Those of you who have been playing the new FIFA soccer release will have no doubt had a chance to play the new “The Journey” Mode by now.
For those who haven’t, “The Journey” follows the story of young up and coming player Alex Hunter as he takes the first strides in his career as a professional footballer. Rather than being some random hopeful, Alex actually comes from a proud footballing pedigree as his grandfather, James Hunter, was a successful pro in his younger days. Indeed, it is drilled into the player’s head that Jim Hunter was not only a combative and determined forward, just like his grandson in fact, but that he pulled in an impressive 22 goal haul during the 1968/69 footballing season. Nothing to be sniffed at, I’m sure you’ll agree?
Which team Jim Hunter acheived this for though is very much up to the player. At the start of The Journey Mode, you have to choose Alex’s favourite team from the list of 20 English Premier League sides on offer. Whichever team you select will be the team that Alex’s grandfather secured that 22 goal haul with.
So, the question has to be asked, just how good was Jim Hunter really? Was he part of a big time successful side, or was he more the best of a bad bunch? With the aid of football stats, we can analyse just how good Jim Hunter really was based on who you the player chose Alex’s favourite side to be.
One thing for sure is that Jim Hunter didn’t get to win the grand prize of the Old First Division Championship that season, as it was won by Leeds United who are currently languishing in England’s second tier with no suggestion of promotion anytime soon. Oh well, can’t win ’em all, can you?
So, what if Jim Hunter scored all those goals for Premier League underdogs, The Cherries, AFC Bournemouth?
As a team who barely managed to squeeze 11,000 fans into their cramped yet atmospheric Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth have hardly been known as giants of the game. Yes, they famously had a cup scalp over Manchester United back in the pre-Premier League days, but until the 2015/16 season Bournemouth had never even played in English Football’s Top Tier.
Back in 1968/69, they were operating in the Third Tier of England’s footballing pyramid under the name Bournemouth and Boscome Athletic. In this season they finished fourth in the Division with a respectable 51 points on the board. These days, that would have given them at the very least a chance for promotion in the Play Offs, but back in those less generous times only the top two in the Division were allowed promotion to the second tier. With a total of 60 goals scored by the team that season, Jim’s 22 would have accounted for just under 37% of the team’s goals that year which is nothing to be sniffed at.
If Jim Hunter was a Bournemouth player, he wouldn’t have enjoyed much glamour in the 68/69 or managed to end the season with promotion, but he could be justly proud of contributing to a solid season’s work.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the only Premier League side never to be relegated, and indeed a team who would go on to be double winners in the 1970/71 season, The Gunners, The (don’t call them Woolwich) Arsenal?
Being one of the nation’s most successful and supported teams now playing in the monstrous 60,000 seater Emirates Stadium after many happy years at their former home of Highbury, Jim Hunter would join a list of famous names who have strode the turf in North London over the years.
As you would imagine, Arsenal were plying their trade in England’s top flight back in 1968/69 and weren’t doing too bad a job either, coming fourth in the table just 11 points off Champions Leeds. Even back in 1969 they were securing that fourth place spot! Of course, these days that would see them qualify for the Champions League, but back in the ’60s UEFA had a novel idea of only letting the Champions of each country play in the European Champions Cup. What a bizarre policy, eh?
It seemed like Arsenal’s big problem that season was goals, as they brought in 56 with 27 conceded. If you’d’ve added Jim’s 22 goals to that total, they almost certainly would have been Champions. As it was, Jim managed to score 39% of the team’s total goals that season which is certainly something that would have been talked about. Would Jim have still been around for the Double winning season two years later? You’d certainly hope so with a return like that!
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for former giant of the English game, two time League Champions, The Clarets, Burnley?
These days Burnley aren’t renowned as being a “Big” team, but there was a time when the club were a genuine force in the game. Indeed, you’d have to think they’d have a shot at it even today if it wasn’t for their lack of finance in comparison to the sides they are competing with. Burnley have a dedicated support and a good manager in Sean Dyche but will do well to avoid relegation in the 2016/17 season.
