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
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
Millwall Football Club is a professional football club in Bermondsey, South East London, England. The team play in League One, the tier of English football. Founded as Millwall Rovers in 1885, the club has retained its name despite having last played in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs in 1910. From then until 1993 the club played at what is now called The Old Den in New Cross, before moving to its current home stadium nearby, the traditional club crest is a lion rampant, referred to in the teams nickname The Lions. Millwalls traditional kit consists of blue shirts, white shorts and blue socks, Millwall have a long-standing rivalry with West Ham United. The local derby between the two sides has been contested almost a hundred times since 1899, in the media, Millwalls supporters have often been associated with hooliganism, with numerous films having been made fictionalising their notoriety. The fans are renowned for their chant No one likes us, in 2004, the team reached the FA Cup final and qualified for the UEFA Cup, playing in Europe for the first time in their history. The club also reached FA Cup semi-finals in 1900,1903,1937 and 2013, Millwall have spent the majority of their existence in the second or third tier of the Football League. The team spent two seasons in the top flight between 1988–90, in which the club achieved its highest ever finish of tenth place in the First Division. Based on all results during the clubs 89 seasons in the Football League from 1920–21 to 2015–16, Millwall Rovers were formed by the workers of J. T. Mortons canning and preserve factory in the Millwall area of the Isle of Dogs in Londons East End in 1885. The club secretary was 17-year-old Jasper Sexton, the son of the landlord of The Islander pub in Tooke Street where Millwall held their club meetings. Millwall Rovers first fixture was held on a piece of ground on Glengall Road, on 3 October 1885 against Fillebrook. The newly formed team were beaten 5–0, Rovers found a better playing surface for the 1886–87 season, at the rear of the Lord Nelson pub and it became known as the Lord Nelson Ground. In November 1886, the East End Football Association was formed, Millwall made it to the final against London Caledonians, which was played at Leyton Cricket Ground. The match finished 2–2 and the teams shared the cup for six months each, Millwall won the East London Senior Cup at the first attempt. The club also won it the two years, and the trophy became their property. They were founding members of the Southern Football League which they won for the first two years of its existence, and were runners-up in its third. They were forced to move to a new ground North Greenwich in 1901, Millwall Athletic reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1900 and 1903, and were also champions of the Western Football League in 1908 and 1909
Dartford Football Club is an English association football club based in Dartford, Kent. The club participates in the National League South, the tier of English football. After finishing as champions of the Isthmian League Division One North in the 2007–08 season and they finished in 8th position in their first season. They were crowned champions of the Isthmian League Premier Division in their second season and that season they finished in 10th place, but once again gained promotion at the second attempt in 2011–12, by winning the play off final, after finishing second in the table. Since the 2012–13 season they have playing in the Conference Premier. Home matches are played at the environmentally friendly stadium, Princes Park. The club was formed in 1888 by members of the Dartford Working mens club and they have also reached the final of the FA Trophy once. Dartford Football Club was formed in 1888 by members of the Dartford Working Mens Club, the club soon was entering cup competitions, reaching the final of the Kent Senior Cup in 1894. Following this, Dartford were founder members of the Kent League for the 1894–95 season, Two seasons later, Dartford became founder members of the Southern League Division Two, winning the Championship at the first attempt. The club moved between the Southern and Kent Leagues several times over the seasons, dropping to the West Kent League in the 1900s. Around the same time the club found its first permanent home ground, Summers Meadow in Lowfield Street, in 1908–09 Dartford won the West Kent League and Cup double and rejoined the Kent League where they remained until the outbreak of the First World War. In 1913 Dartford undertook a tour of Norway culminating in a 6–1 win over a Norway XI. Darts continued their association with the Kent League, winning the cup in 1923–24. At the start of the 1930s the Dartford Board appointed the successful Kettering Town manager, Bill Collier, the Scot continued his pattern of success with Dartford and won trophies by the shoal during the decade leading up to the 1939–45 war. In county football Dartford won the Kent Senior Cup four times in five seasons, in addition Dartford gained a reputation nationally by becoming the first club outside the Football League to reach the FA Cup Third Round Proper in successive seasons. In 1935–36 Dartford lost to a star-studded Derby County by 3–2 at the Baseball Ground having at one time led by 2–0, leading player Fred Dell was transferred to West Ham United for a reported £2,000 immediately after the game. The following season saw Dartford lose 0–1 at home to Darlington at the same stage, for a decade and a half following the 1939–1945 war, Dartford had little to show for its efforts except for a sparkling win over Bromley in Kent Senior Cup in 1947. Included in the Dartford line-up that day was Ted Croker, later to become the Secretary of the Football Association, soon after this win Dartford transferred Riley Cullum and Fred Alexander to Charlton Athletic for £6,000, which wiped out the clubs debts entirely
Gloucester City A.F.C.
