As a child, my elder brother loved Subbuteo. He would endlessly collect varying finely coloured teams and add-ons, to this rudimentary pastime - assembling a fine collection. I guess it was for this reason I embraced it too; going so far as to receive a Subbuteo set for Christmas, back in 1991. He was employed with a weekly paper round - which he would regularly deliver to our garden shed. Therefore - unlike my ten-year-old self, had money to burn - or at least, blow on Arnold Schwarzenegger posters, WWF Hasbro Figures, and of course, Subbuteo teams.
Often I would join him as he purchased these little bastards at the Beatties store in Southgate, and gaze up in wonder at the vast collection of little men with their coloured kits and cemented feet; like miniature Mafia snitches, who karma had finally caught up with - minus the coloured kits. At home he would take my set and perfectly flatten out the green square canvas, corner flags, goals with own netting, and standard ball, all for another battle of bro versus bro; I didn't mind, for even though I look back now and wonder if he somehow duped me into wanting the game as a gift for his own uses (Which was pretty damn clever if he did), I was sure each game would be a barrel of fun and labour of love, which would last me a lifetime.
And then, I played it...
For want of a better word, I was awful. I mean, I was all sides of shit when it came to Subbuteo. Every player I flicked fell to the floor like a suicidal lemming. My stubby fingers sidelined more men than Vinnie Jones; I must have snapped at least three sets of ankles each game. I was clumsy, devoid of tactical nuance, and no matter how hard I think back, I cannot remember scoring a single goal. My brother, on the other hand, was a natural - and in 100% of occasions we duelled, I managed to lose every last sitting.
*As a side-note, losing to your elder brother bites hard as a kid. And the sweetness of victory is soured by the threat of a physical beating when you do; in my case, my reward of being punched for pinning his Ultimate Warrior with my Big Boss Man, whilst playing Wrestle-mania Challenge on the NES. Though such beatings have been passed downward on my side, so I can hardly lay claim to playing the victim.
Anyhow, pondering this portion of my history, it has made me consider a list of pastimes I would undertake, only to openly criticise as being rubbish, pointless creations of ethereal God, and human nature; a few - but not nearly all, include:
Where's Wally Jigsaws
In truth - much like each item listed above, Subbuteo wasn't rubbish... I was just rubbish at Subbuteo. Unfortunately, Instead of accepting the fact, I decided it couldn't be true the great Lee was a mere mortal of limited skill - so used criticism as an immature defence mechanism. Subbuteo was a fine, simple invention, which afforded me and many pre-internet generations, hour upon hour of memorable, carefree moments; it is still one of the most memorable Christmas presents I ever received.
I am glad I stink at many tasks I undertake. It is a healthy soul, which carries an internal list of specific personal uselessness, to serve as a reminder we are all human; life would be pretty boring if we weren't...