As well as providing a unique football environment for over 1,000 veteran players, the Bristol Casuals League is keen to use this to help local charities
The Bristol Casuals League was set up in 1995 as a small, mini-league, by a bunch of over-thirties who fancied the odd game of "organised" football, without the commitment or seriousness of playing in an FA League where chasing superfit teenagers around had lost its appeal.
Such was the interest, the league grew and the rest is history. Today, with over seventy member teams across Bristol, Somerset, Glos and South Wales, the league is more popular than ever. There are five divisions for Over 35's teams, and, in 2015, we set up our first Over 45's division which is rapidly growing.
We try to maintain a balance of a "casual" approach, whilst providing the necessary infrastructure to keep the league organised. Central - and uniquely - to the League's ethos is a commitment to maintaining a real "Corinthian Spirit".
Trying to win is fine, but trying to win by any means necessary is not. In our league the spirit in which the game is played is more important than the result. To that end, we have a Corinthian Table, where teams are scored by the opposition to reflect their sporting behaviour.
In 2016, to ensure we maintain certain basic standards of sportsmanship, the League voted to adopt a "by invitation" system. This requires that clubs meet a defined average Corinthian Score over the course of a season, in order to be automaticaly invited back the following season. Any club failing to meet basic sportsmanship standards (as judged by their fellow clubs), don't get invited back in.
Which is not to say the football is not highly competitive on the field. The standard varies from County League/Toolstation League standard veterans in the first Division, down to a much more relaxed and variable standard lower down the divisions.
Ultimately we believe;
The League currently has five divisions for Over 35's teams, and one divison for Over 45's. Each team can, under certain circumstances, field two under-age players, but there are rules in place to try and ensure that those players aren't worldbeaters in their sporting prime - which would be deemed very uncorinthian.
We aren't FA Affiliated - deliberately (we are "casual" after all) - so there are no individual player registrations and joining the league is a simple matter of paying a £50 annual registration fee (almost all of which goes to charity). There is usually a waiting list each close season, but we are pretty flexible in structuring the divisions in order to accommodate most/all new applications.
Teams play each other once per season, rather than home AND away, and a full season fixture schedule is generated pre-season and is published on the league website. Clubs are free to change the allocated fixture date if agreed with their opponents. Cup dates must be adhered to however.
We do NOT assign referees to matches as we not FA-affiliated. Traditionally the League has been a sportsmanlike environment where an official referee was not deemed a requirement. However, it is true to say the overall level of competitiveness has increased over the years and many teams now appoint a referee, which we feel is a good idea generally.
Having played a match, teams use their club web page to enter the score and enter their corinthian score for the opposition, together with a brief match report (many of which are highly entertaining...). The website autmatically updates the League tables and Corinthian Table - and that's it - there is no other real admin involved in running a team in the League.