Modern Non-League History
1960-69 Sixties Football
The country had settled down to enjoy their football in the ‘Sixties’ attendances were encouraging and the non-League scene was dominated by the amateur clubs in the Isthmian and Northern Leagues.
The FA Amateur Cup was popular and a Wembley final the ambition of most senior clubs and Amateur Internationals were still competed fiercly in the British Championship. However, the term ‘Amateur’ was a little misleading as ‘expenses’ appeared to be extremely generous at the senior clubs.
The game recieved its biggest boost in 1966 when, as Champions of the World, England and the regional leagues enjoyed a wonderful time when everyone wanted to be involved with our ‘National Game’.
Athenian League Review
A long standing rivalry between senior home counties amateur football competitions saw The Athenian and Isthmian League clubs in direct opposition in the sixties.
The Athenians introduced two more Divisions below their Senior Division in 1963, which attracted ambitious home counties clubs mainly from The Corinthian League such as Leatherhead, Slough Town and Chesham United and The Delphian League such as Bishop Stortford, Harrow Borough and Marlow.
So The Athenians had the numbers but the Isthmians the quality. The ‘sixties’ saw the great North London rivalry as Barnet, Hendon and Enfield battled for Athenian supremecy. and the vast majority of non-league home counties clubs competed as Athenians at some stage in their history.
The Athenian League’s end of season awards dinners were to be remembered as very special occasions!
Eastern Counties League Review
A golden era for Lowestoft Town who won six championship in the ten seasons and never finished below sixth place.
Thanks to the geographical limitations, membership was relatively consistent with eight clubs being ‘ever presents’. Tottenham Hotspur had played their youngsters in the competition but decided they needed a stronger challenge, Southend United Reserves entered for one season but Norwich City were once again always involved.
Gothic Football Club who were a Norwich club representing The Laurence, Scott and Electromotors works team and are no longer playing, but Histon were building for an exciting future in senior non-league football.
Hellenic League Review
Witney Town were undoubtedly in a Hellenic class of their own in ‘the sixties’ as they built a great reputation as an ambitious club with a smart ground and the best non-league players in the Oxfordshire area.
Oxford works team Hazells also enjoyed some consistent campaigns and Hellenic regulars Bicester Town, Thame United and Wallingford Town all had special seasons with Chipping Norton Town and Newbury Town always considered potential challengers.
Swindon Town youngsters used their local league well the progressive competition thrived with boundaries stretching to include clubs from Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berks & Bucks plus Middlesex.
Isthmian League Review
The famous league for top amateur clubs was known for its well established membership. and The Athenian League were considered their main rivals in the South of England. So the change in Leagues for the powerful north London Athenian clubs Enfield and Hendon plus Hitchin Town and Sutton United, all swung the balance of power to The Isthmians in 1963.
Wimbledon’s outstanding hat trick of Isthmian championships between 1961-1964 brought them the chance to officially turn professional and join The Southern League and their place was taken by Wealdstone.
The Isthmians were full of ambitious clubs, but the FA’s decision on the future of the amateur was to become very important, as the power clubs in North London appeared to be able to attract as many star players as the honest professionals in the Southern League.
There were also more sleeping Isthmian giants at Sutton United and Wycombe Wanderers with Kingstonian, Leytonstone, Tooting & Mitcham United and Walthamstowe Avenue possible challengers. The isthmians were certainly powerful but what was the future for the amateur clubs?
Corinthian-Casuals and Dulwich Hamlet had upheld true amateur principles with reasonable support from Oxford City and Clapton but these clubs were struggling to hold their own in the sixties.
Lancashire Combination Review
Only five of the thirty nine member clubs in The Lancashire Combination remained as ‘ever presents’ in the league in the sixties. Bacup Borough, Burscough, Clitheroe, Lancaster City and Rossendale United were regulars but only Burscough won the title and that was at the end of the 1969-1970 campaign.
Interesting to see Fleetwood, Morcambe and Wigan Athletic developing in their local league with Morcambe’s three championships certainly a sign of an ambitious club.
The town of Prescot was represented by Prescot Cables and Town and of course Wigan had Athletic and Rovers in The Combination.
