The S. S. L.
The S.S.L. is my alternative to the real (i.e. boring) Scottish Football League. It stands for the "Scottish Soccer League" (formerly the "Scottish Summer League") and has it's origins in the mid 1970's, at which stage I was beginning to show an interest in the organisation of football leagues and cups.
Around 1974 I heard that there had been a plan (so far unsubstantiated) that the imminent Scottish Premier League of 10 clubs was to eventually be merged with 10 clubs from the English League, to form a kind of Super League. I'm not sure if this was true or just the figment of someone's fertile imagination, but it obviously never materialised. However, I experimented with an imaginary league of my own arranged along these lines but no records of this survive. I then decided to try to simulate Scottish leagues instead.
In the beginning: The Albion Cup
In late 1976 I had a plan to simulate a British Cup competition, called the Albion Cup. This would have 2 areas, North and South, corresponding to Scotland and England. 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.
The first Scottish area Albion Cup took place, using the final 1975-76 Scottish League placings as "ratings". The final was contested between Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, Aberdeen winning 3-0. An English Cup was also done, with the intention of having a final between the two winners to decide the overall Albion Cup champions. There are no records of the English version remaining nor whether any play-off final ever took place and there was no further English participation in the competition. The competition continued in Scotland, however, becoming known purely as the Albion Cup. The only surviving records of the early seasons of the cup is the participants in the finals and the scores.
The League Championship
In season 55 I began a League championship. There are also no surviving details of the scores in these competitions apart from the league positions in the first two seasons. For posterity, the final Premier Division positions for Season 55 were:
In Season 56 the Premier Division was increased to 12 teams and the positions were as follows:
The league now had 40 teams with the addition of Third Lanark and Inverness Utd and, in Season 72, these clubs were reorganised into two divisions of 20, with three up and three down promotion and relegation between them. Apart from the tables above, the records that survive from Season 57 onwards are limited to the top two in the league, until Season 74, when some records of league positions survive. The records available between Seasons 74 and 86 cover all teams up to Motherwell in alphabetical order and therefore, for clubs after this such as Partick or Rangers, the correct league position is not known unless they finished in the top three of Division 1. However, it has been possible to surmise the positions of some of the clubs and these tables have been included in the League Tables 74-88, showing the known and surmised positions for each season.
The "Hibernation" Period
All of this occurred between late 1976 and mid 1977. In late 1977 I obtained a piece of kit called "Logacta Chart Soccer", which comprised specially set up books for arranging imaginary leagues and cups, and six 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, 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 a 16-team league for England.
So for this reason I did not continue with the S.S.L. for a while as I had lost most of the records and it seemed logical to start afresh, however none of these leagues worked out due to the reasons mentioned above and the lack of a sense of being established due to having 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 20 clubs seemed to be the "e;sweet spot" that I was looking for, and the Scottish Leagues consequently took a back seat. (See A.F.L. site for history of Football Federation).
The "Revival" Period
In 1987, 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 I could reconstruct. I had a an old book, which had league positions for the clubs from seasons 74 to 93, the only snag being that the pages for the teams after Partick Thistle in the alphabet had been lost. Therefore I had to "surmise" the positions of some of these teams, including the likes of Rangers and St Mirren for example, from the gaps left after reconstructing the tables from the records that did exist. This proved to be slightly easier to compile than I thought as certain clubs' positions were more obvious than others, and it proved very interesting to see the reconstructed tables again after all those years. I then thought to myself, 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 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, at least, details of ALL the honours won since the beginning. I therefore hit upon the idea of continuing 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 season 88, thus following on from 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 in this case was not 5-3 but, in order to provide a kind of link between the old and the new, I decided that the records would show 5-3. This omen proved to be a good one and the league enjoyed a new revival that kept me entertained for a good many years.
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. At the time of writing (June 2013) I am using Excel spreadsheets, which are excellent for calculating fixtures, compiling tables and even generating the results, and the tables and records for recent seasons have been created in this way.
At the time of writing, the League comprises 42 clubs, although only 32 are full members, and these are arranged in two divisions of 16 teams, the Premier League and League One. League Two comprises 10 associate members, two of which are automatically promoted to League One at the end of each season. Presently (season 170) only the 32 full members contest the Albion Cup, but this may change as it proposed that the League Cup is revived with eight groups of four teams in the qualifying stages, thus providing the six additional matches to the 30 played in the League to match the 36 that are played by the League Two clubs. If this goes ahead then it is proposed that the League Two clubs will become eligible to play in the Albion Cup with the introduction of a Preliminary Round for qualificiation to the First Round (Round of 32) for those clubs.