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“If you don’t understand Hero’s humour, go kill yourself”

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I have often discussed on here how very single I have been for a very long time but I’ve never found it to be a huge disappointment as it has afforded me the ability to do pretty much what I want outside of work hours and how can that be a disappointment?


One of the things that’s been truly wonderful has been the ability to continue playing Championship Manager 03/04 continuously since its existence in 2003. I was not alone in playing this game when it came out but a couple of years after this two paths tended to happen to other people:


The first path involved getting a long term partner, getting married and having kids. This halted any thought or chance of continuing to play this wonderful game. The second path involved getting the next edition of the game and however many more after that until they found a long-term partner, got married and had kids. I on the other hand did neither as no woman managed to meet my expectations (or to put it another way, I had no appeal to women)  and well, this version of the game was as complex as I needed to get in a computer game and was happy to be left behind by subsequent versions. This was a game where you could happily play it whilst doing other things and I liked that; sometimes it’s nice to give your brain a rest and this game enabled you to do that whilst not taking it backwards either.


Right up until the end of last week I was still enjoying the playability of this game. Sure for months I could go without playing it but I’d always come back and recently I had really got back into it. I had my laptop whilst in San Francisco and it amused Steeve that as he tucked himself into bed (and with the lack of ability to watch porn as I was sharing a room with him), I’d get onto CM0304 and play a few games before saying goodnight to the world myself. I had a Charlton team I was delighted with and it was a pleasure to round off the day with them.


This team was still going strong up until last week and then something awful happened. I loaded the game up and all fixtures disappeared! I was distraught but only for a moment. I learnt how to be a bit geeky and restored the computer back to a previous version and thank god it was working again. I continued to play from where it had last saved and felt happy until it did the same thing again only this time I couldn’t restore a previous point in my computer’s history. Shit!


Since then I have tried everything, completely deleting it and reinstalling it numerous times and every time I start a new game it loads it up as normal and presents me with the fixture list for the season. I save it and close it and when I reopen it all the fixtures are gone and I am left in limbo. The only thing that remains is the previous saved games as they don’t seem to disappear on reinstalls and therefore I am left looking at my ultimate team that has no fixtures and so therefore I can no longer do anything. It is an erection with no privacy or sexually desiring partner, it’s a point that is pointless.


Having as I said played it for well over a decade there are players that I have come to adore; players that I have known longer than friends I have and certainly much longer than any relationship. Some of these players have never let me down or disappointed me and quite frankly I can count on the fingers of one finger how many friends haven’t.


Therefore with possibly the end of an era of my life happening (I can’t justify a whole new computer just for this can I?) I am going to do what is only right. I’m going to pay tribute to my ultimate Championship Manager players on that game. As I said the latest Charlton team was an accumulation of years of knowledge of playing the game and so I am going to use this team after season one as the ultimate list of Hero’s players. Before I start though I will say the following:


Managing Real Madrid or Manchester Utd (they were a major team then) never really appealed to me as you had a ton of money and could easily buy anyone you wanted to and therefore the challenge wasn’t exciting. There were players such as Theirry Henry who in this version would always score a ton of goals but there was no way a team like Charlton could stump up the appeal or the finance if he became available and so won’t be appearing in this list. To get into the Charlton team that could win the league in its first season you had to be brilliant, you had to have a ton of potential but most importantly you had to be affordable!


It’s also important to know that Charlton is the perfect team to use for this list as I tried to sell everyone that was already there to fund the ultimate team. The biggest team I used to manage was Spurs as I am a fan and in that team there were players that you know like Ledley King & Anthony Gardener and ones that you have probably forgotton or never heard of like Helder Postiga and Mbulelo Mabizela that were excellent in this game and that I kept. However when I was Charlton everyone went and the resulting squad was purely my own creation and turned a sure-fire relegation candidate into Premier League winners in the same season.


Finally those that played this game remember the frustration of the work permit rule. There were quality players that sometimes were allowed to join you and sometimes weren’t. On this attempt at the game I got very fortunate as every single player I wanted was granted a permit, this never usually happens and so it was an even more exciting game than ever as it truly was my ultimate (affordable) squad. And so with no further rambling (I have already done a lot), let us begin. Below is the Charlton squad that before being unable to complete fixtures had won me a couple or Premier titles, cups and had Champions League success. They are listed in position played, with age, rough purchase price, whether they started or were back-up and any other point of interest (to me; I have so few readers I continue to not care if this has absolutely no appeal to anyone but me) added.


