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
Kettering Town F.C.
Kettering Town Football Club is an English football club originating in Kettering, Northamptonshire but currently based in the town of Burton Latimer. The club participates in the Southern League Premier Division, the tier of English football. Kettering Town were originally formed in 1872, turning professional in 1891, the club graduated through twelve different leagues from 1892 until they became founding members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. The club maintained its status in the top flight of football until the 2000–01 season. Many honours have found their way to Rockingham Road, winning the Midland Football League title in 1896 and 1900, the Southern League Championship was won on three occasions by the club, in 1928 and 1957 under Tommy Lawton and in 1973 under the guidance of Ron Atkinson. In the 1930s the club won the East Midlands League and in 1948 the Poppies became Birmingham League Champions, during the 1970s, Kettering Town sought election to the Football League, coming five votes short of election in 1974. The deal was brokered by chief executive and manager Derek Dougan, four days later, The Football Association ordered the club to remove the slogan, but Dougan changed the words on the shirts to Kettering T, and claimed that the T stood for Town. Nonetheless, the FA ordered the club to remove the words, shirt sponsorship was eventually permitted within the English game in 1977, although the ban on shirt sponsors in televised games wasnt lifted until 1983. Kettering are also the first ever British team to have their initials on their grounds floodlights, the club finished runners-up in the Football Conference in 1981,1989,1994 and 1998. The GMAC Cup was won in 1987 and the Poppies were runners-up in 1995, County competitions have been won regularly by Kettering Town, with the Northants Senior Cup won on 28 occasions and the Maunsell Cup 13 times. The FA Cup has brought success and publicity to Rockingham Road with the first round proper being reached on 41 occasions. During the 1994–95 season the club made their debut live on Sky TV in a first round tie against Plymouth Argyle, as of 2016 the Poppies had scored more goals than any other team in the FA Cups history, with 870 goals scored in 381 appearances. Wembley has been reached on two occasions before, the Poppies lost 2–0 to Stafford Rangers in the 1979 FA Trophy Final. More recently, the FA Trophy Final in 2000 saw the Poppies lose a closely fought final with Kingstonian 3–2, most recently, the club were narrowly relegated on the last day of the 2000–01 season which ended 30 years in the top flight of non-league football. The following season was a disappointment and the club, rarely out of the bottom three, were again demoted – this time to the Isthmian League. Carl Shutt left the club in April 2003 and Dominic Genovese, after a period as acting manager. After a poor run of results and a disappointing defeat to Boreham Wood in the FA Cup Dominic Genovese was replaced by former Northampton Town manager. Changes to the team were made and the finished the season on a 12-game unbeaten run
Plymouth Argyle F.C.
Plymouth Argyle Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Plymouth, Devon, England. They have played in League Two, the tier of the English football league system. They are one of two teams in Devon currently competing in the Football League, the other being Exeter City – Argyles local rivals, since becoming professional in 1903, the club has won five Football League titles, five Southern League titles and one Western League title. The 2009–10 season was the clubs 42nd in the tier of English football. The team set the record for most championships won in the tier, having finished first in the Third Division South twice, the Third Division once. The club takes its nickname, The Pilgrims, from an English religious group that left Plymouth for the New World in 1620, the club crest features the Mayflower, the ship that carried the pilgrims to Massachusetts. The club have played in dark green and white throughout their history, with a few exceptions in the late 1960s. The city of Plymouth is the largest in England never to have hosted top-flight football and they are the most southerly and westerly League club in England. Home Park is the 37th biggest stadium in England, the original ground of the professional club at Home Park was destroyed by German bombers during the Blitz on Plymouth in World War II. Having been rebuilt after the war, Home Park was largely demolished as part of a process of renovation. The new Devonport End was opened for the 2001 Boxing Day fixture with Torquay United, the other end, the Barn Park End, opened on the same day. The Lyndhurst stand reopened on 26 January 2002 for the game against Oxford United, plans are currently under discussion regarding the completion of the refurbishment of the ground with the replacement of the Mayflower stand. The ground is situated in Central Park, very near to the area of Peverell. Towards the end of the 2005–06 Championship season, the decided to buy the stadium for £2.7 million from Plymouth City Council. This purchase was concluded in December 2006, in December 2009 it was announced that the stadium was to be one of 12 chosen to host matches during the World Cup 2018, should Englands bid be successful. The then Argyle chairman Paul Stapleton stated that work on a new South Stand at Home Park would start in 2010, however, England failed to be chosen for the 2018 tournament, and Plymouth Argyle entered administration in March 2011. After selling the back to the council on 14 October 2011 for £1.6 million. The club was taken over by local business owner James Brent, who submitted fresh plans to build a new Mayflower Grandstand with a 5,000 seating capacity
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