But how were they doing back in 68/69? They were in the top flight back in those days, but they weren’t enjoying much success, finding themselves in 14th place come the season’s end and a mere 9 points clear of the relegation places. When you look at their return of 55 goals, it would almost appear perplexing that they were so far down the table, but then you notice that they conceded a whopping 82 goals in the other direction, the second worse in the whole Division, and it all starts to make sense.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 40% of the team’s total goals, which is impressive, but you can’t help but wonder if the manager would have rather Jim had been a combative and hard tackling Centre Back instead.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the team who would go on to defeat Leeds in the following season’s FA Cup Final, everyone’s favourite (at the time) flair team, the Blue wearing cheeky London scoundrels, Chelsea?
At the time Chelsea weren’t seen as the evil moneybags buying their way to success but rather an exciting squad who provided thrills on the park, if not silver in the trophy cabinet. This is reflected in their fifth place finish with a generous goal haul of 73, 7 more than eventual Champions Leeds managed to acquire. The difference is that Leeds only conceded 26 goals over the course of the season, whereas Chelsea shipped a far less modest 53.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 30% of the team’s total goals and would probably find himself lauded amongst the veteran supporters around Stamford Bridge to this day. If he’d stuck around for another season, he would have stood an excellent chance of taking an FA Cup Winners Medal home with him as well. So, a romantic season for Jim in 1969, if not ultimately a successful one.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the boys from Selhurst Park, 1990 and 2016 FA Cup Finalists, The Super Eagles, Crystal Palace?
I’m happy to report that this is the first instance where Jim would have actually won something that season, as Palace finished a salubrious second in the Second Division and won themselves a deserved promotion to England’s top tier! With a points tally of 78, Palace found themselves a full 10 points ahead of local rivals Charlton Athletic and thus thoroughly deserved their second place as consequence. Their goal return of 70 even eclipsed that of eventual League Champions Derby County, though Derby did concede 15 less goals over the course of the season which was the deciding factor in the title race. Still, Jim could enjoy a sip of bubbly at the season’s close and could also start preparing for visits to Elland Road, Anfield, and Old Trafford the following season!
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 31% of the team’s goals and would probably find himself picking up a couple of end of season awards for his troubles. You could legitimately declare him the driving force for Palace’s eventual promotion. Not bad for a season’s work, eh?
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the team who would go on to win the League Title the following season, The Toffees, The famed School of Science, The Mighty Blues of Everton?
Everton at the time were enjoying a sustained period of success under the managerial reign of the fastidious Harry Catterick. League Champions in 1963, FA Cup Winners in 1966 and beaten FA Cup Finalists in 1968, Everton were a side who regularly competed both in the League and the Cups. 1968/69 saw the club reach the FA Cup Semi-Final and finish third in the League, 4 points behind local rivals Liverpool and 10 behind eventual Champions Leeds United.
So, not a vintage season for the Blues considering what was expected at the time (I’d kill for such an outcome this season), but one where they at least competed for the top domestic prizes. They eventually ended the season with a total of 77 goals, with 36 conceded. One can only imagine what would have happened if they could have conceded 10 less, but you’d have to think they would have been in contention for the title. As it would, Everton and the “Holy Trinity” of Collin Harvey, Howard Kendall and Alan Ball, would have to wait another year for the eventual League Title win that Catterick’s managerial excellence had striven to achieve.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 28.5% of the team’s goals, and had he been able to keep his place he could have taken a League Winners Medal home with him the following season. For 68/69 he could be happy with his efforts and no doubt have a hunger for more that would eventually be sated the following season.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the Pride of Humberside, The Knights of Chip Spice, The Tigers, Hull City?
