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      24.05.2012 13:20
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      Tiny men stuck in cereal bowls being flicked at an oversized globe? It'll never work..! or will it ?

      Many years ago, before the invention of the electronically games systems, such as your Playstation,, your PSP, and even your Nintendo Wii, entertaining oneself was a bit of a game in itself, although we did have to good old fashioned ZX-81, ZX-Spectrum or the super cool Commodore 64... (what a beast of a machine, at the time).

      These days, when it came to playing a game of a game like football inside you living room simply means plugging your little game station into your plasma television, then sitting there staring at the screen whilst trying to control the little figures as they ran around the pitch in front of your eyes.

      But before the invention of these modern game stations and football games such as FIFA or Football manager, there was a more simple way of playing a game of football inside your house without smashing your mums best china plates that stood admiringly on a shelf in the kitchen.
      This simple way involved a large dining table, a green cloth with white marks on it, a couple of small goalpost, a group of little men stood in what looked like mafia style concrete boots and a couple of little men who seemed to be attached to a long stick.
      This game was in fact a game called subbuteo and was the early version, or more the more eco friendly, game of football as the only power it consumed was the power of the flicking of the finger, together with the odd wandering around the table as you went.

      Let me enlighten you on what is the game that they call Subbuteo.
      The game of Subbuteo first came about in the mid 1940's by a chap called Peter Adolph, whose initial idea consisted of two teams of little plastic players, one team of red shirts the other team blue shirts, with the players being weighted down on the base by buttons and lead washers. A couple of goal posts made of wire and paper
      plus instruction on how to mark out a pitch, which you then had to find for yourself.
      (this information comes courtesy of a quick search online... thank you google, you're a star).

      Luckily, as time's progressed, so did the game of Subbuteo, bringing to the public the game that you see today, which consists of players sitting on a weighted dome that always gets the player into an upright position. Goals made of plastic and string/plastic netting, plus a ready made pitch made of a soft felt type material.

      But it's not just a matter of one or two teams: no, in the world of subbuteo there are hundreds of teams to choose from, and to collect, with each team representing one of the many teams in the English, Scotish, Welsh an deven the world of football, from Manchester City, (the best of course, to the full Spanish Squad, or matbe you're more a Manchester United fan, (someone has to be..), then there's a team for you too, plus many many more.
      But no matter what the team of choice is for you, each team consists of ten players on a weighted dome base and one goalkeeper who is stuck on the end of a long plastic pole with what looks like a rudder on the opposite end to the keeper.

      Setting the game up...
      You will need a good size surface as the cloth is about 780mm wide by about 1200mm long, although the pitch itself is slightly smaller as the 'chalk lines' are printed around it, including the goal line, centre circle, touch lines, penalty areas etc.

      To actually set it up you simply spread the green cloth pitch across the table, I use a dining table but any table will do as long as the cloth fits onto it.
      Once the cloth is down it's then a matter of choosing a team to play with, or what ever team you have at hand, then flick a coin to decide who kicks off and which team shoots which way.
      Once the choice is made you then place the players around the pitch on your half, with the goal keeper standing in the goal mouth with the long pole being position underneath the goal post at the rear.

      Then, with the ball, which may look a little on the large size compared to the actual players, being placed in the centre circle, it's 3 o-clock on a Saturday afternoon and it's kick off in this crucial decider for the Premiership title for 2011/12... And we know who won that one don't we???

      The rules of Subbuteo
      These are pretty simple, almost, you take it in turn to flick one of your players at the ball, if the player hit's the ball then that player can flick again, but if the player either misses the ball or the ball hits an opposing player, then it is the turn of the other person to have a go at flicking their players. That's the basics of the game, but there are a few extra rules to make it a bit more 'interesting'.
      Such as...
      * A single player can not be flicked more than three times in one persons attempt.
      * A shot on goal can only be made once a player is over the 'shooting line', which is the line that is half way between the half way line and the goal post.
      * A player can be flicked into space but then that persons turn is over.
      * When a shot is made on goal the oppositional players goal keeper should be ready to save the shot before the shot is made.

      Plus, there is the Off side rule which is the same rule as the official FA standard rules of the time.
      Therefore, if the 'in play' attacker is forwards of the last defender, or between the last defender and that defenders goalkeeper, when the ball is played then they are offside.
      Although in subbuteo if a person doesn't use the player that has strayed offside then the offside rule doesn't apply....
      Or something like that anyway....

      So that's what you get and the basics of how to play it....

      So what make this game so special then..?
      Well, apart from the teams, pitch, goals and over sized balls, there is a lot more to this none electrical game of football than meets the eye.
      In fact, for the real collector, Subbuteo offers a massive range of everything from teams to stadiums features, such as stands for the fans to sit in, cups to play for, referees to keep the game going at the right pace, ball boys to collect the ball when it leaves the pitch, linesman, or fourth officials as they are known know, and more.
      In fact, if you really want to make this game as real as possible then there is something out there that will help you do that, although you will need the space to build up the stadium, but it is well worth it at the end of the day.



