the history of the barnet sunday football league
1966 was the year that the Barnet & District Football League was formed. The headquarters were stationed in THE BLACK BULL PUB in Whetstone. Sitting proudly on the top table were the newly-formed committee and Vice-Presidents Mr R. Lewis, Mr A Godfrey & Mr F Hall. Next to them were the Chairman Mr S. Sheehan, Secretary & Treasurer Mr F. Perkins, Match Secretary Mr N. Cheevers, Referees Secretary Mr Else & Registrations Secretary Mr A. Hunter.
There in front of them sat 22 teams eager to get out there and play football. Remember it was 1966, England were World Cup winners and
everybody was ‘buzzing’. Who was going to be the next Bobby Moore, Alan Ball or even match heroes Martin Peters & Jeff Hurst ? Football
boots looking like Dr Martens and shorts down to their ankles, but most importantly respect amongst the players, referees and committee.
Yes, the mid-sixties was a great time for playing football. 22 clubs, two divisions and 20 league games later the first team to be crowned Division One champions were Inter-Woodcock who also went on to claim the League Cup, marking a fantastic season with the double. Runners-Up were Pursley United. In Division Two, the champions were North Met O.D. (Barnet) with Barnet College as runners-up. The League also had a representative side run by Mr Spurrier, wearing the famous Black & Amber striped shirts & white shorts. They reached the semi-finals of the Herts Inter-league Cup, losing to West Herts FA.
The 22 teams that took to the fields that season played at grounds such as Oakhill Park, Brooke Farm, Bethune Park, Clitterhouse Playing Fields and Coopers Road, all of which are still being used today. I am sure that if you stand there on a late spring Sunday evening you can still hear the cries of “Jolly good shot my boy”, “Splendid show lads” and even the odd “Sorry ref !” 21 of those teams no longer play in our league or folded long ago. Just one team remains and still hold pride of place in the history of our league…ROVING REPORTERS FC.
The teams that made up Division One in 1966 were Inter-Woodcock, Pursley United, Barnet Corinthians, Crown & Anchor, Fairfield United, MGM, Quinta, ATV, Hadley 64, Bullens and BSP/Elm Park Rangers.
The teams in Division Two were North Met OD (Barnet), Barnet College, Southgate Technical College, Pursley United Reserves, Roving Reporters, Cambridge Sports, West Green Social, Rank Xerox, Potters Bar Cricketers, Barnet MO and Quinta Reserves.
The following season 1967-1968 saw a boom in teams around the Barnet area. Three divisions were formed with 36 teams taking part, some of whom you will recognise. Canons Park became one of the most successful teams ever in our league, while Elm Park Rangers, Roving Reporters Reserves and even the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary made an appearance. (Hello, Hello what’s all this then ?!)
The 1967-1968 season saw new Premier Champions in Thatched Barn, who also claimed the Charity Shield. Leevale took the Division One title and North Met O.D took the 2nd Division title along with the Junior Cup.
The 1968-1969 season saw Roving Reporters win their first cup competition beating OCS Finchley in the Roger Lewis Cup. I bet Gary King played that day ? The years rolled on, and by the 1970-1971 Season, the Barnet & District League had grown to four divisions and a new team caught the eye. Could there be a link with Victoria Park Rangers from back then and our own VP FC ??? Changes were also made on the Committee with the appointment of the league’s first President Mr Dexter Adams, who remained President for 23 years until the 1993-1994 Season.
The seventies saw a footballing revolution with teams coming from as far apart as West Hendon, Broxbourne, Mill Hill, Enfield & Elstree. There were 57 teams and five divisions, and the following season the League grew even bigger with six divisions. This is how it remained throughout the seventies as the Barnet & District League’s reputation grew beyond the boundaries of the Borough.
