Best Non Pyramid League in London?

hughesvideo

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The Hackney & Leyton Sunday League for this season...on Full-Time.

Sporting Club De Mundial have gone ! :unsure:

Looks like the H & L League have swallowed up the East London, Barking & Dagenham Sunday League from last season. 😲

Also, Clapton CFC have started a Sunday side...in Division Three.
 

stevegraze

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Very sad to see Sporting Club de Mundial fold after that disciplinary incident. They had high aspirations to go up the non-league ladder and their aims were very similar to Rising Ballers. Mundial (like RB) tried to give former academy players a platform to re-enter the professional game.

Speaking of Mundial, their LFA Sunday Junior Cup semi-final against Sporting Continental might have people scratching their heads. I cannot ever recall seeing such a one-sided game with one team utterly dominant yet not winning. All I will say is the game featured 3 of the most outrageous goals you will ever see (including a goal from about 60 yards out!) and a scorching long range shot in the dying minutes of the game.

 

stevegraze

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Yes indeed. 279 Sports were a legendary team, and held the record for the most LFA county cup wins (6 county cups in 10 years), until the much discussed New Salamis came along in the modern era and eclipsed them by winning 7 LFA Sunday Challenge Cups in 10 years before moving to Saturday pyramid football.

279 were from the south London/Kent border area and played at a labour dock ground. The “279” stands for sectors 2, 7, and 9 of the London docks.

279 were one of the best Sunday sides in the Country back in the day,Surdoc refers to Surrey Docks,now closed,but the main timber dock in London.
 

hamlet

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Yes indeed. 279 Sports were a legendary team, and held the record for the most LFA county cup wins (6 county cups in 10 years), until the much discussed New Salamis came along in the modern era and eclipsed them by winning 7 LFA Sunday Challenge Cups in 10 years before moving to Saturday pyramid football.

279 were from the south London/Kent border area and played at a labour dock ground. The “279” stands for sectors 2, 7, and 9 of the London docks.
That was the PLA London Docks Labour Board Ground on the A20 in Sidcup ,now the new home of Cray Wanderers.
 

stevegraze

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Thanks for that context. I wonder if Sunday “YouTube Team” SE Dons (who groundshare with Cray) are aware of the illustrious Sunday team that played at that ground before them? ...

That was the PLA London Docks Labour Board Ground on the A20 in Sidcup ,now the new home of Cray Wanderers.
 

stevegraze

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Sunday League Restructuring

Very interesting post. Although this forum discusses restructuring in the NLS, some “restructuring” is also taking place in Sunday leagues. You rightly highlighted that nearly 40 Sunday leagues have folded in the last 30 odd years.

Although the number of Sunday leagues shrank, the surviving leagues expanded as they absorbed teams from the defunct leagues. e.g. 10-20 years ago, the average Sunday league had 3-5 divisions. Right now the Barnet, Essex Sunday, OBDSFL, Southern Sunday (SSFL), and WESFA having 7 or more divisions (SSFL and WESFA have 9 and 10 divisions respectively!). A few examples:
  • the OBSFL, SSFL, and WESFA took teams from the Morden & District and Sportsman’s Senior Leagues after the latter two leagues folded.
  • The Barnet Sunday League grew by acquiring nearby north London leagues that folded such as the Waltham Sunday League.
  • This season the Hackney & Leyton League absorbed the East London, Barking, and Dagenham League (which itself was created by a merger between the East London Sunday League and the Dagenham and District Sunday League!)
The result of this consolidation is that some of the surviving leagues have become more competitive and we are unlikely to keep seeing the sort of 1 team monopoly leagues that emerged in recent seasons where one team repeatedly wins the league title: e.g. New Salamis in KOPA (8 titles in 10 years), Upshire in the Waltham League (6 titles in a row), and Lapton in the Hackney & Leyton League (4 titles in a row). Teams criss-crossing into new leagues is actually making Sunday league football more competitive.