      My Opinion...

      I grew up on subbuteo; well, not grew up on it as the pitch isn't that big and I wouldn't have been able to move far if I grew up ON it would I..?
      But when I was younger I had quite a collection indeed, owning about 30 or more teams, although some players had gone through the wars a little due to one or two 'accidents' involving a fall off the table and a heavy foot finding it first before I had a chance to pick them up. And even one or two players getting attack by the dog who would then run off as he swallowed the tiny plastic figure straight down.
      Luckily though a team could be made back up to the full squad via a tin of 'airfix' paint and a tiny paint brush, plus a little patience, as 'blank' players were sold for that exact purpose as I am not the only person that 'accidents' happen to.

      By the time I'd finished collecting my subbuteo items I had built quite some team, but sadly though, over the years, bits have got lost due to me growing up, leaving the family home and generally moving around.
      Fortunately though I still have a few teams, a few half decent goal post, a couple of balls, (easy now ladies), and a playable pitch, even if it has one or two 'boobles on it'
      Unfortunately, a while back, when I suggested a game of Subbuteo to my kids they not only looked at me with what looked like a look of confusion mixed with a little bit of pity, I decided to get the game out anyway just for old times sake, and I had quite a pleasant time indeed.

      Yes I do realise that modern times demand modern games, such as FIFA EA sports football games where your thumbs bang away at buttons whilst you sit on the edge of your seat, but getting into a harmless game of Subbuteo brought back some nice memories.
      In fact, my youngest daughter, after watching for a while ended, up asking if she could have a game and, after I explained the rules and a few 'test' games, she seemed to be really getting into the game itself, which for a 21st century game station, mobile phone texting addict is pretty good going indeed.

      I did have to think about the rules, maybe checking online for one or two of them, such as the amount of flicks you can have, whether you can flick a player to block a shot or pass and a few others, but once we started playing a game we were soon into it, enjoying the fun as the little players flicked helplessly around the felt like cloth on the table.
      The fun just seemed to never end as the goals remained unblemished with shots going everywhere except where they were supposed to go... I mean, the ball is massive and really only just fits in between the goal post, so trying to get it passed the keeper on a stick is not that easy.

      It is a fun game to play and takes up no electricity at all. Plus, it is a form of exercise as you do has to move around the table in order to flick your players, which is better than sitting in your reclining chair with your play station control in your hands, (other game systems are available at good retail stores).

      As for the price of this old fashioned, harmless game of table football that even the most disillusioned child can play?
      Well, the initial set up these days is around the £30.00 region, and for this you'll get two teams, a couple of goal post, a couple of balls and the pitch, plus the rules ad regulations too.
      Then, if you decide to build up the collection, adding more teams, maybe, then the grounds, officials, cups and more, the cost will go up and up. For instance, a team of players sells for around £10.00, and there are a lot of teams to choose from.
      Then the bits for the ground, such as seats, advertising boards, even the crowds, can cost you from a pound upwards... although this is not necessary unless you want a little more realism.

      If like me and you grew up on the game of subbuteo, then you may have the teams, balls, goals and pitch to get you going. But even if you don't and this sounds like something you may like to try but don't want to fork out that amount of money, there are many charity shops out there that sell this stuff from what I have seen, in fact, I managed to get a full team for 75p a few weeks back... even though one of the players had no head and another one had only one arms... but they're out there at bargain prices and are worth grabbing whilst you can.

      In all, I enjoyed playing this as a kid and even enjoyed it when I played it against my daughter recently, and to be honest, even though she denies it, I'm sure she enjoyed playing it too, although I can't see her dropping her game system for this though.
      It's a shame that games like this have been taken over my the microchip as, at the time, this was one of those games that got everyone together to have some fun without the need of the television in the corner.

      These days Subbuteo will never replace the like of FIFA on the Play Station but for old times sake, and for that bit of harmless fun around the dining table, then this is well worth playing, although do move the plates off the table before you put the pitch down or there may be a few bumps.



      © Blissman70 2012

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      27.06.2011 18:11
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      A decent game at the time of release

      Subbuteo was a game many years ago I remember seeing and played all the time. The idea was you had this green like felt which was designed in the colour green to represent a football field.

      Not only was felt green but the markings on the green felt in white were also the same as a football pitch as well.

      In terms of what you had to do the idea was you had a team each with 11 players and you could position them in random places on your side of the field and you had a goalkeeper which had a handle so you make him produce saves when he needed to.

      The range of teams was excellent you could pick many top team and international teams and then you had the players. The players were designed in a plastic but were placed by glue on round globe like stands.

      You had to flick your player into a ball and try and score against the opposition. When I played the game we basically had rules that you would take three kicks of the ball and had to use a new player and that when the ball hit an opponent's player then you were basically giving them possession instead.

