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Elections and Southport

With the country beginning to gear itself up for a general election in 2010, my thoughts (rather bizarelly i’m sure) turned to Southport’s election, or rather re-election, record.

Here is the complete record of every election and re-election to the Football League since it’s inception right through to 1986 when automatic promotion and relegation was introduced.

This obviously includes Southport various attempts to gain entry around the turn of the century and their later re-election “campaigns”. I use the term campaign in it’s loosest sense as the general consensus is that the reason the 11th “campaign” failed was simply because Walter Giller didn’t bother with one.

A HISTORY OF ADMISSION TO THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Until the mid-1980s, admission to the Football League was by election. At the end of each season clubs at the bottom of the Football League were obliged to seek re-election. The bottom clubs had to go ‘cap-in-hand’ to the AGM of the Football League and endure a vote by their League colleagues who also considered the applications of ambitious non-Football League clubs eager to join the elite. The ‘non-leaguers’ were often scathing of this method of joining the elite and they generally regarded the Football League as a ‘closed shop’ and the election procedure as an ‘old pals act’ since more often than not, the clubs seeking re-election got back into the League without any problem at all.

Below is a brief season-by-season history of how all clubs gained admission to the Football League with all known results of the annual vote for places in the Football League. The method of voting varied, but from the advent of the Third Division in the early 1920s the Full Members (clubs in Division One and Two) had one vote per available place, whilst the Associate Members (those in Division Three – and Division Four from 1958) shared a very small number of votes.

Abbreviations used for Leagues

FL Football League

BC Birmingham Combination (now Midland Combination)
BD Birmingham & District League (now West Midlands League)
CE Central League
CL Cheshire League
FA Football Alliance
FC Football Conference
LC Lancashire Combination
LL Lancashie League
MA Manchester League
ML Midland League
NA Northern Alliance
NC Northern Counties League
NE North Eastern League
NL Northern League
NP Northern Premier League
NR North Regional League
SL Southern League
TC The Combination
WE Welsh National League (South)
WL Wearside League
WM West Midland League
WN Welsh National League (North)
WS Western League
WY West Yorkshire League
YL Yorkshire League
— not a member of a League
?? unknown

Clubs in bold were elected (or more usually re-elected) to the
League. The League of which each club was a member at the time of the election
is shown after the club’s name.


1888

The Football League came into being for the 1888-89 season. The League was
created largely at the instigation of Scotsman, William McGregor, the secretary of
Aston Villa. He wanted to introduce more competitive and regular matches
to replace the existing calendar of friendly matches susceptible to
cancellation at the last minute. After several meetings the following twelve
clubs were selected to form the Football League (‘Football’ League was
selected in preference to ‘English’ League because McGregor had hopes
of inviting Scottish clubs into the League). These twelve original clubs
were probably not the twelve strongest teams in the country:

Original members in order of placing at the end of the first season

Preston North End founder member of the Football League
Aston Villa founder member of the Football League
Wolverhampton Wanderers founder member of the Football League
Blackburn Rovers founder member of the Football League
Bolton Wanderers founder member of the Football League
West Bromwich Albion founder member of the Football League
Accrington founder member of the Football League
Everton founder member of the Football League
Burnley founder member of the Football League
Derby County founder member of the Football League
Notts County founder member of the Football League
Stoke founder member of the Football League


1889

The League rules stated that the bottom four clubs were obliged to retire
and seek re-election at the AGM along with any other clubs wishing to become League
members. Votes were cast as follows:

Stoke FL 10 re-elected to the Football League
Burnley FL 9 re-elected to the Football League
Derby County FL 8 re-elected to the Football League
Notts County FL 7 re-elected to the Football League

Birmingham St George’s — 5
Sheffield Wednesday — 4
Sunderland — 2
Bootle — 2
Newton Heath — 1
South Shore — 0
Sunderland Albion — 0
Grimsby Town — 0
Walsall Town Swifts — 0