Sunday league is “booming” in south London because the best teams in south London leagues move to the OBDSFL to test themselves in a league that is generally considered to be London’s strongest Sunday league and which has ground grading requirements akin to the NLS. As a result the OBDSFL’s top division is ultra-competitive and the standard of play is akin to Step 4-5 NLS football. The phenomenon of title winning teams from other leagues joining the OBDSFL (e.g. Baldon Sports, Groundhoppers, AFC Kumazi Strikers, Portland, SE Dons, Lambeth All Stars) makes the league so competitive and unpredictable that it has had 7 different champions in the last 8 seasons!


I have just been doing a bit of research over the last few days as a result of finding an old London FA handbook from the 1985/1986 season, which was when my club Edmonton Rovers first became FA-affiliated having previously played in the then-'pirate' Edmonton Sunday League between 1977 & 1984.
I have found no less than 37 adult mens Sunday Leagues in the Greater London area (or just outside it) that have folded since the late 1980's. 😲
 

hughesvideo

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Sunday league is “booming” in south London because the best teams in south London leagues move to the OBDSFL to test themselves in a league that is generally considered to be London’s strongest Sunday league and which has ground grading requirements akin to the NLS.
In fact not just South London but adults Sunday League football all over the Greater London area has been 'booming' since SE Dons came on the scene to give it the increased profile it deserved.

As a result, what we have in the Boroughs of Enfield, Barnet & Haringey now is a situation where there are nowhere near enough pitches to go round. Since the rapid decline in player participation that started about 20 years ago (and continued up until the current You Tube phenomenon), those three North London Councils decided to turn numerous recreation grounds into golf courses, theme parks and wetlands areas and it is now impossible for them to restore the football pitches that were once there. What we have now at those places is 'wildfowl' instead of 'wild foul'.
Consequently there are several teams waiting to join the Barnet Sunday League who just cannot find a pitch, while private venues (such as the one my team use) are having to stop doubling-up matches with 10.30 & 12.30 Kick-Offs on the same (grass) pitches on Sundays because of over-use caused by the extra demand.

I predicted quite a few years ago that we would end up with the Sunday 'Super-Leagues' that we increasingly have now. But I also predicted that each League would be run solely by a full-time paid FA official instead of continuing to rely on (mainly elderly retired) volunteers, and also that the FA's Football Hubs idea would take off to give more adult Sunday teams access to affordable 3G pitches and better-maintained grass pitches at these hubs. I still think that some of this might happen and that Premier Divisions of these Sunday Super-Leagues will officially be classed as Step 7 level or even higher, or even some sort of pyramid structure set up solely for Sunday Leagues where the elite teams from all over London play each other in the same League instead of just in the London Sunday Challenge Cup. It could well happen within the next 2-3 seasons.
 

stevegraze

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1) I am very surprised to hear that there is a pitch shortage in "green" areas of outer London like that. Doesn’t Enfield alone have the Henry Barras Stadium, Edmonton Sports and Social Club, Enfied FC, and Church Street Rec?Spacing out kick-off times may not help since the pitches would presumably be damaged by over-use? Another option is for Sunday leagues to loan or groundshare the stadia of Saturday NLS clubs? Some of the bigger Sunday league teams already play their home games at Step 4-5 stadiums anyway (e.g. Rising Ballers at Barnet FC, Baiteze at Redbridge FC, SE Dons at Cray Wanderers, and Hatcham at Beckenham Town FC).

2) Fascinating thoughts about some Sunday leagues becoming part of the NLS. Do you think the FA would go for that though? Or do they still relegate Sunday football as an “inferior” cousin to its NLS counterpart?

Standard wise, the top 2 divisions of the OBDSFL, Barnet Sunday League, Hackney & Leyton League, and possibly the Metropolitan Sunday League are already at step 4-5 (top division) or 5-7 (second tier). I actually think placing the top Sunday league divisions at step 7 would be too low. I daresay that the likes of Lambeth Allstars, SE Dons, Kenningwell United, Portland, Dumlupinar, Mehmetcik, Highgate Albion, Rising Ballers, Mile End Baiteze, Anorthosis, Olympia etc would be very comfortable in a Step 4 league.

