"Shy^ made me do it..." Me and Managerleague (16/04/2013 22:07)
It has been three years, eight months, twelve days and a certain number of hours, minutes and seconds that I cannot be bothered and have no intention to count since I have bogged on here. I feel a lot like I imagine Rocky feels. Not Rocky in Rocky I , II or III when he was at the peak of his powers. More Rocky in either Rocky IV or Rocky Balboa, a sort of punch drunk veteran whose best days are behind him.
Actually this is a forced simile and one which doesn't quite work as Rocky was remembered by those who saw him return from retirement. He was the old champ coming back for one more round, within his own lifetime. I feel more like someone who was cryogenically frozen for decades and then thawed out in a time where everything feels somewhat familiar but most of the faces are different. It's like some sort of time paradox.
Or maybe it's more like returning to a blog you used to maintain before life changed and destroyed your free time. Yeah, it's probably more like that.
Basically, I'm back on Managerleage for the first time in years. This is largely down to Sjy^ who simply told me I had to as it was the 100th season (I try not to cross her). Luckily I still remembered my password and generated a team to replace my trademark "always flirting on the fringes of promotion to division one" side of days gone by. I merely thought I would play a little bit on it for old times sake and then move on.
However, the pull of the blog was too much for me to resist. largely because it was on here that I was first able to find my voice, as it were. I feel like I owe Managerleage quite a lot, in a way, or at least the people of Managerleague from July 2006 to July 2009. I thought I'd tell my own story of Managerleage from back in the day, both from the point of view of the game and the community around it, what brought me here and what it led to. In many ways it actually changed my life.
(In a realistic way. I realise that last sentence seems a bit culty. This is not me advocating a cult, I can asure you..... at least not yet - there is a tale of ressurection here!)
So I, like many, came to this game because I was bored at work. I was sat in my office, a low paid functionary punting data into Excel in Central London and looking for ways to waste time because work really (and I mean REALLY) wasn't taxing. I recalled playing Play-by-Mail football management games as a young teenager (this is PRE-INTERNET kids! Imagine it!) where you would get sent print outs of data posted to you, make decision and send it back by the deadline and do transfers over the phone. It was all very exciting for a while until my pocket money dried up and I had to quit because I got a SNES and a CD/Cassette recorder and so had other things to spend money on. But aside from the cash flow, I really enjoyed the play by mail. I remember seriously upsetting a grown man from Milton Keynes when he called my house (at 13 I'd not thought twice about handing out my parents landline number to strangers!) to try and convince me to part with my star striker only to discover a teenager had total control of the negotiation. He must have felt terribly immasculated when I gave him another player for free instead as he was superflous. I was the king. However, I digress. Remeber when I used to digress...?
Anyway, so boring job and childhood memories led me to wonder if such a thing existed on this Internet thing they were all going on about (ok, it wasn't THAT long ago). So I googled, tried one (it were crap) and then found Managerleage. I made up a username from a Polish name and created a Mexican team - Banditos. This was when there was only one league. I can't recall which season but it was bloody early as I remember that stuff in Spinner's history blog. I joined up and very quickly became obsessed. My day ended up being planned around the game times. First thing done on arrival at work was check the results. I certainly spent more time chasing down bargains than I ever did sorting out Medical Student placements (which may well have damaged the medical profession significantly, but I do feel it was a worthwhile sacrifice). In short, Managerleage became what I did ALL DAY and work was merely a sideline to keep my spirits up during the off season. I used to dread that week!
As things developed I decided to interest my co-workers in the game and, at one point, the entire office had joined up. It added to the fun but in the game I remained faily anonymous.
That all changed when the Blogs were introduced...
Now, I'd always been a bit of a frustrated writer. In a number of senses. I was frustrated that I always wanted to write but never finished anything. I was frustrated that no one ever read my stuff (which was odd as I never even told people I wrote because it sounded too nobbish) and I was frustrated that no one paid me to write (which was a bit nobbish to expect in the light of the first two things). I'd also always wanted to crack on with a blog but never had a medium or a theme. So one day, before the afternoon match, I had a free hour or so and decided to knock out a blog entry...
Here it is: http://www.managerleague.com/blogperma.pl?id=27
Now it feels a little dated I admit, and covers the ground of my early obsession with the game, but the fact that I could see how many people had viewed it AND get feedback on it boosted my confidence incredibly. So I carried on. I blogged fairly regularly about twin topics of an obsession with the game bordering on a mental collapse in which I was unable to detach the game from reality and odd events in my life (I lead an odd life where odd things happen to me an awful lot). And after each blog I nervously checked my stats and each one seemed to meet with a favourable response.
Then magical things began to happen. Firstly, people on the game starte contacting me directly! chatting to me and such. What I had written had encouraged them to get in contact with me. If you don't write and don't understand the pain, fear, self-doubt and self-loathing that goes into the process then you won't realise how much that sort of thing really means. The positive reaction was great and the community here seemed to embrace me through my writing and my confidence only grew. It was further boosted by being made and "Official Blogger" for the approximately two months this existed as a thing on the front page! I was delighted by this. My readership passed 1000 per entry and I actually used to tell people I was big in Norway!
I managed to develop a serious of idiosyncracies that frequent readers picked up on. These included seious typos, an tendency to digress to such and extent as to alter the topic of the blog entry in question, an alarming habot of clicking off the blog entry screen without saving (must have lost 1000s of words to that AND managed to do it about half an hour ago, as if to remind myself) and, most solidly, an over reliance on elipses....
I also met (in real life) members of the Managerleague community (including Miss Spoons, Shy^ and Spinner) and at no point felt threatened by them. Lovely people. Still on contact and all that. My blog developed. I wrote live blogs charting special cups for Sir Johnny (www.managerleague.com/blogperma.pl) and then got asked to perform the duties of a sort of entertainments manager, running contests within the game. My particular favourite was the Football Shirt Game where you had to send in a picture of yourself in a shirt from the furthest geographical location you could away from where you lived. There was also the "Where's Wojteker" Game. Good times.
Over the course of the next few years this impacted on my life in ways I would never have expected. I was, as a result, able to write two full lenght novels (one of which gained me a genuine legitimate literary agent!), completed over a dozen short stories, wrote a few short film leetcodes, blogged my way around the world (www.wojteker.wordpress.com) and for some reason that is quite beyond me, I also applied for a job as a writer on Oxford Street. Which I got! All thanks to Managerleage!
The fact that this was the worst job I ever had is neither here nor there. The additional fact that I lost the job due to a chain of events set in motion by being caught playing Managerleage whilst at work by my boss and not being able to explain what it was in any way other that total honesty. Things spiralled down from there and I quit that job to become a teacher. The result was that I also had to quit Managerleage due to a serious lack of time (teaching is busy man!). Nevertheless, I use my writing skills, honed in this supportive place, almost every day writing weird and interesting lessons, reports and papers. I do the best job in the world for me and I would never have got to this point without Managerleage being in my life.
I could bang on and on for a lot longer about the nitty gritty of all this but, to be honest, a lot of it is in my old blogs which are still up here. If you're bored, have a read. You'll hopefully see how I developed from a self-concious anonymous blogger to a person who lets people read his writing and does a job every day that makes me happy more than anything else I've ever done. Along the way, I've gained a job, lost a job, made some great friends, got a better job and got the confidence to put my work out there and get it read. Hopefully one day I'll get a publisher and I can dedicate a work to this glorious glorious game.
Not because it is a game, that's just the way in. It's so much more than that to me and always will be. So even though I may disappear for over 50 seasons I will always return as an when I am needed/wanted.
I'll even work for free....
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