Hello! Welcome to another edition of Champ Man & Me. My guest this time is Lee Rothery, also known as Commitee_FM and the author of The Journals of Hampus Widgren. Intrigued? Well, you should be. Let’s find out more…
Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us Lee. Can you tell us about your site; The Journals of Hampus Widgren?
Firstly, a huge thanks for allowing me to be interviewed! Of course, basically, I was playing a long term save and was thinking to myself that I never seem to be able to remember any of my saves in detail so I wanted to create a blog. Initially for me but then other people in various Facebook groups became really interested in it, which really inspired me.
It was 2059 in game and I said to myself that the next Physio name I see, I am going to retire my current Manager and start with another (within the same save) and create a new character starting from scratch. So I loaded up a load of 1.5* leagues and took it from there and ended up in Belarus.
Initially I started it with the intention of a simple career update thread but now I am looking to expand upon this and indeed I recently released my first interview I conducted as part of my ‘Meet The Managers’ series. Groups such as FM Central and individuals I admire such as Cleon, Chris Darwen, Rashidi etc have given me some good advice so this is my way of paying that back into the community whilst allowing me to continue enjoying my writing. My hopes are that as my blog continues to expand in popularity it will then enable me to showcase new writers too which is my aim, as well as give me a chance to interview people I really admire.
What made you decide to start writing?
Writing is not actually new to me at all, I have been writing for a number of years. At University, I used to write music reviews, album reviews, film reviews as well as that I have kept journals since I was 17 and I am 32 now! Further to that, I am a published poet and a musician and I only ever write my own songs.
It was only recently I thought why not have a go at combining my passion for FM and writing and so far it’s gone really well. I’ve had some wonderful feedback so far. I really want to keep going with it but it’s just fitting it in as well in amongst my many other interests.
What are your memories of CM97/98? I appreciate it was a long time ago!
It was indeed a long time ago, my over-riding memories are many nights saying to myself ‘1 more game’ but even then I was slightly anal about things which I still am. In those days, I used to choose ten attributes per position and then add them up on paper to give my players a rating out of 200! It was a great game though! I remember a guy two years older than me managed to install the game in the IT room at school, it lasted 2 months until the teacher found out and we were busted. It was so much fun! In terms of my own saves I can’t for the life of me remember who I managed but I do remember scribbling down tactics in many a Science class and printing out my squad to show my mates. One of my favourite players of that series is Erik Nevland, he was superb! It also had a nice skin.
Do you have a favourite version of the series?
I would have to say either FM08 or FM14. I’m a bit of an OCD nut and I love the FM08 font and skin! Yes I am sad but for me little things like that make the game easier on the eye. FM14 because well, I still play that now, I do plan on coming back to the series though for 2017. It will be a huge step up! I was also a part of a clan in FM14 online for the SI games forum so I have some good memories from it. For me FM14 is perfection. I love the tactical creator but more so I love micro managing training, transfers & finances. It’s really interesting and I’m hardly ever bored playing as I look to only ever be spending 40% of any wage budget I get given (Can you tell I’m a Yorkshireman).
Everybody has at least one FM story – what’s yours?
There are so many to choose from and honestly I could talk at length about taking Harrogate Town to Champions League winners etc etc but my most recent highlight was when I was managing Elgin City, it took me 12 years to get them from league 2 to the Scottish Premiership and in my 2nd season I finished 2nd and go to the group stages of the Europa League. Our first group game was PSV away, can you imagine my shock, my unadulterated joy as we battered them 5-1! One of my best ever performances! (We finished 3rd in the group).
What’s your take on the #Wearethecommunity movement? Do you get the chance to read much of the FM Community’s work?
