Soccer Star
https://soccerstar.org.uk/phpbb/

GENERAL SS FAQ's
https://soccerstar.org.uk/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=45270
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Author:  Charscot [ Tue May 22, 2018 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  GENERAL SS FAQ's

This area will cover FAQ’s NOT found in the rulebook or other area’s of the forum (transfers etc). Please check here and in the online rulebook (http://www.soccerstar.org.uk/rulesbook.htm) before asking questions. Thanks. This is a replacement for the 2005 post that has vanished (stupid forum bug).


ADMISSION PRICES

How much to charge will vary from team to team. Using simple logic the more you charge the less fans will turn up. However, you have to try and get the balance right to ensure the best return from your home gate.


BITCOIN PAYMENTS


(From Glynn) You may not have heard of it, but Bitcoin is a 'cryptocurrency' (i.e it's entirely electronic). If any of you are using Bitcoins and want to pay in them, let me know as I will accept them. Right now I'm not sure of how it works, but I think it can be done manually by just giving you my ID and then I can check the payment and value when it comes in.



BLANK TEXT FILES FROM GLYNN IN YOUR E-MAIL

There are a couple of ways to get past this. On the options for your e-mail from glynn choose "save as" rather than download and then save to the appropriate folder on your computer. Also, the option to "view" the attachment and then save the file on your hard drive works too.

The other way around this on same web based accounts is to go into the body of the e-mail (this applies when the provider has merged the attachment into the e-mail itself) and highlight all the text of the text file and then copy this text into notepad/word and then save this as the .txt file on your hard drive.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Do not change the original name of the text file. The file MUST be named exactly as it was, otherwise the SS program cannot read it.

CONTRACT’S AND WAGES

When a player signs a contract he will receive 10% of his current value for each season he signs at the time of signing as a signing on fee. So a player worth £1million signing a 3 year contract extension will get a payment of 3 x £100,000 = £300,000.
It is therefore advisable to get younger players who you intend to keep to sign longer contracts as their value will continue to go up in the early years and subsequent contracts will cost more money.
The formula for working out wages is 0.02% of their value per week. A simple way (for some) is to remove the last 3 zero’s from a player’s value and then double the remaining figure to arrive at their required wage. It is often worth adding a small amount to that figure (say £100) to cover the short term value rises. There is no point in paying excessive amounts to players as it will not make a significant difference to their form, skills, or likelihood of staying in the future.

Please note that contracts have to be renewed BEFORE they go to 1 week left if you wish to play a player. Contracts are renewed after matches are played so if you renew a contract with 1 week left that player will not be available for the next game.

DIRECTOR'S INJECTION

Look at the fixtures on week 1 and then count the first team as week 1, with the away team as week 2. The next fixture is week 3 followed by week 4.

Start again with the start of games for division 2 and repeat through.

There is a duplication of teams in the position for week 32 (as it obviously doesn't exist) with these teams getting their injection on week 31.


EFFORT

A player's effort will not be affected by the importance of a specific match as the players will not be aware of, for example, needing a point for promotion or 3 points to avoid relegation.
The only way's to affect a player's effort is to give the individual player a work hard and/or give the team as a whole higher aggression.


EXTRA WEEKLY INCOME

Each team can have up to 10 add-on’s to their financial breakdown known as extra weekly income. These are the smaller idea’s that clubs have to raise much needed revenue on a smaller scale (sponsors of different types, club magazines etc). On average these should bring in £20,000 per week but can bring in far more (or less) with the right choices.
The list of available options is known only to Glynn, who would prefer managers to try to be creative and think of their own so consequently these WILL NOT be listed on the forum, and if they are they will be removed as soon as possible.

FOREIGN PLAYERS - SIGNING THEM

When signing a foreign player all a manager has to do is put the following :

Sign ID xxxx foreign player and call him xxx

No other instruction is needed. This applies to all foreign finds. If the player is under 18 he will automatically be moved to the youth team AFTER he has been signed.

Until a foreign player is signed he cannot be given individual training. However, he can be worked on by the general trainers and may improve on his skills.