Netherfield had never been out of the top eight clubs in the sixties when they were invited to leave The Lancashire Combination and become founder members of The Northern Premier league, the club was later to become Netherfield Kendal (1998) and then Kendal Town FC (2000).
Midland Counties Review
A strong Midland League with their clubs including semi-professionals had built a good reputation in the FA Cup but in 1960 after the formation of The Northern Counties East the inclusion of some North Eastern clubs hadn’t proved satisfactory and the old Midland League folded.
One year later The Midland Counties League took over and once again built a reputation as a good competitive competition for East Midland clubs. There were eleven clubs who remained throughout ‘The Sixties‘ with Grantham Town proving to be the most consistent.
The fact that eight different clubs won the championship in this period certainly indicated an exciting and well balanced competition. Matlock Town were the only club to be crowned champions twice and they moved up to join the newly formed Northern Premier League after their second success in 1969.
Northern League Review
A distinguished North Eastern competition which included the amateur clubs famous for their FA Amateur Cup exploits and a League that very rarely changed its membership.
In the sixties, Whitley Bay were the most consistent with challenges from Crook Town and Stanley United early in the decade with Tow Law Town and Spennymoor United improving in the second half. North Shields were a welcome new club in 1964 and they never finished below sixth place.
Championships were shared around with only two clubs finishing on top twice, but with the introduction of The Northern Premier League, would future Northern League champions be interested in promotion and increasing their traveling across the North of England?
Southern League Premier Division Review
A very strong competition with well established town clubs who were well supported.
and many ex Football League stars chose to finish their careers in the Southern League as there was no wage limit.
Of the 40 clubs only Chelmsford City, Wellington Town (soon to become Telford United) ,
Weymouth and Yeovil Town competed in all ten campaigns in the decade and all four attracted good crowds and usually enjoyed their FA Cup exploits.
Clubs to have sampled Premier football for just one season were Barry Town and Hinckley United who were sadly relegated at the first attempt but another club to only stay for two seasons were Oxford United who claimed two consecutive Championships in 1961 and 1962 when they also gained promotion to the Football League.
In 1963 Bexleyheath & Welling changed their name to Bexley United and of course
Wellington Town were to change their name to Telford United in 1969 and are now playing as AFC Telford United.
Southern Division One review
In ten seasons, fifty different clubs competed in The Southern League Division One, hoping to move up into the Premier Division, the country’s senior semi-professional competition in the home counties.
Only four clubs; Ashford Town, Gloucester City, Ramsgate Athletic and Trowbridge Town were ever present in the ten seasons.
Folkestone Town and Hastings United spent three spells in the Division while three other clubs, Barnett, Hereford United and Wotcester CIty spent just one year in Division One and left as champions, while Romford and Wimbledon achieved promotion after just one campaign as runners-up.
Spartan League Review
Another home counties league that supplied ambitious clubs to the Athenian and Isthmian competitions once they had proved themselves. Boreham Wood steadily built the pressure over six seasons and two runners up finishes saw them move on.
Cheshunt impressed in just two seasons and Hampton were building a reputation with six wonderful campaigns, including four championships in the second half of the decade.
Ambitious clubs with steadily improving facilities, such as Staines Town and Leighton Town, were hoping their work on and off the field would eventually bring promotion.
United Counties Review
With a comparatively small membership The United Counties League also included some Reserve sides and ‘A’ teams from the larger local clubs. But in 1969 the league committee decided they should not include any Reserve teams from clubs lower than the Southern League.
Two of the most consistent clubs, Bletchley Town and Wellingborough decided to move to the Metropolitan League in 1968, but Spalding joined from The Midland Counties League. Rushden were the only club to compete in all ten United Counties seasons in the sixties, but one of the most consistent clubs, after joining in the 1963-1964 was Holbeach United who never finished lower than eighth.
At the end of he decade however, it was Bourne Town who entered the seventies on top form with two championships after the best spell in their history.
Western League Review
West country clubs certainly relied on their local leagues to relieve them of travelling and many of the west of England Football League clubs also took advantage of local fixtures.
Reserve teams and ‘A’ teams apart, clubs considered to have had ambitions for progress included Bideford, Bridgwater, Dorchester and Minehead while in the second half of the decade they were joined by Welton Rovers, Taunton Town and Salisbury.