This would sadly be a season with little to shout about for Jim, as Hull found themselves wedged into the middle of the Old English Second Division, finishing 11th and a sizeable 23 points behind Crystal Palace in 2nd place. Despite a decent enough goal return of 59, Hull conceded almost as many goals in the wrong direction in 52, leaving them with a positive goal difference of just 7. On the positive side though, Hull were a full 14 points away from the relegation zone and could at least go into the following season that thinking that a good run could get them nearer to those ever enticing promotion spots.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 37% of the team’s goals and would have probably seen some interest by some promotion hopefuls as consequence. He certainly could feel happy with his own contribution to the team and would probably spend most of the resulting summer fingers crossed that either Hull would give him the backup he needed to have a decent stab at promotion, or a club higher in the pecking order would tempt Hull with a decent transfer bid.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the 2015/16 Premier League Champions, the 1963 FA Cup Finalists, The Crisp Devouring Hotshots, The Foxes, Leicester City?
I’m sad to report that this would be the one occasion during this season that Jim would have to endure the bitter taste of relegation, as Leicester found themselves kicked from the Old First Division after finishing in 21st place. Not only would Jim have to deal with the drop, but he’d also have to swallow it down with a dollop of cup misery as well, as Leicester also ended the season as defeated FA Cup Finalists. So, poor Jim was on the wrong end of a double whammy of disappointment. It certainly gives a tinge of tragedy to his backstory if nothing else.
As if to make it worse, Leicester were a mere one point away from safety, as 20th placed Coventry City amassed a mere 31 points to Leicester’s agonising 30. My word, this season would have been chuffing harrowing! I hope all of you that made Alex a Foxes fanatic are all proud of yourselves for putting poor Jim through such misery! Leicester ended the season with a mere 39 goals in comparison to 68 conceded, and it’s very hard to stay up with those figures.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute a whopping 56% of Leicester’s goals that season, so he could at least look himself in the mirror knowing there was little more he himself could have done to keep them up. If this had been in the 80s, I’d fully expect poor Jim to spend the resulting summer sitting in a darkened room listening to Morrissey album’s after such a harrowing ordeal.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the 18 time League Winners, Dem Tricky Red Men lar, Liverpool FC?
From the arrival of Bill Shankley to the present day, Liverpool have always been a team who you expect to be near the top of the table and competing with the best sides, and this season would have been no different. Jim would have achieved the highest League finish possible were he playing for the red half of Merseyside, as Liverpool found themselves in 2nd place to eventual Champions Leeds United after a strong season.
With a points total of 61, Liverpool were 7 points behind Leeds in 1st and 4 points ahead of Everton in 3rd. Goal wise, Liverpool and Leeds were almost identical, with Leeds scoring 66 while conceding 23, whereas Liverpool scored 63 and conceded 24. The big difference was that Leeds ended the season with only 2 defeats, whereas Liverpool found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreline on four more occasions. It was a good effort from those Tricky Reds, and no one else really got close to Leeds, but The Super Whites were just too good to be caught.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute just under 35% of the team’s goals that season and would probably have ended up lining his medal cabinet considerably if he’d continued to ply his trade at Anfield after this season. He could have then retired into punditry, like the other 7,000 ex Kopites who are currently making a living as unofficial club shills.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the Blue half of Manchester, The long suffering Citizens, Manchester City?
You know I mentioned earlier that Leicester City lost the FA Cup Final? Well, say hello to the team that defeated them!
Yes, Man City turned around the disappointment of a thoroughly underwhelming League campaign by bringing the FA Cup back to the Manchester for the first time since 1963, when Man United brought the Cup home after by beating, funnily enough, Leicester City.
The Cup win would have been a joyous occasion for Jim that would have made up for a League campaign that just never seemed to get going. City, League Champions in 1968, ended the defence of their title in 14th place with a points tally of 40, a full 27 behind new Champions Leeds United. A limp surrender of their title was punctuated by the concession of 55 goals. Despite conceding so many goals, City did manage to score 64 of their own, only two less than Leeds in fact, but poor defending eventually saw them consigned to mid table ignominy.
Still, going to Wembley and picking up a Cup is nothing to be sniffed at, and it certainly ensured City ended the season on a high!
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 34% of the team’s goals and was able to earn an FA Cup Winners Medal into the bargain. He also would have had the chance to play in the European Champions Cup, so for him the season would be one he’d probably look back at fondly.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the Red half of Manchester, The defending European Champions, The Red Devils, Manchester United?
