Wearside Football League
|Divisions||Wearside Football League|
Durham and Wearside Development Division
|Number of teams||26|
|Level on pyramid||Levels 11 and 12|
|Feeder to||Northern League|
|Promotion to||Northern League Division Two|
|Relegation to||Crook and District League|
|League cup(s)||Monkwearmouth Charity Cup|
Shipowners' Charity Cup
League Challenge Cup
|Current champions||Redcar Athletic |
The Wearside Football League is a non-league football competition based in England. It consists of a single division which sits at step 7 (or level 11) of the National League System and is a feeder to the Northern League Division Two. The league has had a second division in the past but currently only operates with one. For the 2018-19 season, 16 clubs are due to compete in the league. In December 2017 it was decided that the Wearside League and Durham Alliance Combination League would merge. The Durham Alliance Combination League would then become a feeder league for the Wearside League and would be known as the Durham and Wearside Development Division. It was thought that by doing this it would allow a natural route for promotion into the FA National League system.
The league also operates three cup competitions: the Monkwearmouth Charity Cup and the Shipowners' Charity Cup, both of which have been contested since the 1890s, and the League Challenge Cup, which came into being in the 1930s.
Member clubs for 2018–19 season
- Annfield Plain
- Boldon Community Association
- Coxhoe Athletic
- Darlington RA
- Darlington Town
- Gateshead Leam Rangers
- FC Hartlepool
- Harton & Westoe Colliery Welfare
- Hebburn Town Reserves
- Hordon Community Welfare
- Richmond Town
- Silksworth Colliery Welfare
- Sunderland West End
- West Auckland Tuns
Durham and Wearside Development Division
- Durham City Reserves
- Durham United
- Farringdon Detached
- Hylton Sports Club
- Jarrow Reserves
- Seaton Carew
- Sunderland North
- Sunderland Town End
- Wheatley Hill Working Mens Club
- Washington AFC Reserves
The Wearside League came into being in 1892 at the instigation of Charles Kirtley, secretary of Sunderland Swifts. In June 1892, a letter written by Kirtley was published in the Sunderland Daily Post and The Herald in which he stated that he had been asked by several club secretaries about the possibility of forming an organisation to play home-and-home matches, so as to find out which was the best amateur team. A similar letter was published in the Sunderland Daily Echo. At a meeting soon afterwards at the Central Coffee Tavern, eleven clubs agreed to form a league, which commenced playing later that year.
During the early years of the league most teams were extremely hard-up, and the league's archive records that one early club had no pitch but instead played on the sands by Sunderland Docks, and another had to play with an old rugby ball as they could not afford an association football ball. By the 20th century, however, the league was better off and was even able to organise matches to benefit local charities during World War I. After the Great War, the league was dominated for many years by colliery welfare teams – in the 1930s every league title was won by a pit team and the mining clubs continued to dominate right through to the 1970s, although an increasing number began to experience financial difficulties from the 1950s onwards due to shrinking workforces at the mines.
In 1964 the North Eastern League was disbanded and a number of its former teams joined the Wearside League. Around this time the team of the 24th Signal Regiment spent one season in the league but then had to withdraw as most of their players were posted overseas. In 1978 Blue Star became the first Wearside League club to reach the final of the FA Vase, and went on to win the trophy, the start of a run of success which would ultimately see them progress much higher up the non-league ranks. Three years later Whickham repeated the feat and also soon moved up to higher leagues. More recently, clubs such as Darlington Railway Athletic, North Shields, Newton Aycliffe, Ryhope Colliery Welfare and Willington have successfully moved up to the Northern League.
This is a list of champions since World War II.
- "Merger of leagues to build better future for saturday adult football". Durham FA. 17 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
- "League History". Wearside Football League. Retrieved 2007-07-14.