London League

Herbert Scheele recorded in 1963 that ....
The London Badminton League was founded in 1908, and was the commencement of all inter-club league play which is now played throughout the country. The London League matches quickly became the most important events of metropolitan badminton, and they would claim to be second only to the All England Championships. The competition, staged then as now only for mixed doubles, grew from one division to some twelve or more with a total of some 50 to 60 clubs in the thirties. The standard of play in the top division was definitely higher that it was in the inter-county matches.The London League is far older than any of the home county associations, but when the latter became well established and conducted their own inter-club competitions there was a certain amount of conflict, very naturally. Some clubs, which were not able to compete in both, still stuck to the League, though many managed to compete in their county competitions as well.

London League shieldWhen play was resumed after the second world the shortage of courts was so marked that little effort was made to revive the London League. It could not have been restarted  on the very high level prevalent before the war because most of the very strong clubs had ceased to exist. In this connection it is worth noting that Wimbledon in 1939 was only in Division III of the League. The six clubs which had been in Division 1 in the years just before the war were Alexandra Palace, Logan and Cazenose (all in Middlesex), Crystal Palace and Sundridge Park (from Kent) and Sutton (from Surrey). Of these only Cazenose remains today. However, in 1950 the competition was revived, though it was not intended to extend it beyond two divisions so as not to conflict with the interests of the four home county Associations. So it has remained, though it is disappointing that the great reputation of the past has not been regained.

The Challenge Shield for Division I illustrated was presented to the Badminton League when it was founded by B.G. Narischkine, a well-to-do Russian, for competition in the Senior Division. He also built the fine two court hall near Ladbroke Grove which is depicted on the shield. At this time the Senior Division was composed of Alexandra Palace, Ealing, Richmond and Streatham. In the first season The Senior Shield was tied for by Crystal Palace and Ealing, and spectators paid sixpence to see them play off. It was laid down on this occasion “that shuttlecocks selected by the umpires before a game must be played with, it being left to the said umpires to decide whether a shuttlecock may be changed during a game.”

When the league was revived in 1950 after competition had ceased in 1939, the clubs participating were Badgers (Kent), Cazenove (Middlesex), Frognal (Middlesex), Ebbisham (Surrey) and Wimbledon (Surrey).

The Shield is now in store with the National Badminton Museum, in need of a thorough clean and repair. The last date recording a winner on the shield is 1978-79.

It is hoped that in due course the museum will have room to display the shield.

The National Badminton Museum wish to record their thanks to Graham Habbin, Friend of the Museum, who provided the article written by Herbert Scheele.