North West Counties League
North West Counties Football League logo
Country England.png England
Founded 1982
Divisions Premier Division
First Division
Number of teams 22 in Premier Division
18 in First Division
Promotion to Northern Premier League
Levels on pyramid 9-10
Domestic cup(s) League Cup
First Division Trophy
Current champions New Mills (Premier Division)
A.F.C. Blackpool (Division One) (2010-2011)
Website Official website

The North West Counties Football League is a football league in 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 Division One 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.


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.

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.

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.

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. Two clubs have won a league and cup double, Ashton United in 1991–92 and Kidsgrove Athletic in 1997–98, 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.

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. Former 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.

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.

Current Teams (2016-17)

Premier Division

First Division

External links

Football in England
League competitions The FA Cup competitions
Premier League England (B) (C) FA Cup
Football League (Champ, 1, 2) (U-21) (U-20) Football League Cup
National League (Prem, N, S) (U-19) (U-18) FA Community Shield
Northern Premier (Prem, 1N, 1S) (U-17) (U-16) EFL Trophy
Southern League (Prem, Cen, 1S&W) List of clubs FA Trophy
Isthmian League (Prem, 1N, 1SC) List of stadiums Conference League Cup (Defunt)
(by capacity) FA Vase
List of leagues
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