What ever happened to…John Charles Keyworth Curtis

One of the essential CM9798 wonderkids and a key signing to set your back line up for a long time. John would make his Manchester Utd debut in a 7-0 hammering of Barnsley in 1997 but never broke through at the club.

He went on to sign for Blackburn Rovers in 2000 and played consistently during the promotion season to the Premier League. He can also count himself a League Cup winners medal from his time at Blackburn. After representing England B, he went on to a number of moves that just didn’t quite work out, retiring in 2011 hanging up his boots after a final season in the A-League.


Mission Impossible – Saving Barnsley (Part 5)

Last week, KingOfTheRooks decided that keeping Barnsley up wasn’t enough. He wants to go one step further and survive another season using only real life signings. Does further greatness await?

Ey-up and welcome back to deepest darkest Yorkshire where yet again we’re taking on a challenge only an absolute lunatic would take on; keeping Barnsley in the Premier League (again) but on the basis of the squad from the 1998-99 season. In reality, Barnsley finished 13th in the First Division, John Hendrie was sacked, and they never reached the dizzy heights of the Premier League again.

You left us previously rooted to the foot of the table having only managed to sign Mike Sheron, with the only other transfer target available a washed-up Clayton Blackmore, and, given we already have 6 left backs, we won’t be pursuing that one! Here’s a reminder of our depleted resources:

We can’t play Redfearn, Liddell and Fjortoft up for sale (the latter out for 15 months anyway) and Krizan and Hristov without work permits. We’ve picked up 5 points from the last 15 and really should have been at least 4 points better off but for late collapses.

We start November at Oakwell which has largely been a place we’ve kept the goals out. It’s the Kebab Shop Carriers vs. the Crazy Gang. We boss the match, and just can’t find the net so out comes Sheron and in comes McClare with Liddell pushed up top…and we win!

My good mood was short-lived. The dreaded big club release clause relieves us of our most prized asset as Leeds United come calling for the man from Leek Town. Well Dave Watson, you’ve got the first team place you’ve been crying for.

We are nothing without Tony, and we all hate Leeds.

It never rains in South Yorkshire, it just constantly pelts down…

One more in, welcome…Deon Burton

Another loss to a relegation rival, and things are not looking rosy in the gardens of Yorkshire.

Tony’s replacement, Dog Shit Dave, concedes both of Norwich’s (Second Division Norwich) shots and we exit the League cup at the 4th round. The plus here is less chance of injuries for vital survival games. Next up and Shearer vs. Sheron was never really going to be a contest.

The return of our iconic religious figure at the back and the joker see’s us win the latest Yorkshire derby, although Sheff Wed gave us a late scare after we withdrew said two plays. We remain bottom but now only 2 points from climbing out of our pit!!!

We continue to score goals, but without the shining star of Tony Bullock it is hard to maintain a lead, that said, we really should have scored more than two.

Upton funked us right up, as we lose 1-0 to relegation rivals West Ham, Abou with the only goal. We didn’t even register a shot. The lads still carrying the hangover from the celebrations after drawing at Leicester. I won’t dwell on bowing out the FA Cup 3rd round to Hartlepool other than to say the real Barnsley made the Quarter Finals (somehow).


That is a MASSIVE three points. Absolutely massive. Only 3 points separate ourselves and 15th placed Sheffield Wednesday. This dog will not go down without a fight! We follow it up with a decent defensive result as we walk away from Roker Park (4th placed Sunderland) with a respectable 0-0 draw.

This is brutal. Marksedt has transformed since moving into midfield and is our top scorer with 5 goals. He is also our chief corner taker which tends to be the catalyst for our chances. We close out January with a superb point against second place Chelsea, which we could have won (story of my season).

At this point in time my main concerns regards keeping our fight alive are that Liddell has to be sold if we receive an offer; Adi Moses has a big club release clause and is a wanted man, and, with the board refusing to allow me to cheat and list him for loan until the window closes I am completely on edge. Clayton Blackmore remains the only constant in available transfer purchases.

With that, we have pulled ourselves back out of the relegation zone for the first time since the 26th of August.

