A roll of the dice

As football fans wonder how to occupy themselves this weekend, Nutmeg writer Kenny Pieper recalls a long-forgotten football board game...

By Kenny Pieper

Words of comfort from us to you during football’s coronavirus absence. A reminder that some day the game will be back with all its nonsense and beauty intact. Here to cheer you up or help you wallow in melancholy until kick-off comes again. We can get through this.

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Logacta consisted of a series of charts - it was chart soccer after all - along with strangely coloured dice and numbered cards.

I couldn’t afford the Postal Order and that vexed me. It might only have been £4.95, but in the 1970s that seemed enormous. The wee advert for Logacta Chart Soccer in the corner of a page in Shoot!, a magazine I devoured every week, seemed like a dream. I was already struggling to find credible opponents for my makeshift Subbuteo World Cup – my brothers dragged instead of flicking to kick; dragged, I tell you – so the new football game ‘you could play by yourself’ seemed perfect for me. Lost, stuck in my bedroom, still five years away from The Smiths coming along, this was something I could buy in to.

Romantically, I’ve convinced myself that the money was earned via hard paper boy graft, dragging my newspaper bag through the driving East Kilbride rain. But it was probably a birthday present, pleaded for until my parents wanted me to shut up about Logacta Bloody Chart Soccer. And, while the Postal Order has gone the way of the stamped-addressed-envelope, there was something exciting and romantic about buying one from the Post Office. Letter sent, time passed waiting for the mail, every day.

Now, it’s perfectly normal to expect parcels arriving at your door. That late Saturday night drunken eBay visit or a desire to own the complete works of John Steinbeck may well result in a Monday morning – or more likely afternoon – knock at the door. In the 1970s it was a rare event that brought the whole family to see what was happening. The brown box which arrived was immaculate; they really cared for your packages back then. The slow reveal… then everything I would have expected. More, even. While the advert in Shoot! had been in black and white, the real game came in an impressive green and white. I was immediately in love.

Logacta consisted of a series of charts – it was chart soccer after all – along with strangely coloured dice and numbered cards. The dice were coloured to allow for home advantage, seeding in the Cup competitions and a concession for the away goals rule. Yes, really. It was that fair and accurate. Once you’d loaded your league tables with chosen teams – Partick Thistle could play in the old League Division One in England – each game was literally a roll of the dice. You recorded each result and worked out league positions after each round of games. It took ages and was wonderful.

It might be hard to imagine a game in which you had to record your own results. The big, glossy booklet included domestic cup competitions and the three European ones. Long before Championship Manager would do it all for you, Logacta required patience, exactitude and a decent pencil. And there was its potential flaw. Recording your results in pen might have seemed like a grown-up idea, but by the time you’d finished your season you were snookered. A pencil could be rubbed out fairly simply; pen meant Tippex, or giving up and buying replacements. Either way, you needed time commitment. And I had that.

Logacta was the first game I remember that connected with kids like me; quiet, isolated, sitting in their bedrooms. It couldn’t compete with the active ‘flick-to-kick’ of Subbuteo or the ‘shoot-by-pressing-the-head’ of Striker. But in many ways, it was ground-breaking and lead the way for the single user, tactics aware, obsessions of Championship Manager. And, like its computer-based little brother, your own team could make it further than you ever expected. That dice surely wasn’t rolled properly, it stuck on a lumpy bit of the carpet; roll again. And, would you believe it, Partick Thistle can win the English First Division and go on to win the European Cup.

I’m unsure what Logacta’s legacy is. It’s almost impossible to find on e-bay although the original game does occasionally sell for over £150. You can find electronic versions of it – or at least Excel spreadsheets that will help – but it seems to be mostly forgotten. While nostalgia for our childhood obsessions is not new, I struggle to recall anything that represented such a key time in my life. The discovery of something that was mine, that was unusual, that nobody had. It took over my life for a time. Then I threw it away. Probably.

If you’ve still got your Logacta game then keep it close. Hug it. Treasure it. Unless you want to sell it to me, of course.

Words of comfort from us to you during football’s coronavirus absence. A reminder that some day the game will be back with all its nonsense and beauty intact. Here to cheer you up or help you wallow in melancholy until kick-off comes again. We can get through this.

Issue 16
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