Flick To Kick

It’s video games nowadays. It’s all about large groups of geeks trying to find the Holy Grail of matching arcade-style excitement with “realism”. Now, I’m not a luddite. I have a PS2 and a copy of “Pro-Evolution 5”. I intend, at some point, to write a definitive history of the football computer game, from “NASL Soccer” on the Intellivision through to the current day. But when I was a lad… It was all about little plastic men, alarmingly geeky accessories and flicking to kick. It was all about Subbuteo. My sister was a bit of a tomboy, and was also nine years older than me, so I did quite well for Subbuteo equipment (although I did end up with about three different Manchester United teams, which I found rather irksome). The fact that I acquired the pitch, a few teams, and various other nick-nacks meant that I was able to spend my hard-earned pocket money on what really made Subbuteo great: the paraphenalia that allowed you to build a complete stadium. The thing about Subbuteo was that you got the feeling that the makers really understood the nature of a certain type of man (and it is exclusively men) to hoard, accumulate and collect. For one thing, there were hundreds of teams. Hundreds. Literally. The player above is team number 378 – Coventry 1982. That was the tip of...

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