Heathens resurrected #5: end of season press conference


GAVIN THE BREW BOY: Ahem .. the gaffer has asked that I act as his … ahem .. press officer today as we can’t afford a proper one. He’ll be here in a minute so can the three of you take your seats please?

(FMtotality enters, a bit worse for wear, channeling Flintoff)

FMTOTALITY:  Hello, thanks for stopping by at Bank Street.  I wasn’t expecting this many of you so Gavin you better break into the coffee machine for a couple more plastic cups for our prosecco.  I hope you’ll all stay later for a little snifter before you go.  Before we get into your questions though I’d like to take a minute of your time for a little sentimental statement that I have prepared.

Ahem here goes .. as you know, today is a proud day for the club in that we have avoided relegation and will now remain in League two for at least two consecutive seasons for the first time in 52 years, since the great days of the King of the Clayton Road End, Denis Law.   I know at just 24 years of age I may not have always had the respect of other people in the league but at this special moment I hope you don’t mind if I share some personal feelings with you from my short time in this game.

Firstly, may I say that I love this game of ours, always have and always will.  Through mispent, countless hours that have given me neither sustenance or wealth I have clicked away with hope from one day to the next, through updates galore, cruel crash dump demons and shite regens that offer so much but ultimately give so little.  But occasionally, just occasionally, comes a day when I see it for the little, incredible pixelated utopia that it can be and today is one of those days. With that said, I hope you can share some of the joy that I am feeling at this moment and conduct this final press conference of the season in the same spirit of happiness and goodwill.

That’s all, thanks for listening and fire away.

DAVID EVANS:  Hi FM, David Evans from the Manchester Evening news. Very touching but I’m sure your fans want to know why you think Newton Heath 1878 have been so rubbish this season? I mean, you’ve lost 27 games.

FMTOTALITY:  Hello David, straight to the point I see.  Yes, you’re right. But there’s another number I want you to consider – I know it’s not as big as yours (.. giggles ..) but that number is one that I am proud of and it’s 13.

DAVID EVANS: What’s that stand for?

FMTOTALITY: That, David, is the number of wins we’ve had – and here’s another one .. 39.  That’s the points it gave us. When you add that to the 6 draws it means 45 and safety, and the Heathens’ living to fight another day.

DAVID EVANS: Very nice, but it still doesn’t explain why you are so bad.  You tweeted 5 games before the run in that you only needed three points to stay up ..

FMTOTALITY: .. yeah ..

DAVID EVANS: .. but in reality you got none.  Not a single point in the last 5 games in which, may I add, you lost against two teams who were below you and had two players sent off in one game.

FMTOTALITY: Splitting hairs, mate.  The fact is we stayed up and both Lewis Mansell and Ronnie Boylan were very sorry for those tackles, which could have gone either way to be honest.

DAVID EVANS: Either way?  The boy that Mansell tackled has a permanent limp and Boylan’s victim has been told he will never be able to have kids.  What do you have to say to that?

FMTOTALITY: Good luck to him – he should thank Ronnie, kids are a pain in the arse.

KERRY TURNBULL: Kerry Turnbull, BBC. Can you explain why, when the club was in desperate need of young, dynamic players you brought in 39 year old Kevin Ellison from Morecambe? A player that most people, not just in the league, but in the football world in general, think is past his prime.

Kevin Ellison_ Overview Profile.png
Kevin Ellison, who is thirty bloody nine

FMTOTALITY: Sure, but can I say before we start that he was actually 38 when he came to us, he was 39 three weeks later.

KERRY TURNBULL: Ok, but that still doesn’t answer my question.

FMTOTALITY: It’s as simple as this – big Kev is a leader and a keeper. We’ve got him in for the coaching and tutoring more than anything and, may I add, what a debut.  He walked in at 11 o clock on the 1st January and 4 hours later made an assist and scored a goal.  You can’t say more than that.

KERRY TURNBULL: .. but then got injured for a month ..

FMTOTALITY: And so would you be! He’s thirty bloody nine! Anyway, I see what you’re saying, he might be a bit long in the tooth for the first team but the bloke has other uses,  For example, he’s already tutoring young Steven Sandley and the boy’s really coming on well.

KERRY TURNBULL: Yes, we’ve seen the photos on Sandley’s twitter – is it true that the team took him for a pub crawl on Morecambe seafront and that Sandley had to pretend to make love to a giant lobster outside a seafood shop?