At the top of the table meanwhile it is all change from what you would expect, that said Man Utd have improved on their bottom half finish last season:

Over in the Bundesliga it’s the tightest title race I’ve ever seen.

And in La Liga the dominance of the big two is being broken:

So the board know just how hard I’m fighting to keep the club afloat.

And with that, we’ll say you again soon duck, to find out whether we can really pull off mission impossible II, or whether the footballing gods have it in for us and our already diabolical and small squad is further depleted by the circling vultures at the top of the table.

See you next time.

What ever happened to…Natipong “Alfred” Sritong-In

There are many hidden gems in the CM9798 database and “Alfred” is one of them, with a potential of -1. Natipong spent his youth career in France eventually making his professional bow at Olympique Noisy-le-Sec where he scored 3 goals in 21 appearances. In 1994 he signed for Thai Farmers scoring 66 goals in 89 appearances.

He won 55 caps for his Country scoring 25 goals in two years and winning the gold medal at both the 1995 and 1997 Sea Games. Wikipedia suggests that he retired from football to take up golf! He was last noted as managing the Royal Thai Navy FC but appears to have left after they were relegated to the Thai League Two.

Mission Impossible – Saving Barnsley (Part 4)

You may recall Andrew did the impossible and kept Barnsley in the Premier League. Not satisfied with one miracle, he’s setting about keeping them there using only the players Barnsley really signed. Catch up with how Andrew kept them in the Premier League here.

Hello and welcome back to another adventure in deepest darkest Yorkshire! Last time out you found us dreaming of and delivering on the impossible; turning the clock back to 1997, unpicking the mistakes of Danny Wilson, and ensuring Barnsley’s survival against the odds in their debut Premier League season with the original squad only.

As you’ll no doubt be aware, it all ended so tragically in real life. So, to follow-up with a rather more impossible feat again, we’ll be looking to repeat the feat, only allowing ourselves to sign players whom John Hendrie’s Barnsley signed for their First Division season of 1998-99.

This means, the list of possible signings are;

Fumaca, Bruce Dyer, Alan Moore, Deon Burton, Don Goodman, Craig Hignett, Mike Sheron, Robin van der Laan, Clayton Blackmore, Scott Jones, Pirri, Chris Barker, Jon Parkin, Brian O’Callaghan, Rory Fallon, Paul Bagshaw, Marc Heckingbottom, Paul Kennedy, or Richard Siddall (if they exist in the database anyway).

And to top that off, the players we must sell, or release (or just plain ignore) are;

Neil Redfearn, Andy Liddell, Jan Age Fjortoft, Jon Perry, Neil Thompson, Laurens Ten-Heuval, Govo Bosancic, Deane Bullock, Rory Prendergast, Dean Jones and Ashley Ward.

That…seems like it will inevitably end in pain. We can play Fjortoft and Andy Liddell until we sell them given they went mid-season in reality, but Redfearn mustn’t be played.

We’ll try our best to offload the players for sale in player exchanges to avoid offending the board/destroying our budget if we cannot shift them.

So far our preparatory mission is going great guns…

No thanks. Meanwhile Hristov has had his work permit declined. And we have shifted Ashley Ward.

Pre-season rings some massive alarm bells. If we manage to survive then this will be the biggest escape on record. However, I have a feeling we’ll be propping the table up/getting sacked. Okay, that confirms it, we’re done for…

F****** hell lads I said to keep it nice and sensible! Well we make our way to Filbert Street with absolutely ground zero expectations, and to my surprise we dominate proceedings, have three cleared off the line and come away with a respectable 0-0 draw against a Leicester side that finished 10th last season.

Our first game at Oakwell and we earn another shut-out where we’ve kept West Ham down to just one chance all game. I’m calling that another point in the bag!

We make our first signing of the season as Mike Sheron becomes available for a cool £1.1m, a proven goal scorer in the First Division (that will keep the punters happy…), can he help us survive in the Premier League?

Looking at the positive, we have our first goal! We follow it up by dropping points to 9th placed Sunderland. Sheron spurned a 89th minute open goal too.

We get off lightly at Stamford Bridge:

It seems that, for love nor money, we cannot buy a goal. Tottenham practically begged us to win and we stubbornly (how very Yorkshire of us) refused.

