Subbuteo

by Steve Renshaw

It’s years since I last played Subbuteo. You know – that table football game where you flick plastic men at an oversized ball on a rolled-out felt pitch. When I was a boy, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me the proper version. So I had to make do with a down-market copy with flat men instead of Subboteo’s 3-D players in club colours. Despite this, I played with it for hours.

When my son was old enough, I got him the proper version and we both made good use of it. But over the years, it came out less and less and, eventually, he sold it at a car-boot sale.

In these days of Xboxes and PlayStations, I’d imagined that the game had disappeared. So I was delighted to receive an e-mail recently from the Lincoln Flickers, a group of Subbuteo enthusiasts who meet regularly in the Morning Star. They suggested that we hold a joint Flickers/CAMRA Subbuteo evening.

Of course, there’s a synergy between the two groups. CAMRA promotes real ale and supports well-run, community pubs, and it’s these pubs that provide a base for groups such as the Flickers. It’s not just the standard activities such as pool, darts, dominoes and Sunday league football that are based in pubs. In addition to the Flickers in the Morning Star, lots of other groups meet in local pubs. Mountaineers meet in the Golden Eagle, the Dog & Bone hosts a classical music listening group and the Jolly Brewer has its own theatre company, to name just three.

Well-run pubs are not just a controlled environment in which to drink – they are invaluable community assets. Where else can groups meet for no charge? Unfortunately, CAMRA’s latest figures show that twelve pubs close across Britain every week, and half of these are in suburban areas. And despite words of support from politicians, pubs were hit again in the Budget when beer duty was increased by 5.4%. In order to highlight the importance of local pubs, CAMRA has designated April as Community Pubs Month.

The aim of this national initiative is to encourage licensees to organise and promote events to increase footfall in local pubs. It’s all about giving community pubs as much publicity as possible during these tough times. A Subbuteo evening seemed an ideal event for Community Pubs Month, so off I went to the Morning Star to meet one of the Flickers and agree the format.

Tucked away on Greetwell Gate, the Morning Star is reputed to have been an inn since the 18th century. It’s a traditional, no-nonsense pub with tiled floors and an open fire in the winter. There’s a really good mix of drinkers and you’re guaranteed some lively and stimulating conversation. It’s a regular in the Good Beer Guide and has six real ales on offer. Unusually, they are all regulars – no guest beers here.

And what about the beer? Keighley’s Timothy Taylor Brewery is most famous for brewing Landlord, Madonna’s favourite beer. Less well known is Golden Best (3.5% ABV), described as the last of the true Pennine light milds. Most milds are dark, and I’m sure many drinkers will be unaware that this amber-coloured beer falls into this category. As usual in the Morning Star, my pint was in tip-top condition. The aroma was fruity and the taste malty, with light hoppiness characteristic of milds.

The inaugural competition for the Lincoln Flickers/CAMRA Subbuteo Beer Tankard takes place in the Morning Star on Wednesday, 25th April. It promises to be a fun evening. For details of events during Community Pubs Month, visit www.lincolncamra.org.uk