FMTOTALITY: Bonding, that’s all, every team has it.  Don’t make a mountain out of a lobster pot.  Anyway, I believe it was consensual.  (..giggles..)

COREY DELANEY: Corey Delaney, 412111 magazine. Can I just turn attention to the rest of your transfer dealings please?

FMTOTALITY: Sure, go ahead.

COREY DELANEY: Is it true that you took in more loans than anyone in the league and because of this you had at least 10 players sitting idle each week due to the 5 loanee match day rules?

FMTOTALITY: Yes, that’s right. Stupid rule, always has been.

COREY DELANEY: Really? Fans would say that it is to the detriment of your current first team squad, not to mention your youth prospects.

FMTOTALITY: Pile of shite mate, you’re talking through your arse.

COREY DELANEY: Well that’s not very prof ..

FMTOTALITY: Did you see the squad when I walked through the door?

COREY DELANEY: I think so .. I mean .. (shuffles through notes) ..

FMTOTALITY: It’s ok, let me save you the bother.  We had 16 players in the first team squad and apart from looking like Lurch from off of the Addams Family and making the opposition attack shit themselves when they come in the box the only decent one was the goalie.  We had two attacking midfielders who couldn’t cross a road, four centre halves who couldn’t tackle a toddler, three strikers who couldn’t hit a small cow’s arse with a big banjo and a playmaker with a wooden leg. We also didn’t have a pot to piss in for a transfer budget.  So what the fuck was I supposed to do?

Jim Forbes_ Overview Profile
Lurch from off of the Addams family

COREY DELANEY: ahem … well that was up to you so decide ..

FMTOTALITY: Yeah and that’s what I did.  Next fucking question.

DAVID EVANS: So in effect you’re saying you did what you could with the limited resources you had at your disposal and that you’re pleased both to sign a new contract and for the club to stay up in League two.

FMTOTALITY: hmmm .. yeah, I suppose so.

DAVID EVANS: Ok, we’ll print that.

FMTOTALITY: nice one, any more questions?

DAVID EVANS: yes, is it true you’ve already started planning for next season?

FMTOTALITY: since day one, fella. As soon as I walked through the door I knew it would be a long term project and that has been my approach from the start.

DAVID EVANS: Can you outline those plans for our readers please?

FMTOTALITY: sure – if you turn to your handout in your press pack on page .. page …

GAVIN THE BREW BOY: It’s page 7, FM.

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.18 -
page 7

FMTOTALITY: .. ok, page 7, you can see what I have planned. As you can see there’s a lot going on, though I’d appreciate if you mouthy bastards don’t fucking blog all of it .. just to keep the opposition guessing.

KERRY TURNBULL: Very interesting .. is that all your plans for the coming year?

FMTOTALITY: That would be telling, anyway I think it’s time we called this to a close.  Who’s for prosecco and cheesy nibbles? (.. hands go up..) .. not you Delaney, fuck off.





Heathens resurrected #4: .. mistakes and a knackered tree

So it is now mid-December 2017 and while Gavin the brew boy is busy putting up that knackered two foot tree he bin-dipped from the back of Aldi I thought I’d give you a short update to how this job is going so far, and for this I only have three words to start with.

Hardest .. save.. ever.

Quite simply, when I walked into this office nothing prepared me for how absolutely dire the Heathens would be.  Sure, with a prediction of 24th and 800-1 odds for the league I knew it would be difficult but without exaggeration I can honestly say that in 10 years (give or take) of playing our beautiful game I can’t remember ever having had a challenge like this.  Maybe it’s the extra pressure of blogging it for you lot, but it certainly feels more difficult than anything I’ve ever faced.

Worse thing is that it’s not only the newgens but the players I have brought in too, who seem to have been infected by some kind of osmosis with a malaise of underachievement, purely from sharing the same dressing room as the initial duffers that FM kindly spawned for me.

Take this fella for example, my great fullback hope Raheem Hanley, whom I brought in on loan from Northampton.  As you can see, he SHOULD be good for this level, head and shoulders above anyone else I had, with pace and reasonably well rounded Tech and Mentals.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players.png

Yet it is the same Raheem Hanley who has an avg rating of 6.9 (and that’s only because I’ve just played a 7-0 morale friendly – before he was 6.3) with a 0.05 ass/90 and a 65% pass success rate.  All the while being played in his natural position and role.

