20 December 2011

Flicking in a Winterthur Wonderland


The Picturesque City of Winterthur

Firstly I apologise for a such a poorly punned title. I did consider alternatives, but the play on Hot Chocolate’s ‘It started With a Kiss’ just wouldn’t work. ‘It started with an offer of a free Subbuteo team in a football magazine’ just doesn’t quite cut it.

So what am I going on about? Subbuteo! Despite being aware of Subbuteo from a very early age, being more into cricket than football meant I was more obsessed with obtaining Test Match than any flick-to-kick related products (and for £7.99 from Goldies toy shop, Test Match would be mine – replete with signed photo of the then England team... Botham, Gower et al. Now all that was required was some friends to play with... oh well, back in the box!)

As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I had seen lots of Subbuteo items in the windows of the toy shop in town, but even when I first became beholden to football, it still never appealed. It just seemed way too nerdy and serious. Yes they had lovely shiny trophies, but one didn’t need to love Subbuteo to desire those. I'd already dipped my toe into the world of table football a few months earlier when I purchased an all white team from the bargain bin at that same toy shop, but other than drawing my own kits on the blank plastic kit canvas, I still wasn't really getting it.

Two factors combined to change my stance:
  1. There were pretty much no other football toys out there at the time (Striker had disappeared a few years earlier and wouldn’t be available again until the '90s)
  2. An offer of a free Subbuteo team in Shoot! Magazine.

Yes, a FREE Subbuteo team! Which one would I get? As the advert clearly stated, ‘You could even get your favourite team!’ The excitement!!! 
The form was filled in, the requisite Stamped Addressed Envelope (how I miss that phrase) included and the standard 28 days for delivery was waited. Finally, one day after school, a package had arrived. A package that had seen better days by the look of it; my SAE a shadow of its former self. Whether it had suffered some rain damage followed by a letterbox-induced shredding or had just been used as a football for the posties at the local sorting office I shall never know. Nor indeed did I care for I was possibly about to embark on my full-on Subbuteo journey. I tore open the parcel, excitement building... who could it be, who could it be???

Well... you know the answer to that. Kinda gave it away in the title, really.

So...Winterthur... Who???

According to Wikipedia, Winterthur (German pronunciation: [ˈvɪntərtuːr], English: /ˈvɪntərtʊər/) is a city in the canton of Zurich in northern Switzerland. It has the country's sixth largest population estimated at more than 100,000 people.

So there you have it. Furthermore, FC Winterthur play in the Swiss Challenge League, the second highest tier of Swiss football. They play at the Schützenwiese Stadium.

Their home colours are all red. Only, they weren’t back then. Their home colours were white shorts and socks and white shirts with, if the Subbuteo figure painters are to be believed, three vertical gashes to the upper body. I’m assuming they were supposed to be uniform stripes, but the ones on my figures definitely looked like the result of some coordinated machete attack. Guess that would explain the blank stares on their plastic faces. The pic below is from an eBay listing (not mine - I’m holding on to my beloved Winterthur!) Mine came in more modern Subbuteo packaging (landscape layout, not vertical), but the figures are identical.

The Walking(?) Wounded

I now had two complete teams and, along with some cheap balls from the same bargain bin as before, could fully immerse myself in the murky waters of Subbuteo. Now all I needed was a pitch...and maybe some corner flags...and obviously a ref and linesman. A scoreboard would be quite useful too. Oh dear. In one fell swoop my interest had gone from passing to 'collector'. 0 to Geek in under 5 seconds...

And so yet another expensive pastime came into existence. One I shall delve into in greater detail in future, but for now, Merry Christmas people of Winterthur... and please, get to a hospital – those wounds need serious attention!

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