Football was best when I was 10. Perhaps not best for everyone else, but best for me. Apart from perhaps sweets, it was all I cared about.
My bedroom was littered with posters from Shoot and Match. I stuck them up in the shape of a small goal on one side of the room, put a mattress down on the floor for the 'keeper, and then me and my friends would throw a sponge ball against the wall and try and head it in.
It was slightly cramped and normally ended in a bundle of some sort. I had a video tape in the machine at all times to record any goals that I saw on TV. Consequently I created probably the lowest quality goals video of all time, constantly jumping from Elton Welsby introducing another Jason Dozzell screamer, to some random foreign football from Transworld Sport.
And if I wasn't playing football on Parker's Piece in Cambridge (look it up - the birthplace of the game), I was playing football games on the computer. Every single penny of my pocket money went on football games. The ones where you played, and the one's where you just managed - they were my favourite.
So my life has come full circle after discovering that Football Manager 2012, for reasons only known to themselves, has put a Soccer AM team in it. Over the past week, my twitter has been inundated with the fact that not only are my stats disappointingly poor SEE PICTURE (natural fitness 1/20 - even Tubes has 2!) but that I keep refusing to sign for Bolton or Aston Villa.
This makes me feel slightly smug, that I'm hanging on to sign for a massive club (all due respect to Villa and Bolton - Owen I'm here if you want to give me that contract).
I won't be playing it. For me, computer games finished in 1993. I keep getting asked for my gamer tag or something so I can play Call of Duty online with a 12-year-old in Wyoming.
I wish those soldiers would stop bobbing around the whole time. They just can't keep still - surely an important skill for someone trying to hide from the line of fire. Anyway I think I just got full up of them - I played a worrying amount in the late 80s and early 90s, when games were perhaps less realistic.
On Gary Lineker's football on the Amstrad, you could only shoot. Wherever you were on the pitch, you shot. On Peter Bearsley's International masters you only had nine players and three of them were in the opposition half when you kicked off.
On Club Football: The Manager, one of my players got injured and it said "Diagnosis: Car Crash" - that's a smart doctor who worked that out.
And on Striker on the Amiga, it was quicker to slide tackle up the pitch than run. And in one game, I can't remember which, you couldn't go right, which made the second half particularly difficult.
I had a game called Treble Champions on the Amstrad. You couldn't save the game. This was an issue. One Easter, me, Matthew and Clive spent THREE DAYS in my room - only leaving for the toilet and perhaps some toast. We got Altrincham (you had to be Altrincham) from the Conference to Division 1.
We got Paul Parker up to a nine skill level - not easy. We'd done everything. Then I tripped, and knocked the monitor button, I tried to rescue it by switching it back on really quickly. But no luck. The load up screen just sat there. We'd lost everything. We looked at each other, felt sick for a while, and then went outside.
To be honest, it probably saved our lives. We might still be in there. Instead, Clive's organising the 2012 Olympics and Matthew's saving lives in Cambodia - so it's probably for the best.
It's a little like ex-pros who just missed the boat on all the money coming into the Premier League. Last year I hosted the FIFA '11 UK Championships - the winner of that got a free trip to Barcelona and the chance to win 20 grand! The gamers even had agents!
No-one ever knocked on my bedroom door and offered me thousands of pounds for what I achieved with Altrincham, or winning the European Cup with Cambridge United in Championship Manager (they used to make up players names - Ken Wegerle is the greatest right winger of all time), or even for completing Treasure Island Dizzy...
To be honest, probably better to now be in a computer game, rather than playing one. If you do sign me, I promise to put 110% in every week - it means everything to me...
Have a good week,