PORTSMOUTH ROYAL Dockyard League has folded – in it’s centenary season.
The painstaking decision to end 100 years of amateur football was made on Thursday night by the league’s committee at an emergency AGM meeting.
Established in 1913, the competition hosted 60 clubs at the height of its popularity but was forced to close its doors when only five sides registered for the 2014-15 season.
League secretary Brian Mill, who has been involved in Dockyard football for more than 40 years, said: ‘It is a sad day for all. But I think it’s just a sign of the times.
‘We only had five entries for next season, so you can’t carry on with that sort of figure.
‘We’ve now reached the cut-off point to register – and I don’t want to put those five teams in a position where they have nowhere to play football.’
Mill admitted the announcement – as tough as it was to make – was inevitable given the recent decline in adult participation in grassroots 11-a-side football.
But the 60-year-old has spoken of his pride at reaching a major milestone, and has not ruled out a rebirth of the long-standing league under a different guise.
He said: ‘At the end of this season there were 159 clubs playing Sunday football in the Portsmouth area. That’s the five leagues – ourselves, Portsmouth Sunday, Gosport, Fareham & Solent, Havant and Meon Valley.
‘Just 16 years ago – in 1998 – there were 152 teams playing in the Dockyard League and the Sunday league alone.
‘We got to our centenary year which we didn’t think we might do five years ago, so everyone can feel proud of themselves for that.’
He added: ‘The idea of a midweek league for teams has been mooted, but any decision would have to be made by Hampshire FA.’
n Do you have any abiding Dockyard League memories?
If so, please contact the Sports Desk by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
– JEFF MARSHMAN