Brian and Jeff on a mission to save East London Sunday League
Longest running Sunday league in Europe in danger of extinction
It really shouldn’t be a problem for the longest running Sunday football league in Europe to attract new teams, however, that is exactly the problem facing Brian Hannon and Jeff Gordon.
The East London Sunday League currently runs two divisions, down from three in 2010/11 and with several teams having already folded this season alone, the future of the league is currently unknown.
However, league chairman Hannon and referees’ secretary Gordon are on a mission to save their competition from extinction.
“I believe that the problem lies in the fact that many of our local pubs are disappearing,” said Gordon.
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“Many of the teams used to be based in pubs, so the more that close down, the less teams that there are.
“Long gone are the days when every pub had a team and that has had a dramatic effect on the amount of teams in the league.
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“I came into the league more than 20 years ago and we were thriving back then. We had five divisions, but even I have had to fold my team, Arbour Athletic, as we couldn’t attract players.”
Having cut down to two divisions, Gordon is hoping to increase that number back to three for the 2012/13 season.
“We are hoping for better luck next year in terms of recruiting new teams,” he said.
“Two years ago we had three divisions, but Division Two had just seven teams in it so we combined the two bottom leagues, but we would love to increase the amount again.
“However, Brian and I have decided to take control of team recruitment as nothing has been done to increase our presence in the area in the past couple of seasons.
“We have had enough and we are prepared to put in all the hard work.
“We don’t want to lose our league. It is the oldest Sunday football league in Europe and we don’t want to see it disappear.”
The league are based on the Hackney Marshes alongside the thriving Hackney & Leyton League, which boasts a total of five divisions made up of 10 teams, but Gordon believes that there is no bad feeling between the two organisations.
“We get on well with the Hackney & Leyton guys,” he said. “As a league, our Premier Division is around the same standard as theirs, certainly no worse.
“To be honest, we are struggling to understand why teams are choosing to join them rather than us as we are around �50 cheaper to register with.
“However, teams have obviously heard of their league due to their website.
“We are seeking to improve our web presence and our press coverage.
“We keep hearing of other leagues in worse positions than ourselves, so hopefully some of their teams will come and join us too.”
If you would like your team to join the league, then please contact chairman Brian Hannon on 07956 819829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org