The wildly successive soccer simulation game Football Manager (previously known as Championship Manager) has been an all-consuming fixation for a scary percentage of the video game title’s players. “There are tales of guys who stuck their resumes in for managerial vacancies in the real world because they had taken Leyton Orient to Champions League glory without ever leaving their bedroom,” wrote The Sunday Herald’s Graeme McPherson in 2012, in an article that seems to have provided useful research material for The Guardian’s Sachin Nakrani.
As publishers SI Interactive prepare to launch the 2014 edition of the game, Nakari quizzes comedian Tony Jameson, whose one-man show, “Football Manager Ruined My Life” is apparently a sensation in some part of the world where they’re lucky enough not to have seen Anthony Jeselnik yet.
Jameson describes his show as a “mid-life retrospective” examining how a game he first played two decades ago turned him from an enthusiast into an addict. “I’ve worked out that, on average, I’ve played Football Manager for three hours a day for the past 20 years. That works out to 21,915 hours, or two-and-a-half years, of my life.”
Jameson is on his 35th consecutive season as manager of Blyth Spartans, having taken the Northumberland club from the Northern League to Premier League and Champions League success. “I’m 76 in Football Manager years,” says the 33-year-old. “I was going to apply for the Brazil job a little while back but realised that would probably be too much of a commute for a man in his 70s.”
It has been during his time in charge of Blyth that Jameson has displayed the kind of obsessive-bordering-on-mentally-unstable behaviour that separates a casual Football Manager player from a genuine addict. “The worst it got was probably when I reacted to getting a touchline ban by playing the game from outside my room,” he says. “I hit start, left the room, came in again at half-time, hit start and left again. It was a Champions League tie against Espanyol. We lost 1-0.”