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Peter Upton's

Subbuteo Tribute Website.

The Team Colours Project.

References 1 - 55 (Card and Celluloid).

These are the teams produced for the original version of Subbuteo before the OO scale sides that so many of us played with as kids. (If you played with card sides as a kid then I'm afraid that you are showing your age just a little bit). The card figures were much loved by players for the delightful style of play they could produce (they are better than heavyweights at spinning, swerving and chipping). For this reason, they continued to be sold alongside the OO scale teams until the early 1970s, and had a devoted following amongst serious players until comparatively recently.

The colours here are understandably simple with no fancy trim. The socks on nearly all flat teams are a plain black with white hooped tops. Because of this, I've been able to crop the bottoms of the players in this list to keep the pictures at my standard 120 pixel team list height. As with all Subbuteo, this black socks rule has exceptions. Coloured socks appear on a few card sides of late date, and a few (refs 19, 49 and 50) are shown here.

Card Teams.

a) Cut-Out Card teams (1947-49 with unsold stock sold until 1954)


The earliest Subbuteo accessory price list was dated Autumn 1947. Prior to this, the accessories do not seem to have been numbered. On this first list, there were already ten different coloured card teams being produced. These early teams were simply printed onto plain sheet of card, and needed to be cut out with scissors. As shown, each player was surrounded by a rectangular dotted line, but owners were advised to cut around the figure to improve the touch of the player. This was difficult to do around the ankles, and would often result in a crease or bend. This was bad news, especially for goalkeepers. A better idea was to cut down from the shorts, and leave the legs uncut (see the West Ham player in the team list below).

The card teams were sold as either a full team with bases (Set D), or as a pair of team sheets (Set G). Both sets were supplied with a sheet of numbers, so individual players could be identified. No clubs were assigned to the kits at this point. The teams were numbered though, and this numbering system survived right through to the end of the Waddintons era. So reference four was red and white stripes with white shorts in 1948, and was still on that number in 1996.

The notable exception to this rule was reference five. On this original list, it was a team with black and white stripes, with white shorts. However, this was an extremely short-lived team. Later in the season, Peter Adolph had released an "amendments and additions" sheet for this list, which stated that "ref 5 is not now stocked". This sheet also added ref. 17. I have seen this one in cut-out form.

b) Press-out Card Teams.


By the time of the 1949-50 catalogue the list had expanded to 24 teams, and Peter Adolph stated that this covered "all the English League Clubs", "the majority of Scottish clubs" and "Amateur and School Colours too numerous to mention". For the first time, this catalogue had descriptions of the colours and the sides they represented in a box format that continued to be used until well into the 1970s. This price list also had a new reference five - the sky blue of Manchester City.

A second release of the 1949-50 price list, dated to February 1950, gave the first mention of Press-out card teams. Initially, these were only available in refs 1, 2, the new ref 5, 15 and the new references of 18-24. This begs the question as to whether the sky blue ref 5 and 18-24 were ever produced in cut-out form. Evidence is awaited.

By 1950-51 only ref 3, 4, 8, 9, 11 and 12 were still in cut-out form, and 1953-54, which was the final catalogue to mention cut-outs, had only 3, 4, 11 and 12 in this old format.

Despite celluloid production, the card teams continued to be produced as a cheaper option right through the flat era, and the first decade of the OO scale figures.

Card Team Sheets.

A surprising find by collector Alan Lee were these card sheets containing three press-out card teams. Never sold this way by Peter Adolph, I assume they are a glimpse into the production process, i.e. they are fresh from the printing firm, and awaiting the guillotine to divide them up.

Celluloid Teams.


Celluloid flat teams also arrived on the 1948-49 price list, but were originally only available in red/white, and blue/white. However, by the time of the "amendments" sheet later in the season, all seventeen references were available in celluloid. Interestingly, this was also the first sheet to advise that figures "are now manufactured in a new lightweight plastic" Although this same description was used well into the 1960s, this first use might suggest that the original red/white and blue/white teams were produced in a different plastic, and therefore might be distinctive.

The 1949-50 expansion caused another production blip, with only teams 1-18 available on celluloid figures. Nos. 19-24 were stated as being available only from November 1st 1950. After this, the two types ran happily side by side until the 1970s. Another odd fact, is that although you could buy a complete card team with bases, the celluloid teams were only ever sold loose figures, supplied in a little cellophane packet.

The "Alf" Figure.


