North West Counties League

North West Counties Football League
Country England England
Confederation FA
Founded 1982
Divisions Premier Division
First Division
Number of teams 41
22 (Premier Division)
19 (First Division)
Levels on pyramid 9–10
Feeder to Northern Premier League
Division One North and Division One South
Domestic cup(s) League Cup
First Division Trophy
FA Cup
FA Vase
Current champions Padiham (Premier Division)
Formby (First Division)
Website Official website
2013–14 season

The North West Counties Football League is a football league in the North West of England. As of 2011, the league covers Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Southern Cumbria, Northern Staffordshire, the High Peak area of Derbyshire, and the far west of West Yorkshire. In the past, the league has also hosted clubs from North Wales. The league currently has two divisions: the Premier Division, at level nine in the English football league system, and the First Division at level ten. The league is a member of the Joint Liaison Council which administers the Northern arm of the National Football System in England.[1]


The league was formed in 1982 by the merger of the Cheshire County League and the Lancashire Combination. It originally consisted of three divisions, but this was reduced to two in 1987, partly because of the creation of an extra division in the Northern Premier League (NPL). At the same time, promotion and relegation between the two leagues was introduced, with either the first or second placed club in the North West Counties Football League (NWCFL) being entitled to a place in the NPL, subject to their ground meeting that league's requirements.[1]

The NWCFL has six feeder leagues of its own with eligibility for promotion to the First Division being accorded to champions of the Cheshire Association Football League, Liverpool County Premier League, West Cheshire Amateur Football League, Staffordshire County Senior League, West Lancashire Football League, and Manchester Football League, subject to their grounds meeting the NWCFL's requirements.[1]

The first sponsorship of the NWCFL came in with Bass who remained the league sponsors until 1995. In 1998, the regional train operating company, First North Western became the new sponsor in a two year deal.[1]

In the 2008–09 season the league was again restructured. Division One was renamed the Premier Division and Division Two became the First Division.

The only club to have played in the top division every season since its inception is St Helens Town. Three clubs have won a league and cup double, Ashton United in 1991–92, Kidsgrove Athletic in 1997–98 and F.C. United of Manchester in 2006–07, while Atherton Laburnum Rovers are the only club to have won consecutive championships in 1992–93 and 1993–94. For three consecutive seasons in the 1980s Clitheroe won each of the NWCFL divisions. In 1983–84 they were Division Three champions, the following season they won the Division Two championship and then in 1985–86 they were crowned Division One champions.[1]

The league is currently home to two former Football League clubs; Glossop North End and Nelson. The Bootle club is not the same one as the former Football League club. Football League members Accrington Stanley have risen to play in the Football League.

For sixteen years the record attendance for a NWCFL match was 1,353 for a First Division championship decider between Radcliffe Borough and Caernarfon Town in the 1982–83 season. In the 1998–99 season a crowd of 2,281 saw Workington's championship deciding match with Mossley at Borough Park. In the 2005–06 season a new record was set, with 6,023 at Gigg Lane for a Division Two match between FC United of Manchester and Great Harwood Town on 23 April 2006. The following season, due mainly to the relatively large support for FC United of Manchester, saw attendances rise and included a record 4,058 for an evening match, with Salford City's Division One home game against FC United of Manchester.[1]

The NWCFL has two cup competitions – the League Cup which is open to all clubs and the First Division Trophy. The league also runs a reserve league which consists of a single division of sixteen clubs, which also has a dedicated League Cup. From 1990–91 to 1999–2000 the league also ran a Floodlit Trophy competition.[1]