      The game one of those which took 2 seconds to set up but took forever to play depending how long you wanted to play the game for.

      You also could purchase extra items for the game such as stands for a crowd effect and you could also purchase the goals as well and various teams which were all over the place and in various shirts.

      I think the game at the time was excellent for what it was but this was many years ago and since then and new games consoles such as Fifa games you cannot see this game hardly anywhere.

      I saw it the other week in my attic and it was a surprise and brought back many memories because it offered so much. I would play in little tournaments and all the pieces you would need were available in all sorts of toy shops.

      The prices I cannot remember for the game or the teams but overall it offered a great deal of patience and plenty of game play at the same time.

      If there was one think I might change it was the rules. Everyone had different ideas on what the rules were and I am not even sure what the correct version truly was. In my view you can play this game with the real rules or the fake ones either way you want it to be fun.

      This is a classic game and one of those which people will remember if they are a certain age.

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      21.10.2010 00:12
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      Legendary football game

      Nowadays you can live out your dream of being a footballer playing a game like FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer on a games console such as the XBOX 360 or PS3, taking control of the world's best like Messi or Steven Gerrard. In the dark distant past though before computers were so readily available if you wanted to recreate a game of football in your home you would have probably had a Subbuteo set.

      I had a Subbuteo set consisting of the basics I would need to have a game but there were countless other accessories and extras you could purchase to make the gaming experience more fun and of course realistic. Firstly you had the pitch which was a large green piece of fabric with the white markings on, this had a habit of creasing which really would prevent the ball from running true and would in turn making having a game almost impossible and so my dad glued my pitch to a massive piece of wood chipboard making it perfectly flat. I had two goals and some balls with two teams. The rules could get a bit complicated but the general idea was when it was your turn to flick your player, whichever one you chose to make contact with the ball, there was a real knack to this. Your goal keeper was on a long stick which you operated from behind your goalposts. The outfield players sat on half sphere bases meaning they could slide easily and within reason wobble a bit without completely tipping over. These players were fairly fragile and could snap easily resulting in needing to be repaired with something like polystyrene cement.

      There was such a large catalogue of teams from clubs to countries that you could buy whether that was their home or away strip and the kits could be quite detailed, you could even get small transfers of numbers to stick on to the back of the shirts to identify which players were which. You could get great fun additions like referees, police officers, managers and other tiny plastic representations of people you would see at football matches. If you really had money to spend you could recreate your favourite stadiums by purchasing grandstands and terracing and even battery operated working floodlights.

      If you have time to practice and achieve a decent level of skill you could enjoy a really competitive game of this with a friend and even though the toy is not as popular or in the shops like it used to be I get the impression that there is a really healthy second hand market for Subbuteo products, there are loads of interesting bits and pieces on eBay and probably in charity shops and car boot sales you will find the odd item.

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        17.06.2010 17:07
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        Great little footie game.

        When I was a kid the world of the computer console was still in it's infancy and as such the early 90's could be considered the beginning of the end for board games. Amongst that dying breed there was one that encapsulated the excitement of being a small boy, staging and playing your own world cup tournament.

        Subbuteo required only one thing to play, enough room to fit the scaled down replica footaball pitch, printed on a bright green cloth. You're averagely sized dinner table would easily accomodate an average playing session.

        The rules are simple, you must flick your tiny plastic men at a tiny perfectly formed ball, your player must touch the ball no more than 3 times before passing to a teammate, if the ball goes out of play or touches an opponent during this time then possesion is passed over.

        A player can only shoot passed a certain line, to try and encourage a more accurate approach to the game. The miniature players are all made of plastic and are mounted on a solid plastic half sphere, with the figure mounted on the flat side of the half sphere. Goalies are set onto long green rods so that they can be moved around the goal area easily.

        As well as being fun to play I loved the collectibility of all the teams, as well as all the stands, managers dug outs and optional extras that were essential in hosting the perfect world cup.

        Playing on a club level was made all the better by allowing you to purchase unpainted figures. Meaning that if you support a more obscure team not stocked by Subbuteo, you could always paint your own, or even create your own team & strip.

        The only thing that could be improved on is that the models are a little delicate, one left on the floor will be destroyed in no time, perhaps they could be made a little more robust without adding too much weight. Similarly the ball is very small so make sure you keep an eye on it as they are easy to lose.

        I reccomend subbuteo but it does contain many small parts so be careful with very little ones. If you can tear your kids away from their PS3s and X Boxes then theres plenty of fun to be had from this miniature football game.

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        05.11.2009 16:16
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        a classic fotball game with some flaws

        Subbuteo is best described as a table top version of a real football game aiming to simulate a football match in your living room with mainly plastic figures on a a 'pitch' which is a bit like a mat or sheet with the markings of a football pitch on it. Due to the size of the actual 'pitch' it was and is probably more likely to be found played on the floors of rooms. The first set was produced and released in 1947 by a man named Peter Adolph. It is now sold and marketed under the Hasbro company.

