"Football Manager Ruined My Life... I Took My Laptop To A Wedding For Deadline Day"
There's a fine line between an enthusiast and an addict. Just ask Football Manager fanatic Tony Jameson, a former college lecturer who once took his laptop to a wedding so he could "finish off" transfer deadline day.
The 39-year-old admits the popular game dominated his life to the point where he celebrated lifting the Champions League with non-league Blyth Spartans by spending the afternoon on a public, open-top bus tour singing 'We Are The Champions'.
He even memorised every word of Cameroon's national anthem so he could connect with the fans.
"I had to win over the nation." he told SPORTbible. "I felt that by learning the national anthem it showed I wasn't just there for a payday and I was serious about leading the national team.
"Sadly we never achieved what we wanted, and I was eventually sacked."
But after years of winning silverware in the virtual world, excluding that disastrous spell in charge of the Cameroon national team, his self proclaimed addiction would provide him with the tools to go out and make people laugh for a living.
Jameson, who claims he's spent approximately 31,760 hours on Football Manager since he first started playing in the 90's, decided to create a stand-up routine based around his three-and-a-half-years worth of in-game experience.
And that includes the time he bought a real life Blyth Spartans shirt with a regen's name on the back.
"The club shop were confused as they never had a player called Reynolds," he says.
"I explained it was from Football Manager, and that he had been a one-club man, breaking the clubs appearance record and being the first man in the club's history to lift the Premier League and Champions League trophy.
"I think it created more questions than answers."
He toured the UK for 18 months with his critically-acclaimed show and has since performed pre-tour warm-up shows for Kevin Bridges, Stewart Francis and Frankie Boyle.
So who is Tony's favourite regen player of all time? And how did he manage to get out of that wedding?
We tracked down the man himself to talk all things FM.
1. Do you think playing Football Manager can become an addiction?
Absolutely. I think if you have ever said to yourself, 'just one more game', then maybe you've been bitten by the bug. Or if you've ever looked at a player in real life and thought 'he's meant to be great cos his class of FM', then it's fair to say you're hooked.
2. Tell us some of your stories about how far you've gone to play FM.
Well, I snuck out of a friends wedding to load my laptop up to finish off transfer deadline day.
Weddings can be quite long drawn out affairs, particularly if it's the friend of your wife getting married. Safe to say I wasn't 100% focused on the day, and as my wife was a bridesmaid,
I was left unattended to entertain myself. After sitting through the speeches, and the meal, I figured I could probably sneak away before the disco as I wouldn't be needed for anything. I grabbed a bottle of wine, and went back to the hotel room to get back on with my game.
I figured I'd seen everything I needed to see, and if I got drunk I'd just end up causing a scene.
AND my crowning achievement was going on an open top bus ride after winning the Champions League with Blyth Spartans.
When you win a European trophy, you want to celebrate with your fans. You've won it for them.
So in order to celebrate winning the Champions League with Blyth Spartans, I booked onto one of those Site Seeing buses you get, and sat at the front of the bus with my laptop singing 'We Are The Champions.'
3. When did your love for Football Manager begin?
It all began when the first game came out in 1992. I had played games like Sensible World of Soccer, and Goal, but this game offered you the chance to manage in a much more in depth manner than something like Premier Manager or Play By Mail.
Once I played it for the first time it just made sense to me, and from then, the rest is history.
4. Tell us about your greatest Football Manager save of all time.
My greatest save was the one I talk about in my show where I took Blyth Spartans from Blue Square North to Premier League and Champions League Champions.
It took over 30 years to lift the Champions League trophy, and I actually retired my laptop with me aged 88 still at the helm as I couldn't bare to retire from the game or club and let someone else take over.
I sometimes think maybe I should add another manager for a different team on that save and keep the save going, but I don't know if I could stand to see my Blyth Spartans team managed by someone else.
5. Who is your favourite Football Manager player of all time and why? Real or regen.
I had loads at Blyth.
Derek Reynolds was a club legend. A centre half who came through the ranks and at his peak was worth in excess of £35m (that was a lot of money back in FM10). He only ever played for Spartans and held the all time appearance record.
Andrew Hendry was a Scottish striker I had who broke the clubs goal scoring record. A record that was held by real life legend Robbie Dale until about 2030.
Stephen McDaid was the one that got away. A 16 year old Northern Irish lad recommended to me by my scouts who opted for West Brom. He then went to Arsenal and became one of the best players I've ever seen on the game.
6. What does Football Manager mean to you?
It gives everyone who says every Saturday 'I could do that, I know better than the manager' a chance of sorts to see just how difficult it could be.
Since having my son nine months ago, I sadly don't get much time to play anymore now, but I'm looking forward to introducing him to the game when he's older.
7. In the prime of your addiction, how many hours would you spend on Football Manager a day?
I think during the show I worked it out at about 23,000 hours which equates to nearly 2 1/2 years of my life, but that was nearly four years ago, so I'd maybe add another year onto that figure.
In 2008, this Newcastle-based comedian set about balancing the life of a full time college lecturer with making people laugh on stage.
Now he's providing the world with nostalgic, Football Manager feels and we are all for it.
Topics: Football Manager