Goalkeepers


Name: Andreas Isaksson | Club: Djurgarden | Nationality: Swedish | Age: 21 | Price: £2M


Andreas was usually the second most expensive player purchased. He already had 13 caps for Sweden and before I discovered him I always had a problem of finding a decent keeper I could get in at the start of the game at a club like Charlton. However once he was discovered (a few years ago) he was always purchased and £2M always seemed the amount I needed to prize him away from his club.


Name: Diego Benaglio | Club: VfB Stuttgart | Nationality: Swiss | Age: 19 | Price: Free


Diego is a fairly new discovery (honestly you can after fifteen odd years still find new players worth having) and was the perfect backup goalkeeper to Andreas. He was available and happy to come on loan first season and at the end of the season Stuttgart always released him and you could pick him up for free


Name: Kasper Schmeichel | Club: Man City | Nationality: Danish | Age: 16 | Price: £240k


If I were in the lower leagues I’d start him from the beginning. However at the lower Premier League teams he was a future prospect that you could always rely on to turn out great. Man City at this point were not the Man City we know now and therefore there was no problem persuading this young goalkeeper that Charlton was a perfectly reasonable move.


Right Backs


Name: Carl Laurie | Club: None | Nationality: English | Age: 21 | Price: Free


This player would join you if you were managing Leigh RMI in the Conference but was also good enough to play at the very top levels too. He was one of my first heroes as I discovered him early on and he was happy on either foot and whilst he was best as a full back could fill in happily as a winger or a centre back should you be beset with injuries. I used to always use him as a left back until a more recent discovery revealed himself.


Interesting fact: He is named after two forms of transport, a car and a lorry. I think that is pretty cool. The only other player I discovered in this game that was named after two similar things was Rocky Woods (rocks and wood) but I could never get him a work permit.


Name: Lee Sims | Club: Man Utd | Nationality: English | Age: 18 | Price: £250k


Sims was perfectly able to start as right back and to be fair often did. It was a toss-up between him and the car that was also a lorry. Great at crossing and once or twice a season depending on if starting would bang in a screamer from 40 yards. He would always lack interest in joining you but it’s amazing how a kid on £275 a week could be tempted by being on £4k a week. It was a quirk in the game that allowed you to attract younger talents from bigger clubs.


Name: Billy Jones | Club: Crewe | Nationality: English | Age: 15 | Price: £160k


This kid always turned into a good player but I never really played him as I never usually got so far into the game that either two forms of transport or Lee Sims had become too old. On the rare occasion I did usually a regen made up player would usurp him. However if I had a lot of injuries he was there to step in.


Left Backs


Name: Trond Erik Bertelsen | Club: Haugesund | Nationality: Norwegian | Age: 19 | Price: £65k


This player was a more recent discovery of the last few years and was truly incredible. Acceleration and pace with the ability to cross and score long rangers he was the perfect full back. Oh and he could defend too. He was the reason two forms of transport was moved to right back and another player soon to be mentioned was moved to centre back. He is the only left back mentioned in this list as the backups were always used in other positions. There were some good left backs but none matched this guy and for that price! His only problem was injuries and so two transport’s versatility was often bought into use as he switched flanks and Sims stood in on the right.


Centre Backs


Name: Jose Julian De La Cuesta | Club: Atletico Nacional | Nationality: Columbian | Age: 20 | Price: £1M


This guy had two major problems, getting a work permit and getting sent off. He used to be - when I could get him - my left back of choice but instead became my left centre back once Trond revealed himself to me. Solid defender and scorer of goals from corners I always liked this guy. Sometimes you could get him for £500k, sometimes £1.5M but either way always a worthwhile purchase. I always had problems with getting enough decent centre backs at clubs like Charlton but he solved half the problem.


Name: Orlando Montalvan | Club: St. Louis Steamers | Nationality: American | Age: 24 | Price: £180k


This guy was a godsend when discovered a year ago. I always struggled to find that second centre back but this guy solved that problem; great stats and super reliable guy. It now meant that I didn’t have to use two transports in his not quite as good position as a centre back until I could afford a better one.


Interesting Fact: The only player I bought whose name was obviously also a place.


Name: Leon Cort | Club: Southend | Nationality: English | Age: 23 | Price: £150k


He had good stats and would do his part as when injuries hit would fill out the defence just fine. I was always a little weak in numbers at centre back and so he was always needed and did the job.


Interesting Fact:  The only player I purchased named after a badminton playing area, something that causes cricketers to be out and a place where Henry the VIII got fat. Two sports and a history reference in a name, wonderful.


