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Club News

National League Celebrating 40th Anniversary

17 August 2019

Club News

National League Celebrating 40th Anniversary

17 August 2019

Welcome to another intriguing matchwithin The National League.

This weekend, The National League

celebrates its 40th anniversary, since the first fixtures took place in the

then Alliance Premier League. 

An allocation of 20 Clubs made upthe fifth tier, with Altrincham claiming the title in the inaugural season.

The Noel Kelly trophy - named after the former Nuneaton Borough Chairman - remained at Moss Lane at the end of the first two campaigns.

The pyramid-shaped trophy represented

a transition to the structure of Non-League football, which has been integral

in shaping the game in this country.

With automatic promotion introduced

from 1987, even the smallest clubs could dream of a meteoric rise into the

Football League and beyond.

Football power-brokers, Jim Thompson

and Noel White, who sadly passed away recently, were just two of a number of

key people who influenced this ground-breaking change - and many others, like

the influential Bill King, Peter Hunter and current President Brian Lee, have

tirelessly steered the League through its many adventures over the past four


The addition of the play-offs in

2003, then the North and South divisions a year later, has added a new

dimension to the competition and created more wonderful memories.     

Not only has the league had three

titles, with the Football Conference in use for nearly 30 years, there has also

been a total of six title sponsors. All of which have helped create an identity

for the competition, as we know it today.

From a football perspective, there

has been a huge number of significant moments throughout The National League's


Wealdstone became the first club to

win the “Non-League double” of league title and FA Trophy success back in 1985.

Colchester United matched this achievement in 1992, then Martin O'Neill's

Wycombe Wanderers the following season. 

Many managers and players have gone

onto have hugely successful careers in the game. Similar to O'Neill, the likes

of Neil Warnock, Jamie Vardy and Joe Hart have made their mark at the top


And who can forget the more recent

FA Cup runs of Lincoln City and Sutton United just over two years ago? Managers

Danny Cowley and Paul Doswell performed heroics with their respective sides, showcasing

their efforts in front of global audiences.

Our current commercial partnerships

with Vanarama, LV Bet and BT Sport are flourishing, and the estimated money

generated by the season-long competition is now at over £80 million.

From small acorns, The National

League has become a well-established part of English football - and its profile

is growing season-by-season. Extensive live matchday TV coverage on BT Sport and

a greater awareness of our three divisions across the breadth of both

traditional and modern media continues to grow.

Last season, over two million

spectators attended our matches. It's incredibly encouraging to see so many

people coming through the turnstiles at our Football Clubs, the heartbeats of

their communities. The figure is substantially larger than a decade ago. 

Most importantly, our competition

remains friendly, welcoming and open to all. It is a National League but with

wonderful local values.

Happy Birthday! And here's to the next forty years.

Brian Barwick.

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