Recent examples of Sunday league teams moving to NLS football demonstrates that Step 7 is too low a standard for many top division Sunday League teams:
  • Real Romania started life as a Sunday league team. When they moved to Saturday football, they zoomed up the NLS ladder with consecutive promotions straight from “Step 8” in the Middlesex County League to Step 5 in the ESL. They now play at Step 4 in the Isthmian League.
  • Two more recent examples: two teams from the KOPA Sunday league (St Panteleimon and New Salamis) moved to the NLS and both won successive promotions at the first attempt. In St Panteleimon’s case they won the Middlesex County League’s Step 8 and 7 divisions at the first attempt and were unbeaten for 2 years in that league. They lost their first game on the last day of the season after securing their second title win! Their former KOPA league rivals New Salamis also won promotion at the first attempt from the Herts County League. It is pertinent that these two clubs were in 1st and 2nd place in the SSML Div 1 and were on the verge of promotion to Step 5 before Covid ended the season.

In fact not just South London but adults Sunday League football all over the Greater London area has been 'booming' since SE Dons came on the scene to give it the increased profile it deserved.

As a result, what we have in the Boroughs of Enfield, Barnet & Haringey now is a situation where there are nowhere near enough pitches to go round...Consequently there are several teams waiting to join the Barnet Sunday League who just cannot find a pitch, while private venues (such as the one my team use) are having to stop doubling-up matches with 10.30 & 12.30 Kick-Offs on the same (grass) pitches on Sundays because of over-use caused by the extra demand.

I still think that some of this might happen and that Premier Divisions of these Sunday Super-Leagues will officially be classed as Step 7 level or even higher, or even some sort of pyramid structure set up solely for Sunday Leagues where the elite teams from all over London play each other in the same League instead of just in the London Sunday Challenge Cup. It could well happen within the next 2-3 seasons.
 

leohoenig

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Have the teams that have moved from Sunday to Saturday football kept the same squads?
The distinction between Saturday and Sunday games is mainly a British thing. I cannot think of another country that had such a separation, particularly with one being considered second class.

In your experiences, are any of the Sunday players paid, even on non-contract terms?
This section has always been about London football. Do correspondents in other areas find their situations the same or different?
 

hughesvideo

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In your experiences, are any of the Sunday players paid, even on non-contract terms?
I think it's pretty well-known that 'cash in envelopes from club sponsors/supporters' has been paid to certain players for many years in order to entice Saturday Semi-Pros into playing at the highest levels of Sunday football. Probably more so now than ever before.
That is why I think an official Semi-Pro pyramid system for Sunday League football will come in sooner or later where the same rules & regulations will apply regarding player expenses payments (going through the books) as happens in the Saturday pyramid. Gate receipts as well.
So for example, Step One of Sunday Football could actually be a National Division consisting of FA Sunday Cup regulars, Step Two North & South, then Step 3 regionalised, etc., etc. All playing in stadiums.
Then Step 4-7 Leagues for basic average Sunday League sides playing as they do now on park pitches.

Something like that ? :unsure:

Remember, most Sunday League clubs have no intention of playing on Saturdays. Why should they when most of their players already play for other clubs on Saturdays ?
Another bonus of doing this is that player suspensions do not cross over. If a player gets sent off on a Saturday, he is not suspended for his Sunday team...and vice-versa.
 

hamlet

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Have the teams that have moved from Sunday to Saturday football kept the same squads?
The distinction between Saturday and Sunday games is mainly a British thing. I cannot think of another country that had such a separation, particularly with one being considered second class.

In your experiences, are any of the Sunday players paid, even on non-contract terms?
This section has always been about London football. Do correspondents in other areas find their situations the same or different?
lt certainly happened when l was involved in Essex Senior Sunday Football
 

stevegraze

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In most cases, yes. I can say for e.g. that New Salamis kept the core of their Sunday team together when they moved to Saturday football. In fact several of the players who won the FA Sunday Cup at New Salamis in 2016 are still playing for them on Saturdays in the NLS today (e.g. Ryan Hervel, Rich Georgiou, Deniz Mehmet, Kyri Portou). They experienced some player turnover in the past year (perhaps as a result of having 3 different managers in the space of a few months!). They might actually argue that losing some players from their Sunday squad weakened them. Some of the players who played for their Sunday team are now pros (e.g. Nico Muir who left to join Hartlepool Utd and Alex Addai who went to Cheltenham Town).

