119 is the magic number
League will launch with nine divisions next month with plenty of optimism
119 teams are down to kick off the new season next month in nine divisions which will be the lowest number since 1965 a year before England won the World cup.
On the face of it that looks slightly depressing, but it is really far from doom and gloom. In fact the League can be proud it still holds membership of so many teams considering the odds over the years. In the 1950s the average membership stood at 107, and this rose to 126 in the swinging sixties.
The 1970s was without doubt the crowning glory years, with membership around 140 per season, but then there was an inevitable exodus as the bigger clubs set sail for the Western League.
In the 1980s the League average membership was 136 teams but in the 1990s that fell away to around 133 as teams then decided to move over to the newly formed Devon League in 1993.
At the turn of the century an average of 136 teams were in membership, but this fell away to around 126 in the last decade ending 2020.
Now considering the pandemic and all that has happened in the past three years, to emerge with the numbers we have is a credit to the many clubs officials supporters and players, that we can still provide organised widespread grassroots. The older generation among us feel that the interest is declining, and the local game will need a boost of interest if it is to just maintain its present level. However for the moment it augurs well and many teams i know are hugely keen to get going.
Tuesday 19th July 2022