Wolves Subbuteo stars flick their way into Europe
Nuno Espirito Santo's first-team have a big double-header against Espanyol coming up – but they are not the only Wolves side to have played in Europe this term.
Wolves Table Football Club – a team of Subbuteo supremos – are on the rise after competing in Portugal at the back end of last year.
Having been sponsored by the club, they were donning the same kits as Nuno’s men, who have made it to the Europa League’s last 32.
And the Subbuteo stars, proudly wearing gold and black, were the talk of Lisbon for the table football ‘Europa League finals’, although they were not as successful in their competition.
“It’s fantastic that Wolves have been so generous in supporting us,” said Wolves TFC chairman Justin Scott. “Being asked to play in a Europa League event the same season as Wolves was just brilliant, and the shirts look fantastic.
“We are doing a lot of stuff with Wolves now, and I think I’m right in saying that we’re the only table football club in the world that is actually supported by a professional football club.”
Given Wolves’ massive Portuguese influence – Nuno, Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, to name a few – it is no surprise Scott and his table football team-mates Richard Badger, Mick Hammonds and Craig Stewart were interviewed by several Portuguese outlets and even appeared on TV over there.
But they did not have the fairytale finish they were searching for in the 22-team tournament.
Wolves TFC, who have been now going for three-and-a-half years, were selected by the English Subbuteo Association (ESA) to represent England at the elite two-day event, which took place on October 26 and 27.
They came up against some much more experienced sides, though.
“On the opening day, we faced a tough six-team group and knew little about any of the opposition,” said Scott. “Despite some close games, we lost each overall tie, but we certainly hadn’t disgraced ourselves.
“On day two, we played for 16th to 22nd place. In the quarter-final match, we played extremely well and forced the opposition into golden-goal extra-time.
“Two dubious refereeing decisions, though, cost us the tie. It meant we could only finish 21st or 22nd.
“The opposition in the final game was a strong Glasgow team, which we had played many times before. The game was tight, and again went to golden-goal extra-time.
“We were beaten in the end – but this time with no complaints.”
Scott, from Pendeford, still came away from the competition in Portugal immensely proud of the team’s efforts, especially considering Wolves TFC only started as a bunch of mates enjoying a mutual hobby a few years ago.
Now, they get together every Sunday in Tettenhall to hone their Subbuteo skills – flicking the figures with precision in a quest to become the best at a game that has been popular across generations.
They have been to another competition since, too.
Wolves TFC, last weekend, took part in the Scottish Grand Prix – Peter Sleeth joining Scott, Badger and Hammonds to make up the four-person team this time – in Glasgow.
Their aim was to make it through to the quarter-finals, and they did so, where they lost on goal difference.
The competition was won by an Austrian team, and Scott explained: “We did well as we are quite a young team in terms of competing. There’s a lot of Maltese clubs about.
“It’s almost like a national sport over there.
“Then you’ve got teams from Gibraltar, and Australia take it very seriously.
“Subbuteo has made a bit of a comeback over the last few years and it’s due to be relaunching to coincide with the Euros.”
He added: “We get together every Sunday and take part in various league and cup competitions.
“We all like to think we play the game at a high standard, and we’ve built the club up to the point where we have developed links with other clubs across the UK.
“We got together with London Road, from Wales, Londonderry, from Northern Ireland, and then Glasgow, from Scotland, to create an annual competition where we play against each other. It’s a brilliant game, we love it.”
Wolves TFC – based at The Poynings in Tettenhall – are open to new members too, and even holding a free event for those looking to take part this weekend.
“We’re hosting a special event for new players and collectors of original Subbuteo who fancy a game for fun,” said club official Badger.
“It’s free to attend and all equipment will be free to use, so you don’t need to buy or bring anything. It’s open to everyone of all ages.”
For more information, visit the Wolverhampton Table Football Club facebook page, www.wolvessubbuteo.com, or contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org