If not signed by the end of a season he will age along with every other player at the club.


FIXTURES - WORKING OUT


When working out the fixtures for the upcoming season following promotion or relegation the method is simple. The team that finishes 14th replaces the team that finished top of the division below. 15th replaces second and 16th replaces third.


FORUM QUOTES

Go into your profile and select "no" for "always allow html", then click "submit" and you will be able to quote correctly in all posts.

If there is anyone who has problems then I can do it for them.

GLYNN – CONTACTING HIM

Match orders should be sent to : orders@soccerstar.org.uk

From Glynn - I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but here goes again anyway.

If you're emailing me with a problem and it's a conversation which goes on over several emails, please re-cap all the details in each email. People are constantly sending me emails with short replies along the lines of 'Yes' or 'ROE23' or something. This means nothing to me unless you remind me what we were discussing. All too often people assume I can remember what we're discussing, which I can't due to old age/vodka and the fact that I deal with dozens of emails each day. Also, I very regularly delete my deleted items folder or it gets clogged up, and I never add the text from previous emails as it becomes messy. So please just recap everything we've already discussed, even if it was only an hour ago that I sent the reply.

Oh and also, please don't use team codes alone, always give me the full team name, league AND code. The same goes for players, give me their name AND code. And this also applies in your orders as well :P

And one final thing, please DO NOT use the forum PM's to message me as I rarely look at them. If you wish to contact me, use email.


GLYNN – PAYING HIM

Bank Transfer preferred -

Account Number : 21231575
Sort Code : 16-58-10
Account Name : Mr G Carey
Bank Name : Triodos Bank


HIDDEN SKILL LEVELS

The fact is the "hidden skills" as it has been called is basically the continuation of the skills once they appear to hit bril. In short all skills are rated from 1 to 1,000 with the first 150 points being abysmal then the next 100 being very poor etc until you reach the brilliant skill level that is from 950 to 1,000.

Now, when a player reaches bril on a stat they are only at around the 950 points mark and will continue to rise on that skill until reaching 1,000 but to the manager there will be no change other than an increase in value.

Put simply when a player reaches 1,000 points on each skill they will obviously be better than a player who is all bril but on say 970 points for a couple of skills.

If a manager is lucky enough to have all brils in their youth team before the end of the season then with youth wins and training they can obviously get to the magic 1,000 on each skill far earlier than normal and be as good as any say 34yo by the time they are out of their teens.


HOME ATTENDANCES


The quickest way to improve attendances is to win matches. Also, having a ground with high level facilities and charging a reasonable price to get in will all help boost crowds.

LEAGUE MATCHDAYS

Full list of all current leagues and their matchdays, in order of processing.

Their current week as of the week beginning 3rd August 2020

Monday

Watnall Premier - Week 15
Opal Elite - Week 19

Tuesday

Elizabethan - Week 12
Robin Hood - Week 8

Wednesday

Will Scarlet - Week 4
North Star Alliance - Week 25
British Supreme - Week 27

Thursday

Major Oak Alliance - Week 22


NEW CLIENT

The new client can be found here -

http://www.soccerstar.org.uk/ss1/newssclient.htm


NEW TEAMS - CULLING

Please be aware that all new teams will be culled to remove players deemed too good for a start up side. All team ratings will be double fair (attack on defence and setpiece/corners) and players will generally be skilled around good and very goods.


PAYPAL PAYMENTS

(From Glynn) Note that my address for Paypal is now soccerstar@soccerstar.org.uk. The old email addresses will no longer work, which is why I removed the link on the webpage.


PHPP FORUM BUG


As many of you will know there has been a bug that has resulted in managers being randomly banned from this forum with no warning by phpbb. Whilst phpbb hasn't come up with a fix I have now found a way around the bug and basically as long as I know your ip address I can fix the bug at an individual level.

Therefore, anyone who encounters this bug please just e-mail myself and I will fix this for you asap. If you have not got any posts active on the forum (ie still visible) then I will need you to tell me your ip address before I can fix it for you (I can see the ip address from any post on this forum).

