South of Scotland Football League
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013)|
|Number of teams||14|
|Levels on pyramid||6|
|Promotion to||Lowland Football League|
|Current champions||Wigtown & Bladnoch F.C.|
The South of Scotland Football League (SoSFL) is a senior football competition based in the south of Scotland. The league is currently composed of fourteen member clubs in a single division, which sits at level six on the proposed pyramid system on a par with the East of Scotland Football League and is intended to act as a feeder to the Lowland Football League.
From the 2014-15 season, it is proposed that the winner of the South of Scotland Football League will face the winner of the East of Scotland Football League for a place in the 2015-16 Lowland Football League. This will be subject to the club meeting the sufficient licensing criteria to satisfy the terms of promotion.
A league of the same name briefly existed during the early days of competitive football. The original South of Scotland Football League was created in 1892-93 and featured seven clubs:
- 5th Kirkcudbrightshire Rifle Volunteers
- Cronberry Eglinton
- Lugar Boswell
- Queen of the South Wanderers
The clubs preferred to play in cup competitions and traditional friendlies, so most of the league fixtures were not played. The competition was subsequently abandoned and no championship was awarded.
When league football was re-established in 1946, the title Southern Counties League could not be used because Ayr United 'A' and Kilmarnock 'A' were not members of the Southern Counties F.A.. Instead, the new competition was called the South of Scotland Football League. The first season saw the league played in two sections, East and West, but it has been played as a single league ever since.
Teams play each other on a home and away basis. In seasons where league membership has been low, clubs have played each other four times, instead of the usual twice. Recent changes in league membership have been:
- Stranraer Athletic withdrew from the league at the end of the 2007-08 season.
- The newly formed Gretna 2008, founded to replace the Gretna team that had been forced to dissolve following its meteoric rise to the Scottish Premier League between 2002 and 2007, applied to join the South of Scotland League, but then joined the East of Scotland Football League instead.
- Annan Athletic withdrew their reserve team from the league at the end of the 2008-09 season, so that they could concentrate on the SFL Under 19 League and the Reserve League West.
- Stranraer withdrew their reserve team from the league at the end of the 2011-12 season.
- Dalbeattie Star and Threave Rovers withdrew from the league at the end of the 2012-13 season to join the newly formed Scottish Lowland Football League.
- After 44 Seasons in the Dumfries and District Amateur Football League, champions Lochar Thistle were elected to the league for the start of the 2013-14 season.
- Three new teams Dumfries YMCA, Edusport Academy and Upper Annandale were elected to the league for the for the 2014/15 Season.
For the 2014-15 season, the league will feature the following 14 clubs:
|Abbey Vale||Maryfield Park, New Abbey||1,000|
|Creetown||Castlecary Park, Creetown||2,000|
|Crichton||Crichton Hospital Park, Dumfries||2,500|
|Dumfries YMCA||MacLeod Pavillion, Kingholm, Dumfries||N/A|
|Edusport Academy||Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility, Motherwell||N/A|
|Fleet Star||Garries Park, Gatehouse of Fleet||1,000 (20)|
|Heston Rovers||Palmerston Park, Dumfries||10,000 (3,500)|
|Lochar Thistle||Maxwelltown High School, Dumfries||1,000|
|Mid-Annandale||Galabank, Annan||3,000 (500)|
|Newton Stewart||Blairmount Park, Newton Stewart||1,500|
|Nithsdale Wanderers||Lorimer Park, Sanquhar||1,000|
|St. Cuthbert Wanderers||St. Mary's Park, Kirkcudbright||2,000|
|Wigtown & Bladnoch||Trammondford Park, Wigtown||1,500|
|Upper Annandale||Hope Johnstone Park, Moffat||N/A|
Note: Mid Annandale's traditional home ground is King Edward Park in Lockerbie, but has been deemed unsuitable by the league. The club began ground-sharing with Annan Athletic in 2012. A date for their return to Lockerbie has yet to be announced.
|Annan Athletic Reserves||1987-1991, 1992-2009|
|Ayr United 'A'||1946-48|
|Dalbeattie Star||1946-47, 1976-2001, 2009-2012|
|Dalbeattie Star Reserves||2001-2009|
|Dumfries High School Former Pupils||1994-2000|
|Maxwelltown High School Former Pupils||1990-2000|
|Nithsdale Wanderers (1)||1946-47, 1948-50.|
|Nithsdale Wanderers (2)||2001-|
|Queen of the South Reserves||1972-73, 1992–93, 1996–97, 2003-04.|
|RAF West Freugh||1948-49|
|St. Cuthbert Wanderers||1946-|
|Stranraer Reserves||1949-88, 1990–91, 2003–04, 2007-2012.|
|Tarff Rovers||1946-88, 1990-2003|
|Threave Rovers||1959-1998, 2004-2012|
|Whithorn||1946-59, 1962–63, 1964–69|
|Wigtown & Bladnoch||1946-|
(1) Crichton was known as Blackwood Dynamos until 1999. The club was to be called Crichton Royal, but the suffix has never been used. (2) Dumfries was formed by the merger of Dumfries High School Former Pupils and Dumfries Amateurs.| (3) Heston Rovers Youth (formed in 1978) merged with Dumfries in 2008, retaining Heston Rovers as the name of the new club. (4) Annan Athletic (1987-2008), Dalbeattie Star (2001-2009) and Threave Rovers (1998-2004) have all run teams in the East of Scotland League. From the 2008-09 season, Annan Athletic has played in the Scottish Football League. Dalbeattie Star and Threave Rovers joined the newly formed Scottish Lowland Football League for the 2013-14 season. (5) The following clubs have resigned during the season:
- Creetown 1975-76
- Girvan 1978-79
- Gretna Community 1991-92
- RAF West Freugh 1948-49
- St. Cuthbert Wanderers 1977-78
- Wigtown & Bladnoch 1962-63 and 1972–73
- Dumfries United resigned prior to the start of the 1987-88 season.
In 1950, the league’s membership had been reduced to just seven clubs. To compensate for the lack of fixtures, the League Cup was introduced. The final is usually contested by the winners of two mini-leagues, but has also been played as a straight knock-out competition. There was no separate League Cup competition between 1962-1968 and 1973-1975. Instead the trophy was awarded to the runner-up in the League. The Southern Counties Cup, also known as the Challenge Cup, is the league's main knockout competition. It has been played for since 1891, and the first winners were the 5th Kirkcudbrightshire Rifle Volunteers. Newton Stewart, St. Cuthbert Wanderers and Wigtown & Bladnoch are full members of the Scottish Football Association and are therefore allowed to enter the Scottish Cup, as are the winners of the league.