As someone of a certain age who writes appreciatively about football stuff of a retro persuasion, it’s probably considered sacrilegious not to get all misty-eyed and nostalgic whenever the word Subbuteo is mentioned.
I liked football; I liked The Undertones; I liked Half Man Half Biscuit and I quite liked Fever Pitch, yet all that name checking by influential musicians and film makers that helped transcend Subbuteo from irritating pursuit into iconic treasure of broader popular culture still couldn’t persuade me that it was a game of any worth.
There were certain elements of Subbuteo culture that I could readily identify with like the collectability and the customisation, but it was just the actual playing of the game itself that bored and infuriated me in equal measure. And being no flick-to-kick devotee when growing up during the game’s peak popularity years of the 70s and early 80s granted you social pariah status on a par with the boy from your class who never quite got to grips with his head lice problem.
My awkward personal relationship with table football hasn’t deterred this mild celebration of Subbuteo’s lengthy and interesting advertising history through the years. We’ll be devoting three separate posts to the subject with this first part looking at some of the company’s earliest adverts – including one from as far back as 1951, just four years after the first sets were made available commercially..
Click any of the images to open the gallery.