FA Cup Winners in 1963, League Champions in 1967 and European Champions in 1968, Man United weren’t having too bad of a decade truth be told.
However, like City, United suffered a 68/69 hangover following their 67/68 exploits and found themselves trundling along to a disappointing mid table finish of 12th with a sparse points tally of 42, just 2 more than their local rivals and without a Cup win to soften the blow. Like City, it was United’s poor defending that ultimately consigned them to mid table obscurity. A respectable return of 57 goals was blighted by the concession of 53 in consequence.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 38.5% of the team’s goals as well as getting a chance to play in the European Champions Cup. However, despite getting 22 goals for one of the world’s biggest clubs, I suspect Jim would have greeted the season’s close with a fair tinge of disappointment.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Teeside Supermen, The Smashing Smoggies, The Boro, Middlesbrough?
Middlesbrough battled hard for promotion to the Old English First Division during the 68/69 season but ultimately came up short, finishing 4th and 10 points behind 2nd placed Crystal Palace. Of course, these days they would have a chance to earn the third promotion place through a Play-Off, but back then only two promotion spots for the First Tier were up for grabs, and you had to snare a top two place to get them.
What Boro ultimately needed was more goals. They conceded only two more goals than Palace, but Palace brought home a gigantic goal return of 70, whereas Boro had to make do with paltry 58 by comparison. If only Jim had some more support, he might have been able to get Boro further up the table.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute just under 38% of the team’s goals and could no doubt be proud of his own efforts, while spending the summer dwelling on what could have been had Boro just been able to find an extra 10 goals from somewhere.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for the Kings of the South Coast, The former FA Cup Winners, The Saints, Southampton?
Southampton had a pretty decent season in hindsight finishing a respectable 7th with 45 points. There was no risk of them presenting a challenge to Leeds, who finished 22 points ahead of them, but they still finished 15 points clear of the bottom two spots in the League and were securely in the top half of the table.
With a goal return of 57 they actually scored more goals than 4th place Arsenal, but the concession of 48 goals to Arsenal’s 27 goes a long way to explaining why they couldn’t get any higher than they ended up.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 38.5% of the team’s goals and could feel happy enough with his season’s output, though I’m sure he’d also be hoping that maybe one of the sides in the Top Six would be looking to strengthen for a title challenge and might perhaps chance their arm with a bid for his services.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Jewel of Staffordshire, The Oatcake Eating Powerhouse, The Potters, Stoke City?
Stoke didn’t have a particularly good season finishing in 19th place and holding onto their place in the First Tier by the skin of their teeth with a points tally of 33, just 3 more than 21st placed Leicester City.
An overall miserable season was punctuated by a goal return of 40, with 63 conceded. Stoke actually ended the season with the same amount of wins as Leicester, but they managed to bag three extra draws, and that was the difference between survival and relegation.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute a staggering 55% of the team’s goals for the season and would probably have been the main reason they were able to survive the deadly drop, so he could comfort himself with that fact. He would probably also be hoping that he didn’t have to go through such an ordeal the following season as well!
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Battlers from the North East, The Mercurial Mackems, The Black Cats, Sunderland?
As with Stoke, Sunderland found themselves scrambling for their First Tier survival during this season and only just managed to scrape their way to safety by finishing in 17th place. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?
With 34 points to their name, Sunderland did slightly better than Stoke, but only just. They did manage to score three more goals than their relegation zone rivals, but they did also concede 4 more goals as well, so there was hardly any call for much bunting to be put up.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 51% of the team’s goals for the season and would probably be lauded amongst the halls of Roker Park as the shining light in an overall disappointing season.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Sound of South Wales, The boys from The Vetch, The Swans, Swansea (at the time) Town?
This would have been the only scenario where Jim would be plying his trade at the bottom of the English Football League as he toiled in the Old Fourth Division for Swansea, back before they were top flight regulars or even a City, going instead by the name Swansea Town.
