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Southern Football League
2009–10 Southern Football League
Founded
1894
Nation
Feeder To
Conference South

Conference North
Divisions
Premier Division

Division One South & West

Division One Midlands
Number of Teams
66
Level on Pyramid
Level 7 and Level 8
Cups
Southern League Cup
Current Champions (2008-09)
Corby Town (Premier Division)

Truro Citymarker (D1 South & West)

Leamingtonmarker (D1 Midlands)
Website
Official
The Southern League is an Englishmarker football competition featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs from the South West, South Central and Midlands of England and South Wales.

The structure of the Southern League has changed several times since its formation in 1894, and currently there are 66 clubs which are divided into three divisions. The Premier Division is at Level 3 of the National League System (NLS), and is a feeder division, mainly to the Conference South but also to the Conference North. Feeding the Premier Division are two regional divisions, Division One South & West and Division One Midlands, which are at Level 4 of the NLS. These divisions are in turn fed by various regional leagues.

For sponsorship reasons, from 1 July 2009, the Southern League will be known as the Zamaretto Football League following a sponsorship deal with ICB Ltd. In addition, the League Cup competition will be known as the Red Insure Cup.

History

Professional football (and professional sport in general) developed more slowly in Southern England than in Northern England. Professionalism was sanctioned by the The Football Association as early as 1885, but when The Football League was founded in 1888 it was based entirely in the North and Midlandsmarker with the establishment of County Football Association's in the South being firmly opposed to professionalism.

Woolwich Arsenal (nowadays simply Arsenal) were the first club in London to turn professional in 1891 and were one of the prime motivators behind an attempt to set up a Southern League to mirror the existing Northern and Midlands based Football League. However, this venture failed in the face of opposition from the London Football Association and Woolwich Arsenal instead joined the Football League as its only representative south of Birmingham in 1893. Additionally, an amateur league, the Southern Alliance was founded in 1892, with seven teams from the region, but that folded after one incomplete season.

Nonetheless, another attempt was made to form the Southern League, and this time it was successful. A competition for both professional and amateur clubs was founded in 1894 under the initiative of Millwall Athletic (now simply Millwall). Initially only one division was envisaged, but such was the enthusiasm, that eventually two divisions were formed. The sixteen founder members were:

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Division One
Chatham
Clapton
Ilford
Luton Town
Millwall Athletic
Reading
Royal Ordnance Factories
2nd Scots Guards
Swindon Town
Division Two
Bromley
Chesham
Maidenhead
New Brompton
Old St Stephen's
Sheppey United
Uxbridgemarker


2nd Scots Guards withdrew before the first season started and were replaced by Southampton St Mary's. Woolwich Arsenal attempted to add their reserve side to the second division but this application was refused.

The Southern League soon became the dominant competition outside The Football League in Southern and Central England. In 1907, it accepted Bradford Park Avenue, a northern club, as a member, reflecting its senior position at the time. Of all the original founder members, six – Gillingham (as New Brompton were renamed), Luton Town, Millwall, Reading, Southampton and Swindon Town – are now Football League clubs.

Whilst still a Southern League club, Tottenham Hotspur became the first and so far only team to win the FA Cup after the establishment of the league as a non-League club. This happened in 1901, although Southampton reached the final in 1900 and 1902 showing the strength of the Southern League. The relative strengths of the two leagues was during this period elucidated through the annual Charity Shield. Out of the six meetings the respective league champions had in the Shield, however, only one was won by the Southern League champions - Brighton & Hove Albion, in 1910, and this remains their only national honour to date.

In 1920, virtually the entire top division of the Southern League was absorbed by the Football League to become that league's new Third Division. A year later the Third Division was expanded and regionalised. The Third Division clubs from the previous season became the Third Division South, with the addition of the Third Division North.

For the next six decades, the Football League and Southern League would exchange a limited number of clubs as a result of the older league's re-election process. From 1920 onward, the Southern League's status as a semi-professional league was firmly established.

