The History Of ECSFL

Research shows that although football was played in Wilmslow on a partially organised basis in 1970, no records of formal constitution appear until some two years later. Indeed, the first minutes and balance sheet available show the dates to have been around the 1973 - 74 period. Clearly clubs like Postal Athletic, Lacey Green, Lithopack had a degree of organisation, and similarly, Dean Vale, Grimond, and Church House, who eventually went out of existence, or in some cases moved to the Macclesfield Sunday League, were playing football under some governing body, likely to have been the District Association at Macclesfield.
As far as a separate league was concerned, no available documentation appears before season 1973 - 74. Even the teams and their pitches evoke fond memories of another era. Those which went on to form the infant Wilmslow and District Sunday Football League, including the Spinners Arms, Lex Cookshoot, Rising Sun and those already mentioned, did not last for very long.

Of grounds too, sadly few remain, notably the By-Pass Meadow in Wilmslow, home to Boddington Arms, and Railway Hotel, (when there was a Railway Hotel) , in Wilmslow; others too in Mottram, Styal, Jacksons Farm - all lost.

At this time meetings were held in the league at that time, twelve in all. Initially only 11 were elected for the 73-74 season, but following a late addition, twelve made up the constitution, Rules were discussed and the first serious attempt to produce a league handbook was made. As the 73-74 season came to a close it was clear that the league was already in danger of extinction. The reason being that some positions on the actual league committee were not filled, the clubs themselves volunteered to help fill these vacancies, and an EGM was planned for Wednesday 29th May 1974.

During the remaining years of the 70's the league changed dramatically through re-structuring, personnel change and a general move toward a more professional approach. Still under the auspices of Macclesfield and District F.A, the clubs coming into the league were being drawn less and less from the Wilmslow and Alderley Edge area and more and more from the Stockport, Cheadle and Hazel Grove area.

Meanwhile, several notable events unfolded.

On November 3rd 1975 at a special meeting at the Railway Hotel in Handforth, Mr DA Shaw was elected as League Secretary, and Mr Alan Smith continued as fixtures secretary, Mr Joe Lowrey was elected as Chairman. The minutes of this meeting also show the first of the leagues sponsored competitions being mentioned, the Eddie Blake Memorial Trophy.

24th May 1976, Lou Macari was elected - President, and events would show that, this was more a political move rather that one which it was believed would work. 1976-77 season saw the League grow to two divisions and the League meetings move Morley Green Social Club from 2nd August 1976.

It was at this time elsewhere in Sunday Football -that the North West Sunday Football Champions Cup was inaugurated. Two members of the League Committee were at that historic first meeting and formed part of the original Committee. Two months later, Mr. Alan Clarke, then involved with Boddington Arms, was appointed Referee Appointment Secretary, as the general move toward a more "in-touch" Management Committee progressed.

It was becoming obvious that the League needed a permanent home, one that could be called "Headquarters". Having used the Boddington Arms intermittently during the reign of the late Eddie Blake, it was decided to approach the new incumbents, Harry and Jessie Curran to float the idea of using their premises for all meetings. Our approach was welcomed, and on the 6th November 1976 the final meeting was held at Morley Green Social Club.

It was to be January 1977 before the first League meeting was held there, and March 21st before the Management meetings moved. During January 1977 a new addition to the Management team appeared Paul Mainwaring took the position of Registrations Secretary. At this time the League proposed an Inter-League competition to be called the Friendship Trophy to be played between selected sides from all the local Leagues.

Presentation evenings had been held for the first time at the end of the 1975-76 season. The first had been arranged at the Cheadle Hulme Club in May 1976, but with the increase in the League members, a larger venue had to be found. At the beginning of the 1977-78 season the League had increased to three divisions and it became clear that the call had to to out to all Clubs concerning personnel for the Committee.

It was during this season that the first mention was made of the Christmas Draw. At the end of the 1977-78 season the Presentation Evening was held in the Cumberland Suite at Belle Vue. As the 1978-79 season opened, the League had grown to 38 teams, Minute No. 7812 on 4.9.78, and because so many new Club Secretaries and Managers had come into the League, some from newly formed Clubs and some from other Leagues, a completely unique series of meetings was envisaged.

The Seminar on 19th February 1979, the first of these Seminars, was held for Secretaries and Managers. Each alternate year up until now the League has held a seminar alternately between Secretaries, Managers, and Referees. As the 70's drew to a close, several important events took place. On 29.8.79, Mr. Stuart Womersley was asked to attend a Management Committee Meeting and was appointed to the Committee to handle Publicity matters. Two months later, Chairman Joe Lowry resigned and the next two months proved fairly contentious before a new Chairman was appointed. It was felt that the Secretary should remain in his position, and Mr. Brian Child was nominated to the League at a special meeting on 3.12.79. Mr. Child was appointed with the Secretary as the only other nominee. The vote was 16-10, and Mr. Child took his position on 4.2.1980. At the beginning of 1980 Martin Foden who had steered Bramhall Green F.C. to such a strong position in the League, was appointed Player Registration Secretary.

