The History of Table Football aka Foosball

Table Football is a game that has been around for nearly a century. Dating back to the 1890’s of Victorian England, table football evolved during a Renaissance that witnessed the widespread invention of new games. During this period, games like croquet, snooker, and rugby also came about. Table football was just one of the many parlor games that become well known in the early 20th century.

The history of table football has been contested for several reasons. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact date it was invented because table football, aka foosball, has been claimed to been invented in several areas during a span 40 years. So what’s the true history of table football? Although there is much debate over the true origins, most enthusiasts credit the invention of table football to Harold Thornton patented the first game table back in 1921.

Harold Thornton – Invents Table Football

Inspired by a football game that he watched in Tottenham Hotspur F.C., Harold wanted to simulate the game of football (soccer in America) within a small area so that people could enjoy it in their own homes. His initial idea was sparked by a box of matches, pun intended. After rigging together the first conceptual design of table football, he pitched it to his Uncle. His uncle enjoyed it so much that he brought it back with him to the United States.

Harold Thornton’s table football game table would later become officially recognized by the United States Patent office in 1927. With all of the official documentation to verify his claims, most people accept Harold Thornton to be the original inventor of the foosball table.

Vintage Foosball

History of Table Football

Table football has progressed as a whole, traversing international boundaries and serving as the main event in many parlors, bars, arcades, and home game rooms. Table football is known by many different names depending on the country you are in.

United States – Foosball; derived from the Germany word for football.
Europe – Table Football
Germany & Russia – Kicker
France – Baby Foot
Mexico – Futbolito

Table football is easy to learn and most people catch on quick. Many people become fascinated with this fast-paced game, fixated on one thing and one thing only; the whizzing ball that flies across the table. Table football has become so widely accepted that there are international tournaments and competitions that foster a whole new field of play.

Playing foosball

Table Football Tournaments

The Table Football World Cup has been help every year since the 1940’s. Foosball has grown to become a highly competitive sport with professionally skilled athletes. In 2002, the International Table Soccer Federation created an official rulebook in an effort to organize the foosball community and promote competition. Enthusiasts love table football so much that many have begun a push to make table football a recognized Olympic Sport!
Newcomers may question how a game such as this can be an Olympic sport but table football takes skill, focus, and plenty of practice. Professional players can hit a foosball up to 50 miles per hour during competitive matches!

Garlando Exclusive Foosball Table

If you’re interested in learning more about foosball, you should check back to visit our Foosball Table Section. There we provide tips and share the latest news in the table football community