The stadium's story
"I distinctly remember the day I was born. I arrived as a single grandstand. I remember being constructed and a 12 year old boy lying on the carpet looking at me for ages….far too long really, even for a 12 year old boy.
I grew slowly, but more terracing appeared than spectators, leaving me feeling empty. Then I overheard (all stadiums have ears) that they were making unpainted spectators, and I found myself rapidly filling up. These were the glory years, but suddenly they were over. I found myself in the attic, and alone for over 10 years.
Then one marvellous day, the 42 year old boy discovered he could buy spectators on eBay.
I was whipped out of the attic, and apparently now called the ‘Stadium of Fingers’. There was going to be architecture and building – wood, nails and everything!
Then spectator-mania happened. ‘Cheering Corner’ suddenly appeared – lots of football players with arms amputated and re-glued in cheering positions. After convalescence they were as happy as Larry!
Then it was ‘Ken Korner’. All spectators painted as Ken Bailey in red, blue and white. Even some photographers appeared in Ken’s clothes, although these were apparently Ken’s brother David Bailey, and his cousins Dave, Davey, Dai and Davide.
Then a sound system appeared under my terracing and micro-cameras placed in strategic positions, and I’m now being videoed and on the Internet for goodness sake!
Recently I met Riccardo and Fabio – Came especially from Italy to see me – how nice of them…such lovely boys.
Anyway, I have been promised to never again be banished to the attic. I now have four bespoke storage boxes if ever I need to be packed a way for a while, one for each stand. It’s a bit like being hung, drawn and quartered…apart from the hung and drawn bit."
As featured in 'Teenage Flicks: Memories of the Sub-beautiful game' (Paul Willets, 2008)
c1978 (Earliest known photo)
One tier, with bespoke stand roofs down half of one side and 6 floodlights with the fronts taken off so it was (just about) possible to play a floodlight game! 😃 Crowd attendance was around 450, as Subbuteo only supplied pre-painted spectators in packs of 10. It wasn't until 1980 when unpainted packs of 50 appeared at around the same price. This made getting a capacity crowd a more realistic pipe-dream!
An unsuccessful attempt on the 100 hour non-stop playing world record, but happily a few thousand pounds were raised for a good cause...
The east stand by then had two tiers, and the crowd attendance had swelled to around 5000.
This was the last event held in the Stadium of Fingers until its resurrection 10 years later, with the discovery that Subbuteo spectators were being sold on-line.
The first time the new Stadium of Fingers was set up.
There were still lots of spaces for more spectators at this stage, and the 2nd tier of the corners was not thought of yet.
The teams are Leeds Utd v Chelsea, to celebrate the first ever game played in 1969 between father (Leeds Utd) and son (Chelsea). The son remembers the result of his first ever game vividly. He lost 4-0! 😥 Strangely, he cannot remember the outcome of this rematch 🤔, but that first 4-0 defeat is still firmly planted in his memory! 🙄
Around 2006, someone in Italy has created some Subbuteo floodlights with LED inserts, wired through an adapter into the mains. This was a game-changer for evening matches under the floodlights!
Now the players had authentic shadows, and it was possible to actually see what player you were flicking, and what happened to that player after it was flicked! Whilst the old days of the original Subbuteo floodlights would always evoke nostalgic feelings, this new experience was... better!
First floodlit game in the new home of the Stadium of Fingers
Some authentic OldSubbuteo action between Lee and Jim back in 2011.
Lee comes close to scoring, and after Lee's arguably over-ambitious corner-kick, Jim breaks away to bury the ball in the roof of the net! 😎
It was only a matter of time when someone would suggest cameras...
So time passed, and someone did in fact mention cameras, and around 2008 some micro-cameras were placed around and above the pitch.
Also, a shop security cam with a pan-zoom-tilt function creates a fun task for the human cameraman.
