Northern Football League

The Northern League is a men's football league in north east England for semi-professional and amateur teams. Having been founded in 1889, it is the second-oldest football league in the world still in existence after the English Football League.

Northern League
DivisionsDivision One
Division Two
Number of teams44
Level on pyramidLevels 9 and 10
Feeder toNorthern Premier League
Division One East or West
Domestic cup(s)Northern League Challenge Cup
Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup
J.R. Cleator Cup
Current championsDunston UTS (Division One)
Billingham Town (Division Two)
WebsiteEbac Northern League

It contains two divisions; Division One and Division Two. Division One sits on the ninth tier of the English football league system, five divisions below the Football League. These leagues cover County Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, northern Cumbria and the northern half of North Yorkshire.

The champion club of Division One is promoted to the lower division of the Northern Premier League.


The Northern league was one of many leagues formed the year after the Football League. In its first season, it consisted of ten clubs that were a mixture of professional and amateur organisations. During its early years, the competition included clubs such as Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Darlington that would go on to play in the Football League. In 1905, the league split into two divisions, one professional and one amateur. The next year, however, the Northern League made the decision to abolish the professional division and restrict itself to amateur clubs, or at least clubs that claimed to be amateur.

Between the World Wars and in the early years following World War II, the Northern League's amateur status meant that they and, their equivalent in the London area, the Isthmian League dominated the old FA Amateur Cup. The two Leagues continued to be separate from the professional game which was dominated by the Football League, Southern League and, from 1968, the Northern Premier League.

The Northern League and Isthmian League (with its feeder leagues) continued to claim amateur status right up until, following pressure, amateur status was abandoned by the Football Association in 1974. This left amateur leagues like the Northern to find a place in the overall structure of non-League football. Unlike its southern equivalent the Isthmian League who became a feeder to the Alliance Premier League in 1982, the Northern League rejected repeated invitations. Ultimately, the Northern League remained out of the football pyramid until 1991. The league declined throughout the 1980s as its leading clubs defected to other leagues within the football pyramid, such as the Northern Counties East Football League. When the Northern League finally joined the pyramid, it was as a feeder league to the lower division of the Northern Premier League (Level 9).

Since 1995, Northern League clubs have competed for the FA Vase, with some success, having won 10 finals.

The League had an unusual sponsorship deal put in place by Brooks Mileson, owner of the Albany Group, who were its sponsors in 2003. In that year, Mileson announced that he had created a trust which would continue to sponsor the league throughout his lifetime and that of his sons. In 2008, however, the league announced that this sponsorship had come to an end, and it held a raffle to determine its next sponsor. Interested parties were invited to buy a stake in the raffle for £250. The winning stake was held by a local training company and the league was known as the skilltrainingltd Northern League from the 2008–09 season until the 2011–12 season.[1] The league is currently sponsored by dehumidifier manufacturer Ebac.[2]

Level 11 clubs from the North Riding Football League, Northern Football Alliance and Wearside Football League may apply for promotion into the Northern League's (level 10) Second Division.

Current members


Originally the league comprised a single division. The champions were as follows:[3]

Season Champions
1889–90Darlington St. Augustine's
1890–91Middlesbrough Ironopolis
1891–92Middlesbrough Ironopolis
1892–93Middlesbrough Ironopolis

In 1897, the league briefly split into two divisions.[3][4][5][6]

Season Division One Division Two
1898–99Bishop AucklandStockton St. John's

In 1900, the league reverted to a single division.[3]

Season Champions
1900–01Bishop Auckland
1901–02Bishop Auckland
1902–03Newcastle United A
1903–04Newcastle United A
1904–05Newcastle United A

In 1905 the league split into two sections, one for professionals and one for amateurs. This lasted for a single season.[3]

Season Professional Amateur
1905–06Sunderland ABishop Auckland

In 1906 the league reverted to a single division, a format retained until 1982.[3]

