Breaking out from his normal role of writing computer handbooks, Sheldon has, I suspect, regressed to his childhood and created an entertaining interactive fiction book for young football fans. The two challenges facing the reader as manager of Hardwick City are to win the league and at the same time to turn detective, to find the team’s kidnapped top striker, Danny Knox, and bring his assailants to justice. The reader progresses through the book playing out Hardwick’s fixtures in the league, noting the player ratings before selecting the team each week, and using a £5 million budget to build the best possible squad.
Matches are played using a combination of factors which include player skill, morale and fitness. A roll of the dice (or a random flick of the pages with miniature dice scores marked in the corner) determines the result of the match. At the same time, the manager has choices to make in order to attempt to rescue kidnapped Danny Knox. Different decisions lead to different pages. Success on and off the field is therefore determined by a combination of intelligent guesswork and the role of the dice.
The match sheets and weekly league tables can be filled in in pencil at the back of the book and reused. Alternatively blank match sheets and tables can be downloaded from the website www.bigmatchmanager.com.
The naïve, roughly sketched illustrations do little to enhance the book.