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League Ladders and Team Tabs

74-75 Shoot1974Tabs1Ayr Utd magnet 81 82For anyone that doesn't remember, League Ladders were a simple device.  Essentially the main part consisted of a thin piece of cardboard with  slits cut into it, on top of which was printed the empty league tables  for England and Scotland. Into the slits you'd slot some thin cardboard  tabs that displayed the names of all the English and Scottish league  clubs.  As the league tables changed each week, it was your job to pull  out the tabs and place them in the right slots to show each team in  their new position.

The process of updating your very own full colour league table display  was addictive and hugely enjoyable up until, ooh, the third week of the  season, by which time the novelty of rearranging 130 small pieces of  cardboard had dramatically worn off.

Such was Shoot's ingenious ability to nurture your excitement for the new season (and  for increasing revenue), they'd only give away two divisions worth of  team tabs every week, thereby meaning you had to buy Shoot for four  consecutive weeks to get them all. Chances are you'd fail to get a copy  of Shoot for at least one of those four weeks, thereby leaving an aching chasm of emptiness where Kilmarnock should be.  On reflection, maybe that  wasn't such a bad thing, actually... Anyway, the history of team tabs and league ladders as they affected Ayr United are explored on this page.

Team tabs for published league ladders are certainly far older than I had ever imagined! Previously,  I had believed that the football magazine SHOOT!  produced the first of these in the 1969-70 season, but my research (primarily through the work of Roger Pashby and his site at

http://www.huddersfieldtowncards.co.uk/team-tabs.html to whom im grateful) has revealed that in fact they go all the way  back into the 1920s!

Football Attic League Ladders 1913-14Lets start with an inventive group called THE FOOTBALL ATTIC 2013-14 who, in August 2013, to celebrate the popularity of League Ladders produced their own 'fantasy' set of League Ladders for 1913-14.

You will find a link to their website and a fully printable set of both ladders and tabs in the links below to  show you what they might have looked like had they been available 100  years ago, just before the start of the 1913-14 season.

As you can see, they tried to be as authentic as possible  when it comes to the admittedly minimal styling (give or take the  occasional bit of indulgence here or there), and rest assured the  details and team colours shown are accurate as any examination of Ayr United’s colours for then will show.

Better still is the fact that you can download a PDF version for you to print out onto thin A3 cardboard, you could have your very own  working version of our 1913-14 League Ladders. All you need to do is cut out all the tabs and cut the slits where marked, and youre historic tables are - well ready.  It shows Ayr United in perfect 1913/14 colours just after they entered the league in 1910 and gained their first promotion.

FOOTBALL ATTIC

Ayr Utd Attic 1913 14

1913/14

Please note that if the tab has been described in RED then I need it  and would be happy to speak to anyone who can supply me with one! If you can then e-mail me on redcuillin54@yahoo.co.uk

The major producers of these little items were ROVER, CHAMPION, TIGER, LION and VALIANT comics, all published by Amalgamated Press / Fleetway / IPC from the early  1920s and into the 1970s. It seems that between 1955 and 1965 the League Ladders  published were alternated between LION  and one of TIGER  and VALIANT  comics.  The Tab colours in Scotland were white lettering on a Blue background for Division 1 and red lettering on a white background for Division 2, all detailing the colours of the clubs’ strip. 

TIGER

Ayr Utd 1955-56 Tiger - League Ladders -Tabs

1955/56

TIGER

Ayr Utd TIGER 1958-59

1958/59

LION

Ayr Utd LION 1959 60

1959/60

VALIANT

Ayr_Utd_VALIENT_1962-63

1962/63

LION

1963 64 Ayr Utd LION

1963/64

LION

Ayr Utd VALIANT 1965-66

1965/66

From 1960-61 the colours’ changed for the  first time; certainly in 1962-63 VALIANT had the 2nd Division teams represented by red letters on a yellow background with black edges.  Also, up until 1962-63 tabs were not perforated for easy 'push-out' use; instead they had to be cut from the printed sheet.

In 1963/64  LION led the way in having team 'colours' on the tabs with the Ayr United tab showing white text on black.  Another innovation in the 1963/64 season was the printing of the previous season's  finishing position - a boon to all collectors trying to date individual  tabs!

VICTOR

Ayr Utd 1969-70 Victor1

1969-70

LYONS MAID

1970-71 Ayr Utd Lyons Maid

‘1970/71

SCORE ‘N ‘ROAR

1970 71 Ayr Utd SCORE N ROAR

1970-71

SMITHS Crisps

Ayr Utd SMITHS Crisps1978 79

1978/79

Gary Linekers Hot-Shot

1988 89 Ayr Utd Gary Linekers Hot-Shot League Ladders

1988/89

By the late 1960s EVERYBODY wanted to get  in on the act and all sorts of commodities were issuing their own  'League Ladders' in a variety of shapes and sizes.  LYONS MAID - All you had to do was  send your name and address along with four tokens from the bottom of the Soccer Star cards that were given away free with their Score lolly. The offer ended on 1 February 1971.  SMITHs Crisps became involved and offered league tables for 1978/79 and ‘HOT SHOT’ in 1988/89. 

SHOOT! (issued 1969-70 to 1999-2000)

Perhaps the most fondly remembered and most widely known team tabs were those produced by SHOOT  magazine from 1969 until 2000, although not 1970-71 when they were issued with SCORE'N'ROAR' instead.

As can be seen, they underwent quite a change in presentation although  they certainly stuck to using team colours’ for each of the clubs. 

One  problem for the collector came with the decision in 1970 to drop the  previous season's finishing position, (re-instated by 1990), in favour of  information about where the club played which makes dating these items all the more difficult. 

