Heathens Global #4: Birth of a club 2.0

So here we go with our FM19 Newton Heath 1878 journey and as the editing is probably going to take me a few weeks I thought I’d give a brief update on where I am up to.  Having had the editor for the past 24 hours I have (mostly) finished the first edit, which of course is the Newton Heath 1878 team itself so here are some details.  The post I guess is a bit nerdy with less pictures and more serious than my usual writing but I hope you still find it interesting.

First, a quick update – as most of you who have been following the project on twitter will know, I am aiming for a global domination narrative this year, in an alternate universe where Newton Heath 1878 are now a Premier League level club at game start with a few slight twists to keep it interesting.  By interesting, I mean that it will be very different to just continuing my FM18 save, where they would basically have just been Manchester United albeit with a slightly different history, which would have been absolutely pointless.

Instead of course we have gone down this affiliation path as I outlined in Heathens Global #1: Rationale and setup, where back in 1976, after the disappointment of losing Old Trafford as a site for a new stadium (blocked by Manchester City board members who were also members of the City Council planning committee), Newton Heath became the world’s first franchise model club along the lines of Red Bull, and more recently Man City with their attempts to create branded affiliates across the globe.  As such, I have had to make the following changes to the club history to make the narrative authentic:

Previous FM18 history in a nutshell

  • The club ISN’T bailed out in 1902 by John Henry Davies to become Utd but stays as Newton Heath
  • They have their own legends, icons and complete new history, including women’s footballers from the First World War (Lily Cottam) and Wilfred and Patrick Feeney, the ‘Ballymena Bullets’ (but we still have Denis Law 🙂 )
  • They yoyo up and down through the divisions, leaving them in League Two at the FM18 game start

New changes to the story

  • All the history up until 1976 is the same but at that point the club start with the franchise model (if you want to read the actual board meeting transcript where that happened, it’s here: Heathens global #2: The plans begin)
  • Over the next 40 years, they add over 20 clubs at 3 tiers of the franchise as follows: 1) brand new clubs bearing the ‘Heathens’ suffix e.g. Hobart Heathens and Penarol Paganos (which means ‘Heathens’ or ‘Pagans’ in Spanish) 2) Taken-over clubs bearing the prefix ‘NH’, where Newton Heath has a minimum of 51% control e.g. ‘NH Pumas’ and 3) Regular affiliates
  • The programme goes reasonably well, with the main benefits not being so much financial but transfers, loans and youth development
  • There is a fan takeover in 1989, when a businessman called Michael Knighton makes a 20mil bid for the club and its affiliates and the outraged fans raise 25mil to buy the club to forever make it fan-owned
  • Despite all this, the club have never won the Premier League since being promoted into it in the 2003-04 season
  • They have won the League Cup twice and more recently the FA Cup, against Liverpool in 2015 (to emulate what I did with them at the end of the FM18 save)
  • THE MOST CRUCIAL (I.E. INTERESTING) CHANGE: The club are relegated at the end of the 2017-18 season after receiving an 18pt penalty for fielding three ineligible players in an FA Cup quarter final against Manchester City (you can read the news article here Heathens global #3: STOP PRESS 17/3/18), WITH a transfer embargo to the January window. This, of course, will give me a promotion challenge where I will be forced to use the affiliates for loanees

How I have done it – Newton Heath vs Manchester United profiles in the editor

This new narrative was quite convenient in that I could use the regular Manchester United as a template in the editor so long as I changed their character completely, whereas last time I had to completely create a new League Two club, delete the real Utd and move loads of clubs around, which was a right pain in the arse. I c an also leave FC United in this time as they don’t really affect the narrative.

However, it is harder than you might imagine to bring Manchester United down to earth in editor terms as they are one of the richest clubs in the game and to align this profile with the Newton Heath story took some thought.  What I needed was a mid-table Premier side who had fallen from grace after never really capitalizing on the commercial benefits of the affiliates programme due partly to being fan-owned.  In short, the planning has took many hours but here is a brief summary, which will hopefully make the story believable:

newton heath fm19 edits So that is where we are up to for now.  If you’re interested in the editing process, the next steps are as follows:

  • Run a test to open up Newton Heath in the game to check it is all believable and workable
  • Create all the other teams
  • Affiliate them all
  • Run a final 10 year test without managing
  • Play the bloody thing 🙂

That said, thanks for reading.  I probably won’t release any more blogs about the editing process but if you’re interested contact me on my twitter if you have any questions.