The club was established in 1883 as Gloucester, they became Gloucester City in 1902, but were briefly known as Gloucester YMCA from 1910 to 1925, before returning to their previous name. The club has competed in the Conference North since 2009, having been promoted from the Southern Premier League at the end of the 2008–09 season and it spent a record 70 years within the Southern Football League from 1939 until 2009. The club secured promotion after a Playoff final win against Farnborough, in July 2007, the club was considerably affected by the Gloucestershire floods with their Meadow Park stadium under eight feet of water. The floods have meant the club has been in exile away from Gloucester since 2007, the current team manager is Tim Harris. The club is affiliated to the Gloucestershire County FA, the club was formed on 5 March 1883 as Gloucester, but the first recorded match came during 1883–84 when a scratch team representing Cheltenham played a match against the new Gloucester side. Gloucesters first competitive game in October 1889 was a Gloucestershire FA Junior Challenge Cup 1st Round tie beating Clifton Association Reserves 10–0 at Buddings Field, the club became members of the Bristol and District League which subsequently became the Western League. During this era the club was noted as The Gloucestrians and The Citizens in local media, after the end of the First World War in 1918 most of the players who had been with City joined Gloucester YMCA. By 1925 they had assumed the name of Gloucester City once more and had become members of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League. In 1939 the club played in the Southern Football League for the very first time, albeit in a wartime competition. After the war City rejoined the Southern League and went on to become the Leagues longest serving members. For three consecutive seasons, 1948–51, the reached the First Round of the FA Cup, each time losing to Football League opponents, Mansfield Town, Norwich City. It took until the 1955–56 season for Gloucester to taste their first success in the Southern League. A famous Southern League Cup final win against Yeovil Town in which City had lost the first leg 4–1, only to beat Yeovil 5–1 in the second leg, won the club their first major honour. In 1964 the club moved again, from Longlevens to the massive Horton Road stadium, closer to the centre of Gloucester. Although Gloucester City were promoted to the Southern Football League Premier Division in the 1968–69 season, in the 1981–82 season a sixth-place finish was enough to clinch a place in the reformed Premier Division. They were also runners-up in the League Cup, going down 1–2 to Wealdstone, despite Kim Casey scoring 40 goals, the club were relegated to the Midland Division in 1984–85, after 3 seasons in the Premier Division. In 1986 the club moved once more, this time to Meadow Park, the Horton Road ground became a housing estate which now boasts the names of City legends, Myers Road, Etheridge Place and Coltman Close amongst others. Former Aston Villa and Wales player Brian Godfrey was appointed manager in 1988, the next big achievement of the Godfrey years was the famous FA Cup run in 1989–90 which has still not been matched
Guildford City F.C.