From 1984/85 the record attendance was added which again did not help in identifying the season.  In 1990/91 the previous seasons league position was re-introduced.

The SHOOT! tabs for the 70s, therefore, were very much the same from one season to the other as can be seen in the tabs shown here.  1990/91 also saw SHOOT! move from white lettering on a black background to black lettering on a white background for Ayr United which remained until the last produced Ayr United tab.

For collectors in Scotland there was a major change in 1994/95 when SHOOT took the decision to exclude the Scottish second division from their annual publication, providing tabs and League ladders for the Scottish Premier and First Division only.

This meant that (unlike for English teams) league position the previous season decided whether or not you're club were included in the following seasons league ladders.

Because of this there were no tabs printed for Ayr United in seasons 1994/95, 1995/96 and 1996/97, when the Honest Men were in Scotland's third tier.

In August 1999 SHOOT!  printed their final set of League Ladders, leaving MATCH WEEKLY to carry the torch single-handedly for the next ten seasons.

‘SHOOT’

1992 93 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1992/93

‘SHOOT’

1993 94 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1993/94

Peelable PVC stickers were used for seasons 1992-93, 1993-94.

‘SHOOT’

1969 70 Ayr Utd SHOOT

‘SHOOT’

Issued with ‘SCORE ‘N ‘ROAR’ (above)

‘SHOOT’

1974 75 Ayr Utd SHOOT

‘SHOOT’

1972 73 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1969 70

1970/71

1971/72

1972/73

‘SHOOT’

Ayr Utd SHOOT 1971-73

1974/75

‘SHOOT’

‘SHOOT’

1975 76 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1975/76

‘SHOOT’

‘SHOOT’

Ayr Utd SHOOT 1976 77

1976/77

‘SHOOT’

Ayr Utd SHOOT 1981 84
Ayr Utd SHOOT 1982 84
1980 81 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1980/81

‘SHOOT’

Ayr Utd SHOOT 1983 84

1983/84

‘SHOOT’

Ayr Utd SHOOT 1987 88

1987/88

1981/82

‘SHOOT’

Ayr Utd SHOOT 1984 86

‘SHOOT’

1985 86 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1984/85

‘SHOOT’

1988-89 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1988/89

‘SHOOT’

1985/86

‘SHOOT’

1989 90 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1989/90

‘SHOOT’

1982/83

‘SHOOT’

1986-87 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1986/87

‘SHOOT’

1990 91 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1990/91

1999 00 Ayr Utd SHOOT
1997 98 Ayr Utd SHOOT

1997/98

1999/00

MATCH

1998/99

MATCH

2001/02

MATCH

1999 00 Ayr Utd MATCH

1999/00

MATCH

2002 03 Ayr Utd MATCH

2002/03

MATCH

2000 01 Ayr Utd MATCH

2000/01

MATCH

2003 04 Ayr Utd MATCH

2003/04

MATCH WEEKLY' (issued 1988-89 to 2015-16)

MATCH WEEKLY appeared as a serious rival to SHOOT! and began producing League Ladders of its own in 1990.

Like those of SHOOT! these tabs underwent varying changes in design although they did stick pretty much to using a 'shirt' design and the colours of the club.

By 2005-06  they had also adopted the same design as the shirts of the team, not  just their colours.

Like ‘SHOOT!’, ‘MATCH’ continued the now accepted format of including only the first two divisions in Scotland and by 2009 they had dropped the Scottish first division producing tabs only for the Scottish Premiership.

This effectively meant that the last tab produced for Ayr United was in 2003/04 when the club were relegated to the third tier not returning to the second tier until season 2009/10 when only Premier League tabs were produced.

On a general issue, MATCH inexplicably, did not issue League Ladders in  seasons 2011-12 or 2012-13.

They also failed to produce any League  Ladders in August 2016, fuelling thoughts that such gifts were  considered no longer of interest to the general football fan.

Nowadays fan-made replicas are available on sites like ebay.  One such is Simon Holderness of retrocraftsuk who has developed a current day version of these league ladders and team tabs to a very high standard, meaning that once again Ayr United has featured on a League Ladders system albeit not from the recognised national magazines.

His 2017/2018 version includes all of the recognised Scottish and English league system but also includes ladders and team tabs for the Scottish Highland and Lowland leagues as well as the English National, National North and National South divisions, other divisions in the English pyramid system.

In September 2017 retrocraftsuk produced a retro 1975/76 league ladders with a revised 2017/18 version.  A 1958/59 retro system was also produced in September 2017. 

Find retrocraftsuk on their website at https://leagueladders.club/

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro1958 59

1958/59

RETROCRAFTSUK

1964-65 Retro

1964/65

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro 1975-76

1976/77

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd SIMON 2017 18 Home

2017/18

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro 2017-18 -other

2017/18 Revision

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I have been lucky enough to have my Scottish League Ladders personalised by showing a footballer in an Ayr United shirt as background and having not only the normal Ayr United home tab, but also an away version in the 2017/18 away colours (shown below).  Ive also had some single (one off) team tabs for other seasons as shown below which are not in general sale.

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro1955 56

1955/56

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro 1962-63

1962/63

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro 1970 71

1970/71

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro1985 86

1984/85

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd Retro1985 86

1988/89

RETROCRAFTSUK

Ayr Utd SIMON 2017 18 Away

2017/18 Away - yellow.

DSCN1864Another such recent version of League Ladders is that of Stephen from Huddersfield who has developed an update-able set of wooden League Ladders that can be physically moved each week.  They come with scorecards and fixtures for you're specific team. Find them and others in his online shop.

DSCN1867
DSCN1865