A Brief History of the Colchester & District Sunday Football League
In the mid 1960s there was no organised league for Sunday footballers in Colchester. This all changed thanks to two men, Jack Poole (a former area rep for the Essex County Football Association) and Dennis Barber (referee and treasurer for the local referees’ society). With the support of others, Jack & Dennis formed the Colchester & District Sports Council Sunday Football League in 1966 with Jack as Chairman and Dennis as Secretary & Treasurer.
The first season began in September 1966 with one division of thirteen teams, eventually won by Salisbury ‘A’ who made it a double when they beat Belle Vue in the final of the Sunday Knockout Cup. The final was played in front of a crowd of over 700 at Colchester Utd’s Layer Road ground, officiated by Ted Maidens who over the years held a number of positions on the committee and is now the League’s Patron.
From 1967/68 the league started to grow as more teams joined and at one point there were seven divisions. As teams come and go the constitution changes to suit the needs of the league and we currently have four divisions.
After the success of the Sunday Knockout Cup the number of cup competitions has grown too. The original Knockout Cup was renamed the Thornavon Knockout Cup thanks to the sponsorship of the competition by Thornavon and they also were league sponsors between 1990 & 1997.
Following the sad passing of League President Charles Hewitt near the end of season 2010/11 the decision was taken to rename the competition to the Charles Hewitt Memorial League Cup, and it has subsequently been renamed again after long-serving League Secretary Mrs Elsie Hewitt sadly passed away during 2020. Clubs across all divisions now challenge for the Hewitt Memorial League Cup.
The John Fowler Memorial Cup was introduced in 1976 in memory of John Fowler, a former Colchester Utd player. The trophy was presented every year by a member of the Fowler family and was renamed in 2016 following a request by the family to commemorate and remember the lives of all members of the Fowler family. The silverware is currently presented by his grandchildren Ben & Erin.
In 1976 Ernie Osborne donated the Ernie Osborne Challenge Cup to create a competition for the lower divisions. Ernie has been an active member of the management committee, is the current League President and presents the trophy at the final every year.
The Terry Martin Trophy was donated to the league by Boxted Wanderers in 1987 after their player’s career ending injuries sustained in a serious road accident. Terry attends every final to present the trophies and choose his man of the match.
In 1994 Mick Baker & Ken Salmon donated the Arthur Boswell Cup in memory of Arthur Boswell’s services to the league committee. Mr Boswell’s son comes down from Manchester every season to present the trophy – our version of the ‘charity shield’, to the winners of the season opener between the league champions and knockout cup winners.
The Wally Castle Invitational Trophy was introduced in 1998 to remember the Class One referee and friend to local football. The Trophy was donated to the league by former League Chairman & President Alf Banner.
The league management committee also presents the Alf Banner Chairman’s Award and the Ken Salmon League Award of Merit, both renamed this season to remember two men who gave so very much to the league, while the Charles Duthie Fair Play Awards, given to those clubs who have shown fair play and respect across the season are presented yearly at the League AGM by Charles’ son Graham.
The League has a very hard working committee made up of a team of volunteers who give up a lot of their spare time to support the member clubs and ensure that the league runs as smoothly as possible.
The Committee would like to take this opportunity to offer thanks to all those clubs, players, officials, committee members and volunteers, both past and present, for their support. If it wasn’t for all those people, the league would not be able to look back at over fifty-five years of providing Colchester & its surrounding districts with the opportunity to play competitive football on a Sunday morning.