A brief history compiled by Ken Clark, League Secretary
with a lot of help from Bill Moss former League Chairman and Treasurer of Abacus Albion F.C.
The S.S.F.L began playing in season 1968 –69 and the intervening years have seen it grow from a single division of ten teams to 50 plus teams split at times into five divisions. The original concept of the league was to provide a game of football for people who, for a variety of reason’s were unable to play on a Saturday, has largely gone to the board now with the demise of Saturday football and some players playing both days.
Some of the people and places involved in the early days are sadly no longer with us. Bob McVeigh, Secretary and Treasurer from its foundation until his retirement in 1984, sadly passed away within a year of handing over. John Johnson took over the reins as League Secretary from Bob in 1984 and his wife Jean became Treasurer and is still Treasurer to date. He also enlisted the help of Ken Clark to look after the appointment of referees for the League.
Bill Moss who was a former Chairman and Vice President for many years until he sadly passed away during season 1998-99 and a trophy bearing his name came into play for season 1999 – 2000. John Johnson stepped down after five years in 1989 and Ken Clark took over the reins as League Secretary and combined this with the referees appointments. However he enlisted the help of Jes Lambert the following season and he has been an ever present since 1990 as Referees Appointments Secretary and also Assistant League Secretary.
The first cup finals were played on the old Stockton F.C ground in Oxbridge and league meetings were held in the adjacent supporters club. The land on which those stood is now a small housing estate. They then moved to Stockton Sports Centre, which in those days had an enclosed pitch, sadly that has gone now although the pitch is still used today. Cup finals these days tend to be played at Norton & Stockton Ancients ground in Station Road Norton.
The league grew out of a group of teams playing friendly matches, in 1967 – 68 season Ray Clark who ran a team from Elta Plastics and was a former workmate of Bob McVeigh, the then Secretary of the original Stockton F.C. Ray asked for Bob’s assistance in forming a league, Bob obtained the necessary paperwork from Durham County Football Association headquarters. A meeting was held and everything they say progressed from there.
The early days were very much a D.I.Y operation, no one had a sponsor: team funds were raised by player’s own efforts and subscriptions. Most games were played with unofficial referees; what officials we could get were allocated to ‘key’ matches, plus of course the cup finals with a full set of three.
The third season saw the league increase to two divisions and was also the season when the ‘Norton Trophy’ was first played for. This was donated by what was the Norton WMC in commemoration of their Jubilee year. The other main landmarks of the league are: season 1976 -77 increased to three divisions: season 1992 – 93 saw an increase in size again to for divisions: season 1999 – 2000 saw an increase to five divisions and this was also the season that the top division became the premier division. At present the league is running with four divisions but the competition is still very healthy.
The League Cup was renamed in season 1990 – 91 after Ian Gorman a former player with Trattles & Rushforth and a new trophy was purchased in a joint venture between the Stockton Sunday League, Trattles & Rushforth F.C and Trattles & Rushworth themselves. The first winners were Fairfield Sports & Social Club.
In season 1996 -97 we saw the introduction of the Stephen Wells Memorial Trophy in honour of a former player of the league who was tragically killed. Also as previously mentioned the Bill Moss Memorial Trophy was introduced in season 1999 – 2000, the first season it was played for as a cup competition for the fourth division teams, then the following season it was used as a major cup competition.
In season 1992 -93 the League Secretary Ken Clark introduced a Good Conduct scheme based on a teams all round performance on and off the field of play. This was to encourage teams and officials to do things right. Any money raised form these additional fines would be paid back to those teams who performed well as agreed by the Management Committee. The first winners were S.B.T.C F.C and they even retained the title the following year. It is not unknown for nearly a £1000 to be raised and distributed amongst teams, however over the past the average has been about £700 per season.
The league purchased in new trophy in season 2005 – 2006 for the Premier League winners and this was named after Mark Burns a former player and secretary of the Lord Nelson until their resignation in season 2003 – 2004, Mark was tragically killed in Stockton town centre.
The league has been on a sound financial footing since it’s inception, due in the early years to sources of income additional to the clubs fees and fines!
• Commission on the sale of Stockton F.C weekly lottery tickets.
• A yearly prize draw held in conjunction with the sale of league cup final tickets.
Thanks to those people in the early days and the work of the Management Committee over the years the league is in a very healthy position!
THE FOUNDER MEMBERS OF THE STOCKTON SUNDAY LEAGUE
Nucleus of team was from the accounts department of Power Gas Corporation in Bowesfield Lane Stockton.
A firm situated in Yarm Road Stockton.
A group of employees of Accountants and Solicitors in Finkle Street Stockton.
Local firm (now defunct).
The garage/car saleroom in Fairfield Stockton.
TEES PLUMBING & HEATING
Local firm (now defunct).
TRATTLES & RUSHFORTH
Electrical contractors in Oxbridge Lane Stockton.
An engineering firm formerly at Urlay Nook Yarm.
A group similar to Finkle, their name was from the surname initials of their principal members.
A garage/car saleroom formerly on the site now occupied by Kwikfit in Yarm Lane Stockton.