Sunday, 2 March 2014

Subbuteo Accessories - The Grandest of Stands!

Subbuteo was expensive, we all know that. To own a complete stadium, one either had to be very rich or work for Subbuteo and have the old five finger discount applied. It's not surprising therefore, to find that quite a few of us out there took to making our own accessories. Having complained bitterly about the poor quality of the official floodlights, I recently dug out my old grandstand and added some modern LED lighting (left). Others went much further than this, some creating true masterpieces. Here, Peter Briers of the92dotnet shares not only his memories, but also his truly awesome home made creations...

Unfortunately I missed the golden Subbuteo generation as I grew up in the Nineties, but was introduced to the game by my old man who loved it. He worked on the sports desk at the Southampton Echo and every so often they used to have tournaments. I vividly remember he brought home an old briefcase full of different teams, nets, balls and a pitch and I was bitten by the bug.

None of my friends really liked it so I mainly played on my own or with my dad. By this time the Playstation was about and the Mega drive had been, Fifa was the football game of choice. It got to the stage where you couldn’t really get Subbuteo, so I was left to the early days of eBay or Yahoo auctions to try and grab pieces when I could. Similarly to you guys, I probably spent more time creating the scene than playing the game. When the game was re-released, the player's bases were different – they were wider and flatter on the bottom – not as good as the older ones in my opinion, but as I wanted the Premier League teams with sponsors etc, I had to accept them.

I was an only child in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere in deepest Dorset and largely had to amuse myself. I ran a league of about 10 teams at times – but I couldn’t include my team (Southampton) as I know I would have been bias. I was very into collecting things like stickers and football figures as well as making things like Airfix kits and model railways buildings and scenes. Since the range of accessories wasn’t available in the shops and with my like of making things, I set about making, customising and creating my own accessories. I have shown these pictures to friends since but don’t think anyone has properly appreciated the effort and time that went into what I made. Here are some stills I took and descriptions below:

Pic 1
Pic 1: My TV tower and tunnel! Created with a box and some loo rolls. If you look carefully, there is a window half up the tower in which sits two commentators which are retired Airfix pilots. Above them is a small bulb and battery that sits in the tube above them that lights up their ‘studio’. Above the studio is the action replay screen, in which is inserted a plastic item I got in my Shreddies during Euro 96 – it’s one of those things where the action picture changes when you move it. The tower is adorned with sponsor logos cut out from my old Merlin Premier League sticker swaps. The tunnel has a piece of card at an angle painted with layer upon layer of PVA glue so the players could slide out onto the pitch. Next to the tunnel is a door with a green cross on, in which are two old players painted red with white crosses on, holding a stretcher fashioned from a cocktail stick and paper (can’t find of pic of them in action unfortunately!).

Pic 2
Pic 2: As a I mentioned before, I was a child of the Nineties and the accessories had somewhat changed. The stands I was able to get my hands on were the newer kind and looked pretty good. They were expensive so I had to try and make them go further, so I turned it into terracing sticking the upper and lower tier side by side. It also helped operate the goalkeeper better with a lower stand. In the middle is some segregation in the form of a cut up tangerine net and a Boots logo cut out from a carrier bag to cover up some of the empty space – as you said crowds were expensive! To the top right is an extra advertising board and behind, the classic scoreboard.

Pic 3
Pic 3: Over the years I managed to get four grandstands – the other three went along the side of the pitch that backed onto my chest of drawers – the height on that side wasn’t an issue. Some sponsors came in the box, but not enough, so I spent a long time trailing through magazines cutting out logos that were the right size to fit. You’ll also more tangerine segregation netting and a second scoreboard (I had a second from a box set I'd got later in my collecting).

Pic 4
Pics 4, 5, 6: With out a doubt my finest creation – a grandstand I built entirely from scratch. It took weeks but I was so proud of it. Inspired by the clock end at Highbury, yes the clock at the top is a working clock, with the mechanism coming from a Year 9 school woodwork project. At the back of the roof the stanctions are painted Scalectrics parts, and at the top you have the executive boxes. The seats and stairs took ages! The seats are record cards, A6 size I think, that I spent ages scoring with a Stanley knife and folding then sticking down.

The stairs in between the isles were painted sample stripes from B&Q, again scored and folded. It took hours as I’m sure you can imagine! I painted the whole thing with tester pots from B&Q. In pic 6 you can see the stewards along the front – players from an old team (too many of which were broken to be able to form a team anymore) painted with orange coats on. Finally there’s the camera stand on the side. Just noticed half-way up on the left side of pic 5 you can see the stretcher bearers! The stand had to be moved when I played against my old man as it was impractical, but when I was by myself it was ok.

Pic 5

Pic 6


Pic 7
Pic 7: I tried to recreate the more modern goal nets from my old style ones – more of a struggle than it seems!

Huge thanks to Peter for sharing his Subbuteo memories and creations! If you'd like to share anything from your past (preferably football nostalgia related, we're not licensed therapists!), drop us a line and let us know to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com...

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