Southern Football League
Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system. The structure of the Southern League has changed several times since its formation in 1894, the Premier Division is at step 3 of the National League System, and is a feeder division, mainly to the National League South but also to the National League North. Feeding the Premier Division are two divisions, Division One South & West and Division One Central, which are at step 4 of the NLS. These divisions are in turn fed by various regional leagues, professional football developed more slowly in Southern England than in Northern England. Additionally, a league, the Southern Alliance was founded in 1892, with seven clubs from the region. Nonetheless, another attempt was made to form the Southern League, a competition for both professional and amateur clubs was founded in 1894 under the initiative of Millwall Athletic. Initially only one division was envisaged, but such was the enthusiasm, the sixteen founder members were, 2nd Scots Guards withdrew before the first season started and were replaced by Southampton St Marys. Woolwich Arsenal attempted to add their reserve side to the second division, the Southern League soon became the dominant competition below The Football League in Southern and Central England. By the turn of the century a few of the Southern League sides began to rival the Football League in the FA Cup, Two Southern League clubs, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur reached the final of the FA Cup around the turn of the century. Tottenham Hotspur are the club from below the 2nd level of English football to have won the FA Cup. The champions of the two leagues during this period met in the annual Charity Shield, in 1907, it accepted Bradford Park Avenue, a northern club, as a member, reflecting its senior position at the time. In 1920, virtually the top division of the Southern League was absorbed by the Football League to become that leagues 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. Of the original members, six – Gillingham, Luton Town, Millwall, Reading. For the next six decades, the Football League and Southern League would exchange a number of clubs as a result of the older leagues re-election process. From 1920 onward, the Southern Leagues status as a league was firmly established. In turn, the APL 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 National League, the Conference South and Conference North. The first sponsor of the Southern League was Beazer Homes who sponsored the league from 1987–96, the sponsors after Beazer Homes to the present day are, Dr Martens, British Gas, Zamaretto, Evo-Stik, Calor Gas, and Evo-Stik
Brighton & Hove Albion F.C.
Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club /ˈbraɪtən ən ˈhoʊv/ is a professional football club based in the city of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, England, often referred to simply as Brighton. The team is nicknamed the Seagulls or Albion, the team has historically played in blue and white stripes, though this changed to all white briefly in the 1970s and again to plain blue during the clubs most successful spell in the 1980s. Crystal Palace are considered the main rivals, although the grounds are 40 miles apart. Founded in 1901, Brighton played their early football in the Southern League before being elected to the Football League in 1920. The club enjoyed greatest prominence between 1979 and 1983 when they played in the First Division and reached the 1983 FA Cup Final and they were relegated from the top division in the same season. Mismanagement brought Brighton close to relegation from the Football League to the Conference which they narrowly avoided in 1997 and 1998. Brighton & Hove Albion F. C. were founded in 1901 and 19 years later, in 1920, Mike Bamber was the chairman of Brighton from October 1972 until 1983. He famously brought Brian Clough to the club in 1973 and later appointed former England player Alan Mullery as manager, the 1982/83 season saw a wildly inconsistent start for the club, with victories over Arsenal and Manchester United mixed in with heavy defeats. Manager Mike Bailey eventually lost his job at the start of December 1982, jimmy Melia took over as manager, but was unable to turn the situation around and Brighton were relegated in 1983, having finished in bottom place. Despite their relegation, that season Brighton reached their first FA Cup final, Brightons goals were scored by Gordon Smith and Gary Stevens. However, Smiths kick was saved by the Manchester United goalkeeper. In the replay, Manchester United won 4–0, a lifelong fan named Dick Knight took control of the club in 1997 having led the fan pressure to oust the previous board following their sale of the clubs Goldstone Ground to property developers. If Brighton won or drew, they would be safe, Brighton defender Kerry Mayo scored an own goal in the first half and it looked as though their 77-year league career was over. But a late goal from Robbie Reinelt saved the day, Brighton retained their status on goal difference. The sale of the Goldstone ground went through in 1997, leading to Brighton having to play some 70 miles away at Gillinghams Priestfield stadium for two seasons, micky Adams was appointed Brightons manager in 1999. For the start of the 1999–2000 season the Seagulls secured a lease to play games at Withdean Stadium. In February 2000 Brighton signed a little known forward on loan from Bristol Rovers called Bobby Zamora, Zamora made an instant impact, scoring in his debut, the 1–1 home draw with Plymouth. 2000–01 was Brightons first successful season for 13 years and they were crowned champions of Division Three and promoted to Division Two, where they made an excellent start and looked good bets for a second successive promotion
Stoke City F.C.