Right Wingers


Name: Toledo | Club: Catanzaro | Nationality: Brazilian | Age: 21 | Price: £350k


Toledo was by far and away the most frustrating player in the game but it was entirely not his fault. He was the major fuck-up of the work permit police as 50% of the time he’d get his permit denied and he was my favourite player in the whole game. He was such a wonderful player!


The biggest problem I had with the work permit police was how ridiculous it was compared to what happens in real life. I could accept that his permit got turned down at the start of the game, he was a wonderful young talent but I didn’t know who he was and I bet neither did you (unless you played this game) however he would always get signed by a European club if you couldn’t get him (they had different permit rules) and would do fantastically for them. I would then when I made some money by winning things go in for him again at which point he’d played a couple of seasons for them, scored bags of goals and assists and be worth a lot more money. However even with all that he would still not get a permit as he hadn’t played enough games for Brazil which was the requirement for a work permit if not seen as a youngster with huge promise. So therefore you had the ridiculous position of not being able to buy a proven player worth 10M because he had no caps. Meanwhile in real life managers seemed to be able to get anyone they liked if they had done moderately well at any European club.


However rant over, if you did get him in your team you were laughing. He could beat an entire team in a dribble and then either finish it off himself of provide the perfect cross for your strikers to finish. He would average over 8/10 in performance every season and you wouldn’t be surprised if he bagged you 20 goals and assists a season if not more.


Name: Chris Hackett | Club: Oxford | Nationality: English | Age: 20 | Price: £18k


Chris Hackett’s only problem was he was in the position Toledo occupied and so therefore he was only ever played when Toledo couldn’t which 50% of the time would be every game because the fucking work permit bastards wouldn’t let him! However Hackett was almost as good, would also always average near 8/10 and would go on runs like Toledo around the whole of the opposition before either banging it in or setting up another. I think the only real difference was he didn’t get as many goals or assists as Toledo but he really wasn’t that far off.


Interesting Fact: Could he Hackett? Yes he could!


Name: Aaron Lennon | Club: Leeds | Nationality: English | Age: 16 | Price: £400k


This player is still going in real life and I used to love him at Spurs. He grew into a fantastic winger in this and could compete with Hackett for a starting place but only of course if Toledo wasn’t around. Are you getting the message here? Toledo was EPIC!


Left Wingers


Name: Daniel Braathen | Club: Skied | Nationality: Norwegian | Age: 21 | Price: £50k


If I had Toledo on the right wing and Braathen on the left I was basically in heaven. It was the winger equivalent of dating a supermodel with a stunning personality or finding a donut that had zero calories in it. Braathen could play up front too but I loved him as a left winger. If Toledo could get you 20 goals and assists on the right by beating an entire team by himself before setting up an assist or finishing, well Braathen could happily match him from the other side of the pitch. I love wingers in real life and Braathen and Toledo were my virtual equivalents. If it were possible to conceive a child between two men then you could only hope Toledo would fall for Braathen as the winger they would create would destroy the universe. I said previously that Toledo was my favourite player in the game but Braathen runs him so close and has the added bonus of not having work permit issues.


Interesting Fact: If Daniel had not married Toledo but someone with a surname of Paanties and double-barrelled his name he would be the way I like my non-existent supermodel with a great personality to take off her underwear Braathen-Paanties


Name: Lionel Morgan | Club: Wimbledon | Nationality: English | Age: 20 | Price: £200k


Lionel Morgan was the Hackett of the left wing but better. His only downside was injuries but he would if given the chance become a world class player (proven by the fact his description changed to ‘World Class Winger’ from ‘Winger’ in the game engine). He was luckier than Hackett though as whilst he got injuries so would Braathan and so then he often got games. The downside for me is after a lot of them he wanted to be a first team regular and I would have to placate him with money.


This player was one of two I always bought from Wimbledon once they became bankrupt and you could get him for a great price. The good news was Wimbledon ALWAYS became bankrupt sometime in the first season.


Name: Helder Barbosa | Club: Porto | Nationality: Portuguese | Age: 16 | Price: £50k


Another wonderful winger, especially after a few years of playing and you could always negotiate him away from Porto. He would tend to every couple of seasons get a run of three or four league games as ladies underwear and Morgan would both get injured at the same time. He could also happily take over in League Cup games against lower division teams if ladies underwear was out long term and Morgan was filling in for the league games. I really wasn’t short on the wings, three quality players on both sides.