        The game requires you to flick the playing pieces (footballers) which stand on weighted bases, across the tabletop mat towards the ball, which is oversized . You need to flick the ball using the playing pieces towards the goal to score past a goalkeeper who has an extended piece on the back of his figure to move across the goal and save the ball from going into the net.

        Part of Subbuteo's appeal was the vast array of interesting accessories produced. As well as the two teams pieces that came with the original box you could buy extra teams which included a lot of the major English and European as well as international teams. It also included a number of other accessories such as referees and linesman, the dugout, floodlight pylons and for the more posh people a stadium pack.

        I had a set which was a present and it was quite a fun thing to have at the time. I did also buy a few of the extras but not the very luxurious accessories such as the stadium packs. The game does require a good level of dexterity and skill. You do need some good hand eye co ordination in order to flick your teams player to hit the ball towards the goal. The pitch was too big to fit on most tables so it became "Subbuteo Floor football". There was lots of crawling around on your knees which didn't help in trying to prevent breakages. The players and other figures did tend to break if you obviously stepped on them but also if you flicked them too hard. The pieces weren't that sturdy.

        I didn't really have any tactics or skills when I was playing but if you are a big fan and want some tactical aspects to the game there is an interesting read for you on the following web site.

        "To attack well, you have to flick well"

        http://subbuteo.iougs.com/tactics.shtml

        Games such as these are a lot less popular these days due to the influence of the more realistic and virtual video games such as Fifa and pro evolution soccer. Despite that it is a classic game amongst football fans.

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          29.07.2009 14:24
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          AHH.... THOSE WERE THE DAYS!

          Subbuteo is a table football game were you have to flick the players to shoot, pass and tackle. If you flick a player and you hit an opponent without hitting the ball then it's a foul.Simple as that! My attention to detail was second to none, from the ironing of the pitch- The only time I got behind an ironing board as a kid! I had grandstands which covered the whole perimeter of the pitch. I must of had hundreds of tiny spectators. I wasn't that obsessed with having lots of different teams, but the ones I had were looked after and cared for with love and kindness.

          Some people couldn't understand how a tiny little player would be flicked around the football pitch kicking a ball that was comically bigger than the player. The game was definitely about skill and basically how well you control your players by flicking with your fingertips. When I played as a kid, if I thought anyone was flicking it wrongly, well I used to go berserk! Anyone who knocked anything out of place, it was a definite yellow card.

          Yes I can honestly say I was a subbuteo freak! Freak being the operative word! One incident that sticks in my mind: When I was about 10, my mother was heavily pregnant with my youngest brother. One day I was happily playing subbuteo on my own- probably best that way- I was very happy as I'd just bought the Brazilian national team. Anyway my Mum announced that her water was about to break. I panicked! I though my pitch was about to be hit by a severe flood! Anyway all was well and thirty years later my brother still brings back memories of that certain panic attack!

          Since I played subbuteo as a kid, I've read about more advanced tactics involving the game, so if anyone fancies throwing themselves in at the deep end!

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            26.06.2009 17:11
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            Don't spend a lot on this, but if you find a set for cheap, grab it

            Subbuteo is the table top football alternative to bar football. For those that don't know, it is played on a large mat (which really needs to be nailed down onto wood chip) and miniature players which all stand on semi spherical bases. The game is played with a miniature football which you move around by flicking players, in order to 'kick' the ball.

            There are both advantages and disadvantages to the game. Starting with the positives, the game flows very well. It is strictly speaking turn based, but there is no waiting time and this means that the game plays very freely and can appear as if it is not turn based at all. This means that there is no shear chaos with miniature figures flying all over the place whilst also it is not very slow.

            Next, it can be quite energetic which is good if you are not a board game type person. It requires you to actually move about which in turn prevents it from being boring. Finally, it is really original and can become very competitive which again ensures that not much boredom kicks in.

            As for the negatives, they are not too major, but there are one or two. Firstly, the game can be frustrating when you first start since it requires a reasonable amount of skill. Secondly, unfortunately the little players break rather easily. Finally the mat does really need to be perfectly flat, and it can be hard to achieve this on a kitchen table for instance, resuslting in large bumps on your playing field.

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              27.10.2008 12:09
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              A Novel Football Sim

              Flick to Win

              'Subbuteo' is a table top football simulation which was first made available in 1947. According to Wikipedia, it's named after Falco subbuteo - the latin name of the Eurasian Hobby which is a bird of prey. This was done as a trademark was not granted to to simply call the game 'Hobby' as creator Peter Adolph originally wanted.

