Flicking to kick is where it's at again
Back in the days when computers were huge square yokes with green screens, the only mobile phone was one in a limousine belonging to a Texan oil millionaire on Dallas and teams like Nottingham Forest, Bruges and Malmo reached the final of the European Cup, we had Subbuteo.
When the afternoons were rainy and the evenings were dark, the devotees of this game huddled around tables or stretched out on living room carpets, flicking tiny footballers at a ball which was twice their size, making haphazard progress towards the opposition goal. The real fanatics even invested in accessories; floodlight towers and plastic spectators who sat in the plastic stand.
Computer games were in their infancy, and largely confined to pubs and amusement arcades. Subbuteo was the closest we came to virtual reality. It had its own strip in Roy of the Rovers, 'Mike's Mini Men', and a couple of memorable mentions in rock music. Half Man Half Biscuit's All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit is all about the heartbreaks of this strange imaginary sport. But Fergal Sharkey's snarl in The Undertones' My Perfect Cousin -- 'He always beat me at Subbuteo cause he flicked a kick and I didn't know' -- was the one which struck a chord with an audience of Irish schoolboys.
When my voice broke, me and Subbuteo parted company. And in 1997 the manufacturers stopped making the game.
In these days of Pro Evolution Soccer when every kid is retweeting their hashtag and blogging their facebooks (Note to Editor: Check that these references are sufficiently streetwise), Subbuteo seemed as antediluvian as the CB and the leg-warmer. Then last week there was some stunning news. After 15 years on the sidelines, the great game is coming back.
Amazon has the release date slated for March 5. I think I'll buy a set. For my daughters obviously. I'm sure they'll enjoy Subbuteo.
Like they enjoyed the Scalextric and the train set.
Sunday Indo Sport