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Peter Upton's

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Playing Instructions and Rules.

1980-82 (Field) Hockey Rules (OO Scale).

Hockey was the final alternative sport that Subbuteo Sports Games released, and was the first set produced specifically for girls. It came at the height of Subbuteo production, but the early 1980s recession was just around the corner. The result of this was a short production life sadly, and so the set is now considered rare. When I first started collecting, it was a fun extra set to play about with. Now, the price is getting increasingly unaffordable, and I wouldn't advise playing with the fragile players.

However, this isn't really a problem. Subbuteo Hockey is essentially Subbuteo football with slightly adjusted rules. Normal football players can be used, and you will not lose much of the feel of the game by using football goals, or a different style of ball (pick any size of Subbuteo football, or try a cricket ball for something different - like fivesides....). Indeed, modern flat "table soccer" bases might be preferred. Sadly, no reproduction hockey players exist - you'll have to stick on the sticks.....

That just leaves the pitch markings which I've included here. Grab a piece of chalk, and an old Subbuteo football pitch (or army blanket if you have one to hand) and away you go.

It should be noted that these hockey rules are actually from 1980, and so are now out-of-date with regard to the real-life game. Even more so than football, hockey rules have changed dramatically since the time of Subbuteo. The Sports Book (2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited) explains that "a contested start (the bully) has been replaced by an uncontested push-off, and offside has been abolished". You'll have to check online for more recent changes....

A longer description and more pictures of the original set can be found on Subbuteo's Other Sports page.

Subbuteo works much better with any sports where the ball is mostly on the ground. Hockey works better than rugby. I assume Hurling (or Shinty) is easier to reproduce than Gaelic football.

Subbuteo Hockey Rules Handbook.

It has to be said that a lot of the setting up rules are dreadfully obvious, and I've skipped "how to Spin" as the football rules are more complete with this regard. I left "how to flick" in, just because it is concise. There seems to be a lot of confusion in these rules about which offences result in a penalty stroke and, which result in a penalty corner. The constant use of "intentional" and "unintentional" isn't going to be easy to referee, although in fairness, this is the way real-life hockey works. Should we regard a flicking foul as intentional, and a blocking flick infringement as unintentional?

As with the other rules pages, the quoted rule book is in italics, and my comments are in standard text. Clear? Good.


"Hockey is a very old game; in fact a stick game very like hockey is recorded as having been played by the Persians, Greeks and Romans. The modern game of hockey was introduced into England in about 1875 and remains today one of the few purely amateur sports.

Hockey is played by two teams of eleven players usually in the following formation - five forwards (centre forward, left and right inners, left and right wings), three half backs, two backs and a goalkeeper.

The aim of the game is to score goals by sending the ball between posts, the ball having been struck by the attacking team from inside the goal circle. The ball may only be hit with the face side of the stick and may not be thrown or kicked. The exception to this is in goalkeeping where the goalkeeper is allowed to kick the ball.

Subbuteo Sports Games Ltd have now created the table top version of women's hockey that will enable you to recreate all the thrills and excitement of real hockey.

The general rules of play are basically the same as those created by the All England Woman's Hockey Association, with necessary additions and amendments to govern their application to Subbuteo Table Hockey.

How to Flick (if you don't know how this works, you are probably on the wrong website....)

Always get behind the figure you are going to use. Place the first or second finger of whichever hand comes most naturally behind your figure. Pressing down slightly on the pitch with the tip of your finger, flick at the figure. The harder you press down when you flick, the harder you will hit the ball. This is particularly useful when shooting for goal. When passing, however, you would flick much more gently for greater accuracy..... At no time has the thumb been used as a spring - this is not allowed.

How to Spin.

This is a standard "old School" Subbuteo skill. If you are playing with modern table soccer bases you are going to struggle with this!

Setting out the Game.


The Subbuteo Hockey playing pitch is marked out to give a replica of the official hockey pitch. The game should be played with the playing pitch laid out on a table or board larger than the overall size of the pitch so that there is reasonable free space outside the playing lines. (if you are lucky, you'll have a baize pitch, rather than a nylon one....)

The goals should be placed at each end of the playing pitch in the position  marked on the goal line and the teams then set out. The conventional formation of the teams at bully-off is as shown with five forwards, three half-backs, two backs and a goalkeeper. (it doesn't say whether you can set up the infamous defensive 8-1-1 table soccer style formation!).

The Centre Line indicates the division of the field into two equal halves for the purpose of:
a) Centre bully - when all figures except the two taking the bully must be in their own half of the field until the ball is in play.
b) Off-Side - a figure cannot be off-side in its own half of the field.

