How Football Manager Saved My Life

If you’ve ever visited the Football Manager General section on then you’ll see that the moderators, SI employees and the forum regulars get a lot of stick and often get abuse thrown at them. No matter what state you believe the game to be in, no-one deserves death threats, mocking serious illness or just general abuse when trying to do their job. But on the SI forums this can be an issue at times and you’d not believe some of the stories I have heard over the years at what lengths some people will go to try to bring misery to someone.

We’ve all heard the stories about Football Manager ruining people’s lives but we never hear the other side of the coin. So I wanted to share a little story with you about something that happened to me a few years ago and how one of the SI staff saved my life without ever knowing.

I’ve been around the Football Manager/Championship Manager community since it was created, I’ve run various sites in that time like Throw-in, Sortitoutsi and The Chalkboard diaries and was a moderator on the SI Game’s forums for about 10 years. But little did I know at the time when I got involved with the FM community that one day I would owe everything to it.

It’s going on fourteen years now; I was in a very dark place in the early 2000s due to my relationship breaking down with my ex partner. One morning she woke up and said she didn’t love me anymore and was leaving. A few hours later she was gone and I’ve never seen her since, even to this day. I had no idea where she had gone, not even a goodbye. Looking back nowadays I can understand why she left and agree we were together for the wrong reasons but at that time and being in the actual moment it left me devastated.

We have two beautiful daughters together and the day she left broke my heart as it was the last time I saw them both. It left me distraught and I found myself questioning everything and basically giving up on life as I felt things were as bad as they could be. I couldn’t see any future or things getting better anytime soon. I was too involved in the moment and it was clouding my judgement.

I had to move back in with my parents for a while as I was a lost young lad who had everything then woke up one day and it was all gone. I was down, disinterested in anything and was feeling sorry for myself. It was one of the worst times of my life and I was hurting and felt I was being a burden to everyone around me. This lasted quite a while and after three months of feeling like I wanted to die I decided that’s exactly what I would do.

Battling severe depression and PTSD was getting me down. What I did over the few months in the build up to this was to find myself somewhere new to live so what I was about to do next wouldn’t have happened in my parents house. So I decided I’d end it all and take my own life, I had it all planned out down to the very last detail. I went out and got the pills, vodka and various other substances that I was going use. I wrote letters to everyone that I cared about and apologised for being so selfish and doing what I was about to do.

For some bizarre reason I then logged online, I can’t remember the exact reason why but nonetheless I came online. I ended up on the SI forums where I was an established member of the community and knew quite a few of the SI staff as I’d met them a few times over the years. I must have been posting weirdly though as one member of the SI team – Marc Duffy posted something in response to something I had put. He explained a situation where he went through something and how he’d come through the other side and was much happier now than he was back then when he looked back.

Seeing these words wrote down and in the manner in which he had put it made me start to doubt myself and made me realise how I was taking the easy way out by being selfish and not giving a single thought to my family or kids. I then decided I’d give it a little longer to see how things went. Over the next few months I got the proper help I needed and had numerous counselling sessions and got the required medication that I needed. It wasn’t easy at all far from it, especially as I’m quite a private person who doesn’t like talking about his feelings.

But over time things did pick up and gradually improve, it did take quite some time though but I think that’s because I was stuck in self-pity mode for quite some time. Looking back now, I can see and understand how and where it broke down and accept I was responsible. I guess everything happens for a reason though and now my life couldn’t be any better.

I have a fantastic job going all over the world doing promotional work. Married with another four beautiful kids and I’m really happy. I learnt a lot from the last relationship breaking down and work even harder now so I don’t make the same mistakes.

Over the years since I was thinking about taking my life I’ve actually met Marc Duffy three times but never had the bottle to thank him face to face. How do I thank someone who literally saved my life? No amount of words can thank him enough and I’ll never be able to repay him in any way. Plus how many ways can I say, ‘I’m the selfish bastard who was going to end it all’? It’s quite embarrassing.  I did let him know last year just exactly how he saved my life and he was very humble and wasn’t aware just exactly what he had done for me.

I know this isn’t the typical article you’d expect to see but I wanted to do two things and those were to thank Marc Duffy, for I will always be eternally grateful for what you did so thank you.

And I wanted to highlight that while you might be frustrated with the game and the direction its gone, the staff are just normal people like us and don’t deserve the abuse they get and especially not death threats. You never know one day something someone says on their forums might just save your life.

16 thoughts on “How Football Manager Saved My Life”

  1. Quite a powerful article Cleon. Thank you for sharing it! Whatever you had to fight against, it must have been really tough.

    1. It was confusing and I was unable to see a way through at the time. It’s shaped me as a person though and I’m a better one for it after going through what I did.

  2. Very well said, Cleon. Takes real courage to stand up to an issue like this. Well done.

  3. Did you never try to see your two daughters again? When i was reading your story i was feeling your pain and suffering

  4. Hey Cleon,

    I’m fighting with depression too and I can say – at the moment – that I’m winning this fight… but still there are dark hours every now and then. I will not tell my story here, just wanted to say “Thank you” for this courageous article.

    (Sorry for my English)

    With many greetings from Germany

    1. Stay strong, we all still have bad days/times. If things seem too much then please contact someone. I’m always here if things seen too bad 🙂

  5. Re-read this today and it’s such a strong and emotive post.
    So glad you’re in much better place having come out the other side.

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