Stoke City Football Club is a professional football club based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Founded as Stoke Ramblers in 1863 the club changed its name to Stoke in 1878 and they are the second oldest professional football club in the world, after Notts County, and are one of the founding members of the Football League. Their first, and to date only major trophy, the League Cup was won in 1972, the clubs highest league finish in the top division is 4th, which was achieved in the 1935–36 and 1946–47 seasons. Stoke played in the FA Cup Final in 2011, finishing runners-up to Manchester City and have reached three FA Cup semi-finals, in 1899 then consecutively in 1971 and 1972. Stoke have competed in European football on three occasions, firstly in 1972–73 then in 1974–75 and most recently in 2011–12, the club has won the Football League Trophy twice, in 1992 and in 2000. Stokes home ground is the bet365 Stadium, a 28,116 all-seater stadium, before the stadium was opened in 1997, the club was based at the Victoria Ground, which had been their home ground since 1878. The clubs nickname is The Potters, named after the industry in Stoke-on-Trent and their traditional home kit is a red and white vertically striped shirt, white shorts. Stokes traditional rivals are Midlands clubs West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers whilst their local rivals are Port Vale with whom they contest the Potteries derby, the clubs first documented match was in October 1868, against an EW May XV at the Victoria Cricket Club ground. Henry Almond, the founder, was also captain. During this period they played at the Victoria Cricket Ground, however, in 1878, the club merged with Stoke Victoria Cricket Club, and became Stoke Football Club. They moved from their previous ground, Sweetings Field, to the Athletic Club ground and it was around this time that the club adopted their traditional red-and-white striped kit. In August 1885, the club turned professional, Stoke were one of the twelve founding members of the Football League when it was introduced in 1888. The club struggled in their first two seasons, 1888–89 and 1889–90, finishing bottom on both occasions, in 1890 Stoke failed to be re-elected and joined the Football Alliance, which they won and thus were re-elected to the Football League. Stoke spent the next 15 seasons in the First Division and reached the FA Cup Semi-Final in the 1898–99 season before being relegated in 1907, Stoke went bankrupt and entered non-league football until 1914, when the First World War meant the Football League was suspended for four years. During the wartime period, Stoke entered the Lancashire Primary and Secondary leagues, when football recommenced in August 1919, Stoke re-joined the league. The club became owners of the Victoria Ground in 1919 and this was followed by the construction of the Butler Street stand, which increased the overall capacity of the ground to 50,000. In 1925, Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status and this led the club to change its name to Stoke City F. C, the 1930s saw the debut of clubs most celebrated player, Stanley Matthews. Matthews, who grew up in Hanley, was an apprentice at the club and made his first appearance in March 1932, against Bury, by end of the decade, Matthews had established himself as an England international and as one of the best footballers of his generation
Hastings United F.C.
The club is based in the borough of Hastings and is based at The Pilot Field. The present-day team known as Hastings United Football Club was founded in 1894 as Rock-a-Nore, the team played in local leagues until 1921, when they merged with All Saints and joined the Sussex County League, where they played until 1927. In 1952, the club rejoined the Sussex County League, remaining there until the 1984/85 season, in 1921, Hastings & St. Leonards Amateurs moved to the Sussex County League and finished runners-up to Worthing. The club again finished second in the 1926–27 season, this time behind Southwick, the club joined the Sussex County League again in 1952, but had to wait until the 1959–60 for success, finishing second in Division Two of the Sussex County League. In 1979, the changed its name to Hastings Town and, in the 1979/80 season, won the Division Two championship. The 1980–81 season saw the win the County League Cup. The club also negotiated a long lease with Hastings Borough Council for use of Uniteds Pilot Field ground. 1991/92 culminated in a win at second placed Weymouth to clinch the title and promotion to the Southern League Premier Division. The Club was saved from extinction by a last gasp bid from another local lottery winner, Mick Maplesden and Town were accepted back into the Southern League, the 2002–03 season saw Hastings Town renamed as Hastings United, playing in the former teams traditional claret and blue kit. Following the restructuring of the football pyramid, United kicked off the 2004–05 season in the Isthmian League. A few months into the 2005/06 season, Southall parted company with the Club after disagreements with the chairman Dave Walters and he was replaced by the inexperienced management duo of senior players, Nigel Kane and Pat Brown. The 2006–07 season was a Jekyll & Hyde affair for the club, a dip in form towards the end of the campaign led to Hastings eventually finishing in fourth place, good enough for a place in the divisional play-offs. Hastings played away to Dover Athletic in the semi-final and, despite being reduced to ten men after half an hour, triumphed 2–0. The final saw Hastings travel to take on Tooting & Mitcham United at Imperial Fields, the return to Premier Division football began well, and a fine sequence of results at the Pilot Field enabled United to sit proudly in the top six at an early stage. A couple of later, his successor was named as the former Tonbridge Angels manager Tony Dolby. However, on 2 February 2009, John Lambert was sacked from his role of manager along with assistant Wayne Farrier, Tony Dolby returned to the role. From November 2011, Sean Ray was appointed player/manager, Ray and Mark Stapley initially took over in a caretaker capacity, but wins over Horsham and Aveley in their first two games led to Ray being appointed player-manager and Stapley assistant manager. United achieved back-to-back league wins early in the 2012/13 campaign before pulling off their first FA Cup victory in six years against Chatham Town and that proved the start of an unbelievable run in the world’s most decorated domestic knockout competition which ended with two of Ray’s finest moments in football
