London and South East Merit League
|London and South East Merit League|
|Sport||Rugby league football|
|Formerly known as||London League|
|Number of teams||12|
|Champions||Hammersmith Hills Hoists A (2011)|
|Related competition||London Junior League, East Merit League, Rugby League Conference|
The London and South East Merit League is a rugby league competition founded in 1965. It is also known as the London League (LL), London, South and East Merit League, London Amateur Rugby League (LARL) and London Merit League (LML).
The merit system, which gives its unofficial name to the league as the London Merit League, came about as a way to accommodate the needs of as many of clubs as possible. The “merit table” system gives teams, freedom to arrange as many or few games amongst the other league participants as they wish. The results of fixtures worked out between the teams are compiled into a league table based on average scores. The top six teams then go through to a play-off system to determine the champion club. The London League participants also have the opportunity to arrange games with clubs participating in the RL Merit League or Midlands Rugby League.
When the Acton & Willesden and Streatham & Mitcham clubs joined the Rugby Football League in 1935, a number of supporters and rejected trialists formed a number of amateur teams in London. There was no amateur competition in London at that time but leading teams were Acton Hornets, Park Royal Rangers, Hendon, Dagenham, and Harlesden All Blacks. None of these clubs survived the failure of the two professional clubs.
Amateur clubs were again formed in Morden, Brixton, Mitcham, Slough and Southampton; and a four-team Southern Amateur Rugby League existed in 1949–50 before folding. There was an attempt to revive the league in 1955, when a Mr Tim Wood, of Chigwell Row, Essex, wrote to the Rugby Football League to enquire about possible assistance.
Local rugby league enthusiasts began to train in the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace in 1965; and twelve months later the London Amateur Rugby League Association was formed in Hackney Marshes, with Eddie Waring as its first president. It was soon renamed the Southern Amateur Rugby League as teams from outside London joined the league.
By 1981, there were enough teams competing to form a Second division and a Third division ran between 1984 and 1988. The league was rebranded the London Amateur Rugby League in 1986 to reflect the concentration of sides in the London area after outpost clubs Cheltenham, Aberavon, Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes and Wokingham (soon renamed Surrey Heath) all switched to the newly formed Midlands & South West League (MASWARLA) by its second season (Wokingham had been founder members). In 1995–96 there were two regionalised Second divisions due to the Eastern Counties League being absorbed into the London League and an influx of teams from South West England.
The Southern Conference League, founded in 1997, was the fore-runner of the Rugby League Conference. It included some of the top teams in the London Amateur Rugby League, focusing on clubs that either had or promised junior sections. As the best of the London League was gradually included into the Conference, the rest reformed as a summer merit league for new clubs, police / prison sides and second and third teams. The last winter season completed was 1998/99 and the first summer season was 2000.
The Gordon Anderton Memorial Trophy knock-out competition was established in 1997 and ran for two seasons. It was named after Gordon who ran the London League from 1965 to just before his death in the mid-90s.
Throughout most of its history the league ran throughout the traditional winter season, with a switch to a summer league in 2000 following the lead of the Super League which made the switch in 1996. The last winter London League season in 98/99 finished with only four teams still playing. The first London summer merit league started with eight teams.
From 2000 the London League Champions were determined via a play-off series culminating in a Grand Final. In 2011 the league was renamed London, South and East Merit League with teams joining from the East of England. In 2012 it became the London & South East Entrance League with the Eastern teams leaving to form the East Merit League.
Rugby League Conference Pyramid 
- National Conference League
- Conference League South
- South Premier
- Eastern Men's League and London & South East Men's League
- London, South and East Merit League
The London League is the lowest level on the Rugby League Conference pyramid for clubs in the South of England.
