Fantasy football has moved on a lot since my mate Andy and I were invited to join a league by the landlord of our local about 15 years ago. In those days, a group of us used to gather in the upstairs meeting room at about 7:30pm a week or so before the season started. We weren’t allowed out until we’d finished the auction, which normally didn’t happen until after closing time and also lead to some very debatable decisions. Let’s put it this way, after a few pints Andy Sinton seemed a decent prospect to us: in 1995/96 our team was called ‘Trawlers, Seagulls and Sardines’ after the Eric Cantona quote.
Sadly the days of being shut in a pub with a handful of photocopied sheets of A4 (covered in handwritten notes like ‘goalscoring defender!’ but never anything useful like ‘don’t buy Sinton if you’ve had too much to drink’) are long gone – and it couldn’t be any easier to join a fantasy football league these days and it’s also a lot easier to play. For example, we had to phone the pub before the Saturday lunchtime kickoffs to make any team changes because not everyone had an e-mail address!
The Sun has been running a Fantasy Premier League competition for a while now but for the forthcoming season there’s a free to play option as well – so there’s every reason to get involved in 2011/12. Apart from being another way of enjoying the football season, it’s also possible to keep an eye on both the England squad and some of the fringe players to see how the team could change before Euro 2012 – and of course there’s always the opportunity to brag to about how you’re a better manager than your mates and Andres Villas-Boas…or possibly Andy Sinton, who is now manager of AFC Telford United in the Conference!