do this post. The definitive ranking of the mascots of the Championship. Because it’s Sunday and I can. Spoiler alert: there are a lot of cats.
24: Phoenix and Blue, Wigan Athletic
They would have been way higher up had they stuck with Stripey the Laticat:
However recently they changed to these soulless homunculi:
And so at the bottom they languish. I prefer nonhuman mascots as they’re less uncanny valley.
23: Captain Blade, Sheffield United
The whole dislike of the human-esque mascots is why Captain Blade is down here.
Sheffield United are The Blades, so I get the name, but why he’s a pirate I don’t know, considering Sheffield is miles and miles from the sea and thus has no maritime history.
22: Captain Canary, Norwich
He looks morose. That’s not the energy we need at a football match. The perils of a beak!
Definitely would sound like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.
21: Buzz and Buzzette, Brentford
I don’t know, there’s something… off… about them. Almost like they advertised jam until the 80’s…
I also don’t like the idea of bees with no wings. Let them fly freely, Brentford!
20: Scrumpy the Robin, Bristol City
Scrumpy is not a nice cider and is that a traffic cone on its face?
19: Ozzie Owl, Sheffield Wednesday
I mean if you can’t turn your head all the way around are you even trying?
18: Beau Brummie, Birmingham City
I’ll be honest here, the hugeness of his mouth terrifies me. A slight unhinging and he could eat me whole, and I’d be in his stomach like those weird soft vore pictures.
17: Vinny the Vogue, West Bromwich Albion
They still have their other mascot, Baggie Bird, but let’s be honest this is the one getting the headlines right now. And for good reason, it’s a fucking boiler.
A fucking BOILER.
16: Cyril the Swan, Swansea City
By virtue of a swan’s shape, he’s always gonna be looking downwards. By virtue of always looking downwards, he’s going to look miserable. Kinda fitting as Swansea got dumped out the Premier League last season, and DREADED RIVALS Cardiff went up!
Once got into a fight with Millwall’s mascot, ended up ripping his head off and kicking it around the pitch.
15: Spark the Cat, QPR
Used to be a black cat named Jude, but then they realised black cats were unlucky so they changed to this.
Looks like Bubsy the Bobcat and that’s never a good thing.
14: Rover the Dog, Blackburn Rovers
IS DOG. YAY DOG. PET THE DOG.
13: Hercules the Lion, Aston Villa
Hercules, Roman god, Greek version called Heracles, had a Disney movie made about him.
Looks like he could beat up James Woods, so that’s points in his favour.
12: Roary the Tiger, Hull City
First of two Roarys, Hull’s mascot looks kinda like a tiger version version of Nico from Grand Theft Auto 4.
No? Just me?
11: Roary the Lion, Middlesbrough
Looks genuinely pleased to be here, and I admire the enthusiasm.
10: Lofty the Lion, Bolton Wanderers
My team! You can tell I am not biased because they are not conveniently number one, so you know this is based on COLD HARD FACTS and not emotion.
The most ferocious-looking of the MANY MANY lions that seem to lurk in the Championship, yet also looks like he would stop mauling you to death to let you scritch under his chin. 10/10. would risk death again.
9: Sherwood the Bear, Nottingham Forest
Sherwood! Like Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood! Like the Sheriff of Nottingham! Forest! Bears! Disney!
Looks alarmingly like he’s bombed a boat here. Would have been MUCH lower down in the list if he still had that distressingly long nose the old version had.
8: Zampa the Lion, Millwall
Oh look another lion.
Eyes blue as the sky. A glorious mane. A posture that says “yes, come to me, I certainly shan’t MAUL YOU TO DEATH.”
7: Lucas the Kop Cat, Leeds United
Kop Cat like Top Cat? I don’t know, but he’s the cutest of the big cats. LOOKIT THAT ROUND FACE!
6: Kingsley the Lion, Reading
Look at him FLEX. This is a lion with CONFIDENCE and SWAGGER and a RECENTLY CUT MANE BY THE LOOKS OF IT. Would never set foot in Supercuts.
Only shops at Waitrose for the free coffee that MyWaitrose members get.
5: Deepdale Duck, Preston North End
Now that is a duck that knows he’s got it good.
Cool. Confident. Sophisticated. I bet he’s never even contemplated doing a dab.
4: Bluey McHorse, Ipswich Town
Would definitely trample the opposing team’s mascot beneath his powerful, mighty hooves. Bringing them down on their mangle bodies like Mike Tyson raining punches on his opponent.
Except hooves. On a horse.
3: Miller Bear, Rotherham United
oh, it’s a dab.
2: Rammie the Ram, Derby County
Definitely one of the cutest mascots going. Look at that FACE!
Would also like you to paint him like one of your French girls.
1: Pottermus, Stoke City
Stoke City, known affectionately as The Potters, have a hippo as their mascot. Wait, what?
Stoke. Hippo? Potters… Hippo…
Hippopotamus. HippoPOTTERmus. Pottermus.
Frankly it’s that glorious level of punnery alone that should win you titles. Perhaps that’s why they’re favourites to win the Championship.