THE Northern League – the world’s second oldest – is planning a week of celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of its foundation.
It was on March 25, 1889, at a meeting in what was then named Brown’s Hotel (later to become The Three Tuns) in Durham City that 25-year-old Charles Samuel Craven was appointed secretary.
Nineteen clubs were invited to the first meeting but only seven turned up. Another meeting a week later confirmed the formation of the League and the season began with 10 sides on September 7, 1889.
Over the years, Sunderland, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough have fielded sides and today the competition boasts 45 clubs in two divisions.
Northern League sides won the FA Amateur Cup 24 times between its inception in 1893 and demise 80 years later.
The League has also been successful in the FA Carlsberg Vase and teams have been successful in the last five finals.
On Friday, a short service of thanksgiving and wreath laying at Charles Craven’s grave in Selbridge, East Grinstead will take place. Family members and representatives of the FA and the League will be present.
On Saturday, Tow Law Town will play their 3,000th Northern League match which is a record.
Many former players and officials are expected to attend the county’s second highest senior football ground to celebrate a unique record.
The match against South Shields at the Ironworks Road Ground will be free entry.
Sunday sees a celebration service at Elvet Methodist Church, Durham – 100 yards from The Three Tuns Hotel where the League was formed.
Afterwards an anniversary lunch will take place at the Ramside Hall Hotel.
Next Tuesday, a Northern League XI will meet an FA XI at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland – 125 years to the day since the League was formed.
“The anniversary is a chance to acknowledge our past, to celebrate the present and lay down some markers for the future,” said chairman Mike Amos.