In with the new but a look back on 120 years
Reflection of our League as 2021 comes to an end
Joma Devon & Exeter Football League 2021 reflection
As 2022 is almost upon us few would argue that the last two years for local football has been incredibly difficult, with many teams struggling or folding altogether. Football at professional and amateur level has changed dramatically in the past 50 years, and in my view as the League press officer I believe much is down to major changes in society. Years ago but in living memory many clubs fielded teams of players that lived near the ground, many teams were family based especially in rural areas, but society and mobility has enabled clubs to expand their reach. I also think that many smaller clubs no longer have enough potential players to field a local side and it is easy to see why, as other factors have caused a shift in who lives where. Many clubs also keep telling me they are critically short of club officials and often run as one or two man bands and many of those are probably at an age where they might be considering to pack it in.
Meanwhile I make no apology for looking back on the many small town and village teams which have competed in the Devon & Exeter & District League over so many years, but no longer have a saturday based team. I have not included the many Exeter city teams such as St Marks or Wonford, or the many companies, organisations and businesses such as SWEB, SW Gas, British Rail, and many others which have graced our ranks, this is merely a list of clubs one hopes might arise from the ashes.
I have also left out variations of some clubs such as Dawlish Villa to name just one, but it is a nostalgic lookback at some of the teams no longer fielding an adult side, although there are a few in the list with youth teams.
Alfington, Ashill Rovers, Black Torrington, Bovey St Johns, Brampford Speke, Branscombe, Bratton Clovelly, Bridford, Broadhembury, Chawleigh, Christow, Chulmleigh, Clyst St George, Clyst Hydon, Colaton Raleigh, Copplestone, Cruwys Morchard, Culmstock, Dalwood, Drewsteignton, Dulverton, Escot Rovers, Exbourne & Jacobstow, Exton, Fordton United, Fluxton, Folly Gate & Inwardleigh, Gittisham United, Halberton, High Bickington, Ide, Kilmington, Littleham, Moretonhampstead, Newton Poppleford, Northlew, Payhembury, Plymtree, Poltimore, Poughill, Puddington, Rewe, Rockbeare Rockets, Sidbury United, Silverton, South Molton, Southleigh Rovers, Spreyton, Stoke Canon, Talaton United, Taw Valley, Upton Pyne, Way Village, West Hill United, Weston, Whimple, Whitestone, Withycombe, Woodbury, Woodbury Salterton, Yeoford.
On a personal note I can see around 20 teams in this list I have played for or against just in my years, and it seems sad that many of them no longer exist or even have a ground to play on.
Apologies if Ive missed others and maybe some who are operating in other leagues, but this was my best shot and I am confident it will recall many memories for so many.
Over the 120+ years that out League has been operating we have seen teams move on to greater journeys. It is easy to forget that the likes of Exeter City, Tiverton Town, Exmouth Town and Willand Rovers all began life within our ranks, and other mighty teams such as Barnstaple Town, Bideford, Ilfracombe, Minehead, Holsworthy and even Bude have at times graced our doorstep. There was never any chance they would not move on as higher leagues were established.
However on a positive note the Joma Devon & Exeter League still provides a platform for grassroot non League teams with around 4000 players registered and currently 120 teams over ten divisions and hopefully that will continue. Maybe the circle will fully turn and many of the past country and town teams will start up again, or evolve in new areas such as the example set by Cranbrook.
Finally the League officials would like to wish all those involved in our grassroots game and especially our referees a very Happy New year.
Friday 31st December 2021