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The North West Counties Football League (currently known under the terms of a sponsorship deal as the Vodkat League) is a football league in North west of Englandmarker. As of 2008, the league covers the whole of the North West England region, and part of the West Midlands region, from Stoke-on-Trentmarker, the Peak Districtmarker in Northern Derbyshiremarker up to the Lake Districtmarker. In the past, the league has also hosted clubs from North Walesmarker. The league currently has two divisions: the Premier Division, at level nine in the English football league system, and the First Division at level ten. The league is a member of the Joint Liaison Council which administers the Northern arm of the National Football System in England.


The league was formed in 1982 by the merger of the Cheshire County League and the Lancashire Combination. It originally consisted of three divisions, but this was reduced to two in 1987, partly because of the creation of an extra division in the Northern Premier League (NPL). At the same time, promotion and relegation between the two leagues was introduced, with either the first or second placed club in the North West Counties Football League (NWCFL) being entitled to a place in the NPL, subject to their ground meeting that league's requirements.

The NWCFL has six feeder leagues of its own with eligibility for promotion to the First Division being accorded to champions of the Cheshire Association Football League, Liverpool County Premier League, West Cheshire Amateur Football League, Staffordshire County Senior League, West Lancashire Football League, and Manchester Football League, subject to their grounds meeting the NWCFL's requirements.

The first sponsorship of the NWCFL came in with Bass who remained the league sponsors until 1995. In 1998, the regional train operating company, First North Western became the new sponsor in a two year deal.

In the 2008-09 season the league was again restructured. Division One was renamed the Premier Division and Division Two became the First Division.

The only club to have played in the top division every season since its inception is St Helens Town. Two clubs have won a league and cup double, Ashton Unitedmarker in 1991-92 and Kidsgrove Athleticmarker in 1997-98, while Atherton Laburnum Rovers are the only club to have won consecutive championships in 1992-93 and 1993-94. For three consecutive seasons in the 1980s Clitheroe won each of the NWCFL divisions. In 1983-84 they were Division Three champions, the following season they won the Division Two championship and then in 1985-86 they were crowned Division One champions.

The league is currently home to two former Football League clubs; Glossop North Endmarker and Nelsonmarker. The Bootle club is not the same one as the former Football League club. Former league members Accrington Stanley have risen to play in the Football League.

For sixteen years the record attendance for a NWCFL match was 1,353 for a First Division championship decider between Radcliffe Borough and Caernarfon Town in the 1982-83 season. In the 1998-99 season a crowd of 2,281 saw Workington's championship deciding match with Mossley at Borough Parkmarker. In the 2005-06 season a new record was set, with 6,023 at Gigg Lanemarker for a Division Two match between FC United of Manchester and Great Harwood Town on 23 April 2006. The following season, due mainly to the relatively large support for FC united of Manchester, saw attendances rise and included a record 4,058 for an evening match, with Salford City's Division One home game against FC United of Manchester.

The NWCFL has two cup competitions - the League Cup which is open to all clubs and the First Division Trophy. The league also runs a reserve league which consists of a single division of sixteen clubs, which also has a dedicated League Cup. From 1990-91 to 1999-2000 the league also ran a Floodlit Trophy competition.

Previous divisional champions


The league was formed with three divisions.
Season Division One Division Two Division Three
1982-83 Burscough Radcliffe Borough Colne Dynamoes
1983-84 Stalybridge Celtic Fleetwood Town Clitheroe
1984-85 Radcliffe Borough Clitheroe Kirkby Town
1985-86 Clitheroe Kirkby Town Blackpool Mechanicsmarker
1986-87 Stalybridge Celtic Droylsden Atherton Collieries


Due to the expansion of the Northern Premier League, and the withdrawal of clubs who could no longer meet the ground requirements, the third division was disbanded and a two division format instigated, a format that still remains in place.

Season Division One Division Two
1987-88 Colne Dynamoes Ashton Unitedmarker
1988-89 Rossendale United Vauxhall G M
1989-90 Warrington Town Maine Roadmarker
1990-91 Knowsley United Great Harwood Town
1991-92 Ashton Unitedmarker Bamber Bridge
1992-93 Atherton Laburnum Rovers Maghullmarker
1993-94 Atherton Laburnum Rovers Haslingden
1994-95 Bradford Park Avenue Flixtonmarker
1995-96 Flixtonmarker Vauxhall G M
1996-97 Trafford Ramsbottom Unitedmarker
1997-98 Kidsgrove Athleticmarker Oldham Townmarker
1998-99 Workington Fleetwood Freeport
1999-00 Vauxhall Motors Woodley Sports
2000-01 Rossendale United Warrington Town
2001-02 Kidsgrove Athleticmarker Stand Athletic
2002-03 Prescot Cables Bacup Borough
2003-04 Clitheroe Colne
2004-05 Fleetwood Town Cammell Laird
2005-06 Cammell Laird FC United of Manchester
2006-07 FC United of Manchester Winsford Unitedmarker
2007-08 Trafford New Millsmarker


In the 2008-09 season, the league renamed their divisions to the Premier Division and First Division.

Season Premier Division First Division
2008-09 AFC Fylde Bootle

League Cup winners

The NWCFL League Cup is for all members of the Premier and First divisions.

First Division Trophy winners

The First Division Trophy is for all members of the First Division. It was known as the Second Division Trophy from 1989 to 2008.

Floodlit Trophy winners

The NWCFL Floodlit Trophy was for all members of the Premier and First divisions.


  1. Note that the Fleetwood Town club that won the Division Two title in 1983-84 is not the same club as the one of the same name who won the Division One Championship in 2004-05. The earlier club folded in 1993, and the new club was not formed until 1997 as Fleetwood Wanderers, then Fleetwood Freeport before taking the Fleetwood Town name in 2002.

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