Skimmed Version – Long Story Short
SPAGames is a one-man set-up. That one man is me, Simon. SPA are my initials, which I guess is a bit vain, but I couldn’t come up with an imaginative name, so I used it as a temporary measure and it’s kind of stuck!
You can read a much fuller history of how SPAGames came to be below.
Full Cream Version – Me and SPA Games
Dice and PBM
I’ve always enjoyed playing and running games. Games about sports mostly. When I was about 13 years old I would use dice to decide football results and run pretend leagues. I never shared them with anyone – I kind of wish I’d kept them now.
I didn’t share them because I was afraid of ridicule, that people would take the piss and I really didn’t want that. The same worry still haunts me now, but at least I can use the cover of social media to promote my games – can’t hear people poking fun that way!
I guess if you’ve read this far, you’ve shown at least a passing interest, so let’s get stuck in…
Towards the end of my time at school (I left at 16 – most people did back then) I enjoyed playing a play-by-mail (PBM) football management game.
It was the mid-eighties by then – before the internet and Championship Manager. The PBM company was called Apex. You’d select your team of eleven from your squad for the next match, post it off and wait for the match result to return in the post two weeks later! Not the most efficient or fast-paced game, but I loved it.
The anticipation waiting for that envelope to come back was huge and a good result gave such a feeling of achievement. In the face of home computers and the coming of the internet (even if it was dial-up!), PBM’s days were numbered and I was soon passing entire weekends away playing Championship Manager.
Real Life Football
I’m not very good at real-life football – at 6′ 4″ I’m all arms and legs! So I’ve always had to satisfy myself with watching matches on the TV and being a bit crap at 6-a-side.
The first major international tournament I really remember was the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. I was fourteen and the opportunity to stay up late and watch the England matches was just too good to pass up! Having never really followed England before that, I was hooked.
Lineker, Beardsley, Barnes, Fenwick, Shilton, Sansom, Hoddle, Waddle, Robson, Wilkins and Hately – nostalgia allows me to think that was the best England squad at a World Cup ever, but of course, that’s subjective and a debate for another time.
I’ve waited for every major footballing tournament since with growing anticipation of England’s successes! Well, actually, from about 2000 it’s been more with a sense of inevitable doom, but hope springs eternal for the England football fan and for every 0-0 draw with Algeria, there’s a 4-1 demolition of Holland!
France ’98 (on Paper!)
In the Spring of 1998, playing games on my own and simulating competitions ended – it was time to go public and run my first predictions game for friends and family.
I didn’t yet have a home computer let alone internet at home, so I was left ‘borrowing’ resources at work i.e. computer and photocopier. I came up with the set up and rules, put the entry form together in MS Excel, printed some out and handed a few out to some friends and close family.
Two weeks later I had nearly 200 entries returned! Two Hundred!! The response staggered me. I really wasn’t set up to handle that many entries without a computer!
A month’s worth of paper shuffling ensued during the tournament and nobody knew what anyone else had predicted and there was no practicable way of sharing that with everyone! Not a great situation and one which I’ve been adamant to avoid ever since.
Without the benefit of social media or even e-mail, it’s impossible to judge just how successful the game was, if success is measured by enjoyment and involvement. Regardless, the first game was organised and run… I enjoyed it.
The Fantasy Football Years
In the early 21st Century Fantasy Football was really starting to take hold of the football community. So much so that the UK’s daily national newspapers were getting in on the act – from the tabloids to the broadsheets, they were running their own variations of the Fantasy Football formula.
My first foray into the world of running fantasy football competitions came when a good friend of mine and I decided to enter the Telegraph’s Fantasy Football game. Just the two of us and entry was by post and results were mailed back on a weekly basis. We enjoyed that initial season and were keen to play again.
I was aware that my brother was also running a fantasy football league for his workmates and I fancied doing the same for my friends and family… and thus SPAGames proper was born.
Our Fantasy Football game ran for 10 years, with a majority of that time seeing 32 individual teams split between four divisions.
To be continued…