Fascinating Facts: Northern and Southern leagues

Royce Franklin

Royce Franklin, a life member of the Association of Football Statisticians, digs up yet more fascinating facts about football.

Last month I referred to the formation of the Third Division Northern and Southern Sections for the 1921-2 season.

Initially the former comprised 20 clubs, the latter 22.The Northern Section was increased to 22 in 1923. The two divisions were increased by a further two clubs from the 1950/51 season.

The divisions lasted until 1958 when Divisions Three and Four were formed by splitting the top and bottom halves from both the north and south sections to form the present-day structure.

With the break for the Second World War, the northern section lasted 30 seasons.

There was only one place for promotion from both sections each season. With no automatic relegation out of the league, it is not surprising, therefore, during those 30 years, eight clubs were members throughout: Accrington Stanley, Barrow, Crewe, Halifax, Hartlepools United, Rochdale, Southport and Wrexham. Additionally, New Brighton, who were one of the two clubs to join in 1923, were members for the remaining 28 years.

Four of those eight permanent clubs are no longer in the Football League: Barrow, Halifax, Southport and Wrexham.

Other teams associated with the town or city bearing their name who were members at some stage but are no longer Football League members are: Ashington, Bradford Park Avenue, Chester, Darlington, Durham City, Grimsby Town, Lincoln City, Nelson, South Shields (Gateshead from 1930), Stalybridge Celtic, Stockport County, Wigan Borough (resigned from the league during 1931/32 season) and Workington.

Five teams were one-season wonders: Bury 1957/58, the league’s last season after relegation from the old second division; Coventry City 1925/26 relegated in 1925 they were transferred to the southern section the following year; Shrewsbury Town (elected to the league in 1950/51 transferred to south division after only one year); Wolverhampton Wanderers 1922/23 and Stoke City 1926/27 when they finished as champions after relegation the previous year.