I always sign off a year with a bit of festive cheer. It’s nice to take stock of what has gone before and set up for what’s ahead.
The whole purpose of this blog was to share CM9798 memories with fellow fans and I’m always blown away by just how popular this old game still is. I never go on about stats and things because frankly you can prove or disprove anything with statistics if you spin them the right way but as of this writing, this blog has had 166,000 views this year. It’s probably miniscule in the grand scheme of things but I don’t care. It means a lot to me that so many of you choose this little corner of the internet to reminisce about a great game and hopefully enjoy some good stories along the way. For those keeping score, there were 84,000 visitors last year so we’ve doubled up. What a world.
There’s a few reasons for that. Mainly it’s all of you who take the time out to spread the word about our little time capsule. I’m also lucky to have had some tremendous guest writers this year and at some points during the year we’ve had content up 4 or 5 times in a week. That door is always open to any of you.
I’m resigned to the fact that I will most likely never be a football writer in terms of a career move but I still get a kick out of writing about CM and I do plenty of voluntary writing about real football for sites out there. I’ve wormed my way into a regular podcasting position and you know what – I am happy. So what will be, will be. Never give up on a good thing and remember what makes you happy. Not my words, the words of George Benson.
Here’s a look back on what cm9798.co.uk has published this year. From the Aberdeen save to the World Cup to our guest bloggers, it’s all here. Have a great Christmas!
The year started with the continuation of the Aberdeen save. The save actually started off at the end of 2017 but we returned to start season 3 of the save in January. I loved this save, I took Aberdeen to a couple of Champions League wins before moving to Belgium for the start of season 6. I couldn’t believe Aberdeen hired Peter Beardsley to replace me after his escapades in the original blog save. Waregem was a step into the unknown but at least I can now say I’ve done a blog in every league. After taking Waregem to domestic glory we had our sights set on the Champions League but fell short. I’m not adverse to heading back to this save in the future but I had to cut it off as by May I had something else planned. More on that later.
The second half of the year saw the introduction of the CM9798 Short Stories. The plan here was that I’d start a save with a view to it lasting just a few episodes. My first attempt was with Newcastle, not buying anybody to replace Shearer and trying to make a success of it. I got a bit addicted to bringing youth players through and it lasted three seasons but we won a lot and it was good fun. This is also the only save to date where I have uploaded the file for you to take over where I finished. It was great to see some of you take up the challenge on Twitter – basically spending the money that had been saved up and removing poor old Brian Pinas from the team. You were right to do it. You can review that whole save here.
We’ve since had an attempt for Kaiserslautern to win the Bundesliga (failed) and Real Betis to topple Barcelona and Real Madrid (succeeded) and I’m pretty sure there’ll be more to come in the new year. As ever I’m open to ideas.
The current save that will continue in 2019 is the Academy. A simple concept – start with a team of no players and only sign freebies under the age of 23. Oh and all bids for players have to be accepted, not that I have much choice as most of the players have big club release clauses. There’s no doubt this has been my biggest challenge. Getting out of the lower divisions was tough but it is a walk in the park compared to trying to compete at Premier League level. I’ve had so much feedback on this series it warms my bitter old heart, I’ll keep trying to get the Academy up that table even if they grind my gears.
CM9798 World Cup
We took a break from the traditional blog saves to run the CM9798 World Cup. Seeing as we were 20 years on from the original it made perfect sense and so in the gap between the season ending and the World Cup starting, I annoyed 15 other Champ addicts to send me their team selections and gave them to option to manage the team via screen share. You could argue I got a bit too much into it by organising a draw that involved kinder eggs. For all it took a lot of organising, I think it was a success and Italy ran out winners.
No, I don’t know why Voldemort is on it. There was pretty much a post a day during the World Cup though and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The matches that were recorded are still on YouTube and I did start editing a video of Des Lynam reciting ‘If’ over the top of a montage of commentary from the videos, but I decided that was too far. I was right to think that.
My thanks again to the 15 friends of the blog who who joined me in the tournament, as well as Tom Rostance and Michael Marden who took the time out to provide two previews for me. It literally wouldn’t have happened with you all getting into the spirit and it was a good laugh getting to know you all a bit as we talked tactics.
Of course some of the competitors wrote some blogs for us throughout the year too.
Ross has been the blog’s number one fan since day one pretty much so it has been great to have him on board. You can view all of Ross’ work here but the three saves were all very different. Future Premier League Stars saw him build a team of players who would go on to play in the Premier League in real life, a save with Parma saw him try to get Parma to their potential and most recently When Diego met Paul answered the all time question of what would happen if Diego Maradona and Gazza were in the same team.
Matt Wills combines creativity and a time capsule to rewrite history using CM9798. Return of the King came back for a second season as the class of 93/94 tried to finish some outstanding business. Then it was off to Turin to get the cast of Italia 90 back together, taking some of England’s stars of that tournament to Torino before attempting World Cup 98 with these ageing stars. Matt’s a real student of the game and we quite often bounce ideas off each other, something I really appreciate.
Matt Porter’s Stockport save continued into the new year after starting in October 2017. It’s a shame that there’ll be no more in this series after the laptop took umbridge to Stockport having any sort of success but I always enjoyed this dropping in my inbox and it’ll be good to have Matt back on the blog one day.
Rob Tait is our tactical genius, as seen by his write up of potential tactics ahead of the World Cup. He also ran a Roma save where he demonstrated all of his qualities. Again, you’re welcome back any time but I know you have family commitments which rightly come first.
Being in the North East I really appreciated Andy Chapman’s Gateshead series. Even if you’re not in these parts, the effort to edit and create a team who are a non-league side in the default database deserves a lot of credit. I know Andy has been working on a few other save ideas so hopefully you’ll see him again in 2019.
As regular readers will know, I like to have a chat with fellow fans of the game from time to time but we’ve been fairly light on that front this year. John Curtis; reply to my email please. I was delighted though to be given the chance to interview Cherno Samba over the phone about his book. I know it’s not technically 97/98 but a Champ Man legend is always welcome in these parts and his story is fascinating.
To celebrate 21 years since the game was released, we ran some polls to find out who you consider your greatest CM9798 team to be. The results can be seen here.
One of the things I wanted to do this year was to make the blog a bit more friendly in terms of sharing advice about the game. The addition of the Hints & Tips page has generally helped that, so that’s a plus.
The big thing was finally finding out how to manage any International team. That allowed us to do the World Cup and opened up a whole new area for the game. I had to download my Twitter archive, find the tweet from 2 years ago, find he had deleted his account, contact somebody who tweeted him a lot and get his email address only to find out I had emailed him previously. It was worth it. You can read about managing any International team whenever you want and that’s the main thing.
After keeping Port Vale up over a two part save, it was back to World Cup fever. The Set Pieces turned down my article about using CM9798 to find a reason to support every team in the World Cup and I can’t say I blame them. It’s here if you want to re-live the tedium.
Our friends at cm97-98.eu have once again outdone themselves by producing a 2018/19 database for CM9798. It’s nice for a change.
The final article was the re-gen finding exercise. It’s been very useful so far and it’s helping with the Academy. I think.
So there you have it. Everything we’ve published this year. Let’s do it all again next year. Thanks for reading and putting up with me, have a great Christmas and a happy new year.