Likewise, James Wesolowski, another great hope who I mentioned in the last blog as a leader to build my team around, who similarly has a 6.72 avg rating,  but 28 mistakes in 17 games.

And this sums up the problem, mistakes.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve screamed at the screen as one of them does an air pass that is intercepted leading to a goal.  Here are the number of mistakes for my current 11, in descending order ..

62, 44, 28, 28, 26, 26, 19, 17, 17, 17, 16.

That’s 300 in 22 games. 3 .. fucking .. hundred.

So, how to deal with it?  I did the usual – shout at players, be nice to players, adjust training (ball control for 3 months), review tactics with short passing, work ball into box etc but with the only difference being just one or two team links developing on the tactics screen, nothing has worked so far.

So this is where this work in progress leaves us, in 22nd on 18 points, a gnat’s ball away from the drop zone, which I guess I should be happy with, given that all I wanted to do was avoid relegation and beat that dreaded 24th prediction.

Newton Heath 1878_ Competitions.png

I am definitely not happy though, especially as I came in from FM17 with a Copa Libertadores in my back pocket and a journeyman that resulted in a UCL win for Everton.  In other words, losing is bad enough but it’s absolute shite when you know (or think you know) that you’re good at the game.

The board though are pleased, so that’s some relief.  Who knows, we might yet survive despite this mass player betrayal of the faith I placed in them.  Mostly because I’ve only spent about 3 quid on transfers (actually 10k but still really low compared to the 100k they give me) and the wages are the lowest in the league.

Newton Heath 1878_ Confidence Confidence.png

To give you the full gory picture, here is my schedule since the last blog.

Newton Heath 1878_ Senior Fixtures.png

As you can see, since the opening defeat against Morecambe on the 5th August we’ve had a grand total of 7 wins, and one of them doesn’t actually count as it was a 7 nil friendly against Radcliffe Olympic, who might as well have been a load of piss artists we found around the back of the local for the way they played.   Still it gave us a nice fitness and morale boost in a 14 day gap, before we lost 1 nil to Chesterfield because the lads thought it was  bit boring to ACTUALLY WIN A GAME!

Going forward, I am happy to say we have some plans afoot.  We have a new team leader arriving in two weeks, in the form of Morecambe’s Kevin Ellison who will hopefully (here we go again) give us some much needed .. hmmm .. leadership.  He is always a beast for Morecambe in all my saves and although he’s due to retire he should prove to be a good coach and tutor – he also likes the same formation and has cracking youth coaching so I’ve made him a first team player / coach for my u23s.

Kevin Ellison_ Overview Staff Attributes.png

So apart from him, where too now?  More of the same I guess, more reading stats, more adjustments, more transfers, but more importantly for me personally, more learning.

I think the best part of the game for me is that you can never truly complete it but you are always learning about ways to improve and I am doing just that on overdrive.  My google search history for the past week is that typical for a healthy FM-playing male (steady on), which is along the lines of ‘beating a slump’, ‘How not to get sacked in FM’ and of course every FMer’s favourite at some point ‘how to stop losing to the AI in football manager’.   In other words, as always and as a proud student of this wonderful game that most of us love and hate in equal measure, I will read, digest, learn and strive to improve.  Oh, and it would also help if the lazy bastards on that team sheet get their fingers out of their collective arse.

See you soon and thanks for stopping by (oh and pass me that shotgun on the way out while I get Gavin to lock it back in the cupboard).

Image result for mad comic
A picture of someone who may, or may not, be Gavin the brew boy.

Heathens resurrected #3: building the foundations

newton-heath-3So it has been an interesting first month at my office in Bank Street.  I’ve got the new brew boy Gavin painting the anaglypta a nice misty buff as we speak and I’ve done well avoiding the missus who apparently wants me to watch crap tv with her instead of playing our beautiful game.  If you’ve read the first blog or watched the intro youtube video you’ll know that, as expected, I had serious work to do to avoid fulfilling the predicted 24th place and our 800-1 odds of winning the league.

We are now 5 league and 1 Carabao cup game in so how have we fared?  All will be revealed at the bottom of the page (so skip to the bottom if you can’t wait) but first let’s have a look at that missus-dodging rebuilding that I’ve been doing.

TRANSFERS: .. you put your left back in, left back out ..

