The Stortford Saga – Introduction

This will be a new ongoing series for Football Manager 17 written by @notsoSECRET_FM so be sure to check out his Twitter account.

The “notsoSECRET_FM” presents…


“The Stortford Saga – The Diary of a Lower League Manager” – Season 1 Part 1

Hello… it’s me (insert current, well 9-12 month old pop culture Adele reference, straight from the start people know I am edgy 😉

So my first blog about Football Manager, now if I had the time, I would definitely want to do something that I think the community lacks currently, a weekly podcast based around a single save. However, at the time of writing my Fiancée’s and my first baby is due today, which has already meant I have been worrying about whether I would have enough time to even play the game anymore… so best not push it and to start with a blog! Never blogged before, so go easy on me!

Ahead of the new version of the game, I wanted this blog post to set the scene, about who I am, my FM history and what I want to achieve on FM17 ahead of the first campaign

I suppose the time comes in a man’s life, when faced with the prospect that you’re about to become a parent, you have to step up and grow the f*** up. I am 36 now; perhaps I need to prioritise other things like being a parent, ahead of a comparatively unimportant hobby like Football Manager. The problem is and I almost find this embarrassing to write, but Football Manager is a massive part of who I am. (God that sounds very dramatic, slightly pretentious and almost makes me want to be sick in my mouth, sorry)

The addiction began at a very young age, stretching back to before CM Italia, which saw my cousin and I, having dinners delivered to a spare room at our Nan’s house because we refused to stop playing while we ate (The Service at our Nan’s was impeccable) I must have been in my early teen’s when this wonderful addiction began, but that addiction quite honestly got me through some tough times, it’s my only link to the football world, I once thought might be a future for me (yep like most lads I hear you say/yawn) until a cruciate ligament injury put any competitive football at any decent level beyond me. From break-ups to those single days, where I had the inability to even mutter a word to those “females”, it was my one true love, that I could rely on to always be there.

To sum up, there is no way I am prepared to give up Football Manager for anyone, at any age, if my new baby doesn’t understand, then they literally will have to sit there in their own faeces while I play another game… it’s going to be harder for you than me kid 😉

As you have probably worked out by now, I have spent the best part of 20+ years dedicated to CM/FM and managing a virtual football club, so obviously I have a wealth of experience. Think about it…if you did something consistently for over 20 years, the expectation would be that you would be a SME – subject matter expert (through in a bit of corporate talk here), unfortunately though for me that’s not the case really. Sure I have had my relatively successful saves managing mainly Spurs (who I support) previously over the years, but in the past few years I have lost a little bit of faith with top-level football and found great saves in the lower leagues. I have always been fond of the lower echelons to some degree, a £10 season ticket (yes you read right) at Leyton Orient (still overpriced 😉 in the mid 90’s, when I was 15/16 years old, with a great bunch of then school friends, saw the routine trip to Brisbane Road with them become a part of life and I suppose the memories of youth, created a fondness for that level. More recently, coupled with my increasing delusion with the game becoming so commercial and full of corporate fan boys, I found myself drawn to the grass-roots of lower division/non-league football, within the game, believing that it offers the most rewarding FM experience nowadays

Over the last few years I have started following Bishops Stortford, more closely in real life, this is the town where I attended Senior School and therefore closest to my heart within the lowest playable league in England – The Conference South. From Beta to the next edition of the game, this is the team where I have started my FM Save, for the last two editions. To say I have been successful would be a massive lie, I have not once been promoted and the trials and tribulations have ultimately led me within a few seasons to having to resign for fear of being shown the door and then I look for another job. The pattern then usually follows, that I resign and job hop after a season from one lower league club to another, for fear of losing my job once again. The “Merry Go Round of Mediocrity” continues like that, with every club the disconnect between, what I want to ideally achieve – Premier League, Champions League winners with Stortford etc, gets further and further away from me and the frustration increases and the enjoyment of the save reduces in conjunction with that. In FM16 I had one season that I would consider mildly successful where I made the play-offs and earned manager of the season at one of the follow on clubs but that’s hardly tearing up trees! Generally though, it would appear that at a lower league level, I couldn’t manage a sh*t, let alone a football club. If it were a school report it would read “Could do Better” and the next year it would read “We were wrong, he couldn’t”

Although, I do feel I have learnt a lot over the past two versions of the game and as importantly, from the research I have done within the fantastic community and having stepped back and taking a look at it, clearly at Conference South level, I have massively over complicated things and I take two main things into the new game

  1. Simplify Everything & Minimise the amount of team instructions for a start – unfortunately I can prove that despite my best efforts, Stortford cannot play a possession based game and win (Currently in real life they are struggling with the concept of an actual ball being near them on the pitch, to be honest!)
  • The “DNA” of my club needs to be around determination and high work rate in general – Stats at that level technically are poor anyway, so concentrate on effort and commitment

So with FM17 dropping in a few weeks, I am massively excited like I am sure all of us are (If we knew what was actually going to be in the game, I hear you say) but with any new edition, the blind optimism begins… this version, this time, it will be different (Kind of similar to what every fan thinks of their clubs coming season). – Incidentally without question or hesitation I took up the SI offer of the discount on steam within the same day of the announcement, despite not knowing anything and still don’t, about what’s in this version. Rightly or wrongly for under 30 quid, there is nothing I enjoy so much, that then makes me want to sit here and write a blog about it. As I no doubt will be explaining to my carer whilst they lift me onto my commode (with laptop) in my last few days of life… SI have me hook, line and sinker…you had me at hello…

Follow me on Twitter, to keep up to date with the next part in the series @notsoSECRET_FM…comments welcome….

5 thoughts on “The Stortford Saga – Introduction”

  1. Looking forward to it mate, just thinking that you should start the save after full release and just play a Spurs save during beta — just in case there are any significant bugs included with the early access.

  2. Nice intro but one question. Have you ever tried being successful with one version before moving onto the next? You might find it more rewarding not having to continue the steep learning curve of each edition.

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