Hopefully this won't affect too many of you (we have had around a dozen managers suffer this bug from a few minutes to a few months so far) but if it does at least a solution appears to be at hand now.

UPDATE - It seems that whilst the solution works for some it doesn't work for all. It is still worth getting in touch to try the solution if the bug affects you but it can't be guaranteed to work sadly.

RETIRING

All players will now not exceed 37 years of age and any players retiring will announce it between weeks 1 and 10 of the season. If a player announces his retirement he cannot be sold between leagues. The only transfer that is permissible is between teams in the same leagues.
However, if a player arrives AFTER the first 10 weeks via a transfer or auction market bid he can still announce his retirement on any week in the remainder of the season.
If a retiring player has 10 weeks or less to go in the season then his contract can be renewed for free by requesting an extension via the other orders part of the client. If over 10 weeks then a team has to just give a normal 1 year extension on the player screen itself.
Players can retire from 34 year's old and upwards.


SCOUTING FOR FOREIGN PLAYERS

Even though the system is supposed to be even whether scouting by position or for looking for "any" it isn't and at present a specific position will bring greater success. This will be fixed in the future when scouting is looked at as part of a client rewrite.

SELLING PLAYERS ON THE AUCTION MARKET

There is no limit as to how many players are placed on any given week onto the AM as long as the squad minimum is not exceeded. Please note that ALL players placed on the AM count towards your squad numbers UNTIL they have been bought 4 weeks later and you will also pay their wages during this period.


SKILLS - IMPROVING THEM

Improving skills of players quickly will be based on training the right skill at the right time, the player playing, the player getting extra training and luck.
Two attributes are far slower to improve through individual training (whether they are full pro's or youth players. The first is speed, which will never go beyond a couple of levels in the space of 10 years of a player's life so if you expect to take someone from abysmal speed to brilliant in his career then forget it.
The second is strength. NEVER work on strength. If you want a player's strength to go up then employ a dietician. It is a waste of a training spot to work on it individually.

SPONSORSHIP DEALS

The maximum sponsorship deal is 4 years and is worth £7,500,000 (compared to £6,000,000 over four seasons when done one at a time). When requesting this length sponsorship a manager can also request a £10,000 per week sponsor’s win bonus which will be paid to the club every time they win. Please bear in mind that once a team has entered into a sponsorship deal they cannot extend it until it has less than a season to go before it’s expiry so please spend/ save wisely. They can be renewed as soon as there is 30 weeks or less left of a deal.

When initially taking on a team take out a one year sponsorship deal on the first week with a £ 10,000 sponsor win bonus and then the following week you can extend it by 4 seasons (remembering to include the sponsor win bonus). If done this way you gain an extra £ 1.5mill as you get an extra year for free when taking out the maximum length 4 year contract so in effect you get £ 1.5mill and then £ 7.5mill equalling £ 9 million in the space of a week.

Just write in misc orders -

SIGN A ONE YEAR SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH X (NAME YOU MAKE UP FOR SPONSOR) WITH A £ 10,000 SPONSORS WIN BONUS

Then a week later write -

EXTEND SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH X (SAME NAME) BY FOUR SEASONS WITH A £ 10,000 SPONSORS WIN BONUS

SQUAD NUMBERS

The maximum number of players allowed combined in a squad is 50 players, with no less than 12 in the youth team at any given point (youth squad funding is removed if numbers go below for any reason). Please bear in mind that although a player is on the auction market he still counts as a member of the squad until he is sold after 4 weeks and therefore makes up part of your squad number.
Teams cannot exceed 50 players and it is advisable to avoid getting too close to that number as all deals with players arriving are counted first by the program. This includes finding of youth and foreign players, transfer deals and buying from the auction market. If there is not sufficient space within the squad at the start of a turn this will mean losing any found players for good. It will also mean that any completed transfer deals will result in the player due to arrive disappearing and a lengthy process of claiming back the player via Glynn as the program doesn’t normally find a player the following week.