During the early part of that year, the League was presented with two new Cups, the Wilmslow Advertiser Cup which became the 1st Division Cup, and United Dominions Trust also honoured the League with a trophy which was destined to become the UDT League Cup, but was initially presented to the Division 2 champions. The Division 3 KO Cup had been donated by Smith Knight Fay earlier on in the season. The highlight of this season was the one and only ever competition for Miss Wilmslow League, held at the Presentation Evening at Belle Vue. If memory serves correctly, the award went to NESS -Knutsford F.C. As the Eighties dawned no-one envisaged the changes which were to overtake the League.

In 1981 our first venture to Lancashire County Cricket Club for the Presentation Evening was planned. We have been there ever since. Adrian Roberts joined the Management Committee in September 1981 to look after Referees, and so relieved Alan Clarke of one of his "hats". Two months later came the resignation of Martin Foden who had handled registrations for nearly two seasons. He was to emigrate to Canada. But it was at the Annual General Meeting on 8th June 1981 that a major change was announced with the resignation of Mr Brian Child from the Chair, and the appointment of Mr. Alan Smith as Chairman.

Alan Smith and Dave Shaw were the only remaining original Committee Members from the early '70's. With future development still in mind, Mr Ron Mulligan was appointed Assistant League Secretary on 4th August 1983. At that same pre-season League Meeting, Mr Carl Hawkins was appointed Player Registration Secretary. On 3rd October 1981 Minute No.8317 shows that the League was involved in Inter-League competitions with a fixture against the Salford League at Park Road Stadium on 30th October of that year.

However, it was at the AGM in 1984 that the most fundamental change took place. For some time the numbers of clubs from the Wilmslow and Macclesfield area had diminished. Negotiations were undertaken to move the League from the Macclesfield and District F.A. to Stockport and District F.A. As the document shows, it meant losing all reference to "Wilmslow". A sad but necessary move if the League was to progress.

With this move came a Management change which left only one original member. Through business commitments, Alan Smith had to relinquish his position as Chairman. With Ron Mulligan accepting the roll of Secretary, Dave Shaw took the Chair. The East Cheshire Sunday League was born one year later, and from the beginning of 1985-86 season the reputation of the League continued to grow. Over the next ten years, the Management Committee remained very much the same. Indeed the ideas which drove the original team to save the near-extinct Wilmslow League were still being honed. Additional personnel moved in on an "as and when needed" basis, notably Steve Whittaker (Griffin Eagles) and Graham Morrison (High Grove).

The only major upheaval in the '80's was the move to Wilmslow Conservative Club when the Boddington Arms underwent redevelopment in 1988.

Time moved on with three divisions in full flow until the end of 1999 which saw a dramatic downturn in the number of teams playing Sunday football in general. This downturn hit the League and was repeated again the following year leaving the League kicking off the 2001 season with one division of 14 teams. With Ronnie Mulligan having emigrated, Dave Shaw, who had by now been called back to head the League after previously retiring, was the sole link with past. January of 2002 saw Dave having to change his priorities and concentrate on his family.

In March 2002 a motion was put to the teams that the league be wound up. Home events meant that it was necessary for Dave to retire, for good this time, whilst Carl Hawkins the Treasurer felt the same after a long stint for the League. It was also sad to see the departure of the excellent Peter Critchlow and Stuart Holt due to retirement. And so it was voted that the League would come to an end in May 2002.

Over the years, the one thing the League had stood for above all else was to foster a kinship between the teams that no other league could boast. As if to prove the point that all the previous years had not been wasted, and that one of the major goals of the League had been achieved, the teams, now without any kind of committee (save the Chris Edwards the Referees Secretary) called their own meeting at the end of April 2002. A core of nine teams - Cheadle Vale, Disley Lions, High Lane Rangers, Ladybridge Park, Mobberley Edge (now Drum & Monkey), Phoenix Old Boys, Poynton AJ's (now Athletic), Spectrum and West Park - banded together to resurrect the League.

A new committee of current and former ECSFL players and referees was formed with Alan Smith returning after a long absence as Chairman. There is a renewed freshness about the League. History seems to have turned full circle and the League again started from near scratch.

2002-2003 was a relaxed season, allowing the team’s breathing space and time to grow. Not as many rules as should have been were enforced but all in all it was a successful season. An innovative half-way split of the League into two divisions at Christmas was just the tonic many teams needed to survive what was for many of them their first season. Drum & Monkey were the team of the season, strolling away with Division One and reaching the Macclesfield Cup Final too.

No one who attended will ever forget the team fund-raising event hosted by the League and organised by Alan Smith. A fantastic night that brought players together for a meal with a comedian and, contrary to Alan's dazzling introduction two of the ropiest stripper’s money could buy. Despite an attendance of 150 there was not a spot of trouble and a great time was had by all. That's the spirit of the ECSFL - different, and head and shoulders in this respect above any other league, and yet with quality football to boot!

It's all about enjoying a game of football on a Sunday morning. That's it. We aim to help you do that.

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Division 4

Designed & Maintained By Dominic Hadfield