Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The Football Rosettes Gallery
The football rosettes arrived in the Subbuteo catalogues circa 1963, alongside the short-lived Football Favour statue. Both were described as "hand-painted in the colours of your favourite club." The rosette "with gaily coloured polythene ribbon backing with button hole clip" cost 2s 6d, and the Favours although bigger, were only 1s 6d. Despite that, the Favours had fallen out of favour (sorry) by 1965 leaving just the rosettes, which continued until at least 1976.
The rosettes were never added to the table soccer accessory lists, and were probably seen as an unrelated product by Peter Adolph. He was always looking for another income stream, and this product certainly did that. It clearly took advantage of both Subbuteo's new plastic moulding facilities, and the work force of painters employed for the OO scale figures, which had arrived in 1961-62. The general consensus is that this product was sold on stalls outside of football stadiums with other unofficial memorabilia of the period such as scarves and rattles. In fact, Worthing club member Dave Croucher remembers seeing them attached to scarves for sale outside the Goldstone Ground in the mid-1960s. You rarely find these figures in general Subbuteo collections, and I wonder whether they were ever sold alongside the game in toy/sport shops. Perhaps the later bagged version saw them move to the shops.
The rosettes sold outside grounds (and attached to scarves) were probably sold with no package at all. However, two boxes were produced. The backs are identical, but one has a redesigned front, with a diamond-shaped cut in the middle so the colours of the team could be seen. Cleverly, this small central window shows shirt, short and socks, as you can see above. The boxes clearly state "made by Subbuteo", but there are no logos from the game. In the 1970s the rosettes were sold in bags with the usual Subbuteo Table Soccer logo on the header card (and also team reference stickers as shown here). It is worth noting that no Subbuteo logos feature on the rosette itself. Many have "Made in England" on the back of the rosette, but not all do.
The Colour Range.
As the rosettes had a really long production life, the colour range has the potential to be really interesting. When launched in 1962, the team range had only reached reference 40 Crystal Palace. At that time ref 40 had a claret and blue hoop on a white shirt, and black shorts, and other early team colour difference existed. By the time the rosette disappeared from the range in the mid-1970s the team range had reached 190, and was on the verge of the next big increase to 322. Chris Allen owns a rosette for reference 191 Manchester City. That reference did not arrive until 1978, and potentially opens up the full heavyweight 1-322 range. However, there are odd variations in the known rosette range (see below), and it is possible that some rosettes were painted to local demand rather than being matched to the table soccer range.
In practise, the unsold stock that was released into the collectors market in the late 1990s and early 2000s only ran up to reference 78. This was the team range to 1971, before the large international expansions. I am speculating, but it seems likely that Subbuteo Sports Games kept stock of all references in the early days when this was practical, but perhaps later on only painted rosettes for specific orders. Otherwise more of these later rosettes would have turned up. The Italian catalogues advertised this item with a rosette painted to reference 93 Roma, (and indeed this has been seen in collecting circles), so it is clear that later references were painted. But research is needed to determine which ones, and in what quantities. Subbuteo Sports Games did not keep records of such things.
This release of unsold stock that I have mentioned skews the galleries somewhat, so you will note that unusual teams like 64 Maritimo, or 33 Bishop Auckland exist in collecting circles in good number, whereas teams that should be common (ref 9 is a good example) await pictures. I would image that reference 64 Maritimo was the least likely of rosettes to sell at English football grounds during the 1960s-70s! Yet many of us have one.
In my personal experience, the more common teams are the ones that collectors are more likely to find in the wild. I have acquired refs 8, 10, and 16 in collections at car boot sales. However, the rosettes for the more obscure sides still seem to predominate online.
The pictures come from my collection, and that of Chris Allen. Plus pictures that I've saved off the internet down the years - certainly from Dixie S, the Subbuteo Emporium, Subbuteoworld, ebay and sundry internet searches.
From left to right.
Reference 1. Standard red and white outfit. The version illustrated has the 1960s
sock colours (white with a red hoop).
Reference 2. Standard blue and white outfit. 1960s socks. White with a blue hoop.
Reference 2. Standard blue and white outfit. 1970s socks. All blue
Reference 3. Blue and white stripes/white shorts. This is the 1960s version with sleeve stripes, blue sock tops, and brown hair/boots.
Reference 4. Red and white stripes/white shorts.
Reference 5. Sky blue shirt/white shorts. The only version I have seen is the variant reference 5 with white collar and cuffs, and sky blue socks with white tops.
Where is reference 9?
Reference 6. 1960s old gold shirt (black trim)/black shorts. Note the lovely old gold plastic outer
Reference 6. 1970s amber shirt (black trim)/black shorts.
Reference 7. Claret shirt with sky blue sleeves/white shorts.
Reference 8. Black and white stripes/Black shorts.
Reference 10. White shirt/black shorts.
A full house.....
Reference 11. Blue and white hoops/white shorts.
Reference 12. Blue and white quarters/white shorts.
Reference 13. Tangerine shirt (white trim)/white shorts.