1890

Although the rules stated that the bottom four clubs had to apply for
re-election, the League abandoned standing orders at the AGM. Aston Villa
and Bolton Wanderers finished level on points and were separated by goal
average – Villa 0.84314, Bolton 0.84375. Bolton would therefore have
escaped having to seek re-election, but Villa would not (an embarrassment
to William McGregor). It was decided that both clubs should be regarded as being
level in eighth place and therefore would not need to retire (interestingly,
later calculations showed that Bolton’s goal tally was not 54-64, as had been
thought at the AGM, but 54-65 – this placed Bolton below Villa!).

Burnley FL ) re-elected to the Football League
Notts County FL ) re-elected to the Football League
Sunderland — ) elected to the Football League

Stoke FA ) not re-elected
Bootle FA )
Grimsby Town FA ) The voting figures are not recorded in
Sunderland Albion FA ) the Football League’s minutes.
Newton Heath FA )
Darwen FA )


1891

The AGM agreed to extend League membership from 12 to 14 clubs. The bottom four
clubs competed with new applicants for six places.

Aston Villa FL 8 re-elected to the Football League
Acrington FL 8 re-elected to the Football League
Derby County FL 8 re-elected to the Football League
West Bromwich Albion FL 8 re-elected to the Football League
Stoke FA 7 elected to the Football League
Darwen FA 7 elected to the Football League

Newton Heath FA )
Nottingham Forest FA )
Sunderland Albion FA ) 2 votes shared by the four clubs
Ardwick — )


1892
The Football League decided to increase the number of clubs in the First
Division from 14 to 16 and to create a Second Division.

First it held elections for the extra places in the First Division. West
Bromwich Albion were excused having to seek re-election because
they had just won the FA Cup which meant the three clubs seeking re-election
competed with new applicants for five places in the First Division.

Sheffield Wednesday FA 10 elected to Division One
Nottingham Forest FA 9 elected to Division One
Accrington FL 7 re-elected to Division One
Stoke FL 7 re-elected to Division One
Newton Heath(1) FA 6 elected to Division One

Darwen FL 4 not re-elected
Newcastle East End NL )
Middlesbrough/Middlesbrough Ironopolis(2)NL ) votes not recorded
Liverpool — rejected because “they did not comply with regulations”

Note:
(1) Now Manchester United
(2) The two Middlesbrough clubs put in a joint bid and agreed
to amalgamate if their application was successful.

Then elections for the new Second Division took place. Darwen, having failed
to be re-elected, joined other applicants. The Middlesbrough clubs did not apply
for membership. There is no record of the names of any other teams which applied
for membership or of the number of votes received by each club.

Darwen FL elected to Division Two
Burton Swifts FA elected to Division Two
Grimsby Town FA elected to Division Two
Bootle FA elected to Division Two
Walsall Town Swifts FA elected to Division Two
Small Heath Alliance(1) FA elected to Division Two
Crewe Alexandra FA elected to Division Two
Lincoln City FA elected to Division Two
Ardwick(2) FA elected to Division Two
Burslem Port Vale ML elected to Division Two
Sheffield United ML elected to Division Two
Northwich Victoria TC elected to Division Two

Note:
(1) Now Birmingham City
(2) Now Manchester City


1893

Division Two was expanded from 12 to 14 clubs. No voting figures
available.

Lincoln City FL re-elected to Division Two
Crewe Alexandra FL re-elected to Division Two
Burslem Port Vale FL re-elected to Division Two
Walsall Town Swifts FL re-elected to Division Two
Rotherham Town ML elected to Division Two
Newcastle United NL elected to Division Two

It was agreed to advertise for two more clubs so that both the
First and Second Divisions would have 16 clubs – with the successful
Applicants to be chosen by the Management Committee ‘on the following
Wednesday”.

