January 20th 1972

“Man City picture arrived”

I suspect this ‘City’ embarrassment will live with for some time during these early diary entries. The fact that I have dutifully written in EVERY match result on the day it took place some kind of peculiar testament to how much I ‘loved’ them.

It’s somewhat weird to consider that for most of the 80’s and early 90’s football fell RIGHT off my personal radar – indeed, if truth be told, I couldn’t care any less about it! – but back in the seventies I was evidently obsessed by ‘the beautiful game’.

I remember having notebook after notebook chocked full of imaginary “full season football leagues” I would set up. I would start by working out all the home & away schedules for each of the four divisions (1, 2, 3 & 4 – none of your nonsensical “premiership” or “championship” bollocks back then), then wrote them week by week on alternate pages. In between I would hand-draw 4 league tables to then work out and fill in as they would be after those games.

It took me about a week or so to play a full season, all done by the simple act of throwing a pair of dice, two colours – one for the home team, one for the away.

Needless to say method this resulted in a certain “randomness”, many HUGE goalscoring games (“and today Huddersfield Town beat Liverpool 6-5 at Anfield“) and massive fluctuations in league positions from week to week (back then it was only 2 points for win).

Now, I can’t remember specifically manipulating the die to *ahem* ‘assist’ Manchester City further up Division 1, but my conscience can’t tell me I never did!

For the record, I also included both the League and FA Cup runs, going so far as to writing all the teams on pieces of paper and pulling the match-ups from a hat (or maybe my schoolboy cap?). Replays? Yep did those too.

If the words “sad” and “tosser” haven’t quite crossed your lips yet, then now is the time to mumble it.

Soccerama Board GameOf course if I’d had my later “entrepreneurial’ head on back then, I would’ve turned my own little game into a successful money-making business, printing up the books ready for eager schoolchildren to fill in/play with during their lessons.

It kept me busy and “out of trouble” I guess? If I’d still kept just one of those notebooks, I suspect it would amuse me for quite the while, as both naive and unnecessarily complicated it must seem in comparison to today’s computer generated games and sports software.

I’m sure that my then-fascination for notebooks was born out of my repeated (sadly, solo) play of the late 60’s board-game Soccerama (seen right).

In Soccerama – endorsed by no less a top-notch sporting celebrity than 1966 World Cup winner Alan Ball (R.I.P.) – you managed your own imaginery team through all the domestic divisions, played them in Cup games, even the (as it was then) European Cup competition – if you were good enough. (I played this game so much, I was!).

It was hideously addictive to me back then. So much so that that I held onto it for years and years afterwards.

I know what you are all thinking…. did he go so far as to ship it across the Atlantic and stores it downstairs in the household games cupboard? I’ll *ahem* “take the fifth” on that utterly disgraceful accusation!

As for the “Man City picture arrived” diary entry, I’m afraid that – as important and life-changing as it may have been 36 years ago – in 2008 I have NO CLUE as to what I was referring.

Another “memory dark hole” moment I’m afraid.

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