Despite playing in the Fourth Tier, Jim would at least have had the excitement of a push for promotion to amuse him. Sadly, Swansea would go on to miss out on one of the four promotion spots, but they were at least in the hunt coming just 7 points short of the illusive 4th place. The big problem for The Swans was not in attack, but in defence. Despite bagging an impressive 58 goals they also shipped 54 in response, and this was ultimately the difference when it came to catching 4th placed Bradford who scored 65 while only conceding 45.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute just under 38% of the team’s goals for the season and would probably have had fun terrorising the defences of the Old Fourth Division. He no doubt would also have no lack of suitors in the Third and Second tiers for his exploits, provided Swansea would be prepared to let him move on.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Lilly Whites of North London, The Double Winners of 1961, The Spurs, Tottenham Hotspur?
Like Southampton, Spurs found themselves on 45 points but in 6th as opposed to 7th due to their superior goal average. As it was, it was a distinction that meant little, and Spurs were in no danger of winning the League Title. It was a respectable, if less than exciting finish for the Lilly White after an above average performance, but not to standards set by the team of the early 60s.
A goal haul of 61 was hardly to be sniffed at, but the concession of 51 is what ultimately prevented Spurs from getting any higher in the table. Hardly a vintage year for Tottenham then and probably not one that would often be spoken about, but one that would represent solid work from Jim.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 36% of the team’s goals for the season and would be optimistic over the summer ahead of that, if Spurs could manage to keep a few more clean sheets, his goals could actually get them on the road for a title challenge.
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Yellow and Black Attack, The Z-Car Thieves, The Hornets, Watford?
This is another scenario where Jim would get to win something, as Watford ended the season as Champions of the Old Third Division with promotion to the Second Tier to boot! Back before goal difference placings were instead decided by goal average, which makes literally no sense to me but seemed to work well enough for the folk in the sixties.
Watford and Swindon both ended the season on 64 points, but it was Watford who took the Third Division Title thanks to the aforementioned goal average. Both teams were still promoted, so I’m sure Swindon hardly cared that much, especially as they had also won the League Cup that same season.
Watford ended the season with an incredible 74 goals to their name with just 34 goals against, so they would have won the Title under modern goal difference rules anyway, as Swindon could only manage 71 goals and conceded 35.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 29% of the team’s goals and would be able to spend the summer looking forward to taking on the defences of the Second Tier the following season.
West Bromwich Albion
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The White Shirted Greats of the Midlands, the 1968 FA Cup Winners, the team that would go on to cost Leeds the Title in the 1970/71 season in hilarious fashion, The Baggies, West Bromwich Albion?
After breaking Evertonian hearts at Wembley in the 1968 FA Cup Final, Albion followed up on that accomplishment with a respectable 10th place finish in the Old First Division. Impressively, Albion managed to bag 64 goals, but the concession of 67 in the other direction ultimately meant The Baggies would have to content themselves with a mid table finish.
Though Leeds United ended 1969 as League Champions, their bid to win the Title in the 1970/71 season was eventually put on ice after West Brom sucker punched them with one of the most controversial goals in footballing history near the business end of the season. Seriously, listen to Barry Davie’s freak out over it all, it’s stupendous!
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 34% of the team’s goals and could look forward to having another crack with Albion the next season or maybe trying to hitch his cart to a team a little further up the table.
West Ham United
So, what if Jim Hunter scored those goals for The Bubble Blowers, The East London Clarets, The Hammers, West Ham?
After winning the FA Cup in 1964, West Ham provided a number of players to England’s World Cup Winners in 1966 and were regularly known for playing good football in the gamed “West Ham Way”.
Despite being a good team who played the game well, West Ham found themselves in 8th place at the season’s close with a points tally of 66. With a goals for tally of 66 West Ham clearly had no difficulty finding the opposition’s goal, but a goals against tally of 50 shows they also had no problem with inviting the opposition to find theirs also.
With his 22 goals Jim was able to contribute 33.33% of the team’s goals and probably would have done it playing some nice togger to boot!
Thanks for reading
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave.