The Ryman Football (Isthmian) League

Founded: 1905

Until the early years of this century the only competitive fixtures for amateur clubs in the South of England were various cup competition. The remainder of the season was filled with friendly matches. Several leading London clubs were invited to a meeting to consider forming a strong amateur league and the result was the Isthmian League. Membership of the league was by invitation only. Its motto was 'honor sufficit' and consequently no trophy was awarded to the champions, nor were medals awarded to the players. This tradition continued until 1973 when the FA abolished the term 'Amateur' as no longer being appropriate. Since the early 70's the league has benefited from sponsorship and consequently has been known by a variety of names. The previous sponsorship by ICIS was terminated by the league in September 1997, alleging that various payments due under the sponsorship had not been made, and for a while the league was once again known as the Isthmian League. Since 1998 the League has been sponsored by Rymans and is known as the Ryman Football League.

Founder Members

Casuals, Civil Service, Clapton, Ealing, Ilford, London Caledonians.

Area Covered

The League's members are based in and around the Greater London area. Traditionally the boundary was set at 40 miles from the centre of London, recently Yeovil Town have expanded this boundary somewhat. The area covered overlaps that of the Dr. Marten's League, clubs relegated from the Conference are placed in the league of their preference where possible, usually the one which they were previously members of.


4 divisions, 87 clubs
Premier Division (22 clubs)
Division One (22 clubs)
Division Two (22 clubs)
Division Three (21 clubs)

Over the years the Isthmian League gradually increased its membership from the initial number of 6 to 22 by 1972. Clubs which graced the Isthmian League in this period include Wimbledon, Wycombe Wanderers and the now defunct Maidstone United. The league was expanded to two divisions in 1973 and a third division followed in 1977 at which time the divisions were re-designated as Premier, First and Second. From 1982-83 it was agreed that the league champions would be promoted to the Alliance Premier League and that the bottom two clubs in Division Two would be relegated to the Athenian League and replaced by the top two of that league, subject to facilities. The arrangement with the Athenian League only lasted a couple of years. Previous expansion of the Isthmian League had drawn new clubs mainly from the Athenian League and in 1985 the Isthmian League effectively absorbed the Athenian by electing most of their clubs to an expanded Division Two which was split into two sections. The Athenian League was forced to close down as it was unable to find enough replacement clubs of a suitable standard. More recently the regionalised Division Two has been abandoned in favour of Division Two and Division Three.

Premier Division

Promotion: 1 club to the Football Conference (subject to meeting the League's entry criteria)

Relegation: 3 clubs to Division One

Composition 1999-2000

Aldershot Town, Aylesbury United, Basingstoke Town, Billericay Town, Boreham Wood, Canvey Island, Carshalton Athletic, Chesham United, Dagenham & Redbridge, Dulwich Hamlet, Enfield, Farnborough Town, Gravesend & Northfleet, Hampton & Richmond Borough, Harrow Borough, Hendon, Heybridge Swifts, Hitchin Town, Purfleet, St. Albans City, Slough Town, Walton & Hersham.


Relegated from Football Conference: Farnborough Town
Promoted from Division One: Canvey Island, Hitchin Town (Wealdstone finished 3rd in Division One but the ground they share at Edgware was found unsuitable for the Premier Division)


Promoted to Football Conference: Sutton United
Relegated to Divison One: Bishop's Stortford and Bromley

Name Change

Hampton became Hampton & Richmond Borough

Recent Champions

1999 Sutton United
1998 Kingstonian
1997 Yeovil Town
1996 Hayes
1995 Enfield
1994 Stevenage Borough
1993 Chesham United
1992 Woking
1991 Redbridge Forest
1990 Slough Town

Full list of Champions 1906-99
Past tables - Last season 1998-99

Division One

Promotion: 3 clubs to the Premier Division

Relegation: 3 clubs to Division Two

Composition 1999-2000

Barton Rovers, Bedford Town, Bishop's Stortford, Bognor Regis Town, Braintree Town, Bromley, Chertsey Town, Croydon, Grays Athletic, Harlow Town, Leatherhead, Leyton Pennant, Maidenhead United, Oxford City, Romford, Staines Town, Thame United, Uxbridge, Wealdstone, Whyteleafe, Worthing, Yeading.


Relegated from Premier Division: Bishop's Stortford, Bromley
Promoted from Division Two: Bedford Town, Harlow Town, Thame United


Promoted to Premier Division: Canvey Island and Hitchin Town (Wealdstone finished 3rd but the ground they share at Edgware was found unsuitable for the Premier Division)
Relegated to Division Two: Molesey, Wembley, Berkhamstead Town

Recent Champions

1999 Canvey Island
1998 Aldershot Town
1997 Chesham United
1996 Oxford City
1995 Boreham Wood
1994 Bishop's Stortford
1993 Hitchin Town
1992 Stevenage Borough
1991 Chesham United
1990 Wivenhoe Town

Full list of Champions 1974-99

Division Two

Promotion: 3 clubs to Division One

Relegation: 3 clubs to Division Three

Composition 1998-99

Banstead Athletic, Barking, Berkhamstead Town, Chalfont St. Peter, Cheshunt, Edgware Town, Ford United, Hemel Hempstead, Horsham, Hungerford Town, Leighton Town, Marlow, Metropolitan Police, Molesey, Northwood, Tooting & Mitcham United, Wembley, Windsor & Eton, Wingate & Finchley, Witham Town, Wivenhoe Town, Wokingham Town.


Relegated from Division One: Molesey, Wembley, Berkhamstead Town
Promoted from Division Three: Ford United, Wingate & Finchley, Cheshunt


Promoted to Division One: Bedford Town, Harlow Town, Thame United
Relegated to Division Three: Hertford Town, Abingdon Town, Bracknell Town

Recent Champions

1999 Bedford Town
1998 Canvey Island
1997 Collier Row & Romford
1996 Canvey Island
1995 Thame United
1994 Newbury Town
1993 Worthing
1992 Purfleet
1991* Stevenage Borough/Abingdon Town
1990* Heybridge Swifts/Yeading

* Division Two (North)/Division Two (South)

Full list of Champions 1978-99

Division Three

Promotion: 3 clubs to Division Two

Relegation: 1 club to feeder leagues (division is below its full complement of 22 clubs) Spartan South Midlands League, Combined Counties League and Essex Senior League if suitable candidates are accepted from those leagues.

Composition 1999-2000

Abingdon Town, Aveley, Bracknell Town, Camberley Town, Clapton, Corinthian-Casuals, Croydon Athletic, Dorking, East Thurrock United, Egham Town, Epsom & Ewell, Flackwell Heath, Great Wakering Rovers, Hertford Town, Hornchurch, Kingsbury Town, Lewes, Southall, Tilbury, Tring Town, Ware.


Relegated from Division Two: Hertford Town, Abingdon Town, Bracknell Town
Promoted from Essex Senior League: Great Wakering Rovers


Promoted to Division Two: Ford United, Wingate & Finchley, Cheshunt

Recent Champions

1999 Ford United
1998 Hemel Hempstead
1997 Wealdstone
1996 Horsham
1995 Collier Row
1994 Bracknell Town
1993 Aldershot Town
1992 Edgware Town

Full list of Champions 1992-99



About this document

Prepared and maintained by James M. Ross

Author: James M. Ross
Last updated: 20 Apr 2000

Copyright © 1997,2000 James M. Ross
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