Isthmian League

Isthmian League
Isthmian League
Countries  England
Founded 1905
Divisions Premier Division
Division One North
Division One South
Number of teams 66
Premier Division: 22
Division One North: 22
Division One South: 22
Levels on pyramid 7 and 8
Promotion to Conference South
Relegation to Combined Counties League
Eastern Counties League
Essex Senior League
Kent League
Spartan South Midlands League
Sussex County League
Domestic cup(s) FA Cup
FA Trophy
Isthmian League Cup
Current champions Sutton United (Premier Division)
East Thurrock United (Division One North)
Metropolitan Police (Division One South)
Website Official website
2011–12 Isthmian League

The Isthmian League is a regional football league covering London and South East England featuring semi-professional and amateur clubs. It is sponsored by Ryman, and therefore officially known as the Ryman League. It was founded in 1905 by amateur clubs in the London area. It now consists of 66 teams in three divisions; the Premier Division above its two feeder divisions, Division One North and Division One South. Together with the Southern League and the Northern Premier League, it forms the seventh and eighth levels of the English football league system. It has various regional feeder leagues and the league as a whole is a feeder league mainly to the Conference South.



Before the Isthmian League was formed, there were no leagues in which amateur clubs could compete, only cups. Therefore a meeting took place between representatives of Casuals, Civil Service, Clapton, Ealing Association, Ilford and London Caledonians to discuss the creation of a strong amateur league. All the clubs supported the idea and the Isthmian League was born on 8 March 1905. Membership to the league was through invitation only. The league was strongly dedicated to amateurism; the champions did not even receive a trophy or medals; the league motto was honour sufficit. Teams less able to compete financially thus gravitated to it rather than the Southern League, while those with ambition and money would move in the opposite direction. Although the league established itself as one of the strongest amateur leagues in the country, routinely providing the winners of the FA Amateur Cup, it was still seen as being at a lower level than the Southern League which was the top regional semi-professional league. By 1922 the league had fourteen clubs and over the next five decades, only a few new members were admitted, mainly to fill vacancies left by clubs leaving the league. Most new Isthmian League members joined from the Athenian League, which was similarly dedicated to amateurism. The Isthmian League was most likely named after the ancient Isthmian Games, with the later Athenian League, Corinthian League and Delphian League all adding a Classical flavour to amateur football competition.

The league began to admit professionalism in the 1970s. A second division of sixteen clubs was formed in 1973 and a third division followed in 1977. The league refused to participate in the formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979 and whilst two Isthmian clubs, Enfield and Dagenham, defected to the APL in 1981, it was not until 1985 that the Isthmian League champions were given a promotion place to the newly renamed Football Conference. The reward of promotion into the Conference means that, since 1985, no team has retained the title (as had happened on 22 occasions previously). The Athenian League disbanded in 1984 when the Isthmian League Second Division split into North and South Divisions. These were restructured again to Second and Third Divisions in 1991.

In 2002, the league was restructured again, with the First and Second Divisions merging to become Division One North and Division One South, and the Third Division being renamed as Division Two. In addition, the league's three feeder leagues—the Combined Counties League, Essex Senior League and Spartan South Midlands League—ran in parallel with Division Two, and were able to feed directly into the regional Division Ones.

In 2004, The Football Association pushed through a major restructuring of the non-league National League System, creating new regional divisions of the Football Conference. The Isthmian League was reduced back down to three divisions, and its boundaries were changed to remove the overlap with the Southern League.

In 2006, further reorganisation saw a reversion to two regional Division Ones and the disbandment of Division Two. This current plan calls for clubs based on the edges of the Isthmian League's territory to transfer to and from the Southern League as necessary to maintain numerical balance between the leagues. One team, Clapton, had been ever-present in the Isthmian League since its foundation, but they moved to the Essex Senior League for the 2006–07 season.


The Isthmian League was the first league to have sponsorship, having been selected by Rothmans, who sponsored the league from 1973 to 1977. The company offered prize money for position in the league but money was deducted for bookings. Thus the money encouraged both more goals and fair play. The sponsors after Rothmans to the present day have been: Michael Lawrie (1977–78), Berger (1978–82), Servowarm (1982–85), Vauxhall-Opel (1985–90), Vauxhall (1990–91), Diadora (1991–95), ICIS (1995–97) and Ryman (1997–present).[1]

League Cup

The Isthmian League Cup has run since 1975 and involves all Isthmian League teams.

Youth League

Since 2007, the Isthmian League has run a youth league called the Isthmian Youth League. This league is not restricted to members of the Isthmian League.


