125 Years Of Football In Swindon

On Wednesday 9 th September 1891 at the Eagle Tavern in Fleet Street the Swindon and District Football Club Cup Competition was founded for players over 20 and living within 5 miles of their clubs HQ, that was within a 12 mile radius of Swindon.

The Final was played at Croft on Saturday 9th April 1892, with a Swindon Town Reserve 7-1 victory over Stratton Rovers. In 1894 with applications from Swindon Town Reserves, Cricklade (W), Purton, Swindon Victoria, Swindon Young Men’s Club, Stratton Young Men’s Friendly Association, Swindon Rovers, St. Johns, Even Swindon United (RU), and West Swindon Club, and would now be conducted on a league basis. In 1897 a set of rules were introduced by a local referees, which put the League on a sound footing.

The League in its history, has faced many challenges, but with the participation of the club secretaries, their players, and body of helpers in the background has, and continues to play their important part to ensure the continuation of grass root football in the Swindon and District area.

Bad weather, poor facilities, and match postponements and cancellations have always been at the heart of football problems. A lot of our Member Clubs today still rely on the Borough Council to supply their pitches but the under investment by our council, together with the reduced pitch maintenance, and increased running costs, often means some clubs are unable to complete their fixtures, and stretches their finances to the limit.

Players are not always able to enjoy regular football due to the postponements in the winter, and sadly give up the game. A 3 G pitch was successfully trialled last year to ensure our Cup semi-finals were not delayed, and with more becoming available will probably be the future.

A Pyramid procedure is now in place giving opportunities of promotion to the County League for one team finishing in the top three of the Premiership. Although the National game at grass roots has seen a decline we are proud to see our league grow for the third successive season, with 7 new teams applying.

Our links with the County Football Association have never been stronger, and the dedicated league officers are committed to sustaining football in the area. We have developed a League Development Plan and will apply for FA Charter Standard once the criteria of 60% of member clubs achieving CS standard is met.

Let us celebrate the fact that the league is 125 years old, threatened with so many changes afoot the history of grass roots needs retaining and strengthening. So carry on enjoying your football, and build on the foundations laid in 1891.

John Luckhurst

Hon. General Secretary ,

Swindon and District Football League