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The West Midlands (Regional) League is a competition for semi-professional and amateur teams based in the West Midlands, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and South Staffordshire. It has three divisions, the highest of which is the Premier Division, which sits at step 6 of the National League System, or the tenth level of the overall English football league system.

The league was formed in 1889 as the Birmingham & District League to cater for teams in Birmingham and the surrounding area, but soon became established as one of the strongest leagues outside the Football League itself, with teams from as far afield as Bristol and Wales taking part. After the Second World War it absorbed the rival Birmingham Combination to become firmly established as the leading league in the area, but a gradual decline in its status began in the late 1950s and it now operates at a much lower level than in its heyday. The league currently acts as a feeder to the Midland Football Alliance, to which one or more teams are promoted each season. Approximately fifty teams compete in the league each season, with new members regularly joining from smaller local leagues.
 
In the late 1880s, Birmingham and the surrounding region boasted many of the country's strongest football teams. Six of the region's leading clubs joined the first two national leagues set up in England, the Football League and the Football Alliance, but there were still many teams in the area keen to participate in league play. On 31 May 1889 a meeting took place at Birmingham's Grand Hotel with the view to forming a Birmingham & District League. A total of 17 clubs were invited but only 13 attended, of which 12 were selected to form the new league, to commence play in the 1889–90 season. The one club which sent a representative to the meeting but was not invited to take part in the league, for unknown reasons, was Worcester Rovers.

The 12 clubs competing in the league's inaugural season were Aston Victoria, Great Bridge Unity, Hednesford Town, Ironbridge, Kidderminster Harriers, Kidderminster Olympic, Langley Green Victoria, Oldbury Town, Smethwick Carriage Works, Unity Gas Department, Wellington St George's, and Willenhall Pickwick. Although Kidderminster Olympic topped the final table, no championship was awarded as a number of fixtures had not been completed. This situation was to be repeated in each of the subsequent two seasons, in both of which Brierley Hill Alliance, who had joined the league for its second season, topped the table but did not win the title. The early years of the league also saw new teams joining and existing ones dropping out almost every season, but once the league's structure settled down, it came to be regarded as one of the strongest leagues outside the Football League itself, rivalled only by the Southern League and the Midland League.

Despite the league's name, in the years prior to the First World War it came to include teams from as far afield as Bristol, Wrexham and Crewe, as well as including the reserve teams of local Football League clubs. A number of clubs which had enjoyed success in the Birmingham Combination also joined the league, which was seen as a step up to a better standard of football. The league's large coverage area began to create problems in the 1930s, however, as many clubs found the long and costly journeys to away matches difficult, and began to drop out in favour of playing in leagues which covered smaller areas. In 1938, Bangor City, Worcester City, Wellington Town and the reserve teams of Cardiff City and Wrexham all resigned from the league, reducing the numbers so much that instead of the usual format the organising committee decided to run two separate competitions each lasting for half of the 1938–39 season, the first named the Keys Cup and the second the League Cup. By the time competitive football was abandoned in 1939 due to the outbreak of the Second World War, the rival Birmingham Combination, which had not chosen to accept teams from such a wide area, had consolidated and come to be regarded as the region's top league
Post-war years

Although the league lost further clubs to the Combination, which was quicker to re-start after the war, within a few years the League had regained its position of pre-eminence in the region, increasing to almost twice its pre-war size. During the 1952–53 season the League's committee proposed a merger of the two competitions, but the Combination rejected the idea, whereupon the Combination's six best teams all resigned and joined the League. The Combination's committee then attempted to re-open the merger talks but, having just bolstered its ranks with six new members, the League was not interested. A year later, all of the Combination's 14 remaining clubs, with the exception of West Bromwich Albion's 'A' (third) team, left to join the League, which effectively absorbed its former rival. The 40 member clubs were split into Northern and Southern divisions, which a year later were re-arranged into Divisions One and Two, with promotion and relegation taking place between the two.

At the end of the 1957–58 season, Burton Albion and Nuneaton Borough left to join an expanding Southern League, followed a year later by Hinckley Athletic. In an attempt to consolidate the league decided to expel all remaining reserve teams, reducing to a single division of 22 clubs. Four years later it changed its name to the West Midlands (Regional) League to more accurately reflect its catchment area, which now included very few teams from Birmingham or its immediate environs. For the 1965–66 season the league was able to revert to a two-division structure when it rebranded its existing single division the Premier Division and added a new Division One. By 1976, a steady flow of teams joining from smaller regional leagues led to Division One being split into Divisions One (A) and One (B), revised a year later to Divisions One and Two.
Modern era

The Alliance Premier League was formed in 1979, pushing the Regional League further down the English football league system. Successful Regional League clubs such as Bilston Town, Hednesford Town and Halesowen Town began applying to, and being accepted into, the Southern League, reducing the Regional League to the status of a feeder league, although their departures continued to be offset by a flow of new members from lower-level leagues. Reflecting the demographics of the West Midlands area, a number of British Asian teams joined the league, including Sikh Hunters, England's first ever all-Sikh team. At the same time the catchment areas of the Regional League and the Midland Football Combination were increasingly converging, and by the early 1990s the standard of play and geographical coverage of the two competitions were considered to be almost identical. A new competition was formed in 1994 to cater for the best clubs previously split across the two leagues, and thus the Regional League lost ten of its member clubs to the new Midland Football Alliance, further reducing its own status.

