This is the story of the unfinished season...
One day in 1976, three brothers decided to play a Subbuteo league - the youngest not yet 10 years old...
They had 12 teams between them, who competed for the league championship and the FA Cup...
Southampton, Chelsea, QPR, Man Utd, Watford, Norwich City, West Ham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Spurs and Man City.
Then more teams appeared, so in 1977 a 2nd division was needed. The top 6 teams formed the new first division (apart from Watford, who seemed to be lost for a few years!? 🙄), where they were joined by Everton, Hibs and Plymouth.
Leeds Utd were added to the second division. This belonged to the three brothers' Dad, who decided it was time to join in...
The seasons continued until 1983, but this season remains unfinished - just 4 games were left needing to be played...
Subbuteo produced a limited range of trophies. This one is the rare intact 3-handled League Cup. One of the holy grail accessories for 21st century collectors. In mint condition it could be worth up to £200. "The rarist by far of all Subbuteo trophies" (Subbuteo Emporium) "The League Cup is now the most sought-after trophy on the planet." (Subbuteo Online).
As this one was used for the Division 3 Cup and has tippex on the base, it is devalued by approximately £199... 🙄
The 1983 Season...
Alliance Premier League
The FA Cup
Bookings and Sendings off
The foul rule played in these games, was if a figures hits another figure before hitting the ball it was judged a foul. Obviously a foul because the player smacked into an opponent before playing the ball - a clear foul!
Apparently, this is a 'back' in Subbuteo rules, but these three brothers and the Dad didn't know this rule at the time. They played the foul rule as it clearly should be played if the figures were real people. I mean can you imagine if a football player runs up to an opponent and kicks his legs away, and then the referee says "go back to where you were" and then waves play-on??? 😲
So, using this (more realistic) foul rule, there were plenty of fouls. If a player committed two fouls in a game they were booked, and a third foul meant they got sent off
The dirtiest player of the season? The 8th Southend's number 11 - Pete Osborne...
A Match Report
As reported in a conversation with Vikash Ramnath on a Subbuteo Forum
That was my thought as well Vik!! 😃
However, the old 3-tier stadium does make for interesting incidents. I was playing 90+ on Wednesday evening. We are still trying to finish off our 1983 seasons and we were playing a third division match between Cork Hibs and West Brom (my brother was West Brom, who were already relegated).
Cork Hibs were also playing their 9th and last game of the seasons and were destined for mid-table mediocrity, win lose or draw. So the game was played more for inspiration than points, and for the first time for probably 15 years we had reached half time 0-0 – not easy to do when you play 20 mins each way. There were loads of chances and close-shaves, but it seemed like the goals and goalkeepers were having a charmed existence.
For example, I was trying to pass back to my goalie from the edge of the defensive area, and because it’s too much hassle to walk round the table and lean over the 3 tiers, I leaned over from behind the goal turning my hand 180 degrees to play the ball back with my left hand holding the goalie’s rod.
This body position apart from looking ungainly and feeling uncomfortable, also lends itself to a certain lack of subtlety that such delicate flick demands. Essentially, I ended up blasting the ball back to my goalie who promptly punched the ball straight into the west stand for a thrown-in! 😲
Later I was attacking with the ball by the corner flag with my lone attacker on the goal line with 2 flicks left. 90+ was tying me down with defensive flicks, but to do these flicks he had to let go of his goalie in order to play them. As there really wasn’t anything on I went for the old ‘flick the player up the sideline whilst just glancing the ball, and then fire in a shot from 2 inches from the corner flag before my brother could take his defensive flick’ option.
I was astounded when this actually came off, but even more astounded when my brother’s unattended goalie pushed the shot round the post!! 😲😫
The match carried on in this general chaotic vein until 90+ scored what we thought at the time was the winner, in the 38th minute. It was one of those impossible to read shots where the player is 6 inches outside the shooting area and the ball 2 inches inside it. He was just able to lean over the 3 tiers to get right behind the player and caught the ball just right, slotting it inside my left-hand post.
He then played 9-0-1 for the last 2 minutes and 50 seconds! 🙄This tactic appeared to have worked with 7 seconds to go. He had just taken a goal kick that ricocheted off one of my players, and the ball had ended up right in my defending left hand corner arc. We both applauded the realism of such quality time-wasting tactics and we mentally prepared to play out the game by faffing around the corner flag. 🙁
My left back then played a blinder. First he curled 25 yards (00-scale!) and just touched the ball with his head (the ball was still nearer the touchline than the player). Then he did one of those ‘180-degree-tight-curl-right-around-the-ball’ type of flicks 😎 and ended up in the corner right next to the ball, with only one option of passing to the goalie. He kicked it hard to make sure it reached, forcing the standing goalie to boot the ball up the pitch whilst it was on the move. At this point my brother’s spidey-sense made him turn and head for his goalie.
A midfield player played the ball on through a tight gap and the ball ended up in the shooting area, with his players all around it. My only player with sight of the ball was 5 inches from the half-way line and slightly on the other side of the pitch to where I was flicking. So, on the tippiest of my left toes and with my right root in the air, I had to lean as far over the 3 tiers and across the pitch as I could. My finger just reached, but it was total guesswork in aiming for the ball. From where I was learning over the West Stand I had a great side view of this player catching the ball perfectly and seeing the ball blast inside my brother’s hapless keeper inside his right-hand post. He was initially stunned, and then when the full-time whistle went one second later, he just fell to the ground in a state of dejected hysteria!! 🤪
I love the effect this stadium can have on what is otherwise an orderly pastime! 😂