South Midlands League

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South Midlands League
Country  England
Founded 1922
First season 1922–23
Folded 1997
Divisions 1–4
Promotion to Isthmian League
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup, FA Vase
Most championships Barton Rovers (8)

The South Midlands League was a football league covering Bedfordshire and some adjoining counties in England. It was founded in 1922 as the Bedfordshire County League and merged with the Spartan League in 1997 to form the Spartan South Midlands League.

History[edit]

The league was formed in 1922 as the Bedfordshire County League, beginning with eight clubs; Arlesey Town, Biggleswade & District Reserves, Leighton United, Letchworth Town, Luton Clarence Rserves, RAF Henlow, Stotfold Athletic and Waterlows Athletic.[1] In 1924 the league was renamed the Bedfordshire & District County League.[1] A second division was added in 1925,[1] and in 1929 it was renamed the South Midlands League.[1]

Division Two had only six clubs in 1930–31 and 1931–32, and was not played in 1932–33.[1] However, it was reintroduced for the 1933–34 season with ninen clubs, all but two of which were reserve teams.[1]

The league was abandoned in 1939 due to World War II, before returning for the 1946–47 season.[1] In 1947 Division One was renamed the Premier Division and Division Two became Division One, with a new third division added, name Division Two.[1] The league gained another division in 1949 when Division Two was split into Division Two A and B, with a play-off between the two division winners to determine the overall Division Two champions.[1] The following season Division Two reverted to being a single division.[2]

Division Two was abolished in 1955 after having shrunk to only eight clubs in 1954–55.[2] The league then remained unchanged until 1993 when Division One was renamed the Senior Division and a new division (Division One) added as a third tier.[3] In 1997 the league merged with the Spartan League to form the Spartan South Midlands League.[3] The new league initially ran with two Premier Divisions (north and south), a Senior Division and two Division Ones (north and south).[4]

During the evolution of the National League System, the league became a feeder to the Isthmian League, with clubs such as Leighton Town, Oxford City and Bedford Town earning promotion.

Although clubs from the league played in the qualifying rounds of the FA Cup from the late 1920s onwards, none ever reached the first round proper. The best performance came from Barton Rovers in 1976–77 when they reached the fourth qualifying round. South Midlands League clubs had more success in the FA Vase, with Barton Rovers reaching the final in 1977–78 and Arlesey Town winning the competition in 1994–95.

Divisional champions[edit]

Season Champions
1922–23 Waterlows Athletic
1923–24 Biggleswade & District Reserves
1924–25 Waterlows Athletic
Season Division One Division Two
1925–26 Waterlows Athletic Waterlows Athletic Reserves
1926–27 Leagrave & District Batford Old Boys
1927–28 Baldock Town Leighton United
1928–29 Luton Amateur & Ramblers Luton Davis Athletic
1929–30 Waterlows Arlesey Town
1930–31 RAF Henlow Stevenage Town
1931–32 Vauxhall Motors Arlesey Town
Season Champions
1932–33 St Neots & District
Season Division One Division Two
1933–34 Vauxhall Motors Dunstable Athletic
1934–35 Bedford Town Reserves Stewartby Works
1935–36 Kettering Town Reserves Biscot Sports
1936–37 Vauxhall Motors Arlesey Town
1937–38 Vauxhall Motors Vauxhall Motors Reserves
1938–39 Wolverton Town Esavian Sports
Competition abandoned due to World War II
1946–47 Luton Town Colts Bedford St Cuthbert's
Season Premier Division Division One Division Two
1947–48 Wootton Blue Cross Peartree Old Boys Baldock Town
1948–49 Cambridge Town Reserves Luton Hitchin Road Old Boys Lynton Works
Season Premier Division Division One Division Two A Division Two B
1949–50 Rushden Town Reserves Baldock Town Houghton Rangers[a] Cranfield United[a]
Season Premier Division Division One Division Two
1950–51 Bletchley Town Luton Kents Athletic Vauxhall Motors 'A'
1951–52 Arlesey Town Bedford Town 'A' Arlesey Town Reserves
1952–53 Arlesey Town Biggleswade Town Reserves Luton Skefco Athletic
1953–54 Shefford Town Stotfold Luton Davis Athletic
1954–55 Shefford Town Hunting Percival Athletic Barton Rovers
Season Premier Division Division One
1955–56 Bletchley & WIPAC Luton Town 'B'
1956–57 Bletchley BBOB Luton Town 'B'
1957–58 Bletchley United Peartree Old Boys
1958–59 Luton Skefko Athletic Stewartby Works
1959–60 Ampthill Town Sandy Albion
1960–61 Hemel Hempstead United Waterlows
1961–62 Harpenden Town Totternhoe
1962–63 Electrolux Addmult
1963–64 Electrolux Houghton Regis
1964–65 Harpenden Town Barton Rovers
1965–66 Baldock Town Esavian Sports
1966–67 Leighton Town Hanslope
1967–68 Baldock Town Rootes Sports
1968–69 Addmult Selby
1969–70 Baldock Town Welwyn Garden United
1970–71 Barton Rovers Towcester Town
1971–72 Barton Rovers Eaton Bray United
1972–73 Barton Rovers Pirton
1973–74 Welwyn Garden City Apsley Guise
1974–75 Barton Rovers Winslow United
1975–76 Barton Rovers BAC
1976–77 Barton Rovers New Bradwell St Peter
1977–78 Barton Rovers Royston Town
1978–79 Barton Rovers BAC
1979–80 Pirton Hatfield Town
1980–81 Stotfold The 61
1981–82 Pirton Welwyn Garden
1982–83 Pirton GS Ashcroft Co-Op
1983–84 Shefford Town New Bradwell St Peter
1984–85 Eaton Bray United Milton Keynes Borough
1985–86 Selby Buckingham Athletic
1986–87 Selby Electrolux
1987–88 Shillington Pitstone & Ivinghoe
1988–89 Langford Welwyn Garden United
1989–90 Pitstone & Ivinghoe Harpenden Town
1990–91 Thame United Buckingham Athletic
1991–92 Leighton Town Ashcroft
1992–93 Oxford City Bedford Town
Season Premier Division Senior Division Division One
1993–94 Bedford Town Toddington Rovers Stony Stratford Town
1994–95 Arlesey Town London Colney Houghton Town
1995–96 Arlesey Town Holmer Green Mercedes-Benz
1996–97 Potters Bar Town Leverstock Green Biggleswade United
  1. ^ a b Cranfield won the play-off, defeating Houghton Rangers 3–2 and 2–1 for a 5–3 aggregate win

Member teams[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i South Midlands League 1922–1950 Non-League Matters
  2. ^ a b South Midlands League 1950-1966 Non-League Matters
  3. ^ a b South Midlands League 1983-1997 Non-League Matters
  4. ^ Spartan South Midlands League 1997-2004 Non-League Matters