Anglo-Italian Pitch

Other Pitches

The birth of the concept...

An English Corner

A chance conversation between some English Subbuteo enthusiasts, led to the discovery of the Old Subbuteo' movement that had started up in Italy in 2006. So, early in 2009, three intrepid Englishmen (Spud, Fingers and Reverent Jim) made the trip to Rome to take part in an Anglo-Italian tournament.

There has long been a synergy between football teams from Italy England, famously celebrated by the Anglo-Italian Cup that ran most successfully when lower leagues clubs participated for the camaraderie.

For example, the 1977 final between Lecco and Bath led to an enduring friendship. In 2017 a group of Lecco fans reached out to their counterparts 40 years since Lecco’s triumph. This in turn led to a Bath City supporters team travelling to Italy to participate in a friendly match, played out in Lecco’s picturesque stadium.

So, this pitch was designed to celebrate this camaraderie, two sides of famous English landmarks and 2 side of mythical Italian architecture.

The discovery of CubicFun 3D models made for some enjoyable model-building to create the diorama...

Many additional features were added, including fountains, statues, trees and shrubs. This resulted in the arrival of many spectators and tourists - all keen to experience the atmosphere of the Anglo-Italian Pitch... ?

In Rome, representing the Southend-on-Sea Old Subbuteo Club, in 2009
All of the monuments stored together while the pitch was being laid

Italy - the models

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Construction of the Tower began in 1173. Originally designed to be a bell tower, it stood upright for over 5 years, but when the third floor was completed in 1178 it began to lean...

The genius behind the creation of a unique and world renowned tower is to have a shallow 3-metre deep foundation and build it on a dense clay mixture. This will help your tower to lean!

Then leave it about 100 years, and add more floors to the tower, making one side of the upper floors taller than the other. This will cause the tower to lean over even more… ?

Then add a 7th floor and also a bell tower, and leave the tower for 500 years...

Finally, dig a pathway at the base of the tower to allow people to admire the intricately crafted base. This will give your tower that little bit of extra lean... ?

Now you will have a wonderful leaning tower that will become world famous. All you need to do be alive for around a 1000 years to develop a healthy return on investment, through tourism and merchandise!

The tower, as it would have looked in 1178
The upper floors and the bell tower

The Colosseum

Construction of the Colosseum was begun sometime between 70 and 72 AD during the reign of Vespasian.

Vespasian's path to the throne had relatively humble beginnings, he was the commander of a few non-league Legions before achieving promotion to Senate A and eventially winning the Scudetto Di Emperor in the 69/70 season.

The Colosseum was officially dedicated in 80 AD by Titus in a ceremony that included 100 days of Subbuteo tournaments. They started off with a week of Flats, followed by two weeks of OHWs and Walkers. The main event was 8 weeks of Heavyweights. There was one day when they played with Zombies, but they quickly moved on to Lightweights, much to the relief of the Gladiators.

Two years later, Domitian completed the work on the Colosseum by adding the uppermost story.

The amphitheatre seated some 50,000 spectators, nearly 3 times the capacity of the Stadium of Fingers.

In medieval times, the Colosseum was used as a church, then as a fortress by three prominent Roman families, the Frangipane, the Annibaldi and the Subbuteoldi.

A couple of Roman linesmen on the uppermost floor in 80AD
The colosseum today, damaged over time by lightning, earthquakes, vandalism and pollution
Several spectators regularly gather here at this great vantage point to watch the games on the Anglo-Italian pitch

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

A typical Italian Gothic building, the Cathedral of Florence was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio (c1245-1302) who enlarged the existing religious structure considerably. Finished around 1367, the Cathedral is dedicated to 'Santa Maria del Fiore', and is covered by coloured marbles like the earlier Baptistery, except for the façade that remained unfinished (only completed in the 19th century).

Only the frame of the Dome had been erected, and on 19 August 1418, the Arte della Lana announced a Subbuteo tournament was to be held to decide which architect would complete this.

The final was contested between two master goldsmiths, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi. It was a close game and went to extra-time and penalties, with Brunelleschi victorious. The competition was refereed by Cosimo de Medici, although Ghiberti was heard to mutter "l'arbitro venduto!", as he left in his chauffeur-driven carriage... ?

Brunelleschi's innovation was to build two domes instead of one, with the inner dome built with four horizontal stone and chain hoops. The technique had never been done before in dome construction. But now it had – Boshissimmo! ?

The roof packed with dedicated Subbuteo spectators - the preferred place to congregate after Vespers
The unique view of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, with St Paul's cathedral in the background

The Pantheon

The Pantheon was completed around 126-128 A.D. during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, It is situated on the site of an earlier structure of the same name, built around 25 B.C. by statesman Marcus Agrippa.

