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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

The Best... and the Worst.

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 of mine.

The Top Ten Best Things about the Subbuteo playing of my youth...

A Subbuteo Stadium. Best Thing No.10.

  1. It was just so easy to play and all my friends knew how.
  2. 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.
  3. Brighton & Hove Albion could beat Brazil. (Certainly if I was playing Brazil).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. The Queen - my favourite of the pointless "collectable" extras which got in the way when playing, but looked great on a permanent display.
  8. 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.
  9. 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...
  10. 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 desire.

And the Ten Worst things about my Subbuteo playing days...

The Throw-in figure instructions. Worse thing No. 2.

  1. The pitch was too big to fit on most tables - so it became "Subbuteo Floor Soccer". Lots of crawling around on your knees.
  2. The Throw-in figure. Neat idea - but my thumb and finger always created backspin so the ball ended up back out of play again.
  3. Self Assembly goals. Came in a nice flat box - but the nets never seemed to want to fit properly.
  4. 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.
  5. 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....
  6. 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.
  7. 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 next town.
  8. 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.
  9. Losing all the time. Oh well.
  10. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Melting the goalkeepers arms over a flame and stretching them. Fantastically sneaky.
  3. Furniture Polish. A trick of the professionals. Polish the base, and watch those players glide
  4. 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 :-)
  5. 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 cricketers...
  6. Make match day programmes. Add to those important games with a little memento of the day...
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Play an outdoor game! Get that summer World Cup fever by staging matches outdoors.
  10. 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 armies.
  11. Keep a history of all your league and cup teams. Produce reams of statistics on each game.
  12. 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....
  13. 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 Biscuit.
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 kit.

Text and Site Design - Copyright (c) 1999-2020 Peter Upton.

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