Playing games

Playing games

If you’re reading this, then it would be fair to assume that you’re already aware of the cultural significance of the table-top football game Subbuteo.

22 inch-high figurines give children, and more often now adults, the chance to recreate their favourite footballing moments in miniature. It’s a tough ask to pull younger football fans away from their Xboxes and PlayStations, but there still exists a community of analogue die-hards who continue to play, design and build.

Like the real-life version, Subbuteo is a relatively simple game, played on a felt pitch with 22 players and a ball. But while most of us can only dream of being responsible for a top-flight football club, Subbuteo gives people the opportunity to be in total control over every minute aspect, including the stadiums.

While the Subbuteo-playing community isn’t the largest, there exists an even smaller group within it, who are more interested in recreating their favourite stadiums in miniature, or even designing their own from scratch.

Subbuteo themselves have created a wide range of stadium elements themselves, from floodlights to scoreboards, and in a reflection of the times, in the 1980s, they created additional sets which included crowd barriers, policemen and paramedics.

But the work of the home hobbiest is where the real talent and creativity comes out.

One of the first known stadium builders was Carl Pownall, from Newsome, West Yorkshire, who finished the beauty pictured below in 1990 after eight years of work. his hand-built stadium in 1990. Each figure got two coats of paint; his masterpiece contains 6,750 spectators plus 200 police, ambulance, camera crew, photographers, ball-boys and VIPs. He said: ‘I have always been interested in football – I’m just a big kid really.’

While Pownall’s effort set the standard, there have been some incredible efforts more recently.

“The Stadium of Fingers” comes with a multitude of motion-activated cameras, and even a blimp hanging from the ceilingto catch all the action from above. The stands have “Yuppie Corner” and “Cheering Corner”, as well as a couple of Italian bistros to serve the hungry football fans.

There’s only one real winner when it comes to who’s got the best stand in the game. Pictured above is Bill Badger’s recreation of our very own Wadham Lodge, complete with Rabble flags, and to-scale cat banner. There’s the customary football getting stuck in the netting above the stand too, but perhaps the grass on the artificial pitch is just a bit too green compared to what we’ve ever had at the Lodge.

Started as a lockdown project, Bill has even snuck in a custom-made Adalberto Pinto figurine, though it may be a while until a full Stow set is available in the shops… He’s got plans to add in The Rabble over the coming year, so if you want to get a spot at the front, get in quick!

With all things retro seemingly making a comeback, have a dig around the loft and see where your set is. It’s probably just underneath that Hornby trainset.

Pictured: Bill Badger’s recreation of Wadham Lodge.