Reference 14. Red shirt/black shorts.
Reference 15. Green shirt (black trim)/white shorts.
I found a picture online of a reference 20 figure without the rosette backing
Not sure about him colour-wise though....
August 2021: However, the black shorts version of reference 20 has now appeared, and is illustrated.
Reference 16. Red shirt with white sleeves/white shorts.
Reference 17. Blue shirt with white sleeves/white shorts.
Reference 18. White shirt/blue shorts.
Reference 19. Blue shirt with red stripes/blue shorts.
Reference 20. Red and white hoops/black shorts.
A couple of missing teams here. Reference 22 was well used in the 1960s, but fell out of favour in the 1970s.
Reference 21. All white kit.
Reference 23. (or maybe 61!). Yellow shirt with red stripes/black shorts. (The 1960s reference 23)
Reference 25. Green and white hoops/white socks.
Short of references for this batch, but note two versions of Norwich City.
August 2023: Heart fan Nick McLaren kindly provided pictures of two beautiful Hearts rosettes with contrasting colours on the rosette itself.
Reference 26. Yellow shirt with blue sleeves/black shorts.
Reference 27. Maroon shirt (white trim)/White shorts.
Reference 28 (Early 1960s version). Yellow shirt (green trim)/black shorts.
Reference 28 (post 1967 version). Yellow shirt (green trim)/green shorts.
I am short a picture of reference 32 Alloa. I did not want to take my ref 35 out the packet to photograph!
Reference 31. White and blue halved shirt/white shorts. (Blackburn Rovers)
Reference 33. Sky and royal blue halved shirt/black shorts. (Bishop Auckland)
Reference 34. Black and white striped shirt/white shorts.
Reference 35. Yellow and black stripes/white shorts.
The final version of reference 40 Crystal Palace is illustrated. The earlier versions should exist.
Reference 36. Green and white stripes/white shorts.
Reference 37. White with blue stripes/white shorts. (Oldham Athletic)
Reference 40. Claret with sky blue stripes/white. (Crystal Palace)
Liverpool and Chelsea are common heavyweights, but not so common rosettes -
hence the fuzzy pictures.....
March 2021: Big thank you to Simon Goodman who sent in a picture of his two alternate Chelsea rosettes (with and without trim on all blue rosettes).
Reference 41. All red (white trim).
Reference 42. All blue (white socks).
Reference 43. All sky blue (royal blue trim).
Reference 45. Green shirt with white sleeves/white shorts (Hibernian).
March 2021: A big thank you to Andrew Bensley for sending in pictures of an old gold ref 49.
Reference 46. Yellow shirt with red chest bar/white shorts (Motherwell).
Reference 47. Yellow shirt/blue shorts.
Reference 48. Red shirt/blue shorts.
Reference 49. Old gold shirt/old gold shorts.
Reference 50. Brazil !
Reference 52. Red and white striped shirt/red shorts.
Reference 53. All blue with red, white and blue trim. (Portsmouth)
Reference 54. White with green and black chest bars/white shorts. (Plymouth)
Reference 55. Violet shirt/white shorts.
The rosettes start to thin out past reference 55. Here are the two Milan teams though.
Reference 57. Red and black striped shirt/white shorts (AC Milan)
Reference 58. Blue and black striped shirt/black shorts (Inter Milan)
My bagged version of this rosette is on a red/white rosette, but I'm not doing rosette colour variations here.....
Reference 64. Red and green stripes/white shorts.
Reference 72. Red and blue halved shirt/blue shorts.
Reference 75. Sky blue and royal blue hoops/sky blue shorts. (Forfar Athletic)
Reference 76. Red and black striped shirt/black shorts.
Reference 77. Tangerine shirt (black trim)/black shorts.
Reference 78. Green and black striped shirt/black shorts.
This Roma rosette was also shown in the Italian catalogues. More of this Italian range should exist.
Reference 93. Red shirt (yellow trim)/white shorts. (Roma)
And here is Chris Allen's possible spanner in the works. Reference 191 or was is an earlier local request? (Manchester City started to wear sky blue shorts in the 1976-77 season).
Reference 191. All sky blue (white trim).
Named Box Teams.
This named box Derby turns up everywhere! I've seen it as a statuette, and here it is on a rosette. I think Ashley Hemming sent this one in a while back.
The Mystery Gallery.
Here are two strange rosettes that don't seem to match any known table soccer teams of the period.
The blue and white rosette looks remarkablely similar to the Derby County one in the above section. But this one does look blue, and doesn't have sock trim. Neither Spurs nor Preston North End had a blue collar in the period, so this looks like it is a late 1960s Bolton Wanderers kit (who seem to have had the same double collar as Derby County on the Historical kits website). Is this another named box team waiting to be discovered?
Meanwhile, the green and white hoop version came from the Subbuteo Emporium's unsold warehouse stock.... so it is a genuine Subbuteo issue. Who or why? Again, did a heavyweight version get produced?
Do you own any rosettes missing from this gallery? Then send me a picture!
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