WEEK 1 ORDERS - POTENTIAL ISSUE

This is direct from Glynn - There is a permanent issue with week one, which is avoidable at my end but does sometimes crop up due to errors on my part. If you were promoted or relegated does your team team take up the first place (i.e Were they the top-left team in the results on week one?). If so, I can make a mistake when I start the orders on week 1 without realising that I haven't done the promotions (it's all very manual in SS1). This clears the orders for team 1.

Solution - If your team is taking up this spot in any division then contact Glynn in advance of your turns to make him aware.


YOUTH PLAYER REPORTS

When your youth scout finds a player the scout will give a general view of the player - eg I have found a cracking youth player etc His skill level is very good. This rating is only stating the quality of a youth player compared to other youth finds in terms of basic skills in the youth team.
To find out THEIR TRUE POTENTIAL click on the player's perspna page in the client the week after he arrives and his potential will be in the bottom righ hand corner of the screen


YOUTH SCOUTS


The level of youth scout you employ will determine the frequency with which you find youth players BUT NOT the quality. A brilliant youth scout will find more youth players than an abysmal youth scout, but both are equally likely to find a brilliant youth player.



JOINING THE FORUM AND THE BUG

JOINING THE FORUM

Due to the large number of spammers joining the forum, Glynn has now decided to activate the admin-checking facility for all new members.

If you wish to join the Soccer Star forum you must run at least one team in Soccer Star. After setting up your account (click register at the top of the forum), an email will be sent to myself at rdg1159:ntlworld.com (change : to @) to check the registration.

After registering, email myself at rdg1159:ntlworld.com (change : to @), telling me your new forum name, your real name, and the clubs you run.


THE FORUM BUG

It has become clear that the phpbb bug appears to be connected to people browsing the forum as guests rather than logging in.

It appears that it picks up ip addresses of guests who are on the forum for any length of time and then bars the ip address of the user.

The simplest way of avoiding this is to always stay logged in when on here so can all managers please ensure they are always logged in when visiting the forum.

If you get "banned" by the bug the quickest way to resolve this is to e-mail myself (rather than Glynn who a - is online less often and b - who only passes the requests on to myself anyway to sort out) and I will try the tweak to get you unbanned. The tweak is only about 50% effective so please try to avoid this scenario at all by remaining logged in when you visit here.

As a number of managers are working under a number of misconceptions and are accordingly either making false claims or wrongly blaming either myself or Glynn for this issue.

So here are the relevant points :

1) The bug ONLY grabs "guest" ip addresses. In other words, if you get banned you WERE logged out. There is no debate on this so please don't argue it. I actually don't have a problem with someone getting caught out, I do find it irritating when they then try to deny they were logged out when all the evidence has already proven that they were.

It is possible to be logged out without necessarily realising it at first as a temporary cut from the net (can be a second literally) can log a user out and you may not notice you are logged out at first. Also, cookies can (although this is rarer) expire during a browsing session and cause a log out.

Bearing these two things in mind even if you feel you are logged in at the time of the ban please don't claim it as you weren't. Simply not possible. Thanks.

2) Glynn/myself should sort this bug out as it is annoying/ruining your forum experience. This misconception is particularly annoying as it infers myself or Glynn don't care or haven't tried to get to the bottom of this. Simply not true.

I spent HOURS researching this bug and the simple fact is it is a bug specific to phpbb and we obviously have no access to that aspect of their coding and therefore cannot "fix" the site so the bug cannot attack.

PHPBB are aware of the bug but have failed to find a solution. I check every couple of months with them but as no fix has been found in literally years it seems unlikely now.

3) This bug doesn't appear on other phpbb forums. Simply not true. Too many users mistake what they see with what they think they know. Just because you personally haven't been banned on another phpbb site doesn't mean the bug isn't active there. All it means is that you have been lucky and/or the owner of that site doesn't make public the problems they have with the bug.

A lot of owners from interaction with them and comments on the phpbb site simply do not go public about the bug for fear it will harm their business/number of users. Whilst I took a deliberate decision to make everyone aware of the issue so a workaround could hopefully be sorted asap a lot of site owners simply say nothing and sort people out in private on a one to one basis when they get banned.

Therefore, visiting another site and making an assumption of them having no issues with the bug is simply wrong so please don't make this claim.