Interesting to see how badly some of the big clubs juniors, such as Bath City, Bristol Rovers and Yeovil Town, fared in the Western League.
One club that appeared to steadily improve was Glastonbury who failed to get out of the bottom five for four seasons but finished as champions at the end of The Sixties!
Publications & Articles
1962-1963 World Soccer Digest - 132 pages 3/6d
An annual for the World Soccer magazine. A round up of the years stats and news.
1964-1965 Soccer Special - 48 pages - 2/6d
Photos of all types and sizes with plenty of varied reading.
1966-2000 World Soccer - 44 pages - 2/6d
1967 AFA Record - 34 pages - 2/6d
A specialist publication covering all aspects of the Amateur Football Alliance.
1968 Amateur Soccer - 32 pages - 2/6d
A monthly magazine following the example of Greg Tesser’s Amateur Footballer.
A good mixture of news, features and photos put together by professional journalists.
1968-1969 The Football Supporter - 40 pages - 2/6d
The official publication of the National Federation of Football Supporters Clubs
Edited by Tony Pullein (Including Channel Islands)
1968 International Football Illustrated - 56 pages - 5/-
Large glossy magazine featuring a good selection of photos (action and portrait)
1969 Action Soccer - 50 pages - 5/-
Another large glossy magazine with excellent photos
1969-1970 Soccer Review - 60 pages - 5/-
A review of the previous season with features, photos, stats and regional reviews.
1968 Football HIstory Map of England & Wales -75p
Map of the country showing clubs’ colours and badges
1968 The FA official Club Information Guide - 4/-
Official stats for English clubs and international sides.
THE FA CUP
The East Midlands proved to be a good area for non-league cup sides as Bedford Town took over from Peterborough United as the ‘Non-League Cup Club of the Decade’. Their most famous victim was Division Two’s Newcastle United, who they beat in a 3-2 thriller in the 1965-66 season, which produced nine giant killing triumphs.
The Eagles also beat Exeter City, Brighton & Hove Albion and Oxford United to claim four scalps in The Sixties, but sadly, whereas Peterborough United achieved a Football League place, Bedford Town, at the time a well supported giant of the Southern League, were sadly to collapse and struggle to rebuild away from their original impressive Eyrie Stadium.
Another club who was enjoying Cup football was South Shields, who competed in five different leagues during the decade. As a North Regional League club they beat York City 3-1 in 1965-66 and defeated Bradford PA and Oldham Athletic as founder members of The Northern Premier League in 1969
The Southern League once again proved to be the most regular supplier of giant killers and they finished with 24 successes in the ten seasons, while a long way back in second place was The Cheshire League with four successes.
Three League clubs, Exeter City, Millwall and Newport County, suffered two defeats at the hands of non-league opposition but there were no heavy defeats and strangely more clubs from Division Three (21) lost to Non-league clubs than their more lowly colleagues in Division Four (17).
THE FA AMATEUR CUP FINALS
1960-1961 Walthamstow Avenue (Isthmian League) 2 (Groves, Lewis)
(Att: 45,000) West Auckland Town (Northern League ) 1 (Douglass)
Walthamstow Avenue: McGuire, Edwards, Bambridge, Andrews, Prine, Keenes, Groves, Minall, Lewis, Saggers and Harvey.
West Auckland Town : Bowmarker, Siddle, Stafford, Mendum, Summerson, Carter, Briggs, Bromfield, Curtis, Skelton and Douglass.
Avenue’s Harvey and Minall test West Auckland goalkeeper Bowmaker.
1961-1962 Crook Town (Northern League) 1 (McMillan)
(Att: 43,000) Hounslow Town (Athenian League 1 (Patterson)
Crook Town: Snowball, Gardener, Clark Storey, Heatherington, Brown, Sparks, Garbutt
Coates, Peary and McMIllan.
Hounslow Town: Rhodes, McDonald, Creasey, Evans, Taylor, Digweed, Somers, Fennell, McHattie, Dipper and Patterson.
Replay Crook Town 4 (Coates 2 Sparkes, McMillan)
(Att: 18,279) Hounslow Town 0
Crook Town had no team changes for the replay.
