STOP PRESS: this is before I did v2.0 which has fake players. You can get that new version from the link at the bottom of the page.
So here we go chaps, enough messing about editing, let’s see what it was like to manage with all the complete chaos of WW2. We start with, who else, Bolton Wanderers and their team stripped of 32/35 staff and players after Harry Goslin told 28,000 fans in 1939 that him and the lads were going to join up (on a very side note the fella was to pay for the decision with his life in 1943, and I for one will never forget the sacrifice for our freedom that he and everyone else who fought in WW2 made #lestweforget we should always remember them). First off, here is a sneak preview of how it looks with the ground pictures in, then we shall get on to the playthrough:
As you would expect, the cupboard is complete bare in terms of the squad but we do have 4 newgens after I ran a quick twitter poll to ask people what they thought about adding them with the “add players to playable teams” tick box. In the end I think it was a good decision as, rather than fill every squad with loads of players it seemed to have just filled a few spots in each team which I think has added to the feel of the squads being cobbled together from volunteer scraps of players who lived locally.
Some of you may know some of the players there after I deleted all the elites (I didn’t fancy the jarring effect of having Haaland doing military service that I think would have spoiled the immersion). If you do, I’m impressed! Especially as a lot of the lower ability players come from Australia and New Zealand.
Staff-wise, I have delegated almost all responsibilities apart from choosing an assistant manager and key coaching staff as the job of a manager at the time was really just to manage and not piss about with 4 different press conferences or whether or not to renew the performance analysts’ contract. I have took charge of training however for that same boots-on-the-pitch tracksuit manager old school feel.
As for the tactic, I had a brief think and it just seemed absolutely obvious to go for a hoofball variation, winning deep and banging it long, Named The Mixer (go figure) we also have PIs set for the deep fellas marking tight and rattling in hard and the wide fellas crossing it early and long. The only thing I am undecided about is the WB role which I’ve never been fond of in FM when used with wingers due to the exposure at the back, but I’ve banged the HB in there so let’s see if he covers it and allows them to bomb on safely. Would appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this btw if you care to share them.
In terms of the players to fit it, beggars can’t be choosers as with just a week before our first game in the League War Cup (North) there are only 370 available out of 933 real players in the DB (the rest are on 3 or 4 year military service). This is across 70 teams as well so anyone who has two legs and wants to come was offered a trial for me to sift through. I started with masked attribs so that should find me some hard-tackling-smash-passing nutters for the bottom half and some creative players up top from this bunch who as you can see are all home nation as per the time
It doesn’t take long before Ryan Fredericks with his demon physicals talks himself into the team and becomes our first signing of 1942! A dozen of the rest are set for the DoF to target.
Then suddenly it dawns on me (as I deliberately started in late pre-season) that we have a game coming up in 4 days but we still only have 4 newgens, Fredericks and a bunch of greys, much like the real Bolton at the time! We eagerly await the draw for our debut in the Football League Cup North where we get Walsall. As the kick off approaches our dawdling DoF still has nobody else over the line so this is how we start with nothing to do but have faith in the system.
With nothing left to worry about except getting the ball in the net more times than Walsall, I gather the lads around for a quick pre-match bovril and utter the immortal words “you know what to do lads, win it deep and smash it high!” which seem to be well received, especially when someone turns on the wireless for us to hear that Rommel was on the run from the desert rats in Africa, where we know the 53rd regiment (and in it all our players) are serving. “Let’s win it for Harry and the boys!” I say finally before we head out in the driving mid-August bitterly cold West Midlands rain.
After a testy first 5 minutes where Walsall, who don’t seem to have any greys at all but actually quite a good real-life team, hit the post, I shout for our keeper to give it some welly and this moment of sheer hoofball beauty occurs, giving us the first goal of the save from would you believe it a little grey fella with ne’er an attrib above 8 by the name of Mario Lord! Instant hero! A week ago he was sweeping the car park and now look at the little bugger.
One thing I should mention here is of course that there are no subs, meaning that both teams are getting seriously tired by the halfway point and this rule definitely shows in 3 of the other cup games on today with players on a yellow clearly not being subbed! I’m really pleased with this as it should make it a hell of a challenge.
In the end we managed to hold on with our fingertips to take an important lead into the second leg back at Burnden in a week’s time despite them completely out-statting us.
Continuing on the same path and with just 4 days before our first league game in the 1942 1st North Championship (due to the uncertainty of the war there were two, one before Christmas and one straight afterwards, both with their own champions) we go into the market for a physical player again and our next signing couldn’t be better suited to a winning-the-ball-deep philosophy given he actually has the trait! Welcome to the Trotters, Matt Grimes! In addition in desperate need for a tall starting target man we also manage to pull Ryan Edmondson from the lurking arms of Leicester City as our first bought Striker in the save who should do some damage for us at this level.
With now 3, (yes 3!) real players to bolster our squad we head off to Turf Moor for what I wrongly think is going to be a cake walk against a Burnley side who have only managed to make a single real life player signing so far, whom shall remain nameless as he is so crap I don’t want to embarrass the fella. No really, he has less attribs than the greys and that’s saying something.
What follows however is an absolute first half trouncing with us 2 nil down after 20 and me half considering just sticking our real’lies of Fredericks, Grimesy and Edmunds up top in a 3 in front of a field of supporting greys, which ten minutes into the second half I actually do, at which point in the same next 45 seconds we both score a goal and get the same player sent off for a straight red two-footer that nearly broke the monitor screen. The game finishes 2-1, I bollock them, we move on to fight another day, hey ho, re-building Bolton wasn’t built in a day (if you know what I mean).
No time to rest up though because three days later sees us in that return Burnden Park War Cup leg against Walsall, whom I feel we should beat comfortably this time around with the couple of more players we now have. Thankfully it was a grey who was sent off last time out so Edmondson, Grimesey and Fredericks start again and this time it takes a single minute when a lovely cross from Freddie meets the towering head of Eddie who nods it right into top bins with stunning force. 1 nil, sorted.
By HT it is still the same but a lot more positive from the boys who really seem to have gelled already. The game finishes 2-0 on aggregate, job done again and we march on into the second round.
3 days later all the buses come in at once and 4 signings step out of the van to set us up nicely for the next game which brings you right up to date.
Finally, if you fancy playing it, here is the link to v2.0 which is much improved on the above with automatic (ie FM-generated) National Service loans plus fake players.
Bye for now
Daz aka @FMheathen, everywhere.