Woolwich Arsenal — elected to Division Two
Liverpool LL elected to Division Two

Middlesbrough Ironopolis NL
Doncaster Rovers ML
Loughborough Town ML

In August 1893 Accrington submitted their resignation from the Football
League. They were replaced by:

Middlesbrough Ironopolis NL elected to Division Two

Shortly afterwards Bootle also resigned from the Football League but
they were not replaced.

Until (Woolwich) Arsenal’s admission to the Football League, all member
clubs had been located in the North and Midlands. Southern clubs remained
strictly amateur. There were no leagues in the South, just Cup competitions and friendlies.
In 1892 Arsenal attempted to form a league in the south, with clubs employing professionals
– the Southern League – and twelve clubs wweere elected, including
Arsenal, Reading, Swindon Town and Luton Town. However, they did not
ratify their decision through fear of incurring the displeasure of the London
FA (the Southern League finally began in 1894-5). For season 1892-3 Arsenal
operated as a professional club which meant they were banished from all Southern
competitions: they participated in the FA Cup and played friendlies against
professional clubs from the North and Midlands.

Liverpool were formed in 1892 after a split within Everton FC. Everton moved
out of Anfield but a few directors remained and formed Liverpool FC. In 1892-3
the club recruited a team of Scots and played in the Lancashire League.


1894

The vacancy created by Bootle’s resignation at the start of 1893-4 plus
Northwich Victoria’s decision not to apply for re-election meant that
four places were available for the remaining two clubs seeking re-election
plus the other hopefuls
.

Manchester City FL 20 re-elected to Division Two
Leicester Fosse ML 20 elected to Division Two
Bury LL 17 elected to Division Two
Burton Wanderers ML 17 re-elected to Division Two

Rotherham Town FL 15 not re-elected*
Blackpool LL 8
Loughborough ML 8
Rossendale United LL 0
Northwich Victoria FL did not seek re-election

*In June 1894 Middlesbrough Ironopolis resigned from
the League and Rotherham Town were invited to rejoin Division Two.


1895

Lincoln City FL 22 re-elected to Division Two
Burslem Port Vale FL 22 re-elected to Division Two
Crewe Alexandra FL 18 re-elected to Division Two
Loughborough Town ML 18 elected to Division Two

Walsall Town Swifts FL ) not re-elected
Blackpool LL ) votes not recorded
Fairfield LL )


1896

It was agreed to reduce, from four to three, the number of clubs having to seek re-election.
Rotherham Town did not seek re-election.
.

Blackpool LL 19 elected to Division Two
Walsall Town Swifts ML 16 elected to Division Two
Gainsborough Trinity ML 15 elected to Division Two

Burslem Port Vale FL 10 not re-elected
Luton Town SL 10
Crewe Alexandra FL 4 not re-elected
Fairfield LL 3
Glossop North End TC 3
Tottenham Hotspur SL 2
Macclesfield TC 2
Rotherham Town FL – did not seek re-election


1897

Lincoln City FL 21 re-elected to Division Two
Burton Swifts FL 15 re-elected to Division Two
Luton Town SL 13 elected to Division Two

Burslem Port Vale ML 11
Burton Wanderers FL 9 not re-elected
Nelson LL 7
Glossop North End TC 5
Fairfield LL 3
Crewe Alexandra TC 2
Millwall Athletic SL 1


1898

Lincoln City FL 21 re-elected to Division Two
Burslem Port Vale ML 18 elected to Division Two
Loughborough Town FL 16 re-elected to Division Two

Darwen FL 16 not re-elected
New Brighton Tower LL )
Nelson LL ) votes not recorded
Bristol City SL )

The AGM gave consideration to changes to the composition of the Football
League. The Arsenal representative proposed forming two Second Divisions
– North and South – with 16 teams in each.. The Aston Villa rep suggested
a First Division of 18 and two regional Second Divisions of 12.

It was finally decided to expand both First and Second Divisions from 16 to
18 clubs. No clubs were to be relegated from the First to the Second Division
which meant that four vacancies were created in Division Two.

