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Subbuteo Football Express Set & Accessories

The set pictured is the full size 5-a-side Subbuteo Express game available from the early to mid 70's This edition replaced the earlier fivesides set with flat figures that had been in production for some twenty years and the original Express folding version. Later, in the 1980's the Indoor version, aimed more to break into the American market, with funky blue pitch, would appear for a short period of time, but this classic play out of the box design is probably the best 5-a-side game Subbuteo ever made.

The Express set was probably my favourite toy from my childhood and like Ken rightly endorsed on the lid it was their finest innovation since Subbuteo made it possible to enjoy all the thrills and skills of real football in my own home (or rather my parents own home) and there was no denying that Ken hit it on the head when he said it was fast!, it was fun! and above all it was great!... Against the advice of the instructions, I left mine leaning up against a wall in the garage for a couple of months over the Winter and in those few short weeks the damp had bowed it so much it was un-playable. Mum soaked the whole thing and left it under about twenty house bricks to try to flatten it, but it was still useless.

I have two memories of the Express. The first is that at my primary school we always had the last day of term as 'games day' - all lessons and school uniform were banned and every pupil could bring in their favourite game to share with the other less fortunate kids. I lugged in the Express, immediately became everyone's best friend and the queues to play me at my own game lasted all day. I never lost. Striker, Wembley, Casdon Soccer and even the mammoth 8 season Logacta (the game no one ever finished) couldn't compete.

I have an insane theory on why Subbuteo called it the Express. The word fits the game perfectly and it is fast to play, so the word Express fits the bill perfectly. But I seem to remember in the the few years preceding the manufacture of the game and throughout the 1970's there was a BBC television programme on Wednesday nights called Sports Night. For 51 weeks of the year it was totally boring to me, I was only about eight or so at the time and football was king. I remember thinking how the hell Dad could endure an hour of heavyweight boxing, athletics from Helsinki and show jumping from Olympia... why didn't they just show the midweek footy game? But, it had one saviour. The 5-a-side tournament was televised by the BBC every year without fail and shown on Sports Night. I was aloud to stay up to 10.30pm to watch it - a real treat. Really obscure teams entered and sometimes even won it and the only downer was that my beloved Liverpool always put a team in but never played Keegan or Clemence and instead used the reserve goalie and players of the likes of David Fairclough who were only just breaking through and needed the experience. They used to get beaten by Division four teams like Bournemouth! (really it's true) The event was always sponsored by the Daily Express and was one of the first advertising links in football I can remember, infact the topic of conversation the next day at school was 'Did you see the Daily Express 5-a-side last night?'

So could it be the clever boys at Subbuteo had tied in a sly bit of marketing and slipped in a word with a double meaning?, not to mention designing a pitch with the rounded corners that looked just like it did on the television? We can only speculate, but I'm sure the subliminal connection added to the games appeal (well, it did for me anyway!)

... Winter 2003, my theory on the naming of the set is completely wrong and I have been informed that there WAS a meaning behind the name Express. The marketing experts at Subbuteo realised that it took precious Summer Holiday time to unpack teams, goals and the pitch for the conventional 11-a-side game and came up with the Express as a way to save on set up time, you simply lifted the lid and away you went - hence the word 'express' which basically meant that it was as quick as a speeding train to set it up... because it already was.

Not half as romantic as my theory of BBC Sportsnight subliminal messaging.


The E300 Accessories

E.301 Football Express Goals


The first of only two dedicated Football Express accessories. The replacement goals.



E.302 Football Express Goalkeepers


The Express replacement goalkeepers, now a very rare find in good condition.


The E300 Teams

The red and blue generic references, numbers 1 and 2 were supplied with the game in various figure types. There also two distinct standard packaging designs, the first, a clear lid design in either a red or blue outer case and later a horizontal format folding lid type with red and blue stickers to denote the teams colours, these are unique to the main Express set and differed greatly from the sliding vertical format team box that came as an E.300 accessory that you could buy. A small orange and white ball (from set FF) was also provided with each of these standard teams in the set, although on the later green box type no mention is made that a ball is included on the lid.


All styles of playing figure can be found in the standard Express teams and these moulded based players are also the same that can be found in other boxed Subbuteo football editions throughout the sixties and seventies.

From left to right, the walker, winged shorts, scarecrow and classic heavyweight.
I've found the winged shorted and scarecrow varieties do tend to be the most common generics packaged with the game itself.

E.300 teams were also produced in the following references 5,7,10,16,21,25,41,and 42 (as shown in the C100 team chart) as dedicated 5-a-side teams including two goalkeepers and controller rod, but no free ball. All came in numbered boxes like the C100 teams and almost exclusively came on the distinctive moulded bases. Boot colouring appears on many early figures, although the 'training shoe effect' of leaving the boots unpainted does appear to be almost exclusive for the later classic heavyweight figures.




The E300 Team Reference

Manchester City

1. Classic heavyweight


West Ham United

1. Classic heavyweight



1. Winged shorts



1. Scarecrow figure



1. Classic heavyweight



1. Classic heavyweight



1. Winged shorts



1. Winged shorts
2. Classic heavyweight



1. Winged shorts

Not an official E.300 reference
and only 3 figures found in a
collection without box.
Authenticity unknown.




































































































































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