new frontiers (issue 6)

DIY Subbuteo

One of the joys of boyhood was to organise your own Subbuteo FA Cup competition. Starting from Round 1 with all those exotic non league qualifiers. New Earswick Primary School, Frickley Colliery, Barry Island, Scarborough (yes, in those days their team was stuffed full of ex City players) and Real Earswick were there every competition.

Who did I play for? York City, the New Earswick Primary School or our irregular evening side Real Earswick? Easy. Bend the rules, hope the teams didn't get drawn against each (at least until The Semi Finals), and play for all 3.

As the competition progressed, the surprises start to happen. New Earswick Primary School beat Whitby and then Hartlepool, both away. Round 1 is played on the table top to simulate the cliffs at Whitby (2 balls lost in the sea (aka the sink)) and the next round in the kitchen as mum is cooking dinner to simulate the chemical works (the steam from a 60s kitchen, not the content).

The big boys enter in Round 3. No problem, New Earswick Primary School win 5-0 at Arsenal, guess who scored a hat trick, no make that all 5. Its Manchester United away, next round. The going gets tough. Oh well, it just needs a little practice on those flicks (not those lte tackles so beloved by the Old Trafford faithful) and swerve free kicks (Beckham eat your heart out) to see you through.

Meanwhile, in the other half of the draw, York City progress with consummate ease. Leeds at home. A packed Bootham Crescent, just one problem. No atmosphere, easily solved. It was the era of Sportsnight With Coleman and their annual kop choir competition. A crackly taped rendition of "City, City", courtesy of the Maine Road faithful provide the atmosphere. With no one else in the house the sugar bowl is raided. The game goes ahead on a snow covered pitch. The snow is carefully swept up at the final whistle. The game is televised thanks to last year's birthday present. A Subbuteo television gantry accessory. With Leeds safely dispatched who next. Memories of City's 1938 cup run are recalled with a trip to Notts County in the next round. The vast, ramshackle terracing is recreated with a shoe box, sticky back paper and used detergent bottle a la Blue Peter.

Another team overcome. Its semi final time. The same 3 teams every time. York City, New Earswick Primary School and Barry Island. One of the giants make up the 4. Like in the Scottish FA Cup semi finals, York and Barry never get drawn together in the same way that Rangers and Celtic always avoid each other. Final Day always sees York City beat Barry Island (train spotting phase). At the last count, York City had won about 27 successive FA Cup competitions.

What comes after the FA Cup? That's right, summer and the World Cup. Guess who is in the England team to take on the might of West Germany and Brazil. That's right 8 year old me and half the York City team. I tell my little brother off, "don't be daft, you can't play for England, you're too young".

What do you remember about your Subbuteo set. Let us know!


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