One place was filled immediately:

Darwen — elected to Division Two

The remaining three places were filled eight days later – apparently uncontested.

New Brighton Tower LL elected to Division Two
Glossop North End TC elected to Division Two
Barnsley ML elected to Division Two


1899

Loughborough Town FL 28 re-elected to Division Two
Chesterfield Town ML 17 elected to Division Two
Middlesbrough NL 17 elected to Division Two

Blackpool FL 15 not re-elected
Coventry City BD )
Chorley LL )
Stockport County LL ) votes not recorded
Ashton North End LL )
Wigan County LL )
Darwen FL did not seek re-election


1900

Barnsley FL re-elected to Division Two
Blackpool LL elected to Division Two
Stockport County LL elected to Division Two

Loughborough Town FL not re-elected
Doncaster Rovers ML
Kettering ML
Stalybridge Rovers LL
Luton Town FL did not seek re-election


1901
Burton Swifts FL 23 re-elected to Division Two
Bristol City SL 23 elected to Division Two
Stockport County FL 16 Second vote 21 re-elected to Division Two
Doncaster Rovers ML 16 Second vote 13
Walsall Town Swifts FL 7 not re-elected
Crewe Alexandra LL )
Darwen LL ) votes not recorded
Stalybridge Rovers LL )
Southport Central LL )

At the start of the following season New Brighton Tower resigned from the League and Doncaster Rovers were elected to the League

Doncaster Rovers ML elected to Division Two

 


1902

Chesterfield Town FL re-elected to Division Two
Stockport County FL re-elected to Division Two
Gainsborough Trinity FL re-elected to Division Two

Walsall Town Swifts ML


1903

Bradford City — 30 elected to Division Two
Stockport County FL 20 re-elected to Division Two
Burnley FL 19 re-elected to Division Two

Doncaster Rovers FL ) not re-elected
Crewe Alexandra TC )
Southport Central LL ) votes not recorded
West Hartlepool NL )
Willington Athletic NA )

Bradford City were elected to the Football League without having played
a competitive match. West Yorkshire remained a strongly Rugby League
area and it is assumed that City’s election was an attempt by the Football
League to establish a foothold in this area.


1904

Leicester Fosse FL 33 re-elected to Division Two
Glossop North End FL 27 re-elected to Division Two
Doncaster Rovers ML 21 elected to Division Two
Stockport County FL 11 not re-elected
Crewe Alexandra BD 10


1905

Leeds City WY 25 elected to Division Two
Port Vale FL 21 re-elected to Division Two
Chelsea — 20 elected to Division Two
Hull City — 18
Burton United FL ?? not re-elected
Doncaster Rovers FL ?? not re-elected
Stockport County ML 3
Clapton Orient SL 1

Chelsea had a ground, but had played no games and had no signed players when
they were elected. Leeds City were formed in 1904, joined the West Yorkshire
League for 1904-05 but seemed to treat the West Yorks League with scant
respect; preferring to cancel games in order to play prestigious friendlies
against top Football League teams.

After the re-election procedures had been completed it was agreed to expand the
Football League from 36 to 40 clubs. All the previously unsuccessful candidates
were elected with the exception of Doncaster Rovers.

Hull City — elected to Division Two
Burton United — elected to Division Two
Stockport County LC elected to Division Two
Clapton Orient (1) SL elected to Division Two

Hull had been formed in 1904 and played only friendly matches in 1904-05

Stockport ran a ‘first team’ in both the Lancashire Combination and Midland
League in 1904-05!