So as you would expect it has been a busy time with new oil ordered for the spinning Clayton rd End turnstiles as players come in and out like a pissed vicar in a house of ill repute.  First off, we knew that we were weak in several areas .. no, scrub that, we were weak in EVERY area, with the lowest in the league for literally everything apart from fitness, aggression, leadership and acceleration.  So in other words, we had a group of angry fast young men who were a right bunch of cocky bastards.  To show you what I mean, here’s a reminder of our technicals as of the save start.

Newton Heath 1878_ Comparison-3

I won’t bore you with the rest as they are pretty much the same so you get the idea – no wonder we are predicted to prop up the league.

That said, there was work to do to improve this starting squad of technically weak (yet angry) regens and scouting was duly begun.   Firstly though, staffing was needed and from slim pickings of the three fellas who wanted to join us, Paul Driver is the star pick, with really good mentals and working with youngsters.  I’d of course prefer more on coaching but you take what you can get.

Newton Heath 1878_ Overview Coaching Team.png More, and better, scouts were brought in as well and this has allowed me to find these little gems, a couple of which had to be gambled on at 50% knowledge on transfer day, but it seems to have paid off.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players.png

My 5 main priorities were determination, stamina, work rate, leadership and natural fitness and while the fitness is a bit low and starting form has been poor I am generally pleased with the results and think they will soon improve once the team gels ..

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-3.png

They’re all pretty decent but with a young squad I’m hoping these two fellas will be my core leaders.  They were both snatched up on frees and are already on tutoring duties. The first is Aussie James Wesolowski, a seasoned journeyman ex. of Leicester, Dundee and Oldham (need to unlearn that dives into tackles trait but I fear it is far too late)..

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-5

.. and the other is Mark Ellis, who was desperately needed to command the defence alongside my youth loanee Harry Brockbank, who also gives me a very nice long throw option.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-4

So where does that leave us in terms of the match squad and tactics?  After some tactical tinkering with a complete failure of a 4123 DM wide this is my current 442 wide tactic which is starting to work nicely. It is of course changed game to game but this has just got me a nice 2 all draw with league leaders Port Vale after their cheating marauding fullback did an air dive to win them a last minute pen.

Newton Heath 1878_  Overview-2.png

THE RESULTS: wtf ass man?

So the pre-season started with a challenging start when I forgot to set friendlies myself and our ass man accepted two friendlies from our senior affiliates Bolton and Blackpool that I couldn’t bloody cancel for some reason.  No idea why – I would of course have preferred easier, morale boosting duffer matches but it’s my own fault for not setting it. Anyhow, we went into them and another two with just a couple of those new signings and by season start we had won three of the four, which I was very happy with.   As the league kicked in though and with the team changing every week as that turnstile spun things started to go wrong early doors.

Newton Heath 1878_  Senior Fixtures.png

Crap play, shocking team cohesion and red cards destroyed us in those first few games, and watching the game and the analysis showed far too many mistakes being made as in this game against Morecambe ..

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.11 -

Obviously overcoming these was a priority so I set training to ball control, where it will stay for 3 months, and everyone’s additional training on passing, which is something I have done before with good effect.  This has now resulted in a nice turnaround with that win and a draw and it is clear that something has clicked in as mistakes have been less than halved.  Here is the same screen for the Carlisle win.

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.11 -

SUMMARY: where too now?

So with that little starting stutter (hopefully) behind me, I soldier on as Heathens’ manager with what I feel is a firm basis for moving forward.  On our mighty 4 points we are no longer propping the league and things are looking good for the immediate future.  Here is where we stand officially ..

Desktop Screenshot 2018.03.11 -

In other news, the finances are looking good as I have spent hardly anything, although for some strange reason my transfer budget has been secretly dropped from £100k to £27k, even though I’ve only spent 10k 😦 (if anyone knows why, please let me know because that really annoyed me).

In terms of the team, I would like to say that I have every confidence in my bunch of oddly coloured newgens and their new clever football pals but we will wait and see. I still dread that beckoning finger into the office after all this hard work but as things are looking, maybe, just maybe ..


Heathens resurrected #2: Absolute beginners

So here we go fellas, the Newton Heath 1878 save proper.  You may have already seen the first episode of the youtube version here, but this short post will hopefully add some more info anyway, which is my intention in doing both.  In this post I am going to cover the first database test, pressing that start new career button and what I saw when I got in there, when the oddly pale looking newgen boys of my resurrected Heathens were finally born.

