I'm sure I saw it yawning.Evertonian wrote:This is by no means an exhausted list.
Anyway. When I got my place at Oxford, the first thing I did was find out whether or not there was a table football team at Jesus College, at the age of 18 I was mad keen. There was, and we were in the bottom division of the Oxford college league. I was terrible despite my keenness, and when I went to the university team trials after having played pretty much every night for four months, I was that bad that I managed to lose a forward shoot-out (tie-breaker for the last place on the team) against someone whose name I forget, they were a defender and I think our first to 5 ended after about 20 minutes, I managed to scrape a 5-4 defeat, and I was lucky to get that (I'm sure El Cap remembers that one). And yet I was still convinced I was the best player on earth and I'd just been unlucky, I kept playing every night against the rest of the team and my enthusiasm for the game seemed to be infectious - whereas before we had a couple of players who were okay in division 3A, we ended up with a team that managed to get into the top division. We didn't mind playing against each other because we all managed to get our fair share of wins, and even the people who never played saw us down at the far end of the college bar and would occasionally come and try their luck - and we ended up with about another four players that way.
Then I left university on the back of going to three or four tournaments while I was there and I was still keen to play all the time, after spending about 15 hours a week playing whilst I was at university. And... nothing. I was back up in Bolton, I didn't know Ant was just down the road in Riley's, I didn't know about the Manchester scene, and tournaments were all I had. Then a year or so later I started going to the Rainbow every week, then we moved to the Hard Rock Casino, and it was all gravy. After about 6 months I'd ended up going only when Rob did, which was two or three times a month. After a year or so of that I just stopped going regularly and showed up about once every other month. A couple of years later and I stopped entirely. And yet I still attend the majority of tournaments.
So why have I stopped playing locally? Is it because the locals don't encourage me to come along? Certainly not, that's preposterous. Is it because I've lost interest in the game? Again, certainly not, I still love playing. No, the reason I've stopped playing locally is simple: I don't enjoy playing locally as much as I enjoy tournaments. When you go to a tournament you make a weekend of it, most of the friends you've picked up from playing the game for 8 years are there, you go out on Friday and Saturday and have a great time, you get a shot at winning a bit of money and/or a trophy, you know you'll get a couple of epic close-fought battles along the way. It's just great fun. And - and this is by no way a bad reflection on the local guys here - that's just not something it's possible to get with a local scene of about 10 players. You'll play the same people 5 or 6 times over the course of the night and you end up playing for the sake of playing, and you can't have a pint as you have to drive home. And when it's the game you're addicted to, as Joe said, you will make that sacrifice unconditionally.
For an awful lot of players, it's not the game we find addictive. And if you're trying to set up a local scene, that's a battle you just can't win if you intend to retain players. The only solution I can see is if there's as many table football tables as there are pool tables, you get a few thousand people who play every now and then, and you end up with a similar scene locally to the one we have nationally. Achieving that level of traction requires someone with money to invest in the game as well as time.