Harris Sportsthoughts

Thoughts about Sport

It’s Dean Emotional

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Long before my I used my computer for more constructive purposes such as writing this shit, I became dangerously entwined with football management simulator Championship Manager. To play it was to step onto the sort of temporal quicksands down which your very existence would be sucked away. The rope was only thrown in to fish me out when I started work (not as a bank clerk not a football manager) and began to interact with actual people I could see.

But I have fond memories of my stint in management and still look out for all the results of the teams I looked after. I’ve created a hall of fame in my head which includes my favourite teams, players and striking partnerships: Yorke and Kanu at Forest, Suker signed to join Shearer and Sutton at Blackburn to create a fearsome SASAS trio, Henry and Le Tissier at Middlesbrough. 

But the duo that inspired the deepest affection were Jermain Defoe and Dean Ashton at West Ham. I signed Ashton as an unknown from Crewe and he immediately struck up a rapport with the more established star. And while Defoe accepted all the caps and awards, Ashton got on with the day-to-day task of scoring goals: 40 or more for five consecutive seasons. But the England call-up never came.

And so a deep and elemental love affair with Ashton began, sparked further when he signed for West Ham in the real world. I pondered whether I’d somehow magically precipitated the move with my own sage mouse-clickings. And he repaid our faith in him by setting about his business like a meaty Teddy Sheringham. 

Ashton had a physique like prize bull: massive, muscular but with surprisingly dainty ankles. Which did for him in the end, aided in no small part by Shaun Wright-Phillips during a training session. On England duty. Poetic. He’d have been better off remaining in the international wilderness of my computer. 

Naturally I’d was crestfallen to hear the news of his retirement yesterday, even if it had been predicted for months. I’ll be wearing a black armband next time I play Champ Man.

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