The "Alf" is a variant of the Celluloid figure, named by the much missed "flat" collector Mike Hyatt, and the close-up picture came from Mike's own collection. The differences are obvious if you own a team, but are also rather difficult to describe. The face and hairline are slightly different, but key is the way the figure is punched out. If you compare these players to the West Ham player at the top of this section, the cut-out has a much more angular design, particularly noticeable with regard to the ears and the hands. I don't know how far Mike got with dating this figure. They seem to be from the 1950s, and certainly the later team references (and unsold stock in collecting circles) do not feature them. The teams I had previously seen were all from early in the range, with my latest figure being reference 17. This picture pushes that forward, with a yellow shirted reference 28 which was introduced in 1953. The "Alf" was never the dominant figure in any event, and I assume they were just part of the usual disjointed expansion of Subbuteo - where teams and accessories were produced in different locations.

September 2021: Craig Atkinson sent in a fantastic picture of more Alf figures, which were inherited from his father-in-law. This is more Alf's than I've ever seen in one place!

Card or Celluloid?

Originally, I did not make a distinction between the two types of figure on this list. This was partly because I did not have illustrations for all the figures in both types anyway, but also because most of the sides looked similar whichever format they are shown in.

However, like the majority of Subbuteo items, there seem to be slight differences between teams on the same reference number, and between some of the card/celluloid alternatives. The most frequent example is with the striped teams. Whereas the card versions have five stripes of the darkest colour, the celluloid teams generally only have four, as shown on these two shirts from reference 35. As my knowledge (and collection) of this era has grown, so I have illustrated most of the teams in both types. You can tell which are the card sides, because they are all press-out versions, and these invariably leave an ugly thick black line around the player. For example, in the above illustration, the card team is on the left.

April 2012 - I have now received pictures of all the celluloid variations currently known. A big thank you goes to Bob Varney, Blackjack, Dixie Sauntson, James Herrera, Paul Woozley and especially Pete Everett and Mike Hyatt, who have all contributed pictures for this page, and also to Paul Woodhouse, who has helped my own celluloid collection along. We still need a few pictures of card teams, so keep looking!

The Team Colours.

For this page, I've duplicated the 1949/50 catalogue with regard to team names for kits up to reference 24. After that point, I've included the date that each new kit was introduced, as well as the teams they represented on their introduction. Whilst it is great to see ex-league sides like New Brighton, Gateshead, Accrington Stanley and New Lanark in this early range, it is a shame that they all wore basic kits that were also used by other teams. This leaves the original Bradford (Park Avenue) at reference 19 as the big rarity of the period.

It must be remembered that the early sides in this range were in production for over twenty years, which is longer than the heavyweight figures managed. So variations are likely.

  1. Barnsley, Bristol City, Charlton, Crewe, Liverpool, Man Utd, Middlesboro, Northampton, Notts Forest, Swindon Town, Wrexham, York City, Walsall. Scottish sides: Aberdeen, Arbroath, Hearts, Stenhousemuir, Third Lanark. International Colours: Wales
  2. Barrow, Birmingham, Carlisle, Chesterfield, Chelsea, Everton, Leyton Orient, Leicester, Millwall, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Southend Utd, Tranmere Rovers, Watford Scottish Sides: Albion Rovers, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Glasgow Rangers, Raith Rovers, St. Johnstone, Queen of the South. International Colours: Scotland
  3. Coventry City, Halifax Town, Hartlepool , Huddesfield, Oldham Athletic, West Bromwich.
  4. New Brighton, Stoke City.
    • The card figure illustrated has faded to orange.
  5. Original version - Black and white striped shirts, white shorts.
    Second Version (as illustrated) - Manchester City.
    • The light blue version arrived in the 1949-50 catalogue.
    • I assume that the card version is only in press-out form.
  6. Hull City, Newport County, Norwich, Wolves.
    • Note the dark colour of the shirt on the above example. Advertised as "old gold (or yellow) (or amber)", so variations might exist. (but see also 28)
  7. Aldershot, Aston Villa, Burnley, West Ham Utd.
    • Shown on the far right is an early cut-out West Ham, photographed at the Subbuteo Exhibition at Tunbridge Wells museum. Note the sensible way the legs have not been cut around.
    • This cut-out side is also the proper claret colour. The common celluloid is nearer "red and blue" than "claret and light blue".
  8. Grimsby Town, Newcastle Utd, Queens Park, St. Mirren
  9. Brentford, Lincoln City, Sheffield Utd, Sunderland, Southampton.
  10. Crystal Palace, Derby County, Fulham, Gateshead, Luton Town, Notts County, Port Vale, Stockport, Torquay, Airdrie, Ayr Utd, Clyde, England.

Teams 11-16 arrived in the catalogue dated 1948-49 (but no teams were assigned to them at this stage).

