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16 October 2014
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Subbuteo in N.Ireland

Barry Spence plots the history of Subbuteo in NI and calls for any supporters of the table-top game to get in touch.

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Subbuteo Table Soccer was popular in Northern Ireland in the 1970's and 1980's, when we were part of the United Kingdom Subbuteo Association. Our National Championships were sponsored by Subbuteo headquarters and the winners representing Northern Ireland at the British, European and World level. The main clubs were in Belfast, Rathcoole, Ballyclare and Bangor. Regional Opens were added to the fixture list in the mid-eighties and the association expanded further to Comber, Strabane, Coleraine and Dunmurry.


right who gets to be Man U ?

A famous line up survey the Subbuteo theatre. From left: Sir Alex Ferguson, Dave Bassett, Graham Taylor, Billy Bingham (bad hair day) and Brian Clough

With the formation of FISTF (The federation of International Sports Table Football) in the early nineties, the sport had a more global aspect and several of our members played in foreign open events. In 1993 & 1994 we hosted two FISTF International Opens in Bangor which attracted top players from the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe including Austria.

By 1996 however, local interest in the sport had declined and there was no further activity until 2002, when some former players decided to enter a team for the FISTF World Cup in Birmingham. Following this, a National league and Organisation was formed called Northern Irish Table Football Association (NITFA) , National Opens organised and clubs developed in Belfast, Ballyclare and North Down areas. There has also been a renewed interest in players travelling to foreign events.

NI subbuteoJust recently the National Championships took place in Dunmurry on which an interview was carried out by Michael McNamee for Radio Ulster. The Championships had almost 20 competitors that day and could have been more but for some players who unfortunately were unable to make it. A great turnout considering where the game was a few years ago.


The biggest Subbuteo event in the province since 1993, the Belfast International Grand Prix, will take place on Saturday 14th May in W5, Odyssey. Some of the World's top players will be in attendance and there will be a penalty-kick side event for the general public to join in the fun.

More information can be found on the Northern Ireland Table Football Association website mentioned below. If anyone wants to get involved, you can email one of the Club organisers listed on the site.

For more information on the development of the game in NI go to

You can also let YPAM know if you are still playing Subbuteo or perhaps share your memories of playing the game when you were younger. Send your comments via the form below.


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