It all got a bit complicated with the wiring underneath the stadium. This only creates a problem is something stops working. Then there is some sort of crisis, as no-one thought to draw a diagram of how everything fits together! 🤪
However, with the cameras linked to the TV downstairs, there's the opportunity to watch the game in comfort in good company...
This was the first stand to have a tier added - somewhere in the 1980s.
The video of the 'marathon match' of 1995 shows that it used to have the tunnel, but the rebirth of the stadium around 2007 saw the east and west stands get swopped around. No-one knows why, and this could well have been an oversight based on forgetfulness, with the stadium being in the attic for several years.
In fact it wasn't until 8:55pm on 24th December 2020, that this mistake was actually noticed, when typing this description of what is now the east stand - Ho hum... 🙄
...so this was apparently the east stand up until 1995! It houses 3 of the micro cameras and the shop security 'pan-tilt-zoom' cam sits in the top tier. This has unfortunately reduced the crowd capacity by around 100 to make way for the dome dropped from the housing.
Two of the micro-cams sit on the shooting lines and the third is on the half-way line, to prevent the ball or players ending up going down the tunnel. There is one player that got lost going down the tunnel, who will only be found when the west stand needs to be dismantled for some reason. It's a 'Sydney Swan' replica (a team made for a mythical game between Hannah & Riccardodimilano and Sue-Ellen & Fingers)
This is inhabited mostly by seated cheering spectators - many holding green and black scarves aloft, which dates back to a bygone era, when everyone that played in the stadium was also playing for the 8th Southend Boys Brigade football team.
Several of the folks around at that time are seated in the stadium. Sutton, K. Whitfield, J. Moreton S. Friday, K. Reed, L. Fry, M. Moretons A & R to name a few...
More recently, under the principles of gemellaggio (the twinning of supporters from different clubs) 'old fiorentino' has arrived in the North Bank (holding the flag behind the goal).
This is the more subdued and introspective end, with mainly spectators sitting with folded arms, or hands clasped.
They tend to philosophise about the game, exchanging good natured banter, and swapping tales of the games they have seen over the years.
The micro cam in the pic can be swivelled (by hand), to capture the action at corner kicks and goal kicks, and also any goalmouth scrambles that might ensue.
This is the one stand where they are still seats to fill - underneath the top tier. A day may come when the tasks are all complete and there is nothing more to do in the Stadium of Fingers. But it is not this day.
Ken Korner features Ken Bailey, England's self-appointed and much loved sporting cheerleader, and his family.
Ken was immortalised in Subbuteo miniature form, and now he and his wider family live in Ken Korner in the Stadium of Fingers
Lots of flamboyantly dressed supporters surrounding Hannah and Sue-Ellen, who shared a game in the SoF with Riccardodimilano and Fingers, back in 2010.
Sadly Hannah is no longer with us, but still sits, in Camp Corner, organising affairs...
These spectators have been painted with a little more detail, sporting designer clothing and eating healthily.
This pic shows the Bistro Trattoria with its Yuppielicious menu, However you can always visit the Trattoria Bistro and sample some 'baked brie with almonds', or 'fresh herbs from the garden on anything'...
Cheering Corner, involved a lot of 00-scale surgery, with arms being amputated and re-positioned into celebratory positions.
The project started as an experiment, and sort of carried on. About 1500 surgeries and 5 years later, cheering corner was packed with a great atmosphere.
Many of them cannot see the game because of the myriad arms in the way - not to mention the slight design flaw with the floodlights(!) but they don't seem too care too much... 😄
The curved shooting line
Peter Upton explains the curved shooting line, highlighting it's in the earliest set of rules he owns - supplied in an Assembly Outfit from 1949-50.
Playing Pitch - "Place a smooth, but thick cloth on a table, and chalk out a design to the dimensions printed below..."
The illustration is the semi-circular shooting areas. These "start 9ins from the centre spot, with ends meeting the touch lines 15ins from halfway".
These, curved lines make for some interesting 'off-side trap beating' moves! 😄😎