A brief history

The Orpington and Bromley District Sunday Football League (OBDSFL) was founded in 1948 by the late Charlie Gibbons at a time when Sunday morning football was still in its infancy and, I believe, unrecognised by the FA. 

The League really got into action in 1949/50 season and expanded in the 1950/51 season to 3 divisions. The late Jack Standen of Petts Wood F.C. was heavily involved in the early years and was a Vice President of the OBDSFL. 

The 1950’s and 1960’s saw the OBDSFL moving from strength to strength with the emphasis on good football and a strong Management Committee realising high standards for the clubs involved. This ethos is still present today. 

Great teams of this era were Oakley Rovers, Bideford Rovers and Southborough (who won the old Premier Division for 7 consecutive seasons, which has still not been matched by the teams of today). The 1960s also saw the addition of Division’s Three, Four and Five. In the 1970s the League grew still further. Red Barrel, Billet Villa, Partridge and Spartak won the majority of the trophies. 

The addition of a Senior Division in 1975/76 saw stronger sides attracted to the OBDSFL due to the new private facilities required. Billet Villa themselves set a record in the President’s Charity Cup where they won it from 1968/69 to 1976/77 only losing to Partridge in the 1971/72 season (yet another record still unsurpassed by current clubs). One of our current Vice Presidents, Roger Pester, was involved with Billet Villa at the time.

The 1980s saw the OBDSFL creating Divisions 5A and 5B for 2 seasons before settling with a 6th Division in the 1982/83 season. Eight divisions continued in the heyday of Sunday morning football in the 1980s until 1994/95 season when the League settled to its current format of seven Divisions. 

Our clubs compete for several Cups. The main trophy is the Presidents’ Charity Cup which is now open to all teams. Like the FA Cup, the Senior and Premier teams only become involved in Round 3 onwards. The Vic Farrow Cup named after a long serving member of the League and Farnborough Old Boys Guild has taken over from the former Smales’ Cup and is for those team’s  in Division 3,4 & 5. The Paul Picard Cup is for teams in Divisions Senior & Premier whilst the Jack Standen (previously Howard) Cup is for teams in Divisions One & Two. All in all, this gives sides a sufficient cup interest together with League involvement to have meaningful competitive football from mid September through to, usually, the 1st Sunday in May. The Presidents’ Charity Cup is used to support a local charity each year with over £1000 collected and distributed to the worthy local cause from Charity Cup Final gate fees, a League Golf day and raffles held throughout the year.

Several “additional” cups can also be arranged in case of particularly good weather in a season – the Senior, Intermediate and Junior League Cups and the Reg Logan Invitation Cup and Fairweather Trophy, the latter aptly named!! The League has been proud of its emphasis on good sportsmanship and excellent football to be available to all its Member Clubs. In recognition of efforts made by clubs in this respect the league awards the Jim Harris Sportsman Cup to the team who attracts the highest sportsman marks each season from Referees. 

The Referees Panel of the OBDSFL is also honoured in a similar way where the referee with the seasons highest average marks from clubs is also given a trophy, named in honour of the late Roger Abbott a well respected former refereemember of this League, ex-President and Kent County FA member. Referees have always been highly involved with the running of our League. The OBDSFL benefits from having a Management Committee that have many, many years of Sunday football experience each – from the Club angle or the Referee’s viewpoint. This unique blend of club/referee interaction ensures that with the best part of 300+ man years of experience the member clubs are all treated exactly the same and benefit from a knowledge pool second to none in local football. Moreover, the excellent football attracts a panel of referees which ensures that on most Sundays we are able to cover each match with at least one qualified referee. The League has also benefitted from the addition of a former FIFA Referee, Steve Bennett, taking over in the Chairman and Treasurer roles bringing a wealth in depth of football knowledge for both our referees and Committee at the highest of levels.

The OBDSFL is always willing to hear from good and well organised new clubs or existing clubs with a new side wanting to join the League. You must first apply and then be invited to attend a New Clubs Evening which is held in April each year. To obtain an application form and the relevant documentation please contact the General Secretary, Phil Cheverton, on 020 8249 3205 or via email gensec@obdsfl.net.