The Best... and
This page is just a bit of fun. It's also a little egotistical, so if anyone has
any of their own experiences they'd like recorded, then please e-mail. They've got
to be more entertaining than my own stuff. Also on this page is a small wants list
The Top Ten Best Things about the Subbuteo playing of my youth...
A Subbuteo Stadium. Best Thing No.10.
- It was just so easy to play
and all my friends knew how.
- You could actually field your
favourite team, and if you numbered players you knew who had scored. This allowed
you to keep sad records of player performances (come on- own up), and also blame
individual figures for your own failings.
- Brighton & Hove Albion could
beat Brazil. (Certainly if I was playing Brazil).
- If you lined up the little cameramen
on both sides of the goal it made missing less painful, as a spray of plastic
figures peppered your opponent.
- Lifting the ball over the bases
of the wall on a free kick. Sometimes the players would part and the ball
would rocket into the net.
- The Goalkeeping trainer. This
was a large piece of yellow plastic covered with rubber bands and it worked
surprisingly well if you were stuck by yourself. Using goal grips to free both
hands, the ball could be flicked at the trainer with a finger (without a player),
and it would bounce off at high speed into the back of the net (if your goalkeeping
was like mine).
- The Queen - my favourite of
the pointless "collectable" extras which got in the way when playing, but looked
great on a permanent display.
- The whole pointless "stand around
the pitch" figure range. These HO/OO figures were useful as civilians when I
was wargaming. I imagine anyone with a model train set could use them too.
- Subbuteo worker with a sense
of humour. I have a Policeman from set C113 with "Help!" written in silver on
the base. I guess painting countless tiny policemen could get to be a drag...
- It has to be the dream of a glorious
stadium - enclosing the whole pitch. A huge object of desire, but well out of
range of my meagre resources as a child. Even doing one side of the ground proved
impossible. It was the above picture from the 1981 catalogue that fuelled my
And the Ten Worst things about my Subbuteo playing days...
The Throw-in figure instructions. Worse thing No. 2.
- The pitch was too big to fit on most tables - so it became "Subbuteo
Floor Soccer". Lots of crawling around on your knees.
- The Throw-in figure. Neat idea - but my thumb and finger always
created backspin so the ball ended up back out of play again.
- Self Assembly goals. Came in a nice flat box - but the nets
never seemed to want to fit properly.
- Leeds Utd. My rogue Subbuteo team. One of the first four or
five teams I owned - and one of only a couple of heavyweights - these had everything
wrong with them. Their hair was a blob which had dripped onto their backs -ok
so their were long haired players in the late '70's :-) Far worse was the glue
used. Either the inner base wasn't glued properly to the outer base so they
fell apart repeatedly, or the two base parts were superglued together, while
the weight was weakly glued, resulting in players who rattled & fell over.
- Goalkeepers on metal rods - or rather opponents who owned these
old sets. The metal rod was longer than the newer plastic ones and could be
used to sweep the whole penalty area clear of the ball, strikers, fingers....
- Subbuteo player in the face - Your opponent has a clear shot
on goal, he digs his finger into the turf to get extra power, but gets under
the player, clearing the ball and the the crossbar... Ouch.
- Chipping the ball. There may
have been pictures showing how to do this in the rules, but could I get the
ball off the ground? No. Unless I hit it with enough force to fire it into the
- Breakages. Crawling around on
your knees in problem one above, resulted in sitting on players, goals,
etc. Parents invading the pitch didn't help either. Balls broke in half, goalkeepers
bent, throw-in figures arms fell off etc.
- Losing all the time. Oh well.
- Not being able to afford that stadium. Sigh.
Since reaching ten things, I've come
up with another minor niggle - when Subbuteo make an away kit with exactly the same
colour bases as the home kit - thus making it impossible to use the away kit when
a colour clash has occurred.
Just so it's not all me, here are a few things other people have tried - along with
other strange youthful excesses.
- Painting your own teams. Frustrated by the poor quality teams coming out of
Subbuteo? Dislike white lines under players arms? Then paint your own figures.
This is extremely difficult to get right, but the results can be fabulous.
Just don't try it on anything valuable.... Visit the art
pages for a look at this activity.
- Melting the goalkeepers arms over a flame and stretching them. Fantastically
- Furniture Polish. A trick of the professionals. Polish the base, and watch those
- Weighing the bases. A bit of putty in the base gives more control. And helps
with chipping... and probably makes a bigger dent in your opponent's forehead
if you get underneath it :-)
- Fielding an all-star team. You can paint them all one colour, or pick favourites
from teams you own. Or you can fill a team with spare goalies, or referees and
- Make match day programmes. Add to those important games with a little memento
of the day...
- Photograph your winning team
with the cup, and get them to do a lap of honour. Okay, hands up everyone whose
celebrations including grouping the players around the oversized FA Cup, with
the captain/winning goal scorer sat in the top? That was my celebration. The
other one was to take the small FA Cup from the Queen, and push it onto a player's
arm for the lap of honour. No wonder the arms broke off my cup. Doh.
- Record commentaries with a tape
recorder. Actually, when I was a kid, my sister used to write plays for her
friends and mine to perform on tape... and she's now a real life playwright.
So I wonder if any real life commentators started out with a tape recorder and
a Subbuteo match.
- Play an outdoor game! Get that summer World Cup fever by staging matches outdoors.
- Painting a whole crowd for the stadium you couldn't afford when you were a kid.
Many Subbuteo collectors are currently painting their way through hundreds of
tiny naked supporters - just so their ground doesn't look like a wet weekend
at Wimbledon (that's a joke about the size of crowd. I'm not suggesting the
Wimbledon fans would all be naked.... and I'm sorry for putting that image into
your head.). Actually, I've been told of two classic youthful ground filling
exploits. One involved dipping the supporters into a tin of red Humbrol (speed
is the key here). The second involved filling the ground with Airfix HO/OO figures
in the correct colours. So the player with a red team has to use the guards
band, while the guy with Ireland gets to fill the ground with British and American
- Keep a history of all your league
and cup teams. Produce reams of statistics on each game.
- Manage a team - having given
your players names and numbers, and recorded the goals scored, and passes made,
it's time to manage the side, and produce background info on your players, and
have storylines running. The Subbuteo roleplaying game....
- The 1970s pitch made a great
cape for a wise man in a school nativity play.
All I want for Christmas is the
Liverpool away kit*.
*With apologies to Half Man Half
A whole team of Liverpool players. Hey, I know there are some home kits in here,
but you can see that I soon gave up on them. It was the away kits I continued to
receive each Christmas. Thanks to Jools for providing me with the earliest away
Text and Site Design - Copyright (c) 1999-2020 Peter Upton.