              To play the popular football 'board game', you must flick the playing pieces (which represent footballers) towards the plastic ball, with the end aim in scoring a goal. A players turn ends when either the ball is missed, or the ball strikes an opposing player, or goes out of play. It's fairly easy to understand after a couple of goes.

              Subbuteo was a game which I played intermittantly in my childhood, but never fully mastered. When I was around 12 I was bought a set and used to have the pitch rolled out on the kitchen table. Those were the days when the players were moulded from plastic, rather than being of the card variety which they are today. I had two teams, England and Leeds United, the latter were decorated splendidly in their white and gold outfit.

              Subbuteo is an excellent game, and a great alternative to computer games in todays digital age. It's fun to play, but difficult to master, and worth a go if you've never played. The newest incarnation of the game seems to be the 'Dream Team Stadium' version, which is available from Amazon for £22.49.

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                24.09.2008 08:50
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                past it's sell by date really

                'Subbuteo' is a board game which simulates the game of football (actually there were many sports versions, but football was the only one which really took off). The first Subbuteo sets were available for purchase in 1947. The first sets consisted of wire goals with paper nets, playing figures made from cardboard with button bases and a small ball, no pitch was provided during the early years, instead instructions told people how to mark out a pitch onto a blanket.

                As the game evolved so to did the amount of items people could buy to make their pitch look like a real stadium, for example stands, spectators, stewards, policemen, balls and goals, trophies and even special figures for free-kicks and throw ins.

                I owned my own Subbuteo set when I was a boy and bought a fair bit of equipment to add to the look of the pitch and surrounding stadium, I used to play with my cousin who would bring over the equipment that he had bought to so we add a really nice playing arena, it was great fun. Unfortunately, I don't think it as popular today as it used to be due to the increasing popularity of computer consoles and computer games, as shame really.

                Thanks for reading.

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                  07.08.2008 17:11
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                  Game for boys.

                  Subbuteo was a game my brother owned when we were little and sometimes he would make me play with him so that he had some opposition that he could thrash, I was never into the game at all but I did like to play nurse whenever one of the players broke, or in his view got injured and I had to nurse them back to health with some glue. This happened a lot because the green baize pitch was tacked to a wooden board and we played on the floor so often a knee or elbow would crush a player.

                  Ths was a football game, the pitch was green cloth and each player had a team, my brother was always Wolverhampton and I had to make do with one of the sets that came with the game. The ball was always bigger than the players and each playerwas in a curved base and the idea was you flicked the players to connect with the ball to make passes and take shots.

                  Personally I found it quite boring and very slow to play and could never get the hang of it but my brother was really good and wonna tournament at school one time.

                  He also liked buying the accessories like stands with a crowd in and extra teams, he had an England team and Brasil as well as special players to do the throw ins that were on springs and could hrow the ball the length of the living room let alone the length of the pitch.

                  Not sure if you can still get it but I would imaine that given the quality of football games today on the 360 and PS3 there would be little point.

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                    07.08.2008 03:35
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                    When I was younger I always wanted a Subbuteo set. I saw the big green boxes in the Co-op department store and saw the huge range of accessories and spare teams you could get. As I was always enthusiastic about football I really wanted a Subbuteo set so I could play friends and perhaps have a little league of our own.

                    I am speaking of a time over 30 years ago now. In those days disposable incomes were nowhere hear as high as they are today. Subbuteo was then quite an expensive toy and it still remains today above average in price for this type of table top (or on the floor) game. I pestered my parents for ages before Christmas and on Christmas Day I opened a large parcel to find the big green box inside.
                    Alas in the months that followed I found Subbuteo to be a huge disappointment. The game is just so patently unrealistic. There is no movement of more than one player at once unless you are willing to play as a flurry of arms flicking manically at your players. Each players movement comes from flicking the base and it is this base that gives all the players the appearance of having been dropped in concrete presumably for annoying the mafia. The ball is unfeasibly large and completely out of scale.

                    The goalkeeper is controlled by being on the end of a large stick protruding out of the back of the goals. Now I've known some goalkeepers who have played like they needed a stick taking to them but this is ridiculous.
                    But the final disappointment was always playing the game. The rules are odd and I found open to various interpretations. Consequently I found myself losing friends as we argued over the rules, the legitimacy of goals and their habit of rucking up the pitch by kneeling on it. Worse still if they broke your star player off at the legs by kneeling on him.

                    Subbuteo was never a good game, I'm sorry I badgered my parents to get it me. It was so expensive I got little else that year but whenever my parents asked did I like it I'd always say yes for fear of disappointing them. Over the next months the game got fewer and fewer outings and eventually became forgotten. I can't see the future for Subbuteo. Computer games have taken over now and if you want a league among friends you can use the PC either a playing game or a management simulation.