English Football League
The English Football League is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football and it was the top-level football league in England from its foundation in the 19th century until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League. The league has 72 clubs evenly divided into three divisions, which are known as the Championship, League One and League Two, with 24 clubs in each division, the Football League has been associated with a title sponsor between 1983 and 2016. As this sponsor changed over the years the league too has been known by various names, the English Football League is also the name of the governing body of the league competition, and this body also organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The operations centre of the Football League is in Preston, while its commercial office is in London, the commercial office was formerly based in Lytham St Annes, after its original spell in Preston. The Football League consists of 70 professional association football clubs in England and 2 in Wales and it runs the oldest professional football league competition in the world. It also organises two knockout cup competitions, the Football League Cup and Football League Trophy, the Football League was founded in 1888 by then Aston Villa director William McGregor, originally with 12 member clubs. Steady growth and the addition of more divisions meant that by 1950 the League had 92 clubs, the Football League therefore no longer includes the top 20 clubs who belong to this group, although promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Premier League continues. In total,136 teams have played in the Football League up to 2013, the Football Leagues 72 member clubs are grouped into three divisions, the Football League Championship, Football League One, and Football League Two. Each division has 24 clubs, and in any season a club plays each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium. This makes for a total of 46 games played each season, clubs gain three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a defeat. At the end of the season, clubs at the top of their division may win promotion to the higher division. At the top end of the competition, three Championship clubs win promotion from the Football League to the Premier League, with the bottom three Premier League clubs taking their places, reserve teams of Football League clubs usually play in the Central League or the Football Combination. Since the 2004–05 season, penalties have existed for clubs entering financial administration during the season and it is also required that a club exiting administration agree a Creditors Voluntary Agreement, and pay in full any other footballing creditors. Failure to do either of these result in a second. The other main situation in which is a club may lose points is by fielding an improperly registered or otherwise ineligible player. If a club is found to have done this, then any points earned from any match that player participated in will be deducted, the EFL organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The EFL Cup was established in 1960 and is open to all EFL and Premier League clubs, the EFL Trophy is for clubs belonging to EFL League One and EFL League Two
Reading Football Club is a professional association football club based in Reading, Berkshire, England. The team play in the Championship, the tier of English football. The club played at Elm Park for 102 years between 1896 and 1998, in 1998 the club moved to the new Madejski Stadium, which is named after the clubs co-chairman Sir John Madejski. Reading then finished eighth in the 2006–07 Premier League, their first ever season as a top flight club, Reading were formed on 25 December 1871, following a public meeting at the Bridge Street Rooms organised by the future club secretary Joseph Edward Sydenham. The early matches were played at Reading Recreation Ground, and later the club held fixtures at Reading Cricket Ground, Coley Park and Caversham Cricket Ground. The switch to professionalism in 1895 resulted in the need for a ground and, to this end. In 1913, Reading had a tour of Italy, prompting the leading sports newspaper Corriere della Sera to write without doubt. Reading were elected to the Football League Third Division South of the Football League in 1920, Reading lost their place in Division Two in May 1931, and remained in Third Division South until the outbreak of World War II. When League football resumed after the war, Reading quickly came to prominence once again, the sides moment of cup glory came in 1988 when they won the Simod Cup, beating a number of top flight sides en route to their Wembley win over Luton Town. Reading were promoted to the Second Division as champions in 1986 under the management of Ian Branfoot, the appointment of Mark McGhee as player-manager, shortly after the takeover by John Madejski, in 1991 saw Reading move forward. They were crowned champions of the new Division Two in 1994, in 1995, Reading had eased past Tranmere Rovers in the play-off semi-finals and looked to have booked their place in the Premier League only to lose against Bolton Wanderers in the final. Quinn and Goodings contracts were not renewed two years later after Reading had slid into the half of Division One. Their successor, Terry Bullivant, lasted less than one season before being sacked in March 1998, the year 1998 also saw Reading move into the new 24,200 all-seater Madejski Stadium, named after Chairman John Madejski. Tommy Burns had taken over from Terry Bullivant but lasted just 18 months before being replaced by Alan Pardew, the club finished third in 2000–01 qualifying for the play-offs, losing 2–3 in the final against Walsall at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Reading returned to Division One for 2002–03 after finishing runners-up in Division Two, the following season, they finished fourth in Division One and qualified for the play-offs, where they lost in the semi-final to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Alan Pardew moved to West Ham United the following October and was replaced by Steve Coppell, Reading won the 2005–06 Championship with a league record 106 points, scoring 99 goals and losing only twice. Reading were promoted to English footballs top division for the first time in their history, the 2006–07 season saw Reading make their first appearance in the top flight of English football. Reading defied pre-season predictions of relegation to finish the season in place with 55 points