Subbuteo® is a classic game originating in the UK but now played in over 30 countries worldwide. Before the days of fantasy leagues and video game consoles, it was a way for children of all ages to act out a soccer fantasy world. Its current owner, Hasbro, has threatened to pull the plug once, but thanks to public demand the game is still alive today, and flourishing as ever!
These days the Hasbro-owned brand name of Subbuteo has all but disappeared from toy store shelves, but the game has a number of dedicated followers producing equipment of varying standards and qualities. See our page on Equipment for more info.
In 1929, William Keeling of Liverpool invented a game called Newfooty. Eighteen years later, Peter Adolph brought out a similar product and trademarked it as Subbuteo. In the 1960s it started to get a little more mass produced, and reached its peak of popularity in the 70s and 80s after major toy manufacturer Waddingtons purchased the game in 1971.
The unusual name Subbuteo® comes from the Latin word for the bird of prey sometimes called "the hobby". Easy explanation ;o). The game's logo originally included such a bird. Click on the bird to the right to find out more about it from the Birds of Britain site.
The game is played on a cloth pitch (field for US readers) about the size of a pool table. The most basic form of play is to stretch the pitch out on the carpet, but most prefer to fix it to a board and play at waist height. Just like in real sports, there's also an "artificial" surface which is rather like felt backed by a rubber sheet, allowing a completely flat and maintenance free surface.
The teams consist of 1 goalkeeper on a rod which pokes through the goal net for the player to hold and attempt to make saves with. The other 10 players are on round, weighted bases which are somewhat like the old children's toy Weebles... they wobble but they don't (always) fall down. These bases are flicked with the finger (no contact with another finger for greater force is allowed) against the ball to propel it towards the opponent's goal.
After the same payer figure has touched the ball 3 times, a "team mate" must then touch the ball. If the ball touches the opponent's player figures, possession goes to them. The defending team may make one defensive flick per successful flick by the attacking team, provided they do not touch the ball. No player from either team may hit the other team's players except should the attacking player collide with a defending player after striking the ball.
That's about it! For some basic rules, see here.