Welsh Football League

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Welsh Football League
Welsh Football League.JPG
Country  Wales
Founded 1904 (as the Rhymney Valley League)
Number of teams 48 (16 in each division)
Levels on pyramid 2, 3 and 4
Promotion to Welsh Premier League
Relegation to Carmarthenshire League Premier Division
Gwent County League Division One
Neath & District League Premier Division
Pembrokeshire League Division One
South Wales Amateur League Division One
South Wales Senior League Division One
Swansea Senior League Division One
Domestic cup(s) Welsh Cup
League Cup
Current champions West End
(2011–12)
Website League Website
2013–14 Welsh Football League Division One
2013–14 Welsh Football League Division Two
2013–14 Welsh Football League Division Three

The Welsh Football League (also known as the MacWhirter Welsh Football League for sponsorship reasons) is a club football league in Wales. Division One of the Welsh Football League is at Level 2 of the Welsh football league system, immediately below the national Welsh Premier League.

The Welsh Football League's history stretches back to 1904 when the competition was first formed and Aberdare were crowned first champions of a seven-team First Division. Abergavenny were champions of Division 2 and Trelewis the winners of Division 3.

Its current title was adopted in 1912 when it changed from the Glamorgan League. Prior to that it was known as the Rhymney Valley League (1904-1909).

During the early days of the Rhymney Valley and Glamorgan League's there was also the South Wales League (1890-1911) but this competition had no connection with the origins of the Welsh Football League.

Despite its name, the Welsh Football League covers only South Wales. The Cymru Alliance and feeder leagues to the Cymru Alliance are its equivalent in north Wales and mid Wales. The Welsh Football League Division Three is above the Level 5 leagues: Carmarthenshire League, Gwent County League, Neath & District League, Pembrokeshire League, South Wales Amateur League, South Wales Senior League and the Swansea Senior League.

It also has its own knock-out competition, the Nathaniel Car Sales Welsh Football League Cup, which was won by Goytre in 2011 when they beat Aberbargoed Buds 2-1 (aet) in the final at Bryntirion.

The first season in 1904/05[edit]

In April 1904 the Merthyr Express newspaper reported that a new football league would be formed in addition to the South Wales League which had been in existence since 1891.

This new competition would be named the Rhymney Valley League and the reason for its creation was due to the South Wales League being 'overly dominated by Cardiff clubs', though the number of teams from Cardiff barely numbered more than a couple in any one season.[1]

Interest in the new league was high and the formation of three divisions attracted no fewer than 25 clubs, including Corinthians from Cardiff.

Seven clubs formed the new top division and Aberdare were crowned as the inaugural champions, four points clear of Ebbw Vale following the round of 12 matches.

Competing clubs in the first Rhymney Valley League campaign

  • Division One
    • Aberdare - 1st
    • Barry District - 5th
    • Cardiff Corinthians - 7th
    • Ebbw Vale - 2nd
    • Llanbradach (Caerphilly) - 6th
    • Rogerstone (Newport) - 4th
    • Treharris (Merthyr Tydfil) - 3rd
  • Division Two
    • Abergavenny - 1st
    • Abertysswg (Caerphilly) - 6th
    • Bargoed (Caerphilly) - 10th
    • Bedlinog (Merthyr Tydfil) - 7th
    • Dukestown (Blaenau Gwent) - 11th
    • Ebbw Vale Reserves - 8th
    • Gilfach (Caerphilly) - 5th
    • New Tredegar (Caerphilly) - 4th
    • Pontlottyn (Caerphilly) - 3rd
    • Rhymney (Caerphilly) - 9th
    • Treharris Reserves - 2nd
  • Division Three
    • Bargoed Reserves - 5th
    • Bedlinog Reserves - 3rd
    • Brithdir Reserves - 7th
    • Llanbradach Crusaders - 6th
    • Quakers Yard (Merthyr Tydfil) - 4th
    • Pontlottyn Reserves - 2nd
    • Trelewis (Merthyr Tydfil) - 1st

Structure[edit]

The league is made up of three divisions (named the Welsh Football League Division One, the Welsh Football League Division Two and the Welsh Football League Division Three) each having 16 clubs. There is promotion and relegation between the divisions, with the top three teams in each division being promoted to the one above and the bottom three being relegated to the one below. The winner of the First Division may be promoted to the national Welsh Premier League (subject to ground facilities), the highest level of Welsh football.

The bottom three teams in the Third Division may be relegated to the appropriate parallel regional league running below the Welsh Football League, subject to champions of the feeder leagues being promoted, again assuming ground criteria being met. This number totalled four in 2011, despite only two teams being promoted, in order for the three divisions to number 16 clubs.

Normally, the top clubs from each of the two feeder leagues (the Welsh Football League and the Cymru Alliance) are promoted subject to an application for membership of the Welsh Premier League being received and accepted and the stadium and infrastructure safety criteria of that League being met.

Neath Athletic were promoted as champions in 2007 while Afan Lido made their return in 2011, despite finishing as runners-up to Bryntirion Athletic. Goytre United (in 2008 & 2010) and Aberaman Athletic (in 2009) were champions in recent years but didn't move up.

Current clubs[edit]

Champions[edit]

Rhymney Valley League

  • 1905 - Aberdare
  • 1906 - Rogerstone
  • 1907 - Cwmaman
  • 1908 - Ton Pentre
  • 1909 - Aberdare

Glamorgan League

Welsh Football League

Welsh Football League as Step 2 of the pyramid

Record League Champions[edit]

Times won Clubs
12 Swansea City/Town Reserves
11 Ton Pentre
7 Barry Town, Llanelli, Lovell's Athletic
6 Cardiff City Reserves
5 Merthyr Town/Tydfil Reserves, Newport County Reserves
4 Aberdare, Abergavenny Thursdays, Haverfordwest County
3 Goytre United
2 Bridgend Town, Pembroke Borough, Ton Pentre (no affiliation to current Ton club founded in 1935)
1 Aberaman Athletic, Barry Reserves, Bettws, Briton Ferry, Bryntirion Athletic, Cambrian & Clydach Vale, Carmarthen Town, Cwmaman, Ebbw Vale, Ebbw Vale & Cwm, Mid Rhondda, Neath Athletic, Pontllanfraith, Pontypridd, Porth, Rogerstone, Treharris, West End

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "South Wales League History". Welsh Football Data Archive (WFDA). Retrieved 19 June 2011. 

See also[edit]