With its clubs seeking a more regular means of advancing to the Football League, in 1979 the Southern League became a feeder to the new Football Conference along with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League, and the top Southern clubs of the day joined the new league. In turn, the Conference would eventually succeed in becoming a feeder to the Football League. The league lost more of its top clubs in 2004 when the Conference added two regional divisions below the existing Conference National, the Conference South and Conference North.

Southern League clubs

Listed below are the clubs currently competing in the three divisions of the Southern League, for the 2008–09 season.

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Premier Division
Banbury United
Bashley
Bedford Town
Brackley Town
Cambridge City
Chippenham Town
Clevedon Town
Didcot Town
Evesham United
Farnborough
Halesowen Townmarker
Hednesford Town
Hemel Hempstead Townmarker
Leamingtonmarker
Merthyr Tydfil
Nuneaton Town
Oxford Citymarker
Rugby Townmarker
Stourbridge
Swindon Supermarinemarker
Tiverton Town
Truro Citymarker
Division One Midlands
A.F.C. Sudbury
Arlesey Town
Atherstone Town
Aylesbury Unitedmarker
Barton Roversmarker
Beaconsfield SYCOB
Bedworth United
Biggleswade Town
Bromsgrove Rovers
Burnham
Bury Town
Chesham United
Hitchin Town
Leighton Townmarker
Marlowmarker
Romulusmarker
Rothwell Townmarker
Slough Townmarker
Soham Town Rangersmarker
Stourport Swiftsmarker
Sutton Coldfield Townmarker
Woodford Unitedmarker
Division One South & West
Abingdon Unitedmarker
A.F.C.marker Hayesmarker
A.F.C.marker Tottonmarker
Andover
Bedfont Green
Bishop's Cleeve
Bracknell Town
Bridgwater Town
Cinderford Town
Cirencester Town
Frome Townmarker
Gosport Boroughmarker
Hungerford Townmarker
Mangotsfield Unitedmarker
North Leighmarker
Paulton Roversmarker
Taunton Townmarker
Thatcham Townmarker
Uxbridgemarker
VTmarker
Windsor & Etonmarker
Yate Townmarker


Past Southern League winners

Season Division One Division Two
1894-95 Millwall Athletic New Brompton
1895-96 Millwall Athletic Wolverton L & NWR
1896-97 Southampton St Mary's Dartford
1897-98 Southampton Royal Artillery Portsmouth


For the 1898-99 season, Division Two was divided into London and South-West sections, with a playoff contested between the winners of each section.

Season Division One Division Two (London) Division Two (SW) Division Two Playoff
1898-99 Southampton Thames Ironworks Cowes Thames won 3-1


For the 1899-00 season, the league reverted to the old format.

Season Division One Division Two
1899-00 Tottenham Hotspur Watford
1900-01 Southampton Brentford
1901-02 Portsmouth Fulham
1902-03 Southampton Fulham
1903-04 Southampton Watford
1904-05 Bristol Rovers Fulham Reserves
1905-06 Fulham Crystal Palace
1906-07 Fulham Southend United
1907-08 Queens Park Rangers Southend United
1908-09 Northampton Town Croydon Common


For the 1909-10 season, Division Two was split into an 'A' section and a 'B' section, with the winners of each section contesting a play-off for the Division Two championship.

Season Division One Division Two (A) Division Two (B) Division Two Playoff
1909-10 Brighton & Hove Albion Stoke Hastings & St Leonards Stoke won 6-0


For the 1910-11 season, the league again reverted back to the previous format.

Season Division One Division Two
1910-11 Swindon Town Reading
1911-12 Queens Park Rangers Merthyr Town
1912-13 Plymouth Argyle Cardiff City
1913-14 Swindon Town Croydon Common
1914-15 Watford Stoke
1919-20 Portsmouth Mid Rhondda


At the end of the 1919-20 season, the majority of the teams in the First Division moved into the new Third Division of the Football League. The Southern League was therefore split into two national sections for England and Wales, with the winners of each section contesting a playoff for the Southern League championship.