4) If you get banned you need to e-mail Glynn. I am the ONLY one who knows how to do this so please e-mail myself not Glynn as he cannot help you, will only pass your request on to myself and because I check my e-mail more frequently you will have a longer delay in getting back on the forum (assuming the tweak actually works). Plus time spent dealing with queries that he can't fix just delays him in processing league's etc so everyone loses out.

Make a note of either of these addresses and please just e-mail me if this happens to you and I will help you asap.

rdg1159:ntlworld.com (please change : to @ - altered to stop bots harvesting my address)

rich:charscot.co.uk (please change : to @ - altered to stop bots harvesting my address)

If you are unsure if you have any posts on the forum (or you just want to make my job a little easier) then visit the link below and give me the information in your e-mail to myself. I can find any ip address from a user's post but if either a) you have no posts on here or b) your isp uses a roving ip address I can't actually try the tweak.

http://www.whatismyip.com/

I will add to this post if/when I encounter/remember more of the misconceptions that get said to myself from irritated managers :)

Please note I am ALWAYS happy to help anyone with this issue (or indeed anything else) but my patience wears thin when managers start attacking myself in e-mails when I am only trying to help.

Despite what some people on here think I am just another manager. I have no financial interest in the game and I don't get anything from running the forum. No money. Nothing. I do this simply to help Glynn (and I am happy to do this) so please no matter how frustrated you may be with the bug (and I have been there myself having got banned thanks to Nat not logging on a few month's back !!) please try to remember that I am not the cause of the bug and cannot do anything except try the tweak and hope it works.

The vast majority of our managers actually never have an issue with the bug at all (thankfully, as I may have gone mad by now :lol: ) and long may that continue.



THE BUG - MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Ok, am having to post this as a follow up as a number of managers are working under a number of misconceptions and are accordingly either making false claims or wrongly blaming either myself or Glynn for this issue.

So here are the relevant points :

1) The bug ONLY grabs "guest" ip addresses. In other words, if you get banned you WERE logged out. There is no debate on this so please don't argue it. I actually don't have a problem with someone getting caught out, I do find it irritating when they then try to deny they were logged out when all the evidence has already proved they were.

It is possible to be logged out without necessarily realising it at first as a temporary cut from the net (can be a second literally) can log a user out and you may not notice you are logged out at first. Also, cookies can (although this is rarer) expire during a browsing session and cause a log out.

Bearing these two things in mind even if you feel you are logged in at the time of the ban please don't claim it as you weren't. Simply not possible. Thanks.

2) Glynn/myself should sort this bug out as it is annoying/ruining your forum experience. This misconception is particularly annoying as it infers myself or Glynn don't care or haven't tried to get to the bottom of this. Simply not true.

I spent HOURS researching this bug and the simple fact is it is a bug specific to phpbb and we obviously have no access to that aspect of their coding and therefore cannot "fix" the site so the bug cannot attack.

PHPBB are aware of the bug but have failed to find a solution. I check every couple of months with them but as no fix has been found in literally years it seems unlikely now.

3) This bug doesn't appear on other phpbb forums. Simply not true. Too many users mistake what they see with what they think they know. Just because you personally haven't been banned on another phpbb site doesn't mean the bug isn't active there. All it means is that you have been lucky and/or the owner of that site doesn't make public the problems they have with the bug.

A lot of owners from interaction with them and comments on the phpbb site simply do not go public about the bug for fear it will harm their business/number of users. Whilst I took a deliberate decision to make everyone aware of the issue so a workaround could hopefully be sorted asap a lot of site owners simply say nothing and sort people out in private on a one to one basis when they get banned.

Therefore, visiting another site and making an assumption of them having no issues with the bug is simply wrong so please don't make this claim.

4) If you get banned you need to e-mail Glynn. I am the ONLY one who knows how to do this so please e-mail myself not Glynn as he cannot help you, will only pass your request on to myself and because I check my e-mail more frequently you will have a longer delay in getting back on the forum (assuming the tweak actually works). Plus time spent dealing with queries that he can't fix just delays him in processing league's etc so everyone loses out.