Season Champions
1907–08South Bank
1908–09Bishop Auckland
1909–10Bishop Auckland
1910–11Eston United
1911–12Bishop Auckland
1912–13Esh Winning Rangers[7]
1914–15Crook Town
1915–19Not contested due to World War I
1919–20South Bank
1920–21Bishop Auckland
1921–22South Bank
1922–23Eston United
1923–24Tow Law Town
1924–25Tow Law Town
1926–27Crook Town
1927–28Chilton Colliery Recreation Athletic
1930–31Bishop Auckland
1937–38Ferryhill Athletic
1938–39Bishop Auckland
1940–45Not contested due to World War II
1945–46Stanley United
1946–47Bishop Auckland
1947–48Ferryhill Athletic
1948–49Evenwood Town
1949–50Bishop Auckland
1950–51Bishop Auckland
1951–52Bishop Auckland
1952–53Crook Town
1953–54Bishop Auckland
1954–55Bishop Auckland
1955–56Bishop Auckland
1956–57Billingham Synthonia
1957–58Ferryhill Athletic
1958–59Crook Town
1959–60West Auckland Town
1960–61West Auckland Town
1961–62Stanley United
1962–63Crook Town
1963–64Stanley United
1964–65Whitley Bay
1965–66Whitley Bay
1966–67Bishop Auckland
1967–68Spennymoor United
1968–69North Shields
1969–70Evenwood Town
1970–71Evenwood Town
1971–72Spennymoor United
1972–73Blyth Spartans
1973–74Spennymoor United
1974–75Blyth Spartans
1975–76Blyth Spartans
1976–77Spennymoor United
1977–78Spennymoor United
1978–79Spennymoor United
1979–80Blyth Spartans
1980–81Blyth Spartans
1981–82Blyth Spartans

In 1982 the league added a second division.[3]

Season Division One Division Two
1982–83Blyth SpartansPeterlee Newtown
1983–84Blyth SpartansChester-le-Street Town
1984–85Bishop AucklandBrandon United
1985–86Bishop AucklandNewcastle Blue Star
1986–87Blyth SpartansBillingham Synthonia
1987–88Blyth SpartansStockton
1988–89Billingham SynthoniaConsett
1989–90Billingham SynthoniaMurton
1990–91GretnaWest Auckland Town
1992–93Whitby TownDunston Federation Brewery
1993–94Durham CityBedlington Terriers
1994–95Tow Law TownWhickham
1995–96Billingham SynthoniaMorpeth Town
1996–97Whitby TownNorthallerton
1997–98Bedlington TerriersChester-le-Street Town
1998–99Bedlington TerriersDurham City
1999–2000Bedlington TerriersBrandon United
2000–01Bedlington TerriersAshington
2001–02Bedlington TerriersShildon
2002–03Brandon UnitedPenrith
2003–04Dunston Federation BreweryAshington
2004–05Dunston Federation BreweryWest Allotment Celtic
2005–06Newcastle Blue StarConsett
2006–07Whitley BaySpennymoor Town
2007–08Durham CityPenrith Town
2008–09Newcastle BenfieldHorden Colliery Welfare
2009–10Spennymoor TownStokesley
2010–11Spennymoor TownNewton Aycliffe
2011–12Spennymoor TownTeam Northumbria
2012–13Darlington 1883Crook Town
2013–14Spennymoor TownNorth Shields
2014–15Marske UnitedSeaham Red Star
2015–16ShildonSouth Shields
2016–17South ShieldsStockton Town
2017–18Marske UnitedBlyth
2018–19Dunston UTSBillingham Town

