Tuesday, 2 March 2010


‘Even at the age of ten
Smart boy Kevin was a smart boy then
He always beat me at Subbuteo
‘Cos he flicked a kick and I didn’t know’

As a kid growing up in the sixties, I almost inevitably became an expert Meccano engineer, Scalextric racing driver and Subbuteo table football champ, by a sort of osmosis. I loved my Meccano but Subbuteo was the top game, as immortalised by the Undertones in the above lyrics from ‘My Perfect Cousin’. Subbuteo, whilst still played today, really belongs to the sixties when it evolved from its initial flat plastic figures to the famous moulded plastic ones with weighted bases we know today and I spent hours playing it – usually by myself. I had a 1966 ‘Continental’ set with the usual ‘red’ and ‘blue’ team, both of which became the most accident prone teams in football history with broken arms and legs all round. Playing on the floor where my mother often walked probably had something to do with it.

I remember playing most games by myself in those days and this was no exception. I played both sides and even had a league for a short while but the reds and blues suffered mightily from either my knees or others’ feet. It was worse than the Somme.

Eventually, in a fit of pique over playing with two paraplegic teams, I spent the whole of my school dinner money for a week on a brand new team (team 3 - blue and white striped shirts/white shorts) from a school friend and nearly starved in the process. But even they suffered fractured limbs on my floor field so it was with much relief that I was allowed access to a table top and soon the casualty rate fell dramatically.

At this time I felt flush enough to buy another team - number 6 (gold shirts/black shorts) representing my local team, Watford and then team number 40 (claret and sky blue striped shirts/white shorts) before I gave up the game due to old age. But guess what? The latter two teams turned up in the back of a cupboard recently and they are in their original boxes and in perfect condition. A quick look on ebay suggests that I may have something valuable on my hands. Ha! And my mother thought I was wasting my money – again.


YourZ said...

I never had Subbuteo, but we did have a foosball table (which was perfect for four boys who were all football-mad - and yes, even though I'm Australian, we played REAL football - my favoured position being right wing).


Jayne said...

Haha - we also had the Subbuteo and the Somme at our house. I remember my mum was mainly the culprit and my brother was so cross! I didn't play with his Subbuteo (didn't dare touch it!), but I did enjoy the metal Meccano sets. I could only make a chair or a swing though, the extent of my engineering!

Love this post, your observations are such a pleasure to read.

musicobsessive said...

YourZ - glad to see that you appreciate the beautiful game. I was an inside forward myself who eventually ended up as a centre back when my age started to tell! I see that you Aussies have been drawn with the dreaded Germans in Group D of the World Cup this June - good luck!

Jayne - thanks for your kind comment. I still have my old metal Meccano set but it is unusably rusty now so it'll probably go in the next clear out. I see that the current plastic Meccano has had a bit of a resurgence since James May's Toy programmes. Nothing like old toys eh?

YourZ said...

Yeah, don't know how we're gonna go against the Germans - they've got a bloody strong team. Hopefully our boys will pull some magic and move on.

I should have said my favoured position was right wing but I ended up playing either right half, right back or sweeper most of the time, not that I minded. I just loved playing the game.