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Subbuteo – Memories of a Misspent Youth

SubbuteoThe next best thing to having a kickabout is to sit back on the sofa, arm yourself with a console control, and go head to head against your friends on the latest football video game. Playing these footy games with your mates gives you a welcome break for a couple of hours from the real world; a few beers, a slice or two of pizza not to mention the over-sized bags of crisps and an enjoyable time is to had by all.

But it wasn’t always this way. Before the days of FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, there was another footy game that gave both children and men the opportunity to engage in friendly competition with their mates on a weekend. Subbuteo was/is an iconic table top sports that invokes a feeling of nostalgia in legions of middle aged men. Sure, you might have been able to do a few more “productive” things with your time, but there was nothing quite like the feeling of flicking the ball into the goal against a fellow player who you hadn’t defeated for a while. At the time – it was the most important thing in the world.

Subbuteo might not be well-known among today’s youth, but for a few decades it was one of the most popular pastimes among football fans all over the country. Flicking the miniature players on hemispherical bases at a fun-sized football could pass hours of time, and during the period in which Subbuteo consumed the nation, the table top game remained noteworthy for several reasons. This included:

  • An attempt to turn Subbuteo into an Olympic sport in the early 1990’s.
  • The emergence of several hundred different kit designs for players and teams.
  • Huge development over several decades (as far back as 1947 when the game was invented by a man named Peter Adolph).
  • The game being sold worldwide and translated into over 16 different languages!
  • Going beyond the form of football. Over time, rugby, snooker, hockey, cricket, speedway and even horse racing got transformed into figures for flicking.
  • Committed players recording their own commentary and writing up their own match programmes for Subbuteo games.

The glory days of Subbuteo may be over now, but it still has a cult reputation in the UK, with hundreds of games still being sold even today. If you’ve still got your tattered box stuffed away in the attic somewhere, it might be time to bring it down and have a few games just for old times’ sake. You can even crack a few cold ones while you’re at it with the Thabto Subbuteo Bottle Opener – a lovely little collector’s item available online at Henry Tibbs. Made from solid plated zinc, this bottle popper isn’t just a convenient little accessory for your man cave – it looks the part too.

Subbuteo bottle opener

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