The Side Lines mark the width boundaries of the field. When the whole of the ball passes out of play over either of these side lines, a push-in is taken by a figure of the team opposed to that of the figure who last touched it.

The Goal lines are the lines on each end of the playing pitch, joining and at right angles to the side lines. When the whole of the ball passes over the goal line either on the ground or in the air and a goal is not scored the ball is out of play, and the game is re-started by:
a) A 14.63m (16 yard) hit out if the ball was last hit by an attacker or, if the ball was last hit unintentionally by a defender from a distance of 22.9 m (25 yards) or more from the goal line.
b) A Corner - when the ball was last hit by a defender from within the 22.9m (25 yard) area.
c) A Penalty Corner - if a defending player intentionally hits the ball over the goal line.

The Striking Circle in from of each goal serves the following purposes:
a) Indicates the area in which an attacker may score a goal.
b) Indicates the area outside which all attacking figures must be when a corner or penalty corner is taken.
c) Indicates that part of the field in which a penalty corner is awarded for a foul committed by a defending figure.

The "25 Yard Area" indicates:
a) That part of the field in which, if the ball strikes a defender and passes over the goal line, a corner is awarded.
b) Indicates the area outside which all figures must stand for a penalty stroke, except the two players taking part in this.
c) Indicates the area beyond which a penalty corner may be awarded for a deliberate foul by the defence.

The "25 yard" line is the dotted line across the Subbuteo pitch.

Rules of Play.

The general rules of play are basically the same as those for real hockey, with some necessary alterations to govern their application to Subbuteo Table Hockey. The duration of a game can be mutually agreed between the players, but it is suggested that each half should be of fifteen minutes. As in real hockey, a coin is tossed and the winner of the toss decides which end to defend.

The Centre Bully.

The ball is placed on the centre mark of the half-way line and the two opposing centre forwards placed also on that line facing the ball. The game is started by both centre forwards being flicked at the ball simultaneously. Whichever half of the field the ball enters then the side defending take possession of the ball by "flicking" a figure at the ball. Possession of the ball is retained only when the figure strikes the ball. Should a figure miss the ball, then possession passes to the opposing side. Should the ball strike a figure of the opposing side last then they automatically take possession. The figure striking the ball can only do so three times in succession. The fourth flick at the ball must be taken by another figure, unless the ball has previously struck another figure. Play then continues until either the ball is out of play, a goal scored, or a foul committed.

As mentioned, the centre bully is no longer part of real field hockey. It's their loss. This looks like the most fun bit of the Subbuteo version! The illustration in the book shows the players facing up in their own halves with the half-way line between them, whereas the rules seem to suggest that they are placed on the halfway line. That seems better.

Ball Out of Play.

The ball is out of play only when it has passed wholly over the side or goal lines. A figure may be played from outside the field of play provided the ball has not wholly crossed the line.

The Push-In.

When the whole of the ball passes over either side line, it must be pushed, or flicked-in, in any direction from the point where it crossed the line. The figure taking the "push-in" may only hit the ball once, and must NOT travel over the side line. (so far, so Subbuteo football). No other figure may be positioned within 6cm (2.5 inches) of the figure taking the "push-in" If a figure is within this distance it must be flicked to come to rest further from the ball than 6cm.

The dotted lines down the sides of the pitch are essentially showing the area that figures cannot be in when taking a push-in.

"16 Yard" Hit Out.

When the ball is sent out of play over the goal line by an attacking figure and no goal is scored, or is unintentionally sent over the goal line by a defending player, play is re-started by a hit taken by one of the defending side from a point exactly opposite the place where the ball crossed the goal line, and in line with the edge of the striking circle. The word "unintentional" caused rule lawyer head-aches. The rule for corners below seems to contradict this anyway. The bottom line seems to be that you can only "force" a corner within the 25 yard area. There are a couple of marks on the pitch to help show where the "16 yard" line continues away from the shooting area.


A corner is awarded to the attacking team when the whole of the ball, having last been played by one of the defending team within the 22.9m (25 yard) area, passes unintentionally out of play behind the goal line. (this suggests a "forced" corner in modern parlance).

When a corner is awarded, six defending figures shall be positioned behind the goal line but within the striking circle. The rest of the defending side must be positioned beyond the central line. The attacking team must be outside the striking circle in the field of play, but no figure of either side is allowed within 6cm (2.5 ins) of the corner taker. The actual corner hit is taken from a point on the goal line within 6cm (2.5 in) of the corner flag. The defenders must not cross the goal line until the ball has been hit, and then only one "blocking" flick may be taken. A shot at goal can only be taken when the ball has come to rest from the corner hit. (I assume the block is therefore allowed before any hit).