The reduction in numbers forced the league to revert to a two-division structure, but within two seasons numbers had grown again to the extent that Division One was split into Divisions One (North) and One (South) for the 1996–97 season, a format retained until 2004 when the two Division Ones were re-organised into Division One and Division Two. Although the league now operates at a level much below that which it occupied in its heyday it continues to survive and holds the distinction, jointly with the Northern League, of being the second oldest football league in existence, behind only the Football League itself.

Structure

Under the terms of a sponsorship deal, the league is currently known as the FTL Futbol West Midlands (Regional) League. Previous sponsors include the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star newspaper, and Black Country brewery Banks's. In the 2009–10 season 53 teams are competing in the league, comprising 21 in the Premier Division, 18 in Division One and 14 in Division Two. Some of the teams in the lower two divisions are reserve teams of clubs playing at a higher level.  Each division is contested on a double round-robin basis, with each team playing each of the other teams in the division once at home and once away. Three points are awarded for a win (increased from two with effect from the 1988–89 season), one for a draw and zero for a defeat. Goal difference is used to separate teams on the same points, having replaced goal average at the start of the 1978–79 season.

Since the 1994–95 season the Regional League, along with the Midland Football Combination, has served as one of the two official feeders to the Midland Football Alliance. The highest-placed team which meets the Alliance's entry requirements is promoted to the Alliance, and one or more teams may be relegated into the Regional League from the Alliance depending on the number of clubs remaining in each league. Prior to the 2006–07 season, the league was defined as a step 7 league within the National League System, even though it fed into the Alliance, which is graded as step 5. In 2006 the Regional League was re-graded by the Football Association as a step 6 league.  Teams in the top two divisions are eligible to take part in the FA Cup and FA Vase as long as their grounds meet the required standards.

Since the formation of the Midland Alliance, the Regional League has accepted applications for membership from successful teams in smaller local leagues within its catchment area. Leagues whose clubs have joined the Regional League include the Shropshire County League, the Herefordshire League, the Wolverhampton Combination, and the Kidderminster & District League. Several ambitious local Sunday league teams have also switched to Saturday play and entered the league. Bewdley Town, Bromyard Town and Ellesmere Rangers have all joined from county leagues since 1994 and subsequently gone on to gain promotion to the Premier Division. Regional League teams could also theoretically be relegated to the local leagues but in practice this almost never happens. The only teams in recent history to drop down to a county league have been Leominster Town, Kington Town and Hinton, who dropped down to the Herefordshire League in 2004, 2006 and 2007 respectively, although all three clubs resigned voluntarily in favour of playing in a more local league as opposed to being relegated due to finishing at the bottom of the table.
 
Attendance

At one time the league attracted large crowds for matches, with 3,000 spectators watching a match between Coventry City and Shrewsbury Town in 1899. By the early 1960s, despite the league's decline in status, Kidderminster Harriers were still able to attract crowds of around 1,000 fans for home matches. In the modern era, however, crowds are much smaller. In the 1993–94 season Rocester averaged around 100 fans for home games, and several of the team's away matches drew crowds of less than 40. Attendance figures are not currently published for league fixtures, however in the FA Vase in the 2005–06 season home attendances for Regional League teams averaged around 50, with only Wellington's match against Alvechurch of the Midland Alliance drawing over 100 spectators


    Brmngham & Dist League        
Season   Champions        
1889–90   no championship awarded        
1890–91   no championship awarded        
1891–92   no championship awarded        
1892–93   Wolverhampton Wndrs Res        
1893–94   Old Hill Wanderers        
1894–95   Aston Villa Res        
1895–96   Aston Villa Res        
1896–97   Hereford Thistle        
1897–98   Wolverhampton Wndrs Res        
1898–99   Wolverhampton Wndrs Res        
1899–00   Aston Villa Res        
1900–01   Wolverhampton Wndrs Res        
1901–02   West Bromwich Albion Res        
1902–03   Aston Villa Res        
1903–04   Aston Villa Res        
1904–05   Aston Villa Res        
1905–06   Aston Villa Res        
1906–07   Aston Villa Res        
1907–08   Aston Villa Res        
1908–09   Aston Villa Res        
1909–10   Aston Villa Res        
1910–11   Stoke        
1911–12   Aston Villa Res        
1912–13   West Bromwich Albion Res        
1913–14   Worcester City        
1914–15   Birmingham Res        
1919–20   West Bromwich Albion Res        
1920–21   Wellington Town        
1921–22   Willenhall        
1922–23   Shrewsbury Town        
1923–24   Stourbridge        
1924–25   Worcester City        
1925–26   Cradley Heath        
1926–27   Stafford Rangers        
1927–28   Burton Town        
1928–29   Worcester City        
1929–30   Worcester City        
1930–31   Cradley Heath        
1931–32   Cradley Heath        
1932–33   Wrexham Res        
1933–34   Wrexham Res        
1934–35   Wellington Town        
1935–36   Wellington Town        
1936–37   Bristol Rovers        
1937–38   Kidderminster Harriers        
1938–39   Kidderminster Harriers        
1946–47   Halesowen Town        
1947–48   Kettering Town        
1948–49   Worcester City Res        
1949–50   Hereford United Res        
1950–51   Brierley Hill Alliance        
1951–52   Brierley Hill Alliance        
1952–53   Oswestry Town        
1953–54   Wolverhampton Wndrs 'A'        
    Northern Section   Southern Section    
1954–55   Nuneaton Borough   Redditch United    
1955–56   Nuneaton Borough   Tamworth    
1956–57   Walsall Res   Bilston    
1957–58   Wolverhampton Wndrs 'A'   Oswestry Town    
1958–59   Wolverhampton Wndrs 'A'   Birmingham City 'A'    
1959–60   Bromsgrove Rovers   Aston Villa 'A'    
1960–61   Bilston        
1961–62   Lockheed Leamington        
             
