Georgia, a beautiful country lying at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, with a rich history. An unlikely setting for a footballing revolution.
Which is exactly what makes it so appealing. I’m also in need of a break from the Nearly Men (which will return in due course).
Instead of jumping from one place to another, I want to stay in one place. Build something from nothing.
And then stick around long enough to truly enjoy it.
I considered a wide variety of clubs, countries and challenges. In the end, I kept coming back to one idea that has been tickling at the back of my mind. I’m a sucker for obscure clubs in scenic, far-distant locations — places so far off the beaten path, that I can hear my grandfather proclaim, with a slow, rueful shake of his head, “you just can’t get there from here.”
And this, my friends. This was it.
Duruji Kvareli, a Georgian club whose home pitch lies inside the walls of an 18th century fortress, the Kvarlis Tsentraluri Stadioni.
According to the Internet (which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a series of tubes that is never wrong about anything), the two-tiered walls of Kvareli Fortress are more than 3 meters high, and were once surrounded by a water-filled moat. The fortress is said to have repelled the attacks of Nursal Bek of the Avar Khanate in 1755, although I may need to play several hundred hours of Europa Universalis IV to confirm.
So, we have ourselves a literal fortress. My mission in this save?
Nothing less than to turn this literal fortress into an metaphorical one.
To conquer Georgia, Europe and the world with Duruji Kvareli. And, to conquer Europe and the world with the Georgian national team.
A bit of background. Duruji Kvareli hail from Kvareli, a town of less than 8,000 residents nestled in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains of eastern Georgia. The town is at the heart of the Kakheti wine region, and is known for Kindzmarauli, a semisweet red variety. (Remind me of this in 6 months, when I’m looking for excuses to take the missus on a pilgrimage to see Duruji Kvareli play…)
As far as I can tell, as recently as 2016 Duruji Kvareli was playing in the Georgian third tier. Not these days, though.
I downloaded Weiry’s 5-tier Georgian pyramid, but alas they still weren’t in the active leagues. So I opened up the editor and swapped them out with another side in the 5th tier. Now we’re ready to roll.
Well, not quite. The color scheme in the database was making my eyes bleed. They were also off, according to the Internet, so I updated them to the “correct” claret and white, with a splash of blue.
Our manager, the man tasked with leading the charge? Giorgi Amirani, named for the mythical Georgian hero who defied the Gods.
Yeah, I thought it was a fitting name, too.
Amirani is a Kvareli native, a devotee of Telleusian (strikerless) tactical theory who burns with ambition.
That ambition may be necessary.
As far as the Board goes…well, let’s just say that they aren’t the most ambitious lot.
I’d like to think that we will finish higher than dead last, but…we can’t even field a full XI right now. Let’s not put the cart before the horse, yeah?!
No matter how bleak things may look, there is no exit ramp for Amirani. You might even say that there’s no easy way out. [Cue motivational Rocky IV-esque music montage, with Giorgi driving around Kvareli at night in his mom’s 2002 Honda Civic, looking vaguely determined.]
Again, like I said above, this is not a journeyman save. Rather, it’s a club/country save where our goals are simple: take Dujuri Kvareli and (eventually) the Georgian national team to the pinnacle of world football.
This save is titled “The Fourth Glass,” a name which derives from Georgian legend surrounding the country’s claim to be the birthplace of wine.
Specifically, Georgian legend tells of how God created wine to remind the world of Heaven. After creating wine, God invited His angels and the Devil to taste it, with all agreeing that it transcended the divine, such that it returned anyone who drank it to Heaven, if only for a short period of time. This, the Devil could not tolerate. He created his own alcoholic beverage from the remains of crushed wine grapes — chacha, a potent, fiery drink. Returning the courtesy, the Devil invited God to sample chacha. God drank one glass of chacha. Then a second. A third. A fourth. Finally, God leaned over to the Devil, drew him close and declared that “those who will drink three glasses of chacha may be on my side. After that, they are yours.”
While I’m not planning a narrative at this point, I did some digging into Georgian mythology and legend, to find inspiration for different aspects of the save. And I feel like this story speaks to how my saves tend to cross over into the…well, insane.
So, if we aren’t planning to dive into a narrative, what are the goals…? What else do we need to know?
As per usual, there are no hard-and-fast rules beyond the general concept of the save. I will not adhere to any particular transfer policy, beyond my standard preference for developing youth. I have also loaded a reduced injuries file to cut down on injuries across the board, without giving any advantage over the AI.
I have also holidayed to January 2022, to allow for a unique playing environment. I have loaded the top leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain as active (with numerous view-only leagues), with a large database/pool of potential players, including all internationals worldwide and all players from clubs in European, African and South American continental competitions.
As suits my particular writing style (such as it is or isn’t…) I intend to capture each campaign in a single, open-thread style post, with the season review set out at the end of that post. Particularly big events may be broken out into their own post (the Euros, World Cup or a European cup final).
This list may be amended, so feel free to throw out any suggestions you might have.
Up next: we take a quick look around the footballing world in January 2022, and the first ball is kicked in anger.