Solent Table Soccer and Subbuteo Club hit the paper this week being featured in the Portmonth News, both in print and online. You can read the full article here...
'We’re a Subbuteo family': Solent Table Soccer and Subbuteo Club goes from strength to strength as they hope to capitalise on World Cup Fever
ENGLAND fans are engrossed in World Cup fever as they face France on Saturday, but others are gripped by football of the plastic – and smaller-scale – variety.
By Freddie Webb
Solent Table Soccer and Subbuteo Club has been attracting members from Portsmouth and across the south coast. The historic table game may be a distant memory for many, but it is still going strong 75 years after it hit the shelves.
Corey Martin, 33, formed the society which plays at Hedge End Club, in Bursledon Road, before the first lockdown after he got a Subbuteo set for his 31st birthday. He realised none of his friends played the game, so he recruited players on Facebook after finding out the scene was still active.
It has attracted members since, with their teams competing in organised tournaments. Corey, of Bursledon, says: ‘I didn’t think it would grow as much as it had. My original thought was to set up a small club, but now we compete in club tournaments against teams across the UK.
‘I’m surprised, but it’s fantastic many are wiling to travel to compete at the club on a weekday.’
Subbuteo is a table football game where players simulate real games by flicking miniature figures with their fingers. It has captured the imaginations of many since childhood.
Malcolm Jamieson, of Portsmouth, started playing when he was seven and saw the club on social media before the first lockdown. He started practising his flicking and plucked up the courage to attend.
‘I remember playing with all my mates and friends but as I got older, I grew out of it, got married and had kids of my own,’ he says.
‘I suffer with anxiety and to be honest, it’s been an absolute godsend. It has helped with it so much. It’s great to play against other people who are like-minded and love flicking plastic men around a pitch.
‘I went down a few times but my anxiety kicked in beforehand and I went home, I said to myself “come one, you’ve got to do it”. I went, met everyone, played a few games and that was it, I fell in love with it again.’
The club has 15 regular members, including kids as young as 13. Malcolm said members come from Portsmouth, Andover, Bournemouth, Worthing and elsewhere for some table football action.
The Waterlooville resident and avid Plymouth Argyle supporter who has more than 100 teams in his Subbuteo collection believes anyone can enjoy the game.
He adds: ‘It gets them away from the TV and active. You’d be surprised about how much you travel just by walking round the tables and playing the games.
‘The excitement is far better than computer games. It’s great to have the younger people coming through. Us seasoned pros love teaching the youngsters, and it’s great to have girls involved as well.
‘My son’s girlfriend has come down, had a couple of games and thoroughly enjoyed it. We try and reach out to everybody.
‘With the World Cup going on, they might think about coming down to see what it’s like. You get hooked, it’s really addictive.’
As well as being open for beginners, the club is involved in the competitive Subbuteo scene. Members participate in open tournament, two divisions and two cup competitions.
Malcolm says the club has three players in the world top 50 table football players. One of them is Jason Chirstopher, 55, who competed in the Federation of International Subbuteo and Table Football (FISTF) World Cup in Rome in July.
The Milton resident has been playing competitive table football on and off for 45 years. Discussing the FISTF World Cup, he says: ‘Players were competing across the globe, from Italy, Belgium, France, Malta and I was lucky enough to play for England in the traditional rule set.
‘I got knocked out in the group stage, but I got to represent England.’ Jason gave up Subbuteo for 35 years, but his love for the game reignited after playing in a tournament in Cambridge.
‘Believe it or not, I did ok, and I got hooked again,’ he adds. ‘I then got told about the club, joined it, and it has grown from strength to strength and we had to move into a bigger location.’
Jason said the club won the World Amateur Subbuteo Players Association (WASPA) UK development league last year, promoting them to the World Top Clubs league, of which they are currently top of the table.
He is also the under-20 Subbuteo coach for England and is hoping to get a squad together for the 2024 FISTF World Cup in Tunbridge Wells, the site of the original factory.
‘It’s coming home. I’m very humbled and honoured to be a coach and to compete. I’m able to bring my experience to their game - some tactical advice of being in a pressure cooker environment.
‘It’s a great atmosphere at Solent. Everyone gets on with everybody and it’s a good social night out.’ Jason believes one young member of the club is a future England Subbuteo international, and the game is a ‘great escape from the pressures of daily life’.
Even after his long break, Jason was surprised the scene was as active. ‘I thought it had died a death,’ he says, ‘but it was like an underground movement of people carrying on or coming in fresh. I’m amazed how big it is.
The club is always on the look out for new members to take up the game recreationally or seriously. Corey described it as ‘football chess’ and is hoping more young people pick it up. He says: ‘That’s the way it needs to go for the game to carry on. A lot of the older generation know about Subbuteo, but many young people don’t know what it is.
‘It’s about getting them involved to keep it going.’ Malcolm adds: ‘We’re a Subbuteo family. You can message any of us, and we’re all too happy to help. You meet new people, make friends, and can even travel round the country participating in tournaments.’
The full article can be viewed with further video content @ https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/people/were-a-subbuteo-family-solent-table-soccer-and-subbuteo-club-goes-from-strength-to-strength-as-they-hope-to-capitalise-on-world-cup-fever-3946878. However, it is hidden behind a paywall.
To get in touch with the Solent, search them on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/groups/2759539824274495