Subbuteo club founded in lockdown putting 'Haverhill on the map'

Gerry Harrington. FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Gerry Harrington at the FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

When lockdown brought a father and son together through the world of Subbuteo, they never thought 19 months later they would be hosting an international level table football tournament. 

Gerry Harrington set up Haverhill Rovers Table Football and Subbuteo Club after beginning to play the game with his son and son-in-law in lockdown.  

He said: “Looking through old games I used to play as a kid, we bought a board, me and my son, we started playing and then my son-in-law started playing and then we went online and social media hooked us up with clubs here, there, and everywhere.

“I thought well let's start one in Haverhill. We did, and it’s gone from strength to strength.

“We’re more than proud, we’ve put Haverhill on the map internationally.” 

On Saturday, the club hosted the Federation of International Sports Table Football (FISTF) International Open Tournament of East Anglia. 

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

35 players from across the country took part in the competition. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

The tournament, in which players compete for ranking points, was supposed to be welcoming those from France, Belgium and Italy.

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Unfortunately, Covid has meant this is no longer possible but the event still attracted a high level of competitors. 

Gerry said: “We’ve got 35 people coming from every corner of the country.

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Table football varies slightly from classic Subbuteo. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Players at the International Open Tournament of East Anglia. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“There's some guys that have played for England in World Cups in years gone by.

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Since starting up during lockdown the club has forged links with other groups up and down the UK. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

The competition, which is "run like a World Cup", goes by table football rules, which differ slightly from classic Subbuteo.

As Gerry explained: “Sports table football was born out of Subbuteo, so we have different figures to what was used before, we have different rules that are slightly more complex, a little bit more in detail than the old Subbuteo rules.

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Table football and Subbuteo has recently been enjoying a resurgence. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“It’s very tactical, and you’ve also got to be fairly skilful.” 

Gerry says that Subbuteo "seems to be having a massive resurgence at the moment”, with plans now in motion for those behind the sport in England to make a bid for the 2024 World Cup.

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

The international level tournament was held in Haverhill just 19 months after the clubs creation. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

“You’ve heard the term ‘it’s coming home’, well Subbuteo started in Kent, Peter Adolf invented it, we’re hoping to bring it back.”

Gerry is also keen to see more young people get involved in the sport.

He added: “We’d like to have the kids involved, there's nothing better than playing someone who's opposite you instead of sitting in your bedroom with your earphones on looking at a screen and clicking a few buttons.”

FISTF international Subbuteo competition in Haverhill PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Competitors battled it out at the tournament, which consisted of a group stage followed by a knockout round. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND