125th Anniversary

Bedfordshire FA celebrates 125 years of football

The Bedfordshire FA Handbook 2019-20

Follow the links below to download the relevant documents.

Our History


  • The Second World War took place between these years. Again many involved in local football in Bedfordshire joined the Armed forces to fight in defence of their Country. These included Luton Town players Joe Coen who died in an RAF training accident and Charles Ladd who was a stoker on board HMS Hood.


  • A.E.Ansell elected President of the Association and H Pearce became the Secretary/Treasurer. 


  • The Luton and District Minor League requested that Minor Football should be run under a separate County Minor Association. Following a meeting between the League and the County FA it was agreed that a separate committee appointed by the County FA should be responsible and the word Minor was replaced by Youth. 


  • The County Youth Cup Competition was formed for Under 16 and Under 18 age groups. Council reported that 60 clothing coupons had been received from the Football Association for Referees Kit. It was decided that half would go to the South Beds Society and half to the North Beds. Due to a severe winter the season was extended to 14th June.


  • Youth football continues to increase with the formation and sanction of the East Bedfordshire Minor League for clubs in the Biggleswade area. There were 73 entries in the county cups compared to 43 in the previous year. The Dunstable Senior and Junior Benevolent Cup Competitions and the Dunstable Youth League combined to form the Dunstable Alliance.


  • Number of Vice presidents increased to four to fall into line with the new Parliamentary constituencies. Luton Referee and former County FA Secretary, Henry Pearce, refereed the FA Cup Final.


  • Death of A.E. Ansell on 2nd March. He served on Council for 42 years and the Beds FA for 45 years. An achievement unsurpassed. Lord Luke was elected President and F.A. Stanton Chairman of Council-the first time the two positions had been separated. The County premier Cup was re launched as the Bedfordshire Professional Invitation Trophy involving Luton Town and Bedford Town. Permission was granted by Bedfordshire County Council for the County Coat of Arms to be incorporated into the Association’s badge. 


  • Chiltern Youth League formed bringing the number of affiliated Leagues and Competitions to 16. There are now 201 teams in the County and 155 affiliated referees. The Bedford Thursday league disbanded and presented two trophies to the County FA for safekeeping. North Bedfordshire RA played South Bedfordshire RA in the first Frank Heath Cup Match.
    F.A Amateur International match between England and France at Kenilworth Road, Luton. This was the first International to be played in Bedfordshire. 
    Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 


  • Twenty four medals and mementoes awarded to Mr A.E.Ansell whilst serving as Vice Chairman and Vice president of the Football Association made into a shield designated the Albert E Ansell Memorial Shield and presented to the County FA by Mrs C.V.Budd, daughter of A.E.Ansel


  • The Bedfordshire Under 18’s 18 County Youth Team won the FA County Youth Cup beating Sheffield and Hallamshire 2-0 at Rotherham in the two legged Final after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Bedford. A special match was played between Bedfordshire and FA Youth Cup winners, Manchester Uniteds Busby Babes. The United team including Duncan Edwards and Sir Bobby Charlton won 4-3.
    Luton Town League Division 2 runners up to Birmingham City.


  • Bedford Town draw 2-2 with Arsenal in the third round of the FA Cup and lose the replay 2-1 after extra Time.


  • Manchester United Munich Air Disaster Fund contribution by Beds FA.


  • Luton Town beat Norwich City to reach the FA Cup Final but are defeated 2-1 by Nottingham Forest at Wembley. 
    Highest attendance at a football match in Bedfordshire, as 30,069 see Luton Town play Blackpool at Kenilworth Road.  
    Luton Town player Sid Owen was Footballer of the Year.


  • The increasing number of clubs being formed resulted in the new County Cup Competition being introduced- The Junior Charity Cup.


  • Sunday Football comes to the County with the sanctioning of the Bedford Sunday League. 


  • Council were presented with two silver trophies from the Defunct Biggleswade Youth League and decided they would be used as Challenge Trophies for the two new Sunday Cup Competitions.


  • North Home Counties Sunday Football League affiliated.
    In the World Cup England beat West Germany 4-2 after Extra Time at Wembley. Bedfordshire FA supplied the ball boys for the occasion. Neil Rioch (ballboy) was the first English person to touch the ball in the World Cup Final.


  • The number of discipline cases exceeds 400 for the first time


  • Luton Town League Division 4 Champions.



