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
Cambridge United F.C.
Cambridge United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. The club currently plays in League Two, the tier of the English league system. The club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, and took the name Cambridge United in 1951 and it first competed in the Football League in 1970, staying there for 35 seasons until relegation in 2005. Football League status was regained in 2014, after nine seasons in the Conference, Cambridge United have had two spells in the leagues second tier, from 1978 to 1984, and again from 1991 to 1993. They reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup twice and Football League Cup once during the early 1990s, the club is based at the Abbey Stadium on Newmarket Road, approximately 1.86 miles east of Cambridge city centre. The stadium has a capacity of 8,127, made up of terracing, the club had close links with Cambridge Regional College, a team formed in 2006 as a de facto reserve team, however, CRC folded at the end of the 2013–14 season. The club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, named after the Abbey district of Cambridge, a club called Cambridge United existed in Cambridge from 1909, but it was not linked to the club that exists today. The club played in amateur leagues for many of its early years. In 1949 the club turned professional, and changed its name to Cambridge United in 1951 and they played in the Eastern Counties League until finishing as runners-up in 1957–58, which saw them promoted to the Southern League. Three years later, Cambridge United reached the Premier Division of the Southern League, after election to the Football League in 1970, to replace Bradford, the club was promoted from the Fourth Division after three seasons, but went straight back down. Following the appointment of Ron Atkinson as manager, Cambridge won successive promotions took them into the Second Division in 1978 – a mere eight years after joining the Football League. Atkinson had gone to West Bromwich Albion, a First Division club, in January 1978, and was succeeded by John Docherty, Cambridge peaked at eighth place in the Second Division in 1980. However, a season in 1983–84 was followed by a further relegation in 1984–85. They had to apply for re-election in their first season back in the Fourth Division, the early 1990s was the Us most successful period. Dion Dublin scored the goal in a game against Chesterfield. Under Beck, United gained promotion from the Fourth Division and had reached the FA Cup quarter finals in 1990, and reached them again a year later. United reached the play-offs in 1992, after finishing 5th in the Second Division and this was the clubs highest final league placing to date. The following season the club sacked John Beck and were relegated from the new First Division, further relegation followed two seasons later
Burton Albion F.C.
Burton Albion Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, England. The team play in the Championship, the tier of English football. Burton Albion competed in the non-League of English football from their formation in 1950 until 2009, when they were promoted to the Football League. The clubs home ground is the Pirelli Stadium, having moved from Eton Park in 2005, Burton Albion were formed in 1950, and joined the Birmingham & District League. They finished the 1953–54 season as runners-up, and in 1958–59 joined the Southern League North Western zone, in 1965–66 Burton missed out on the runners-up place on goal difference, but were still promoted to the Southern League Premier Division. They avoided relegation in 1968, thanks to Stevenage Town folding, Burton missed out on promotion on goal average in 1970–71, but finished as runners-up the following season and were promoted back to the Premier Division. The next two seasons saw them relegated, and then promoted back to the Premier Division again and they stayed in the same division until being relegated once more at the end of 1976–77. In October 1998, Nigel Clough was appointed as player-manager and he led the club to two successive runners-up spots, in 1999–2000 and 2000–01. Burton were again moved to the Northern Premier League Premier Division in 2001–02, the club were promoted to the Football Conference for the first time. The club was brought to attention when they were drawn at home against 11-times winners Manchester United in the third round of the 2005–06 FA Cup. The Brewers held the Premier League team to a 0–0 draw at home, at the end of the season Roy McFarland left the club and was replaced by Paul Peschisolido, with Gary Rowett acting as his assistant. Burtons first win in the Football League was 5–2 against Morecambe at the Pirelli Stadium, in their second season Burton claimed a notable scalp in the FA Cup third round when they knocked out Championship team Middlesbrough 2–1 at the Pirelli Stadium. In the league, Burton experienced a 17-game winless run and fell from fifth place on Boxing Day to 17th place at the end of the 2011–12 season, Gary Rowett was appointed as the new manager of Burton in May 2012. In his first full season in charge, he led Burton to a fourth-place finish, Burton lost their play-off semi-final 4–5 on aggregate to Bradford City despite winning the first leg 3–2 at Valley Parade. In the 2013–14 season, Burton finished sixth, reaching the final in which they lost 1–0 against Fleetwood Town. During the 2014–15 season, Rowett left to join Birmingham City, under Hasselbaink the Brewers won League Two and were promoted to League One for the first time in their history. Hasselbaink left by mutual consent in December 2015 to join Queens Park Rangers as manager, Clough returned to Burton to replace him for his second spell as manager and led the club to a second-place finish in the league, earning promotion to the Championship, another first for Burton. Albion began life at the Lloyds Foundry ground on Wellington Street, Eton Park was built off Derby Road and officially opened on 20 September 1958, coinciding with the clubs promotion to the Southern League
Crawley Town F.C.