A penalty corner is awarded when a defender fouls inside the striking circle, or intentionally hits the ball over the goal line. The penalty corner hit is taken from a point on the goal line not less than 15cm (6in) from the goal post on whichever side of the goal the attacking team prefers. All other rules concerning corners apply. My real life hockey rules suggest five defending figures for a penalty corner rather than six.

I think this is wrong, and is contradicted further down the rules. Using "The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Sport" (Aurum Press 2001) as real-life reference, it seems that a penalty corner is awarded in three cases "when a defending player intentionally hits the ball out of bounds over his back line, commits an intentional foul in the 22M (25 yard) zone, BUT OUTSIDE THE SHOOTING CIRCLE, or commits an unintentional foul inside the shooting circle".

If there is an intentional foul inside the shooting circle, or an unintentional foul that keeps a goal from being scored then a penalty stroke is awarded. See penalties below.

Goal Scoring.

(a) Before a shot may be taken at goal, the ball must be entirely in the striking circle, but the figure taking the shot need only be in its opponent's half. No shot taken with the ball outside the circle can score, no matter what figures the ball touches en route to the goal. If the ball does go over the goal line in this fashion then a 14.63m (16 yard) hit-out is awarded.
(b) The ball must be entirely over the goal line to score.
(c) The figure must be flicked in the correct manner.
(d) The shot at goal may be taken whilst the ball is rolling. The exception to this is the corner hit.
(e) The attacking side do not have to wait for the goalkeeper to be ready. Likewise, they do not have to wait for the defenders' blocking flicks.
(f) The goalkeeper that drags a "dead-ball" (stationary ball) into his own goal concedes a goal
(and we've all done it - sigh).

Off-Side. (Note that modern field hockey has no offside).

(a) At least one defender, other than the goalkeeper, must be in the defending 22.9m (25 yard) area before "off-side" can be claimed.
(b) Any attacking figure nearer the goal line than the defence, other than the goalkeeper, is in an off-side position.
(c) If the ball is flicked past the last defending figure, whether or not it is passed directly to the attacking figure, the figure is off-side.
(d) A figure in an off-side position may be flicked on-side at any time by a player asking permission, provided that the player asking is in possession of the ball. A figure flicked on-side should not touch an opposing figure, and may not be used until another of that side has been flicked.
(e) A figure in an off-side position is not actually off-side until the ball is passed through, but if from this position an attempt is made to plat the ball, the figure is immediately off-side.
(the reverse of the modern table soccer rule).
(f) For each on-side "flick" taken by the attack, the defence may have an extra blocking flick to mark the figure that has been flicked on-side.

Penalties for Off-side.

(a) When a figure is off-side within the striking circle a free hit is awarded to the defending team and is taken from a point within the circle to be chosen by the defence.
(b) When a figure is off-side outside the circle a free hit is awarded to the defending side on the spot where the breach occurred.

Foul Play.

(a) It is a foul if the attacking figure hits the defending figure before touching the ball, a free hit, penalty stroke, or penalty corner is given. The player to whom he award is made can accept the decision or indicate "play on", whichever is to their advantage.
(b) A figure lying down cannot be fouled and if the ball touches such a figure then it is penalised for interference without a stick.
(oh, how we miss the old hand-ball law).
(c) If a player's hand prevents the ball going into the bet through negligence or accident, a penalty stroke is given. If it is done deliberately a goal is awarded. If a player handles the ball outside the striking area a free hit is awarded.
(d) If a defending player obstructs their opponent round the table a free hit is given from the position of the ball at the time of the breach.
(e) A player shall not put both hands on the table at the same time in a manner that may interfere with play though the goalkeeper may be held whilst flicking. Should this occur then a free hit is awarded.
(Table soccer also stops a player having their second hand over the table).
(f) A figure being flicked four times in succession results in a free hit being given from the point where the last flick was made.

Penalties for Foul Play.

These can be grouped under three headings: Penalty Stroke, Penalty Corner and Free Hits.

(a) A penalty stroke is awarded for a breach of the rules by the defending side within the striking circle. The penalty is taken from the spot marked 6cm (5 in) from the goal line, Only the penalty taker and the defending goalkeeper may be positioned within the striking circle. All other figures must be outside the defending 22.9m (25 yd) area. When the penalty stroke is taken the goalkeeper must be stationary on the goal line and cannot be moved until the flick is made.
(b) A penalty corner is awarded when a foul is committed by the defence accidentally within the circle or hits the ball deliberately over the goal line.
(c) A free hit is awarded for a breach of the rules that occur outside the striking circle. Free hits are taken from the spot where the infringement took place.

Interestingly, in real life, the penalty stroke is "pushed or flicked" towards the net, but not hit. As with football, the ball can only be touched once.

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