See ya soon,

Daz aka @FMheathen on twitter


DYNAMO! #2: You staring at me?

Welcome back to my Dynamo! Beta save update and what a 2/3 of a season it’s been.  We have now hit the 3 month (bloody) winter break (boring boring) so while I’m holidaying the first month here is a quick update of the state of play in our quest to overcome Shahktar.

Firstly, let me share with you a late-90s comedy show reference that I have been using far too often this week in referring to our push/pull relationship, which for those who are uninitiated, not British (unless it went worldwide) or too young, involved two animated characters facing off in a huge stadium to massive crowds as they stared each other out in the brilliant ‘Big Train’:

And that, my dears, is basically us and Shakhtar.  As my old dad used to say, there has been nowt but a Gnat’s ball between us since the start of the save, with them occasionally pulling ahead but us catching them again and hanging on to their flapping shorts as they try to get to the top before us.  But let’s break it down into more detail, with our relative performance in each competition.

Ukranian Super Cup

Now some people (such as the Board) say that the Ukrainian version of the charity shield is not important.  Unless you win it, which we did, beating Shakhtar on penalties isupercup winn our first game of the entire save!  Woooooooohoooooo!!!!!!

Putting aside the fact that they basically played the backroom staff instead of their first XI, it’s a chalk-mark all the same and I was chuffed to get off the mark so early, so hey ho.  Not only that, we absolutely dominated as you can see by the stats.

All in all, despite it being a non-comp I was very well pleased with the new tactic (as seen in previous post) though there was clearly work to do on shot conversion going forward.  Here’s the tale of the tape to show you what I mean:

supercup stats.JPG

The League

Early doors it was clear we had fight on our hands as, in a similar way to Juve in my Napoli FM18 save, Shahktar immediately proved to be formidable opponents in the real (non Charity shield) world, sweeping every team away before them with total contempt – including ourselves in an absolute 3 nil spanking at home in our first meeting in anger.  Here is their unbeatable run up until the day before our second meeting:shahktar league

.. until this happened, when we beat the buggers 2-3 on their home turf, oh yeah 🙂

shahktar win.JPG

In terms of our own performance, we weren’t far short with just another loss and a draw, meaning we are now just a point behind them at the end of the break in February (I can’t help thinking though that the GD is going to haunt us come the day the fat lady sings):


Champion’s League / Europa League

You can probably guess by the title that this didn’t go well, with us quickly going down the Europa route from our UCL qualifier after losing on aggregate to old rivals Spartak Moscow.

I would like to claim that it didn’t mean anything as topling Shakhtar domestically is the aim of the save but that’s not true, I went for it good style and still got bent over by pretty much everyone.  Without labouring the point, here are the fixtures so we can move on quickly and pretend it never happened:


Ukraine Cup

This is an interesting one in that both Dynamo and Shahktar have shared the spoils of this cup (apart from 4 times) for the last 25 years, but I am pleased to say that this year with Shakhtar knocked out in the quarters it could be ours for the taking – we face Illichets in the semi-final who are 10th in the league so bring it on!

ukraine cup.JPG


One of my favourite things about being a part of the FM twitter community is the help that people give you about any aspect of the game, so when I started to flounder a little in the league I posted this query below. I’ve also included the brilliant reply from Daljit @BusttheNet as I think it really sums up the end tactic it led to.  His was just one of many answers from loads of people who helped me work the problem:


That said, I created the tactic with the following aims in mind:

  1. Use my fast WBs to overload the wings and exploit the space created by my IFs
  2. More defensive cover to give them freedom to go forward
  3. Press low as per Daljit’s suggestion

.. and this is what we arrived at leading into that 2nd game with Shahktar, which of course we won 2-3.  Note at this point that the roles are flexible depending on the teams (e.g. my SV would be changed against better teams) and ignore the glaring red square as it hasn’t been a problem at all:

