1. Creator Name & what made you choose it:
“FM Stag.” I chose stag as I am Scottish! I also have a large stag tattoo on my inner left arm and a decorative silver stag’s head on my kitchen wall. My 3 year old daughter loves that! My wife not so much.
2. Real Name:
3. Football Team:
Glasgow Rangers I am from, live and work in Glasgow, and although I grew up more or less in the shadow of Parkhead, through the highs and lows, I have always been a committed bluenose. Contentiously I am also a huge Manchester United fan (and no, it didn’t start in May 1999 after that famous treble). My grandparents lived in Sale all through my childhood. We’d visit every summer, and my older cousin Christopher (who’s from there) would badger me constantly to pick an English team, as apparently I was allowed to pick a team in each country to support. He was a diehard City fan, so out of spite, in around 1991, I fell in love with Manchester United, and it has stuck with me ever since.
4. Talk me through your FM journey – where did it start? When was the moment that you first clicked on that little icon – and when did you realise that you couldn’t stop?!:
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by the tactical and business side of football. That is admittedly, however, not as catchy an opening statement as the classic movie Goodfellas. As a child, I loved lying on the living room carpet of my parent’s house, and instead of playing with Scalextric or Transformers, I used to sit with the Fantasy Football section of the newspaper and pretend I was managing a real life team. I’d write out their existing squads, who I would sell, who I would buy, draw a tactics board of how I’d set them up, scribble my best attempt at their logo and home kit, then throw the paper aside and start the fun again. When I wasn’t in my garden kicking around a real football pretending to be Brian Laudrup, Gazza or Eric Cantona, I was pretending to be Stefano Eranio (or someone else with a name that sounded like they would be good at football) who I’d just “signed” for Sheffield Wednesday (or whoever), in my fictional, paper-based Fantasy Football universe. I had a few real human friends too, honest In around 1997 we got our first family computer, and after months of hammering the first Command and Conquer game, my parents bought me Anco’s Player Manager 2 from the now defunct Beatties toy shop, and I was absolutely hooked. This later led me onto all the other football management sims that aren’t CM/FM that everyone in my generation had a go at, but it wasn’t until I played Championship Manager 97/98 at one of my mum’s friends houses (her son had it on his PC, but was one of those fancy kids that had a PC and a TV and Playstation in his bedroom.) One Saturday, Martin was happily playing Destruction Derby, and I had my first go at Championship Manager. It blew my mind. I truly felt like I had dreamt my paper-based Fantasy Football model into life. A burned CD copy (sorry SI) of CM97/98 from my friend Marc followed, and I’ve been playing it for hundreds of hours a year, ever since.
5. Ok, you’ve been playing the game, what made you jump from “player” to “creator” and how have you found the journey?:
I’ve always loved doing creative writing. I’ve often flirted with the idea of writing a novel, but I don’t have the patience to fully understand and learn the true craft involved in taking on a commitment like that. I love reading story pieces written by creators, especially when they make me laugh, gasp and most importantly, feel truly immersed in the writer’s very own little FM universe that they are allowing me to visit. Reading other people’s FM stories has a certain romance. It gives an immediate feeling of familiarity (because it’s still FM) but different enough to my fictional universe to hook me in with all the drama and alternative timelines that people create. That’s what made me start Fmstag.com. I realised that in the last couple of years I was finding it tough to really get my teeth into a save and stick to it. I was too quick to abandon a save I’d spent maybe 50 hours on, just to start with a different team because I fancied a change. Writing my blog posts keeps me invested in a save, keeps me attached to it, even if it at times there’s only a handful of others joining me on my journey by reading along. Fmstag.com has only been live since late in the FM19 cycle, so I am incredibly late to the party, given how long that I’ve been playing CM/FM titles, but the community has been very welcoming so far. I was a member of The Dugout (RIP) for ten years (‘burgundyyears’ between 2005 and 2015), and that was my first exposure to the creator community. I would love for forums to thrive like that again.
6. What’s your style of play? Within the library we have a couple of guys who plough through seasons letting the Assistant Manager’s do the vast majority of stuff, mainly getting into the late 2060’s trying to complete bizarre and random challenges, but we also have guys who are very much into the finite detail and will manage every aspect and would consider a save done after 5 or 6 seasons. Where do you fit within the scale?
There is of course, no incorrect answer.. I do love a good wonderkid newgen (don’t we all?) but I do like my saves to have some elements that are recognisable from real life. For that reason, I don’t tend to get much further than around 15 years into the future. I’ve done a variety of saves. I try and set a to-do list ahead of each FM game’s release, but it’s tough to find the time to actually do them all. As I write this today, the full release of FM20 was about a fortnight ago (a month including the beta), and I’ve clocked up 197 hours already. Then there’s the accompanying writing before I consider the list of what I want to do next. This year on Fmstag.com I currently have a journeyman save that started in the second tier in Sweden. The full blog is on the site! I also have plans this year to do at least a created club save, a sleeping giant turnaround, an English LLM to Champions League story, and at least one attributeless moneyball save before FM21. Throw in a required Rangers and Manchester United stint, and that’s a whole lot of hours I’m not sure if adult me, with wife, child and full time job, can commit to.