  • A gala celebration dinner was held in March at The Bedfordshire Moat House, with the Chairman of the Football Association, Sir Bert Millichip, invited as Principal guest. The event was attended by the Vice Chair of Bedfordshire County Council. Keith O’Keefe comedian provided the after dinner entertainment.  The guest list was 60. There was a display of memorabilia at the Dinner with a Centenary tie, Centenary brochure and commemorative pens provided.   
  • It was agreed to invite affiliated leagues to a Centenary Knock Out cup with a final tie at Kenilworth Road. The Festival of Football Centenary Trophy Final was won by A&B Sports North Home Counties Sunday Football League who beat the Camden Group Leighton and District Sunday League 5-1  after extra time. 
  • Contracts were exchanged and construction of the new County HQ commenced. Agreement was sought from Dunstable Town Council to name the HQ Century House. Handover was planned for 5th September 1994, The building became fully operational on 3 October. The official opening was 21 October the ceremony was attended by A.D. McMullen and the Mayor of Dunstable. 
  • A.D.McMullen completed 40 years service to the Football Association.
    County Intermediate Representative Team narrowly defeated 3-2 by Hampshire in the Southern Counties Championship. The new FA Women’s Football League to be administered by the FA. 
  • Concern expressed regarding the wearing of jewellery at the World Cup.
  • Substitute goalkeepers introduced into the game. 
  • It was hoped to develop the women’s game in Bedfordshire and sought reports on a County Competition and representative team. 
  • Luton Town lost 2-0 to Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley Stadium.


  • Statistics showed a 10% increase in the number of proven assault charges
  • The County had two successful teams in National Competitions. Arlesey Town won the FA Vase at Wembley defeating Oxford City 2-1.
  • St Josephs won the FA Sunday Cup defeating B&A Scaffolding 2-1 at Hull City.
  • A joint reception was held in June.
  • K Williamson indicated his intention to step down as Chairman of the Association, a role he had held since 1989. W Tyler was elected Chairman


  • The Intermediate Representative team reached final of Southern Counties Combination v London FA at Barton Rovers.   
  • St Josephs reached FA Sunday Cup Final for the second successive season winning 2-1 against Croxteth & Gilmoss RBL at Northampton Town.
    C Moyse became Chairman.                  
  • Bedfordshire Girls Football League formed
  • Luton Deaf FC successful in the English Deaf Football League and Challenge Cup on their 75th Anniversary


  • Centenary year of Luton District and South Beds Football League. T.Smith, former Council Member appointed President of Turks and Caicos Islands and a F.I.F.A Representative.
  • Barton Rovers represent Bedfordshire in the Grand Final of the Anglia TV 5 a side tournament and win the Competition in Norwich.
  • Concerns expressed regarding communal baths in changing rooms, the wearing of glasses, and body piercing jewellery by players.


  • St Josephs reach FA Sunday Cup Final, and are runners up to Olympic Star losing on penalties after 1-1 scoreline at Nottingham Forest.
  • R.G.Berridge became Chairman of the Council. 
  • CCTV installed at Century House due to security issues.
  • FA identified concern regarding the loss of playing fields, child protection’ and eliminating racism from football. 
  • Beds FA Mini Soccer County Development Plan lodged with the FA. The league commenced.


  • St Josephs again reach FA Sunday Cup final and were runners up to Little Paxton after a 2-2 final score, losing on penalties at Nottingham Forest FC.
    Sandy Albion Veterans win FA over 40’s Plate and Celtic SC (Luton) win FA over 35’s Plate. Cardinal Newman win under 14’s Schools Cup (1008 entries) beating Kingsdown School, Swindon, at Highbury. University of Luton are National University Cup finalists.


  • A new Millennium. Following organisational restructure, R.R. Robinson became Chairman of the Council. R.G Berridge became President of the Association. P.D.Brown became Chief Executive.
  • Asians in football Initiative progressed.    
  • AD McMullen (Former Vice Chair of FA) passed away.
  • A Child Welfare Officer was appointed.
  • Last game at old Wembley Stadium-  England v Germany, in World Cup qualifier.


  • FC Houghton reach FA Sunday Cup final at Villa Park and were runners up to Hartlepool Lion Hillcarter after they were defeated on penalties after a 0-0 score. 
  • England beet Spain 4-2 in a Women’s International match at Kenilworth Road, Luton.


  • Luton Town Division 3 Runners Up to Plymouth Argyle.

  • Concerns expressed about shortage of Referee assessors and the number of candidates applying for promotion. An advert was broadcast on Chiltern Radio seeking more referees.

  • Beds FA Poster produced ‘Be a proud parent, not a loud parent’.


  • Luton Town Ladies National Standard Charter club of the year


  • Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Girls & Women’s League formed


  • The FA amended its rules and guidance to recognise religious festivals to uphold its commitment to providing equal opportunities for all.
  • Luton Town League 1 Champions


  • St Josephs reach fifth FA Sunday Cup final at Liverpool FC, losing to Hetton Lyons Cricket Club 5-3.
  • Bedfordshire County Under 18’s win national FA County Youth Cup, beating Durham 3-2 at Darlington FC. This team won every game that season.
  • Bedfordshire Schools Under18’s reach National Final, losing to Merseyside 2-1 at Liverpool FC.


  • New Wembley Stadium opened. It cost £789 Million and holds 90,000 spectators.


  • Cardinal Newman Under15 Girls become National Champions, beating Thomas Telford School at Wolverhampton Wanderers.


  • Luton Town beat Scunthorpe United 3-2 at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final. Luton Town Relegated from Football League.


  • In June, the New County Lounge and new Century House with enhanced facilities were opened by Barry Bright Vice Chairman of English Football Association.
  • The AGP was also opened by Hope Powell (England women football manager)
  • Luton Sunday League ceased to operate.
  • Beds Mini Soccer League is the first league to become East Region Charter Standard League of the Year, and Colin Moore (jnr) of Sundon Park Rangers was Young Leader of the Year.


  • Bedfordshire official, Simon Beck, appointed FA Cup Final Assistant Referee.
  • Luton Town host International Challenge Trophy semi final England ‘C’ v Belgium at Kenilworth Road. 
  • The FA directed that the wearing of ‘snoods’ by players could constitute a danger to the player.


  • Year of London Olympic games. Arlesey Town reach first round of FA Cup but lose to former winners Coventry City 3-0 at the Ricoh Stadium.
  • Keith D.Stroud became Chief Executive. 
  • Opening of St Georges Park, the National FA facility.
  • Enzo Valente of Farley Boys FC won the FA Eastern Region Outstanding Contribution to Community Football Award.
  • Charles Simmonds (Life Vice President) passed away.
  • National Respect Initiative to combat bad language in small stadiam.
  • There were 400 registered referees in the County.
  • Bedfordshire School Girls have their first representative team at Under 14 level.


  • Richard R Robinson became President of the Association. Richard.W.Everitt became Chairman of the Association.
  • Luton Town (non league team) defeat Premier League Norwich City, away 1-0 in 4th Round having defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers in the previous round.
  • Bedfordshire County under 18’s win National FA County Youth Cup defeating Manchester FA 4-2 on penalties after a 4-4 draw at Rochdale FC. 
  • Remembrance Sunday match kick off times adjusted to 11.05 am to ensure uniformity and to address previous complaints.


  • Luton Town return to the Football League after an absence of 5 years, as Champions of the National League.
  • Dan Robathan became Chief Executive of the Association.
  • Concern expressed at the decline in the number of referees by Beds FA. There was to be a recruitment drive training course promotion.
  • Beds FA Youth Council won 3 national awards including Best Youth Council.
  • Biggleswade Town reach the first round of the FA Cup but lose 4-1 away at Stourbridge
  • Repeat (roll on-roll off) substitutions introduced at adult grass roots football to enhance participation.
  • South Beds Sunday League finished. The Luton and District league merged with the Bedford County League


  • Sam Halfpenny, who was part funded by Beds FA, played for England Deaf in the European Championships in Germany.
  • Beds FA Youth Council adopted the same structure as main Council.
  • Full Time and Whole Game System being introduced to provide consistent electronic organisation and management of the game nationwide.
  • Mary Harmer and Rachel Evans appointed as officials of FA Women’s Youth Cup at Stafford Rangers FC.
  • Barnfield West reach English Schools Cup Final.
  • 89 clubs affiliated. Concern registered regarding the decline of 11v11 Adult male football.
  • Central Appointments System had seen improvement of officials game coverage from 60% to 90%.
  • There were 4596 discipline cases including 535 dismissals and 4596 cautions. 
  • Bedfordshre FA reach ‘Outstanding’ benchmark in 1st 4Sport Internal Verification Process.
  • 2016   
  • Alan Young became Chief Executive of the Association.
  • Inclusion Advisory Group set up.
  • Two Bedfordshire teams reach English Schools FA Finals. Bedfordshire Schools Under 14’s reach National Final losing 6-1 to Surrey at Birmingham City.
  • Samuel Whitbread Under 16’s reach National Final losing 4-2 to Thomas Telford School at Manchester City FC.


  • Bedfordshire Schools Under 16’s Girls reach South East Regional  Fina , losing to Essex in extra time. 


