Tag: Maidstone United

The Late Jim Thompson

The death of Jim Thompson last week was a passing that left most people in the non-league game with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Thompson was the chairman of the Steering Committee which led to the formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. Within eight years, the closed shop of the Football League would be gone forever, and non-league football would experience a revitalisation that it still reaps the benefits of now. On the other hand, he was reckless in the stewardship of his own club, Maidstone United. Maidstone left their home without planning permission to build a new one, and the events that followed would lead to the near-bankruptcy of another club and leave Thompson banned from football by the FA. The end of amateurism in non-league football had been a long time coming, but it didn’t automatically solve the problems of the new semi-professional game. Crowds had started to fall at the end of the 1950s, and by the end of the 1970s there were only a handful of clubs that could boast average crowds of over 1,000. Thompson, then the chairman of Southern League side Maidstone United, was placed in charge of the committee which founded the Alliance Premier League, taking ten clubs from the Southern Premier League and ten from the Northern Premier League. The aim was an increase in playing standards, with...

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The Ex Files

Well done Accrington Stanley, for dumping Nottingham Forest out of the League Cup last night. A little bit of digging and delving has established that the first round of this year’s competition is one-legged, so a place in the second round and a possible tie against Tottenham’s reserves (an eminently winnable tie, given Spurs’ recent cup form) could well await. The recent kerfuffle about Stanley’s return to the league has, over the last few weeks, set me thinking about those teams that we have loved and lost. The introduction of promotion and relegation between the Conference and the League was, of course, utterly justified. Too many lower division clubs had been treading water for too long, and non-league football had, of it’s own accord, got it’s house in order and created a national league. There are now twenty fully professional non-league teams, which makes a mockery of the big clubs’ belief that the world is only interested in them, and this has come about because mobility is not merely limited, as it was as recently as 1986, to the top of the “fifth division”. Prior to this, though, it was somewhat more difficult to get into the League. For years, the Football League had effectively run itself as a cartel, and the cartel was called “Re-Election”. It was something of a sop to the upward ambitions of non-league clubs....

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