The SSL Logo About S.S.L. Chart Soccer — A short history

S.S.L. Chart Soccer is my imaginary alternative to the real Scottish Football League, played using "chart" or "dice" methods to create results, league tables etc. S.S.L. stands for the "Scottish Soccer League" (or alternatively, in the past it has stood for the "Scottish Summer League") and has it's origins in the mid 1970's, when I first started to show an interest in chsrt and dice soccer games.

In the beginning: The Albion Cup

In late 1976 I had a plan to simulate a British Cup competition, which I called the Albion Cup (the name came from an old name for Britain that had been used in an article in a football book with the title "Perfidious Albion"). As British competition, this would be split into two areas, North and South, corresponding to Scotland and England, so there would be no matches between English and Scottish clubs until the final match. The results would be simulated using two dice (from a game of Monopoly), one representing the home team's score, and the other the away team's score. Obviously the actual values on the dice could not be used as the scores, there is no "nil" for a start. To have some kind of "form" I had a sliding scale of equivalent values depending on the clubs' relative positions in the league (ratings). The higher a club's position relative to the other, the higher their possible score. The home scale was slightly better than the away one as well, to reflect home advantage. Once the dice had been thrown the value on each die would lead to an equivalent "score", which would then be used to cerate the result of the match.

So, I did the first Scottish area Albion Cup using the final 1975-76 Scottish League placings as the "ratings". The final was contested between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, Aberdeen winning 3—0. I think initially I also did the English area of the Cup in the first season, with the intention of having a final between the winners of the English and Scottish areas to decide the overall Albion Cup champions. However, I have no records of the English version nor whether any play-off final ever took place, but what I do know is that I did not continue with the English area competition after that first season, for one reason or another. So, the competition Became a Scottish one, and retained the name of "Albion Cup".

Again, no records of these early competitions survive, apart from the result of the finals and the teams that contested them. I'm not sure why these survived but I think at the time, as I knew that the records could be lost, I made sure that I at least had details of the winners and the teams and scores in the finals (these were printed out using a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and the little printer that used silver paper, and I still have these original records stored away).

Old league championship record (1)

Old league championship record (2)

Old Albion Cup record

Old record book (1)

Old record book (2)

The League Championship

After 54 Albion Cups had been played, I began a League championship to run alongside the cup. Again, there are no surviving details of the scores in the league competitions apart from the league positions in the first two seasons. For posterity, the final Premier Division positions for the first season, Season 55, were as shown below. Note that I used a strange points system for these early season, which was 6 points for a win, three for a draw and a point for each goal scored. I think it was based on the N.A.S.L. system at the time. Due to incompleteness of the records I only have the points totals for the first two places. The first season had 10 teams, that played each other twice, so 18 games per team.

  1. Celtic 124 pts
  2. Dundee Utd 109 pts
  3. Rangers
  4. Aberdeen
  5. Partick Thistle
  6. Motherwell
  7. Hearts
  8. Hibernian
  9. Kilmarnock
  10. Ayr Utd

In Season 56 the Premier Division was increased to 12 teams, so there was no relegation in the first season. The final positions in this second season were as below. The points system remained the same but as far as I can remember the 12 teams only played each other once, so only 11 games per team.

  1. Rangers 74 pts
  2. Celtic 72 pts
  3. Hearts
  4. Motherwell
  5. Dundee Utd
  6. Aberdeen
  7. Kilmarnock
  8. Ayr Utd
  9. St Mirren
  10. Partick Thistle
  11. Clydebank
  12. Hibernian

Initially the league had 38 teams, as in real life, but after a while I added two more teams, Third Lanark and Inverness Utd, and in Season 72 I reorganised the league into two divisions of 20, with three up and three down promotion and relegation. Apart from the tables above, the records that survive from Season 57 until Season 73 are limited to the top two places in the league. From Season 74 some records of league positions survive, but because there are pages missing from the book that they were kept in, the records only cover teams from the beginning of the alphabet as far as Motherwell, so there are no records for clubs such as Partick or Rangers during this period, unless they finished in the top three of the top division. The points totals for the top three are all that survive as well. However, it has been possible to use best guesses to reconstruct some of the positions of some of the missing clubs as the ratings were still based on real league positions at this time, so lot of them could be deduced from those. I have recreated these tables at the following link League Tables 74-88, with clubs whose positions were surmised shown in red.

