If you remember your dad or nan holding up the local newspaper to the light in a desperate attempt to locate where a football 'might' be on a photograph, then you're likely thinking about one of your earliest experiences of Spot the Ball!

The game of sticking a X on an image of a football match with the ball removed was futuristic in its day and was played by three million people every week at its peak - but where did the idea come from and how did it become such an iconic game?

Before Spot the Ball, there was Littlewoods Pools - one of the most famous businesses in British history. The game of predicting the outcomes of football matches provided many thousands of winners with life-changing amounts of money and made its owner, Manchester-born John Moores into a billionaire!

The original Football Pool

It was John Jervis Barnard from Birmingham who had the original concept for the football pool, but he struggled to make it into a viable proposition. Moores and his two friends Colin Askham and Bill Hughes decided that they could a better job and promptly set to work devising their own version of the failed game.

Littlewoods Pools launched in 1923 at the same time as the UK's first nudist camp was opened in Wickford, Essex! At the time, the three friends were working for the Commercial Cable Company, so work on their new venture had to remain a secret or they'd face the sack from their employer. Each of the pals invested £50 of their own money into the venture, with John recalling that when he signed his own cheque at the bank, his hands were damp.

The business lost money and was on the verge of collapsing when John Moores offered to pay the other two friends the money they had invested in exchange for their shares. It seemed like a great offer and so Colin and Bill snapped-off his hand and left the business with their own savings intact.

Football & the Depression

With demand for Lancashire textiles down by half in the 1930's and the country in a deep depression, the football pool gave people a dream of escaping their difficult lives. By the time the 1934-35 season began, over £200,000 per week was being gambled on the football pool and more than 10,000 people - mainly women - were employed, checking every coupon by hand.

Since the football pool was launched, over 100 millionaires have been created and over £3 billion has been paid to the lucky winners.

But what about Spot the Ball?

In 1973, Spot the Ball was launched as Littewoods Pools looked to keep players interested by creating exciting new games. It began as a traditional newspaper promotion and quickly grew until at its peak, around 3 million people regularly played Spot the Ball - roughly 5% of the population - all looking to win a jackpot of £250,000! In 1973, the average weekly wage was £38.

On the face it, Spot the Ball looked like a simple proposition. Surely sticking a X where the centre of an invisible football was on a photograph of a football match couldn't be that difficult, could it? Well, there's a lot of skill and judgement required - Spot the Ball isn't a game of luck! You have to study the body language and take into account all the factors at play during the game. Some players have scooped life-changing amounts of money - and some have an interesting story to telL...

Spot the Ball's grave secret!

In 2004 Irene Robertson, then 69, of Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, won £250,00 after her dead mother sent a message to her via a séance! "My mum said, 'Don't forget the coupon!" said Irene, who had planned to stop her £3 weekly flutter on the game after 40 years of playing without much success. After scooping the huge prize, Irene was apparently 'dead chuffed!' with the timely reminder from her thoughtful mum.

The decline and then…

With the launch of the National Lottery and vast online gambling platforms, the football pools and Spot the Ball fell in to decline - but now Spot the Ball - or 'PlayStB' as we call it - is back and ready to re-connect with the millions of football fans out there who enjoy the chance to win prizes they'll cherish forever.