125 Years of football in Swindon – Timeline

1891 – In September, 8 clubs met in the Eagle Tavern, in Regent Street, to form the Swindon and District Challenge Cup, and competed for a trophy that was donated by Swindon Town Football Club.

The competition was open to all clubs within a 12 mile radius of Swindon, their players aged 20 on 1st January each season, and living within a 5 mile radius of their clubs HQ. Mr. R Bird of St. Marks Y.M.F.S. was elected the very first Secretary with Swindon Town Reserves the winners beating Stratton Rovers 7-1.

1894 – The competition was restructured as a League with Mr. George Major as Secretary and with one division of 11 teams, was won by Cricklade Town, with Even Swindon as Runners up.

1897 – The League was dissolved, becoming a Cup competition once more, until the League was reformed in 1899 under the stewardship of Mr. H. Smith as Secretary back to a league competition

1900 – The Swindon Advertiser donated a cup for a knockout competition, open to the First division teams and with the winner of a qualifier competition of the other division taking part. The first final was played on March 23rd 1902 with Even Swindon winning 3-1 against Swindon Thistle with a crowd of over 2000 people at Gorse Hill.

1907 – First record of the Junior Cup appears when Gorse Hill beat Stratton Utd 5-2.

1913 – Highworth (when appearing in Cup final) made a claim for 16 shillings ( 80p ) for a journey by a horse drawn vehicle holding 20 persons. This was refused instead the committee gave them 8 shillings ( 40p ), this being equal to the train fare for the whole team.

1941 – The 50th anniversary coincided with World War 2 so the first celebration was for the 60th. This was a dinner with guest speaker Sir Stanley Rous (later to become chair of FIFA) from the FA, tickets cost 7/6 or 37 pence and the event was televised on BBC evening news. This was an all male affair as no ladies invited, similar to when England won the World Cup in 1066

1952 – Moredon playing fields opened, not sure if the dressing rooms have seen any improvements since! The planned Hub being proposed cannot come soon enough.

1967 – There are many reasons for teams requesting postponements but this takes some beating, Hannington cancelled several home matches due to Foot and Mouth restrictions put to them by the Ministry of Agriculture.

1984 – The council had a phone line set up which could be used on Fridays regarding pitch postponements, also the janitor at the Civic Offices had the information on Saturday morning if you could not ring on the Friday!

1991- The 100th anniversary was celebrated with a dinner at Blunsdon House with guest speaker Graham Kelly from the FA, this time ladies were invited.

2000- At the beginning of this century the League were asked by the Wilts FA into organising youth football, this we did by expanding the committee to enable us to do it properly however this proved more difficult than anyone thought as off the pitch rules are so different between men and boys.

However, what was set up was the beginning of the North Wilts Youth League and hopefully a defined path where these youth teams progress into the men’s league.

2017 – The league sees the introduction of the Pyramid system with the first promotion of Bassett Bulldogs in our History to the Wilts League

Since 1990 cup finals being played at the County Ground, Highworth, Wootton Bassett’s old ground, Nationwide and Supermarine.

Another change taken on has been the drive from the FA for leagues and club to be charter standard, from the early days of no interest, most clubs see that this is the way forward and as a League we should be there next season.

The last couple of seasons has seen our membership steadily grow and currently has 2 divisions (Premier and Division 1), with 24 Club members.

As a League we have come a long way overcoming many problems to ensure that as many people as possible enjoy their football and long may it continue.