Subbuteo Tribute Website.
The first two pages contain the A-Z range, produced originally to complement the flat card and plastic figures of the
1940s and '50's. However, some of these items did continue under the old codes until 1977, and the small balls not only survived under the "C" codes, but ended up being "61145" in the Waddington range. This range came prior to my own Subbuteo playing days, so my thanks to everyone who has donated pictures
and information for this page. The descriptions come mostly from my catalogues dated
November 2000: An especially big thank you goes to Nigel Hills whose scan of the 1949-50 catalogue has allowed me to include all the sets that had disappeared by 1967. (For the record they are Sets A, B, I, J, K, and L(a) ).
Set A (first version): The Popular Introductory
Complete in box, with full assembling instructions and rules of play, together with advice on how to spin the figures.
From 1947-49, the first set in the accessory range was the full edition of the game. Called the Assembly edition, it was a real do-it-yourself set. The goals came as flat metal poles, the netting was a paper sheet, and you were given a piece of chalk so you could mark out the pitch on an old army blanket. See the Box sets 1947-69 page for more details of early sets.
Set A (second
version): Basic Accessory Outfit.
Including 2 smaller balls, referee and two linemen, goal holding device, material for keeping the ball in the net, six corner flags, referee whistle, surround apparatus, and score recorder.
Complete in Presentation Box.
By 1953-54 the original Assembly Edition had been joined by the Combination and Super Assembled Editions. This meant that it was no longer appropriate for it to be Set A. It was replaced in the accessory range by a presentation set of the most useful accessories that weren't included in any of the boxed versions of the game. So this did not include goals, the larger balls, or fixture cards (which you would already own with your set), but it did include the goal holders, smaller balls etc. For the record, the accessories included in this set were FF, P, Q, R, T, V, Y and Z (early version).
Set B: Subscription to
the Table Soccer Player's Association.
Badge, Membership Card, and the current issue of the 8-page bulletin which details the names and addresses of members is sent to you.
Another accessory from the 1949-50 catalogue, the Players Association was established very early in Subbuteo's life. It was a real part of Peter Adolph's vision for his game. As an early pamphlet states "it's more than a game - its an organisation. You are now an owner-player, so please take advantage of all the facilities." The subscription remained in the range until 1965-66, and the cost remained at 2s for the entire period.
This set is now illustrated by some Player's Association items from the 1940s. On the left is a certificate card No 5903/14013. The 5903 is printed on, and the 14013 hand written. Inside this certifies that R Y Stafford is a member, and this is initialled "p.a.a". On the right are issues two and four of the bulletin (Winter 1947/48 and Season 1949/50 respectively). Issue four illustrates the "Silver Cup", which was won by the champion player each season. For the seasons 1947-48 and 1948-49 it was won by Peter Findley initially in the "Devon A" league, but later playing in Steyning - a small market town just a few miles from where I live. Thanks to Terry for photographing these papers. The bulletin was basically a copy of all the results and tables sent to the association by the clubs of the time, large or small.
Set BB: Subbuteo Player Badge.
Brightly coloured, enabling you to be recognised as a Subbuteo Table Soccer owner.
This was a late comer to the A-Z range, not arriving until 1962. Whilst I'm not completely confident, it seems likely that the badges shown on the left and middle of the above illustration are those sold as Set BB. They are the right era, and the words "Subbuteo Player" match up nicely to the description. The red rimmed badge is the earlier of the two, featuring a player in the v-necked short sleeve shirt of the original heavyweight figure (also introduced circa 1962). The later green edged badge (shown middle) is an updated version for the 1970s, featuring the long sleeved corner kick style figure featured in the Subbuteo logo of the period. The green badge seems the more unusual of the two.
There were various other badges issued after this time, mostly to members of the player's associations (see above). However, the final green badge illustrated above was a general issue. It was advertised as part of the Club Edition package in the 1986 catalogue, and is shown here because I didn't know where else to put it!
Set C: Advanced Table Soccer Booklet.
