Questions and Answers: Giles Hunter

Giles Hunter former MD of CDS Software and the legend himself Brian Clough OBE at the 1987 launch of Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes at Wembley Stadium, London, England.

Welcome to our first Football Fortunes Questions and Answers and for the first we’ve gone right to the top! Giles Hunter the former Managing Director of CDS Software Ltd looks back 30 years and offers us his unique insight into the making of the original Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes game.

Giles thank you so much for agreeing to answer our fanboy questions on all things Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes. Let’s jump right in!
What was your role at CDS Software the makers of the original Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes and how did you become involved with the game?

I was the MD of CDS Software ltd. I left WHSmith in 1983 to set up a publishing company with two others working on the Sinclair ZX 81 and very shortly afterwards the Spectrum.

One of the first things I did was employ a couple of lads I knew. After a short while one of them, David, mentioned an idea he’d had many years previously.

How did the idea for Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes come around?

At the time David (the visionary behind the game) mentioned it we were doing good business with WHSmith Book Club selling them our Colossus Chess and other titles.

A programmer we used at the time worked closely with David to create the first hybrid board/computer game version of Football Fortunes.

Around the same time a super snooker game landed on the doormat (literally!) and I quickly decided to approach Barry Hearn to see if we could get Steve Davis to endorse it. This was because Ocean Software had signed Daley Thompson a couple of weeks before and it seemed a good, if untried, idea!!

Was Brian Clough’s Football Fortunes always intended to be a computer and board game?

Not really because David’s first prototype board game was thought out long before the days of Sinclair!

It became a hybrid because we were in the software publishing market and thought that something ‘different’ might catch on. So David set about seeing what aspects of the board game could be computerised…..and what new features could be programmed purely because we could.

How did the CDS team come up with the player scores? Some seem pretty off the mark! Not least Nigel Clough, Brian’s son who was given a 2 star rating and John Aldridge who finished as the top scorer and a league winner with Liverpool in 1987 when the game was released who has a 1 star rating in the original game!

I’ll get a definitive answer from David on this.

You spent some time with Brian Clough himself. Anything come to mind in that regard?

He was really friendly and, probably because I was only 25 or 26 at the time, he treated me almost like a son. He showed great interest in the retailers we dealt with and he showered us with corporate tickets to Forest games which included meals etc.

For the launch of the game, we hired Wembley Stadium!! Cloughie was superb. He played the press brilliantly, got involved in the various games taking place and spoke with anyone that wanted to ask him questions.

In 1991 European Super League — Football Fortunes 2 was published by CDS, what can you tell us about this sequel?

I’m having to think about this one! I honestly can’t remember calling the Super League game Football Fortunes 2!! Leave this with me.

Okay we’ll get back to you on that one. We’ve heard there was a supremely rare version of Football Fortunes released only as a board game and also that there was a Leeds United version. Can you tell us about this?

We did the board only version because the likes of Trivial Pursuit had made board games popular (again).

Also, by then, we had set up a printing business to manage the print requirements of the publishing company as well as sell print services to other businesses.

This meant our cost of goods enabled us to produce the boxed version at a price we felt could help us get ‘into’ the pure board games market.

What do you think of the idea of a remake of the game?

We love it!!

We’ve all moved on since way back then……and who doesn’t like a bit of nostalgia?

In all seriousness though, the gameplay, structure and ideas are perfect for a remake. The game is timeless, the subject more popular than ever……and the fact that there is so much interaction between players makes it a very unique prospect.

A big thanks to Giles and on behalf of all Football Fortunes fanboys a very big thank you for supporting the remake idea too. Got your own questions for Giles? Feel free to comment below we’ll pass them on…