Make a note of either of these addresses and please just e-mail me if this happens to you and I will help you asap.

rdg1159:ntlworld.com (please change : to @ - altered to stop bots harvesting my address)

rich:charscot.co.uk (please change : to @ - altered to stop bots harvesting my address)

If you are unsure if you have any posts on the forum (or you just want to make my job a little easier) then visit the link below and give me the information in your e-mail to myself. I can find any ip address from a user's post but if either a) you have no posts on here or b) your isp uses a roving ip address I can't actually try the tweak.

http://www.whatismyip.com/

I will add to this post if/when I encounter/remember more of the misconceptions that get said to myself from irritated managers :)

Please note I am ALWAYS happy to help anyone with this issue (or indeed anything else) but my patience wears thin when managers start attacking myself in e-mails when I am only trying to help.

Despite what some people on here think I am just another manager. I have no financial interest in the game and I don't get anything from running the forum. No money. Nothing. I do this simply to help Glynn (and I am happy to do this) so please no matter how frustrated you may be with the bug (and I have been there myself having got banned thanks to Nat not logging on a few month's back !!) please try to remember that I am not the cause of the bug and cannot do anything except try the tweak and hope it works.

The vast majority of our managers actually never have an issue with the bug at all (thankfully, as I may have gone mad by now :lol: ) and long may that continue.

Thank you.

Author:  Glynn [ Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:37 am ]
Post subject:  Nutmeg Article

Some of you may have heard of the Scottish football magazine 'Nutmeg', which this month features an article about football play-by-mail games, mainly reminiscing on the glory days of the 90's. They asked me for a bit of game info and a few thoughts, although I only saw two quotes re: Soccer Star. Still, the article is an interesting (though very long) read, which I'll post below.

You can get a physical copy of the Nutmeg from their website. Looks quite good actually.

Anyway, here's the article. Apologies for the wall-of-text, it's a bit unedited due to being pasted from an email.