Participating teams 
In 2012 the following teams have entered:
- Barking & Dagenham Bulldogs
- Hammersmith Hills Hoists A
- Newham Dockers
- Mudchute Uncles
- Weald Warriors
- Weald Warriors A
Participating teams by season 
- 2000: Crawley Jets 'A', Huntingdon Town, Newmarket, North London Skolars 'A', Oxford Cavaliers 'A', St Albans Centurions 'A', South London Storm 'A', West London Sharks 'A'
- 2001: Crawley Jets 'A', Finchley, Luton Vipers, Newmarket, North London Skolars 'A', St Albans Centurions 'A', St Ives, South London Storm 'A', West London Sharks 'A'
- 2002: Crawley Jets 'A', Finchley, Greenwich Admirals, Luton Vipers 'A', North London Skolars 'A', St Albans Centurions 'A', St Ives, South London Storm 'A', South Norfolk Saints, West London Sharks 'A'
- 2003: Essex Eels 'A', Feltham YOI, Finchley, Greenwich Admirals 'A', Kingston Warriors 'A', Luton Vipers 'A', Metropolitan Police, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, St Albans Centurions 'A', South London Storm 'B', West London Sharks 'A'
- 2004: 36th Engineering Regiment Maidstone, Bedford Tigers, Croydon Hurricanes, Dover Parachute Regiment, Feltham YOI, Greenwich Admirals 'A', Haringey Hornets, HMP The Mount, Ipswich Rhinos 'A', Kent Ravens, Kingston Warriors 'A', Luton Vipers 'A', Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, St Albans Centurions 'B', West London Sharks 'A'
- 2005: Broadstairs Bulldogs, Colchester Romans, Feltham YOI, Greenwich Admirals 'A', HMP The Mount, Ipswich Rhinos 'A', Kent Ravens, Metropolitan Police, West London Sharks 'A'
- 2006: Bedford Tigers 'A', Eastern Raiders, Feltham YOI, Kentish Tigers, Luton Vipers, Smallford Saints, South London Storm 'A', Southend Seaxes, West London Sharks 'A'
- 2007: Bedford Tigers 'A', Eastern Raiders, Farnborough Falcons, Feltham Eagles, Hadleigh Hawks, Hainault Bulldogs, Kent Ravens 'A', London Griffins, Metropolitan Police, Northampton Casuals, St Albans Centurions 'A', Smallford Saints, South London Storm 'A', Southampton Spitfires, Southgate Skolars, Southgate Skolars 'A', West London Sharks 'A'
- 2008: Bedford Tigers 'A', Eastern Raiders, Farnborough Falcons, Feltham Eagles, Hainault Bulldogs 'A', Hemel Stags 'A', Kent Ravens, London Griffins, Metropolitan Police, Norwich City Saxons, St Albans Centurions 'A', St Ives Roosters 'A', South London Storm 'A', Southampton Spitfires, Southgate Skolars, West London Sharks 'A'
- 2009: Bedford Tigers 'A', Greenwich Admirals 'A', Guildford Giants 'A', Hammersmith Hills Hoists, Hemel Stags 'A', St Albans Centurions 'A', St Mary's University, South London Storm 'A', Southgate Skolars, Sussex Merlins, West London Sharks 'A'
- 2010: Bedford Tigers 'A', Colchester Romans, Eastern Rhinos 'A', Feltham Eagles, Greenwich Admirals 'A', Hammersmith Hills Hoists 'A', Hemel Stags 'A', Metropolitan Police, Phantoms, West London Sharks 'A'
- 2011: Bedford Tigers 'A', Fenland Foxes, Greenwich Admirals, Guildford Giants 'A', Hammersmith Hills Hoists 'A', Hemel Stags 'A', London Skolars 'A' (called up to Rugby League Conference mid-season), Mudchute Uncles, Phantoms RL, RAF Odiham, St Albans Centurions 'A', South London Storm 'A', Southampton Spitfires 'A', West Norfolk Wildcats
Teams joining the Rugby League Conference 
Many of the foundation clubs of the Rugby League Conference (RLC) came from the London League and the league has continued to provide teams such as North London Skolars, Ipswich Rhinos, Cambridge Eagles, St Albans Centurions, South London Storm and Kingston Warriors.
Since adopting its current format the London League has provided fifteen teams to the RLC:-
- 2002 Luton Vipers
- 2003 Greenwich Admirals, London Skolars A, South London Storm A, South Norfolk Saints and St Ives Roosters
- 2004 St Albans Centurions A
- 2005 Haringey Hornets, Luton Vipers 'A' (who failed to complete the season) and Bedford Tigers
- 2006 Kent Ravens, Colchester Romans and Broadstairs Bulldogs
- 2008 Northampton Casuals and Hainault Bulldogs
- 2009 Hainault Bulldogs 'A' (failed to complete the season), Norwich City Saxons, Kent Ravens (again, failed to complete the season), Farnborough Falcons (failed to start the season) and Southampton Spitfires
- 2010 Hammersmith Hills Hoists, South London Storm A (again), St Albans Centurions A (again, failed to complete the season) and Sussex Merlins
- 2011 London Skolars A (called up to replace Hainault Bulldogs midseason)
NB: These are the years these clubs joined the RLC.
