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Football: Early history in brief

The history of football is not as clear as some would imagine. Variations of the game appear to have been played around the world for centuries, prior to England’s Football Association being formed in 1863.

There are accounts of some forms of the game having been played in China more than 1,000 years ago, although it would have looked like rather a different sport to that which we’re used to today. Early versions of the game were often somewhat violent and we know that, in London, to take one example, there were periods when the game was banned.

The game that we know today eventually emerged, it is widely agreed, from the British Isles. In reality, there were immense variations from one region to the next and we can see how multiple forms of the game emerged and persist to this day with the likes of Gaelic football, rugby union, rugby league and association football itself.

But there were even variations when it came to the rules of the game that we now know and love as being football. Even once the rules were finally agreed in 1863, there were still local differences. So, to take one example, the ball itself would have been of varying sizes and weights, depending upon where the match was to be played. Similarly, there was no agreed duration of a match until later.

In 1872, the first organised football cup competition was to take place. Known as the Football Association (FA) Cup, it remains in operation and is rightly cherished. The league championship commenced in 1888 and was, rather fittingly, first won by a Lancashire team: Preston North End. It’s not surprising that football remains such a key sport in this county.

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About the Mid Lancashire Football League

The Mid Lancashire Football League is an affiliated league of the Lancashire Football Association. For the 2018/19 season, there are three divisions in operation, divided as follows:

Premier Division

AFC Anderton
Standish St Wilfrids
Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs
Bolton United
Chipping
Anchorsholme
Preston Wanderers
Eccleston & Heskin

Division One

Hoole United
New Longton Rovers
Walmer Bridge
FC Bolton
Springfields
Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs Reserves
Tarleton Corinthians
Wilbraham

Division Two

Fleetwood Hesketh Herald
Walton Le dale
Standish St Wilfrids Reserves
Astley
Anchorsholme Reserves
Wesham
Newman College Reserves
Walmer Bridge Reserves

In season 2017/18, The Premier Division was won by Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs, with the runners-up spot having been gained by Bolton United.

Meanwhile, in Division One, the champions were Anchorsholme. Runners up in Division One were Freckleton.

Division Two brought triumph for AFC Sherwood, with second place going to Appley Bridge. The season also saw a Third Division in operation, with the title there going to Tarleton Corinthians.

The Guildhall Cup competition was won by Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs, allowing them to complete a league and cup double. The runners-up in the cup competition were Preston Wanderers. This was the second season in succession that Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs managed to do the double. Their league title was sealed with a 3-0 away win at struggling Hoole United.

The 2017/18 cup final between Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs and Preston Wanderers turned out to be a surprisingly one-sided affair, with Preston Wanderers beaten 8-1 on the day. A Darren Brookfield hat-trick helped the eventual winners on their way.

The competition that is now known as the Mid Lancashire Football League was originally founded as the Preston & District League, starting life back in 1891.

The list of recent winners (Premier Division only) is shown below:

2018 – Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs
2017 – Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs
2016 – Southport & Ainsdale Amateurs
2015 – Preston Wanderers
2014 – Fulwood White Hart
2013 – Green Town
2012 – Leyland United
2011 – Burscough Richmond
2010 – Appley Bridge
2009 – Longridge Town
2008 – Preston Wanderers
2007 – Southport Trinity
2006 – Southport Trinity
2005 – Burscough Richmond
2004 – Southport Trinity
2003 – Burscough Richmond
2002 – Burscough Richmond
2001 – Samlesbury Brewery
2000 – Burscough Richmond
1999 – Whitbread Samlesbury
1998 – Burscough Richmond
1997 – Shake Vaults
1996 – Burscough Richmond
1995 – Burscough Richmond
1994 – Lonsdale
1993 – Lancashire Constabulary
1992 – Lancashire Constabulary
1991 – Lancashire Constabulary