My earliest recollection of playing was at a place in Wauwatosa, WI, a bar on the North Ave called Walters On North. (There were no other Walters bars, I'm just assuming the founders had big plans when they opened.)
They had one Italian-style Garlando "glass top" that was popular in the 70s. The only other places you could spend quarters in that bar: Pool, bar dice and the juke box that seemed to always be playing All Along The Watchtower.
If you've never played on an old Garlando, you've missed only frustration. While you could pass and perform set shots, front or back toe -- out of the question. It was the kind of table that, if you came across one today, the only place it might fit is in a frat house because that glass top seemed ideal for containing beer spills.
Milwaukee was a big foosball town back when Tournament Soccer was making it's market entrance in 1973. I remember this well as that was the first year I really "discovered" foosball and... my first girl friend. I joined a league and was playing or practicing hours a day. How long ago was 1973? Top of the music chart was held by Tony Orlando and Dawn, followed by Jim Croce. I was still in high school and thought I was big stuff being able to play foosball in bars against "grown ups" who, at a minimum, had a good five years on me.
We played every Thursday night in leagues and drove up to ten hours in any direction to play in national tournaments. Our biggest events: Madison, St.Louis and Minneapolis which would have been in 1977 / 78.
The summer of 1978 was an ugly time for foosball in Milwaukee. These large coin-op boxes with blinking lights began to show up. While the true foosballers never paid much attention, it was clear that Space Invaders was the start of a foosball decline. They consumed less floor space, and games lasted a few minutes. They never needed to have bent rods or broken men replaced and anyone could play Space Invaders and feel like they accomplished something.
Within a year, most of the bars had replaced their Tournament Soccer tables with Space Invaders and Asteroids. Because almost all foosball tables were owned by route vendors, it was a financial no-brainer: More money, less work.
My biggest win was in 1977, a 1st place open doubles in a Tournament Soccer event in Milwaukee. But when I think back to what really defined success at foosball, it was all those Thursday nights. All those road trips where winning back your entry fee plus gas money was plenty good enough.
I hung up my foosball gloves when I left Milwaukee and moved to Texas. Sure, there were still many places to play, but I thought it was time to focus on trying to be a responsible adult, perhaps even thinking about getting a job that made some use of my educational training. In '85 I moved to a small town in France where foosball was virtually unknown.
It wasn't until I was back in the US in the early 92, driving home from Mazda (Flatrock, MI) when I noticed a bar with a sign out front "DYP Foosball Tournament Tonight" I couldn't resist. My pull shot had years of cob webs on it, but it turns out, it is like riding a bike. We breezed all the way to the finals but were defeated by some local jerks who bent the rules to their advantage. (I had yanked a long and square pull only to have it bounce out -- they claimed it didn't count because "they touched the ball" as it was going squarely into the goal.)
Again, I hung up the foosball golves and 18+ years slipped by. Never even thought about it. I had lived in Ann Arbor for almost 20 years and had seen inactive tables over at Leopold Brothers. Their beer wasn't all that great, and nobody was every playing, so I figured, hey, the sport may not be dead, but it's not too alive in Ann Arbor.
That was until November of 2010 when the Wolverine Tap Room opened their doors. Inside the freshly painted pub was a Tornado Storm (home model) in pristine condition. Within a few months, some locals started to show up and by March, we were talking about "organizing" something real.
April 10th, 2011 we purchased MiFOOS.com and had no idea what we were going to do with it. We just knew we had to start somewhere so we purchased a T2000 and began inviting everyone we knew to play. Wherever this goes, doesn't matter. We're having fun.