IOTP history
Here is a potted history of In off the Post and my life as a PBM guru (ho-hum). Some of the names/dates may have changed as I've forgotten a lot and it was a long, long time ago. When this thing called the Internet was just for academic geeks and a land line was trendy.
1980s Early IOTP research was being undertaken with the all conquering "Willa Wanderers" team in "Soccer Star" with playing legends such as Charlie Chapperville and Mazpu Hozdij. Without losing a game for a long time I got the hump, quit, and was poached by a Glaswegian called McCracken who was setting up his own up. It was called "Eurostar" or "Interstar" or something like that. Anyway it had real clubs and real players and a good dose of tippex and photocopying. I managed Roma and assembled a top squad via browsing "Gazzetta dello Sport" and my "Annuario del Calcio Mondiale". However I was pipped to the title by Verona although I did have the satisfaction of a cup victory against my mate Torino from a few streets away. Another game was started which included the Serie C1. Looking for a bit of talent I took on Empoli because they had three quality youngsters - Vincenzo Montella, Fabio Galante and Alessandro Birindelli. However from this point onwards the turns were taking longer and longer to arrive. Sometimes once every three or four months! I was studying Software Engineering at Sheffield University by then and was constantly moving house (usually when the landlord was after me for not paying the rent) from Broomhill to Crookes to Hunters Bar. Somewhere along the line a turn was sent to an old address. I thus forgot about it and focused on more important things such as girls, music and beer.
1993 After graduating from Sheffield University and not wanting a proper corporate job I signed on. Back then there was a big queue for the dole at the Student's Union. That was when 5% of the country went to University. The dole queue will be a lot longer now that 35% graduate, due to higher standars (ho-de-hum). So with my dole and a graduation present/seed money of an HP Laserjet 4L from my folks - In off the Post was born. The long process of knocking up the PBM code thus ensued in a tatty flat above a pine shop in Walkley, Sheffield. After many depressing months the software was ready and I borrowed some cash for my first "World Soccer" advert. By this time I'd fallen out with my girlfriend (a Microbiology graduate who was making ends meet at the local "Bertie Bassett" factory) so had shifted to Broomhall. With an advert and a PO Box I was ready to let loose In off the Post's first game - "Calcio Italiano" (Serie A-C1). On my first trip to the PO Box laden with carrier bags for the expected deluge of new customers I was dismayed to pick on a mere handful. Little did I know that a handful was a big success and the mid-90s would be the heady days where you could stick in an advert and people would respond! Back then you even had to send a payment with your coupon! Not a free start-up in sight. The new customers began to come in and two setups of Calcio Italiano emerged. With my trusty Laserjet and Acorn Archimedes A310 the first turn was played and posted with an windowed envelope and a licked stamp. Thankfully in 1991 I'd wisely invested in a second floppy drive following a five-week stint pulling pints at Butlins, Skegness. The guitar may have been gathering dust but the floppy drive was taking a pounding.
1994 As people drifted away from Sheffield and got proper jobs I decided to follow my girlfriend down to Braintree, Essex. Don't worry I'm no lethario, it's the same one as before. In fact it's the same one I met in the first week at Sheffield in 1990! So no messing about there. Just a PO Box change was all that was needed and the fledgling business was moved to warmer climes. The operation duly expanded and three "English Footie" setups were started. Working out of the attic with quite a nice captain's chair as I recall (wish I'd pinched that). On the technology front our first photocopier was also purchased (the booklets had previously been printed over-night by some bods down the Union) and a new fangled gadget called a hard drive was installed. Although it had nowhere to go it was deftly suspended into the case by a few bits of plywood and was 4Gb of pure class.
1995 Another move this time a few miles down the road to Halstead and our own home. Although the bank wouldn't consider my earnings being self-employed and all that. Now located in a dining room at 61 Parsonage Street the first employee was taken on. Local odd-job builder bloke, Jimmy Groves. Cunningly signed up after a match with the "Red Lion" Halstead where I was the midfield Geordie long-haired hoofer and Jimmy G was the barrel-arsed front-man. Not content with a new house and employee I also picked up Bungle a German Shepherd cross from a shelter in Herts. After three years of being a stray a life of IOTP luxury awaited. Another new game was launched, "European Dream", and many more setups of "English Footie" were started. This being the golden years of In off the Post. Where you could advertise and bag new customers without too much effort. Despite the odd delay due to Jimmy's complete lack of office skills and constant software improvements and tweaks the games progressed nicely. The ever expanded business was getting too big for the dining room so we moved into our very first office. A ground-floor place just across from the "Red Lion" and also owned by their legendary landlord Fred McCrudden. It had thick plate glass windows making it a greenhouse in the summer and freezing in the winter. With no heating and no toilet it wasn't exactly IOTP towers. The staffing numbers swelled to three as Terri McCallum was taken on mainly because she amazingly wanted so little money. As I was starting to make some money I took the girlfriend to Thailand for two weeks over Christmas. So we were on Phuket beach exactly ten years before the tsunami hit. This was Jimmy's first time in charge and I did hear reports of him frustratingly kicking a rubbish bag across the room. All I know is that there was always an urgent fax under my door every morning!
1996 To be continued. I got married.
2000 The big move from Essex to Nottingham.