  • Luton Town promoted to Division 1 as runners up to Accrington Stanley.
  • Wes Matthews of Elstow Abbey FC won the Bedfordshire Groundsman of the year award and went on to become the National Groundsman of the Year.
  • Sin bins trialled to improve discipline in grass roots football.
  • There were 4968 discipline cases including 460 dismissals and 4180 cautions.


  • Bedfordshire Football Association celebrates 125 years since its foundation       
  • Leighton and District Sunday Football League celebrate 50th Anniversary.    
  • There are 462 registered referees with Beds FA. 263 clubs affiliated and 1333 teams
  • Luton Town gain planning approval for a new stadium at Power Court
  • April 9th Bedfordshire FA Celebration Dinner with specially invited guests at Century House followed by:
    Bedfordshire XI v England ‘C’ at Kenilworth Road, Luton.


  • The first case of a player being fined as well suspended for misconduct.


  • The number of Vice presidents increased from two to three (one for each parliamentary division).
  • The Standing Committees in operation were  Discipline, Sanctions, Referees and Accident.  


  • Bedfordshire County League formed with 8 clubs.
  • The County Premier Cup was donated by Luton Town to the association with entries by invitation of Council.
  • The County Minor Cup was introduced for players under 18.
  • Charles Green, the Secretary of Luton Town was elected President of the Association.


  • Standing Orders formulated, agreed and adopted. New National football stadium opened at Wembley.


  • Notice to players chosen to represent Bedfordshire against Berks and Bucks at Slough. 'The players from Bedford will catch the 9.05 train from Bedford to Luton where they will join players from Luton and proceed to London by the 11,00 train. They will then go to Paddington to catch the 12.15 train to Slough. Kick off 2.15pm.’ (So much for the joys of the joys of travel by coach and car).


  • Two new Standing Committees formed; Team Selection and Benevolent.


  • The following Competitions were sanctioned Bedford and District County League; Luton and South Beds League; Bedford and District league; Bedford Thursday league; Luton Wednesday league; Leighton Challenge Cup; North Beds Charity Cup; Biggleswade and District league; Bedford County Hospital Cup; and Leighton and District League 


  • Joe Payne scored 10 goals for Luton Town  v Bristol Rovers. This is a Football League record. 


  • Bedfordshire team that played Hertfordshire on 27th October included Hugh Billington (Waterlows) and Horace Gager (Vauxhall Motors). Both players were later to make many Football League appearances for Luton Town.Billington was subsequently transferred to Chelsea, and Gager to Nottingham Forest. Hertfordshire may well have had future stars in their team as they won 8-3
  • Luton Town Division 3 (South) Champions. 


  • South Beds Minor league formed for players under the age of 18, and the Competition was run by officials of the County FA. 


  • Extract from the Minutes of the Referees and Cup Draws Committee meeting 'The Committee recognise that all matches played on Public pitches have to be suspended during an Air Raid Alert and ruled that when this happened the score would have been taken as a result if 60 minutes had been played'


  • Calls to the Armed Forces had seriously depleted the number of clubs still able to function. There were 7 entries for the Senior Cup, 13 for the Intermediate, 12 for the Junior Cup and 9 for the Minor Cup


  • The Second World War took place between these years. Again many involved in local football in Bedfordshire joined the Armed forces to fight in defence of their Country. These included Luton Town players Joe Coen who died in an RAF training accident and Charles Ladd who was a stoker on board HMS Hood.


  • Duties of Hon Secretary /Treasurer split into two jobs. A.D.  McMullen continues as Hon Secretary and E.N.Thurley appointed Hon Treasurer. F.Jeeves became Chairman of the Council.
  • Leighton and District Sunday League affiliated.


  • A.D. McMullen resigns as Hon Secretary and becomes the first Life Vice President of the County FA.
  • Two new Leagues affiliate- The Bedford and District Colts League and the South Beds Sunday League. 
  • Luton Town Runners Up to Orient in Division 3.  
  • Comedian Eric Morecambe became Director of Luton Town 


  • County Minor Cup initiated for players Under 12 and Under 14.
  • First mention of appointing full-time Secretary and establishing own headquarters (July Council Meeting). 


  • Number of Discipline cases rocket to nearly 1900- a staggering increase of approximately 75% over previous year.   


  • Luton Town are promoted to First Division (Now The Premier League) as runners up to Middlesbrough.


  • County Under 18 Team reach the final of the FA County Youth Cup for a second time being beaten 2-1 by Durham at Dunstable Town.


  • Former County Secretary A.D.McMullen is elected Vice Chairman of the Football Association following the footsteps of his predecessor.