Season English Section Welsh Section Championship Playoff
1920-21 Brighton & Hove Albion Reserves Barry Brighton won 2-1
1921-22 Plymouth Argyle Reserves Ebbw Vale Plymouth won 3-0
1922-23 Bristol City Reserves Ebbw Vale Ebbw Vale won 2-1


For the 1923-24 season, the league was split into two regional sections, with the winners of each section contesting a playoff for the Southern League championship.

Season Eastern Section Western Section Championship Playoff
1923-24 Peterborough & Fletton United Yeovil & Petters United Yeovil won 3-1
1924-25 Southampton Reserves Swansea Town Reserves Southampton won 2-1
1925-26 Millwall Reserves Plymouth Argyle Reserves Plymouth won 1-0
1926-27 Brighton & Hove Albion Reserves Torquay United Brighton won 4-0
1927-28 Kettering Town Bristol City Reserves Kettering won 5-0
1928-29 Kettering Town Plymouth Argyle Reserves Plymouth won 4-2
1929-30 Aldershot Town Bath City Aldershot won 3-2
1930-31 Dartford Exeter City Reserves Dartford won 7-2
1931-32 Dartford Yeovil & Petters United Dartford won 2-1
1932-33 Norwich City Reserves Bath City Norwich won 2-1


For the 1933-34 season an extra section, the Central Section was introduced to provide additional fixtures. The Central included teams from the other two sections and did not contribute to the overall championship.

Season Eastern Section Western Section Central Section Championship Playoff
1933-34 Norwich City Reserves Plymouth Argyle Reserves Plymouth Argyle Reserves Plymouth won 3-0
1934-35 Norwich City Reserves Yeovil & Petters United Folkestone Norwich won 7-2
1935-36 Margate Plymouth Argyle Reserves Margate Margate won 3-1


For the 1936-37 season, the Eastern and Western sections were merged into a single division. Additional fixtures were obtained through the Midweek Section which did not contribute to the overall championship.

Season Southern League Midweek Section
1936-37 Ipswich Town Margate
1937-38 Guildford City Millwall Reserves
1938-39 Colchester United Tunbridge Wells Rangersmarker


For the 1945-46 season, the Midweek Section was not played due to power restrictions after the Second World War.

Season Southern League
1945-46 Chelmsford City
1946-47 Gillingham
1947-48 Merthyr Tydfil
1948-49 Gillingham
1949-50 Merthyr Tydfil
1950-51 Merthyr Tydfil
1951-52 Merthyr Tydfil
1952-53 Headington United
1953-54 Merthyr Tydfil
1954-55 Yeovil Town
1955-56 Guildford City
1956-57 Kettering Town
1957-58 Gravesend & Northfleetmarker


For the 1958-59 season the Southern League was again divided into two sections: North-Western and South-Eastern. The winners of each section contested a playoff for the Southern League championship

Season North-Western Section South-Eastern Section Championship Playoff
1958-59 Hereford United Bedford Town Bedford won 3-0


The following season saw the two sections merged to form a Premier Division, and a new Division One introduced.

Season Premier Division Division One
1959-60 Bath City Clacton Townmarker
1960-61 Oxford United Kettering Town
1961-62 Oxford United Wisbech Townmarker
1962-63 Cambridge City Margate
1963-64 Yeovil Town Folkestone Town
1964-65 Weymouth Hereford United
1965-66 Weymouth Barnet
1966-67 Romfordmarker Dover
1967-68 Chelmsford City Worcester City
1968-69 Cambridge United Brentwood Town
1969-70 Cambridge United Bedford Town
1970-71 Yeovil Town Guildford City


For the 1971-72 season Division One was regionalised.