No one knows the original purpose of the present-day Pantheon, but Hadrian sometimes held court there. Recent archaeological evidence suggests however that the following took place:

  • Subbuteo tournaments (when the Colosseum was being renovated)
  • Gatherings for Old Subbuteo Clubs
  • Buying, selling and trading of Subbuteo teams and accessories
Located on the shooting line this is a great spot to watch the game. These regulars can be seen here most match days
The inscription roughly translates as 'Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius played Subbuteo here on three occasions'

St Peter's Basilica

The idea of building St. Peter’s Basilica was conceived by Pope Nicholas V in 1452, begun by Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615 under Paul V.

The interior of St. Peter’s is filled with many masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque art.

Until 1989 St. Peter’s was the largest church in Christendom. In that year its size was exceeded by that of the newly built basilica in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire.

The Vatican City Football team will undoubtedly have worshiped in the Basilica. They have only played four international matches in their history – all against Monaco. They are not a FIFA member. In 2006, UEFA spokesperson William Gaillard said he saw no reason why the Vatican should not have a national team in international competitions. He said, "If the Vatican wants to become a member of UEFA all it has to do is apply” At that time Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone insisted that the Vatican's football future lies only in amateur games and competitions.

There can be no doubt therefore, that if Subbuteo was played in Vatican City, it would be under the auspices of a Vatican City Old Subbuteo Club! ?

Vatican City FC have been spotted having a kick-about!
The Pope may be about to show a yellow card!

Ponte di Rialto

The Rialto Bridge was built towards the end of the 16th century, and is the oldest bridge across Venice’s Grand Canal. It was designed and built by Antonio da Ponte and his nephew, Antonio Contino, following another of those typical Italian architectural design competitions.

There was already a bridge at that location, known as Ponte della Moneta – a wooden pontoon bridge designed in 1178 by Nicolò Barattieri. The structure was rebuilt in 1255 and 1264, and then mostly burned down in 1310 during a revolution. All went well for a couple of hundred years, but it collapsed again in 1524.

So, after many reglues and repaints, the design of the Rialto Bridge was changed to consists of a single stone-arch span that supports a broad rectangular deck carrying two arcades of shops fronting on three roadways.

It’s been good ever since, and here’s hoping for the next three centuries…

An optical illusion appears to show the Grand Canal turning into a football pitch
This optical illusion suggests a waterfall awaits an unsuspecting Gondola on the other side of the bridge! ?
A clear view of the game through the central arch, also the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the background!

Campanile di San Marco

St Mark's Campanile started life back around 940, but was really a baby tower back then and after a period of political strife, eventually got bigger around 890. It was supposed to be a watchtower to sight approaching ships and protect the city, but it wasn’t until about a century later that it was built to 'watchtower' height. Then around 1150 the Doge of the city (Domenico Morosini) raised the height to the actual level of the belfry and is credited with the construction of the bell tower.

The belfry and spire have had a chequered past. the spire was burned when lighting struck the tower on 7 June 1388. Apparently a certain Doc Brown was seen running around St Mark’s square shouting gleefully… ?

Then in 1403 the spire was destroyed when a Cialtrone lit a bonfire to illuminate the tower in celebration of the Venetian victory over the Genoese. ?

Lightning struck again in 1489, setting the spire ablaze, and a decision was made to build with stone not wood…and in 1513 (after more wars and then an earthquake in 1511), the belfry and spire were completed.

The lightning kept striking the tower regularly, requiring more repairs and then Guiseppe Toaldo decided to invent the lightning rod, which seemed to help.

The current campanile is a reconstruction completed in 1912, the historical tower having collapsed in 1902.
The scale isn't quite right, but the whole Anglo-Italian pitch incorporates lot of artistic license
The belfry and spire, now protected from lightning, earthquakes and wars (but maybe not tourists)

England - the models

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the UK’s sovereigns since 1837.

The house which forms the architectural core of the palace was built for the first Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1703. His illegitimate son, sold it in 1761 to King George III for £21,000.

The balcony of Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous in the world, and has a great view of the Anglo-Italian Pitch! ?

Ken Bailey in the foreground with the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles watching the game from the balcony
A view along the front, with a policeman on a horse gesticulating about a poor refereeing decision...

Westminster Abbey

In the 1040s King Edward built a large stone church in honour of St Peter. It became known as the "west minster" to distinguish it from St Paul's Cathedral (the east minster). Unfortunately, when it was consecrated in 1065 the King was too ill to attend and died a few days later.

Two centuries later, King Henry III decided to rebuild it in the new Gothic style of architecture. Westminster Abbey was designed to be not only a great monastery, but also a place for the coronation and burial of monarchs. It was consecrated on 13th October 1269. Unfortunately, the king died before the nave could be completed.

Since then, no Kings have decided to rebuild Westminster Abbey, just added bits to it, hoping to be alive on their completion!

