A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ESSEX SENIOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE


The Essex Senior Football League was formed in 1971 and has continued under that name except for two seasons, 1988-89 and 1989-90 when the League were forced to leave the Pyramid system owing to the Reserve side of Chelmsford City being in its constitution. The word “Senior” was dropped but re-instated a season later though two clubs, Brightlingsea United and Halstead Town, were lost to the Eastern Counties League due to the lack of protection of the Pyramid system during that time.

We were part of the Isthmian Joint Liaison Committee along with the Combined Counties League and the Spartan South Midlands League and now, after FA re-structuring, having fed into the Southern league have reverted to feeding into the Ryman League Div 1 North. A club usually needs to finish in one of the top three positions to be eligible for promotion and to fully comply with the FA Grade E ground grading. We would expect a club to be relegated in exchange for any promoted club although at the end of season 2005/2006, we did lose three clubs due to promotion making us have the dubious record of having promoted more clubs, without relegation in return, of any league in the country.

Even in these past few seasons there could have been a problem with numbers, for, in 2007 after Brentwood Town were promoted as the relegated club, Ilford, were saved from that fate due to the failure of others but we were able to keep our constitution due to the reformation of Enfield FC joining as Enfield 1893, Enfield Town having already passed though our ranks in 2005. Takeley joined us in 2008 from the Step 7 Essex Olympian League whilst Beaumont Athletic resigned. In 2009-2010, Bethnal Green United joined us as Champions of the Middlesex County League and Tiptree United came over from the Ridgeons League though one season later they merged with Maldon Town of the Ryman League. At the beginning of 2011-2012 Sporting Bengal United, who share Mile End Stadium with member club, Tower Hamlets FC (formerly Bethnal Green United) , were granted permission to transfer from the Kent League and Mauritius Sports changed their name to Haringey and Waltham Development FC.

The F A have been very co-operative in allocating clubs to us. A further club joined us for 2012-2013 and that was London Bari FC so, with the promotion of Witham Town FC and relegation from the Ryman League, of Great Wakering Rovers FC , the additional club made 19 in our constitution with a 19 club Reserve Section. FC Romania came in for season 2013/14 from the Middlesex League winning the League Sportsmanship Trophy in their first season. Also in 2013, a further name change for Haringey and Waltham Development came and they are now Greenhouse (London). Bethnal Green United changed their name to Tower Hamlets FC.

We are very proud of the number of clubs that have been promoted to Step 4 leagues, twenty four since 1984 and one to the Southern League. As such, then, we sit with 13 other Leagues at Step 5 of the National League system but do not have relegation from our only Division as the League below us is Step 7. Our clubs are affiliated to Essex, London, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and the AFA . Promoted clubs among those already mentioned include Saffron Walden Town, Purfleet (now Thurrock) Heybridge Swifts, Ford United ( now Redbridge) Concord Rangers, Leyton, AFC Hornchurch, Romford, Witham Town, Maldon Town, Romford and former F A Trophy winners, Canvey Island.

The League is affiliated to the Football Association and to the Essex FA. Sponsorship first came on board in 1999 thanks to Schweppes, followed by the Foresters Friendly Society in 2001 until season 2002-2003 and then continued with Eastway Construction for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. Westview Rail Ltd successfully sponsored us in 2005-2006 but were unable to continue thus leaving us without sponsorship for season 2006 to date . Billericay Town (twice) and Stansted have won the F A Vase . Enfield Town once reached their own Senior County Cup Final in Middlesex and other clubs, in the past have successfully won the Essex Senior Trophy. Div One North, Witham Town were denied promotion in 2009/10 and Enfield 1893 did not get a necessary grading to be promoted as Champions in season 2010-2011. Recent changes at Level 4 have reflected on our constitution and numbers with Great Wakering Rovers promoted to the Ryman League from which we have received, in 2014/15, Waltham Forest in return , retaining our numbers as 20, the highest in our history, Despite a great setback with a perceived lack of enthusiasm by clubs for a formation of a Step 6 division we continue to pursue our desire to form same. The Reserve Division continues with a complement of 15 clubs now in a single division. London Apsa are now called Newham to reflect their geographical situation and Redbridge join the Reserves as an Associate member.

We have other Associate Members, thus keeping a healthy association with the League with sides in the Reserve Division and they are, Canvey Island, East Thurrock United, Great Wakering Rovers, Thurrock and Tilbury FC’s . Thus 26 clubs attend League meetings. Famous players such as Jimmy Greaves (Brentwood) , Alan Brazil (Stambridge) , Kerry Dixon and Michael Kightly (Basildon United) and Steve Tilson (Bowers United) have plied their trade in the ESL and Dwight Gayle , a £6 million pound player at Crystal Palace was playing for Stansted in 2011