From 2000 the London League Champions were determined via a play-off series culminating in a Grand Final.
|2000||North London Skolars 'A'||def.||Newmarket|
|2001||North London Skolars 'A'||def.||Luton Vipers|
|2002||Greenwich Admirals||38–22||Crawley Jets A|
|2003||West London Sharks 'A'||36–22||St Albans Centurions 'A'|
|2004||Haringey Hornets||28–22||Bedford Tigers|
|2005||Broadstairs Bulldogs||40–14||Colchester Romans|
|2006||South London Storm A||52–20||Luton Vipers|
|2007||Hainault Bulldogs||30–4||Eastern Raiders|
|2008||West London Sharks A||40–24||Bedford Tigers A|
|2009||Hammersmith Hills Hoists||58–6||Hemel Stags A|
|2010||Hammersmith Hills Hoists A||50–18||Bedford Tigers A|
|2011||Hammersmith Hills Hoists A||30–16||West Norfolk Wildcats|
Second Division 
- 1981/82 Peckham II
- 1982/83 Fulham Travellers
- 1983/84 Peckham II
- 1984/85 Fulham Travellers
- 1985/86 St Marys
- 1986/87 Fulham Amateurs
- 1987/88 St Marys
- 1988/89 Peckham II
- 1993/94 Brent Ealing II
- 1994/95 Brent Ealing II
- 1995/96 Unknown
- 1996/97 Unknown
- 1997/98 Kingston
Third Division 
- 1984/85 Peckham Pumas
- 1985/86 Bexleyheath
- 1986/87 Hornsey Lambs
- 1987/88 Fulham Amateurs
London League Bowl Winners 
- 1984/85 Peckham 26 Bexleyheath 18
- 1985/86 West London Institute 30 Hornsey Lambs 5
- 1986/87 Hornsey Lambs 35 Hemel 0
- 1987/88 Surrey Heath 22 Ealing 10
- 1988/89 Peckham II 26 Streatham Celtic 12
- 1989/90 Ealing II 32 Essex Scimitars 10
- 1990/91 Peckham II 20 Met Police 10
- 1992/93 South London Warriors II 20 Cambridge 14
- 1993/94 Peckham 29 Met Police 10
- 1994/95 South London Warriors II 48 Cambridge Eagles 12
- 1997/98 St Albans Centurions 32 Hemel Stags 18
London League Cup 
- 1969/70 Ealing 30 Hillingdon 5
- 1970/71 Ealing 18 Hillingdon 6
- 1971/72 Hillingdon 13 Portsmouth Poly 11
- 1972/73 Ealing 15 Hackney 7
- 1973/74 Ealing 17 Peckham 16
- 1974/75 Peckham 11 Hackney 7
- 1975/76 Peckham 27 Hornchurch 17
- 1976/77 Peckham 24 Ealing 12
- 1977/78 Peckham 19 Ealing 12
- 1978/79 Peckham 29–Ealing 0
- 1979/80 Peckham 27 Ealing 9
- 1980/81 Peckham 22 Ealing 15
- 1981/82 Ealing 28 Oxford University 14
- 1982/83 Peckham 18 London Colonials 13
- 1983/84 London Colonials 14 Ealing 4
- 1984/85 London Colonials 18 Peckham Pumas 10
- 1985/86 South London Warriors 72 St Marys 5
- 1986/87 South London Warriors 32 London Colonials 7
- 1987/88 London Colonials 28 St Marys 6
- 1988/89 South London Warriors 26 London Colonials 22
- 1989/90 South London Warriors 24 St Marys 6
- 1990/91 South London Warriors 14 London Colonials 10
- 1991/92 South London Warriors 20 Ealing 18
- 1992/93 St Marys 52 South London Warriors 38
- 1993/94 South London Warriors 30 Ealing 8
- 1994/95 South London Warriors 36 Brent Ealing 8
- 2000 St Albans Centurions 'A' def South London Storm 'A'
Plate Winners 
- 2004 Greenwich Admirals bt West London Sharks (title awarded to Greenwich by default)
- 2005 Kent Ravens 30 Feltham Eagles 18
- 2006 Feltham Eagles 50 Southend 18
- 2007 Feltham Eagles 72 Kent Ravens 'A' 10
- 2008 Metropolitan Police 24 Farnborough Falcons18
7s (Keith Macklin Trophy) 
- 1970 Parachute Regiment
- 1971 Parachute Regiment
- 1972 ANZACs
7s (Ealing Plate) 
- 1971 Portsmouth
- 1972 Peckham
Gordon Anderton memorial trophy 
- 1997/98 Reading Raiders 28–24 South London Saints
- 1998/99 Metropolitan Police 32–28 South London Saints
Southern Cup 
- 1995 Hemel Stags def London Colonials
See also