League Cup

Season Winner Score Runners–up Venue Notes
1923-24Cockfield3–1Ferryhill AthleticBishop Auckland[8]
1924-25Willington2–0Ferryhill AthleticBishop Auckland[8][9]
1925-26Willington2–0Crook TownBishop Auckland[8][9]
1926-27Stockton1–1Bishop AucklandCrook[8][10]
1926-27(R)Stockton0–0Bishop AucklandBishop Auckland[8][10]
1926-27(R2)Stockton1–1Bishop AucklandStockton[8][10]
1926-27(R3)Stockton3–0Bishop AucklandCrook[8][10]
1927-28Willington1–1Chilton Colliery RABishop Auckland[8][9]
1927-28(R)Willington3–2Chilton Colliery RAChilton[8][9]
1928-29Whitby United2–1Chilton Colliery RAStockton[8][11]
1929-30Stockton4–2Ferryhill AthleticBishop Auckland[8][10]
1930-31Willington3–1Chilton Colliery RABishop Auckland[8][9]
1931-32Willington2–2Whitby UnitedBishop Auckland[8][9]
1931-32(R)Willington2–2Whitby UnitedStockton[8][9]
1932-33Stockton2–0WillingtonBishop Auckland[8][10]
1933-34Shildon3–1Bishop AucklandShildon[8][12]
1934-35Shildon2–1Chilton Colliery RABishop Auckland[8][12]
1935-36Evenwood Town3–2Trimdon GrangeBishop Auckland[8]
1936-37Crook Town2–2Bishop AucklandShildon[8]
1936-37(R)Crook Town2–1Bishop AucklandWillington[8]
1937-38Shildon1–0CockfieldBishop Auckland[8][12]
1938-39Shildon2–0Ferryhill AthleticBishop Auckland[8][12]
1939-40Shildon2–0Bishop AucklandShildon[8][12]
1945-46Crook Colliery Welfare2–1Bishop AucklandShildon[8]
1946-47Stanley United3–1ShildonFerryhill[8]
1947-48South Bank3–1Tow Law TownBishop Auckland[8][13]
1948-49Willington4–2West Auckland TownBishop Auckland[8][9]
1949-50Bishop Auckland3–1ShildonBishop Auckland[8][14]
1950-51Bishop Auckland6–2Ferryhill AthleticShildon[8][14]
1951-52Billingham Synthonia1–1Tow Law TownBishop Auckland[8]
1951-52(R)Billingham Synthonia1–0Tow Law TownBishop Auckland[8]
1952-53Shildon3–3Evenwood TownBishop Auckland[8][12]
1952-53(R)Shildon3–2Evenwood TownBishop Auckland[8][12]
1953-54Bishop Auckland4–1ShildonBishop Auckland[8][14]
1954-55Bishop Auckland6–0Crook TownCrook[8][14]
1955-56South Bank2–0Bishop AucklandCrook[8][13]
1956-57Willington3–0Evenwood TownBishop Auckland[8][9]
1957-58Stanley United2–1Durham CityBishop Auckland[8]
1958-59West Auckland Town7–0Crook TownShildon[8]
1959-60Bishop Auckland1–0PenrithShildon[8][14]
1960-61Crook Town2–0Bishop AucklandCrook[8]
1961-62Stanley United5–1West Auckland TownShildon[8]
1962-63West Auckland Town4–0Crook TownShildon[8]
1963-64Whitby Town2–0West Auckland TownShildon[8][11]
1964-65Whitley Bay1–1Spennymoor UnitedNorth Shields[8]
1964-65(R)Whitley Bay3–1Spennymoor UnitedNorth Shields[8]
1965-66Spennymoor United2–1PenrithShildon[8]
1966-67Bishop Auckland4–0Tow Law TownSpennymoor[8][14]
1967-68Spennymoor United0–0Whitley BayCrook[8]
1967-68(R)Spennymoor United3–2Whitley BayNorth Shields[8]
1968-69North Shields2–0Tow Law TownSpennymoor[8]
1969-70Whitby Town4–1Spennymoor UnitedSouth Bank[8][11]
1970-71Whitley Bay4–1North ShieldsBlyth[8]
1971-72North Shields0–0Spennymoor UnitedBlyth[8]
1971-72(R)North Shields2–1Spennymoor UnitedFerryhill[8]
1972-73Blyth Spartans2–0Spennymoor UnitedSpennymoor[8]
1973-74Tow Law Town2–1AshingtonCrook[8]
1974-75Willington2–1Bishop AucklandSpennymoor[8][9]
1975-76Bishop Auckland2–1AshingtonBlyth[8][14]
1976-77Whitby Town3–1Durham CitySpennymoor[8]
1977-78Blyth Spartans5–1WillingtonNorth Shields[8]
1978-79Blyth Spartans4–3ConsettSpennymoor[8]
1979-80Spennymoor United2–1North ShieldsConsett[8]
1980-81Spennymoor United2–0ConsettBlyth[8]
1981-82Blyth Spartans*1–1South BankBishop Auckland[8]*2–1(pens)
1982-83Norton & Stockton Ancients2–1Whitby TownHorden[8]
1983-84Horden Colliery Welfare2–0Blyth SpartansNorth Shields[8]
1984-85Whitby Town2–1North ShieldsSpennymoor[8][11]
1985-86Blue Star2–0Durham CitySpennymoor[8]