Crawley Town Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Crawley, West Sussex, England. The team play in League Two, the tier of the English football league system. The clubs home ground is at Broadfield Stadium, first promoted to the Football Conference in 2004, the club survived a financial crisis to win promotion to the Football League in the 2010–11 season. In the same year reached the fifth round of the FA Cup. Formed in 1896, Crawley Town became founding members of the West Sussex Football League that year, Crawley retained their amateur status and went on to win the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup in 1959. Crawley turned semi-professional in 1962 and the year they joined Division One of the Southern League. The Sussex Floodlight Cup was won in three years from 1991 to 1993 and also again in 1998–99. The title was wrapped up with four remaining, as a 3–0 victory at Welling United sparked emotional celebrations from a large travelling contingent. Crawley would now be playing in the Football Conference, the highest level of non-League football, a final position of 12th in their first season in the National Division was an amazing achievement for the club who finished as the highest ranked part-time team in the country. Crawley also retained the Sussex Senior Cup by defeating Ringmer, in 2005 the SA Group bought the club and made the decision to go full-time for the first time in the clubs history. The 2005–06 season didnt start well for Crawley as the club found themselves third from bottom, francis Vines was subsequently sacked and replaced by former Chelsea FC manager and player John Hollins and his assistant Alan Lewer. Things got worse for Crawley and as attendances dropped so too did the clubs income, several key players left the club, including captain Ian Simpemba, Simon Wormull and record signing Daryl Clare, it looked certain that relegation was on the cards. However five straight wins through March and April saw the climb the table to 17th place. In August 2006 it was announced that the club would fold because of its debts, however, a last-minute rescue package saved the club and allowed it to carry on playing, albeit with a 10-point deduction for entering administration. Crawley started the 2006–07 season by winning their three games and all but wiped out their 10-point deduction. The following month, however, the clubs form dipped and this led to John Hollins and Alan Lewer losing their jobs. The news did not go well with the fans as the pair had stuck with Crawley when others decided to leave. They were replaced by players Ben Judge and David Woozley with the help of John Yems, life started well for the trio who picked up 10 points from a possible 12
Bath City F.C.
Bath City Football Club is a semi-professional association football club based in Bath, Somerset, England. The club participates in the National League South, the tier of English football. Formed in 1889 as Bath AFC, Bath Citys history is entirely in non-league football and they changed their name to Bath Railway in 1902 before settling on the name Bath City F. C. After many years playing in the echelons of non-League football they spent a decade in the Southern League after being relegated from the 1996–97 Football Conference. They were promoted to the Conference South by winning the Southern League in the 2006–07 season and they have reached the FA cup third round six times. In 2004 they lost in the FA Cup second round to Peterborough United, in 2009, City beat Football League Two side Grimsby Town in the FA Cup first round, only to lose to Forest Green Rovers in the second round. In 1889 Bath City were formed as Bath AFC and began to play at the Belvoir ground, in 1908 they commenced playing competitive league format football, joining the Western League Division Two. For the 1921–22 season they moved up to Southern League, English section, after the War they were forced to resume playing in the Southern League which they won in the 1959–60 season. A year later they were runners up in the same league, over the next thirteen years they were three times relegated into and again promoted from the Southern League Division one. In the 1977–78 season they won the Southern League title for a second time, for the next season they fell short of election to the Football League by a narrow margin so they became founder members of the Alliance Premier League, now the Conference National. They narrowly missed out on election to the Football League, in 1989 however they were relegated back to the Southern League but were promoted back next season. Here they remained until they were relegated once more to the Southern League in 1997 and they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Conference South in the season 2005–06 season finishing second in the Southern League and lost to Bedford Town. However the following season won promotion as winners of the Southern League in their second season under manager John Relish. They finished in 8th position in the Conference South in the 2007–08 season, in the same season they developed a local arrangement to establish a junior footballing set-up called Bath City Youth. This set-up is now being developed into an academy and in October 2008 manager John Relish moved aside from managerial duties to concentrate on creating this. He was replaced by his former assistant Adie Britton, however, ESPN did not play the extra time, instead cut back after the end of the match. In the 2011–12 season, Bath City had a run of bad results, therefore being relegated from the Conference National. They were the first football club in the top five divisions of England to be relegated and they are currently playing in the Conference South following this relegation
Brentwood Town F.C.
Brentwood Town Football Club is a football club based in Brentwood, Essex, England. They are currently members of the Isthmian League Division One North and they were later replaced as the towns main club by amateur club Brentwood & Warley. Brentwood & Warley joined Division One East of the Spartan League in 1928, League reorganisation at the end of the 1928–29 season saw them placed in the Premier Division, where they remained until leaving the league at the end of the 1933–34 season. They rejoined the league in 1948, and were runners-up in 1948–49, in 1951 they were founder members of the Delphian League and were its inaugural champions. The club went on to win the league again in 1958–59, in 1963 they joined Division Two of the Athenian League in 1963 after the Delphian League was disbanded. In 1965 the club turned professional and became Brentwood Town, Playing at the Hive on Ongar Road, the renamed club left the amateur Athenian League to join the Metropolitan League. After two third-place finishes and a League Cup win in 1966–67, the club moved up to Division One of the Southern League in 1967, in 1968–69 they won Division One, and were promoted to the Premier Division. In the same season the club reached the second round of the FA Cup. The following season the club reached the round of the cup. They beat Football League club Reading 1–0 in the first round, the third round saw them drawn at home against Northampton Town, with a record crowd of over 4,000 seeing the club lose 1–0. In the league the club topped the table in September. However, at the end of the season the directors decided to merge the club with Chelmsford City. The clubs ground was sold for housing, after Brentwood Town were dissolved, Manor Athletic changed their name to Brentwood Athletic. Manor Athletic had been established in 1954, and joined the Essex Olympian League in 1967, in 1974 the club was renamed again, becoming simply Brentwood, and joined the Essex Senior League. In 2004 the club adopted its current name, after winning the Essex Senior League for the second time in 2006–07, and also winning the League Cup, the club was promoted to Division One North of the Isthmian League. In 2008–09 they finished third and qualified for the promotion play-offs, in 2010–11 the club finished fifth and qualified for the play-offs again. After defeating Needham Market 3–1 in the semi-finals, they lost 3–2 to Wingate & Finchley in the final, however, the following season saw them finish in the relegation zone, resulting in relegation back to Division One North. Manor Athletic played at King Georges Playing Fields until moving to Larkins Playing Field in 1957, in 1992 they were required to leave the ground in order to maintain senior status, and groundshared at East Thurrock Uniteds Rookery Hill
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