Foosball table

A group of young Parisians playing foosball at a caffe in 1958.

It's probably stretching the imagination just that bit too far to think that table football will every become an Olympic sport, but they probably thougt the same about beach volleyball at one time. There again Alexandre de Finesterre spanish director and poet has many followers who claim that he came ap with a idea, being bored in a hospital in the Basque region of Spain with injuries sustained from a bombing raid during the Spanish Civil War. He talked a local carpenter, Francisco Javier Altuna, into building the first table, inspired by the concept of table tennis.

Althougt patents for similar games may exist from as far back as the 1890s, the game of Table Fotball as we know it today was first invented by Harold Searles Thornton in 1922 and patented in 1923. The concept was conceived after Harold had been to a Tottenham Hotspur F.C. football match (he was an avid supporter). He wanted to provide a game that replicated football that could be played at home. The inspiration came from a box of matches: by laying the matches across the box he had formed the basis of his game.

His uncle visited Harold and took the inspiration back to the USA where it was patented in 1927.

Foosball re-arrived on American shores thanks to Lawrence Patterson, who was stationed in West Germany with the U.S. military in the early 1960s. Seeing that table football was very popular in Europe, Patterson seized the opportunity and contracted a manufacturer in Bavaria to construct a machine to his specification to export to the US. The first table landed on American soil in 1962, and Patterson immediately trademarked the name "Foosball" in America and Canada, giving the name "Foosball Match" to his table