My first encounter with Subbuteo was back in the late 90s. I lived near a massive shop called No Frills and it sold all kinds of random stuff. They had a Subbuteo France ’98 Boxed Edition for about £20. I’d previously read about Subbuteo in a book called The Table Football League by Chris D’Lacey and I was determined to get it. Even though I didn’t really have anyone to play with.
I don’t have the set anymore. I kept stepping on the players and breaking their legs (by accident). But for the millions of remaining Subbuteo enthusiasts, there’s a great new blog. Subbuteo Online is a “collection of news, views and other bits about the classic game”, run by Stephen Hurrell, a collector with a love of football nostalgia so the site is a mix of miniature and real-life footie.
The game’s peak in popularity has long past but that hasn’t stopped its community from flicking their players around in joy. For anyone unfamiliar with the game, here are a few facts to impress your friends at the local pub quiz.
- The game was created by Peter Adolph
- He wanted to call the game “Hobby” but couldn’t get a trademark for it. So he took inspiration from the bird of the same name and used its scientific name: Falco subbuteo
- At its peak, more than 300,000 miniature teams were sold each year (source)
- British band Half Man Half Biscuit wrote a tribute to Subbuteo called All I Want For Christmas Is a Dukla Prague Away Kit
- FISTF (Federation of International Sports Table Football) regulates the World and Continental Championships
- Italy is the most successful nation in the FISA Subbuteo World Cup, winning 3 titles in 1978, 1982, and 1986
- The 2019 Europa League will be held in Lisbon in October.