Onwards and downwards we march. Brad Friedel prevents us from getting a point. Kluivert, Sevchenko and co squeeze over the line.

Sandwiched in-between our absolute epic failures in the Premier League we manage a 1-0 win over Bury in the League Cup. Next up Derby County come-a-calling and it has all the trappings of the Sunderland game, 1-0 up, cruising, throw it away.

4th placed Aston Villa are the next side to add to our shame at the foot of the table as the only winless team in the division (it was 2-0). That said, the gap to safety isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

It’s a classic top vs. bottom, and we pull out all the stops, dominate the game, but our inability to score continues to plague us. Note again, the opposing ‘keeper getting man of the match. The positive…we’re now 19th (unlucky Coventry).

We advance thanks to a draw in the League Cup vs. Bury. John Hendrie gets scythed down and is out with a groin injury for three months, the last thing we needed after putting in a great shift at Man Utd. No doubt he’ll be out on the hoy too and come back in a fine shape…

Another action packed Yorkshire derby…at least we didn’t lose, but that’s more points pissed away. Mike Sheron still to set the Premier League alight. In other news, Art imitates life as Malcolm Crosby takes over from Denis Smith…

Oh my I’ve gone all dizzy…we double our goals tally in one game as Boro get terrorised by the Tykes! Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeron!!!

We follow up with a predictable 1-0 loss to mid-table Blackburn having spurned chance after chance, normal service has been resumed! A break from the stress as we visit Division 3 Macclesfield to secure a 3-0 victory and reach the League Cup 4th round. But the big end to October is a battle at the bottom as we take on 20th placed Coventry in a real 6 pointer.

It started so well, and we dominated the game, but it was all ruined in a very short spell.

And with that, October comes to a close. I would estimate our chances of survival as 1 in 100 at this point. That said we’ve improved and taken 5 points from the last 15 which is over half our total to date. We’re also only 4 points from safety despite our abysmal form.

Defensively we are actually very sound, and it’s no wonder big clubs are circling for the man from Leek Town (Tony Bullock) and Adi Moses who are phenomenal. Up top Sheron is certainly no Shearer, and as the shortlist goes, only Clayton Blackmore remains available when I could desperately do with Goodman, Burton or Dyer to mix things up in front of goal.

The board have a clear understanding that I’m trying to keep a team that finished 13th in the First Division in real life in the Premier League. So, please stay with us and we’ll see you next time to see if we can make it through winter within touching distance of our ridiculous goal!

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @kingoftherooks

What ever happened to…Anthony Betterton

Little is known about the career of Anthony Betterton, he doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia. The little data available suggest he spent some time at Swindon Town, before signing for Highworth Town, Swindon Supermarine and Shrivenham before moving back to Highworth Town at some point (Only known thanks to an online Wooton Bassett Town FC programme from 2012).

However, in 2006 he made a report in the Swindon Advisor on a non-league match between North Leigh and Shrivenham where he was written to be involved in a “farcical mix-up” with a defender costing his side a goal to former Nottingham Forest player Chris Allen.

CM97/98: Playable Norwegian League

Andrew is back again with some Scandinavian tinkering. He’s made the Norwegian league playable which is summarised below. You can download the database here.

So, you probably noticed by now that I have a small obsession with the Scandinavian content of CM9798. But isn’t the most infuriating thing, that, despite all these hidden secrets, the teams remain unplayable? Well, fear not any longer, as my itchy editing finger has been hard at work.

Scotland is the victim, and I have traded their clubs out and replaced with the Norwegian structure. The nature of the Norwegian leagues in 1997 means this isn’t an exact replica, but largely adheres to the previous seasons finishing positions. We’ll watch the season pan out so, let’s meet the new Norwegian Premier League:

I’ve allowed the season to play out without interference and to see how the AI deploys the players on offer. The big challenge will be the volume of dreaded big-club release clauses due to the relatively low ranking of the Norwegian clubs. There are also some players on offer that I have NEVER seen in an active game. Haugesund have two Nigerian’s Garba and Adimole who look fantastic. So how did the season end up? Let’s see.