  1. Reading, Queen's Park Rangers. Scottish Sides: Kilmarnock, Morton.
  2. Blackburn Rovers, Leeds Utd, Mansfield Town, Bristol Rovers
  3. Blackpool. International Colours: Holland.
  4. International Colours: Belgium
  5. Plymouth Argyle, Southport, Scottish Sides: Hibernian. International Colours: Eire
  6. Accrington Stanley, Arsenal, Bournemouth, Rotherham Utd.
  7. Brighton & Hove Albion, Cardiff City, Ipswich Town
    • Arrived in the supplemental price list of July 1949.
    • Illustrated with an early square shouldered Alf figure.
  8. Bolton W, Bury, Tottenham H, Preston N.E.
  9. Original Version:Bradford (Park Avenue).
    • This version had red, Amber and black hoop shirts, and white shorts. A lovely bold colour scheme.
    • Second Version. Introduced 1963 - Barcelona. Now illustrated, it is worth noting the attractive and unusual stripe pattern, the round collar and the badge.
    • Note that the card Barcelona can have coloured socks. See also references 49 and 50 regarding non-black socks.
  10. Exeter City, Doncaster Rovers. Scottish Sides: Hamilton Academicals.
    • An early card version of this team had white shorts (see the end of the list).


  1. Swansea Town
  2. Chester, Sheffield Wednesday
  3. Bradford City. Scottish Sides: Motherwell.
    • Two celluloid versions are now illustrated. The late edition red and yellow, and an earlier claret and amber version (on an Alf figure).
    • The usual card version has a definite orange look to the "amber".
  4. Darlington Scottish Sides: East Stirling.
  5. Introduced 1952 - Scottish Sides: Celtic.
  6. Introduced 1952 - Leeds Utd 
  7. Introduced 1953 - Scottish Sides: Hearts, Arbroath, and Stenhousemuir.
    • The team was originally described as Maroon shirts, but a later description is "Maroon (or claret)"
  8. Introduced 1953 - Norwich City.
    • This side was originally described as having canary yellow shirts, and black shorts. This version lacks any green trim, and is the most common version in both celluloid and card.
    • A card version with a green collar has been seen in collecting circles.
    • Norwich switched to green shorts in the Subbuteo catalogues in 1969, and a version of that kit appeared in the final range of celluloids. These are recognisable by their long sleeves and round collars. I've yet to see this kit in card form.
  9. Introduced 1954 - Scottish Sides: Partick Thistle.
  10. Introduced 1954 - Scottish Sides: East Fife.

  1. Introduced 1955 - Blackburn Rovers.
    • There is a card version with simple blue and white halves without contrasting sleeves.
    • Whereas the common celluloid version has the more familiar sleeves. Both are now illustrated.
  2. Introduced 1957 - Scottish Sides: Alloa, Dumbarton.
    • The common version in collecting circles is a celluloid with thin hoops.
    • The card version has thick hoops.
  3. Introduced 1957 - Bishop Auckland.
    • Like Blackburn, the more familiar card version of this team has simple dark and light blue halves....
    • whereas the celluloid has contrasting sleeves (as painted on the later 3D versions). A contrasting sleeved card team may also exist.
  4. Introduced 1958 - Scottish sides: St Mirren, Queens Park. International side: Juventus
  5. Introduced 1958 - International side: Milano.
    •  Probably another classic Subbuteo error, it is assumed that this was an attempt at AC Milan, with the wrong colour stripes.
    • Was later sold as non-league Barnet.
  6. Introduced 1958 - Bradford (Park Avenue). A switch to green stripes left reference 19 without a team until it was replaced in 1963.
  7. Introduced 1963 - Oldham Athletic.
  8. Introduced 1963 - Grimsby Town.
  9. Introduced 1963 - International Side - Germany. Did Germany ever play in this strip? (the Italian h/w book suggests this is the German Olympic football team).
  10. First Version. Introduced 1963 - Crystal Palace. Claret and blue hoop. Black Shorts.
    Second Version. Introduced 1965 - Crystal Palace. Claret and blue hoop. White shorts.
    Third Version. Introduced 1968 - Crystal Palace. Claret and light blue stripes. White shorts.
    • The first version is common in both card and celluloid (it was in Waddingtons unsold stock).
    • White Shorts. No illustration, and I've not seen this one in card or celluloid.
    • The striped version was produced as a celluloid. Thanks to Bob Varney for the illustration here.
    • Note that the round collar and long sleeves design of this version comes from the final batch of celluloids.

