Originally from South London, 53-year-old Millwall fan Terry Gridley recently took voluntary redundancy from the Royal Mail and has no plans on working again. Who can blame him when he’s one of the biggest UK winners ever after scooping in excess of £130k playing fantasy football through the years.
We caught up with Terry who was kind enough to chat to FantasyFootballStrategist about all things fantasy…
FSS: Hi Terry, first things first, can you tell us a bit about your fantasy football history…
TG: I began playing fantasy football when the sun first launched in 1994. I entered one team and finished nowhere. The Sun cocked up in its first season. Your defenders got two points for a clean sheet but got penalised two points for every goal conceded. The winner sussed out this error and won playing with all non playing defenders!
FFS: 21 years a player, that’s a career! Which fantasy football games are you playing this season? do you have a favourite?
TG: I am playing four games this season, Sun, SkySports, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. My favourite is the Sun as it is maintenance free most of the time and obviously I have had the most success in this game.
FFS: Let’s focus a little on Sun Dream Team, the game that made you famous on the fantasy football circuit… You finished third in the Sun Dream Team in the 1995/96 season, just two years after it launched, How did that feel?
TG: When I first started playing, my ambition was to get into the top 10 during the season and see my name in the paper! To be honest when I finished third it was relief as fourth place paid nothing. It was also frustrating as I took out Colin Cooper and put in Stuart Pearce who was on pens. Pearce got injured playing for England and missed a chunk of the season. Had I left Cooper in, I would have won dream team that year easily.
FFS: That was £20k in the bag for third place, nice! Four years after that you won SDT’s big one, the £100k first prize. Please tell us about the emotions you went through after realising that it was in the bag..
TG: I went top at christmas and built up a big lead. Kevin Campbell got injured and my lead started to recede. I dropped down to third with two games to go. Gary Mcallister scored a brace and got man of the match which put me back top and I held on by two points! I worked out the scores on Sunday night about 50 times! When I was sure that I had won, I woke the wife and my legs nearly gave way. The cup final still had to be played but the only person who could have caught me was Ray Tait in third place. He had Paul Merson but he would have needed to have scored a hat-trick against the Chelsea keeper who was also in Ray’s team, so I was very confident.
FFS: Good stuff! In the 2001/2002 season you also ended up finishing ninth overall. How do you stay so consistent?
TG: That was probably my most consistent season, I finished 9th, 16th and 29th that season as well as winning December’s manager of the month. I would put my success down to football knowledge along with a large slice of luck!
FFS: Let’s turn to the shorter term Dream Team comps. Have you won any other weekly or monthly SDT prizes?
TG: I won £2k for finishing third in a MOM three years ago. I received £500 for moving up the most places in a week five years ago. I received £1250 due to Mark Lawlor winning weekend dream team as well as a share of £20k when a syndicate I was in won the Sun mini league. I won several hundred pounds when the Sun paid £100 to the top 100 managers in the weekly dream team.
FFS: Nice! That’s a great bunch of wins! Is there anything different with the strategic approach that you take when targeting the shorter competitions to the longer seasonals?
TG: To be honest I only target the seasonal game, a few years back, in the Daily Mirror game I noticed that one of my seasonal teams had had a good month so I used up transfers trying to win it, I finished second which was a nice few quid.
FFS: How long do you spend playing fantasy football each week?
TG: I have more time on my hands now but due to not playing the Star and Mirror it is only the Telegraph that takes up any time. I have only entered 12 teams in this so it is not too painful. I finished 6th and 9th in the Mirror when I played it. The Star is not around anymore, that was a game that I enjoyed playing. I finished third a couple of years back after being top at the end of the season. That was the year Man City kept 12 consecutive clean sheets with the same defence! Those two games took up a lot of time.
FFS: The dying question that all budding fantasy football players want answered is what is the secret to winning major national prizes?
TG: Staying focused and keeping up with injuries and pre-season form and most importantly being lucky.
FFS: So looking at this season’s Dream Team, who are your must-haves so far? and with the third transfer window now on us can you tell us a few cheapies that you’ll be looking at?
TG: Hazard and Sanchez are my two must haves this season along with the Saints defence. Kane at Spurs is the obvious pick this window, though if you are chasing he is of no use to you as nearly all the teams above you will have him!
FFS: That’s a great point! When leading or chasing the right strategic approach is needed, ie. don’t pick Kane if you’re chasing as the leaders will already have him, a balanced gamble is required! Thanks for the insights and tips Terry and we wish you the best of luck for this season and beyond! We’ll keep our eyes on the leaderboards for your name!