A pleasant overcast day, with folks enjoying the cloudy and consequently cool weather
The North Porch rising to its gothic skyline
Sitting by the base of the Belfry

Big Ben

Big Ben has around 7 and a quarter centuries of history, squeezed into the bullet points that follow…

  • 1290s: Someone said there was a clock tower built on the site but there are no records of it, and the person who said it cannot be located… ?
  • 1367: The early clock tower (if there was one) is replaced with the first public chiming clock in England.
  • 1698: Someone had a great idea to pull down the medieval clock tower and put a sun dial in its place (not so effective between dusk and dawn, or on a cloudy day in London) ?
  • 1699: The bell of the demolished clock tower is sent to St Paul's Cathedral but broke on the way. ?
  • 1840: Architect Charles Barry wins a Subbuteo tournament to get the commission to design the new Palace of Westminster (destroyed by fire in 1834) and includes a clock tower.
  • 1843: Construction begins on the Clock Tower.
  • 1846: A Subbuteo Pairs tournament is held - winner gets to build the clock. The Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy was the referee. Stipulations for the clock’s accuracy meant the tournament lasted for 7 years plus 10 mins each way extra time.
  • 1852: John Dent and Edmund Beckett Denison win the final of the pairs tournament. Dent then builds the clock to the designs of Denison.
  • 1857: The first 'Big Ben' develops a 1.2m crack during testing. ? Warners, the bell's manufacturer, and Denison, argue over who is responsible for the damage.  Both receive a booking from the Mayor of Westminster.
  • 1858: A second 'Big Ben' is cast and transported on a carriage drawn by 16 white horses.
  • 1859: The Great Clock starts ticking and Big Ben is heard. Later that year, Big Ben broke. ?
  • 1863: Sir George Airy, the Astronomer Roya suggested, Big Ben be turned 90 degrees and the hammer size reduced. This seemed to work ok...

A few other things happened over the next 150 years or so, but Big Ben has mostly been working fine since. ?

Big Ben in situ between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey
Patriotic off-duty linesmen at the foot of Big Ben, under the careful watch of a policeman, in case they get a bit rowdy.

Tower Bridge

The story of Tower Bridge really begins well before its official opening on 30 June 1894. London was mostly experiencing traffic congestion in the preceding years and a special sub(buteo)-committee was set up to tackle the issue. After what is described as ‘some public wrangling’, a royal assent for a new bridge was granted in 1885, and the Corporation of London launched a design competition.

Yet again this involved a Subbuteo tournament (played using army blankets and chalk). The winner this time was architect and surveyor Horace Jones, playing with cardboard flats. In 1886, under Jones’s supervision, a mammoth building project began…

The river Thames artistically represented on the side of the Anglo-Italian Pitch
Hannah Griggs (cook), was the first known female employee at the Tower Bridge (1911). Her granddaughter is driving the 2CV...

The Tower of London (The White Tower)

The White Tower is the oldest part of the Tower of London complex, it was built by William the Conqueror between 1078 - 1097. It has had a fairly gruesome past, with mostly torture and death featuring on a regular basis

Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham was the first prisoner held in the Tower by King Henry I on 15th August, 1100. At Candlemass, the 2nd February 1101, he affected a daring escape, descending from his window by means of a rope which his friends had smuggled into him inside a vessel of wine. Flambard was not recaptured and made his escape to Normandy.

The main building material used in the White Tower's construction is Kentish rag-stone which was quarried and carefully painted by the Housewives of Kent
Less fortunate residents were Anne Bolyen, Guy Fawkes, and the two York princes Edward and Richard (Ref: 27)
Monarchs of England all overlooked the obvious use of the White Tower as a great location to host Olde Subbuteo Tournaments.

St Paul's Cathedral

The 7th century monk Bede wrote a book on Amazon about St Paul's (published by Penguin). His work can be paraphrased as:

The Archbishop of Britain, consecrated a couple of bishops, Mellitus and Justus. Mellitus was appointed to preach in the province of the East Saxons, north of the river and East of London.

At this time Sabert (King Ethelbert’s sister’s boy) ruled the province for Ethelbert, who governed all English people as far north as the Humber. When Mellitus converted the folks from up north, King Ethelbert built a church dedicated to the holy Apostle Paul in the city of London.

And that is how you get a cathedral…

The present Cathedral is at least the fourth to have stood on the site.
St Paul’s Cathedral was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.
Bede's lesser known works on the early years of Subbuteo were also lost in the Great Fire of London

The Statues and the Fountains

St Francis of Apondpond
St Francis not too bothered about the game...
The statue of the unknown heavyweight
Watches over all re-glued players
General Kenton Bailey of Tunbridge Wells on horseback
Santa Maria by St Peter's Basilica
The East End Fountain
Queen Victoria not being amused
The statue of the unknown soldier
The Ken Bailey Memorial

Street scenes

Between Westminster Abbey and London Bridge
Looking out from London across the pitch to Vatican City
Looking down Old London Street

The pavement in front of Westminster Abbey
One of the two kiosks from London Bridge
Spectators on a bench near the corner flag
The Anglo-Italian Pitch, in place for the 5th SoS OSC Tournament
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