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
Swindon Town F.C.
Swindon Town Football Club is a professional football club in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. Founded as Swindon AFC in 1879, they became Spartans in 1880, the team compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. The clubs home ground, where it has played since 1896, is the 15,728 capacity County Ground, the club went professional in 1894 and entered the Football League in 1920. Swindon Town won promotion to the Premier League in the 1992–93 season, Swindon Town Football Club was founded by Reverend William Pitt of Liddington in 1879. The team turned professional in 1894 and joined the Southern League which was founded in the same year, during this period Septimus Atterbury played for the club. Swindon reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in the 1909–10 season, Barnsley and Swindon were invited to compete for the Dubonnet Cup in 1910 at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris. The result was a 2–1 victory for Swindon with Harold Fleming scoring both of the clubs goals, the following season, 1910–11, Swindon Town won the Southern League championship, earning them a Charity Shield match with the Football League champions Manchester United. This, the highest-scoring Charity Shield game to date, was played on 25 September 1911 at Stamford Bridge with Manchester United winning 8–4, some of the proceeds of this game were later donated to the survivors of the Titanic. In 1912 Swindon Town reached the finals of the FA Cup for a second time in 3 years. Swindons exploits at this time owed a lot to the skilful forward H. J. Fleming who was capped by England 11 times between 1909 and 1914 despite playing outside the Football League. Fleming remained with Swindon throughout a career spanning 1907 and 1924. Swindon entered the Football League in 1920 as a member of Division Three. This result stands as a record for the club in League matches, the club was relegated back into Division Three in 1965 but it was about to create a sensation. In 1969, Swindon beat Arsenal 3–1 to win the League Cup for the time in the clubs history. As winners of the League Cup, Swindon were assured of a place in their first European competition, however, the Football Association had previously agreed to inclusion criteria with the organizers which mandated that only League Cup winners from Division One would be able to take part. As the team were not eligible, the short lived Anglo-Italian competitions were created to give teams from lower divisions experience in Europe, the first of these, the 1969 Anglo-Italian League Cup, was contested over two legs against Coppa Italia winners A. S. Swindon won 5–2, with the scorer of two goals in the League Cup final – Don Rogers – scoring once and new acquisition Arthur Horsfield acquiring his first hat-trick for the club. The team then went on to win the 1970 Anglo-Italian Cup competition in a tournament beset by hooliganism, napoli was abandoned after 79 minutes following pitch invasions and a missile barrage, with teargas being employed to allow the teams to return to the dressing room
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
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
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
Southend United F.C.
Southend United Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. The team compete in League One, the tier of English football. Southend are known as The Shrimpers, a reference to the maritime industry included as one of the quarterings on the club badge. Founded 19 May 1906 in the Blue Boar pub Southend has been a member of the Football League since 1920, the club has spent most of its League career in the English lower divisions, with seven seasons in the Leagues second tier. The club is based at Roots Hall Stadium in Prittlewell, with plans to move to a new stadium at Fossetts Farm. The club has played at five grounds, the original Roots Hall, the Kursaal, the Greyhound Park, Roots Hall was the first stadium that the club owned and was built on the site of their original home, albeit at a lower level. The site previous to Southend purchasing it in 1952 had been used as a quarry, by the council as a landfill site. It took 10 years to complete the building of Roots Hall. The first game was played on 20 August 1955, a 3–1 Division Three victory over Norwich City, the North Stand had a single-barrelled roof which ran only the breadth of the penalty area, whilst the West Bank was covered at its rear only by a similar structure. Drainage was a problem, and the wet winter turned the ground into a quagmire, the terracing was finally completed soon after, but the colossal task of completely terracing the South Bank, all of its 72 steps, was not completed until 1964. The North Bank roof was extended in the early 1960s, floodlights were also installed during this period. Until 1988 Roots Hall was still the newest ground in the Football League, United had hit bad times in the mid-1980s and new chairman Vic Jobson sold virtually all of the South Bank for development, leaving just a tiny block of 15 steps. In 1994, seats were installed onto the original terracing whilst a second tier was added, the West Bank had already become seated in 1992 upon Uniteds elevation to Division Two whilst the East Stand paddock also received a new seating deck, bolted and elevated from the terracing below. The application was submitted to Ruth Kelly, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. However, the application was called in at the beginning of April 2007, the inquiry began in September 2007, followed in October 2007 by a final inquiry, when chairman Ron Martin called for supporters to show in numbers at Southends local government headquarters. On 6 March 2008, permission to develop Fossetts Farm was given by the government, the club has a fierce local rivalry with fellow Essex side Colchester United. The two clubs were promoted from League One at the end of the 2005–06 season after a battle for top spot was eventually won by Southend. The rivalry extends back many years, the two clubs met again in an Essex derby match in the same competition the following season, with Southend emerging as the victors once more after a penalty shootout