NEW twitter tactic.JPG

You might also notice that I have labelled three players ‘NEW’ so you can see where I have recruited, namely to fill much needed gaps that I had identified as weaknesses.  For example, we only had one AML in the brilliant (though constantly knackered) Benjamin Verbic and I just couldn’t resist bringing Renan Lodi on loan from ATP, who I am determined to shape into my new Marcelo.  His personality needs work but he has so much potential that is ripe for the new mentoring system to exploit imo:

renan lodi.JPG


So there we go for this tale of 2/3s, best summed up as a work in progress that is definitely showing some results as go into the final third with some decent recruitment based on community advice and some decent scouting (although I say so myself).

Thanks for reading and see you soon 🙂

Daz aka @FMheathen


DYNAMO! #1: In defence of overdue honour

Image result for dynamo football bookWell hello again and welcome to my new blog for my FM19 beta save, simply called ‘DYNAMO!’ as it is with Dynamo Kyiv, the once formidable Ukranian powerhouse who have been in a constant battle with the mighty Shaktar Donetsk for almost 30 years for league domination.  But why Dynamo?

In short, the first thought of doing a save with them came to me a long time ago when I’d only just got back into FM after a long lay-off in 2013-14, when I read the book ‘Dynamo: defending the honour of Kiev’ by Andy Dougan.  The book is absolutely excellent and describes the story of how a cobbled-together team of malnourished and mistreated former players faced a team of incredibly fit and healthy evil Nazi bastards several times in exhibition matches only for the Nazis to be royally handed their arses on a plate.  I won’t give away any spoilers about the end but it’s enough to say that it is an incredible story of endurance and defiance that will leave you similarly inspired I’m sure.  If you would like to buy the book you can find it here on amazon.

So, that said, it’s been in the offing for a while and I was just waiting for the right opportunity which I think is now for the FM19 beta.  Aside of the history, here are the FM reasons why it should make a good short save:

  1. THEY ARE OVERDUE TO WIN THE LEAGUE AGAIN: They haven’t won the league for 2 years, and only 3 times in the last 10
  2. OVERCOMING SHAKTAR: there is literally only Dynamo and Shaktar who have shared league wins since 1992-93! In that time, Dynamo have won 15 and Shaktar have won 11.  However, this doesn’t tell the full story as 9 of Dynamo’s wins came on the run between 92 and 01
  3. EMULATING VALERIY LOBANOVSKYI: Dynamo’s greatest ever manager, Lobanovskyi’s high pressing style was responsible for 12 league titles, 8 domestic cups, 2 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups, 1 UEFA Supercup (thanks Wiki) during several tenures from 1974 to 2001 (by the way, my good twitter friend @FM53bast1an wrote an outstanding blog for FM18 for his Dynamo save, which sought to emulate Lobanovskyi down to the smallest detail.  It is in German on here but run it through google translate if you want an absolutely cracking read.
  4. A SHORTER SAVE SUITED TO A BETA: No messing about here with LLM 1.5k transfer budget shenanigans so at least I should have a fair chance 🙂
  5. A TARNISHED REPUTATION: sadly, in recent years some of the ‘fans’ of Dynamo have been horrifically racist, resulting in the abuse and attack of away fans and club punishments as a result.  Some of them also brandished swastikas ffs despite the history of the club!!! I obviously can’t change that here but it’s enough to say that FM is about football first and foremost so it won’t do any harm to just concentrate on that in this save and ignore them from now on.

That said, with only two weeks to my main Newton Heath Global Domination save and without time to either emulate Lobanovskyi properly or win everything in sight. the aim is very simple, to win the league!

First look at the team

I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised as the team looks ok to go right from the outset with a strong midfield and maybe just a few additions required for Def and Att (we only have 1 natural ST in Artem Besedin atm).  Sure, they’re not all 4 star (only 7 in there) but as always the stars don’t tell all the story and the range of positions and spread of attribs is very encouraging indeed, with many players in the 11-16 range almost across the board and almost every one of them being able to play in at least 3-4 positions as natural.  They’re also a young squad with plenty of retrain possibilities just perfect for the new FM19 training and mentoring system.  Of course this also means we lack leadership, so this is something I need to address in the market, maybe with an elder statesman CB if I can find one.

