That one time I played Subbuteo Table Soccer

When I was a kid, I had a friend who was really into sports. Not playing them, just watching them, collecting stats and playing games about them. I imagine wherever he is now, a lot of Fantasy Leagues are being played. Before the fantasy sports though, he had, besides video and electronics sports games, things like Strat-O-Matic and Electric Football. These were a lot of fun and about once a week I looked forward to going over to his house, drinking too much ice tea and “playing sports”.

Then one day he picked up a new game featuring this sport called “Soccer”. Now I knew a little about soccer, the Cosmos played in our area and some of the kids at school even got soccer balls for Christmas, but none of us really knew how to play. We knew you couldn’t use your hands and that people used their heads, but beyond that, we were clueless.

Everyone, but this friend of mine. It turns out he had become a huge Cosmos fan and even knew stuff about the game over in Europe where he told me they called it “football”. Which I assumed was a joke (or that they were ripping off the name of our football). Since he was such a big fan, his dad had picked up this really cool looking game called Subbuteo Table Soccer.


Knowing nothing about the game, I had to be walked through how to play in excruciating detail. The whole time looking longingly over at the beautiful electric football set on his dresser (he had so many teams). After what felt like hours, we finally played our first game.

In the game you need to flick these weighted players and by doing so simulate a soccer match. This being my first attempt I was horrible, usually I flicked a guy way too hard, which I thought was hilarious, but my pal found annoying and probably obnoxious. He had a clock for the game and I could not wait for it to end. The problem is, when it did, he told me we had to play best of three.

When it finally was over I told him I did not want to play it again. Which for a friend with a new toy is sort of like a slap in the face and bad form on my part. He was obviously really excited to play and show off his newest addition, but I just didn’t have the patience for it. Needless to say, he did not invite me over to play again — Not table soccer, not electric football, nothing. We grew apart pretty quickly and by the same time next year we hardly even said “Hi” to each other when passing in the halls at school.

I guess if there is a lesson in this story, it is that you should try to be understanding of your friends and when you see what is important to them, you put your best foot forward and embrace their passions.

Or maybe it just something more obvious, soccer kills friendships.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Retromash

    That’s a hilarious story. I totally feel for you. As someone who grew up in the UK loving football (soccer) I could just never get to grips with Subbuteo. A lot of my friends were hooked on it but I found it so hard to control the little figures, the cloth pitch would keep riding up or getting wrinkles in it, and I would just prefer to play football on the computer, or even better, in real life.

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