Final testing

After ages of putting the project together, have to say it was with some trepidation when I clicked away to start the save over the weekend, wondering whether the database would work ok (it should, I’ve not touched the league structure) and also whether the team was balanced properly and not too over/under powered.  Like most editor twiddlers I have played a lot of edited leagues in the past of my own and others making and I know they can easily go tits up a season or two in if they’re not tested right.  With this in mind I ran a non-playing (hols) test that seemed to work ok – the database worked, City won the league in the final year (boooooooo) but not the Champions league (wahey) .. and all seemed ok.  As for my beloved Heathens, I’ll let you see for yourself (ignore the 2nd and 3rd trophies, they’re a glitch from the stripped-clean base team that I used – more about that below) ..

Newton Heath 1878_ History Overview

As you can see, from when the sim started in 17-18 they got relegated immediately (oh shit, what have I done ..) before rallying to come back and win the Vanarama National in 19/20 and consolidating with a 6th place as of 30th April 2022 when the sim ended.   But it’s only a sim, right? It doesn’t mean anything, does it?

Delving deeper, they had sacked their manager in the March of that first season and are now on their fourth.  Other than that, the DB worked fine, with all cups and rel and prom working ok, so hey ho, we’re up and running.

I didn’t need to check the graphics as I’ve been doing that as I went along, but I did need to check the fictional history as it was a bit buggy early doors, when the base club history kept showing up mixed with mine.  I had used FC United as they had to be removed anyway and it was useful in the editor to have an existing database ID number rather than a newly generated one (if you’re an editor nerd it’s so that I didn’t have to add a new number to all of the config.xml but simply swap graphics instead).   It worked fine in terms of the new club as I had completely wiped every entry in their database for tactics, finances, attribs, staff etc because I didn’t want it to be just FC United in a different kit, so it was a completely empty club from the ground up.  That said, the ridiculous editor gremlin for some reason left those two trophies and also FC United’s Jerome Wright’s record appearances stat, which really pissed me off because I had overwritten it with my own in the editor.   I have checked in the game though and he is definitely an ex-Jerome now, non-existent in this universe like all the other FC United players as was. By the way, this also extends to every current Manchester United player, which is a gutting consequence of me just deleting the team whole without checking first, meaning no Pogba, no Lukaku, no Phil Jones (hmmm .. maybe it’s not that bad).

Here are those records if you fancy having a look (though I go into more detail in the youtube version) and if you want to know the exact story behind every one then let me know as I have it written down in the timeline.  This pic is from the start of the save proper.

Newton Heath 1878_ History Records-2.png

I then checked all the finances and found that they were in line with the rest of the league and also a few other bits and bobs, again to make sure it was all realistic, strangely encouraged by the fact they had been immediately relegated in the first season.  I stopped short at looking at the team so that I didn’t get any tips of players or staff to buy then dropped it and started the real save.

Start new career ..

So here we are, the button has been pressed and let’s have a good look at the club from the inside, a day after I have taken charge.  You know the graphics, history and all that malarkey so here is the squad view, sorted on current ability with their attribs alongside.   Immediate thoughts are woohoo, a five star player and a few with potential, but other than that a pretty predictable, pretty dire bunch of newgens.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players.png Going forward, as I’m sticking to my usual LLM priorities of determination, pace, stamina and workrate I am pleased to see it’s the kids who have the most determination and here’s the list sorted on that.

Newton Heath 1878_ Players Players-2.png

As we know though, that’s not all you need and here is the real tale of the tape from the comparison screen, for physical ..

Newton Heath 1878_ Comparison.png

.. for mental ..

Newton Heath 1878_ Comparison-2.png

.. and technical (ffs come back Phil Jones, all is forgiven) ..

Newton Heath 1878_ Comparison-3.png

But it is what it is, a made-up team, predicted to finish 24th filled with dudes like this cheery fella, my goalie and Captain, who is really getting into the spirit of the save by looking like he’s been working down an 1878 mine non-stop for 12 years.  He’s that fugly I’m thinking about sending him to Marbella for a weekend just so our opponents don’t shit themselves when they see him.

Jim Forbes_ Overview Profile.png

Joking aside, the staff team isn’t much better, with a couple of newgen coaches and (a little indulgence of mine) good old assistant manager Ken McKenna from my Morecambe save, who is the only real fella I put in via the editor. He’s not top of the line but I’ve had success with him especially with youth dev. so I’ve in put him in there as a little treat for all the hard work.  His coaching is mainly for fitness and I’m ok with that as I want him for his tactical knowledge and discipline, though his man management could be a lot better.

