Why Subbuteo? (scroll down)
Surrey Saracens - Club Feature
Short Story > Greatest Goal
Running a Swiss System Tournament
1955. Ten years since the end of World War Two and Britain was still in the depths of austerity with much of war-time rationing still in place. Anxiety was growing over the escalating Cold War as Britain formed her first Atomic Bomb Unit – 138 Squadron flying out of Gaydon in Warwickshire. On a much lighter note, television rentals were growing in popularity though the wireless was still more common.
The average annual salary in the UK was just over £ 400. A new Ford Popular would have set you back around £ 400 too and a house of your own £ 1 650. The National Grid was only 17 years old and Britain had yet to build a motorway.
This was the world in which a young boy would have been growing up in 1955.
Why ‘55? Well in this year Subbuteo and Newfooty were selling a very similar product, in a similar shaped box including two teams, two balls, two goals and, in the deluxe set for both brands, a baize pitch. So, for me, the fairest year to ask the question: Why Subbuteo?
I am going to try and avoid the old tales of plagiarism, deceit and opportunism to focus on why Subbuteo ultimately got the edge – after all it was the new kid on the block being only 6 years old whilst Newfooty had just passed a 25th Anniversary (interrupted by the War of course) having been invented in 1929.
The other element I am going to try and steer clear of is hindsight as clearly it would have been irrelevant in a buying decision of the time.
So let’s transport ourselves back in time to the start of the 55/56 season. Newcastle United beat Manchester City 3-1 in the FA Cup Final the previous May and we’d been lucky enough to see the highlights of the game at the cinema thanks to Pathe News.