Falling in love with Fantasy Football

This opening post will age me a fair bit. With a gameweek in mid-flow, I thought I would pen something a little bit different. A piece on how I came to play fantasy football for the first time, what drew me back in and how I have taken it more and more seriously, to the point this season when I decided to blog about it.

1994

Fantasy football really took off in the UK when Frank Skinner and David Baddiel hosted Fantasy Football League in the mid-90s. But I didn’t play a Premier League-based game at that time. What got me into it was a teacher in my school created a game for the 1994 World Cup. I still remember the massed team lists, printed out, all along the line of cupboards in a classroom. It must have been an EPIC labour of love for that teacher and any colleagues that were also involved. I salute them down the decades.

Ahead of the tournament, I did some research on the qualifiers. Something that I thought would really make the 14-year-old me stand out from the crowd. I decided that Colombia would have a great tournament and I was certain that Freddy Rincon would be the star performer of the tournament after his goals in qualification.

Well this, tragically in the end, didn’t really happen to be Colombia’s tournament and I didn’t have a hugely successful time. But the fact that I can remember being so excited to have ‘discovered’ Rincon’s potential so many years later was an early example of the memories that fantasy football can leave.

Keeping in touch with old pals

I didn’t play much fantasy football until sometime in the 2000s when some friends from back home invited me into a Telegraph league. I haven’t ever done that well in it, but it whetted my appetite. I’ve done better in games against them based on major tournaments (see more below) but I’m very much a mid-table man in this league, which is still going on and, again, I’m mid-table. 

Work league

I’m a tabloid journalist in a former life and I spent the best part of 13 years at The Sun. An old colleague ran a Dream Team mini league there and used to write ascerbic, comic run downs every week as things went well or, to even more amusement, when teams had shockers. I was having a decent season one year when Everton were in Europe and had loads of games to play. I went all in on Everton. I needed them to have a big end to the season and I’d be FLYING. They didn’t. I didn’t. I’ve never had a great Dream Team season, despite playing every year for ages. Indeed, I think this season is one of the best I can remember. I’m hoping to finish top 1k.

The Big One… the battle v my brother and FPL

My first foray into FPL was in 2011/12. I only played very half-heartedly and stopped logging in at some point and finished outside the top 2million. But then came the decision that made me start taking this game very seriously… my younger brother and I started a Head 2 Head league for 2012/13. Since then, we have competed 1v1 in every league season and every major tournament and, in the past three seasons, he has also organised a draft league (which I have won the first two years and I’m currently second in this season).

For the first couple of years of taking it seriously, I made some rookie errors. I punted on captaincy pretty much all the time. But I started doing research, listening to Scoutcast and such and my rank improved. In 2013/14, I finished 822,239th. In 2014/15 (the year I discovered Scout) I finished 17,877th. I might have fallen out of love with FFS lately, but I certainly credit Mark Suthern’s site with making me a far better player a few years ago. I had three more years finishing in the top 20k (my best rank is 7,035th in 2016/17) before a disaster in 2018/19 when I fell outside the top 400k. Last season, I had a bad first half and was absolutely SMASHING it post-Christmas when Covid wrecked my ascent (I had 6 players set for the DGW Arsenal v City) and I finished 44,226th

This season, I have spent the entire time since GW8 between 50 and 200k. It’s felt fairly static. I have been blogging my season in all formats and I’ve found FPL a bit of a slog. I think we all found every game being on telly a bit of a novelty at first but I, for one, can’t wait to get back to having a few games at 3pm and watching Soccer Saturday!

I’ve taken what feels like a bit of a season-defining punt this week in using the Triple Cap on Lucas Digne. It just looked like two lovely fixtures for Everton and I decided that I would go for the uber-differential rather than the more sensible DCL. I think I would have gone DCL if I was having a really good season. But this feels like injecting some excitement into proceedings.

Other games.

I also play Sky, UCL, Fantasy Champo (Big thanks to the guys behind that). But the games I enjoy most (and do best in) are those around major tournaments. Euro 2016 provided my finest fantasy moment. I won the Sunday Life game here in Northern Ireland and was presented with one of those comedy cardboard cheques. If the guys behind this website want, I will probably do a few posts on the Euros.

One Comment on “Falling in love with Fantasy Football

  1. ‘a bit of a slog’ and ‘injecting some excitement into proceedings’
    Think you’ve nailed it for many a weary FPL player there. Good luck with your blog, and roll on Summer and the Euros.

    Like

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