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                    28.06.2001 05:26
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                    The smell of the crowd ... the roar of the greasepaint ... the little men pinned in concrete ... a very 60s thing.... When you're very, very young, the attraction of Subbuteo Table Soccer is a very real and very consuming passion - that is until you've actually got one, and then it becomes a luxury that you're never really sure why you wanted in the first place - pretty spiteful opinion, eh? The people who make Subbuteo have apparently been struggling pretty badly lately and my understanding is that Subbuteo is soon going to be a thing very much of yesteryear, and those odd little plastic men, an athletic breed of weeble, will be no more. HURRAY!! Subbuteo is a table top football game which involves two players each having their own team of tiny players. The outfield players are all planted in a little hemisphere of plastic and the goalkeeper is stuck on the end of something resembling by proportion a vast metal girder so you can move him about from behind the net. The idea of the game is that you flick the men with your fingers and seek to score goals in the normal football fashion, with the defending side attempting to block off your route - now that's the normal way to play, but it's bloody tricky and extremely frustrating and I know in my particular case that the game always got adapted and me and my mates would play by holding the player's head and swinging him to kick the ball - now that was easier but still pretty naff I have to say. Another sad memory of those bad old days was the way in which many of the players got fatally wounded by a stray knee or hand. They only needed such an accident to be instantly rendered headless, or be out of action and retired early via nastily broken ankles. You could glue them but they'd always be the weak link in your side - a bit like Peter Barnes after he signed for Leeds... The other annoying thing was that it took up such a lot o
                    f space - the green mat representing the pitch was far too big for most of the tables we had in our house and you couldn't really play on the floor because the carpet underneath would always stop the ball from rolling too far - such awful memories of my childhood! The game we had I got second hand and the only teams I ever had were Chelsea, Arsenal (the ones with black and white hooped socks) and Celtic, but in the tournaments I used to play, they were actually the change strips of Leeds, United, Luton, Liverpool, Ajax, whoever you care to name and you could pick your dream teams of all the talents - what a sad, sad little git I was! The other nasty piece was the amount of accessories you could add on like stands and floodlights and supporters and linesmen and it would quickly turn into a very anorakish thing - ripe for all sorts of sad little boys. Of course, in the alternative successful people's universe, Subbuteo is an extremely competitive game, verging on being a professional sport and there are many players who have become extremely proficient at flicking these nasty little men around and even putting spin on them to take them around the defenders - now I've never been a natural at any sport or games and I was never going to be in that little camp, not that I'm envious or anything, you understand. A history for the Anoraks amongst us – Subbuteo was brought to the world just after the Second World War and was the brainchild of a chap called Peter Adolph apparently. In those early days, the figures were flimsy and made from flat card and it wasn’t until the 1960s that the type we love/hate so much today made its arrival upon a disbelieving planet. In the early days, the game was sold by Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd, before becoming part of the Waddington empire. Hasbro took over ownership of the brand in the 1990s before announcing they would cease production in the early part of 2000 – the e
                    nd of an era.