Note:
(1) Now Leyton Orient


1906

Chesterfield Town FL ?? re-elected to Division Two
Burton United FL ?? re-elected to Division Two
Clapton Orient FL 21 re-elected to Division Two
Oldham Athletic LC 20
Wigan Town TC 5


1907

Fulham SL ?? elected to Division Two
Lincoln City FL 28 re-elected to Division Two
Chesterfield Town FL 23 re-elected to Division Two
Oldham Athletic LC 17
Bradford Park Ave — 11
Burton United FL 7 not re-elected
Rotherham Town ML 0
Wigan Town TC 0
Salford United MA 0

Like Chelsea and Clapton Orient before them, Fulham offered Midlands
clubs an extra £15 and Northern clubs an extra £20 in travel expenses
when visiting London.

Soon after the AGM, Burslem Port Vale resigned from the Football League. Oldham
Athletic and Burton United both applied to fill the vacancy. The Management
Committee voted 6-0 in favour of Oldham Athletic who were therefore
Elected to the Football League.

It was revealed in the minutes of Oldham Athletic FC that they offered Port Vale £1,000 and two players provided that Port Vale resigned from the League and Oldham took their place!

Oldham Athletic LC elected to Division Two

In May 1907 clubs agreed to form a Third Division. Advertisements were placed
in ‘Athletics News’ but only 10 clubs expressed an interest and the idea
was dropped.


1908

Grimsby Town FL 32 re-elected to Division Two
Chesterfield Town FL 23 re-elected to Division Two
Bradford Park Ave SL 20 elected to Division Two
Lincoln City FL 18 not re-elected
Tottenham Hotspur SL 14
Burton United BD 1
Rotherham County ML withdrew application
Queens Park Rangers SL withdrew application

A few days after the AGM, Stoke announced they could not continue in the
Football League due to lack of support. Their resignation was accepted.
A Special Meeting was arranged to elect a new member, but before the
Meeting took place Stoke announced they wished to continue in the League.
Stoke, along with Tottenham, Lincoln, Rotherham and Southport stood for
Election and in the ballot Tottenham and Lincoln tied, 20 votes each. The
Management Committee then voted 5-3 in favour of Tottenham Hotspur. It was rumoured that Stoke’s original resignation had been encouraged by
Tottenham, who offered financial inducements to Stoke to resign


Tottenham Hotspur SL elected to Division Two

Lincoln City —
Stoke —
Rotherham County ML
Southport Central LC


1909

The number of clubs having to seek re-election was reduced from three to
two

Blackpool FL 27 re-elected to Division Two
Lincoln City ML 24 elected to Division Two
Chesterfield Town FL ?? not re-elected
Stoke BD 6
Rotherham County ML did not attend meeting

 


1910

Birmingham City FL 30 re-elected to Division Two
Huddersfield Town ML 26 elected to Division Two
Grimsby Town FL 12 not re-elected
Chesterfield Town ML 6
Stoke SL 3
Hartlepools United NE 2

 


1911

Barnsley FL 28 re-elected to Division Two
Grimsby Town ML 18 elected to Division Two
Lincoln City FL 17 not re-elected
Darlington NE )
Chesterfield Town ML ) “15 votes between them”
Hartlepools United NE )
Rochdale LC )

After the AGM, the five unsuccesful clubs met and decided to ask the
Football League to reconsider the idea of a Third Division. This was backed by
34 of the 40 League clubs. The Football League advertised for new clubs stating
that there would need to be a minimum of sixteen teams and that these clubs
would not be given a vote at AGMs, except in the election of new clubs.
Applications were received from twenty clubs – the five previously mentioned
plus Port Vale, Rotherham Town, Crewe Alexandra, Walsall, Burton Town,
Macclesfield, St Helen’s Town, South Liverpool, Southport Central,
South Shields Adelaide, Croydon Common, Portsmouth, Southend United, Cardiff
City and Merthyr Town. When the proposal to form a Third Division with these
Clubs was put to the League members, they rejected it 26-11 (!)


1912

Leeds City FL 33 re-elected to Division Two
Lincoln City CE 27 elected to Division Two
Gainsborough Trinity FL 9 not re-elected
Chesterfield Town ML 6
Newcastle C

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