THE entire sporting world may be in lockdown right now but there's no reason why closed-doors games should not be able to flourish thanks to the endeavours of one particularly inventive Scot.

Colin Webster was looking for something a little bit different from the staple football games such as FIFA and Match Attax, when he found himself hitting a brick wall. With young children and a social life that had all but disappeared as a result, the self-confessed Subbuteo and Football Manager fanatic endured a series of fruitless searches before deciding to take matters into his own hands.

“I was trying to think of what I could with my nights and I thought 'there must be a football strategy game'. I was surprised to find that there was nothing,” he recalls. “There's a handful of football board games. They fall into two categories. One category is basically Monopoly and then there is the other kind which takes part on the pitch. But it was far too arcade-style and simplistic, roll a six and move six spaces, turn a card over and you've scored a goal – that type of thing. So I thought, there's room here for a serious strategy game. I did what you do in those situations and said 'I'll just make it'.

“I ploughed hours and hours into it in my evenings and slowly developed the game on my computer and in my head. I got my mate, Graeme, round and we played it and very quickly realised that it was very boring. There needed to be more fun and action and it wasn't there.”

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The discovery that his invention needed significant alterations became a lance to Webster's ambitions.

“I lost all enthusiasm for the project at that point. I relegated it to the depths of my mind and it wasn't until five, six years later, I was at my work, I was chatting to my mate, Marco, who is a big football fan and I told him I tried to make this game and he said 'you should try again, you should boil it down its basic components and build up the complexity from there'. We had a great night playing a very rudimentary version of it. My excitement went straight back up. That was the summer of 2018 and I realised then that I could make something of this.”

Night after night of play-testing followed with Webster calling on the patience and goodwill of his circle of friends to help him forge the dynamics of the game, placing excitement at its core.

A Kickstarter campaign was launched in April 2019 with the aim of raising £7,000 over 30 days but such was the interest in Webster's idea that he managed to reach that figure in a third of the time. The result is Counter Attack, a beautiful-looking board game which was released to the market late last year, selling at £35 a pop. Such has been the interest in Webster's product, designed in tandem with his partner Rachel Codd, that 1,000 boxes were sold at Christmas with orders from as far away as South America. Since then, the orders, and a slew of five-star reviews, have continued to come.

“We got £15,000 [from crowdfunding] in the end, orders from all over the world and lots of enthusiasm. It was a really lovely time with people flooding us with messages saying how excited they were about it," says Webster, originally from Inverness but who now lives in Edinburgh. “We got a manufacturer in China, they delivered the game to us in December which was a good time for it. We had a very busy couple of days posting out all those postal orders – 330 originally – and then the orders just flooded in,” adds the 44-year-old, who works for the Ellen McArthur foundation, when he's not packing boxes at night.

When Webster describes his game as it exists today, he could be a Dutch master tactician discussing the precepts of Total Football.

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“The pitch had to be large, I wanted every decision to count, I didn't want it to feel like you could be tackled by seven players in any one turn. It was about spaces and exploiting the spaces on the pitch – playing with different formations and some would be more successful than others. The players have their own set of attributes like in real life and that would present tactical dilemmas for the managers who would have to place their players where they saw fit.

“The game comes with 46 players in the box, all unique - names, nationalities, attributes. There aren't forenames – because I made this with my girlfriend Rachel, she's part inspiration – so that they could be male or female, there's no imagery - male or female. I've got three daughters and they are very excited about that.”

There are 130 different teams catered for, too, with boxes shipping with wooden counters in the colours of Ajax and Juventus while just about every other club in world football can be ordered for £8 each.

In Bristol, meanwhile, a fledgling Counter Attack league, which tweets out live scores, team line-ups and transfer window updates, has been established with matches played twice a month and real-money transactions taking place when star players become available on the market.

The last round of matches is scheduled for the night of the Champions League final and the league's organiser, Paul Williams, jokes that he will be formulating a strongly-worded letter for UEFA should the showpiece succumb to the restructuring of the football calendar as dictated by the coronavirus crisis.

“At the start everyone was very jovial but it's a lot quieter when the games are on now," says Williams. "It's an excuse for people to get together during the working week. When we were waiting for the release of the game we said surely we can get a league together and I sent out invites to everyone who might be interested and it went from there. It's taken off and there is now interest from people in Poland, Holland, Ireland.

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“It's a combination of how real-life football is, how Subbuteo used to be and how FIFA is. I find it more enjoyable than FIFA and Subbuteo. There are a range of age-groups in the league. Luke, my 16-year-old, can't wait to play the next game. He stayed up [one night] and said he was revising but he wasn't, he was working on his tactics.”

For Webster, it's all a little surreal.

“To see your creation take off like that is really exciting,” he says. “Football was invented in Scotland, so it is fitting that the first football strategy game was invented here, too.”

You can learn more about Counter Attack at https://counterattackgame.com/.