Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Waddington's Quiz Card Games - Football (1979)

When it comes to football card games, you’re nobody unless you have the words ‘Top’ and ‘Trumps’ on your packet. Yet if the passing of time tells us nothing, it shows that every once in a while, a new title would come along in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of young football-loving children everywhere.

One such title was made by Waddingtons, the iconic name linked with all-time classic board games such as Monopoly, Risk and er… Wheel of Fortune. In 1979, Waddingtons hit upon the idea of producing sets of cards featuring quiz questions on various subjects, one of which was Football. Others included Cricket, Pop Music and, bewilderingly, the Highway Code, but whatever the subject they all had the same basic gameplay.

In 1-player mode, your task was to answer the trivia questions on each of eight cards correctly to complete a set. So to begin, you’d take a card from the pack and read the question that was on it. In the Football version of the game, the question was likely to be something similar to the following:

“Which current First Division Club has had the longest unbroken run in the First Division?”

You’d be offered three possible answers, and having guessed at the correct one, you’d then note the black number next to your choice and pull out the card bearing that number in pink from the pack. Having repeated this process over and over again, the eighth question card should result in the number of your correct answer being the same as the number on your first card. If it didn’t, you then began the task of establishing where you went wrong in order to complete your chain of eight cards again.

The rules helpfully suggest that you laid each card down in a square formation so that you could backtrack and figure out where your knowledge of football let you down. To do that, you needed the two cards in the pack that contained all the correct answers, but even they were shrouded in complexity.

Waddingtons were more aware than anyone that kids had a tendency to cheat (given half a chance) so they devised a system that made it more difficult to do so. If, for instance, you wanted to know the right answer for card 14, you’d look up 14 on Answer Card A and that in turn would give you a number to look up on Answer Card B. There you’d find the number of the next card in your sequence. Simple. Ish.

So what’s the game like to play? Well the questions are nicely pitched in difficulty, covering various topics from FA Cup Finals to rules and regulations, and all the cards are nicely illustrated in a way that would be appealing to young kids. What could be a little irritating, however, is the need to potentially check each question in your chain of eight to see where you went wrong.

In one game I played, I worked my way back from card 8 until I found my error, and it turned out to be on the second card in the sequence. Even then, I still had to reform my chain to the very end, and when I did, I found that it didn’t connect up again, so back I went to the error-checking procedure and on and on it went.

Given that there are six sets of eight cards to find in the pack, this would no doubt have kept many a determined child out of mischief for weeks on end. As for the not-so-determined kids, they’d have had some justification in giving up far earlier, and maybe I’d have been one of them. I’ve a funny feeling I once owned this game as a child, yet I remember little about it. Perhaps it was the ongoing stress of trying to establish who Tottenham had beaten in the 1972 UEFA Cup Final that forced me to erase its novelty value from my memory.

Having said that, you have to applaud Waddingtons for devising the complex and intertwined chains of questions and answers. It can’t have been easy to do, and it certain made for an original take on the traditional quiz format. Throw in its portability and the multi-player mode where competitors are penalised points for playing the wrong card and you have a happy little game that would have tempted many to test their football knowledge, if not play it to its conclusion.

Oh, and just to confirm what you already knew, the team with the longest unbeaten run in the First Division is Arsenal. Now pick up card 41.


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