Portsmouth Football Club /ˈpɔərtsməθ/ is a professional football club in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, which plays in League Two, the fourth tier of English football. Home matches have been played at Fratton Park since the formation in 1898. Portsmouth have been champions of England twice, in 1949 and 1950, in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup, Portsmouth played European heavyweights A. C. Milan. In this period, the club had international footballers including England players Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, David James, financial problems, however, soon set in and Portsmouth were relegated to the Football League Championship in 2010. In 2012, they were relegated, to League One. They began the 2013–14 season in the tier of the English football league system for the first time since the late 1970s. Portsmouth became the largest fan-owned football club in England, after the Pompey Supporters Trust successfully gained possession of Fratton Park in April 2013, Portsmouth Football Club are nicknamed Pompey, a name which it shares with the city of Portsmouth and its historic naval base. Pompey is thought most likely to originate from the abbreviation of Portsmouth Point to the shorter Pom. The club was founded in 1898 with John Brickwood — owner of the local Brickwoods Brewery — as chairman, a blue plaque on the wall of 12 High Street Portsmouth commemorates the founding on 5 April. That first season was successful, with the club winning 20 out of 28 league matches, 1910–11 saw Portsmouth relegated, but with the recruitment of Robert Brown as manager, the team was promoted the following season. League football was suspended during First World War, but following the resumption of matches Portsmouth won the Southern League for the second time, continuing success saw them in the Third Division for the 1920–21 season. They finished 12th that year, but won the division in the 1923–24 season, the club continued to perform well in the Second Division, winning promotion by finishing second in the 1926–27 season, gaining a record 9–1 win over Notts County along the way. Portsmouths debut season in the First Division was a struggle, the next season they continued to falter, losing 10–0 to Leicester City, still a club record defeat. Despite their failings in the league, however, that also saw Portsmouth reach the FA Cup final for the first time. Portsmouth managed to survive relegation, and their fortunes began to change, the 1933–34 season saw Portsmouth again reach the FA Cup final, beating Manchester United, Bolton, Leicester and Birmingham City on the way. The club was defeated in the final, this time to Manchester City. Having established themselves in the top flight, the 1938–39 season saw Portsmouth reach the FA Cup final and this time, Portsmouth managed to convincingly defeat favourites Wolverhampton Wanderers 4–1. Bert Barlow and Jock Anderson scored, whilst Cliff Parker scored twice to complete a famous victory, League football resumed for the 1946–47 campaign after five years and Portsmouth continued in the First Division
Northampton Town F.C.
Northampton Town Football Club /nɔːrˈθæmptən ˈtaʊn/ is a professional association football club based in the town of Northampton, Northamptonshire, England. The team play in League One, the tier of English football. They hold the record for the shortest time taken to be promoted from the tier to the top tier. Northampton were formed in 1897, after meetings between the town’s schoolteachers and local solicitor A. J. They play their games at the 7,724 capacity all-seater Sixfields Stadium, having moved in 1994 from the County Ground which they shared with the owners. The club’s main rivals are Peterborough United, a rivalry which has endured since the 1960s, other recent rivals include Rushden & Diamonds and Oxford United. The clubs colours have traditionally been claret and white, the club nickname is The Cobblers, a reference to the towns historical shoe-making industry. In 1919–20, the first season after the war, Town conceded a club record 103 goals, nonetheless, the club was allowed to join the Football League for the following season, in Division Three. 1922–23 saw the club become a company and 8,000 shares were released at £1. The season produced a record crowd of 18,123 against Plymouth on Boxing day, 1923–24 started with the club raising £5,000 to build a stand with a players tunnel underneath and also improved terracing in the Hotel End. The following season saw the formation of the supporters club, in 1925 the clubs first foreign transfer took place as William Shaw was signed from Barcelona. A new ground record was set for the F. A, Cup third-round replay with Sunderland,21,148 turned up to see the Cobblers lose 3–0. However, disaster occurred at the County Ground during December 1929, only one stand was saved although this was charred. The source of the fire was thought to be in the dressing room. By August 1930, the stands were rebuilt, in 1932–33, the club created history when brothers Fred and Albert Dawes both scored in an 8–0 win over Newport County. The latter finished the season scoring 32 league goals and even scored all four in a 4–0 win over the Netherlands national football team while the club was on tour. Cup fifth round was reached for the first time courtesy of a round win away to Huddersfield Town who. The Cobblers lost to Preston North End 4–0 at Deepdale, setting a new record of 40,180