This little booklet launched in the 1940s, and went through several different versions. The cover states "as applicable to the football game invented by the author", and gives P A Adolph the world copyright. The booklet assumed that the reader had already digested the two booklets provided with the box sets i.e. the elementary playing instructions and the spin leaflet.
Inside the booklet were a number of sections. Firstly, it explained about forming leagues and registering them with the Table Soccer Players Assn. It advises that a senior league consists of 16 players (usually split into divisions), but that you can form a sectional league with as few as four players. Players should then play at least 20 games per season. Senior leagues got to send one player (the champion usually) to the "All Britain Silver Cup Championship" which was held every year in London. A panel of judges selected an unspecified number of players from the sectional leagues to join them.
Peter Adolph then talks about the game under various headings - "setting out the game", "Propulsion", "Etiquette", "Tactics", and "your team as your favourite club". He also illustrates the correct method for the ground shot, and for raising the ball. The latter method even works for me, although its interesting that in the 1967 version the ground shot is illustrated with a OO scale player and the chip with a flat. Perhaps Mr Adolph had trouble chipping with a h/w like most of us (but even I can chip with a flat).
The item survived on this number until 1972-73, and then became C116 until finally ceasing in 1981-82, by which time all the rulebooks had been amalgamated. The cover of the revised 1970-71 copy of the book is shown under C116. This 1970s revision has no mention of Peter Adolph or the Players Assn.
Set D: Complete team.
Comprising one press-out cardboard team sheet, 10 bases, one number sheet, one goalkeeper base with wire handle.
By the 1949-50 season, a new press-out version was being produced. These were still sold as a card sheet, but only needed to be cut along the base to release the figures, so they were stronger as a result. A decision to outline these new figures in black was not so popular, but at least makes the different figures very easy to recognise. With the arrival of the press-out teams, the cut-outs were phased out, although stock took a little while to use up. In 1950-51 refs 3, 4, 8, 9, 11 and 12 were still in cut-out form. The final catalogue to mention cut-outs was 1953-54, which only had 3, 4, 11 and 12 in the old format.
The team number sheet allowed figures to be numbered, and old positions were also provided, and usually placed on the bases (i.e. IF = inside forward). The bases were produced in colours to match the teams, but were also sold separately as Set E, so see below for more details.
The late 1960s catalogue description above shows the full range of colours produced, but their arrival was staggered over the period. The specially designed "Super Flattened" bases arrived in the summer of 1947, in red, blue, black and white. Green and yellow bases were available for goalkeepers, but not sold for full teams at this stage. The first numbered price list of 1948-49 added old gold (for ref 6), green (for ref 15), and tangerine (for ref 13). The following year (1949-50) saw the arrival of a sky blue team as the new reference five, and sky blue bases were added to cover this reference.
Yellow team bases finally arrived in 1952-53, with maroon added the same year. Teams 27 (Hearts), and 28 (Norwich) were added in 1953-54 and were ideal for these colours. Next to arrive was the less useful grey base. This had actually also first appeared in 1952-53, in set HH, to be used with the goalkeeper in a grey jersey. It was made available for teams in 1955-56. There was then a long wait until the final colour, mauve, which was not introduced until 1967, which was a year before Anderlecht (ref 55) was added to the list. It is odd that Subbuteo very rarely used the mauve colour, even in heavyweights (where Anderlecht was usually sold on light blue bases).
As can be expected from an item produced for twenty-five years, there are differences and variances in the bases. Most bases have the word Subbuteo on them. The early bases have the word twice, and the font is different. The most common base has Subbuteo written only once around the rim, with their British design no (851000) on the other side. This type of base was also produced with Subbuteo written twice around the top though. There are also early bases with no writing on them at all.
There are also different shades in many of the colours, with a dull blue common in the early sets. The early bases are often prone to a serious breakdown in the plastic, with blistering and a while film visible on the top surface. The blue and green bases seem more prone than the red, so it might be something to do with the dyes used.
Set F: Two/Three
brown panelled balls.
Standard size, best quality. (White or orange panelled available at the same price for those who require them).