Firstly, I am new to twitter so I can only talk about my experience so far. I think in principle the idea is a very good one, however do I feel it’s doing much for new writers? From what I’ve seen so far I don’t think it does. I only say this because it seems people are only promoting work they like as opposed to anything new. I mean no offence to anyone and as I said I am new so I could be totally wrong. I probably am, it just seems that way! It seems to be the same few people who work tirelessly to promote new content. However, it’s a fantastic tool Twitter, I’ve already made some nice friends and even thinking of starting a podcast with someone, I won’t say who with yet!
This is why if I can achieve half of what Cleon has done by showcasing new writers I will do my best as I think it’s important to absorb as much varied work as is possible. I wish SI games could showcase people more as well, they could really do a lot more to encourage people.
At the same time, I think people should still write and eventually you’ll find an audience, other than my blog I have some of my work published and some of my work rejected. I pursued feedback and decided to continue writing in my own style. I did think of tweaking it but the positivity I received far outweighed the negativity and I always ask myself the same question – would I enjoy this? If the answer is yes then you’re on the right lines. This is not limited to FM either I’ve had several of my poems & stories rejected but I keep doing it for my sins!
Yes I read loads, I must admit I find 99% of FM You Tube videos as dull as dishwater; I even tried my hand in them but got bored by my own videos. There are just two I recommend which are ‘Bust The Net’ which is so entertaining yet really informative, no one else is covering every aspect the way he does. He shows that by playing the game in a simple manner you can be a success. It really opened my eyes on so many things. The other is IstanbulNLGaming – I will let you look that up, some great work on training, PPM’s etc.
In terms of reading, well, would it surprise you if I told you that I am currently looking at 77 bookmarks of work I need to catch up on, there is some fabulous content, some I prefer to others but I would still be happy to promote them. I really hope this does not exclude anyone but I can only name my favourites in this short article, in no order my absolute favourite writers are:
Chris Darwen – his search the stats methodology have been a huge influence on me.
Cleon – He has been so nice to me and very supportive – a really nice guy and every article he writes encourages me to load up my game. If I’m ever bored of the game I read his works.
Rashidi – I am so thankful I have him on Twitter now, we have exchanged a few messages and again he has helped me a great deal, you really need to check out his Bust The Net page but also his old works such as when he took Stafford Rangers to the heights of Champions League winners!
A guy called Ben who apparently now resides in the FM Now forums, he did an amazing piece on managing Vitoria Setubal.
Alex Stewart who’s work in his moneyball series was so inspiring
Guido Merry – his articles are fantastic, again not related to one thing either, so varied.
There are many more I could mention!
In terms of podcasts, I really like what FM Central produce, they have a weekly FM podcast which is usually interesting and I was lucky enough to be invited on the show a while back, it was a lot of fun and Paul who owns it does a lot of work for the community and of course the Deep Lying Podcast, really great listen, if you see this – I want to come on the show!
Let’s talk real life for a second – which team do you support?
FC Halifax Town – I really do wish everyone would support the team where they were born. I love the affinity and community spirit within the club, we’ve had it tough the past few seasons going bust and then having to start again in the toilet leagues. Now though we’re very much an established Conference side and I firmly believe we should be a League 2 team. We also have a repertoire of developing great strikers and selling them on, such luminaries include Lee Gregory, Geoff Horsfield and England’s Jamie Vardy and recently we did it again in the window just gone selling Shaun Tuton to Barnsley. All season, we have looked doomed but now Jim Harvey is in we’ve been playing so well and at the time of writing we are enjoying a 10 match unbeaten run in the league!
After I had trials at Bradford City & Huddersfield Town and telling a Liverpool scout to F-Off I actually played for Halifax Town from the ages of 15-17! I was gutted then they released me.
Unfortunately, after deciding to leave my job in the corporate world and deciding to become a full time football trader I don’t get to see them as much anymore despite living a brisk 15 minute walk from the stadium.
If you could change anything about the FM series, what would it be?
This is easy, I would change two things:
1 – You are only allowed one save and have to progress naturally as you might in real life.
2 – You are only allowed to start as un unknown and more importantly your first job should be with an under 18 team and you must work your way up