Ken McKenna_ Overview Profile.png

As for the rest of it, there’s a bit of potential in the youth squads; I’ve got just one scout, with 7/7 for PA and CA and for finances; £100,000 in the transfer kitty and a wage budget of £19,500, which is (I think) mid to low lge 2 level but unused at the moment, with only 7k on wages so far, so not all bad.

Onwards and upwards

I said it was a short one so that my friends is the intro and where too now?  You can pretty much guess that I’m going to be sifting and sorting those players, getting staff on board and diving into the loan market, but as for tactics, I must admit that short of wanting to play a short passing build-up game I haven’t got a bloody clue yet.

Bye for now, keep an eye on youtube for more details and thanks for stopping by.

Heathens resurrected #1: now with added FM!

Ok, so after the cryptic sentiment of the first post, we are back to what we know best, all things FM. I say that, but to be honest it was something I needed to get out of my system, to tell you all the reason for this save and I am glad I did it. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do it now.  It’s a bit off the wall and not much at all about FM but it will make sense as you read on.

So the point of all that was to show you the motivation behind this save, in other words as a tribute to the love of Manchester United and their history that I share with my old fella. One other thing I didn’t mention was that for 30 years my dad was a railwayman who worked from the exact same depot as the original Newton Heath players (they were called Newton Heath L & YR as they were formed in the railway works).  In fact, the car park where he used to park was on the site of the original pitch they used in 1878, so you can see why it inspires me.

That said, my save is going to be a complete recreation of Newton Heath FC from the most pivotal point in their history, at pretty much the exact moment they became Utd in 1902.   But that’s not all, as this will be a complete alternate reality save, with a new timeline, no Manchester United (don’t all cheer at once) and of course no rebel club in the form of FC United. Here’s a quick taster of the home and away kits I’ve already done to show you where I’m coming from. They’re based on the original kit from the photo below with a modern makeover.


The reason I chose this point in the club’s history is because in 1902 the real Newton Heath were in a precarious place, with rising player wages and over-extension of the ground causing them to be declared bankrupt after they were sued by their own president for owed monies.  It was so bad that their captain Harry Stafford had to fund the club himself out of his own wages and try to drum up interest from local businessmen to save the club.  The story goes that though a shared love of dog breeding, he met and persuaded the businessman John Henry Davies to invest £2,000 and the rest of course, is history.

The new badge, reflecting their railway history and with a cheeky nod to the real red devils, even though they don’t exist in their world 🙂 (many thanks to @FMU_tv for all his help with the initial design)

In my FM18 universe it will be a very different story, with no bailout (maybe Davies preferred cats instead), but instead the club has somehow survived but only just, hanging on with their fingertips through the years like so many lower league clubs, well supported and with a proud history but struggling financially as they yo-yo’d between the lower divisions until the present day.

Now this is a tough ask – not only did I need to make the team (easy) and the kits (sort of easy) but for the narrative to feel real I also needed a full timeline that took into account not only changes in the laws of the game but external factors as well.  For example, how did the club cope with the maximum ticket price imposed by the league?  What happened in the war years?  How did they cope being in City’s shadow? And what about Utd legends such as Best, Law and Charlton???

Here’s a sample of the timeline to give you an idea of the depth I wanted, with a completely fictional history.  I did one of these for each decade.


.. and another for 1921-30, taking into account the end of women’s football after the war.  Lily Cottam, of course, never existed IRL.excel-2.jpg

You might think this is extremely OCD (the wife certainly did) but for me this was the most enjoyable part, the creation of a completely different world which eventually gave me my club legends, their 2018 league place and honours record and their current financial status.

Eventually then this gave me the summary of the club’s current state as of the save start point of July 2017 as follows:

  • STATUS: Professional
  • NAME: Newton Heath 1878 (renamed from Newton Heath in 1978)
  • LEAGUE: League two
  • FINANCES: poor, solvent but in line with mid-league teams at same level
  • LEGENDS: Harry Stafford, Billy Meredith, Denis Law 🙂 (well, I had to have one of them)
  • STADIUM: Bank Street, Clayton. Reasonable 12,000 capacity stadium from past glories but typically 4-5k per lge.2 match
  • SUPPORT: great fan base
  • RIVALS: Manchester City, Liverpool, Hyde Utd