The 1978-1979 season was the last time the name ‘Barnet & District’ Sunday Football League was used, as from the new season of 1979-1980 the league formed a sponsorship deal with the local newspaper and the league was renamed The Barnet Local Advertiser Sunday Football League. The name remained until the 1981-1982 season when the league was sponsored by the Barnet Press and the name was changed to its present name, The Barnet Sunday Football League. The name change didn’t affect the running of the league as there were still six divisions. However, the decline of Sunday football would soon hit leagues throughout the eighties. By the mid-eighties our League had lost a division but saw an increase in Pub teams joining. The Prince of Wales, The Black Horse, Malt & Hops & The Minstrel were just some of the teams who joined. It wasn’t until the 1985-1986 Season where we could recognise another team who spent many years with us in Old Elizabethans. However, sadly they folded in the 2014-2015 season after a 19-year stay.
The 1994-1995 season saw big changes in the league. First of all a new President was appointed in Mr John Motson, along with new Vice-Presidents in Mr A Elms, Mr AW Harris, MR EG Hutchinson, Mr JA Lang, Mr R Lewis Mr JW Marlow, Mr D Scott, Mr SF Sheehan, Mr P Spurgeon, Mr W Chapman & Mr K Pennery. The League Chairman was Mr D. Spouse and the Vice Chairman Mr H.M. Priest, who also was the General Secretary and Registration Secretary. Mr B. Barnes was Treasurer, Mr G.B. Mitchell was Minute Secretary, along with his assistant Mr M. Caustin. The Referees Secretary was Mr D. Long and athe Asistant Secretary was a name that you all know, Mr Trevor Taylor who is now our present Chairman. Mr Peter Broomfield also joined the committee as Match Secretary. Peter is now the secretary of Colney Heath Vets. Mr Andy MacLaren was then the Assistant Registration Secretary, and he then went on to become the Vice-Chairman of the league before retiring at the end of Season 2015-2016.
The league still had a strong presence of 50 clubs playing in five divisions, with some new names such as Nomads, Panthers, Transylvanian National Squad, Vale Albanian, Welch’s, & Holloway Eurolife joining the League.
More familiar names joined the League’s Committee in 1997-1998. A certain Mr Richard Murphy joined as Assistant Registration Secretary… You will know him as the League’s Treasurer who retired at the end of Season 2015-2016, and the only man I know who would break out in a sweat and start shaking just by signing a cheque ! A new team in Finchley United also joined in 1997 who went on to become one of the best known and successful teams in our league. Another team who you all know and can claim to be the second longest serving team in the Barnet League is Arnos Rangers. They actually came into the league in the late eighties under the name of Arnos FC before folding and then re-emerging as Arnos Rangers in 1997.
By the 2000-2001 Season, Sunday League football was in deep decline. The Barnet Sunday League was not spared by the deep depression that hit football teams all over the country. There were reports that some leagues had folded, teams couldn’t compete with the financial scale of running teams, and young players were no longer interested in playing this great game. Mobiles, PCs and laptops were more important than getting out of bed on a Sunday morning. This league was no different, and from six divisions in the seventies, we now had three, with just 25 teams and with six of them failing to finish the season. This was the future and clubs would often change names for sponsorships. Pub names were becoming a common thing in Sunday football. The Lord Nelson, The Bull & Bush and The Duck & Hound were not names you would associate with football, but that was the new trend just to survive in playing the game we all love.
The League had reached a crossroads by the 2005-2006 Season. Not with the clubs, as we still had three divisions and 29 teams, but this time it was on the Committee. The volunteers who spent countless hours behind the scenes for the League were just not around long enough to settle or stem the tide of decline. Changes were made as new committee members were found, and once again the League looked to be in good hands. Our President Mr John Motson was made an O.B.E for his services to football. Mr P. Broomfield, Mr M. Caustin, Mr W. Chapman, Mr A. Elms, Mr B.S. Green, Mr J.W. Marlow, Mr A Miles, Mr K. Pennery, Mr A Reade & Mr D. Scott were all elected as Vice-Presidents. The Chairman was Mr R. Jones, Vice Chairman Mr A. Maclaren, Secretary Mr B. Barnes, along with his assistant Mr A. Reade. Treasurer was Mr A. Silvey, Registrations Secretary was Mr K. Pennery, Fixtures Secretary was Mr A. Harris, while a new Referees Secretary in Mr B. Bernini joined, supported by Mr T. Taylor. A few new teams also joined in Whetstone Town, Railway & Pymmes Brook.