Gillingham Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent, England. The only Kent-based club in the Football League, the Gills play their matches at the Priestfield Stadium. The team compete in League One, the tier of the English football league system. The club was founded in 1893 and joined the Football League in 1920 and they were voted out of the league in favour of Ipswich Town at the end of the 1937–38 season, but returned to it 12 years later after it was expanded from 88 to 92 clubs. Twice in the late 1980s they came close to winning promotion to the tier of English football. The local success of a football side, Chatham Excelsior F. C. encouraged a group of businessmen to meet with a view to creating a football club which could compete in larger competitions. New Brompton F. C. was formed at the meeting, the founders also purchased the plot of land which later became Priestfield Stadium. The new club played its first match on 2 September 1893, New Brompton were among the founder members of the Southern League upon its creation in 1894, and were placed in Division Two. They were named Champions in the first season going on to defeat Swindon Town in a test match to win promotion, in the seasons that followed, the club struggled in Division One, finishing bottom in the 1907–08 season, avoiding relegation only due to expansion of the league. In 1938 the team finished bottom of the Third Division and were required to apply for re-election for the time since joining the league. This bid for re-election failed, with Gillingham returning to the Southern League, Gillingham quickly established themselves as one of the stronger sides in the league, winning a local double of the Kent League and Kent Senior Cup in the 1945–46 season. In the 1946–47 season the team won both the Southern League Cup and the Southern League championship, during which they recorded a club record 12–1 victory over Gloucester City, the Gills also won the league title in 1948–49. The team spent eight seasons in Division Three before the restructuring of the system for the 1958–59 season saw them placed in the newly created Fourth Division. They remained in this division until 1964, when manager Freddie Cox led them to promotion, the team finished the season level on 60 points with Carlisle United, but with a fractionally better goal average, which was the tightest league title finish in Football League history. After relegation back to the Fourth Division in 1970–71, the Gills were soon promoted back to the Third Division in the 1973–74 season. During this period the club produced future stars Steve Bruce and Tony Cascarino, in 1987, the Gills hit the headlines when, on consecutive Saturdays, they beat Southend United 8–1 and Chesterfield 10–0, the latter a club record for a Football League match. Just a few later, however, manager Keith Peacock was controversially sacked. The ensuing spell in the division brought little success
Chatham Town F.C.
Chatham Town Football Club are an English Association Football club based in Chatham, Kent. They currently play in Division One South of the Isthmian League and are nicknamed The Chats, former Premier League club Portsmouth and West Ham United played their first ever league matches against Chatham. The club was formed in 1882 as Chatham United, when Rochester Invicta merged with the Royal Engineers Band football team, Chatham played their home games at the Army owned pitches called The Lines, where they were to remain until 1889 when they moved to the Maidstone Road Ground. The move to the new ground was prompted when the reached the quarter-finals of the FA cup in 1888–89. So the club moved to the Maidstone Road site which was owned by a George Winch, in 1894 Chatham became founder members of both the Southern League and the original Kent League, winning the Kent League in its inaugural season. For the first two seasons the club competed in leagues, but left the Kent league to concentrate on the Southern league in 1896. In the 1900–01 season, owing to difficulties, Chatham resigned from the Southern League. After The First World War, Chatham returned to play and in the 1919 season won the Kent Victory Cup and they rejoined the Southern League in 1920–21, but withdrew at seasons end because of the burden of travel costs on club finances. In 1927–28 they rejoined the Southern League for two seasons, again, the expenses to play proved a financial strain on the club, and returned to the Kent League. The club struggled financially and for the 1933–34 season the club took a voluntary relegation into Division Two of the Kent League, a season later they won the division but decided against promotion, and reverted to Amateur status. Having played in both the Kent League and Kent Amateur League in 1938–39, they decided to play to amateur competition the following season. After the War Chatham won the Kent Amateur League Premier Division in 1946–47, on 7 January 1947 they merged with Shorts F. C. with the amalgamated club taking the name Chatham Town at the request of the local council. They then joined Division One of the Kent League for the 1947–48 season and stayed there until 1959, for the 1959–60 season they joined as a founding member of the Aetolian League. The following year captured the League Championship and the Aetolian League Cup Final. In 1964–65 the Aetolian League merged with the London League and the moved to the Metropolitan League. Four Seasons later they returned to the Kent League when it was reformed in 1968 and they remained in the Kent league until 1983, when they joined the Southern League. During the 15-year period in the Kent league they won League 4 times and won League, the club changed its name in 1974 for 5 years to Medway F. C. at the request of the local council, returning to Chatham Town in 1979. The club stayed in the Southern League until 1988, when having failed to gain re-election they were relegated to the Kent League and they experienced crowds, as had other poorly supported clubs, in double figures, Kent League days had healthier attendance with more local competition