  • Shirt advertising approved for cups except Youth.
  • Beds FA official Ray Rodell was linesman at Liverpool v Manchester United FA Cup final at Wembley before a gate of 99,252.


  • Sponsorship spreads and the first Bedfordshire Competition to take advantage is the Chiltern Youth League.
  • Discipline incentive scheme introduced to reward clubs that do not incur misconduct. Barton Rovers become only the second Bedfordshire Club to play a cup final at Wembley following Luton Town’s  appearance in the FA Cup Final in 1959 where they met Newcastle Blue Star in the FA Vase Final. Although scoring first, they were beaten 2-1.


  • Increased workload necessitates the appointment of an Asst. Hon Secretary.
  • Two more leagues apply for sanction - The Wallspan Southern Combination and the Leighton and District Junior League.


  • The County premier Cup - subsequently known as the Professional Invitation Cup reverted to its original nomenclature and was reintroduced as a floodlit competition.


  • 307 qualified Referees registered with the County. The highest number in the Association’s History.


  • C.H.Simmonds became Chairman of the Council


  • Congratulations to St Josephs Youth Club on winning all three County Youth Cups at Under 18, Under 16 and Under 14 levels.


  • Continuous increase in the workload necessitates the appointment of an Asst. Hon. Secretary with particular emphasis on Discipline matters and also a Competitions Secretary.
  • Dunstable Alliance closes down and the League’s cups are handed over to the County FA. The funds are placed in trust.


  • Luton Town reach FA Cup Semi Final at Villa Park but are beaten 2-1 by Everton. R.Cox became Chairman of the Council.


  • Building Fund opened. This was the first positive move towards setting up an HQ for the Beds FA.
  • Lowest number of discipline cases for 10 years. 
  • Bedfordshire Schools Under18’s reach the National Final losing 4-2 to Merseyside at Everton FC.


  • New Sunday league formed. Started life as the Citizen League but now called the Luton Sunday League. 
  • Luton Town finished 7th in Football League Division 1. Their highest ever position. 


  • Luton Town at Wembley for the final of the Littlewoods Cup and returned with the trophy, after beating Arsenal 3-2.
  • Luton Town were also runners up to Reading at Wembley in the final of the Simod Cup.
  • Full programme of coaching courses set up to include the FA Preliminary Coaching Certificate, Football Leaders Course, Treatment of Injuries Course, and also Soccer fun weeks for youngsters during school holidays
  • Luton Town lost 2-1 to eventual winners, Wimbledon, in FA Cup Semi Final at White Hart Lane. 
  • Beds FA supplied the ball boys for the FA Charity Shield between Wimbledon and  Liverpool.


  • First lady member elected to Council. Mrs Pat Pratt created history when she was elected to represent Division 7.
  • Luton Town return to Wembley to defend the Littlewoods Cup but are beaten 3-1 by their 1959 conquerors, Nottingham Forest.
  • Luton Town re-enter the County Cup scene by entering the Premier Cup and win it.
  • Dunstable win the Senior cup for the fourth successive year. K.Williamson became Chairman of the Council.


  • In this first year of the ‘nineties’ there were 747 teams playing in Beds FA sanctioned Competitions within the County.
  • Penalty shoot outs introduced for settling County Cup Finals if scores still level after extra time. Three finals were decided in this manner.


  • 783 teams representing 434 clubs in the County- the highest ever number.
  • The number of discipline cases also reached record proportions when 2320 cases of misconduct were reported.
  • For the second year running the Senior Cup was decided by a penalty shoot out, the winners being Electrolux. Who were forced to disband shortly afterwards due to the Company making their ground unavailable for future use by the Works team.
  • Another well known works club, Vauxhall Motors also disappeared from the scene for domestic reasons.


  • 814 teams representing 451 clubs, another new record
  • 25% incease on the previous year.
  • Only 76 teams qualified to receive footballs under the discipline incentive scheme.
  • The Association appointed a full time Secretary 21 years after the position was first talked about.
  • Negotiations started with Dunstable Town Council regarding a permanent Headquarters. Plans were put in motion to celebrate the Associations Centenary Year in 1994.
  • Luton Town relegated from Division 1 (Now Premier league) after 10 seasons.


  • Increased number of teams playing on Sundays necessitates the inauguration of a new Sunday Cup Competition. In view of the fact that the closing stages of the Competition will be played in the Associations Centenary Year, it has been designated the Sunday Centenary Cup. Women’s Football becomes affiliated.


Historical background for the first 100 years prepared by Nick Rhodes and updated 2019 by Mick McConkey, David Woolaston and Alan Moorhouse Councillors with the Bedfordshire Football Association


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