On 10th December 1965 representatives from thirteen clubs met to discuss the formation of a new Intermediate League in Essex and it was agreed to call the league the Essex Olympian Football League.
The club was re-named the Essex Intermediate League in 1986 but reverted back to the Essex Olympian League in 2005.
The thirteen clubs that were at the initial meeting were:-
Basildon & Pitsea, Billericay Town, Bishops Stortford Swifts, Bowers United, Burnham Ramblers, Collier Row, Dorstel Press, Dunmow, Essex Police, Little Waltham, Old Chelmsfordians, Sawbridgeworth and Writtle.
Of those original thirteen, only Bishops Stortford Swifts and Old Chelmsfordians are still members of the League.
In addition our current President Gordon Evans was a referee on the league during the first season and he took over as Hon. League Treasurer in November 1966.
As the first President John W. Coward wrote in the foreword to the 1966/67 Handbook:
“This new League opens up the field of competition to teams from the Mid-Essex, Harlow & District, Southend & District and Parthenon Leagues and I am quite sure it will become the Intermediate League of the County.”
Since the formation of the League the aim has been to provide a stepping stone between Junior and Senior Football and throughout this period many clubs have moved on into Senior Football with great success.
The most successful of these, it could be argued, are Billericay Town. They had been inaugural members in 1966/67 and after winning two league titles (including one double winning season), moved into Senior Football when they joined the Essex Senior League.
From there they went on to win the Essex Senior League and also became the first club to win the FA Vase three times. The club now play in the Ryman Premier Division, having played as high as National League South.
Concord Rangers also spent time in the Essex Olympian League before they gained Senior status and moved up the Pyramid. They went via the Essex Senior League, all the way through the Ryman League, before reaching the National League South and achieving a hat-trick of Essex Senior Cup wins, making them the first club in almost fifty years to achieve this accolade.
Collier Row went from the Essex Olympian League into the London Spartan League before moving into the Isthmian (Ryman League) and they too had great FA Vase pedigree, going as far as the Semi-Finals in the 1987/88 season.
Burnham Ramblers won the first Olympian League championship and have played in the Ryman League after an Essex Senior League winning campaign in 2012/13. Bowers United were also inauguaral members but after winning an Essex Senior League championship-winning season last year are playing at that highest level this term in the Ryman North.
The forerunners of Brentwood Town have played in the League as have Great Wakering Rovers, Sawbridgeworth Town and Takeley. The last team to step up into Senior Football was Wadham Lodge, who moved through the Olympian League’s divisions before gaining Senior status in time for the 2015/16 season and joined the Essex Senior League.
I doubt that those who met in 1965 would have anticipated the success the League and its member clubs would enjoy over the following seasons.
But as we complete fifty years, we can look forward to further success and to continue providing a high standard of football for the next fifty years. From a modest start of just thirteen teams in one division, we now have almost ninety teams spread over seven divisions ranging from the Premier Division, which is Step 7 in the National League (Pyramid) System to an U21 Division.
To celebrate this land mark the club have issued a souvenir badge, polo shirt, jacket and history book. Details for these can be found on the league’s website www.eofl.co.uk or by email [email protected]
Article: Scott Lanza