Here is a quick snapshot, including my own acronym system which I always use for the first couple of games to let me know my starting XI (if you are interested in the system, I blogged about it in FM18 and you can find it here) I get rid of it about a month in but I have always found it very useful indeed:squad start view

.. and here is a sample of what I mean by the versatility of the players, with my midfielder Denys Garmash:



We also have some good depth in the U21s and in our loaned out players, some of whom are annoyingly good but have only just been loaned out, meaning I can’t bring them back within this window 😦

I also enjoyed bringing back my mindmapping planning method which I used throughout the Heathens’ FM18 save, with an added squad review this time as follows:


With all this in mind, here is a quick summary of my squad review based on all this:

  • Strong midfield spine, with a LOT of attacking midfielders
  • Suited to narrow style as a lot of IFs and IWs on the wings
  • All right and leftbacks are natural WBs
  • Overall a decent team but recruitment needed for leadership, preferably in defence and attack
  • Need to use retrains to maximise benefits of a large squad of young players
  • Small budget of 7mil and a maxed-out wage budget means not a lot to play with

Tactical shenanigans

In terms of tactics, I have tried to draw inspiration from Lobanovskyi’s high pressing style and conveniently FM19’s brilliant new tactical style choices include the perfect match with a ‘control possession’ style that will be a cracking starting point with the roles and instructions to be tweaked later on.  That said, these are the two shapes that I would like to try – firstly, the  4231 wide, which I used in a friendly against Everton to reasonable effect, drawing 1 all and dominating possession and passing (roles are straight of the FM box):4231 wide

Here are the pros and cons of this IMO:


  • Plays to our midfield strengths
  • WBs could be very exciting


  • WBs could leave us VERY exposed, maybe changed to FBs even though we are more natural as WBs
  • I don’t like 2 BPDs – will have to change, maybe with that new super-leader CB 🙂

That said, I’m thinking that this would be a better variant, which allows the WBs to move up on overlap into the space vacated by the left IF and right IW (both natural roles for my best players on those sides), with the MCs dropped to the DM strata to give us cover.  It does leave a hole in the centre of course but this should be covered by the DLPsup and the IWsup.  As you can see, I’ve added the overlap instruction and (brilliantly, this year, thanks SI) I can always make this one-sided if needs be:

4231 assymetricAs well as this I have also used the new defensive shape sliders to compress the centre and close that gap when out of possession, as follows:out of possession

Of course with only one game under my belt it remains to be seen if my frankentactic will work but we shall see.

Another formation that the squad is VERY WELL suited to is the 5221 WB, due to me having loads of WBs and AMCs, but with a lack of depth in defence I’m not sure I’ll go there yet unless we transfer in.

5221 wb


So that, so far is where we are up to.  To sum it up I think I have a good core squad with loads of potential, suited to a strong high pressing tactic with (possibly) a narrow style.  We lack leadership and depth in defence and attack and I probably need to recruit with that in mind.

Thanks for reading so far and I hope you join me for the next instalment.

See you then,

Daz (aka @FMheathen)



Heathens global #3: STOP PRESS 17/3/18



Simon Curtis, Wembley, 6:15pm, 17th March 2018

Newton Heath 1878 were dramatically deducted 18 points at an FA disciplinary hearing today, meaning almost certain relegation to the Championship for fielding two ineligible players in the league fixture against Liverpool on the 8th of March, which the team lost 3-1.  In addition, the club have also had a one-year transfer embargo imposed, restricting them to only loan signings until the summer 2019 transfer window, pending appeal.

The FA disciplinary panel took just 32 minutes to reach the majority decision after hearing evidence from the club’s chairman, Ian Stafford, and their former manager Diego Simeone, who was sacked by the club just two days ago amid allegations of deliberately trying to cheat the player work permit system.