From a game point of view I figure this profile will be a good starting point for a save that gives me a chance to build a team over the course of 6-10 seasons, assuming I survive the sack that long :).  That said, and again as a result of the timeline I did, here are the save aims, in order of priority, though I’ll take them any way up:

  1. Don’t get sacked!
  2. Begin a long standing youth development programme
  3. Avoid relegation in season 1
  4. Gain promotion from league 2 and upwards to the prem
  5. Win (any) trophy
  6. Win the Premier League
  7. Win the Champion’s league
  8. Beat Manchester City
  9. Beat Manchester City (did I say that already?)
  10. Beat … (you get the idea)
  11. Beat our record score of 10-1 against Wolves on the 15th October 1892 (a real result)
  12. Get a bigger capacity stadium than the Etihad (in my timeline it always overshadows our Bank Street stadium)

This is a hefty list I know and how the hell long this will take me I have no idea.  Personally I reckon I’m good for staying in the job, consolidating and getting promotion within the first 3-4 seasons (remember they’re not the best club in the league by far) as well as getting a cheeky trophy or two early doors.  As for City, we’ll wait and clench just like everyone else does, although a lot of people say they are weaker than IRL in this year’s game so you never know where they’ll be up to when I reach the prem.

In terms of my previous form, if you don’t know me or haven’t followed any of my Youtube saves (check them out here) the strong point of my FM skillset is determination and, I guess, tactical changes within matches to pull back a game.  I’m also quite decent at training. What I am not so good at is long term youth development and what I am fucking terrible at is opposition preparation and .. ahem .. defending.  A typical season with me usually includes my team getting battered in something like a 7-2 or even an 11-6 in one recent save – and I even won the league that season! So that said this should be interesting to say the least.

Something I haven’t included yet is the editing process in the pre-game editor that I used to actually create the team.  For the uninitiated this can be like watching an excel crash dump on loop so I won’t harp on too much about it apart from saying that when I created the club I realised that the club profile from my own timeline pretty much matches Port Vale exactly.  Here’s their league form history to show you what I mean:

Courtesy of EclecticArkie – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32821282

This was a complete coincidence but I was happy to take it and used parts of their profile to make Newton Heath 1878.  I say ‘parts’ because I didn’t want to just be Port Vale in the game, so I took things like their reputation rating (4150 for those interested) and their youth level.  I then went to other clubs to see where they were at and set everything at what I consider to be a fair reflection of a mid-table League two side, so in other words I guess it’s your average League Two side with an extra splash of Port Vale.

Other editor shennanigans were me having to remove both FC United and Manchester United (Wolves fans you’ll be happy as you are now in the prem, hopefully for you a season early) which is harder than it sounds.  The problem is that when Wolves moved up then someone else had to etc. all the way down to the combined counties leagues, where I gave up and just duplicated and renamed a team in the 16th tier to fill the gap.  That said, if you are a fan of the ‘Farmer’s arms hangover XI’ (or whatever other name I gave you) you now exist!

The next phase is to finish the database (inserting reserve teams etc) and run sim tests of it for at least 5 years (takes about a day to do properly) to make sure everything is working ok, and also that my team perform realistically and don’t for example suddenly beat City in the FA Cup in the first season.  This should be done in a few days so expect the first save updates in the near future.

So that my friends, is it for now.  You know the inspiration, the concept and the editing work that has gone into it and also the aims.  I hope you enjoyed reading it and let me know your thoughts about the project either here or on twitter. I’d also appreciate a share using the buttons below so that people can get on board and enjoy this journey with me.

And one final warning for those coming here for soley FM content, at some point there WILL be a blog post that will be an alternate history of the club, complete with stylised artwork.  I’ll sign off with these two teaser pics to show you what I mean and hope to see you soon for the next update on The Heathens Resurrected. Bye for now.

matchbank street.jpg

Heathens Resurrected: an FM18 labour of love (prologue)


There comes a time in one’s life when we evaluate our derivation, where we look back and try to align who we are within our daily existence by finding out where we came from at a deeper level.  Those who have been through it know that it often comes with a combination of age and the (supposed) wisdom it carries, often alongside a pivotal change in your life that make you ask not just who but why you are the person that has arrived here.

For me, the age was here already (though not sure about the wisdom) and the final part came with the personal tragedy of losing my mum suddenly a year ago.  It left us with a resulting struggle to care for a dad with a failing, dementia-addled mind and a Parkinson’s-riddled body.  Like most families, we wanted desperately to keep him in his home for as long as possible.