This was the standard sized football used in Subbuteo until the 1970s. The medium sized ball that became the norm in the 1980s didn't make its first appearance until set C121 in 1969, but even then the larger sized ball was still the one used in the box sets up to and including the 1981 re-box. Players using flat figures will tell you that you cannot play the game properly using any other size of ball.
This set itself started in the 1940s as a two ball set (for a shilling). These early balls are obviously an different type of plastic than the later ones, and have a rather odd feel. The colour of the plastic on the standard brown ball seems to range from very dark to a light leathery version, and a stitching detail appeared on some 1950s balls.
The "varied colour smooth ball" is a slight mystery. Early Newfooty was often shown with a small ball made from two different coloured halves, and it is likely that this was what Peter Adolph was also offering. The original rules booklet of the 1940s did show Subbuteo being played with this style of ball.
The set lasted under this number until 1977, when it changed to C144. That set in turn survived until 1985 (as 61144). The balls from the 1960s and 1970s were a thick sturdy plastic, but they became thinner and more prone to breaking in later years. The late version had three panels rather than two and are illustrated under C144.
Set FF: Two/Three small balls.
In brown, white and orange.
The small balls arrived in the catalogue in 1952-53, along with the small goals (Set NN), both introduced for the experienced player. Certainly, a smaller ball made things more difficult, both in hitting the ball, and in trying to save shots... but mastering the angles to affect direction, and chipping the ball are not exactly easy even with the larger balls. I can't imagine too many players needing the extra challenge.
Like Set F, this item was composed of only two balls in the 1950s. However, here the two ball version lasts much longer with the 1965-66 catalogue still showing Set FF as a two ball set. It finally became a three ball version in the 1966-67 range. I think the ball was originally only available in brown. A couple of years ago, I was under the impression that this remained the most common colour for this ball - but I've seen a number of white and orange ones since then, so I'm not so sure.
Like Set F, these balls last on this number until 1977. They then become C145, and survived on this new number long enough to become 61145 in 1983-84, before finally disappear around 1986.
I've also included a picture here to illustrate the different sizes of Subbuteo ball available. The standard continental ball size (introduced with C121 in 1969) is on the left, Set FF is in the middle, and Set F is in the right.
Set G: Two press-out cardboard team sheets. One number sheet.
In colour chart references 1-50 only.
Card team sheets were so cheap that you were given two in this set. Good huh? As explained under Set D, the sheets originally needed to be cut out with scissors, but became press-out in the early 1950s. The press out teams had a black border around the players (shown very clearly in the scan), and several players have expressed a dislike of this to me. However press-out teams were vital to cut down on the risk of bending the players.
The number sheets were "lick-and-stick" adhesive paper with numbers and player positions to place on players backs and bases. Of course the positions were very 1950s (I.R. = inside right).
Set H: One special goalkeeper sheet.
HH: Set of plastic goalkeepers.
The two goalkeepers that came in the 1950s box sets and teams wore green and yellow, so I'm not sure why Subbuteo chose these colours for the spares. Still, I guess they made a change. It was also a use for the grey base. In fact, it was the arrival of this item in 1952-53 saw the introduction of the grey base, and it was not offered as a team option until 1955-56. The crimson base may explain some colour variations in red bases. I assume these colours were picked so that the spare goalkeeper did not clash with any of the other outfielders when used (although Set LL did not follow up on this idea).
It's worth noting that these goalkeepers were sold with bases, whereas the card sheet was not. (Therefore the card sheet cost 7d in the 1950s, while celluloid goalies were 1s 2d). Regular website visitors will be pleased to see the correct colour goalkeepers now being illustrated.
Set I: Real Netting
Set J: Two Goal Frames
JJ: Ball-raising chute.
I have seen three different versions of this set. The original was made of transparent plastic, and this then switched to a dark green. From the 1960s onwards, the chute was a more professionally produced version in mid-green, with Subbuteo embossed on the under side.
Set K: Green Baize
This was simply a normal playing pitch without the markings. So grab the chalk from the
original box set and get drawing.... This item cost 13s 6d in 1949, compared with
18s 4d for the proper marked out pitch. Good for people on a budget, who didn't have an old
army blanket kicking around.
