While there’s no doubt that the FIFA video game series is by far the most popular soccer simulation game in the world, a classic table soccer game is seeing a resurgence in popularity because of a major factor that even FIFA 18 and mobile phone games can’t touch — the social aspect.
Invented in the 1940s, the classic table soccer game Subbuteo launched in England features eleven miniature players on each team. The game is played on a pitch that sits atop a table. Players then flick their miniature footballers to try to connect with the small plastic ball. Other than a small set of rules that are particular to Subbuteo, the vast majority of the game’s rules are the same as soccer. The end result is a game of skill and strategy that feels like the combination of soccer, chess and pool.
The huge benefit of Subbuteo is that it’s a very social game. It’s a chance for a face-to-face opportunity, to meet people, to have a drink and to talk about the Beautiful Game with fellow like-minded soccer fans.
One such example is Garage Soccer. Founder Pat O’Brien organizes Garage Soccer league games throughout Florida every two weeks where members gather to play Subbuteo, chat about Premier League and MLS matches and drink beer. Plus there are several clubs that are affiliated with Garage Soccer in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee.
For me, personally, it had been 30 years since I last played Subbuteo as a teenager before emigrating to South Florida, so to find a local Subbuteo club was a welcome surprise. Now, the game takes on a different meaning. It’s now more a game of skill than I remember it when I used to play it indoors as a teenager in Wales to escape the boredom of rainy days.
In the Garage Soccer league games and tournaments, the players compete with the names of their favorite football clubs. The melting pot of club names gives you a flavor of how varied the support is — Newcastle, Benfica, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Swansea, Atlanta Chiefs, Chelsea, Boca Raton and Manchester City, just to name a few.
The benefit of Subbuteo is that it’s easy to learn and enjoyable to play. O’Brien brings all of the Subbuteo astro-pitches, teams, goals and tables to every location, so all that members or new players have to do is show up and flick away.
For the United States that didn’t have a thriving Subbuteo culture like Britain did in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, it’s eye-opening to see strangers walk over to the games and stand back mesmerised at a spectacle that the population has never seen before. In American football and baseball, there is no game that is kin to Subbuteo.
That gives Garage Soccer a unique advantage to capture the interest of many Americans. In the States, it’s a new thrill and is gaining popularity. And combined with a beer, it could be just the winning combination that the hobby needs to become more popular in the United States.
Full disclosure: I’m a proud member of Garage Soccer.
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family