With umpires not referees, no throw-ins and an arbitrary approach to offside, Dan Marshall’s game makes getting football wrong just right

Dan Marshall insists there is no such thing as a football referee. “Umpires officiate over sport,” he argues. There’s a lot about football that annoys Marshall – he really doesn’t get it. And yet this experienced game designer has just spent a year-and-a-half of his life creating a football simulation. Why?

Behold the Kickmen is in part a joke written in code, as well as a playful jibe at the predilection of football fans for taking the details of their adored sport too seriously. It deliberately – even obstinately – contradicts many of football’s rules, and yet plays loving homage to a long lost era of home computer sports sims. Despite Marshall’s joyful indifference to its subject matter, Kickmen is rather superb.

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