  1. Introduced 1965 - Liverpool, Bristol City, Workington, Crewe. Card version seen with and without the white cuffs.
  2. Introduced 1965 - Chelsea, Carlisle Utd, Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Bristol Rovers, Ipswich, Stockport, Birmingham. Like 41, the card version does not always have white cuffs.
  3. Introduced 1965 - Coventry City, Reading.
  4. Introduced 1965 - Scottish Sides: Dundee. International colours: Scotland.
  5. Introduced 1965 - Scottish Sides: Hibernian
  6. Introduced 1965 - Scottish Sides: Motherwell
  7. Introduced 1965 - Mansfield Town. International Colours: Sweden.
  8. Introduced 1965 - International Colours: Spain.
  9. First Version. Introduced 1966 - Wolves, Southport. Old Gold version.
    Second Version: Introduced 1970 - Scottish Sides: Dundee Utd. Tangerine version.
    • The tangerine celluloid comes with the long sleeves/round collar of the final celluloids.
    • The old gold card version has a distinct V-neck and coloured socks (see illustration).
  10. Introduced 1966 International Colours - Brazil.

  1. Introduced 1967 - Millwall, Chester.
  2. Introduced 1967 - Lincoln
  3. Introduced 1968 - Portsmouth
  4. First Version. Introduced 1968 - Plymouth
    Second Version. Introduced 1970 - Plymouth.
    • Judging from the date the white version arrived in the catalogues, this must be the final celluloid team produced. (along with the tangerine version of 49).
  5. Introduced 1969 - Anderlecht.
    • Both the celluloid and card side are illustrated, with very different shirt colours - the celluloid being a dark purple, and the card being a sexy pink. (the subtle flesh tones are Bob's own addition to his much loved and well used team). This difference tallies nicely with the colour differences in the heavyweight versions. SSG were obviously unsure on the real colour!

Teams 51-54 are common in celluloid as they were in Waddingtons unsold stock released to the collectors community in the 1990s. It is worth noting that all these celluloids have the final round collar/long sleeved look. This was the fashion for football shirts at the time, and the OO scale figures had changed to this design in 1967. Reference 55 Anderlecht was not in this stock, and is one of the rarer sides out there.


Card teams in the 51-55 range are more of a puzzle. Several late 1960s catalogues state that the card teams were available in references 1-50 only, and so perhaps not all these teams were not released in this figure. For a long time, Bob Varney's Anderlecht was the only one of these sides I had seen, but in 2019 a card reference 51 surfaced, which I was lucky enough to photograph at the Worthing table soccer club. (note that one player in this team had white socks, which was weird). Bob has since sent me pictures of a further ref 55 team, which is owned by a friend. I've added more pictures, as this really is a lovely side. Bob confirms that he has seen the reference 51, but not any of the other teams in this block. Do any old players have them lying around, or is this all there was?

Un-numbered teams.


Daniel Tatarsky's Subbuteo book "Flick to Kick" has various pictures of unusual Subbuteo items to tantalise collectors. These two card teams feature in the early box set illustration on page 34. A further copy of the claret and blue hoop kit was seen at the Tunbridge Wells Museum display in 2005.

These kits were produced around 1948-50, but I have not seen them advertised on any paperwork. However, I have uncovered a few clues. The breakthrough was finding out which team wore the distinctive claret and blue hoops. Checking the usual suspects at the wonderful historic football kit website turned up blank. It was not Aston Villa, Burnley, Scunthorpe, or Crystal Palace. Then much later, looking for something else entirely, I found that this was a kit worn by Walsall until 1949.

I then received copies of a lot of old catalogues from Ashley Hemming (much appreciated). These teams were not mentioned, but it made me look at the team colours list in the 1949-50 catalogue once again. This is the first catalogue in which a team names are mentioned. Strangely, two English teams are not in alphabetical order in this catalogue - Walsall at the bottom of reference one, below Wrexham and York City; and Doncaster Rovers at the bottom of reference 20 (under Exeter City). You can see where this is going. Referring back to historic kits shows that Doncaster Rovers wore white shorts with their hoops not black, and that this kit was worn until 1950.

This just leaves the problem of when they were made, and whether they were advertised. The ones in "Flick to Kick" have the black outline of press-out figures which means they were post-1949, but the period is well documented with catalogues. As mentioned at the top of this page, the 1948-9 price list has 1-16, but unnamed, and a additional sheet to this removes reference five, and adds reference 17. The second version of the 1949-50 catalogue (issued February 1950) mentioned that press-outs were available as refs 1, 2, 5, 15, and 18-24. Obviously, 1 and 2 were those in the box sets,  ref 5 was a replacement, and 18-24 were new. It is possible that Peter Adolph ordered these kits from his printer, but the teams stopped wearing them before they arrived. As with many Subbuteo teams down the years, the out-of-date stock found its way into box sets.

That's as far as the card and celluloid team lists go. I have been told that the Swiss, English and German table football federations all manufactured flats after Subbuteo production halted in the early 1970s. However, I believe that these were only produced in black and white for players to colour themselves. In fact this type of figure is still sold as "professional" equipment if you want to give them a go.

It's time to pick another destination.

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