Set L (a): Referee and
together with three black hemispherical bases.
This is one of the few Subbuteo numbers which was reused for a completely different set. The original Set L (note the "a" is my numbering, not theirs) was a card sheet containing a referee and two linesman, plus three black bases. As with the teams, the celluloid referees followed hot on the heels of this set, and were in the range by 1949.
Set L (b): Logbook
for keeping accurate league tables and all information concerning your leagues.
The original 1950s logbook was a simple affair costing 1s 3d. With all the statistics generated by kids, Subbuteo was onto a winner with this set. Mind you, if they had sold more of these books, perhaps there wouldn't be so many Subbuteo sets with scores written inside the box lid.
The original logbook was a simple design, and changed little over its life. There were twenty pages. The first page gave room for team names, managers, and "assoc. no" for fourteen sides (along with a space for "qualified referees". Then it was on to the league, with a table with room for eight clubs, and room for four rounds of matches each month (over five months). Then there was a page for the cup competition (16 teams in round 1), a couple of pages for "important matches", a lot of room for leading goal scorers, and notes, and a page given over to "statistics and records" (longest undefeated run, worst goal average, longest cup tie etc). The version I own is clearly from the mid/late 1960s, as the inside cover is advertising the "British Table Soccer Assn", which did not form until 1965. However, the back page is a vintage Subbuteo advert, with the game "newly invented".
version - Super logbook.)
A vital booklet for your records and reference. Thirty pages of Soccer features and facts, in a handsome embossed wallet cover.
Set LX: Replacement logbook.
This was simply a refill for the wallet of Set L, and was introduced at the same time for 2s 11d. It managed to outlive the cover. After changing to C147 it received a final mention (and illustration) in the 1978 Subbuteo catalogue.
Set LL: Two spare goalkeepers.
Can be utilised for goal-kicks and for playing the advanced rules. Saves taking goalkeepers off wire handle.
The description is not much different that set HH, and both were the same price (1s 3d), so I had long assumed these figures were just standard goalkeepers. In fact they were shown in action pose (although the plastic is the usual footballer shape). As both goalkeeper and base are the same as an outfield player in a celluloid team, this item was far from essential. Still, they look pretty good.
Set M: Green baize playing-pitch cloth.
...of a superior quality, whipped at the edges and imprinted with the field of play... This marked-out playing pitch is a very handsome article. A new type of cloth, the result of much research.
No modesty there then :-) Actually, in my view the 1960s pitches that I own (circa 1970) are of a much better quality than the later ones. These are a thicker, stiffer material, and you can't see the pitch markings from the other side. An added advantage to this was that you could pile some books on the floor, throw the cloth over them, and hey presto - a hill for wargaming. What do you mean you don't wargame?
Not surprisingly for a set sold throughout Subbuteo's history, different variations exist - both in texture and colour of cloth. The first change came early, and was mentioned in the catalogues. The 1952-53 version saw "a new type of cloth - the result of much research and available this season". The trouble is that Peter Adolph did not sell a full set with a pitch until the following season, so what the early 1947-51 pitch was like, I do not know.
The 1950s pitch was dark green, quite stiff, and had no makers name on it. The 1960s-1970s pitches were lighter in colour, and softer to the touch. Initially these still did not have the name of the game on them, but it was added in the late 1960s. Various different sizes of logo were produced, but I'll leave those details to another time I think. The set remained on this number until 1973, when it filled the vacant C109 slot in the continental range.
Set MM: Green Baize playing cloth.
An interesting addition to the football range, this rugby pitch was produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s for the quirky rolling disc version of rugby. (see the rugby page for details). The cricket range of the time had a small accessory range, but there was not one for this strange rugby game, so this was really the only place they could offer the pitch as an extra (and you could buy a rugby set without a pitch, so there was a need). The later rugby game had an accessory range, so the pitch for that version was offered there (under reference RM).
Due to the fact that I've been sent pictures for nearly all of this early range, I've felt the need to split it over two pages. Follow the link for accessories N-Z
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