1. Jan, 2022


With the Festive season upon us I thought it would be appropriate to look back on some of the football themed games of the 1980s.

Mum and Dad were wonderful, a few of these games arrived in Santa's sack. Amongst these was Subbuteo, the most popular football toy of its day. For the uninitiated Subbuteo consisted of 20 small figures mounted on round bases. The two goalkeepers were operated by means of a green plastic stick. Skillful play involved an accurate flick of the index finger which would hopefully see a miniature Gary Birtles make contact with the ball. You could not fault Subbuteo in terms of authenticity, all the teams wore identical replica strips. I dare say you could lay your hands on a Coventry City team decked out in that brown away kit or an early 70s Birmingham City side sporting their iconic penguin kit.

Subbuteo did have its drawbacks. You could be enjoying an exciting Manchester United V Arsenal clash when play would be dramatically suspended. Unfortunately Dad had knelt on Mickey Thomas. Good job Lou Macari was stripped for action.

To be honest Subbeteo was never really my bag, I was a fan of the Kenny Dalglish Soccer game (pictured in the cover photo) The game was played on a multi ridged green plastic table. The ridges ensured that the ball (a small silver marble) kept moving around the pitch. As you can see there were four dials located on each corner of the game. These coloured dials controlled the corresponding teams. I often roped my Sisters in for a game, when they were busy playing with their Tiny Tears Dolls, I played as both sides. No wonder I'm hopeless with Women. Incidentally, I love the photo on the box. Looks like Kenny is wearing his Scotland Tracksuit there, I wonder if that is his Son Paul, enjoying a game with the maestro, Paul went on to become a decent player in his own right, turning out for Newcastle United and Norwich City.

Jimmy was a different animal, bringing the football game into the electronic age. Made by Waddingtons the game was based on Battleships. Each of the five players were represented by a small light bulb. The player in possession would identified when the bulb illuminated. You controlled your team by means of a keypad. So a pressed 5 would deliver a pass to number 5 however if your opponent guessed correctly they would gain possession of the ball. A time limit introduced a further element of jeopardy. If you failed to make a pass within 30 seconds your opponent would be awarded a penalty. The game really came alive when a goal was scored. On these occasions all the bulbs lit up and a short rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In was played.  Maybe the game was designed by a Southampton fan. Before we leave Jimmy! we can't ignore the obvious question. Why was the game called Jimmy! Maybe manufacturers Waddingtons were inspired by the wisdom of Hill and Greaves. Both Jimmy's were top pundits and it sure sounded better then naming it after Mr Clough.

Staying on the electronic theme, do you remember the Binatone games console. The device could be plugged into the back of your TV, a prototype PlayStation. The user could enjoy the thrills of Football, Tennis and Squash without leaving their living room. The graphics were primitive to say the least. For instance in the football game each player was represented by a single white line. The ball wasn't round it was square. The game was played on a court with two open spaces at each end. These represented the goals. The idea was to divert the square (sorry ball) beyond your opponent and into the goal. In truth the game owed little to skill, lucky deflections often settling a fierce grudge match.