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15/5/2016 11:36 AM  #1

The first Non League League?

In the first of a series of articles on the history of Non League Football we will be looking at the first ever Non League leagues. Can you name them?


31/5/2016 11:07 PM  #2

Re: The first Non League League?

History of Non League Football Part1
Before 1888 all football was non league? Not exactly because for a team to be a non league there has to be a Football League for them not to be part of. Therefore the history of the non league game should start with the myriad on leagues that were created after the success of the Football League in 1888/89. Yet again it's not as simple as that! Please read on.
The Football League was formed by the northern professional clubs who needed commercially to have guaranteed competitive fixtures. The powers that be decided that they would select twelve clubs to compete in a round robin tournament playing each home and away. A win would earn a team two points and a draw one. Seems obvious now but this league points system stuck nearly a hundred years. The introduction of three points has been the only change to this format.
Non league now officially starts because there were more than twelve ambitious clubs wanting to join this new league. Those that did not get selected for the Football League formed their own league called The Combination only nineteen days later. So strictly this is the first ever non league league? Again it is not that simple because The Combination developed their own unique of organising fixtures. They could not play each other home and away because there was not enough spare Saturdays to play the other nineteen teams. Remember the Football League only had twelve teams leaving plenty of time to play lucrative friendlies and FA Cup ties against the amateur giants of the south and Scottish teams who supplied numerous players for the new English professional elite. The Combination was beset with problems right from the start. The biggest was probably was trying to compile a table. Clubs were confused whether the games were just friendlies, league matches or cup ties. In the end the leagues management through in the towel before the end of the season when it became clear that they had no idea who was going to win the competition. The Combination failed as a league and has been somewhat forgotten as an embarrassing experiment. Thankfully clubs who failed to get into Football League had more success with their next venture set up by the men behind Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday.
Look out here comes the Football Alliance and others!

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