The "Hibernation" Period

All of this occurred between late 1976 and mid 1977. In late 1977 I obtained my first "LOGacta Chart Soccer", which comprised specially set up books for arranging imaginary leagues and cups, and seven special, colour-coded dice, with different ranges of possible scores on them. This in itself was a major improvement on using Monopoly dice. The books were ingeniously laid out so as to arrange a 16-team league championship using teams of one's own choice. I experimented with English, Scottish and British leagues with LOGacta, but none of them took off in any way, as it just didn't seem to "work" in the way that the old leagues had, especially with a 16-team league for England, which did not come close to seeming realistic enough, being much smaller than the 22-team English First Division of the time.

For these reasons I did not continue with the S.S.L. for a while as having lost most of the records it seemed logical to start afresh, but none of the new leagues worked out due to the reasons mentioned above and the lack of a sense of "history". In addition, in 1979 I began the Football Federation for English clubs in a 20-team division, which was immediately successful as the 20-club system seemed to be a more realsitic representation of the English league (I had no idea at the time that a 20-club league would become the norm for the top English league in the future). This league eventually became my A.F.L. that I still do today. Consequently, the Scottish Leagues took a back seat for quite a long time.

The "Revival" Period

In 1987, around 10 years after I had last played any Scottish Leagues, I decided to try and reconstruct some of the old league tables, just out of interest and to see how much of the old records could be retrieved. This was when I constructed the tables for Seasons 74 to 93 with missing data surmised as mentioned above. It proved very interesting to see the reconstructed tables again after all those years, which inspired me to try to revive the Scottish leagues. It occurred to me that the "history" that I was looking for to give it some sort of legitimacy was already there with these existing S.S.L. records, so if I tagged seasons onto that instead of starting afresh it might work a little better. In addition to the league tables I was amazed to find that I still had the lists of the Albion Cup final scores from the beginning and the top two or three in the league for all seasons, so I actually still had a reasonable amount of data to build on, so I decided to attempt to continue from where I left off in 1977.

In the original leagues, the number of clubs was reduced to 38 clubs from season 86, i.e. 18 in the First Division instead of 20, and this was reduced further to 14 clubs in season 88. As I wanted to do an 18-team First Division I decided that I should scrub the original seasons 88-93, and restart from the end of season 87, thus continuing the 18- and 20-club setup that had existed at the end of season 87. I was a little apprehensive about scrubbing seasons but almost as if to confirm my decision, an amazing coincidence took place in the Albion Cup in that first new season. In the original season 88, the Albion Cup had been won by Hearts over Dundee by a score of 5—3 in a replay. In the replayed season 88, Hearts and Dundee just happened to both reach the final again and, once more, it went to a replay, which was won by Hearts as before. The score the second time round was not 5—3 but, in order to provide a kind of link between the old and the new, I decided to use the 5—3 score. This omen proved to be a good one and the league enjoyed a new revival that kept me entertained for a good many years and took the game into the current period.

Current Period

These leagues were still being done manually, involving writing out all the fixtures by hand and adding up the scores and compiling tables manually. By around season 130, I started to use computer software that I had written myself, so from around this point the records are electronic, although the software is outdated now and most of the records exist only on old floppy disks so they may not be easily retrievable now. Because of this there are still some records not available from this period of time. I began using Excel spreadsheets, which are excellent for calculating fixtures, compiling tables and generating the results. More recently I have ported these across to Google Sheets.

At the time of writing, I play a "Scottish Super League" of 12 clubs, which involves a 34-game season with two clubs relegated each season and, usually, three clubs to play in the two European competitions. The Albion Cup involves the 42 real-life Scottish league teams plus 20 non-league teams from the Highland and Lowland leagues. In addition, a short pre-season competition, the Super Cup, is played by the Super League clubs.

So, that's us up to date so in the meantime enjoy looking through these records and I will update them now and again with new seasons as they are done.

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© Alex Middleton 2019