THE eyes of football memorabilia lovers everywhere will turn towards Knighton next week, when the town’s community centre plays host to teams from across Wales in a quirky table football tournament.
Organiser and Subbuteo fanatic Tom Taylor will welcome competitors from far and wide on Sunday, January 14, and the event has even caught the eye of television broadcaster S4C which will be filming a short feature for its ‘Sgorio’ programme at the event.
Subbuteo, the table football game invented by Second World War pilot Peter Adolph when he returned from conflict in 1947, enjoyed huge popularity amongst generations of football fans and games and hobbies enthusiasts alike, spawning a competitive league circuit with teams competing in countries across the globe, and even an international federation.
“We’ve had quite a few competitions before, and in fact we’ve had tournaments in Knighton for a number of years, but not for a while now and I’ve not personally been involved for two-and-a-half years,” said Tom, whose love of the game blossomed to such an extent after his wife bought him a set as a joke, that he ended up running a Subbuteo accessories business on Station Road.
Originally from Lichfield, Staffordshire, he also represented England Veterans in international competition.
“We used to deal with people face to face who’d often complain about how far they’d have to come to get to the shop, or via mail order with postal orders, that sort of thing was our main business. But the internet changed everything when it came along and we didn’t change with it, so that was it really,” he added.
The game enjoyed a cult following during it’s near 50 year initial production run, and although makers Hasbro ceased manufacturing in the early 1990s, a number of Subbuteo teams still played on. The game is now enjoying a mini renaissance after returning to the shops in 2012, launching Subbuteo into its eighth decade of production.
“Over the years competition from computer games has meant there’s been a decrease in popularity so maybe it’s not as big as it was, but there’s still a surprising number of people out there coming together in teams to play,” said Tom.
“The tournament in January is for Welsh clubs only so we’ve got teams coming from North Wales, two from South Wales, one from Knighton and possibly one from Tregaron so they’ll be coming from all over.”