July 18th 1972 (I)

“Mick came up in morning + played subbuteo. He bt me 4-3”

In these 21st Century times of Nintendo Wii’s, Playstations, X-Boxes and video games, I imagine that simple “flick to win” pleasures like the one Subbuteo used to offer would be loudly sniggered at by today’s teenagers. Back in the seventies though it was a most enjoyable waste of summer holiday time.

I remember having just three little plastic teams. Liverpool and Leeds, both of which came with the main game, andI had additionally splashed out on (“naturally” – *ahem*) Manchester City. Each team box consisted of 10 outfield players and one goalkeeper on a stick. The game itself consisted of the teams, two plastic goals, a brown plastic ball and a large sheet of green felt which was unfolded and represented the pitch.

The trick was to find a surface big and flat enough to roll out the pitch on and have enough space around it to stand/kneel and flick your players with the utmost precision. A dining table would be, of course, the perfect surface, but my parents’ table was not quite big enough, so my bedroom floor became a somewhat bumpy “Maine Road” where play would commence.

The rules only vaguely followed that of proper football. Each opponent could flick their player alternately at the (somewhat oversized) ball. If the ball entered the goal area you got two flicks. If your little player touched an opposing player before the ball, that was a foul with the resultant free kick and you even did throw-ins and corners. There were certain finger skills necessary including flicking your player at such an angle so he rolled around the opposing players and hit the ball with just the right velocity. Goalkeeping – with your goalie on a stick (not to be confused with a pickle on a stick which my wife enjoys at Renaissance Festivals) – was another art all together. Some favoured the keep your eye on the ball and try to get your man in the way of it as it headed goalwards, whilst mine involved waving the goalie from goalpost to goalpost at terrific speed. This not only distracted your opponent, but it had the added advantage (?) of somewhat moving the goal itself, although shifting as far as the corner flag was considered unsportsmanlike. I can’t begin to understand why?

Occasionally, the ferocity of a flick would send your player too heavily into another, breaking his legs off his base. Instead of – as in the real life – waiting for ‘trainer’ to run on and apply ‘magic spray’ to an injury you had to find your superglue and stick the legs & base back together and then play with 10 men until such time as the glue had dried properly. All too often games consisted of 8 men versus 9 with an extensive injury list.

You could buy accessories including grandstands to place around the pitch, working floodlights and a miniature referee (“who’s the little plastuc bastard in the black”?). The only accessory I had was a replica F.A. Cup about three inches tall. Which Man City won with incredible regularity! *cough*

Like I said, simple harmless fun. Even when this “mick” fellow (whoever he was) beat me 4-3

I was staggered to discover – Google being my friend in this – that Subbuteo still has aficionados, with many competitions and international cups being held in the game! However, as the following You Tube clip will show, some people take the game WAY too seriously!

Those bloody Italians!


1 Comment

Filed under 1972 Diary Entries

One response to “July 18th 1972 (I)

  1. hi, in italy (and uk) we’re also playing subbuteo game in a very funny and not seroius way.
    the name of our league is “old subbuteo”.

    there are two old subbuteo club even in UK.
    one in london and the other one in southend, essex.

    you can know something more visiting our portal:

    enjoy it!

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