The flick-game turned 75 years old in 2022 - as another game designed for the football romantic, it's only right we pay homage.
Much like PUNDIT, the game for many is a unique corner of football culture which allows memories and nostalgia to generationally collide. Where else could Robson’s Italia 90 side clash Wegner’s Invincibles?
We caught up with Justin Finch, a Hammer living in the Midlands, he is to Subbuteo what Chris Moyles was to breakfast radio, a saviour.
THE BIG MONEY GAME
Playing the game since the 70s, the former England captain continues to be a trailblazer winning the Subbuteo Fest - 75th Anniversary Tournament last year. “I was filmed during the competition, I told the producer before I didn’t think I’d do very well but I went on to win it! I think either Netflix or Amazon are picking it up!” - Not quite the Stranger Things spin off we were expecting.
Back in the 70s and 80s Subbuteo was at its peak. Whilst it's hard to say the game was awash with foreign oil money as the Premier League is now. People were betting big on its growth, Justin even had his right hand insured for £160k in 1987, over £500k in today's money!
"My footballing cult hero is Trevor Brooking because he was a brilliant passer of the ball and of course he was a gentleman off the pitch"
IS IT COMING HOME?
A veteran of numerous World Cups, it feels like England's story is similar to the football teams, “I’ve played over 20 World Cups for England, we’ve never really done very well. The guys in Spain, Belgium and Italy are the best in the world. Italy has a proper Serie A and B with thousands of players.” Justin went on to say the best player of all time is Vasco Guimaraes, we are unable to confirm if he's any relation to Bruno.
Unlike in football, there isn’t really an option to move into coaching or punditry, so Justin has found himself in more strategic roles in the game. As Chairman of the England Subbuteo Association he single handedly pulled the game out of the attic, “I rebuilt the organisation back in 2011, created the new website and rebranded it”. He was also pivotal in bringing the World Cup back to the game’s hometown Tunbridge Wells in 2024.
We asked Justin what the future holds for Subbuteo and for a man who has been around the game for over 40 years, he is very optimistic. “There’s been a renaissance in the game because of lockdown and the power of social media has catapulted the game which was struggling around the millennium.“