Football. Muddy boots, jumpers for goalposts, managers that look like eagles. It’s a funny old game.
And so is TeamTactix, a board game aimed at replicating that special football management experience.
Backed by an obscure 1980s ex-Rotherham player, Emlyn Hughes (OK he might have played for Liverpool as well), TeamTactix is all about assembling the finest England-based team that 1986 could offer.
Players are armed with a few million beans in a time before the Premier League era. It was a lot of money back then, before clubs became little more than the playthings of foreign billionaires, and it’s set three decades before the ignorant half of the UK rendered the British pound about as desirable as tits on a fish.
Rather than capture the spirit of the actual playing part of the football calendar, TeamTactix is basically a transfer window simulator, allowing managers to lean out of their Range Rovers on deadline day in a desperate last-minute bid to secure whoever the 1986 version of Jermain Defoe is.
Dodgy phone calls by money-hungry agents are replaced by randomly-drawn chances to buy players, and managers can attempt to flog players between themselves on the open market when they start having trouble in the dressing room.
The winner is whoever can put together a full starting eleven, meaning teams must possess a player in every position.
And no playing Wayne Rooney in midfield or Michael Carrick at centre back either.
The game isn’t actually very fun unless you come up with some dream team idea of getting together the best squad.
Bring together superstars of yesteryear, some of whom were yet to reach their potential in the ’80s. Try and grab a team full of your favourites, even if it means paying well over the odds for vintage Chelsea striker Kerry Dixon. The game inicludes some absolute classics too, like Matt Le Tissier, David Seaman and Chris Waddle.
For alternative fun pick a theme. One might be current-day TV pundits, such as living ‘legends’ Alan ‘Can’t Win Anything With Kids‘ Hansen, Chris ‘Unbelievable Geoff‘ Kamara, Ally ‘More Famous for a Quiz Show‘ McCoist, John ‘Get to the Line‘ Barnes, Martin ‘Caves for Eye Holes‘ Keown or Andy ‘I hate women‘ Gray.
Another could be players that would go on to become managers, of which there are a surprising amount once you start collecting them.
Essentially this is a game only for losers like me that waste far too much of their brain capacity on the last half-century of football trivia. It’s genuinely a laugh to grin at some of the names you recognise, chuckle at those that would never amount to anything and generally marvel at the reminders of what the English game was like back then.
With practically no replay value and nothing in it for people uninterested in football, it’s probably best to keep it as a rare nostalgia-driven one-off, rather than something to furiously go and hunt for on eBay.