Sports Toys and Games – Part 1

Children’s fascination with sports are never more intensified than when toys and games are created that replicate the sports. To fire the imagination of any child and make them believe that they are that particular sporting hero is a winning ingredient. The variety of games on offer vary enormously in terms of complexity and price. There are sports toys, sports card games, sports games and in the modern world video sports games for Play Stations and the Xbox.

“Owzthat” simple contents but hours of entertainment

The online and computer games that are available to today bring the sports virtually into a real-life situation and the details of the games are minute. These can be addictive to young and old alike, with the purchaser being able to manage teams with what appears to be the current world superstars. Yet at the start of the 20th century such technology was not available, but manufacturers soon realized that any game associated with a popular sport was going to be a winning formula.

In 1924 William Lindrop Ltd from Manchester patented the game “Owzthat” which replicated a game of cricket. The contents of the game were two dice with one dice being marked with the form of dismissal and the other dice being numbered 1 to 6. From here the simple rules allowed the game to start. This was not the first time that children had been playing the game and even in the late 19th century the game was being played by children using their pencils instead of dice. Using similar markings etched onto the pencil’s sides the game could then start.

Also in the 1920’s a football game was introduced called “Newfooty” and is the original finger flicking table soccer game. It was first introduced in 1929 by William L Keeling and the players were represented by card which was then inserted into a lightly covered lead base. The figures would then be flicked at the ball in an effort to get the ball into the net. In 1947 flick football was taken to another level with the introduction of subbuteo. Up until 1961 the players were made out of cardboard, came in basic strips of red and blue and there was no pitch. Instructions were provided to instruct how to mark out your own pitch onto a blanket, with the chalk provided.

The magnificent Stoke City FC strip

As the popularity of the game soared the box set included a velvet green pitch the balls and the goals. The number of accessories also increased with there being referees and lines man, and the balls were different sizes to cater for different skill levels. The kits then became collector’s items with many side’s outfits being replicated. England’s Division 4 team’s away kits would become as popular as the Brazil World Cup winning kit. At the start of each season collectors would study the choice of kits of the professional sides, and see how quickly they could purchase a Subbuteo replica kit.

The skill of the participants increased with a strict code of rules that needed to be adhered to. There are now competitive tournaments for Subutteo players. There are league tournaments, cup competitions, a Europa league and a World Cup. There are also age group categories and all competitions follow the rules that were first set by “Newfooty” in 1929, but they have been amended over the years. There were even claims that Subbuteo should be included as an Olympic sport. Although this can be seen as ridiculous, it does show the importance of sports in games and the effect they have made on people’s attitudes towards them.

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