    WMRL        
             
1962–63   Lockheed Leamington        
1963–64   Tamworth        
1964–65   Kidderminster Harriers        
Season   Premier Division   Division One    
1965–66   Tamworth   Wrockwardine Wood    
1966–67   Boston United   Tamworth Res    
1967–68   Boston United   Warley    
1968–69   Kidderminster Harriers   Wrockwardine Wood    
1969–70   Kidderminster Harriers   Warley County Borough    
1970–71   Kidderminster Harriers   Brereton Social    
1971–72   Tamworth   Warley County Borough    
1972–73   Bilston   Tividale    
1973–74   Alvechurch   Armitage    
1974–75   Alvechurch   Staffordshire Police    
1975–76   Alvechurch   Willenhall Town    
    Premier Division   Division One (A)   Division One (B)
1976–77   Alvechurch   Wednesfield Social   Wolverhampton United
    Premier Division   Division One   Division Two
1977–78   Hednesford Town   Chasetown   Worcester City Res
1978–79   Willenhall Town   Shifnal Town   Ludlow Town
1979–80   Sutton Coldfield Town   Rushall Olympic   Brewood
1980–81   Shifnal Town   Oldswinford   Bromsgrove Rovers Res
1981–82   Shifnal Town   Atherstone United   GKN Sankey
1982–83   Halesowen Town   Brewood   Great Wyrley
1983–84   Halesowen Town   Tipton Town   Halesowen Town Res
1984–85   Halesowen Town   Harrisons   Halesowen Harriers
1985–86   Halesowen Town   Halesowen Harriers   Springvale-Tranco
1986–87   Atherstone United   Westfields   Donnington Wood
1987–88   Tamworth   Rocester   Hinton
1988–89   Blakenall   Newport Town   Broseley Athletic
1989–90   Hinckley Town   Darlaston   Hill Top Rangers
1990–91   Gresley Rovers   Cradley Town   Clancey Dudley
1991–92   Gresley Rovers   Ilkeston Town   K Chell
1992–93   Oldbury United   Knypersley Victoria   Rushall Olympic Res
    Premier Division   Division One    
1993–94   Ilkeston Town   Stafford Town    
1994–95   Pelsall Villa   Wolverhampton Casuals    
1995–96   Wednesfield   Goodyear    
    Premier Division   Division One (North)   Division One (South)
1996–97   Wednesfield   Great Wyrley   Kington Town
1997–98   Lye Town   Bandon   Smethwick Rangers
1998–99   Kington Town   Heath Hayes   Wellington
1999–00   Stafford Town   Shawbury United   Bromyard Town
2000–01   Ludlow Town   Wolverhampton United   Ledbury Town
2001–02   Causeway United   Ounsdale   Sedgley White Lions
2002–03   Westfields   Newport Town   Bewdley Town
2003–04   Malvern Town   Goodrich   Gornal Athletic
    Premier Division   Division One   Division Two
2004–05   Tipton Town   Great Wyrley   Parkfields Leisure
2005–06   Market Drayton Town   Ellesmere Rangers   AFC Wulfrunians
2006–07   Shifnal Town   Darlaston Town   Heath Town Rangers
2007–08   Bridgnorth Town   Birchills United   Wellington Amateurs
2008–09   AFC Wulfrunians   Wellington Amateurs   Hanwood United
2009-10   Ellesmere Rangers   Wellington Amateurs   Black Country Rangers
2010-11   Tividale   Black Country Rangers   Malvern Rangers
2011-12   Gornal Athletic   Wellington Amateurs   Haughmond
2012-13   AFC Wulfrunians   AFC Smethwick   Gornal Athletic Res
2013-14   Lye Town   AFC Bridgnorth   AFC Ludlow