League History

The League was started in 1972 by Roy Chaplin, who came home from Australia in 1970/71 and was surprised there was no football for youngsters apart from those playing in school teams.

These teams used the better players and did not allow for those who were enthusiastic and keen but not good enough to get into the school teams.

As a result Roy Chaplin decided to form a Junior League for the Southend District in 1972.

There were originally 8 clubs:

  • Ashingdon
  • Blenheim
  • Bournes Green Rangers
  • Eastwood Gunners
  • Hullbridge
  • Priory
  • Red Devils
  • Temple

In 1973 Dave Haycock became Secretary of the League, which then developed and expanded together with the sister Thundermite League, which covered Basildon, Grays, Ockendon, etc.

He worked with the Police and Social Services to get children off the streets and playing football on Sundays.

They could not play at Jones Memorial Grounds, at that time, for religious reasons.

In 1975 the League was running teams from U9`s to U14`s, but unfortunately in season 76/77 the FA (backed by the Essex County FA) stopped U9`s playing competitive football of any description.

The reason was that youngsters were getting knee injuries i.e. Osgood Sclater, which endangered the young players and curtailed their football careers, at a very young age.

In September 1976 a pirate league was formed with 12 teams of U9`s who tried to disguise their names although they were still under the auspices of an affiliated club.

The meetings of this League were held at the Plough & Tractor pub in Basildon, with this cloak & dagger episode coming to an end with the introduction of mini soccer in 1998.

In 1972 the Junior League only had one division but as the teams grew in number, starting with U10`s the league was split into two section – North & South.

The North was recognised as the strongest division and the South the weaker one; the history of the League trophies, cups & shields will show this and later on this was replaced with divisions A,C,B, etc and latterly Prem, A,B,C.

From 1979 onwards the League began to develop a strong liaison with the Essex County FA (originally Essex County Youth Association), Metropolitan & Essex Cup Competition and the East Anglian Cup.

The League is proud to acknowledge Clubs, with their respective age groups, who have won trophies in these competitions on more than one occasion.

In the early days, Committee meetings and AGM`s were held in non descript halls and even on the Pier before it was burnt down in 1976. These meetings were moved to the Southend Civic Centre, Freight House – Rochford as well as Eastwood Community Centre.

In its infancy it was a long way from the present day sophistication; the grounds were poor, goalposts virtually non existent in many cases, but now the League enjoys the privilege and prestige of holding their League Cup Finals at Southend United’s Roots Hall Stadium since 1980 

Special thanks must be recorded to Dave and Yvonne Haycock for their liaison with Southend United to bring this about.

The league currently has 4000+ players who have to be registered and organised in order to play football. We have 55 clubs and over 330 teams competing.

In 40 years, The Southend and District Junior Sunday Football League has come a long way and thanks go to all those officials who have helped over the past 40 years to make it the League it is today.

The league can boast as being one of the strongest in the County of Essex a fact which can be endorsed by the amount of teams reaching County Cup Finals .

Six years ago the League became a FA Chartered Standard League and for two of those seasons became the Charter standard League of year .

The League is currently run by a hard working committee and in recent years we have introduce Medal events for our under 11 giving them their first real taste of competitive football , League Trophy and League Shield at every age group giving the teams from outside the Premier Divisions a chance to reach a Cup Final in a stadium venue   

The League looks forward to continuing its current success and  growth in giving the youth of South East Essex  organised Football.