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                      01.05.2001 23:37
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                      At the age of just 10 years old, acting alone and with full knowledge of what I was doing, I deliberately and cruelly executed a top football star, by means of decapitation. While his identity is today lost in the fog of half memories, the evil action itself is seared into my memory, Your Honour. I placed my foot across his neck and yanked viciously upwards with the little finger on my right hand. I cannot shake the sense of guilt even after all these years and it keeps me awake at night. I plead "guilty", Your Honour and throw myself on the mercy of the court. This little incident happened at the end of a particularly bad-tempered Subbuteo game (in case you hadn't guessed, the star I beheaded was made of plastic) . If it had been a real-life encounter, no doubt it would have resulted in crowd violence more serious in nature than random acts of violence against inanimate objects. But it should illustrate to one and all just how important Subbuteo skills and matches were to me and to what extent the game mirrors real life. ~~~What's it all about?~~~ Subbuteo, played by two players with a green felt/baize "pitch" and two teams of plastic footballers is the ultimate table-top football game. Great attention was paid by the game developers to making the game realistic and the number and range of accessories available is quite breathtaking. On occasion, I would play matches in front of stands packed with plastic fans, with a manager's bench complete with gesticulating coaches and subs, with St John's Ambulancemen standing by with plastic stretcher, a plastic (working) scoreboard standing proudly between (working) plastic floodlight towers. And that's just the start of it. Actually, more accurately, the start of it would be one of the Subbuteo starter sets, which would usually include two teams (red and blue shirts, all with white short
                      s), two goals with real nets (wow!) a couple of balls (oversized - one of the few non-scale elements in the game, for gameplay reasons) and the pitch. Those "in the know" would then tack the pitch to a hardboard backing, which would give a perfect surface - no annoying bumps! The baize would allow quite remarkable amounts of spin to be put on the ball by skillful players - and with a finger (when messing about) you could press down on the ball and put so much back spin on it, it would shoot away from you and then spin right back into your hand. ~~~How to "flick to kick"~~~ With your handy starter kit, you were ready to play "flick to kick". The players would be set up on the pitch in your favoured football formation. Goalkeepers had long handles on them, so that they could be controlled "through" the goalnets, but otherwise players had to be flicked. Arguments raged long and hard about "flicking". For power and better swerve, there's nothing better than using your thumb as a fulcrum against which your first or middle finger would press before crashing into the chosen player. However, the official Subbuteo rules outlaw this approach - the only fulcrum you could use was the pitch. You don't believe me? We'll end up fighting! Each (human) player would take it in turns to try to score. This would entail flicking a player at the ball. If you successfully hit the ball, you could continue. You could use the same player a maximum of three times in a row. By moving the ball in this way, you would get within shooting range (beyond a line across the pitch) and then shoot. Goalkeepers, often in "diving" pose, were mounted on longish plastic sticks, stuck through the goal nets and could move at any time. Throw ins and corners and goalkicks would mean an opportunity for both sides to flick a number of players positionally. ~~~No cash~~~ <
                      br> Subbuteo was incredibly good and excellent fun. However, there were two main problems with the game, both of which make it better for a more adult (!) audience. The first is that it became an addictive process to add more and more and more accessories. I remember the first of my friends to get the scoreboard was king, until someone else got the (astonishingly cool) floodlight towers. Every 5 minutes (even when I was a kid) clubs would change their kit, so a new team would need to be bought (fancy yourself an Al Fayed or Maxwell? Buy any team in the world for a few quid in Subbuteo!) It all amounted to a lot of cash, in short supply on 20p pocket money. ~~~Have a ruck on the terraces~~~ The second problem is that this game, for some reason, would almost inevitably lead to conflict and arguments. And I haven't a clue why. I was a fairly placid child. My favourite game was chess - does that give some flavour to the op? The fact is that I can remember several huge rows with friends over this game. And speaking to other friends now, it seems they had a similar experience. I can offer no explanation. It was following one of those spats that I attacked the plastic player. I was so frustrated with getting badly beaten in a typically argumentative game, that I took it out on my striker. Actually, the balance of the player was unaffected by the headlessness. He later went on to play for Graham Taylor's England side. However, as an adult, I "rediscovered" this game as a student and play (very) occasionally over a pint. We don't seem to get worked up, probably because we're all *pretending* not to take it very seriously. ~~~A (Cup) final story~~~ A mate who had moved house even organised a "World Cup" at his new home the day before the furniture arrived, to raise money for charity. And it was there that I saw the overhead bicycle kick goal, the M
                      aradona dribble, the Carlos Alberto screamer, the ultimate Subbuteo goal. The Holy Grail. In the final, a player knocked the ball into the shooting area and immediately, without waiting for the ball to stop (it's legal) shot using another man from a different angle to score in the opposite corner. If I told you that there was a room full of overweight 30 somethings dancing you might believe me, but you'd probably shake your head and tut in disbelief at the immaturity. It was a beautiful moment. I guess you had to be there.

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                        04.04.2001 01:07
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                        As football mad kids we were not allowed out on rainy days to pursue our re-enaction of how Accrington Stanley beat the mighty Liverpool so we had to content ourselves with playing Shove Halfpenny Football on the kitchen table or indeed at school during the wet dinner times. There was always blow football but that was even less satisfactory. Then along came Subbuteo Football and with it all the thrills of the real thing played on the kitchen table. A piece of green baize about 6 feet by 3 feet marked out as a football pitch would be lovingly ironed to get rid of the creases and stretched out on a suitably sized table. In those days most dining room tables opened out to become the ideal surface although we had to spread an old blanket out first to even out the surface a bit and to also appease mother who didn’t want her table scratched. The players were made up of something less than a hemisphere of plastic about half an inch across into which was stuck a tiny model of a footballer standing about an inch tall. The goalkeeper had the addition of a piece of stiff wire attached to the base which when passed through the goals gave the human player the opportunity of making a save, if they were good enough. The goals had real nets and the ball was larger than life, but it was marked with the panels that a real football has. In the early days the players were limited to a few basic colours but now it is possible to get them in the colours of just about every major team in the world. The players would be moved by flicking the base with the forefinger so that it is propelled towards the ball. In the same way that a snooker player can impart side to the cue ball making it spin sideways, the Subbuteo player could be flicked to give it some spin and that spin could make the footballer go around an obstructing player to get at the ball. Indeed some very skilful players could spin the footballer so that he gathered the ball and continued on his wa
                        y with the ball at his “feet”. Some human players were even known to chalk the nail on the forefinger with snooker chalk to help get a better and more controlled spin. This was not allowed in tournaments. The rules were similar to those of football in that there was offside and if a player touched an opposing player before touching the ball it was a foul. There was even hand-ball because it was possible to flick a player at the ball and cause it to rise into the air and if it hit an opposing player on the body it was deemed to be hand ball. If a model player got damaged or came unstuck from the base that player was deemed to be injured and would be taken off to be repaired if possible. If not then that player was off for the duration of the game which was usually ten minutes each way. In the cheaper sets of Subbuteo the players were not tiny 3D models but flat plastic cut-outs and these were prone to being broken in half or losing a head. Teams were not allowed to play with a headless player. There were free kicks, penalties, throw ins and corners as in football but because man is big and butch and strong and the field of play is small, goals could only be scored if the ball was closer to the goal line than the half way line and the player attempting to score was also in the opposing half. Although this rule would vary depending on where you were playing. Although basically designed as a game for two players, four could play plus two goalkeepers and a referee. Thus each side could have a team of three humans where one would take the left side of the table, the other the right and one would be the goalkeeper. The one drawback of the game was the constant arguments about when is a flick not a flick but a push and this did detract from the enjoyment of playing Subbuteo Football. In later years you could buy model manager’s dugouts, terraces, stands with model figures to occupy them and even working floodlig
                        hts. In fact it was possible to set up a replica of a real football stadium. There would be local, county and national championships and even internationals. I even took a Subbuteo set to sea with me and in harbour or when the ship rolled around only a little we would stage leagues between the various divisions on board. It was no fun trying to play Subbuteo in a force eight gale. I mean the poor little fellows got seasick and you can’t play football if you are green at the gills. Subbuteo Cricket did appear in the shops but it never took off like the football. When a couple of years or so ago it was announced that no more Subbuteo sets or accessories would be manufactured, there was an immediate and huge outcry from all over the world which led to the manufacturer promising to continue making the bits and pieces for a few more years to come.

