Inaccurate, infuriating and the source of many a family feud, the table-top game still offered the potential for magic moments – until the ball rolled into a blind spot
As a football-obsessed child in the mid-1980s, I got my fix wherever I could. If I wasn’t playing, I was watching it whenever it appeared on TV, or reading about it whenever it wasn’t. But growing up in a house with three football agnostics and one hater, it often felt like a solitary rather than communal interest.
Luckily though, what my family lacked in passion for the sport, they more than made up for in passion for beating each other at things. Subbuteo was too cerebral for us, too slow, and the fact that the ball was almost as tall as the players disproportionately irritated me.
We needed something more accessible and less tactical. There was only one table-top football game with which we could while away Sunday afternoons, and occasionally end them so angry with each other that we would not speak until Monday evening: Tomy’s Super Cup Football.
This was a battery-powered game featuring six players per side, with each outfield player allotted their own groove in the felt pitch. Each human player sat at either end of the tiny stadium, with knobs allowing you to make your men zip up and down their area of the pitch in a straight line – in some ways this was a disciplined take on football which cared little for modern conceits like players having the freedom to express themselves by leaving their zone. You used the same knob to both kick the ball, and to spin the players, giving the game an overall feel of a futuristic shrunken version of table football.
The matches were frenetic and infuriating in equal measure. One of the least enduring features was that it emitted an incessant, high-pitched whir, akin to a barrage of vuvuzelas inside your eardrum. Luckily my brother (the football hater, yet the one I usually ended up playing for hours on end) and I developed a sophisticated system for blocking this out, consisting of spending entire matches berating each other at high volume.