Norwegian Premier League

In a surprising turn up for the books, Molde were crowned the inaugural champions of the newly formed Norwegian Premier League. Stabaek were relegated following the sale of Tommy Svindal-Larsen mid-season which saw their form drop through the proverbial trapdoor with them.

Stromsgodset survived a relegation play-off to stay up and can probably lay claim to the best export as usual.

Rosenborg shone on the European stage, making the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, bowing out 1-0 over two legs to Lazio, underwhelmed in the League.

The biggest exporters of the season were Brann. The fact they finished second after their squad took a battering is some achievement.

The top goal scorers’ charts were a bit of a surprise. Kjetil Lovvik has a shooting rating of just 10, whilst Kristian Sorli only 12. Clearly Mons-Ivar Mjelde would have took the gong having scored 16 in 15 before leaving for the Bundesliga.

A fairly similar story in the assists table. Garba and Adimole in the top 10 assists though, suggest Haugesund have potential. Kjetil Lovvik again playing beyond the capability his ratings would suggest.

Norwegian Division One

Moss grows fat on a rolling stone, and they would have been drinking plenty of it in celebration back in 1998. Stian Neset and Erik Bakke relegated at Sogndal. Skeid went downhill after selling Christer George to Genoa.

Eik-Tonsberg also fell away after selling Christian Bye Andersen to OB Odense.

Byasen’s goals against is…just wow!

Valerenga scored 62 goals, and Kaasa scoring over half of them.

Jo Tessem breaking the top ten, again with limited finishing ability. Bye Andersen might have surpassed Kaasa, but I guess we’ll never know!

Ulrik Balling may well have done better playing in a stronger side.

In the assist charts Kaasa must have been setting himself up! Unlike the Premier League this mixes things up a bit. Moss’ lack of players in either chart is astonishing for the league winners.

Norwegian Division Two

Bryne took the league title by 7 points, leaving Ham Kam a bit salty in their wake. Mjondalen didn’t impress as much as I thought they would with Anders Rotevaten in the sticks, Kim Pedersen at the back and Bollerud creating the chances.

In the goal scoring charts a familiar face pops up, having signed for Ham Kam, but 6th? Poor effort.

Good to see Vidar Hasund up there with 14 goals.

Looking at the assists chart, GT has become an assists man. Rune Medalen the perennial runner-up.

Norwegian Division Three

Drobak-Frogn will be disappointed to fail on goal difference especially as they managed to make it to the Norwegian FA Cup final (losing 3-1 to Rosenborg).

The top goal scorers chart shows just how Sarpsborg managed to sneak ahead of Drobak-Frogn.

Sulja couldn’t get his shots off in the FA Cup but he’s tore a hole through division three that’s for sure.

Sarpsborg are a talented squad for such a lowly side:

The top three dominate the proceedings, but, given between them they scored 197 goals, that’s not surprising. Harstad would have had another in the standings had he not been so good he was snapped up early doors.

Soderlund and Sulja showing themselves to be clinical and selfless all in one.

The Cups

A showdown between eventual runners-up of the top two divisions. Unfortunately for the Odd lads it was all Brann.

In the Norwegian League Challenge Cup, Christer George settled the game for Skeid.

And as we’ve already said, lowly Drobak-Frogn made it to the FA Cup final against Rosenborg. Despite taking the lead, it collapsed pretty quickly.

And with that, I leave you with a gift. The gift of the three required databases to play the Norwegian season out to your hearts content! Just add these databases to your file (make sure to back up the old ones!) and you too can have a Norwegian adventure.

What ever happened to…Elijah Litana

As with many of the Zambian players in the CM9798 database, Litana’s date of birth is incorrect and he was actually 9 years older than suggested. Litana was part of the Zambian AFCON squad that reached the 1994 final, going on to win 31 caps and scoring 2 goals and even captaining the national side.

In CM9798 he is attached to ‘Minor Team’ as his Saudi side Al-Hilal were not in the database. He stopped playing professionally in July 2000 after being involved in a firearms accident in which he shot himself in the kneecap whilst ‘cleaning his pistol’…