Midland Football League
|Level on pyramid||Levels 9 to 12|
The Midland Football League is a semi-professional football league standing at levels 9–12 of the English football league system, and was also the name of three defunct competitions.
Current Midland League
Members clubs 2014–15
Previous Midland Leagues
Midland League 1889–1960
Founded in 1889, only one year after the Football League, the Midland League was the second league for professional clubs to be formed. Eleven clubs participated in the first season, 1889–90, four of whom (including the first champions, Lincoln City) would go on to achieve Football League status. The eleven founder members came from no less than six different counties.
In the early days of the Midland League, a number of the champion clubs were elected to the Football League, and in return, League clubs who failed to be re-elected were often placed in the Midland League. Lincoln City and Doncaster Rovers both had a number of spells in both the Football League and Midland League.
With the larger professional clubs becoming stronger, they looked to place their reserve side in the Midland League, Derby County being the first in 1894–95. Within less than a decade, more than half of the membership of the Midland League was made up of reserve teams.
Along with most other leagues, the Midland League closed down for the duration of World War I. When football resumed in 1919–20, the Midland League began to take on a different look. Three clubs (Chesterfield, Halifax Town and Lincoln City) joined the Football League when that organisation expanded to form a Third Division North, and the reserve sides of Football League clubs gradually left. More Midland League clubs progressed to the Football League, e.g. York City in 1929, and Mansfield Town in 1932.
Again, on the outbreak of World War II, the Midland League closed down, and resumed again in peacetime in 1945. After reaching a constitution of 24 clubs in 1946–47, the league entered a decade of stability. Peterborough United won the title for five consecutive seasons from 1955–56 to 1959–60. With most of the remaining Football League clubs reserve sides leaving in 1958, the league was reduced to a rump of just 9 clubs, but was saved when the North Eastern League, a competition which had also suffered from the withdrawal of reserve sides, decided to disband, and the Midland League accepted into membership a number of north eastern sides, well to the north of its usual catchment area.
However, this lifeline was to prove short lived. A new league, the Northern Counties League, was formed in 1960 and all the former North Eastern League clubs moved to the new competition. Peterborough United were elected to the Football League (the last Midland League club to achieve this feat), and the Midland League closed down through lack of numbers.
Midland Counties League 1961–1982
After a single year without a Midland League, a re-formed competition entitled the Midland Counties League was formed, although common practice was still to refer to it as the "Midland League" and it is usually treated as a continuation of the former competition in reference sources. A few of the previous member clubs re-joined, with a number of new members, principally from the Central Alliance. With the formation of the Northern Premier League in 1968, the Midland League lost four of its most successful clubs, but by now the competition was a strong league again and more clubs were looking to join than the league had vacancies. To cater for this, the league formed a second division in 1975–76. This division became "Division One" while the previous clubs formed the "Premier Division". Clubs had to achieve a high level of facilities to join the Premier Division, and in the seven seasons in which the two division format was used, no clubs were actually able to move from the lower to the upper tier.
When senior football in the north of England was rationalised in 1982, the Midland League was one of those affected. The league closed down, merging with the Yorkshire League to form the Northern Counties East League as a feeder league to the Northern Premier League.
Midland League 1994–2005
The Staffordshire Senior League was formed in 1984, taking its clubs from Staffordshire and the areas immediately adjacent. When the league wanted to raise its profile, and attract clubs from a wider area, the decision was made to rename the league as the "Midland League" with effect from the 1994–95 season. There is no direct connection to the earlier league of the same name, and the level of football was much lower, with the competition being a feeder to the North West Counties League in the pyramid.
The "new" Midland League consisted of two divisions for the first three seasons, and from 1997 a single grouping. With a merger with the Staffordshire County League in 2005, the new competition became known as the Staffordshire County Senior League, and the Midland League title again fell into disuse.
- "Midlands ‘Super League’ Set For Next SeasonThe Non League Football Paper - Daily football news | The Non League Football Paper - Daily football news". The Non League Football Paper. Retrieved 2014-07-08.