One of the good things about writing a football game is that it's a hell of a lot easier to justify purchasing related games, books etc. to your other half. And more importantly, to yourself. All under the guise of "research".
The most recent such purchase was FIFA World Cup 2006. I started my qualifying campaign as the mighty St. Kitt's and Nevis, and found myself doing surprisingly well. In my penultimate game, two points short of guaranteed qualification, I barged my way into the box and stuck the ball past a flailing keeper only to hear Clive Tyldesley positively ejaculate with glee. "That could be the goal!" he screamed. The crowd erupted.
I was astounded. For years, I'd been used to football games that treat each matchday as being played in a vacuum, with the outside world being of little interest until the final whistle. "They've qualified!", the commentator envariably yells in shock despite the team leading 5-0 for the last half hour.
In the end, FIFA let me down a little as the initial raptures subsided and the crowd settled down again. And the goalscorer in question didn't do much different to when he scored in any other game, including a meaningless victory against St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Which instantly sucked me out again.
The way I see it, emotions play a massive part in football's atmosphere. Every goal is unique, not just in the buildup but also in the reaction and aftermath. When I took that lead against Trinidad & Tobago, the crowd should have been singing, dancing and yelling for the rest of the match. My goalscorer should have been uncontrollably excited. Everyone including the keeper should have mobbed him immediately, not just the three who offered a small token of congratulations. And at the final whistle, it should have all kicked off again.
A little recognition of the wider picture and the appropriate response will go some way towards creating a superb atmosphere. The more a game can do that, the more likely I'll shed the same tear of joy as I did when Jason McAteer smashed the ball past the Dutch in 2001 to send Ireland into the finals. FIFA World Cup came close... but it's just not enough.