East of Scotland Football League

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The East of Scotland Football League (EoSFL) is a league of football teams from south-east Scotland, which was formed in 1923. It sits below the Lowland Football League, which was formed for the start of the 2013-14 season, to act as a feeder to the newly formed Scottish Professional Football League.

Its clubs are largely drawn from the Edinburgh, Lothians and Scottish Borders areas.

A total of 20 teams will compete in 2013-14, drawn from the 29 members of the sister organisation, the East of Scotland Football Association (EoSFA). 5 of the teams are reserve teams fielded by EoSFA members, who compete in higher leagues.

Background

The EoSFL was traditionally one of Scotland's three "senior" non-leagues, which sat below the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), the other two being the Highland Football League and the South of Scotland Football League (SoSFL). In 2013, a new Lowland League was formed covering all of Scotland, south of the River Tay to act as a direct feeder to the SPFL. Although initially there will not be any automatic promotion and relegation between the EoSFL and the Lowland League, it is planned to be the first step towards creating a coherent Scottish football pyramid.

Traditionally the EoSFL drew members from Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders regions, but in recent years members have been drawn from a wider area of south-east Scotland, including Burntisland Shipyard, Gretna 2008 and Stirling University.

Recently the EoSFL has been viewed as a stronger league than the South of Scotland League (SoSFL), with a number of ambitious SoSFL clubs having opted to join the EoSFL, including Annan Athletic, who left when elected to the SFL in 2008. Teams who also joined include Dalbeattie Star and Threave Rovers, who both subsequently left to rejoin the SoSFL and then the Lowland League.

East of Scotland Football Association

While the EoSFL oversees the leagues and League Cup competitions; the East of Scotland Football Association (EoSFA) is a technically independent body, which organises all of the other cups. Most of the officials sit on both bodies, and the Executive Committee is a joint organisation. The current President of the EoSFA is Morain Scott (of Coldstream), while the President of the EoSFL is Tom Allison (of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale). The secretary of both organisations is John Greenhorn (of Ormiston).

There are 29 members of the East of Scotland Football Association (EoSFA). Four members play in the Scottish Professional Football League:

Hibernian (since 2013),1 and Berwick Rangers (since 2010), both field reserve teams in the EoSFL. The first teams of these four members have little involvement in EoSFA competitions. Hearts and Hibernian contest the East of Scotland Shield (although this competition is held irregularly), while Berwick Rangers and Livingston participate in the East of Scotland (City) Cup.

Nine EoSFA members play in the Lowland League:

Spartans and Stirling University field reserve teams in the EoSFL.2 The first teams of these nine members contest EoSFA cups (excluding the Qualifying League and League Cup).

The EoSFL and EoSFA are full members of the Scottish Football Association.

Competition Format

The EoSFL is split into two divisions. Two clubs are promoted and relegated between the two divisions at the end of each season. The current league sponsor is Central Taxis.

For the 2013-14 season, the Premier Division and the First Division will have 10 members each:

In 2013-14, because of league restructuring, nine clubs left to play in the newly formed Lowland League. Spartans and Stirling University's reserve teams replaced their first teams in the Premier Division. Hibernian reserves joined the First Division. No relegation took place, while Colstream and Craigroyston were promoted to the Premier Division.

All 23 clubs enter the King Cup, Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup and South Challenge Cup, which also includes SoSFA members, as well as full SFA members, Girvan and Glasgow University. All clubs enter the East of Scotland Qualifying Leagues with progression to the League Cup.

Cup competitions

  • Scottish Cup: Only full SFA members play in this competition. Knock-out tournament, with replays until the semi-Finals and final.
  • South Challenge Cup: This competition, new from the 2007-08 season, replaced the old Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) under the new Scottish Cup format. It is for all clubs in the south of Scotland, aside from reserve teams - and thus it has 41 entrants, 12 from the Lowland League, 16 from the EoSFL, 11 from the SoSFL, one amateur SFA club Glasgow University, and one club in membership of both the SFA and SJFA - Girvan. It is a straight knock-out tournament.
  • The King Cup: Open to all 20 EoSFA members not playing in the SPFL. Straight knock-out tournament without replays. The King Cup final is traditionally the last game of the season.
  • East of Scotland Qualifying Leagues: A new competition from the 2011-12 season. Open to all 24 EoSFA members playing in the EoSFL. A pre-season warm-up competition, these clubs are split into four groups of six and each plays the others within their group once.
  • East of Scotland League Cup: Group winners and runners-up from the East of Scotland Qualifying Leagues enter this straight knock-out competition.
  • The East of Scotland Qualifying Cup: currently sponsored by Image Printers. All 20 EoSFA members playing in the EOSFL enter. The finalists join the first teams of Berwick Rangers and Livingston in the East of Scotland (City) Cup. Straight knock-out without replays.
  • East of Scotland (City) Cup: Finalists of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup join Berwick Rangers and Livingston in single-legged semi-finals and final, which go straight to penalties if drawn after 90 minutes. The 4 EoSFA members in the national leagues (Berwick, Hearts, Hibernian, Livingston) used to all enter, but now the Hearts and Hibernian reserve teams contest the East of Scotland Shield - albeit intermittently.
  • East of Scotland Consolation Cup: known as the 'Alex Jack Cup'. Competition for non-SFA members of the EoSFL, usually played on the same weekends as Scottish Cup matches. Acts both as a top-up cup, giving these teams matches on otherwise idle weekends, and as an opportunity for what tend to be smaller clubs to gain trophies. Straight knock-out, without replays.
  • East of Scotland Shield: since the mid-1980s, this tournament has become a one-off match for youth/reserve teams of Hearts and Hibernian.

