Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Soccerboss - Living the Dream

Billy Bremner and Mick Jones of Leeds United in all white on the box lid

The Autobiographical Bit

I picked up Ariel's Soccerboss in good condition from a car boot sale a few years ago, to replace an original copy from my teenage years, which had long since evaporated, or whatever happens to neglected board games.  It brings back memories of childhood before the age of daytime TV and electronic entertainment, where it was a great alternative to geography homework (for example).  To be fair, it also brings back a fair few memories of argument and frustration and unfinished business – as I recall, most games at Yapp Towers tended to finish early due to curfew or everyone else except me leaving to do something else.  Such as having a life.

Soccerboss competed with Wembley, Soccerama, Subbuteo and Waddington’s Table Soccer in our household.  For me, it had one significant disadvantage.  You needed four players, minimum.  I hardly had three friends simultaneously at the best of times, and Yapp Towers did not have the space to accommodate four bulky teenagers and Bruce the resident German Shepherd Dog.  Most of my friends were terrified of Bruce anyway and never so much knocked on the door as shouted from the next street.  Plus, the little plastic players would not have been good for Bruce’s digestive system.  So full-length games of Soccerboss were very rare in practice.  The nearest we got was me and my brother running two teams each, usually refusing to trade with each other and selling all of one team’s decent players to our other more favoured team and a cup-final winner-takes-all dénouement.  Financial Fair Play it ain’t.

Soccerboss was marketed as a game of skill and promised you would “learn the problems of management”.  I would love to tell you that I applied my learning in later years as a headteacher, but other than “You can’t spend it if you haven’t got it!”, I am struggling.  The rules booklet makes the standard assumptions of its times, through its exclusive references to “he/him/his”, that the teenage girls would be engaged in other things like playing Heartthrob or running the country.  Or in 1970s West Bromwich, chugging Snowballs and Babycham in industrial quantity if memory serves me correctly. However, I digress – here’s the game stuff.

Step One: Read the Rules - cunningly disguised as a newspaper including a cheeky ad for "Wembley", also made by Ariel at that time

How it Worked
The game is set up for a league consisting of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool, Celtic, Rangers, Notts Forest (sic, that must have annoyed them) and Sheffield Wednesday.  Who knows why they were chosen.  Our first action was usually to throw out Wednesday and replace them with West Bromwich Albion, before engaging in complex coin-tosses or rock-paper-scissors tournaments to decide who would manage the Baggies this time.

A certain number of players of each grade (yellow = international = 5pts, red = 4, blue = 3 and green = donkey = 1) were drawn randomly for each team at the start of the game.  To be honest, much of the final result was decided there and then.  If you drafted a pile of rubbish you would struggle.  The total points score of the 11 on the pitch determined which of the four dice you rolled for your team.  There was a 10-minute period allowed for transfers between each round of matches.  The indicative value of a yellow player was around £70,000, going down to £10,000 for the green makeweights.

Ah, the good old days of 2-3-5.  I have offloaded right-half and inside right ... but have a pile of rubbish on the bench.
... better hit the transfer market!
There are pre-match cards and match cards which in some ways function like Chance and Community Chest in Monopoly with a mixture of Good Things and Bad Things happening at random to your side.  Injuries and suspensions happen and your yellow centre-forward heads off into the sunset for anything up to four matches.  Gate receipts are connected to your position in the league.  There is a set fixture list, and you play a conventional league, and a knockout cup.  You can buy stands, which in effect count double value at the end of the game.  “The CUP FINAL is the last match of the season”, it says.  How quaint and olde-worlde that is.

Gamble !

The object of the game is to be Manager of the Year.  Winning the league is worth 5pts, the cup is worth 4 and being the best financially is worth 3.  Therefore you could win the game by winning the cup and being clever in the transfer market.

A little task for readers: what would be on the pre-match and match cards in a 2014 version of Soccerboss? “Your international centre forward bites his opponent and is suspended for 27 matches…” etc.  Over to you, enter by comment below or to @GrahamYapp on Twitter.  Keep it clean, this is a family website with an impressionable readership ;)

Other Modus Hopper Random Nostalgia

In case you don’t believe me about “Heartthrob”:

Apparently "Captain of the Football Team" is a Good Thing in Stereotypia



... plus for dog-lovers, a rare pic of Bruce the GSD!

Hopping For Moorfields
If you have enjoyed this post and would like to make a donation to the research fund at Moorfields Eye Charity, then my previous post (link below, see FAQ3) will tell you how and why.  At the time of writing (30 July) I am collecting in the final few pledges and hope to send the final amount to Moorfields in mid-August.  We have raised around £800, but even £1.91 would sponsor me for a penny-a-goal for everything I saw in 2012-13 and get me closer to my original target of £1000.  Thank you in advance!



  1. Thought I would leave a comment, ended up here as I was trying to find a review of a Waddingtons table soccer board game, and was blown away with how many football grounds and subsequent games you have seen over the years. Very impressive!

  2. I am but small fry in the groundhopping world, Glen! Thanks for reading the post. My own copy of Table Soccer has also long since gone - played that for many hours too.

  3. I am now 61 and WILL NOT throw away my Soccerboss board game (even though I have lost ALL of the dice - I used them for a different game I "invented" and they unfortunately went missing).
    I too only ever had one good friend but he was on my wavelength and we played this game for hours and hours. We actually handled four teams each and didn't really bother with the money side of things.
    It was the same when we played WEMBLEY..we didn't bother with money and/or stands etc..we just wanted to win the bloody Cup..haha!!
    Anyway as Joe Gargery says in Great Expectations.."What Larks ol' chap...What Larks"!!

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