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Gone but not forgotten, some of the clubs that I can remember from my time involved in the South Midlands League prior to it becoming the Spartan South Midlands League for the 1997-98 season. Abbey National (MK), AC Delco, Addmult, Ashcroft Co-Op, Aspley Guise, BAC, Baldock Town, Barton Rovers, Bedford United, Bletchley United, Brache Sparta, Bridger Packaging, Brooklands, Bow Brickhill, Buckingham United, Clifton Old Boys, De Havilland, Dunstable Old Boys, Dunstaable United, Eaton Bray United, Electrolux, Emberton, Flamstead, Houghton Town, Ickleford, Inter City, Knebworth, Leighton Athletic, Letchworth Garden City, Lucas Sports (also known as Rotax Sports), Luton Old Boys, Mercedes Benz, Milton Keynes Borough (also known as Milton Keynes), MK United, Mowlems, Old Dunstablians, Pirton, Potters Bar Crusaders, Sandy Albion, Scot, Selby, Shefford Town, Shillington, Towcester Town, Vauxhall Motors, Waddesdon, Walden Rangers, Waterlows, Welwyn Garden United, Wiltonians and Wolverton AFC (also known as MK Wolverton Town), The following clubs have progressed to higher leagues having gained promotion from the South Midlands League. Arlesey Town, Bedford Town, Biggleswade Town, Leighton Town, Oxford City, Potters Bar Town, Thame United and Wingate & Finchley.
Some interesting views on here, particularly those with regard to the apparent decline of the ESL. Is not the problem the 'win at all costs' psyche mentioned by 'Vegas'. Let's be honest, there is very little chance of any club at this level doing a Wimbledon (and please remember Woodsy, Stevenage's initial successes were heavily funded by alleged questionable individuals and means) The 'pyramid' system put clubs under pressure to either climb to the next rug or stave off relegation. Does promotion from one step to another mean an increasing of revenue through the gates? Probably not, and any slight increase will have been more than swallowed up by players' wages. Is it not time for clubs at this level to re-think a way in which they have a better chance of survival and, at the same time, enjoy their football. Why not change the pyramid to a 'circle' where a group of like-minded clubs form a league where the emphasis is on enjoying a good game of football. The model was successfully tried in the old Isthmian League (pre 1973) and those clubs wanting to progress further (Wimbledon, Maidstone etc) left with good grace and best wishes. The existing system has seen an unprecedented number of clubs go to the wall, some by over stretching themselves financially or selling their ground to pay players. There have been mergers (another ground sold) and instances when sugar daddies have fallen out of love with the idea (or realised the costs) of taking 'Rag-a**e Rovers' to the conference and have pulled out, leaving the club in the mire. All this in vain attempt to climb the football pyramid. Even today there is talk of at least two ESL clubs not playing next season. The FA don't seem to care. If the idea was put forward to start a league outside of the pyramid, those participating would probably be threatened with expulsion from the FA and sanctioned. What the FA does not understand is that their model, whilst possibly suiting those who can afford it at Blue Square level, is slowly killing clubs at ESL level. As said above, the good players and young prospects will go on to better things with more ambitious clubs; this has always been the case. A competitive league managed by the clubs for the clubs. Sensible travelling, (long midweek trips kept to a minimum in the club’s interest) and fair competition could be the saving of many small clubs in East London and Essex or on the east side of the M25. Discuss.......