7. Favourite version/save? Any particular bittersweet/comic/down right depressing memories?
I had three very memorable saves in FM19. One of which was a short spell with Catania in Serie C, which I blogged on Fmstag.com. The other two were with Arminia Bielefeld in the second tier in Germany, which saw me move on to manage Arsenal, and an Ebbsfleet United save where I managed to get them from the Conference to the Championship, all with a free transfer 16 year old centre back named Max Broughton retrained as a marauding central midfielder as the pivotal figure. Historically, the best save that comes to mind is one where I managed QPR back in 2014 and got absolutely battered for the entire season, got relegated from the Premier League with about 12 points, got sacked and couldn’t get a job for a year. Not the best start I know. I then took the Barnsley hotseat, who by that point were down in League One, got back to back promotions to the Premier League, but then left six games into the Premier League season for the West Ham job because they had Zlatan in their squad. Four defeats on the bounce later and I quit that save in anger, never to return. I regret never picking it back up and running with it. French defensive midfielder Loïc Poujol was my main man in that Barnsley side. Going back to the older CMs, any save which featured Orri Freyr Oskarsson, Supat Rungratsamee or Kennedy Bakircioglu was always a winner, but signing Hermán Gaviria (RIP IRL) for absolutely every team I managed in CM97/98 will always be special to me.
8. Which bloggers do you always make sure that you read?
I am still relatively new to the blogging community for FM, so the exciting thing for me is knowing that there are so many other established (and new) creators out there with material that will appeal to and inspire me that I haven’t seen yet. Firstly, I can’t pass up this opportunity to plug my own blog at Fmstag.com (shameless, absolutely shameless!). So far though, I’m hooked on Continental Pro Licence, FM Heathen, Dirigo FM, From the Cheap Seats, Lutterworth Fox and FM Grasshopper. There are so many more I am looking forward to delving into, so apologies if I’ve missed anyone!
9. Who within the community, seriously impresses you – produces the type of content that you just think “Wow, I couldn’t even contemplate producing stuff to at that level – for me it’s Laura/Chilled Moose and the face packs that she produces – some serious design talent there. This can be across any format of creation.
A huge amount of the stuff that is out there is brilliant. I watch DrBenjy’s various series on YouTube, and think his stand up comic-type approach is really engaging. Loki’s journeyman saves where he also looks at places to live and what’s in the local area on Google Maps of whichever obscure town he is managing a team in, really influenced some of the specific detail I put into my own blog posts at Fmstag.com. From a blogging perspective, I could go on and on for a long time with nice things to say about each of the FM outputs from the bloggers I’ve already named. So I would just like to say “keep up the good work” and thank you for the variety, the laughs and for everything I’ve learned.
10. What puts you off reading other creators blogs – what makes you click that “X” button in the top right of the page? For me it’s using the correct grammar for team names – I saw a blog about 18 months ago where the blogger named his opponent as oxford united and not Oxford United – I’m still angry about this…
I totally agree about errors and mistakes. I was talking to FM Grasshopper briefly about this recently. We all make mistakes, but the fundamental ones really do clang. I also think that a sense of perspective on each post is nice. I’ve already said I definitely don’t have the craft to be a serious writer, but I’d like to think that the delivery of my content, the humour and structure of it, allows posts to kind of stand alone, although usually always part of a wider series. I’m not saying each randomly selected blog post should land like a single episode of Black Mirror, but if I’m 500 words in and don’t recognise any of the references, chances are I’m lost. I also think that posts that are just “I sold this guy, bought this guy and had this list of results” aren’t really suitable for blogs, instead maybe better suited to the numerous (and brilliant) forums for short, succinct updates. But that’s just me answering the question as openly and honestly as I possibly can. The big thing for me is that no matter who you are, who you are managing or what format or platform you chose to share your story, please continue to do so, as it makes the FM community a richer place for you doing so.
11. Ok, final question.. I have 5 minutes and I have a list of blogs in front of me – In 100 words, why should I click on your blog…
If you love football, like humour, like quirky visuals designed to make you laugh and have a penchant for Eva Longoria and pop culture references, then hopefully Fmstag.com is your bag. There’s also a squad building “Football Philosophy Index” piece (which was published by FM Scout) if you are bit of a spreadsheet geek, which admittedly I am. There’s also soon to be a piece I am working on with Ryan from FM Base, that will give some nice visual representations of how the various tactical roles operate. Ever wondered what the passing lanes of a Segunda Volante look like on the pitch? So do we…
And with that, another 11 questions answered. And now we allow FM Stag to ride off gracefully…. hopefully with Eva Longoria in tow….