Surreptitious "boot money" has been paid to Sunday league players since the days of black and white TV! Such payments are more open in the KOPA (Cypriot) and TCFF (Turkish) Sunday leagues where the top teams are funded by businessmen. e.g. 2019 London champions Dumlupinar being a case in point.

Have the teams that have moved from Sunday to Saturday football kept the same squads?
The distinction between Saturday and Sunday games is mainly a British thing. I cannot think of another country that had such a separation, particularly with one being considered second class.

In your experiences, are any of the Sunday players paid, even on non-contract terms?
This section has always been about London football. Do correspondents in other areas find their situations the same or different?
 

hughesvideo

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Surreptitious "boot money" has been paid to Sunday league players since the days of black and white TV! Such payments are more open in the KOPA (Cypriot) and TCFF (Turkish) Sunday leagues where the top teams are funded by businessmen.
Ah... 'Boot Money'. I knew there was a name for it. :D
Much used by Aris's players when they beat us 6-1 in this match back in 2003...

Match report here: http://www.edmontonrovers.co.uk/pdf/aris15.12.02.pdf

Aris later became known as Tripimeni-Aris and they were on a par with New Salamis in the KOPA League for a time in terms of winning trophies, reaching London Sunday Cup Finals and entering the FA National Sunday Cup. I believe their Manager Steve Cinotti is now Manager of Olympia, who are one of the better teams in the KOPA League at the moment.

Their players openly admitted they were on £100 a man to win this match against us and that they were also training twice a week. The two players who scored hat-tricks for them in this match (Sam Elishi and Anthony Egbinola) were both playing for Cockfosters at Step 5 level at the time, but I'm not sure who the others played for.

We had a 'star-studded' team ourselves back then though...for the only time in our long history.
Marco Ellerker played for the Chertsey Town team that included Kenny Sansom & Ricky Hill back in the mid/late-90's, while Paul Woolston was a regular for Hertford Town at Step 4, John Beasley was at Hemel Hempstead (albeit briefly), Treasure MacCarthy played for Haringey Borough (Step 4) and Stuart Dorward, Conor McGovern & Steve Cokell all played for Hoddesdon Town at Step 5. Hoddesdon were the top team in the 'Molten' ? South Midlands League back then. Steve Cokell was on West Bromwich Albion's books under Graham Roberts before he was released.
One of our other substitutes George Bromfield is better known nowadays as UK soul singer Georgie B. He was previously the lead singer and songwriter for 80's 'Britfunk' group Second Image.

Despite us having all these 'Semi-Pro' players and 'celebrities' playing for us though, we never had the sponsorship/funding to pay them anything. They all paid to play.
Aris were just on a completely different level because of the funding they were getting and they just blew us away ! :oops:
 

stevegraze

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HughesVideo, two things stuck out to me from that clip of your match against Aris:

1) The improvements in Sunday league player muscle mass and athleticism. Sunday league players in the top divisions nowadays are built like cruiserweight boxers. So many of them are muscular, strapping, 6ft + tall specimens. Yet in watching that video from 18 years ago the Aris and Edmonton players looked so …normal. No Ivan Drago type freak-athlete physiques. Just normal looking lads playing football.

2) You certainly do pick them in LFA cups! I think your team ran into Aris when they were at the start of an astonishing 4 year long unbeaten streak in LFA competitions during which they won 4 consecutive LFA cups. After the season you played them, they did not lose an LFA game until Albion Manor beat them 4 years later in October 2006 in a meeting between the LFA Challenge Cup (Aris) and Intermediate Cup (Albion Manor) holders in round 1 of the 2006-07 Challenge Cup. Quite why the LFA allowed the champions of its two top Sunday competitions to meet in round 1 is something of a mystery. It also has echoes of the SE Dons v Dumlupinar (Kent v London champions) fiasco we have discussed in the Challenge Cup thread.

Are these LFA draws truly “random”? Challenge and Intermediate Cup holders, and Kent and London champions facing each other right away (in the latter case twice in a row!) is a bit suspicious…
 

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