Central Midfielders


Name: Fredy William Thompson | Club: Comunicaciones | Nationality: Guatemalan | Age: 21 | Price: £525k


Surely every CM0304 fan knows this guy? He would always get a work permit and would always go to an English club. The great thing about him though was as long as you offered him more money it didn’t matter who else would go in for him you’d get him. He also had a minimum release fee clause of £525k and I don’t remember ever having a team without him bossing the midfield. He would always become world class and would always remain loyal; another absolutely hero, usually captain and a 20/20 rating for penalties.


Name: Freddy Guarin | Club: Envigado | Nationality: Columbian | Age: 17 | Price: £150k


Basically the younger version of Fredy but with the added ability of being able to take even better free-kicks and long range shots and Fredy was not shabby himself. He also had 20/20 at penalty taking. I never worried that I had two defensive midfielders playing in the centre as they both seemed to chip in with goals and I had Toledo and women’s underwear doing the business on the flanks! This guy could also go straight into the first team at 17 and stay there until whenever you got bored of winning everything with the team he was in. His only downside was that 25% of the time the work permit police didn’t see the obvious potential he had.


Interesting Fact: Surely the only midfield in the world that contained two Fred(d)ys and certainly with two Fred(d)ys with different spellings, note the extra D in this one.


Bonus Interesting Fact: Whenever he scored I used to always (in my head) shout GUARRRINNNNNNN because it sounds like GET IN!! with a silent T sort of (I am very sad I am aware).


Name: Oskitz Estefanio | Club: Real Sociedad “B” | Nationality: Spanish | Age: 16 | Price: £625k


This was a player who like all under 17 year olds was free to approach as long as the club you poached him from was compensated. He was one of the two players of that ilk that initially didn’t want to move to you but was persuaded with money. He was a fantastic passer of the ball and free-kick taker and was a perfectly adequate back up to the two Fred(d)ys!


Name: Nigel Reo-Coker | Club: Wimbledon | Nationality: English | Age: 19 | Price: £240k


He never really played to be honest. A back-up to the backups, maybe a few League Cup games against lower league teams. He could have been great but he never got passed the Fred(d)ys or even on the bench due to Oskitz and a player that was also a striker soon to be mentioned. He’d last a couple of seasons, get tired of being not-selected and then he’d make you a million or so.


Name: David Fox | Club: Man Utd | Nationality: English | Age: 19 | Price: £250k


He is on loan at Antwerp for the whole of the first season but you would always get him in the second season. Why wouldn’t he come to the Premier League winners? He was the perfect replacement for Nigel who would want to leave after not playing for a season or two.


Forwards


Name: Orri Freyr Oskarsson | Club: Por | Nationality: Icelandic | Age: 22 | Price: £30k


This guy could play in midfield or upfront and would do you proud either way. He usually ended up on the bench and could cover both positions as I’d need to leave space for the non-EU players who had to play 75% of games. You could sign him at any level too so if you couldn’t get the rest of the forwards that kept him on the bench for my Premiership team then you would have no problem allowing him to bag you 30 odd goals a season as you progressed up the lower leagues. He happily contributes 10 to 15 goals a season simply by playing the last 20mins for most of the season in the Premiership or if you have injuries another 10 on top of that.


Name: Freddy Adu | Club: None | Nationality: Brazilian | Age: 14 | Price: Free


Yes, amazingly a third Fre(d)dy in the squad and is the famous one that never quite progressed to the level of the hype surrounding him. He did however in this game. The only frustration was once you got him you had to ensure he played 75% of games to have his contract renewed and so you were forever bringing him off the bench in all games even though he needed a couple of seasons to turn into ‘not a kid’! He was fine in the lower leagues from the off and could even do a bit as a fourteen year old in the Premiership but really he starts becoming worthwhile as a good sub from the age of 16 or 17. Do real clubs who buy young talent have to field them to keep a 75% playing record? It seems a bit silly. However I always bought him (aside from the version I had where he went missing for a bit due to the use of US players being removed) and if I played long enough he became a good addition to the squad.


Strikers


Name: Evandro Roncatto | Club: Guarani | Nationality: Brazilian | Age: 17 | Price: £300k


Like Toledo he was often a victim of the work permit police who didn’t see his obvious talent like I did. Unlike Toledo he didn’t end up taunting you by being brilliant at another European club, he’d just remain somewhere in South America and be lost to the Premier League. However if you got him wow!