Former Atletico Madrid manager Simeone is said to have known that the two substitutes he played, Gabriel Bratu and Christian Madu, were in fact ineligible due to work permit delays but still played them regardless in an attempt to overcome both Liverpool and local rivals Manchester City, who were jointly just one point ahead of Newton Heath 1878 on the morning of the game.


While both the club and Simeone have so far refused to comment on the disciplinary outcome, it is believed that a sensational video recording that surfaced on social media two days ago sealed his fate with the club, who parted ways with him within hours of its release.  Recorded secretly by an anonymous fan who had challenged him on the matter outside the club’s New Bank Street football complex, Simeone is clearly heard to say “I knew and I didn’t care – all I wanted to do was to beat those two b******s, isn’t that what you wanted as well?  It was a chance worth taking”.

Within moments of the video being released and going viral, memes started to surface across social networks depicting Simeone as a ‘chancer’ who had gambled with the future of a growing global football brand with complete abandon.

Heathens’ fans from around the world reacted with mixed emotions, with some calling for his head and others saying that Simeone had showed a much needed passion that had been missing from the Heathens since their meteoric rise from League two just twelve years ago under the stewardship of much-loved club legend FMheathen.

In an FM18 save that took the club from the fourth tier of English football to a dramatic FA Cup final penalty shootout win against bitter rivals Liverpool, FMheathen capitalised on the club’s global links by developing players from ‘Heathens Global’ affiliate clubs such as former NH Virtus Entella players Zakaria Badaoui and Fabrizio Fava, who both scored penalties in that winning final.  However, in the eight years since the club have been in the Premier League this remains their only trophy and it is fair to say that while they successfully consolidated their position their performances were consistently underwhelming until FMheathen’s resignation in May of last year, echoing the famous sentiments of club legend Billy Meredith from his own resignation in 1938 with the simple words “my game is over”.  Ironically though it now seems that those words were premature as it is is believed he is once again about to take the reigns of the club for #FM19 as at least a caretaker manager until the board find a replacement.


Newton Heath 1878, who were renamed from plain Newton Heath in 1978 in honour of the club’s centenary, were the first English club to develop a global football franchise model in 1976 with their affiliation to Penarol Paganos in Uruguay.  Since then, they have developed a franchise network of over 30 clubs of varying degrees of involvement, which all bear the ‘Heathens Global’ trademark.

Diego Simeone’s own personal disciplinary hearing will begin tomorrow, after which he is expected to return to Spain to resume managership of his former club Atletico Madrid, who have made it clear that this matter will not effect the respect they hold for him based on his former successful management of the club.


Heathens global #2: The plans begin ..


Meeting room of Newton Heath FC board, Bank Street, Clayton, 12th July 1976, 2:40 pm.

It is a baking hot day in the middle of a heatwave. A small table fan sits at one end of a wide teak table littered with pages of fluttering documents.  Despite two open sash windows its weak efforts to ventilate the room fail miserably but merely circulate a growing cloud of cigarette smoke gathered around the heads of those assembled, as follows:

Will Stafford: Chairman and grandson of Sir Harry Stafford, founder of Newton Heath

Tom Meredith: club secretary and grandson of club legend Billy Meredith

Alfred Winstanley: finance officer

Liam Curtis: marketing director

Jack Birchall: honorary director, youngest ever scorer and club legend (also @FMheathen’s dad 🙂 )

Gabriel Vázquez: President, Club Atlético Peñarol, Uruguay

Sally Bailey: Office secretary


LIAM CURTIS:  So that, gentleman, is the proposal.  What are your thoughts?

(a long pause from all assembled, eventually WILL STAFFORD picks up a document from an open manilla folder)

WILL STAFFORD: It would be very good for the club.  But I’m not sure it would work – we’ve only just lost the contract to build the new stadium and I’m not sure the timing is right.

(NOTE: in the original Heathens FM18 narrative, Newton Heath were blocked in July 1976 from building a new stadium on a development site called ‘Old Trafford’ by Manchester City Council, secretly undermined by wealthy Manchester City FC board members.  The reason they needed a new stadium was due to a stand that collapsed at the end of the previous season, which meant their old stadium, the original Bank Street, was temporarily deemed unfit for use by the council and the football league)

LIAM CURTIS: But that is exactly why we should do it now.  We will never have the chance to expand like this.

