Tuesday 9 October 2012

Al Gordon's Five Subbuteo Items They Never Made

Following on from our Top 5 Subbuteo Items articles, regular Football Attic contributor Al Gordon of God, Charlton & Punk Rock has come up with a novel twist on the idea...his top 5 Subbuteo accessories they never made...

Subbuteo had pretty much every angle of the beautiful game covered didn't they? From ambulance men to TV commentators, from floodlights to dugouts, every fixture and every fitting was scaled down and turned into plastic so that we could recreate the whole mesmerising experience in our living rooms when it was far too miserable outside to kick a real football about.

Have you ever noticed gaps in the catalogue though? Have you seen something on a Saturday afternoon and wished you had the miniature version back at home. Streakers were never an official accessory but a table football shop in Wales saw the need and created their own.

Here are five items I’d add given half the chance, not everybody’s cup of tea I’ll admit so please feel free to comment and tell me what you’d have added to Subbuteo to give it even more charisma.

1. The Invacar

A little blue three wheeled car often gracing the screen during The Big Match, parked at the side of the pitch in front of the scarf twirling horde. A car for invalids, even the name is perfectly politically incorrect!

An NHS initiative, these government subsidised cars sold by the thousand and were guaranteed to give you a perfect view of the match. In 2003 it became illegal to drive one on British roads and those still going were scrapped. Stamford Bridge was always a favourite haunt for them with its big area between pitch and terraces, there was almost enough room to have a half time demolition derby!

The likes of Matchbox never made one, I don’t believe they even made a three wheeled Reliant Robin so as a child it was impossible to park one by my green Subbuteo fencing. A small plastic car would have been an ideal addition and just to give it a totally lifelike feel, any wayward shots could make the tiny car rock in the same way that it did occasionally at League grounds up and down the country.

Nowadays wheelchairs quite often line up in front of the stands. Plastic men in plastic wheelchairs, I think it would be even less PC to flick giant footballs at them in the hope of knocking them over!

2. Flags and Banners

In truth, the tiny supporters had enough trouble holding their own body weight up, especially when things got a little heated and the stands started rocking. Expecting them to hold aloft a flag when replaying the cup final was asking an awful lot of them.

The idea of flags draped over the edge of the stands and the more modern idea of huge flags being moved along the length of the stadium above head height are, I suppose, the kind of accessories we could make at home to personalize our collections. This is after all a game aimed at our imaginations and kids of all ages have the best colouring skills don’t they?

My mum would have positively encouraged me to cut little rectangles out of my pillowcase and my school shirt to recreate banners at a European cup match as Charlton entertained a top Italian side and their supporters. Can you imagine Subbuteo ‘ultras’ ?

Firecrackers and smoke in the plastic grandstand! It wouldn’t be seats torn up and thrown that annoyed the stadium staff but stands melted instead. Ideas of how to mix your chemistry homework and table football spring to mind in a bid to find the perfect coloured smoke…

Those rather stiff looking English ‘bobbies’ would have had their work cut out keeping all twenty-five of my spectators under control. Especially ‘arms aloft’ man, he looked rowdy.

3. The Merchandise Stall

Every league ground has a club shop, every league ground also has some kind of unofficial stall selling cheap merchandise as well. You know the kind, the ones who sell shoddy tat items of desire, the proceeds of which go nowhere near the club.

Again, not so popular in Subbuteo’s heyday but in this resurgence the game is having now, let’s bring the accessories up to date.

Available in a range of colours this item doesn’t need to be much bigger than the original TV gantry and would certainly add a splash of colour to the proceedings, especially if you’re using early 80’s kit and everything else is green and brown.

If you want to recreate The Kop behind one of your goals, those supporters would have to buy their scarves somewhere wouldn’t they? And if you’re collection was more akin to a Conference or League Two ground you could always go the Fleetwood Town route and buy ‘supermarket trolley man’.

4. The Tea Hut

I don’t know about you, but I may have had a grandstand, a corner terrace, two open terraces and floodlights at best and none of my friends had enough to fill all four sides of the ground either. As much as we wanted our own little Wembley, we all had at least one side of the pitch that looked bare at best.

What better way to fill it than the good old fashioned tea hut or burger van then? I was happily having half time lemonade whilst stretching my flicking finger during the interval, yet those photographers/managers/supporters/giant corner kickers all stood there motionless whilst the teams changed ends.

If they are going to stand in one place for far too long why not make it more realistic and let them stand motionless in a queue for a meat pie? To give the game an even more realistic twist you could always restart the match with twenty hungry souls still lining up awaiting their turn at the counter.

Again in keeping with a unique and personal feel, the little white caravan or brown wooden hut could be painted in your favourite clubs colours, perhaps your little Italian ultras could even set fire to it when you’ve thumped them 12-5?

5. The Rock Band

Wembley has seen it, Maine Road has seen it, and even The Valley has seen it. Rightly or wrongly football grounds are used for outdoor music concerts. Why should your cloth pitch be any different.

A little stage in the penalty area with a tiny plastic four piece strumming away to your favourite LP. The ground full of festival goers getting into the groove, the chemistry set back out to recreate the funny odour of their strange cigarettes……

OK, I see a problem.

Did any of us have enough supporters to carry out a mild pitch invasion? Did any of them stand on their own two feet? If all mine laid down head to toe they wouldn’t fill the centre circle, let alone recreate Live Aid! ‘Arms aloft’ man would certainly look like he was singing along to every word though.

This ‘stadium tour’ for some millionaire rock band would soon take on the appearance of a rather poorly attended pub band, so popular with their audience that the majority were laying down except of course for the press photographers and the St john’s ambulance man.

Charles Stadden is a gentleman who created many wonderful items for a selection of toy manufacturers including Scalextrix and Subbuteo. He did once produce a small number of miniatures of The Beatles, not a Subbuteo accessory as such but he obviously saw the same hole in the market as me.

Once again, our thanks go to Al for this great post. If you'd like to write an article for The Football Attic, contact us at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com or catch us on Twitter or Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Lets hope the merchandise stalls don't sell the enemy of NC, friendship half-and-half scarves!