He could play left wing no problem if you had injuries but left forward was his spot. You want 30 goals a season? No problem. How many seasons did you need to wait before that happened? None. He was great from the moment he got off the plane and with a bit of luck you could get him in any league. I remember a golden game where I took Exeter from the Conference to the Premiership with no problems because I somehow managed to get Roncatto and Gaurriiinnnnnnnn on free transfers (they always leave the club they are at once they agree terms with you as their contract runs out a month into the game and so if you are happy to wait for the process to go through you cancel the transfer and then buy them as a freebie) and with Oskarsson joining Roncatto upfront just sat back and watched the glory unfold. It almost didn’t matter who was with them but with two forms of transport and eventually can you Hackett? Yes you can providing assists there was no way I was not going to storm through those leagues.


Interesting Fact: With this player I now had a car, a lorry and a van in the team. Now if only I could find a coach we’d be free of having to hire any transport for domestic away games.


Name: Anatoli Todorov | Club: Litex | Nationality: Bulgarian | Age: 18 | Price: £5.5M


Sometimes you could get him for a lot cheaper, sometimes for a bit more, it always changed and also he was a maybe/maybe not with work permits. If you did get him though you knew you were going to get a good ten seasons plus of 30 goals a season and a few 20 to 25s when he wasn’t at his best. A lovely partnership with Roncatto but could play with anyone really including…


Name: Georgi Kakalov | Club: Litex | Nationality: Bulgarian | Age: 18 | Price: £1.2M


His teammate at Litex who’s price tended to vary between £800k and £1.7M. He starts out on loan until the end of the calendar year and so provides the boost you need when your other strikers are maybe getting a little tired by Xmas. He is another will they won’t they allow him a work permit but if they do happy days, another wonderful striker.


Name: Alessia Cerci | Club: Roma | Nationality: Italian | Age: 15 | Price: £650k


This player is similar to Estefanio in that he doesn’t really want to come to your club but you can prize him away with a much larger wage than he is on at his current club. Another striker who will bag you a ton of goals and will do so right away in the lower leagues and also in the top league if you give him a chance. After a few seasons though he is also a ‘guaranteed 30 goal a season guy’ who only has one problem. As you already have Todorov, Kakalov, Evandro and Adu in your team who are all excellent strikers, Cerci has to make do with the occasional cup appearance as whilst he is in the same league he doesn’t have to play 75% of games and therefore the bench runs out of space for him. You therefore have to keep him happy until he can guarantee a starting place which is tough when you have all of the above in your team too.


Name: Supat Rungratsamee | Club: Portsmouth | Nationality: Thai | Age: 15 | Price: £350k


Another high quality striker who will score a ton even at this age in lower leagues and will happily come off the bench and score a few for you in the Premier League too until you allow him full reign in the team.


Interesting Fact: If you win the league first season with a club like Charlton you are often offered the England job (after all what a miracle you have just achieved) and you can then give Supat a cap ensuring you have a great striker for England for years to come rather than him turning up for Thailand.


Regens


These are the players that are generated before the start of each new season so you don’t end up running out of players ten years down the line. There is always a chance to find a gem and in this game that gem was Robin Melaard. He was a striker with unbelievable stats who I signed from Ajax; a player who you will never own and who I never will own again and is another disappointing reason my game stopped working as I was just starting to enjoy his brilliance. After four games he had no goals but by the fifteenth had thirteen. You know the imaginary crowd were chanting Kumbaya Melaard, Kumbaya too…


Interesting Fact: He doesn’t exist but he should!


So there you have it, a Siary that will probably only be appreciated by myself and one that also proves just how single I’ve been. However if I can’t ever get CM0304 back (and I will keep trying) then it needed a decent send-off (well a write-up on here at least) and those players given the recognition they deserved. I am a no-one in real life and so it was great to be my own hero in this game and the amount of statues of me built outside of stadiums, well it was hard not to get a little big-headed.


I guess with that done I’m off to read a book but in the back of my mind I will probably be thinking, shall I try a reinstall one more time? I’m sure in the next Siary I will be back to writing about things that actually exist but I’m glad I allowed myself one where I could wallow in my own fictional brilliance. It’s also better I wallowed in that one for a Siary rather than the one where I have a ten foot cock and rule a world full of naked adoring ladies. Until next time…



Players Bought: 28 | Total Spend: £14.9M | Avg. Spend £533K | Avg. Age 18.5 Years


Hero’s Top 5 Players


1. Toledo

2. Daniel Braathan

3. Freddy Guarin

4. Evandro Roncatto

5. Trond Erik Bertelsen

End Of An Era? A Tribute To CM0304