Bristol Downs Association Football League

Bristol Downs Association Football League


History of the League

19th Century
Bristol Football is Born

Organised football first began to be played in Bristol in the 1880s and football started on the Downs a short time later, helped by the introduction of a tram route from the city centre to the top of Blackboy Hill.

The Downs League Forms

The Downs League was formed in 1905 with 30 founder members, all of them teams who were already playing in the city and on the Downs' many pitches.

One founder member club, Sneyd Park, remains in the league to this day, having played in the top division of the league in every season since its foundation. Clifton St Vincents joined the league in its second season and have also clocked up well over 100 years of membership.

Union Jack FC Dominate

In the 1920s the league's top side was Union Jack FC, who won the league nine times in ten seasons and in 1925 beat the much higher-ranked Cheltenham Town 6–3 away in the FA Cup. 

Future Stars

Future Arsenal star Eddie Hapgood turned out for Union Jack before going on to Football League and international stardom. Another player with Union Jack was Wally Hammond, a future England cricket captain.

Dockland Domination

In the 1930s Dockland Settlement won seven championships in a row, before the start of the Second World War.

After The War

The years after the Second World War were probably when the league was at its strongest, with many players leaving the league to turn professional.

Bristol Rovers legend Harold Jarman won two championships with Clifton Villa in the early 1950s. 

Clifton Class

In the 1950s Clifton St. Vincents won six league titles and won the Senior Amateur Gloucestershire FA Cup.

Crowds in excess of 1,000 people often watched St. Vincents matches on the Downs.

Record Equallers

St. Gabriels equalled Union Jack's record of seven successive titles between 1969 and 1975 (including four league and cup doubles).

This included an 83 game unbeaten run (including 81 wins) from February 1969 to April 1972.

Saints on top

Saints Old Boys are league champions for six consecutive seasons and win two league and cup doubles.

21st Century

In recent years Clifton St. Vincents, Torpedo and Sneyd Park have been the dominant sides in the league.

In 2018 Sneyd Park won the Senior Amateur Gloucestershire FA Cup, emulating Clifton St Vincents from the 1950s.

League Centenary
The league celebrated 100 years in 2005.

Events included a commemorative fixture between a Downs League XI and a Geoff Twentyman XI. The latter included a number of ex-professional players and ended in a 2-2 draw.


The league boasts 41 teams in four divisions. There are also two knockout cup competitions – the Norman Hardy Cup (for teams from Divisions One and Two) and the All Saints Cup (for teams from Divisions Three and Four).