For Hounslow, Alder replaced Fennell.
1962-1963 Wimbledon (Isthmian League) 4 (Reynolds 4)
(Att: 45,000) Sutton United (Isthmian League) 2 (Goodall, Bladon)
Wimbledon: Kelly, Martin J, Willis, Ardrey, Law, Murphy, Brown, Martin B, Reynolds, Hamm and Williams.
Sutton United: Roffey, Gamblin, Shears, Shepherd, Price, Clack, Bladon, Osborne, Bates, Hermitage and Goodall.
1963-1964 Enfield (Isthmian League) 1 (Day)
(37.000) Crook Town (Northern League) 2 (Goodfellow, Brown.)
Enfield: Mitchell, Neale, Harris, D’Arcy, Kingsland, Cantwell, Thomas, Broomfield, Edwards, Day and Howard.
Crook Town: Snowball, McCourt, Reid, Storey, Garbutt, Brown, Weir, Goodfellow, Lumsden, Roughley, McMillan.
1964-1965 Hendon (Isthmian League) 3 (Hyde 2 Quail)
(Att: 45,000) Whitby Town (Northern League) 1 (Mulvaney)
Hendon: Swannell, Hogwood, Sleap, Evans, Riddy, Cantwell, Drake, Slade, Hyde, Quail and Lakey.
Whitby Town: Pybus, Durnall, Hobbs, Kennerley, Barker, Moody, Geldart, Edwards, Mulvaney, McHale and Crosthwaite.
1965-1966 Wealdstone (Isthmian League) 3 (Childs 2 Bremer)
(Att: 45,000) Hendon (Ishmian League) 1 (Riddy)
Wealdstone: Goymer, Doyle, Sedgley, Townsend, Ashworth, Dillsworth, Allen, Childs Coolley, Lindsay and Bremer.
Hendon: Swannell, Hogwood, Cooper, Shacklock, Riddy, Cantwell, Churchill, Evans, Swain, Sleap and Hyde.
1966-1967 Enfield (Isthmian League) 0
Att: 75,000 Skelmersdale United ( Lancashire Combination) 0
Enfield: Wolstenholme, Sedgley, Reid, Payne, D’Arcy, Moxon, Churchill, Connell, Hill, Day and Howard. Substitute : Adams
Skelmersadale United: Crosbie, Bermingham, Bridge, Unsworth, Wade, Moorcroft, Whitehead, Worswick, Bennett, Burns and Mansley. Substitute:McDermott.
Replay at Manchester City (Att: 55,388)
Enfield 3 ( Connell, Hill 2 )
Skelmersdale United 0
Enfield team change Adams for Howard and Howard substitute
Skelmersdale United changed McDermott for Bridge with sub Felmingham
1967-1968 Leytonstone (Isthmian League) 1 (Gray)
Att: 52,000 Chesham United (Athenian League) 0
Leytonstone: Hadlow, Tilley, Hames, Andrews, Thomson, Walker, Charles, Gray, Diwell, Minall and Harvey. Substitute Albon.
Chesham United: Wells, Thackray, Smith, Caterer, Burgess, McCaffrey, Ellis, Black, Fruen, Harper and Kent
1968-1969 North Shields (Northern League) 2 (Hall, Joicey)
(Att 47,000) Sutton United (Isthmian League) 1 (Mellows)
North Shields: Morgan, Driver,Twaddle, Hall, Tatum,Thompson, Wrightson, Lister, Joicey, Cassisy, Rurtherford. Sub: Orrick.
Sutton United: Roffey, Garfield Grose, Brooks, Clarke, Gradi, Bladon, Mellows, Drabwell, Pritchard, Howard and Sub: Gane.
1969-1970 Enfield (Isthmian League) 5 (Connell 2 Feely, Adams and 1 og)
(Att: 33,000) Dagenham (Isthmian League) 1 (Brookes)
Enfield: Wolstenholme, Clayton, Fry, Payne, Betson, Day, Adams, Connell,
Feely (Sub D’Arcy), Gray and HIll
Dagenham: Huttley , Robertson (Scarfe), Dudley, Daniels, Still, Moore, Leakey, Drake, Smith M, Smith B.
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