How Football Manager Saved My Life

If you’ve ever visited the Football Manager General section on www.sigames.com then you’ll see that the moderators, SI employees and the forum regulars get a lot of stick and often get abuse thrown at them. No matter what state you believe the game to be in, no-one deserves death threats, mocking serious illness or just general abuse when trying to do their job. But on the SI forums this can be an issue at times and you’d not believe some of the stories I have heard over the years at what lengths some people will go to to try and bring misery to someone.

We’ve all heard the stories about Football Manager ruining people’s lives but we never hear the other side of the coin. So I wanted to share a little story with you about something that happened to me a few years ago and how one of the SI staff saved my life without ever knowing.

I’ve been around the Football Manager/Championship Manager community since it was created, I’ve run various sites in that time like Throw-in, Sortitoutsi and The Chalkboard diaries and was a moderator on the SI Game’s forums for about 10 years. But little did I know at the time when I got involved with the FM community that one day I would owe everything to it.

It’s going on eleven years now; I was in a very dark place in the early 2000s due to my relationship breaking down with my ex partner. One morning she woke up and said she didn’t love me anymore and was leaving. A few hours later she was gone and I’ve never seen her since, even to this day. I had no idea where she had gone, not even a goodbye. Looking back nowadays I can understand why she left and agree we were together for the wrong reasons but at that time and being in the actual moment it left me devastated.

We have two beautiful daughters together and the day she left broke my heart as it was the last time I saw them both. It left me distraught and I found myself questioning everything and basically giving up on life as I felt things were as bad as they could be. I couldn’t see any future or things getting better anytime soon. I was too involved in the moment and it was clouding my judgement.

I had to move back in with my parents for a while as I was a lost young lad who had everything then woke up one day and it was all gone. I was down, disinterested in anything and was feeling sorry for myself. It was one of the worst times of my life and I was hurting and felt I was being a burden to everyone around me. This lasted quite a while and after three months of feeling like I wanted to die I decided that’s exactly what I would do.

Battling severe depression was getting me down. What I did over the few months in the build up to this was to find myself somewhere new to live so what I was about to do next wouldn’t have happened in my parents house. So I decided I’d end it all and take my own life, I had it all planned out down to the very last detail. I went out and got the pills, vodka and various other substances that I was going use. I wrote letters to everyone that I cared about and apologised for being so selfish and doing what I was about to do.

For some bizarre reason I then logged online, I can’t remember the exact reason why but nonetheless I came online. I ended up on the SI forums where I was an established member of the community and knew quite a few of the SI staff as I’d met them a few times over the years. I must have been posting weirdly though as one member of the SI team – Marc Duffy posted something in response to something I had put. He explained a situation where he went through something and how he’d come through the other side and was much happier now than he was back then when he looked back.

Seeing these words wrote down and in the manner in which he had put it made me start to doubt myself and made me realise how I was taking the easy way out by being selfish and not giving a single thought to my family or kids. I then decided I’d give it a little longer to see how things went. Over the next few months I got the proper help I needed and had numerous counselling sessions and got the required medication that I needed. It wasn’t easy at all far from it, especially as I’m quite a private person who doesn’t like talking about his feelings.

But over time things did pick up and gradually improve, it did take quite some time though but I think that’s because I was stuck in self pity mode for quite some time. Looking back now, I can see and understand how and where it broke down and accept I was responsible. I guess everything happens for a reason though and now my life couldn’t be any better.

I have a fantastic job going all over the world doing promotional work. Married with another two beautiful kids and I’m really happy. I learnt a lot from the last relationship breaking down and work even harder now so I don’t make the same mistakes.

Over the years since I was thinking about taking my life I’ve actually met Marc Duffy three times but never had the bottle to thank him face to face. How do I thank someone who literally saved my life? No amount of words can thank him enough and I’ll never be able to repay him in any way. Plus how many ways can I say, ‘I’m the selfish bastard who was going to end it all’? It’s quite embarrassing.  I did let him know last year just exactly how he saved my life and he was very humble and wasn’t aware just exactly what he had done for me.