TOM MEREDITH: Expand? What’s the point?  We should concentrate on consolidating what we have.  After the whole mess with the stand collapsing we have other priorities.

JACK BIRCHALL: Mess, you say? It was far more than that, people could have been killed.  I agree, THAT’S the first priority, safety.

LIAM CURTIS: And that, gentleman, is something I totally agree with as you know, but it is also something that we can now put behind us with the new stand having been passed for safe use by both the council and the league.  Our reputation around the world is growing by the day and we need to take advantage before other clubs do the same.  Since our world tours of the 1920s there has been a seed that has been growing and it is ripe for the harvest.  The time is now!

JACK BIRCHALL: Nonsense! Our place is here, in Manchester, not galivanting around Mexico or wherever the fancy takes us. We’re not in the holiday business.

LIAM CURTIS: It’s Uruguay and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with a ‘holiday business’, it’s a serious proposal that could be the start of a massive worldwide expansion.  This could benefit the club for years to come.

JACK BIRCHALL: Worldwide expansion? We are English, born and bred, and that’s where we should stay! God knows it’s bad enough trying to stay in the league as it is.  How can we ‘expand’ as you put it when we have been up and down like a yoyo for the past 10 years?  It’s about the here and now, man, not the there and then, wearing bloody sombreros!

WILL STAFFORD: Gentlemen, please, I am aware that this has been a difficult year for all of us but please let’s stay respectful.  Personally I am still on the fence so may I suggest a brief summary from you, Alfred?  As finance officer I believe we haven’t heard enough from you so far.

ALFRED WINSTANLEY (putting on glasses and picking up a paper from a file): Thank you, Will.  As I said earlier, the costs of such an expansion would be negligible at this stage, with the largest portion being the transport of any personnel between two clubs with such a distance between them and the lesser portion being the rebranding of the affiliate club.   In that respect it would have been much easier if we had chosen an English or European club, though that said, it is accepted I think by us all that the popularity of the club in South America and in particular Uruguay as a result of the 1923 tour provides us with a very good expansion opportunity.  There is an added incentive in that Penarol are a small club which means it would be a relatively safe starting point.

WILL STAFFORD: So, can we afford it or not?  And more importantly, do you think it’s a good idea?

ALFRED WINSTANLEY: Well, as I say the costs are negligible at this stage so yes, but as to whether it’s a good idea or not, are you asking me as your finance officer or as a board member?

WILL STAFFORD: As a board member and a friend.

ALFRED WINSTANLEY (pausing): Then no, I agree that while we can afford it, now is not the right time.

WILL STAFFORD: Ok, gentlemen, it’s been a long day so I propose we are ready for the vote but perhaps we should have a private chat first given the importance of the matter.  Sally, give us some privacy please then bring in Mr Vázquez.  Shall we say 3pm gentlemen? (all nod in agreement). 

SALLY BAILEY: Yes, Mr Stafford (exiting).

(3pm: enter Sally with Gabriel Vasquez)

WILL STAFFORD (standing): Señor Vázquez. Please take a seat.

GABRIEL VASQUEZ (sitting):  Thank you, Mr Stafford.

WILL STAFFORD:  Sorry to keep you waiting but as I am sure you understand this would be a very big step for us to take.  An affiliation of this kind would be unprecedented in the world of modern football and there was a lot to discuss.

GABRIEL VASQUEZ: I understand, and as president of Club Atlético Peñarol I thank you for your time.  It has been difficult for us recently and an alliance with a fellow railway club like Newton Heath would be very good for us indeed.  Without it, I don’t think we will survive as a club beyond this season.

WILL STAFFORD:  Then in that case let’s not waste any more of your time.  It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the Newton Heath board will be accepting the motion to form a senior affiliation with Penarol, adopting the name Penarol Paganos as per your suggestion.  Welcome to the Newton Heath family, Señor Vázquez.

(all rise and shake hands).

Sally. will you bring the drinks trolley in please?  I think this calls for a toast.













