In the early 1900s football was beginning to take off as an organized sport in West Sussex after the formation of the Football League in 1888.
The West Sussex League, which was formed in 1896, consisted of two leagues a Senior and Junior League. In the West Sussex Gazette January 18th 1900 edition (page 2), the leagues tables are listed and were made up of the following teams:
West Sussex Senior League 1899-1900 Season:
Shoreham, Chichester, Horsham, Steyning, Worthing Athletic, Worthing, Petworth, Littlehampton, Bognor and Arundel.
West Sussex Junior League 1899-1900 Season:
Southwick Swifts, Crawley, Shoreham Reserves, Portfield, Worthing Reserves, Littlehampton Swifts, Wick, St Philips (Arundel), Worthing Athletic Reserves, and Amberley.
In the West Sussex Gazette September 20th 1900 edition page 9, the league tables for the following season are listed and the Senior League was reduced by two teams to eight. Shoreham and Worthing Athletic dropped out of the league, with Arundel being relegated and Southwick Swifts being promoted from the Junior Division. In the Junior League St Philips (Arundel), Worthing Athletic Reserves, Amberley and Littlehampton Swifts dropped out of the league and were replaced by Chichester Garrison, Midhurst and Bersted.
During the first decade of the 1900’s football in West Sussex developed rapidly with many local teams and clubs being formed. Although there was now a league representing the whole of West Sussex many village teams still tended to belong to other local junior leagues all of which changed and evolved over time as teams moved leagues frequently in order to suit their locality and also ambitions.
In the West Sussex Gazette October 8th 1908 edition page 3, there are some fixtures printed for the Bognor & Chichester League.
Chichester Reserves vs Singleton
Portfield vs Bognor Reserves
Selsey vs Midhurst
St John’s (Bognor) vs Arundel II
Also in the West Sussex Gazette February 18th 1909 edition page 3, there is an interesting report about Referees. Even in those days refereeing standards were being discussed and were an issue. Nothing appears to have changed more than 100 years on!
Importance of Good Referees
The fact that matches may be lost or won on bad decisions of the referee, makes it important that these officials should be thoroughly tested before being appointed, and they shall not undertake their duties when not fit and able to keep up with play. So important do I consider this appointing of referees that I would like a small committee selected, whose duty it should be to watch all the important local matches with a view to weeding out the good from the bad or indifferent. I feel a ruthless cutting out would follow.
In the West Sussex Gazette November 18th 1909 edition page 3, the Chichester & Bognor & District Leagues are listed as being made up of the following teams:
Midhurst, Selsey, Portfield, St John’s (Bognor), Chichester Reserves, Arundel Reserves and Bosham.
Also listed was the Midhurst & District League, which was made up of Easebourne, Tillington, Lodsworth, Midhurst II, Sanatorium and Stedham.
In further issues of the West Sussex Gazette between December 9th 1909 and January 13th 1910 there are also a limited number of fixtures published for the Chichester & Bognor & District League Division II.
North Bersted vs Singleton (9th December 1909 edition, page 3)
Eastergate vs North Bersted (30th December 1909 edition, page 3)
Felpham vs Slindon (6th January 1910, page 3)
Singleton vs Chichester III
Slindon vs St John’s II(13 January 1910, page 3)
Up to this point there had been no mention of Lavant football club in any of sports sections of the West Sussex Gazette or Chichester Observers editions from 1900 up to 1910.
In the Chichester Observer January 12th 1910 edition page 5, the league table of the Chichester and District League are published. The Junior League had a Senior (8 teams) and Junior (6 teams) Division and they consisted of the following:
Chichester & District Senior League 1909-1910 Season:
Midhurst, Chichester II, Selsey, St Johns, Portfield, Arundel II and Bosham. Bognor II also played in this league but were omitted in the published tables, but they appeared in numerous league fixtures in later editions of the West Sussex Gazette.
Chichester & District Junior League 1909-1910 Season:
North Bersted, Felpham, Eastergate, Chichester III, Singleton and Slindon.