Brief History

West Sutton Little League (WSLL) was established in 1974 following a public meeting arranged by the Little League Football governing body. Each Little League is affiliated to the National Little League organisation that provides the framework under which all Little Leagues operate. The overall aim of West Sutton Little League is: “To provide organised football to children irrespective of gender or ability aged between the ages of 7 and 13 within the catchment area of West Sutton.”

Peter Bonetti at WSLL Launch in 1974

WSLL started playing at Sutton Common Recreation Ground in Sutton Common Road with 100 boys in 1974. The picture to the right shows one of the original teams with Peter Bonetti (Chelsea’s goalkeeper) and Chris Cole (one of the players) now managing the Cotswold Casuals team in the Intermediates league. There was plenty of demand from the local boys, and six teams (the Premier League) were selected. So that we didn’t disappoint the boys on the waiting list, we arranged football for them, too. The ‘Reserves’ as they were then called, steadily expanded… After the pavilion burnt down, WSLL moved to Collingwood Road Rec, where we stayed for several years, and reinforced our links with Sutton United.

1980 saw the first exchange visit by 40 boys in our Premier League to Robur et Velocitas, a Dutch club in Sutton’s twin town, Apeldoorn, where the boys (and adults) were spoiled rotten. In 1981 we invited Robur to bring three teams to Sutton and arranged a tournament for them, inviting several other Little Leagues to join in. These trips have now become an established and eagerly anticipated feature of our calendar.

We have also hosted visits from Danish lads from Gladsaxe and a coachload of Japanese boys who were touring the UK. But the distances involved meant that we couldn’t accept invitations back, although there were at one time, trips to and from Minden in West Germany.

With the Reserves still growing in numbers, another six teams – the Intermediates – were set up in 1981. The success of the trips abroad for the Premiers soon created a demand by the Inters, and following the move of our Referees’ Secretary, to the Isle of Wight, we soon managed to fix up trips for these lads, too.

1991 saw West Sutton Little League gaining Charity status, and one of the rainiest winters on record in 1992 caused us to move mid-season from the sea of mud at Collingwood to Cheam Recreation Ground (our current base).

By 1995, the Reserves had grown again to over 100 players, we were the largest youth group in the Borough, and another six 7-a-side teams were set up. Originally called the Shadow Squads, they later became the Colts. The Bantam League was added in 1999 and the following year we had to double up the Bantams into twelve teams.

But the terrible weather in 2000 meant that for the first time in history, the number of players actually went down. That didn’t last long! The fine weather of 2001 saw another surge in numbers and four squads in the new Cadet League were soon set up – followed quickly by another two squads.

In July and August 2002 we launched a girls section and ran a number of  ’taster sessions’ with the assistance of coaches from Fulham FC. During the Autumn of 2002, we continued to run training sesssions and in February 2003 started the Birds of Prey league with 4 teams playing 7-aside football. Since then the girls section has continued to flourish where we now have over 150 girls regularly playing football.

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