Bettering Stan the Man – Part 1

Please welcome Peter Taylor into the family. Peter, not the former Leicester and one time England manager, is here to bring us his save where he will be Bury in the First Division trying to better the great job Stan Ternent did in the 90s. But don’t take it from me, take it from Peter…

Personal Background: CM 2 96/97 was the first version of the series I played, receiving it for Christmas along with my brother on the first family PC we ever had. Like a lot of 10 year-olds in the north-west t the time, I ‘liked’ Manchester United but had been attending Bury games for quite a while by that stage, and it wasn’t long until the latter club won my affections, doubtlessly helped by regular matchday exposure at Gigg Lane and the subsequent, utterly unexpected title win and second successive promotion in May of the following year. Since then, my affiliation with the Shakers has gone from strength to strength, as has my link with the ever-popular video game franchise, having become the club’s researcher for Football Manager 2018.

In-Game Background: Stan Ternent hitherto had a poor record as manager before taking the reins at Gigg Lane; he was assistant to Mike Walsh, who had taken the south Lancashire outfit to their first play-off final (and Wembley appearance) in the ‘old’ Division Three in 1995, only to wither miserably on the day, falling to a 2-0 defeat to Chesterfield. The subsequent campaign had started woefully, and with the home crowd calling for his head as the players were 5-0 down to Plymouth Argyle. The board duly responded, and Walsh’s assistant took over with Bury in the bottom four in mid-September. He almost immediately galvanised his troops to recovery, taking a little time for his methods to be fully implemented by his squad.

From November onwards, only a handful more defeats were suffered, and the rise up the standings was meteoric, culminating in a dramatic wait on the pitch after the final game for confirmation of third place and automatic promotion. His first full season in charge was even more remarkable – tipped for relegation, his charges confounded the pundits, building ‘Fortress Gigg’ in the process – not a single defeat as hosts happened in the league, and the title was built on grinding out 1-0 wins and creditable draws on the road. Back in the second tier for the first time in over three decades, Ternent understandably believed he had taken them as far as he could, and resigned on a huge high. Enter a complete novice…

Of course in real life, ‘Stan the Man’ did no such thing, instead surviving against all the odds on the final day with a 1-0 triumph at Queens Park Rangers, before resigning to take over at neighbouring Burnley. The premise here is to emulate or better his efforts in the first in-game season by both points and league position – 52 and 17th respectively… whilst not making any permanent signings. That self-imposed condition is immediately put to the test by a cursory glance at the roster.


Oh dear. Only one bona fide striker, as Rob Matthews is for some reason down as a MC. Matters are not helped by injuries to defensive colossus Chris Lucketti and the engine of Nick Daws in midfield. That said, the talent is at the back, so if I can find a conservative formation that works, I could just manage to match the best manager Bury have ever had…


It’s already apparent that goals are going to be extremely difficult to come by. The opening game bears that theory out, and Dean Kiely receiving the ‘Man of the Match’ award will become at least as familiar as nil in the goals scored column.

I completely forgot that the League Cup was contested over two legs from the get-go 20 years ago, and it’s a competition that Bury bow out at in the first stage almost without fail. That was no different in the game, although I did muster my first triumph in the second game…


Wins in the league are always scraped, but two on the bounce has the nascent table looking like this…


I’d be more than satisfied if that’s how it ends up in May, but with a threadbare squad, some loan signings are required. The likes of David Thompson from Liverpool and Alex Notman from Manchester United come in. Neither player fulfilled their early promise in reality; however, their virtual selves only need to reach mediocrity to help me achieve my aim.

Three goalless reverses on the spin are timely reminders that survival will not come readily, my rustiness at the game that I sank hundreds of hours in after high school finished way back when showing badly. Saying that, I recall vividly just how goalkeeper Richard Wright was talked up at the time at Ipswich Town. In my game, he unconscionably made the move to arch rivals Norwich City and is probably the only custodian in ‘Division One’ whose stats better Kiely’s.


He did me a massive favour by getting himself sent off, allowing my side to grind out a crucial win. This was the start of a four-game spell of consecutive clean sheets, and the standings a third of the way into the season reads much like it did after six:


The board are unsurprisingly pleased with my efforts thus far, and in a reflection of the time the game was released, the figures banded about for even the highest value players wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow in 2018. Income streams are largely reliant on player sales and gate receipts, but that didn’t stop them being effusive in their praise of a very small profit.


Matchday 17 was a trip to Maine Road to face Manchester City. In stark contrast to how things played out in the flesh, Joe Royle’s men are flying high in the standings, and there isn’t a torn season ticket in sight on Moss Side. Paul Butler was the hero on Valentine’s Day in what is still my favourite ever away game – not for the performance, but the result, and what it meant to both sets of supporters. It also remains the only time I’ve been kept back for half an hour after the final whistle blew. Could a repeat performance happen in-game?


No, but not for want of trying. The defensive unit were resolute, repelling wave after wave of City attacks, but were helpless to prevent Nigel Clough from getting the winner.

Tony Ellis was doing his level best, but he’s not really of the standard required to spearhead the side on his own up top, The game prevents you from making more than five loan signings during a single season, so I had to persist with him. Notman made him look like Robbie Keane by comparison, mind!

Failing to trouble the scoresheet seemed to occur in patches. Four more encounters came and went with nothing for the loyal supporters to cheer about, but they could take solace in the subsequent 2-2 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion, who have threats all over the pitch. Christmas was a kind period to us, four points gained from the two festive fixtures. The customary exit in the FA Cup followed, although losing to Premier League Wimbledon was certainly no disgrace.


As Part 1 of my challenge comes to an end, it doesn’t look likely as though Bury will suffer relegation, but it’s certain that a second season in Division One is the best the fans can hope for, both in terms of the standings and entertainment. Can I finish the job in Part 2? Find out soon…

You can follow me on Twitter @burymeinexile

2 thoughts on “Bettering Stan the Man – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Bettering Stan the Man: Part 2 | CM 97/98

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