History of
the Laws of the Game

1947 - 1970

Before Subbuteo became the most played, watched and talked about discipline as a Table Football on the planet, it was lacking a uniform set of laws. Years 1947 to 1970 was a period when many fundamental and timeless laws of Subbuteo originated.


The players in the picture are Fred Ramscar (QPR), Ivor Powell (Aston Villa and Wales), Reg. Allen (QPR), and George Smith (formerly QPR, Brentford and Charlton).


This picture has Reg Allen saving from Peter Adolph. (Note: Mr Allen is QPR's goalkeeper here, whereas he has transferred to Man Utd by the time of the 1950s booklet).

1949-50 Rule book

·        Introduction - “Particular attention be given to the art of figure flicking....”


·        Playing Pitch – “Place a smooth, but thick cloth on a table, and chalk out a design to the dimensions printed below..."



The playing area was 48x32 ins, and so it remains to this day (except that it is now given in metric). The semi-circular shooting areas "start 9ins from the centre spot, with ends meeting the touch lines 15ins from halfway". 


·         Movement of the Football Player Figures - "Place the first finger of the right hand (or second finger if this feels more comfortable) immediately behind a figure, with the tip of the nail just touching the table. Use the table slightly as a spring, and gently flick the figure against the ball.
"Do not use the thumb as a spring. The thumb does not enter into the propulsion",


·         Play - "A coin is tossed for 'ends': losing team 'kicks off'. The centre forward (figure numbered 9) is propelled gently against the ball... If the ball has not touched an opponent figure, the team which 'kicked off' is still in play. A nearby figure is aimed at the ball, and so long as the player of the team is hitting the ball with one of his figures, and the ball does not touch an opponent figure, he is still in play.
"Immediately he misses the ball with one of his figures, or if the ball is 'kicked' against a figure of the opposing side. it is the opponent's turn to play. The figure which last touches the ball represents the team which is in play, unless the ball is 'kicked' off the playing area itself by that figure." 



·         Rules of Play (Play to the rules of Association Football in conjunction with the under mentioned)

o    Goal Scoring - Before a shot at goal can be made, both figure and ball must be within the semi-circle ...

o    Goal Kicks - One of the 'backs' takes the goal kick...." 

o    Individual Figure Kicking - "No one figure may hit the ball more than three times in succession. After a third successive kick another man of the same team must play the ball." 

o    Throw In - " taken by 'kicking' the ball in the usual manner, but the player must not follow over the touch line at the time of delivery: if it does, the opposing side takes the 'throw' as it was a 'foul throw'."

o    Fouls - "If during play a figure hits another figure of the opposing side, without first touching the ball, a free kick (or penalty... if... appropriate) is awarded against the guilty figure's team."

o    Penalty Kicks - "At a penalty kick the goal-keeper must be level with its own line. Figures of both teams who were between the defending goal line and the penalty spot at the time of the foul, must be moved in a straight line to the level of the penalty taker"

o    Injuries - "Any player is considered injured, which during the course of play travels over either goal line within the posts without a goal at the time being scored. The figure must remain off the 'field' for five minutes."

o    Placing of figures - "Immediately preceding a 'goal kick' the figures of both sides may be moved back, or either way sideways, from where they stood at the time of the ball crossing the goal line, but not in the direction of the opposing goal, unless they are in their own defensive half when they are allowed movement as far as the centre line. Immediately preceding 'throw-ins', 'corner kicks' and 'free kicks' each team may flick one figure for marking purposes".

o    Duration of game. Twenty five minutes each way is the advised duration of play.