One of the toy soldier modelling and military history websites that I enjoy visiting regularly is Marvin’s marvellous Suburban Militarism blog
Oddly I keep half-thinking Marvin’s blog is called ‘Subterranean Militarism’ but that’s probably a very different game genre of armoured bunnies and badgers.
Marvin is a superb museum quality painter on 54mm metal model figures and 1:72/76 plastics. His blog covers a rich and interesting variety of subjects including Napoleonics, WW1 and his quirky Christmas posts.
He has an ongoing interest in the Victorian Rifle Volunteer Movement and the Yeomanry, including field trips to Britain’s vanishing regimental museums.
Marvin has a “use them or lose them” attitude to regimental museums which could also apply to your local football club (obviously pre-Covid).
We have had email chats on various Rifle Volunteer topics before including the once numerous Rifle Volunteer pubs. Reading an unusual link in Marvin’s recent blog post about the early Rifle Volunteers and the sad demise of local football clubs led to an email chat with Marvin about football history. This was partly inspired by a chat about the late Donald Featherstone’s long-term career as the Southampton FC (The Saints) sports physiotherapist which I commemorated on Featherstone’s centenary using Airfix plastic footballers.
We both thought the Macclesfield Town FC required a suitable tiny memorial and what better small statue than a toy soldier footballer?
The Airfix 60s and 70s 54mm footballers were a little too modern looking. You could argue that football started going wrong or more dull when the hobnailed boots and long baggy shorts amateurism or localism began to disappear in the 40s? 50s? 60s? 70s? When Brylcream vanished? After Stanley Matthews had retired?
I have no great interest in sport and come from a family who never went to live football matches but each week the family all sat down to watch the strange singsong delivery of football results on TV on a Saturday teatime, bought Shoot magazine and its cardboard slot league tables and collected the football sticker albums. Football was a big cultural thing in Britain in the 1970s. You could not avoid footballers who became household names – Bobby Bremner, Bobby and Jackie Charlton, Peter Shilton, Gordon Banks – nor fail to notice Kevin Keegan signed product placements and road safety advice.
Growing up in the aftermath of the 1966 World Cup, you acquired a rough knowledge of football by osmosis, whether you liked it or not. Subbuteo was as popular as Wargaming, if not more so. Admittedly the reversed green playing cloth came in handy sometimes as a war-games cloth (on the very rare occasions when it was not in use). Escape to Victory was one of those odd wartime / football POW camp crossover movies, showcasing the debatable acting skills of famous 1960s footballers.
If major league football does not interest me today (yawn), I still find the social history of early football clubs of passing interest. Beef tea alongside rough cow pasture fields (featured on BBC Edwardian Farm Episode 6 DVD), women’s WW1 era football, the Pals and Sportsmen’s battalions of WW1, Walter Tull, the archaeology of vanished grounds and clubs, “jumpers for goalposts”… all fascinating stuff. My own small village today once had a long forgotten men’s football field and team before and after WW1.
“Two World Wars and one World Cup” indeed!
To suit the Victorian and Edwardian origin of some football clubs I mentioned to Marvin the recent Replica recast William Britain’s early footballers.
The result was as impressive as I had hoped, the stylish toy soldier footballer of Macclesfield FC in the 1880s. Beautifully painted as ever.
A worthy mini memorial. It’s partly a sadness or nostalgia about how communities and leisure have changed. I’m sure every disappointed Macclesfield fan would love to have this figure on their mantelpiece. Watch out Marvin, you could be bombarded with requests!
Marvin’s Suburban Militarism blog, well worth reading and following.
Blog post by Mark Man of TIN 22 October 2020.
B.P.S. Blog Post Script
The Subbuteo table football game of the 60s and 70s was only of passing interest to me as a wargamer – I liked the Airfix type figures and the toy soldier boxness of the teams and their colourful team strips with the individual tiny number stickers. The Model Railway scale of the (expensive) accessories such as policemen, TV film crews and crowds vaguely appealed to my childhood love of tiny worlds and small scale worlds.
One of the few Subbuteo / Wargaming crossovers I have seen is a beer bottle top / shove-halfpenny / Subbuteo tribal warfare version that I remember in 1980s Miniature Wargames No. 11 (“Stone Age Wargames” by Andy Callan).
A war game of two halves to return to!