The Ecstasy And Agony Of Competitive Subbuteo Through The Lens Of Tom Groves

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Competitive Subbuteo is one of those strange corners of the football-related world that seems unfathomable at first. Grown men flicking little weighted figurines across a miniature pitch–it’s a niche market. And yet, like the real game of association football, the tiny tabletop replica version produces intense battles involving people across many nations. Winning and losing are universal. With that truth as a backdrop, photographer Tom Groves delved deep into the world of competitive Subbuteo to produce a stunning photobook on the subject.

The book is called In the Box and was launched by a Kickstarter campaign. Tom was kind enough to send along a copy of the finished product to KCKRS, and while the subject matter might be strange to some, the book is a fantastic snapshot of a world replete with highs and lows we can all recognize. Not to mention all the cool customizing.

Tom’s Kickstarter video is a good introduction to Subbuteo for the uninformed as well and Tom’s journey into the heart of competitive Subbuteo.

Like with any “hobby”, Subbuteo enthusiasts take the game extremely seriously. The introduction to In the Box outlines the rise and fall of the game in Britain, where Subbuteo ceased production in the 1990s. Despite the game’s slow disappearance in the home of football, clubs sprang up give Subbuteo players a place to compete.

Tom’s journey to document the competitive Subbuteo scene took him all over Europe. Subbuteo’s culture is as international as the game it replicates.

Here are a few shots of the book by a poor photographer (me) using a phone.

Naturally these shots don’t do the book justice. You can see better images of the book and buy a copy at the website for In the Box.

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