MY mum can still remember the call as if it was yesterday, even though almost three decades have passed.
“Can I speak to the Athletic Bilbao manager please?” – a request made even more surreal by the fact it was delivered in a high-pitched tone that suggested the cruelties of puberty were still a few years in the offing.
Yet she somehow managed to resist the urge to laugh, politely asked the caller to hold and beckoned me down the stairs to conduct another important piece of transfer business.
Such was life in the household of a play-by-mail football manager in the early 1990s, when thousands of calls like this were taking place across the UK.
Most fellow bosses had acquired the social skills to ask for you by name, unlike the young English lad who took the more formal approach of requesting an audience with the San Mames figurehead.
However, the fact you would field calls from people as diverse as 10-year-old school boys and those clinging on to middle age by their finger tips summed up the universal appeal of the game.
In the days when the internet was still the preserve of academics, everything was done by pen and paper. Each week you would be sent a bundle of documents through the post that contained a match report of your last game, results from the rest of the league, injury news and details of players up for transfer.
If you wanted to add to your squad, or move on any deadwood, you would have to pick up the phone and strike a deal with your opposite number.
The paperwork for the transfer would then be sent back to HQ, along with team selection and tactics for the next fixture, with a few pound coins sellotaped to the back as your weekly dues.
As a football-mad teenager from Dundee, I found the whole process intoxicating – and I was not alone.
Around 13,000 people joined me in playing the M&E Sports simulation in that era, including Richard Skeen from Norfolk.
He started off as the schoolboy manager of Norwegian side Lillestrom and can vividly remember the thrill of waiting for the weekly update to drop through his letterbox.
“Everyone who played it back then has the anecdote of trying to catch the postman before school – or the misery of seeing him when you’ve just got on the bus,” Richard said.
M&E Sports was just one of several play-by-mail games operating at the time so the total figure of postal gaffers may have been closer to 40,000.
Glynn Carey, one of the original pioneers in the mid-1980s, set up his Soccer Star game in Nottingham at the age of just 16, having been inspired by the rudimentary football manager simulator on his ZX Spectrum.
“Soccer Star was conceived in 1986 and, as far as I’m aware, it was the first play-by-mail football game,” he said. “I franchised the game out to family and friends in 1991 which was a very stressful experience. But the game thrived with well over 100 leagues and 10,000 managers at its height around 1993/94.”
Grant Baxter, from Stirling, took his fledgling steps as a manager in that era, playing another game called Premier Simulations, which operated out of glamorous Biggleswade.
“My first team was a Hungarian side called Kispest Honved,” said Grant, who’s now 39. “I can still recall most of their players – in fact I still use one of them as my password for certain things.
“I was bored one night and went on Wikipedia to see how some of my Honved players got on in real life. Sadly, none of them managed to recreate the careers I carved out for them.”
I formed the same bond with the Bilbao players who took me to title glory in my second season as manager, most notably the precocious winger Francisco Luke who disappeared without a trace in the real world.
I had inherited just one star in the shape of Julen Guerrero yet moulded a team that would take on all comers, although our success may not have gone down too well with the traditionalists, given I ended the club’s proud policy of only fielding players from the Basque region.
Signing Chris Sutton from Blackburn was my Mo Johnston moment but the big man had big enough shoulders to deal with any death threats from ETA and became the bedrock of that title-winning campaign.
Yet when Los Leones ran out the following season to begin the defence of their crown, I was no longer in the dugout, having been tempted away by the computer game Championship Manager.
The purchase of a family PC provided the gateway for an instant hit of my opiate, instead of having to wait for the postie to feed my addiction.
The rise of Championship Manager, which was created by Shropshire brothers Oliver and Paul Collyer after they grew frustrated with the limitations of play-by-mail games, should have sounded the death knell for its predecessor.
I only gave play-by-mail passing thoughts over the next few decades and assumed it had joined Teletext, Clubcall and sideburns in the digital age’s football graveyard.
Yet a handful of play-by-mail games still exist and some are even thriving. Among them is Glynn Carey’s Soccer Star, although he admits most of the managers now taking part are those who played during its 90s heyday.
“I now only run eight leagues, although they’re very stable and it’s still a great one-man-business,” said Glynn, 49. “I’m down to around 50 managers and they are almost entirely long-termers or returning managers from the 90s. It’s still my job, although it doesn’t take up much time. Luckily, when it was thriving I paid off my mortgage and saved up some money, so I’m kind of semi-retired.”
The big player these days is Ultimate Europe, which was set up 20 years ago and now boasts 500 managers. It’s owned and run by Ben Paget, who claims the game’s success is down to the fact they don’t try to slug it out with the Collyer brothers’ behemoth.
“We never really tried to compete with them in terms of complexity,” he said. “We tried to make the game a bit more like a board game in some ways. A weekly deadline means you can plan, discuss transfers, look in detail at your opponents tactics. You can’t just press continue. It also offers a world with lots of other real managers.”
That social aspect is the underlying appeal for most managers. The game has even helped to strengthen family ties, with Charles La Rochelle and James Harman operating as a father-and-son dugout duo.
Charles was a devotee of Italian football when he started out in the 1990s and is now the Giovanni Trapattoni of the play-by-mail fraternity, still going strong into his 70s.