1986-87Spennymoor United2–1Easington CollieryShildon[8]
1987-88Billingham Synthonia2–1ShildonSpennymoor[8]
1988-89Guisborough Town2–1Tow Law TownSpennymoor[8]
1989-90Billingham Synthonia5–2Whitby TownGuisborough[8]
1990-91Gretna1–0Newcastle Blue StarNewcastle (Blue Star)[8]
1991-92Blyth Spartans1–0ConsettMurton[8]
1992-93Seaham Red Star*2–2Brandon UnitedBillingham (Town)[8]*3–0 (pens)
1993-94Northallerton Town2–0Blyth SpartansBrandon[8]
1994-95Consett2–0Whitby TownCrook[8]
1995-96Whitby Town1–0Dunston Fed BreweryBillingham (Synthonia)[8][11]
1996-97Bedlington Terriers3–0Billingham SynthoniaDunston[8]
1997-98Dunston Fed Brewery3–2Tow Law TownDurham[15]
1998-99Dunston Fed Brewery4–1Jarrow RoofingPeterlee[15]
1999-00Dunston Fed Brewery4–0Durham CityJarrow[15]
2000-01Bedlington Terriers4–1Marske UnitedWest Auckland[15]
2001-02Durham City*3–2ShildonDurham[15] aet *gg
2002-03Shildon*3–2Billingham SynthoniaDarlington (Feethams)[12][15] aet *gg
2003-04Dunston Fed Brewery*2–1Durham CityWhitley Bay[15] aet *gg
2004-05Bedlington Terriers*2–2Dunston Fed BreweryDurham[15]*7–6(pens)
2005-06Newcastle Blue Star1–0Dunston Fed BreweryDurham City[15] aet
2006-07Newcastle Benfield1–0Sunderland NissanDunston[15]
2007-08Billingham Town2–1ShildonSeaham[15]
2008-09Newcastle Benfield2–0West Allotment CelticWest Allotment[15]
2009-10South Shields*2–2AshingtonDunston[15]*6–5 (pens)
2010-11Newcastle Benfield3–1Spennymoor TownDunston[15] aet
2011-12Team Northumbria4–1West Auckland TownNewcastle (Coach Lane)[15]
2012-13Spennymoor Town1–0Newcastle BenfieldConsett[15]
2013-14Marske United2–1Whitley BayNewcastle (St.James' Park)[15] aet
2014-15Shildon2–0Newton AycliffeBishop Auckland[15]
2015-16Shildon*1–1Marske UnitedBillingham (Synthonia)[15]*4–3 (pens)
2016-17South Shields5–0North ShieldsWhitley Bay[15]
2017-18Dunston UTS1–0Bishop AucklandConsett[16]
  • gg = Golden Goal


  1. Anthony Vickers (8 August 2008). "League's new name". Evening Gazette. Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  2. Steve Brown (4 June 2012). "The Northern League has a new sponsor – County Durham-based dehumidifier manufacturer Ebac Ltd". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  3. "England – Northern League". RSSSF. 7 February 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  4. "HOWDEN-LE-WEAR". Football Club History Database. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  5. "STOCKTON ST JOHN'S". Football Club History Database. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  6. "WHITBY". Football Club History Database. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  7. "ESH WINNING RANGERS". Football Club History Database. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  8. Hunt, Brian (2000). Northern Goalfields Revisited, A Millennium History of the Northern Football League. pp. 514–15. ISBN 1897585578.
  9. "Willington AFC, Club Details". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  10. D.Dale & P.Livingstone. "Stockton Football Club, Giants of the Amateur Game". Archived from the original on 26 September 2007.
  11. "Whitby Town FC Club History". Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  12. "Shildon AFC, Club History". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  13. "South Bank Football Club, History". Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  14. "Bishop Auckland AFC, History". Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  15. "Northern League Official Website (Archive)". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  16. "Fixtures/Results 1718". Northern League. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
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