Bristol Downs Association Football League

Bristol Downs Association Football League


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Formation of the Downs League

When 30 teams started the league

On Monday, 27th March 1905, whilst the Downs Committee was considering the petition, another, and subsequently, more important meeting was taking place at the Kingsdown Guild. The following night the Bristol Evening News carried a full report of this meeting:


It will be remembered that some time ago a discussion arose as to whether a League composed of clubs playing on the Downs could not be formed, and a meeting was held last night at the Kingsdown Guild to further consider the question. There was a very large attendance, altogether twenty seven clubs sending representatives. Mr. F.M. Giles, who was in the chair, said, in the course of a few opening remarks, that there was no doubt at all but what such a League, if formed, would be very beneficial to the clubs playing on the Downs, especially to the junior section. No harm would be done to the other leagues at present existing in the city, but they would try rather to co-operate with them. The resolution was put to the vote as to whether there should be a League, and it was decided unanimously to form a Downs League. Mr. Chapple (sic) proposed that the League be formed of three divisions, each containing ten clubs, and this being seconded by the representative of St. Georges Road, was carried. It was also mentioned that the Gloucestershire Football Association would have to be communicated with, and Mr. Chapple promised he would undertake this. The same gentleman was elected secretary while Mr. Giles was unanimously chosen chairman. Messrs. Chapman and Clancy (Winchester House Old Boys) and Pearce (Hotwells YMCA) were also elected to constitute the executive committee. All these officers were appointed temporarily. A vote of thanks was afterwards passed to Mr. Giles and the Guild for their kindness in entertaining the meeting, and also to Mr. Issacs for calling the meeting together. The meeting was then adjourned to April 10th.

The meeting included several items of interest, not the least that several leading personalities had emerged with whom the League would be in safe hands for many years. However, not all the people or clubs who attended the initial meeting were later to be associated with the League: St. Georges Road did not participate in the League, whilst Mr. Issacs did not seek to become an officer of the League, preferring initially to remain as just secretary of St. Michaels.

At the second meeting on 10th April 1905, the ideas from the original meeting were developed; the League’s draft rules, twenty-one in total, were unanimously approved, although the Gloucestershire Football Association (GFA) subsequently amended several. The GFA, through Mr. Haskins, expressed favourable comments about the formation of the League.

Throughout the Summer of 1905 fortnightly meetings were held at the Kingsdown Guild to progress matters affecting the League; the decisions taken included the following –

  • referees were to be recruited, but not from the District or North Bristol Leagues.
  • the temporary League Management Committee was expanded to cope with the increasing workload.
  • clubs playing in the League would have to find they own changing facilities.
  • clubs already playing on the Downs would be given precedence in joining the League.

By the end of June 1905, the Officers of the Downs League, albeit on a temporary basis, were as follows –

  • Chairman                                 Mr. F. M. Giles
  • Secretary                                  Mr. A. C. Chappelle
  • Executive Committee            Mr. Clancy, Mr. Pearce, Mr. Thorne, Mr. S. Stratford, Mr. Cooper, Mr. D. Jenkins


The first Downs League AGM was held at the Kingsdown Guild on 6th July 1905. At that meeting the composition of the League was agreed as follows –

Division 1

  • Broad Plain
  • Clifton Athletic
  • Clifton United
  • Cotham Amateurs
  • Holy Trinity
  • Hotwells YMCA
  • St. Michaels
  • Sneyd Park
  • Westbury Park
  • Winchester House Old Boys

Division 2

  • Barton Hill Adult School
  • Budgett & Company
  • Christ Church (Clifton)
  • College Albion
  • College Green Adult School
  • Goldney Athletic
  • Kingsdown Guild
  • Rangers
  • St. Pauls United
  • Sneyd Park Reserves

Division 3

  • Bristol Rifles (East Company)
  • Broad Plain Reserves
  • Christ Church (City)
  • Crescent
  • Eastbourne
  • Horsefair Adult School
  • Hotwells YMCA Reserves
  • Kingsdown United
  • St. Andrews (Montpelier) Reserves
  • Stoke Bishop Athletic


Both Broad Plain and Hotwells YMCA resigned from the District League, bur St. Andrews (Montpelier) maintained its first team in that League.

The Officers of the League elected at the AGM were :

  • President                         Mr. Gerard Beloe
  • Chairman                        Mr. F. M. Giles
  • Vice Chairmen               Messrs. H. J. Jenkins & G. C. Cooper
  • Treasurer                         Mr. S. C. Stratford
  • Secretary                         Mr. A. C. Chappelle
  • Assistant Secretary       Mr. J. E. Pratt


His Grace The Duke of Beaufort and several other local dignitaries, as well as officials from the GFA indicated their willingness to be elected as Vice Presidents.

Other matters agreed at the AGM included:

  • a Downs League XI would play Bristol City Reserves at Ashton Gate on 24th February 1906 and Bristol Rovers Reserves on Good Friday 1906.
  • the season would run from the first Saturday in October to the second Saturday in April; some fixtures could be accommodated in September or the latter part of April subject to the League’s prior consent.
  • a special referee’s course would be held on Monday evenings in July, August and September.
  • a proposal to have a League Cup competition was rejected.