Youth Competitions

The EoSFL also organises an under-19 league, along with a League Cup and Challenge Cup. Current members are Civil Service Strollers, Coldstream, Craigroyston, Edinburgh City, Gala Fairydean, Gretna 2008, Heriot Watt University, Leith Athletic, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, Spartans and Tynecastle. The under-19 teams of Hearts, Hibernian and Livingston do not participate in EoSFL competitions. All eleven teams play in the Scottish Football Association's Scottish Youth Cup annually.

History

Original EoSFL

An earlier East of Scotland League existed between 1896 and 1906, when the supplementary Edinburgh Football League changed its name, after accepting Dundee as a member. There is no connection between the two incarnations of the league.

Recent history

The EoSFL was generally not viewed as being as strong as the Highland League (HFL) (with fewer of their club sides defeating SFL sides in the Scottish Cup competition as opposed to the HFL), but was still regarded as being stronger than the SoSFL. A number of the sides in the EoSFL have applied to join the SFL in recent years, with Annan Athletic applying in (2000, 2008 (successful)), Edinburgh City (2002, 2008), Gala Fairydean (1994, 2000, 2002), Preston Athletic (2000, 2002, 2008) and Spartans (2008).

In 2004, Threave Rovers pulled out of the league to concentrate their efforts on the South of Scotland Football League. This left the league with an uneven number of clubs, and they were expected to fill the vacancy in the summer of 2005, with Gala Rovers widely touted as likely candidates. However, this did not happen. The only change that happened at that year's Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the league, was that Tollcross United announced that they would be competing as Tynecastle from the 2005-06 season.

In 2006, Peebles Rovers merged with several local amateur sides to become Peebles, who took Rovers' place in the league. At the 2007 AGM, agreement was reached to admit the reserve side of Berwick Rangers as the twelfth member of the First Division. They also entered the League Cup, but no other cups during the 2007-08 season. However, the reserves lasted only one season following Berwick Rangers' relegation to the fourth tier of Scottish football. They were replaced by Stirling University, but returned for the 2010-11 season.

Gretna 2008 entered the league in 2008, formed in the wake of the financial disaster that befell Gretna's former club, Gretna F.C.. The original club had meteorically risen from the Third Division to the SPL in three years, due to the support of multimillionaire Brooks Mileson. However, they were not competitive in the SPL in their only season in that league in 2007-08, and Mileson was forced to withdraw his support due to a health crisis that would ultimately claim his life. The debt-ridden club resigned its place in the SFL, and was liquidated in August 2008. In the meantime, local supporters formed a new club to keep senior football in the town, although Gretna 2008 initially had to play its home matches in the nearby town of Annan, the club that took their place in the SFL.

The admission of Duns prior to the 2011-12 season, brought the number of sides in the EoSFL to 25, the highest it has ever been. Burntisland Shipyard joined the league for the 2012-13 season, increasing the league to 26 teams.

With the establishment of the Lowland Football League in 2013, the EoSFL was reduced to 20 teams. Hibernian also entered a reserve team into the league at the start of the 2013-14 season.

List of winners

Total titles won

Rank Club East of Scotland League Titles (pre 1987–1988) East of Scotland Premier League Titles (1987–1998–present) Total Number of Titles
1 Whitehill Welfare 6 9 15
2 Gala Fairydean 6 2 8
3 Spartans 2 6 8
4 Peebles Rovers 6 0 6
5 Hibernian 'B' 5 0 5
6= Annan Athletic 0 4 4
6= Eyemouth United 4 0 4
6= Vale of Leithen 4 0 4
9= Civil Service Strollers 3 0 3
9= Hawick Royal Albert 3 0 3
9= Selkirk 3 0 3
12= Bathgate 2 0 2
12= Berwick Rangers 2 0 2
12= Penicuik Athletic 2 0 2
15= Bo'Ness 1 0 1
15= Coldstream 1 0 1
15= Cowdenbeath 'A' 1 0 1
15= Easthouses Lily Miners Welfare 0 1 1
15= Edinburgh City 0 1 1
15= Heart of Midlothian 'B' 1 0 1
15= Jedburgh Artisans 1 0 1

References

  1. ^ "Hibs secure berth in East of Scotland League". Edinburgh Evening News (Johnston Publishing). 7 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "East Seniors agree on a new setup". Edinburgh Evening News (Johnston Publishing). 28 June 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 

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