Newstalk
Newstalk

13.38 17 Jul 2013


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Subbuteo, despite its popularity, was always a source of pain in our house. The little players broke far too easily (we're talking midway through Christmas morning here), and maybe we're just wimps, but did flicking those little fellas hurt anyone else's fingers? 

Last summer, players of past and present have taken to the ol' Tweet Machine to remember the good times they had with the game using the hash tag #SubbuteoMemories. 

"Someone stepped on one of my Ireland players so I glued it back on. He was smaller than usual so he became Ray Houghton," Philip Egan recalls, while Gareth Roberts fondly remembers "putting talc on your pitch to make it look like it had snowed, or gravy granules to look like Derby". 

Despite the hours you spent playing it, there are quite a few things you probably didn't know about every boy's favourite board game circa 1985. 

The first sets were available in 1947, and were made out of wire and cardboard

Subbuteo wasn't always the fancy felt-topped boardgame you remember; the very first sets, known as the Assembly Outfits, consisted of goals made of wire and paper nets, a cellulose acetate (used in glasses, Sellotape and loads of other stuff) ball and cardboard playing figures. There was no pitch; instead, the use of a blanket was recommended. 

It was supposed to be called "Hobby"

The game's creator Peter Adolph wanted to call it "Hobby" but couldn't get the trademark, so went with Subbuteo instead. Subbuteo is derived from the neo-Latin scientific name Falco subbuteo, which is a bird of prey known as the Eurasian hobby. Admittedly, it would have been pretty confusing for everyone if he'd been allowed to call it "Hobby".

There's Subbuteo cricket, rugby and hockey, too

We know, our minds are blown as well. Take a look:

It was successful partly because it featured team colours other than red or blue

What made Subbuteo stand out was that it featured several hundred team designs, almost all representing actual teams. 

They didn't just produce figures for football players

Subbuteo made ball-boys, linesmen, streakers and even the Queen of England into figures. We bet her Majesty can bend it like Beckham. 

Adults actually play it competitively

Subbuteo isn't just a game for British and Irish teengers stuck inside because of the weather, oh no. The game has more than one competitive circuit; one even has an acronym, called FISTF. In 1992 some sad fellow even tried to make it into an Olympic sport. 

Here are some more of the best tweets from the #SubbuteoMemories hash tag:

Originally published in July 2013.


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