The Northern Premier Football League (NPL) was formed in 1968 and has since enjoyed a long and successful record of producing a high quality competition and infrastructure for its level within the National Game.
The NPL has an excellent long-standing reputation within the football community and has, through its paid and voluntary officers, ensured that the traditional high standards have been maintained.
Former Northern Premier League clubs to have progressed to the English Football League since the leagues formation in 1968 include Accrington Stanley, Boston United, Burton Albion, Macclesfield Town, Morecambe, Scarborough, Macclesfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Fleetwood Town, our last graduates in 2014.
Wigan, of course, have gone on to even greater things to achieve Premier League status and appear in the 2006 League Cup Final before winning the FA Cup in 2013. Another recent member of the NPL, Gretna, achieved back to back promotions in the Scottish League and also appeared in the 2006 Scottish FA Cup Final before their sad demise.
The NPL has always had a tradition of causing FA Cup upsets going back virtually to its formation. In the competition's second season, South Shields knocked out not one but two Football League clubs in Bradford Park Avenue, who were in their last season in the big time, and Oldham Athletic, the latter over two games.
The following year Boston United accounted for Fourth Division Southport while Wigan Athletic beat Peterborough United to earn a crack at Manchester City where they lost 1-0. Some bigger ties over the years saw Altrincham hold Everton away, Altrincham enjoy similar success at White Hart Lane against the mighty Spurs and Northwich Victoria reach the 4th Round in 1976-7.
In more recent times, Wakefield, then playing under the name of Emley, were holding a star-studded West Ham United side until eight minutes from time and in 2010 Curzon Ashton and Eastwood Town beat Exeter City and Wycombe Wanderers, both of whom went on to gain automatic promotion to League One.
The NPL dominated the early years of the FA Trophy through the inaugural winners Macclesfield Town in 1970, Stafford Rangers (1972, 1979), Scarborough (1973, 1976, 1977), Morecambe (1974), Matlock Town (1975) and Altrincham (1978). In 2003, village side Burscough brought off the mother of all shocks by winning the coveted silverware.
From its formation in 1968 with just twenty clubs, the competition has more than tripled in numbers and now boast three divisions having added a second tier in 1987 and a third section in 2007-08.
The NPL has been actively involved in driving the FA’s Respect Programme since it was launched in 2010, its efforts rewarded with the league winning the FA’s Respect and Fair Play Awards for competitions at Steps 1-4 of the National League System in six out of the first seven years. The NPL's clubs have also dominated the FA’s national club award for Respect at Steps 1-4, during the same period winning six out of the seven accolades handed out.
The driving force behind this success, former League Secretary Phil Bradley, had his hard work recognised when he was presented with the coveted Bobby Moore Individual Award for Respect and Fair Play by Bobby Moore’s widow Stephanie Moore along with FA Chairman David Bernstein and former England International Jimmy Armfield at the 2012 FA Cup Final. Given those statistics it can safely be said that the Northern Premier League is very much at the forefront of the FA’s Respect Programme.
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