new frontiers (issue 8)

Fantasy Football League

Have you caught BBC2's irreverent friday night look at football. No? Well then sup up that last pint and get home early next friday night.

If fanzines were the phenomenon of the 1980s, then surely Fantasy Football has to be the phenomenon of the 1990s.

In case you haven't heard, you get an imaginary 20,000,000 to assemble a football side. The real life performances of your selected players determine how well your fantasy side does. A clean sheet earns you points as do the goals scored by your forwards. Points are lost for goals conceded by your defenders.

Positions can change quickly if your strikers score a hatful of goals and your keeper keeps a clean sheet.

Starting out in North London, Andy Wainstein's brainchild now employs a full time staff of 6, their computers service over 800 Fantasy Leagues the length and breadth of the country.

The most famous leagues are those run by BBC2 and Radio 5. The BBC2 version has teams managed by various celebrities, including John Motson, Bob Mortimer, Ray Hattersley, Lennox Lewis, Basil Brush and several journalists. The glamour is provided by Karren Brady, Birmingham City's managing director and Mandy (Mrs Pat Van Der Hauwe) Smith. The programme, fronted by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, is an excuse to get famous footballing clips out of the archives again.

Even better, those archive clips are recreated in someone's back yard. Geoff Hurst's controversial World Cup Final goal and Ernie Hunt's unusual free kick amongst them.

Likewise, the radio 5 version, broadcast late on a Sunday morning is an excuse to look at the talking points from the previous days action.

Another recent trend in Fantasy Football is for newspapers and magazines to start their own leagues. The Daily Telegraph, Daily Star and 90 Minutes are just some of the publications to run their own versions.

Such is the popularity, that The Daily Telegraph's league attracted around 250,000 entries when it was launched at Christmas. Other papers such as The Daily Mirror and The Daily Star organise leagues along similar lines, offering weekly prizes of 1,000 and more.

For further details, contact Fantasy Football League, PO Box 1977, London, N6 4NQ. They can help you to organise your own league, or will enter you into one of their own leagues.

PS Looking back, I can't believe I wrote that. Next issue, we predict the rise of Facebook, Twitter and City in the conference.


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