27 June 2012
Subbuteo Catalogue 1973-74
And not least too because this is a lovely piece of football memorabilia that evokes that charming crudeness that comes with all things created decades ago. The cover, for instance, shows us four young Subbuteo players from Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany extolling the virtues of this truly international table soccer game. Throw in a few tried and trusted stereotypical phrases from the continent ("Wunderbar!") and you're off to a flyer.
If that wasn't enough to satiate your Subbuteo appetite, you could also pass a spare half-hour pondering on which boxed set you'd like for your next birthday or Christmas, perhaps. There were several sets to choose from, the best of which was the all-new 'Munich World Series Edition'. Cunningly tied in with the upcoming World Cup in West Germany, this was the set that had it all including scoreboard, floodlights, TV Tower, ball boys, England team and "literature." Presumably the complete works of Shakespeare were not included in this respect.
rugby and cricket could also be found in miniature form along with Snooker Express, a game rarely heard of these days. In it, you had to flick a snooker player (think typical Subbuteo football player but dressed formally, chalking a cue) onto a small plastic cue ball in the hope that it would in turn pot one of the other coloured balls into a pocket. The whole thing was played within the confines of the box lid and was, by all accounts, fiendishly difficult to play. Full marks to Subbuteo for at least trying out the idea, though.
Which team wears sky blue shirts with royal blue hoops? Who plays in red shirts with a white diagonal sash? Who on earth plays in all black with yellow trim? Such were the inconsequential ponderings generated by this arrangement of player figures stuck into a white board and photographed for our pleasure.
When it came to answering the aforementioned questions, we did, of course, need a list and one was provided across almost the entire reverse side of the poster. Though Subbuteo in more recent years gave us the basic details of team name and number sorted alphabetically or numerically, here we had a grid containing sub-divided columns for Shirt and Short Colours (but not socks), 'English League First, Second, Third and Fourth Divisions, Scottish, Irish and Welsh Teams' plus 'International and World Cup Teams'. All delightfully over-complicated, despite the top border of the poster claiming this to be a "simple chart."
There's also a healthy supply of club teams from apartheid-era South Africa such as Cape Town City, Durban United and Southern Suburbs. Though Subbuteo would ultimately branch out into the world of NASL within a few years, this was the only way for players of all kinds to get a sense of club football beyond continental Europe back in 1973-74.
As if all that wasn't enough, you could always go for something completely left field where your team choices were concerned. You could pick up a Southern League team or two if the likes of Bishop Auckland and Burton Albion were your thing, or what about FC Subbuteo (Barcelona) or even United Kingdom?
There really was something for everybody back then, and amazingly this wasn't even the peak of Subbuteo's popularity. Happy days.