I know this isn’t the typical article you’d expect to see but I wanted to do two things and those were to thank Marc Duffy, for I will always be eternally grateful for what you did so thank you.

And I wanted to highlight that while you might be frustrated with the game and the direction its gone, the staff are just normal people like us and don’t deserve the abuse they get and especially not death threats. You never know one day something someone says on their forums might just save your life.

14 thoughts on “How Football Manager Saved My Life”

  1. Wow, this post has actually moved me. I can relate to pretty much everything you have said there, and have quite a similar story myself. Through one hell of a bumpy ride in my teens and early twenties the only reliable thing in my life was Champ Man and then Football Manager. Suffering from addictions (alcohol ended up being my drug of choice) I cannot deny that I was properly addicted to the game, but it was far safer for me than the other stuff I was doing! If I had not locked myself in my bedroom as a kid and lost days playing Champ Man whilst my family was falling apart around me, I have no idea what would have happened. Seriously, amazing post – thank you for writing it.

    Follow me on Twitter:  @comeontheoviedo
    FM15 Blog: www.comeontheoviedo.wordpress.com
    Author of the “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager” series available on Amazon here
    Read the first chapter of “The Second Season Syndrome” at www.chrisdarwen.com

  2. I’m in a spot that isn’t all that much different from where you were. How I got to this place is different and I’m 43, so I’m much older than you were, but I’m very familiar with what you’re describing.

    I’m going to be seeing a psychiatrist in a couple of weeks and we’ll see where it goes from there. I’m nowhere near as communicative as you are so my problem isn’t apparent to people, but I’m lucky enough to have a wife who, while she may not always ‘get’ me, does understand why I’m feeling the way I am and made the appointments that I almost certainly wouldn’t have made myself.

    Depression is comforting in a way, isn’t it? It’s not like having a disease that is painful and you want it cured. It’s like laying in bed and you’re comfortable, and you know you should really get up, but you just can’t quite do it. It’s easy to see how pretty much anyone can end up in a spiral that leads to suicide.

    I’m a lurker in the community and am still on FM2012, so don’t feel qualified to get involved much in the forums, but even though I don’t post I have read the boards A LOT and learned a lot about football and FM from them. I also see a lot of the interactions there and you guys are nearly all pretty reasonable. Even when someone rants, says a bunch of ridiculous crap, or acts like a fool, most members and mods try and get to the heart of that person’s anger and resolve the problem instead of slagging them off. It doesn’t hurt that the types of people who would really be into FM probably have similar thought processes and deal with some of the same internal issues.

    The game itself occupies my time, gives me some positive vibes, and like someone else posted, is a far better way to occupy my mind than the potential alternatives.

    FM is a great game and the community is really top notch – you just don’t see stories like yours in other gaming communities.

    1. Paul, good luck mate! The first steps are always the hardest, but the second most brave thing you will ever do, in my humble opinion. The bravest thing you will do is sticking at it when it gets painful, grizzly and you feel like you are getting worse. Trust me, this pain doesn’t stay for ever! Feel free to drop me an email if you ever want to talk about it, one of the other things I do is a little bit of man-counselling.

      @cleon – great to see this article helping people mate!


      Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager available in paperback or on Kindle through Amazon

    2. Good luck on your journey mate, if you ever need to talk or just someone to vent at just fire it my way, I know what it can be like so am happy to help others if its ever needed 🙂

  3. Its kinda an old post, but still I found it and loved it. Well written and honest. Nice to bump into you again in the vast maze that is the internet. Awesome that you are doing so well now. Throw-in.com would never have survived as long as it did without you. Cheers mate. Alex aka Lordaust aka Throw-in:Alex

  4. Lordaust!!! I often wonder what happened to you, Veg and the chap who was a coach. Great to see you again and thanks for the comments. I’m around on Twitter if you are or ever fancy chatting. I hope life is treating you good 🙂

  5. Excellent read. This in many ways, not all is what my life was like after my marriage ended and son were taken in 2008 on Christmas day. As you have done @Cleon81 I re-built myself and life and am better for it. Keep Fighting!

Leave a Reply