As anyone would expect, we soon realised how difficult that was going to be.  From personal and mental care to cooking, cleaning .. (you get the idea) to take over the whole of a person’s care is an incredible task and one which me. my brother and the whole family struggled with,  but for me it was different, because he was my dad and we had always had football to carry us, to unite us, to bind us.  A love of watching and talking about the beautiful game in the frame of our support for the club that runs through our veins, Manchester United.

It started simply, one night in October when I was on tea duty and dad was asking why that strange boy kept peeping from behind the TV (he wasn’t, there was nobody there).  I had got used to it by now and was on twitter asking for advice about the possibility of editing up an all time great Man Utd team for my new save for the imminent release of FM18 (like you do).  I’d got to the point when I was selecting my best XI.

“So dad, I’m doing this thing on the internet, asking people who their best Utd team was – what are your thoughts?” I asked.

He looked away for a minute from the boy who wasn’t there and simply replied …

“Big Dunc,” without elaboration, and none, of course was needed.

big dunc
Duncan Edwards – considered by many as the greatest of the Busby Babes with 151 appearances, two league titles and 18 caps

What I didn’t know and what came out (in a very long, complicated conversation interrupted by the peeping boy again and two budgies who were apparently dancing on the table) was that he had watched him. Live. Real.  Actually in the flesh. And I had no idea.  I mean, he’d told me about Best and Law and Charlton loads of times but never once mentioned this (by the way, it wasn’t a delusion, it was confirmed by my aunty afterwards).

“You mean you actually saw him, in the flesh?” I asked.

“Yeah, one of my first games.  I was only a kid, don’t remember much except everyone wanted to see him.  I knew he was different,” he said, before smiling to himself at the two dancing budgies as they reappeared, as real to him as Big Dunc in his new, strange world.

What followed was me starting to look forward to my turns at looking after the old fella,  because then we could work on our team again, on the Utd best XI that we had started to build.  Between the boy, the budgies and the occasional lurking black dog (that was a scary one) it took about a month to put together with Big Dunc, of course, as the hub.

Utd Best XI by Jack and Daz

As time went on our shared love of the beautiful game continued to bind us.   It was difficult to watch games with him as he was so distracted but we went through the motions with the usual current complaints of many a Utd fan about how Jose is ruining our ethos until we win again and agree that he is just ‘misunderstood’.

A weekly ‘premier league predictions’ chart soon followed and we even had a points system based on the sky PL prediction show, where at 530 every Friday night we would go through the fixtures on pause writing down our scores.  It normally took us around an hour to get through the half hour programme with conversations such as ..

“Ok, dad, Arsenal and Liverpool.  What do you reckon?” I’d ask, (followed by my five minute summary of the pros and cons, injuries, you get it ..)

“Hmmmmm .. a draw, definitely a draw.” he would reply,

“Ok, what score then?” I’d ask

.. pause ..

.. pause ..

(looks around room)

.. pause ..

“Dad! What bloody score?”

.. pause ..

“3 nil to Liverpool,” he’d say, the crafty, wind-up bastard 🙂

But it didn’t matter because our joy of the beautiful game was doing it again.  Binding us like it always had and always will, especially because out of the 8 weeks we played it for my dad won 4 times, my bro 3 and me once.  And I organised the fucking thing! 🙂

Paul Merson making a prediction about something that is known only to him

So skip forward two months to now (because we have to get to FM sometime, right?).

I am happy to say that Dad is now very safe and content in a care home about a quarter of a mile away from here, in his beloved Salford with, as always, the sight of Old Trafford just a few streets away down across Langworthy road and Chimney pot park.

He’s doing ok and I am pleased to say that, while the the peeping boy and budgies have gone, Ben Kingsley is now on the scene and living in the care home alongside dad, who, according to him, “is a pain in the arse, going on about when he was Ghandi all the time,” (I kid you not – the care home he’s in is where Kingsley grew up and my dad’s lounge was his front room – look it up).

Ben Kingsley, who no longer lives in Salford and goes on about Ghandi all the time

But what, I am sure you are wondering has this got the fuck to do with a new FM save? Well unless you’re a complete gobbin you know it has something to do with Utd and probably Newton Heath, but other than that you’ll just have to wait for the next post to find out 🙂

See you soon new friends, get speculating and watch out for those black dogs ( and the dancing budgies, they’re a right pair of tricky bastards).