Paul and Oliver Collyer are names that will not mean much to some of you, but they are responsible for my addiction, and perhaps even yours if you are reading this article. They are behind many evenings wasted hunched over a keyboard, the reason I know more about Cherno Samba than I do about whatever poet I had to study in GCSE English. The two brothers are the reason why I can tell you that Kennedy Bakircioglu used to play for Iraklis but I could not tell you what a noble gas is. These two brothers created Championship Manager, which spawned Football Manager and Sports Interactive, in their bedroom.
It was 1992. The Premier League was about to be formed, erasing 100 years or so of football history before it, and the Collyer brothers wrote Championship Manager, featuring the top four English leagues, and released it on the Amiga. The game was basic, especially compared to rival games Premier Manager and The Manager, but it did gain popularity.
Next came Championship Manager ’93, much improved with real player names, faster loader times and just general improvements. For those who liked watching James Richardson drinking a coffee and telling you what was in Gazzetta Dello Sport, an Italian version was released.
In 1995 Championship Manager 2 came out, and later versions of that editions introduced foreign leagues for the first time and optional (thank god) Clive Tyldesley commentary. The next few editions of the game updated little in the way of game play, although it did implement the likes of the Bosman ruling to keep up to date with real life football, and a data editor so you could create yourself as the best player in the world. It also added more playable leagues and a larger player database with each release taking the game global.
2003/04 saw the last Championship Manager before the split between Eidos and Sports Interactive. With the two going their separate ways, one floundered and the other flew. Championship Manager, now made by Eidos, had to put back the release of the first game until March, two months before the end of the football season, due to having to create the game from nothing, and eventually the series petered out and was last seen as a game limited to mobile phones.
Sports Interactive came out best in the divorce. Although they had to change their name, they kept the house. Essentially the game, all the code and techy stuff none of us understand, was theirs. The Championship Manager name was not, so they rebranded as Football Manager. In 2005, they released their first game, with added depth in all areas. 2006 was just essentially updated squads although it did see an add on where you could play as Dream Team‘s Harchester United.
Since then the game has remained a top seller and incredibly popular. Each year there are new tweaks and the game has become hugely immersive and detailed. There are now press conferences, backroom staff made up of every type of role you would find at a top level club, social media posts from fans and tactics so in depth it would make Harry Redknapp wince. We have seen mobile and tablet versions of the game, a live and an online version and even a stripped back version for those who cannot devote the time to or cannot put up with the new in depth and detailed editions of Football Manager.
There has also been cases of Football Manger crossing over with real life. Everton have previously used the game’s database to scout players due to the meticulous work put in to making every player as accurate as possible while many people have applied for actual managerial positions in football based on their experiences in the game. One guy, Vugar Huseynzade eben become Azerbijani club FC Baku’s reserve team gaffer due to what he accomplished in the game.
Arguably, without the legacy of Championship Manager, sports simulators and the entire modern football world would be an entirely different story. Millions of childhood memories have Champ Man nestled fondly at their core, as young lads and girls dreamed of becoming the next Andrei Shevchenko. If you remember how awesome he was in those games, you were as much a devotee as us.
Did you grow up loving and playing Championship Manager? Are you playing FM 2017? Let us know.