Advertising

Subbuteo is still alive and flickin' 70 years later - PICTURES and VIDEO

By Heather Large | In photos | Published:

It’s the table-top football game that has been loved by generations of fans for more than 70 years.

Subbuteo is back in fashion

Some of the beautiful game's biggest moments such as England's World Cup triumph in 1966 have been recreated on Subbuteo pitches in living rooms across the country.

And in Wolverhampton there is a group of devoted players helping to keep this popular 'flick to kick' past-time alive.

Wolverhampton Subbuteo Football Club was formed in 2016 and now meets every Sunday evening at The Poynings in Tettenhall.

WATCH: The group share videos online

Members also compete against other enthusiasts in tournaments around the country and overseas, regularly walking away with a haul of trophies.

Subbuteo sees players using their finger to flick footballers into position and to play the ball around the pitch.

It's said to be tactically challenging, just like the real thing, and requires good dexterity and hand eye coordination.

Advertising

But most of all chairman Justin Scott, who runs the club with Richard Badger and Mike Hammonds, says it's also 'great fun'.

Alex Scott 10, Gage Badger 14, Mick Hammonds, Peter Sleeth, Andrew Garbett, Richard Badger, Graham Harwood and Chairman: Justin Scott

He stopped playing in the late '90s but got back into the game after a nasty injury in the ‘real game’ meant he had to hang up his boots.

"I started playing again because I still wanted that banter, camaraderie and friendship that comes with football. It's been fantastic for that. I've got friends all over the world," says the 45-year-old, who lives in Pendeford.

Advertising

The game was invented by birdwatcher Peter Adolph in 1947 and was named after the Latin word for the Hobby Hawk.

Richard Badger, from Merry Hill, Wolverhampton

He tried to go into business with his life-long friend who declined the offer, saying the concept would never take off, so he went solo.

And to his delight it became a a favourite of children in more than 50 countries.

The popularity of the game soared throughout the 1960s and at its height in the 1970s, Subbuteo was selling 25,000 miniature teams a month and dining room tables up and down the country were covered for much of the decade by felt pitches.

But the the rise of computer games in the 1980s caused people to fall out of love with the table-top game as it failed to compete with the new technology.

Gage Badger 14 and Alex Scott 10 from Merry Hill and Pendeford..

In 2000, Hasbro, owners of the Subbuteo brand, announced that production of the game in Britain would cease.

But in 2012, the game made a comeback to shops with new features including three-dimensional rubber figures.

And earlier in 2018 it was given a new look with the first all-female set launched, ahead of the SE Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

Andrew Garbett, with a team made up of super heroes, Catwoman and Mike Tyson

Justin says one of the reasons for the resurgence in the game's popularity is that people have become bored with computer games and are looking for something more engaging.

"They've become all the same and people know what they are going to get with them. They are looking for something more hands-on and that's what Subbuteo offers," he adds.

It's also a low cost hobby with teams costing between £5 to £20 and players can have them tailored to their own tastes or favourite club.

Chairman Justin Scott with some of the club's trophies

"The beauty of Subbuteo is that you can have any team or design you want. I'm an Arsenal fan so I always play with an arsenal team. But I know someone with a team of Star Wars Stormtroopers and someone who has a team that includes Mike Tyson and Catwoman.

"The level of detail you get on the figures is really incredible these days," says Justin.

The club, which held the 2018 Wolverhampton Open in October, is also keen to spread the word about Subbuteo and encourage the younger generations to take up the past-time.

Members recently set up a display at Molineux in Wolfie's Den against of the match against Huddersfield.

Wolves Subbuteo players

"We had about 500 to 600 children come to see what we were doing. They were amazed because they hadn't seen it before, they were blown away.

"You could see their parents' eye light up because they remembered what it was.We hope to do more events like that in the future," explains Justin.

The club is always on the look out for new members and to teach new players everything they need to know from the basic skills through to advanced strategies.

For more information about the club see www.wolvessubbuteo.co.uk or search Wolverhampton Table Football Club on Facebook.

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Advertising

Top Stories

Advertising

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News