Heathens Global #1: Rationale and setup

fake letter bannerSo here it is dear followers, the announcement of my football manager 2019 save where the Heathens begin their first tentative steps towards global domination, with a network of affiliated clubs around the world as per some of the modern football franchise models such as those created by Red Bull and Manchester City.

This of course builds upon the success of my FM18 save, which resulted not in the much-hoped for FM Holy Grail of a Champions League win but the extremely satisfying FA Cup win over our greatest rivals Liverpool after a sometimes tortuous but very enjoyable climb from League Two; made even sweeter as both me and the Liverpool manager Diego Simeone entered the final facing the sack race with him losing his job the day after 🙂  If you’ve not seen the video of that final game you can find it here:

But onwards and upwards to this new save, which as I say is to set up a franchise network of clubs around the globe under the Heathen brand with these aims:

  • To give me a range of different clubs and challenges for FM19
  • To use this franchise model to facilitate club and youth development
  • To create a narrative with more stories, more drama, more fun 🙂

As this is a big project I have divided the creation of these clubs into three categories, based on whether we have full ownership, just shares or a regular affiliation:

  • NEWLY CREATED TEAMS OR COMPLETE TAKEOVERS (name suffixed with ‘HEATHENS’ e.g. ‘HOBART HEATHENS‘): complete takeovers under the Heathen banner and name as if the club has been bought out or founded
  • PARTNERSHIPS (name prefixed with ‘NH’ e.g. ‘NH PUMAS‘): shared ownership, retaining their own history but merging it with Newton Heath (think graphics, slight name changes etc)
  • STANDARD AFFILIATES (No renaming): as per usual FM affiliate arrangements

The teams will then be chosen in this order of priority:

  1. Teams with a link to the railway industry as per Newton Heath
  2. Teams with a link to the real Manchester United’s history
  3. Teams local to the main team in that area

In fact, I have already chosen a few clubs which you can see here:


As you can see, they’re quite varied in location and quality so I think this shows well the worldwide scale of the project and also the realistic feeder links I am going for (ie Lokomotives Leipzig/Moscow and HK Heathens/Hobart Heathens).  This of course will be greatly expanded to cover the globe with an estimated 20-30 teams, all of which will be playable should I so choose (though I will probably play just 4 or 5).

How this fits in with the current Newton Heath story (and new adjustments required)

If you followed the story last year, we began in a world with an alternate history, where Newton Heath were not bailed out by John Henry Davies in 1902 to become Manchester United, but in fact, struggled on, yo-yoing through the divisions until 2017 when they were sitting firmly in League Two.  This was inspired by both my love of United and my old dad Jack who was a train driver at the same depot and who sadly passed away in April of this year (God bless you Dad x).  If you are interested in reading about that Heathens journey, you can find all the blogs here on this site under the ‘Heathens resurrected‘ title.

After rising through the divisions with three successive promotions I managed to take the club to the Premier League, ending the save with that FA Cup win.  However, that was in 2030, so I need to revise the Newton Heath alternate history so that it is believable that they are in a position to have already rolled out an extensive franchise model, both in terms of reputation and finances, as of the start of season 2018-19.  The risk, I guess, is just recreating the current Manchester United, so I will try to build a different profile to avoid this.

The result of this will (hopefully) be that they will be a mid-table Premier League side with reasonable finances but a worldwide reputation among the football-watching public as an historic club.  This should give me a shorter challenge than an LLM save involving a long promotion run given I will have a lot more teams globally that I can step in and out of to manage.

The Next Steps

Having already spent days on the project just in this planning phase I need to simplify it from now on, so here are the next things I need to do with that firmly in mind:

  • Finalise the teams list, using EXISTING FM leagues where possible (it will be much easier than adding new playable leagues come editing time)
  • Create graphics for every new or bought out team (the partnership and regular affiliates will mostly stay the same, apart from maybe some logo work)
  • KISS for Keep It Simple Stupid, because if you know me, you’ll understand that that’s one thing I’m not very good at 🙂

Oh, and PS, there’s an added bonus in the save in that my pal Tom, who many of you know as @FMpoacher from twitter will also have a completely unconnected team in the same database matched to his own FM19 project called the Derby Midland Revival, which you can view on his blog here. It is also a railway team so it fits well in this universe and should be goddamn cool to follow.