Dover Athletic receive the Isthmian League Premier Division trophy in 2009
Season Isthmian League
1905–06 London Caledonians
1906–07 Ilford
1907–08 London Caledonians
1908–09 Bromley
1909–10 Bromley
1910–11 Clapton
1911–12 London Caledonians
1912–13 London Caledonians
1913–14 London Caledonians
1914–19 Postponed due to World War I
1919 Leytonstone
1919–20 Dulwich Hamlet
1920–21 Ilford
1921–22 Ilford
1922–23 Clapton
1923–24 St Albans City
1924–25 London Caledonians
1925–26 Dulwich Hamlet
1926–27 St Albans City
1927–28 St Albans City
1928–29 Nunhead
1929–30 Nunhead
1930–31 Wimbledon
1931–32 Wimbledon
1932–33 Dulwich Hamlet
1933–34 Kingstonian
1934–35 Wimbledon
1935–36 Wimbledon
1936–37 Kingstonian
1937–38 Leytonstone
1938–39 Leytonstone
1939–45 Postponed due to World War II
1945–46 Walthamstow Avenue
1946–47 Leytonstone
1947–48 Leytonstone
1948–49 Dulwich Hamlet
1949–50 Leytonstone
1950–51 Leytonstone
1951–52 Leytonstone
1952–53 Walthamstow Avenue
1953–54 Bromley
1954–55 Walthamstow Avenue
1955–56 Wycombe Wanderers
1956–57 Wycombe Wanderers
1957–58 Tooting & Mitcham United
1958–59 Wimbledon
1959–60 Tooting & Mitcham United
1960–61 Bromley
1961–62 Wimbledon
1962–63 Wimbledon
1963–64 Wimbledon
1964–65 Hendon
1965–66 Leytonstone
1966–67 Sutton United
1967–68 Enfield
1968–69 Enfield
1969–70 Enfield
1970–71 Wycombe Wanderers
1971–72 Wycombe Wanderers
1972–73 Hendon

For the 1973–74 season, the Second Division was added.

Season First Division Second Division
1973–74 Wycombe Wanderers Dagenham
1974–75 Wycombe Wanderers Staines Town
1975–76 Enfield Tilbury
1976–77 Enfield Boreham Wood

For the 1977–78 season, the Premier Division was added.

Season Premier Division First Division Second Division
1977–78 Enfield Dulwich Hamlet Epsom & Ewell
1978–79 Barking Harrow Borough Farnborough Town
1979–80 Enfield Leytonstone/Ilford Billericay Town
1980–81 Slough Town Bishop's Stortford Feltham
1981–82 Leytonstone & Ilford Wokingham Town Worthing
1982–83 Wycombe Wanderers Worthing Clapton
1983–84 Harrow Borough Windsor & Eton Basildon United

For the 1984–85 season, the Second Division was reorganised into North and South regions.

Season Premier Division First Division Second Division North Second Division South
1984–85 Sutton United Farnborough Town Leyton Wingate Grays Athletic
1985–86 Sutton United St Albans City Stevenage Borough Southwick
1986–87 Wycombe Wanderers Leytonstone/Ilford Chesham United Woking
1987–88 Yeovil Town Marlow Wivenhoe Town Chalfont St Peter
1988–89 Leytonstone/Ilford Staines Town Harlow Town Dorking
1989–90 Slough Town Wivenhoe Town Heybridge Swifts Yeading
1990–91 Redbridge Forest Chesham United Stevenage Borough Abingdon Town

For the 1991–92 season, the regional Second Divisions were merged and the Third Division was added.

Season Premier Division First Division Second Division Third Division
1991–92 Woking Stevenage Borough Purfleet Edgware Town
1992–93 Chesham United Hitchin Town Worthing Aldershot Town
1993–94 Stevenage Borough Bishop's Stortford Newbury Town Bracknell Town
1994–95 Enfield Boreham Wood Thame United Collier Row
1995–96 Hayes Oxford City Canvey Island Horsham
1996–97 Yeovil Town Chesham United Collier Row & Romford Wealdstone
1997–98 Kingstonian Aldershot Town Canvey Island Hemel Hempstead Town
1998–99 Sutton United Canvey Island Bedford Town Ford United
1999–00 Dagenham & Redbridge Croydon Hemel Hempstead Town East Thurrock United
2000–01 Farnborough Town Boreham Wood Tooting & Mitcham United Arlesey Town
2001–02 Gravesend & Northfleet Ford United Lewes Croydon Athletic

At the end of the 1994-95 season, Enfield were denied promotion to the Conference. Their place was taken by Slough Town who finished as runners-up

For the 2002–03 season, the First Division was reorganised into North and South regions and the Third Division was disbanded.

Season Premier Division Division One North Division One South Division Two
2002–03 Aldershot Town Northwood Carshalton Athletic Cheshunt
2003–04 Canvey Island Yeading Lewes Leighton Town

For the 2004–05 season Division Ones North and South were merged.

Season Premier Division Division One Division Two
2004–05 Yeading AFC Wimbledon Ilford
2005–06 Braintree Town Ramsgate Ware

For the 2006–07 season, Division One was reorganised into North and South regions and Division Two was disbanded.

Season Premier Division Division One North Division One South
2006–07 Hampton & Richmond Borough AFC Hornchurch Maidstone United
2007–08 Chelmsford City Dartford Dover Athletic
2008–09 Dover Athletic Aveley Kingstonian
2009–10 Dartford Lowestoft Town Croydon Athletic
2010–11 Sutton United East Thurrock United Metropolitan Police

League Cup winners



External links

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