He’s one of the few players who still receives match reports through the post instead of via email and playing the game keeps him close to son James, who has moved from their Essex base to London.
“It has strengthened our relationship,” said Charles. “Jay being where he is, I don’t see him very often but we have always done the football together. We have always been extremely close and the game has been a bond between us.”
James, 38, agrees and fondly remembers the days when they would anger his mum by running up huge phone bills talking to fellow managers.
“My dad was once on the phone to one of the other managers for about 45 minutes, at national rates,” he said. “When the itemised phone bill came through my mum went mad and dad would blame me instead.”
Charles still insists James was the prime culprit but he soon devised a system to get them both off the hook.
“Rather than just running our bill up, Jay and I went to a local phone box and used that,” he said. “We spent a long time talking to people.
“We would talk about the game, what they did for a living and just what they were interested in. We got on very well with a lot of the boys.
“All sorts of different people were involved when we started. There were supermarket workers and one of them was an actual footballer. We grew up with them and knew them. In one game they even used to have a weekend away once every year.”
They weren’t the only managers meeting up on a social basis, with alcohol the only thing clouding Richard Skeen’s recollections of a golfing weekend 13 years ago.
“About nine of us met up,” said Richard, who now plays the Ultimate Europe game. “We all had that common denominator – a love of PBM as well as drinking. The game itself is a bit of a sideshow – there is always great banter when you are playing your friends.”
Grant Baxter has been part of the Ultimate Europe community for the last three years and insists it gives him an escape from the pressures of his job in financial services.
“It takes you back to your childhood, a time when you didn’t have to worry about bills and a job,” he said. “It has been a good distraction from stress at work – it lets me take a break from all of that.
“There are WhatsApp groups and although some of us act like we are still 12 years old with silly arguments and bickering, it’s a good place. Sometime people can get other things off their chests with relative strangers. A big issue is metal health at the moment and this group has really helped some people out.”
It’s a sentiment Matthew Maksimovic would echo, having admitted to his own battles with depression. Now 37, Matthew, from Taffs Well in Cardiff, set up the first internet forum for Ultimate Europe, only to later be banned from the same platform after clashing with fellow managers.
“Most men by nature are competitive and interacting with the opposition gives us the enjoyment we crave,” he said. “Over the years I have developed quite an outspoken and opinionated attitude which meant I frequently used to bite when getting wound up.
“I’ve mellowed with age, becoming a father, and I also suffer with depression. So I get involved in the bare minimum of fall-outs now, although sadly you will always get some guys looking to fight and argue.”
That much became clear when I decided to relive my teenage years by signing up for Game 121 of Ulimate Europe, although I was denied an emotional return to the Basque country as someone had already been named Athletic Bilbao boss.
As manager of Italian side Livorno, I logged on to the WhatsApp group and soon found my phone bombarded with messages, even though it was only pre-season and the new game was still weeks away from starting.
Old Firm barbs made their depressingly predictable appearance, even though most of the managers came from England, and there were so many messages I eventually had to disable notifications.
When the season finally began, I switched the notifications back on, only to be engulfed by literally thousands of messages.
It was all a bit too overwhelming, with many managers spitting the dummy after missing out on transfer deals, and I started yearning for the days of polite phone calls from suburban school boys.
Those who have remained loyal to the game have seen this evolution take place more slowly but it hasn’t made the change in etiquette any easier to stomach. Instead of a 45-minute phone call, Charles La Rochelle now has to deal with people who rarely communicate in more than 45 characters.
“They don’t want to talk to you now, they are very introverted,” said the game’s elder statesman. “People are more interested in themselves and it’s an inward-looking thing.
“Now I don’t know what people do, they hide behind a screen because it’s all done through computers. If people want to talk to you it comes through text or computer, not on the phone.”
Son James comes from a generation more in tune with technology but also admits communication in the social media age has taken away some of the game’s magic.
“You got to know everyone back in the day because you would phone them up,” he said. “Now there are so many keyboard warriors.”
The 1990s were more innocent times, however, and James points out that phoning up schoolboys would now rightly set off more than a few alarm bells.
In a society where grooming has become depressingly prevalent, the game has been forced to move with the times to avoid attracting those who would use it for their own evil ends.
“With all the issues surrounding child protection, you can’t call up a 13-year-old kid and say I want to sign your player,” said James. “There are so many people out there who would use this kind of thing to set up an interaction. It shouldn’t be like that but unfortunately that’s the way we are.”
I was that 13-year-old when I filled in a team sheet for the first time and waited on tenterhooks for news of how things had panned out at San Mames.
The envelope didn’t even have time to bounce off the doormat before I whisked it away, the anti-climax of a 2-1 defeat doing little to curb the enthusiasm that would build with each passing week.
Waiting for an email to drop with news of my maiden assignment as Livorno boss, a Southern Fourth Division blockbuster with Entella, failed to elicit the same sensations, my sense of wonder dulled by three decades of building cynicism.
Yet I still felt my pulse race when it finally popped up on the screen and instantly transported me back to 1993.

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