Until next time, wish me luck and watch this space!


(aka @FMheathen)


The Rondudno way #1: It’s you Ron, Ron, it’s you Ron, Ron..

So we’ve reached that silly save season time again when most of us in the FM community go rogue having either completed or lost interest in our main save(s).  So not wanting to be left out, ladies and gentlemen I present to you a tasty little Ron Atkinson Welsh seaside aside save, that I have decided to call ‘ The Rondudno way’.Capvture.PNG

Our story begins in Rhos-on Sea in North Wales, and more specifically in the conservatory of Ron’s modest 8 bedroom bungalow overlooking the golf course on the quiet rural road that runs to the neighbouring seaside town of Llandudno, lying in the shadow of a majestic piece of rock called the Great Orme.

After leaving his DoF post at Kettering Town in 2007, Ron has been very firmly in the football wilderness and despite an attempt at sideways celeb-for-hire fame on Celebrity Big Brother in 2013 when he made an inappropriate reference to an Irish contestant (all true, I kid you not), it is fair to say that Ron has now accepted the reality of a peaceful retirement punctuated by the odd game of golf, a 19th hole Drambuie and the odd cream tea with the missus in the shade of Conwy Castle.

On the day we meet Ron, it is 11am on a Saturday morning and he is pottering around the bungalow in his dressing gown and slippers and doing nothing apart from generally getting under his wife’s feet.  The golf course is closed due to recent flooding (this happens a lot) and before she commits murder his wife orders him to go out and ‘find something better to do instead of getting in my bloody way’.

Feeling downtrodden but without otherwise a care in the world, Ron capitulates and decides to go into Llandudno for a coffee and to pick up a copy of the Racing Post because, in his words ‘I shouldn’t have to fucking ‘log on’ every time I want a flutter’.

On the way there, while approaching the town from the Colwyn rd (a beautiful sweeping A-road descending from a small mountain with the fields on one side and the sea on the other) he slams on the brakes as a mud-ridden football flies into his path, bouncing off the bonnet of his pristine red Jag and onto the rounded pebbles of the beach. Capture 2.PNGStartled but unable to resist the lure of picking up a ball again, he gets out of the car to see a ginger-haired young lad leap the wooden railings, retrieve the ball and turn to hoik it 60 yards back into the field towards another group of players assembled on the soaking wet field. The 18-something lad turns to the bonnet, spits on his sleeve, generally just spreads the muddy print around and leaves without a word, leaving Ron stood there aghast – he couldn’t give a shit about the car but why did the little bastard not recognise him?

“Oi!” he shouts, at which point the lad turns round.

“Yes, mate? Oh, sorry, just training like – got a game this aft.” he replies, jumping back over the fence.

“Do you not know who I am?” Declares Ron, indignantly.

The lad pauses “Hmmmm no, sorry mate, but do you know who we are?” he shouts back, pointing at his teammates as his jogs back to them.

Ron looks at the disheveled crowd of players of what can only be described as ‘mixed-age’, some of whom are wearing white striped football tops.

“No lad, why don’t you educate me?” Ron shouts back, struggling to be heard in the sea breeze.

Turning and pausing, the lad smiles for a second before replying.

“We’re Llandudno!” He cries, at which point the crowd of players start jumping around and singing a song which sounds something like “we are the Llandudno boys!”

“Oh, okay.” Ron says before getting back into the car, still upset at his apparent anonymity.

The next two hours seem to pass in an instant as Ron walks around Llandudno in a haze before calling into a newsagents, walking straight past the Racing Post on the newsstand and up to the shopkeeper.

“Hello Sir, the Racing Post again?” The shopkeeper asks.

“Not today,” Ron replies, “You know this football club, Lllandudno?” He asks.

“Well, yes sir, of course.” The shopkeeper replies.

“Can you tell me where they play and who their Chairman is?” Ron asks. 🙂

“We’re Lllandudno mate”

And the rest, as they say, is history (or it will be when I’ve fired up the save).

Watch this space for #2 of The Rondudno Way, coming to a twitterbox near you soon 🙂