History of the Western League
Western League Badge.The Western Football League was formed in 1892, and was then a Bristol based league. Indeed, the League badge is based on the coat of arms of the City of Bristol.
In the first half of the 20th Century the League enjoyed mixed fortunes, but for the past 60 or more years has been recognised as the strongest of the south western based leagues. The establishment of a clearly defined pyramid system of promotion for clubs gave all member clubs a clear and achievable route to the Football League. It is recognised that the clubs who win promotion from the League have facilities in excess of the grading requirements, and in recent years the promoted clubs have established themselves well in the higher league.
Clubs in membership over the years have included the reserve teams of all of the Football League clubs in the area but with a change of rules brought in by The FA there are now none. No reserve team may operate at a level above Step 7 of the National League System and The Western League Premier Division is at Step 5 with the First Division at Step 6.
Four seasons ago The Football Association took on the responsibility for match official appointing for all Contributory Leagues, which led to the League losing its Match Officials Officer. Then, within two years with the reorganisation of non league football, the First Division was re-designated as a Supply League in the refereeing structure, which meant that a Match Officials Officer was once again required to deal with that division.
Over the seasons the standard of play within the League enabled many referees to gain experience and to progress to higher levels, and local referees who became FIFA officials acknowledged that they were able to hone their skills within the Western League, to provide the opportunity to operate successfully on the international scene.
The Western League has led the way in attracting sponsorship and when Rothmans became involved in non league football as sponsors it was the Western League that they chose to support in the south. Since that groundbreaking deal the League officers have been successful in gaining financial backing from south west based businesses.
Great Mills Warehouse, then a well known DIY retail chain, became main sponsors in the early 1980's only to step away when the company was taken over.
Screwfix Direct Ltd were in the early years of trading when they stepped in with the offer of a three year deal, which lasted for 11 years, again brought to an end because the company was taken over.
Current sponsors, Toolstation Ltd, broke the previous record for Western League sponsorship, and probably for any league at the same level, and are now in the seventh year of a long term deal with member clubs enjoying the benefits of increased prize money, free matchballs and reduced membership fees.
Western League website: www.toolstationleague.com