Season Premier Division Division One North Division One South
1971-72 Chelmsford City Kettering Town Waterlooville
1972-73 Kettering Town Grantham Maidstone Unitedmarker
1973-74 Dartford Stourbridge Wealdstone
1974-75 Wimbledon Bedford Town Gravesend & Northfleetmarker
1975-76 Wimbledon Redditch United Mineheadmarker
1976-77 Wimbledon Worcester City Barnet
1977-78 Bath City Witney Townmarker Margate
1978-79 Worcester City Grantham Dover


For the 1979-80 season, thirteen Premier Division clubs joined the newly-formed Alliance Premier League. The Premier Division and Division One were subsequently merged, and two regional divisions formed.

Season Midland Division Southern Division
1979-80 Bridgend Town Dorchester Town
1980-81 Alvechurch Dartford
1981-82 Nuneaton Borough Wealdstone


For the 1982-83 season, the Premier Division was re-introduced, above the regional divisions.

Season Premier Division Midland Division Southern Division
1982-83 Leamingtonmarker Cheltenham Town Fisher Athletic
1983-84 Dartford Willenhall Town Road-Sea Southampton
1984-85 Cheltenham Town Dudley Town Basingstoke Town
1985-86 Welling United Bromsgrove Rovers Cambridge City
1986-87 Fisher Athletic VS Rugby Dorchester Town
1987-88 Aylesbury Unitedmarker Merthyr Tydfil Dover Athletic
1988-89 Merthyr Tydfil Gloucester Citymarker Chelmsford City
1989-90 Dover Athletic Halesowen Townmarker Bashley
1990-91 Farnborough Town Stourbridge Buckingham Town
1991-92 Bromsgrove Rovers Solihull Borough Hastings Town
1992-93 Dover Athletic Nuneaton Borough Sittingbourne
1993-94 Farnborough Town Rushden & Diamonds Gravesend & Northfleetmarker
1994-95 Hednesford Town Newport County Salisbury City
1995-96 Rushden & Diamonds Nuneaton Borough Sittingbourne
1996-97 Gresley Rovers Tamworth Forest Green Rovers
1997-98 Forest Green Rovers Grantham Town Weymouth
1998-99 Nuneaton Borough Clevedon Town Havant & Waterlooville
1999-00 Boston United Stafford Rangers Fisher Athletic


For the 2000-01 season, the regional divisions were renamed the Western and Eastern divisions.

Season Premier Division Western Division Eastern Division
2000-01 Margate Hinckley United Newport IOW
2001-02 Kettering Town Halesowen Townmarker Hastings Town
2002-03 Tamworth Merthyr Tydfil Dorchester Town
2003-04 Crawley Town Redditch United King's Lynn
2004-05 Histon Mangotsfield Unitedmarker Fisher Athletic
2005-06 Salisbury City Clevedon Town Boreham Wood


For the 2006-07 season, the two regional divisions were renamed Division One Midlands and Division One South & West.

Season Premier Division Division One Midlands Division One South & West
2006-07 Bath City Brackley Town Bashley
2007-08 King's Lynn Evesham United Farnborough
2008-09 Corby Town Leamingtonmarker Truro Citymarker


League structure

The league structure has changed several times over the years, and currently consists of a Premier Division at step 3 of the pyramid, with Division One South & West and Division One Midlands at step 4. The winners of the Premier Division, together with the winners of a playoff, are promoted to the Conference North or Conference South, depending on their location.

Clubs relegated from the Southern League can be placed in any of the fourteen leagues below, but in practice it is likely to be one of the following (based on geography):



From time to time, clubs outside the promotion and relegation positions based at the geographical edges of the Southern League will be compelled to leave the League by the NLS Committee, should it be necessary for them to compete in the Northern Premier or Isthmian Leagues so as to correct any imbalances brought on by the geographical distribution of the teams promoted and relegated to this level. Teams in the Northern Premier or Isthmian Leagues have also been entered into the Southern League for the same reason.

References



External links




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