Would the changes last ? Would our league survive the changes ? Well it did…just. The next season saw three teams fold and there were changes once again on a unstable committee. A new Chairman Mr M. Caustin was voted in, a new Secretary Mr P. Broomfield was appointed, and for the first time in the history of the Barnet league, a woman was appointed onto the committee as Registrations Secretary in Mrs Sally Bellinger.
At the start of the 2008-2009 season, things were not improving. We were down to 24 teams and once again changes were made on the Committee. The foundations of the league needed stability and were rocking again as a new Secretary Mr R. Martin was appointed, while Mr P. Broomfield was now Treasurer and a new Fixture Secretary was in place with Mr P. Tinkler taking over the role. That was how things continued each season whereby changes to the Committee were constantly threatening the future of the league. The 2009-2010 Season again saw the Treasurer’s position change with Mr R. Murphy re-joining the committee. Mr P. Broomfield was now the Fixture Secretary and there were just 20 clubs remaining in the League.
The 2010-2011 Season saw one last throw of the dice to save our league or fold like so many others have in the past. Mr Bryon Barnes was appointed as President, Mr Trevor Taylor as Chairman, Vice-Chairman remained Mr Andy Maclaren, General Secretary was Mr Richard Martin, Treasurer Mr Richard Murphy, Registration Secretary Mr Bobby Bernini, Fixtures Secretary was Mr Vince Philpot, Referees Secretary Mr Paul Howard and Match Secretary Mrs Sally Bellinger. At last we had Management Committee members who were willing to commit to the League and bring stability. The next task was to get more clubs into the league and invite Club Officials to sit on the Committee. Two club members joined in Mr Lawrence Watson & Mr Micky Turner, and with 26 teams on board, the future of the League was finally on the way up. The following season we saw four more teams enter the league in Borehamwood 2000, Zenit St Whetstone, AC Medz & FC Boca, although only AC Medz have survived to this day.
It wasn’t until the 2012-2013 Season when finally our league started to grow once again, as across Enfield another League was going through the pain of deciding whether to fold or to carry on with only 14 teams. Communications between our Chairman Trevor Taylor and John Angeli, the Secretary of the North London & South Herts Sunday League, brought together both Leagues, resulting in a further 15 clubs moving across into the Barnet League. Mr John Angeli became the new Fixture Secretary, while Miss Lauren Robinson was appointed as Minute Secretary. Both still serve the League today. Mr James Keane was also appointed as Referees Secretary.
The influx of these new clubs Apoel Reserves, Beresford United, Northumberland Park Rangers, FC Marcelona, FC Titans, Inter Trac, Panathiniakos, Apoel Youth, North London Dynamo, Belgrave United, Heegan, Innisfree, White Hart Lane, FC22, Majestic & St Johns DFC, followed by teams from other leagues in Burnt Oak Builders Merchants, Highgate Albion 1st, 2nds & 3rds, Colindale Athletic, FC Avanti, Paddy’s, Facelad & FC Lokomotiv Thunder boosted our league from three Divisions up to five, and at long last the Barnet Sunday league was back to its former glory. Some said it couldn’t get any better. Some said “we have reached our peak”, but remember when I said stability is the key ? This new Committee then did something that had never been tried before in the history of the League, when during the summer of 2014, nine veterans’ teams were interviewed and all were accepted to form the first-ever Veterans Division. We now have two veterans divisions for Season 2016-2017, and a special mention goes to the oldest player in the league from Old Owens Vets, Mr Alan Hunter at 63 years old.
So today we all sit here at our presentation function, not only to celebrate the teams who fought throughout the season to become winners, not only to celebrate 50 years of the Barnet League, but to celebrate a sport we have all grown to love. I stand before you and offer a toast, to the boys of ‘66 who gave us the courage to start playing football, to the gentlemen who met on a late night to form the Barnet League, to the thousands and thousands of players, managers and coaches who have passed through our league, right up to the present time, you, the committee and those who have suffered for 50 years the heartbreak, the laughter, the tears & joys for the sport we all love.