Guildford City Football Club is a football club based in Guildford, Surrey, England. The club was established in 1921, folded in 1974 and were reformed in 1996, Guildford City play in the Combined Counties League Premier Division. The first club in the town was amateur side Guildford, formed in 1877 and they played home matches at the Woodbridge Road Sports Ground. A successful start led to a number of people mooting a new professional club, in May 1921 they were accepted into the Southern League, the equivalent of the National League today. At the same land had been purchased in Joseph’s Road. Playing in green and white the hosts won 2–0 with a crowd of over 5,000 spectators, in 1927 Guildford became a diocese and the Guildford Cathedral was built. It was believed that Guildford would become a city so the club changed its name, at this time they also changed the colours to red and white stripes. Despite excellent gates the club was facing a crisis at the end of the season – this was to be a recurrent theme throughout the club’s history. At the start of the 1936–37 season the club made the decision to turn full-time professional. That season they finished 4th but next season things got even better, in 1937–38 City beat Reading in the FA Cup but in the league they won 22 of their 34 games to finish as Champions for the first time. That feat was repeated the following year, with City finishing runners-up to Colchester United by one point. In the league game at home to Colchester on Easter Monday City won 3–1 in front of the largest crowd ever for a game at Joseph’s Road 9,443. Earlier that season City had attracted a bigger crowd to Joseph’s Road for an FA Cup 1st Round Replay against local rivals Aldershot. 9,932 people saw City lose a nail-biting game 4–3 and this successful period was brought to a premature conclusion by the outbreak of the Second World War. The ground had been used by the Army during the War, in 1946–47 City re-entered the Southern League – this time as a part-time club. In 1950–51 the team reached the final of the Southern League Cup for the first time, in the 1951–52 season the City undertook their longest trip when they when they travelled to Gateshead in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup. An estimated 5,000 supporters made the trip to the North East of England in December. A15,000 crowd saw City dominate the game but lose 2–0, in debt again, City sold Jimmy Langley to Leeds for £2,000
Ebbsfleet United F.C.
Ebbsfleet United Football Club is a football club in Northfleet, Kent, England, which is in the National League South, the sixth tier of English football. The team plays matches at Stonebridge Road. Before 2007, the club was called Gravesend & Northfleet, from 1969 and 1971, Roy Hodgson, who later became manager of the national teams of Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Finland and England, was a player at the club, making 59 appearances. In 1979, the team was one of the members of the Alliance Premier League. For the 1997–98 season, Gravesend & Northfleet left the Southern League, on 13 November 2007, it was announced that the website MyFootballClub had entered a deal in principle to take over the club. Approximately 27,000 MyFootballClub members each paid £35 to provide an approximate £700,000 takeover fund and all owned a share in the club. Members had a vote on transfers as well as player selection, because of the nature of MyFootballClub, it was announced that manager Liam Daish would become instead the first team head coach. His backroom staff would remain at the club, both resulted in overwhelming Yes votes,95. 89% voted to proceed with the takeover while 95. 86% voted to allow Daish to continue his transfer plans. The deal was ratified at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the board on 19 February. On 10 May 2008, Ebbsfleet United won the FA Trophy, defeating Torquay United 1–0 in the final on the clubs first trip to Wembley, becoming the first Kentish team to win this trophy. Ebbsfleet United went on to win the Kent Senior Cup in the same season, with a 4–0 victory over Cray Wanderers on 26 July 2008. After one year of ownership a majority of MyFC members failed to renew, the club had previously stated that 15,000 was the minimum required. As of September 2010, two and a years after the takeover, there were around 3,500 members. Both the manager and the club secretary opposed the change, Liam Daish subsequently departed as manager and the new ownership appointed Dover Athletic coach and former Charlton Athletic defender Steve Brown as the new manager. Steve Browns first competitive game was a draw at home to Havant & Waterlooville. A club record was broken just before Christmas as Browns team achieved nine wins in succession, Ebbsfleet eventually reached the playoffs, helped by goalkeeper Preston Edwards keeping eleven clean sheets at Stonebridge Road over the course of the season. The playoff semi-final first leg against Bromley at Stonebridge Road ended in a 4–0 win for the Fleet, despite Bromley winning the second leg, Browns side won 4–1 on aggregate. The playoff final was against Dover Athletic at Stonebridge Road in front of a 4,200 crowd, Dover dominated the encounter, winning 1–0 with a goal early in the second half from former Ebbsfleet striker Nathan Elder