2013–14 clubs

Premier Division

Finishing position 2012–13 Consec seasons in division Consec seasons in NWCFL
Abbey Hey 2nd in First Division 1 16
AFC Blackpool 10th 3 32
AFC Liverpool 11th 3 6
Alsager Town 15th 6 6
Ashton Athletic 20th 6 8
Bacup & Rossendale Borough 17th 11 32
Barnoldswick Town 9th 4 5
Bootle 3rd 5 8
Colne 8th 10 18
Congleton Town 7th 13 13
Glossop North End 13th 22 32
Maine Road 2nd 10 27
Norton United 14th 2 13
Runcorn Linnets 6th 7 8
Runcorn Town 4th 3 4
Silsden 18th 9 10
Squires Gate 21st (reprieved from relegation) 12 23
St. Helens Town 19th 32 32
Stockport Sports 16th 2 2
West Didsbury & Chorlton 3rd in First Division 1 2
Wigan Robin Park 12th 2 6
Winsford United 5th 7 13

First Division

Finishing position 2012–13 Consec seasons in division Consec seasons in NWCFL
1874 Northwich Newly formed club 1 1
AFC Darwen 5th 4 4
Ashton Town 6th 27 28
Atherton Collieries 4th 5 32
Atherton Laburnum Rovers 13th 2 17
Chadderton 12th 16 32
Cheadle Town 7th 13 31
Daisy Hill 16th 32 32
Eccleshall 15th 11 11
Formby 1st (denied promotion due to ground grading issues) 3 11
Hanley Town 1st in Staffordshire County Senior League Premier Division 1 1
Holker Old Boys 17th 15 23
Irlam 14th 6 6
Leek County School Old Boys 11th 13 18
Nelson 10th 3 3
Northwich Flixton Villa 18th 3 3
Oldham Boro 8th 28 32
Rochdale Town 9th 24 24
Widnes Vikings 4th in West Cheshire League Third Division, playing as Widnes Town 1 1

Previous divisional champions


The league was formed with three divisions.

Season Division One Division Two Division Three
1982–83 Burscough Radcliffe Borough Colne Dynamoes
1983–84 Stalybridge Celtic Fleetwood Town Clitheroe
1984–85 Radcliffe Borough Clitheroe Kirkby Town
1985–86 Clitheroe Kirkby Town Blackpool Mechanics
1986–87 Stalybridge Celtic Droylsden Atherton Collieries


Due to the expansion of the Northern Premier League, and the withdrawal of clubs who could no longer meet the ground requirements, the third division was disbanded and a two division format instigated, a format that still remains in place.

Season Division One Division Two
1987–88 Colne Dynamoes Ashton United
1988–89 Rossendale United Vauxhall G M
1989–90 Warrington Town Maine Road
1990–91 Knowsley United Great Harwood Town
1991–92 Ashton United Bamber Bridge
1992–93 Atherton Laburnum Rovers Maghull
1993–94 Atherton Laburnum Rovers Haslingden
1994–95 Bradford Park Avenue Flixton
1995–96 Flixton Vauxhall G M
1996–97 Trafford Ramsbottom United
1997–98 Kidsgrove Athletic Oldham Town
1998–99 Workington Fleetwood Freeport
1999–2000 Vauxhall GM Woodley Sports
2000–01 Rossendale United Warrington Town
2001–02 Kidsgrove Athletic Stand Athletic
2002–03 Prescot Cables Bacup Borough
2003–04 Clitheroe Colne
2004–05 Fleetwood Town[2] Cammell Laird
2005–06 Cammell Laird FC United of Manchester
2006–07 FC United of Manchester Winsford United
2007–08 Trafford New Mills


In the 2008–09 season, the league renamed their divisions to the Premier Division and First Division.

Season Premier Division First Division
2008–09 AFC Fylde Bootle
2009–10 Newcastle Town Stone Dominoes
2010–11 New Mills AFC Blackpool
2011–12 Ramsbottom United[3] Wigan Robin Park[4]
2012–13 Padiham Formby

League Cup winners

The NWCFL League Cup is for all members of the Premier and First divisions.

First Division Trophy winners

The First Division Trophy is for all members of the First Division. It was known as the Second Division Trophy from 1989 to 2008.

Floodlit Trophy winners

The NWCFL Floodlit Trophy was for all members of the Premier and First divisions.


External links

  • Official website
  • Current league tables
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