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D&H Games
Sport: Management
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Marcus Berkmann
Chris Bourne

Although most of the games industry has been cornered by the big companies with their vast marketing spends, advertising budgets and freebie lunches for Dr Berkman (more, please!), there's one tiny sector that's still well under control of the independents - the footie management simulation. It's probably got much to do with the massive success of Kevin Toms' Football Manager, which has bobbed in and out of the charts for nigh on five years and is probably the best selling Speccy game ever. (Is it? I'd be interested to find out.)

The best of the current crop is D&H Games Football Director, which is about to be made widely available after some time on mail order only. Written by De Salis and Huggard it's a no-frills sim which cuts out any unnecessary graphics and attempts at arcade action and sticks to what footie sim fans really want - pure strategy. The packaging's modest - a simple inlay card with the barest of instruction - but if you're interested in a game like this, you're going to know exactly what's required, and what you don't get immediately you'll pick up along the way.

Starting at the bottom of Div 4 (where else?) you must pick your team and battle through a full league programme without throwing all your money away. You can mortgage your club when the going gets tough (which it will) and also borrow dosh from the bank. There's a full timetable of League, FA Cup, League Cup and European matches. Players have skill points, which are influenced by morale, which is naturally decided by winning or not. Morale is surprisingly fragile. There are appalling hazards all along the way -injuries, sendings off, postponements, crowd violence, retirements, interest, tax, other managers trying to poach your players, even sackings. There are fixture lists, automatic updatings of the league, midweek games, the opportunity to buy or sell shares, international games, loads of transfers and even three skill levels. It makes Football Manager look like a tatty old Basic game. If you like this sort of thing (which I do), you'll love this.

If you have problems finding it in the shops, send £8.95 cheque/PO) to D & H Games, 9 Melne Road, Stevenage, Herts SG2 8LL. Oh, and remember to save regularly - it has the occasional tendency to crash!

A definite Match Of The Day for football fans. Low on action, but high on strategy. You'll be over the moon with this one!