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                          20.10.2000 03:10
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                          Subbuteo [Background: Young children, and occasionally grown men trying to recapture some of their lost youth, will often enthuse over the beatitudes of this 'classic' game that does all in its power to bring the game of football to your table top]. Firstly I'd like to begin by making an unreserved apology for the reference to bad language in the title of this opinion, but if you'll be patient and bear with me then I think I can go somewhere with this one. The first point that I would like to make in this particular opinion is that I suffered a deprived childhood. This seems on the face of it to be a very strong statement, but I feel that it is justified. I was not deprived in the sense that I went without love, care, attention, food, warmth or any other integral facet of growing up. The main reason behind these feelings of past inadequacies is one single fact - I never had a Subbuteo set. For those amongst you who have not experienced Subbuteo, the game consists of a piece of green material that has been marked out like a traditional football pitch. Onto this pitch are placed twenty plastic figures (ten per team) that vaguely represent 'normal' footballers in various poses, were it not for the fact that each of the figures also has an over-sized semi-spherical base that allows it to stand upright. In addition there are two netted goals, each fully resplendent with what can be best described as a goalkeeper on a stick. Add to this a ball and you're pretty much set up and ready to go. The long and the short of the aims of this game are that goals are scored in the manner you would expect, by flicking the plastic players towards the ball with the aim of then making the ball roll into the opponent's net. Back to the story of my childhood, and although most of my friends at school had a Subbuteo set, I did not. This has undoubtedly resulted in severe psychological problems later in lif
                          e, ultimately resulting in me supporting Burnley Football Club (sorry to mention that yet again in this opinion, but it seemed like relevant background information). The fact that I was deprived of experiencing at first hand the joys that Subbuteo was able to offer, now means that I have a severely sceptical view of this particular game. For a start let's get a few things straight. Subbuteo is not football. The game of football is in fact played by 22 over-paid 'professionals' in modern all-seater stadia on Saturday afternoons, officiated over by three clowns wearing black shirts. Little men posing on their semi-spherical bases on a plastic pitch is not football, despite what the Subbuteo officionados might say. There are however a number of eerie similarities between the real game and this pale imitation, the main one being that the 'rules', such as they are, become open to a great deal of interpretation, often leading to prolonged arguments. To this day, I am still unsure as to what is the more frustrating - watching my football team on a Saturday afternoon and marvelling at the gross ineptitude, usually of the officials but quite often the players as well, or the lottery or a game that masquerades itself as Subbuteo. Although I do not know for sure, I feel confident that the man who invented Subbuteo (assuming of course that it was a man) was also responsible for introducing the game of Squash to the world. Who in their right mind would champion a sport which equates to the equivalent of a game of tennis where both players are on the same side of the net? If you have ever played or watched Squash with any degree of attention, then you will realise the problems that are caused by the rudimentary flaws in the way in which it is played. These same problems appear to also manifest themselves in the game of Subbuteo and can give rise to a succession of arguments, spats and even full blown fisticuffs due
                          to the lack of organisation and lack of officiation. So if you want to recreate your childhood and experience a friendly game of football, you'd be better off going down your local park and watch the young boys, jumpers for goalposts, and avoid Subbuteo altogether, isn't it marvellous? {An opinion by Blackjane - 2000}

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