Reserve Leagues

Southern League Division 2

Reserve teams were admitted to the Southern League Division 2 for a short period between 1903 and 1908.

8 1903-04 (S2) 20 8 2 10 43 42 +1 18
12 1904-05 (S2) 22 4 4 14 24 57 −33 12
11 1905-06 (S2) 24 6 5 13 36 49 −13 17
10 1906-07 (S2) 22 6 4 12 32 47 −15 16

Great Western Suburban League

The Great Western Suburban League was founded in 1904 as a competition for clubs from Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and the surrounding area. Members in the pre-War period included Brentford Reserves, Maidenhead, Maidenhead Norfolkians, Marlow, Slough, Windsor & Eton and Wycombe Wanderers. Reading Reserves were members from 1908 to 1911, finishing runners-up in 1908-09 and champions in 1909-10. After the War the competition was dominated by Botwell Mission (later Hayes) before they moved on to the Athenian League. There was a mass exodus of clubs in 1927 and the League folded one year later. The list of champions is as follows:

1904-052nd Grenadier Guards 1914-19no competition
1905-06Hounslow 1919-20Maidenhead United
1906-07Shepherd's Bush 1920-21Botwell Mission
1907-08Brentford Res 1921-22Botwell Mission
1908-09Brentford Res 1922-23Botwell Mission
1909-10READING RES 1923-24Botwell Mission
1910-11Brentford Res 1924-25Hounslow
1911-122nd Grenadier Guards 1925-26Newbury Town
1912-13Southall 1926-27Leyland Motors
1913-1419th Hussars 1927-28Napiers

South Eastern League

The South Eastern League was formed in 1901 to provide an opportunity for teams outside London to play the reserve teams of the professional London clubs. It initially proved so popular that a second division was formed in 1905. Indeed it was a second division club who achieved the league's most notable success as the Depot Battalion of the Royal Engineers won the FA Amateur Cup in 1908. In 1910 the two divisions were restructed into a single division, and it is at this point that a Reading team first entered the competition. Attempts to revive the South Eastern League after the First World War were largely unsuccessful as the London clubs transferred to the London Combination and the League folded after two seasons, having dwindled to just eight teams, including Reading. The list of champions is as follows:

1901-02Tottenham H Res 1910-11Tottenham H Res
1902-03Tottenham H Res 1911-12Chelsea Res
1903-04Woolwich Arsenal Res 1912-13Chelsea Res
1904-05Tottenham H Res 1913-14West Ham Utd Res
1905-06Woolwich Arsenal Res 1914-15Fulham Res
1906-07Woolwich Arsenal Res 1915-19no competition
1907-08Woolwich Arsenal Res 1919-20Southampton Res
1908-09West Ham Utd Res 1920-21Portsmouth Res
1909-10Chelsea Res

While the second division champions were:

1905-06St Leonards United 1908-09Chesham United
1906-07Southend United 1909-10Peterborough City
1907-08RE Depot Battalion

Southern League (England/East)

When the Southern League Division 1 was absorbed into the Football League in 1920 it was replaced by an English Section with a large number of Reserve teams of its former members and a Welsh Section drawn from the old Division 2. Reserve teams remained a fixture in the Southern League until the Second World War and beyond, the last, Exeter City Reserves, not leaving until 1959.

6 1920-21 (S1E) 24 11 3 10 41 34 +7 25
15 1921-22 (S1E) 36 11 7 18 46 59 −13 29
20 1922-23 (S1E) 38 7 6 25 37 95 −58 20
11 1923-24 (S1E) 30 11 6 13 32 43 −11 28
16 1924-25 (S1E) 32 8 1 23 38 87 −49 17
16 1925-26 (S1E) 34 10 3 21 58 84 −26 23
9 1926-27 (S1E) 32 12 8 12 75 79 −4 32

Football Combination

The Football Combination evolved from the London Combination, which after the First World War became a competition for the reserve teams of the London clubs. Membership was extended to the rest of the South of England in the 1920s and the league was renamed the Football Combination. Reading were Combination champions three times, most notably in 1951-52, beating Tottenham 4-0 in a play-off at Elm Park. In 2003-04 they beat Cardiff 3-1 in a play-off at the Madejski Stadium, while in 2008-09 they had the best record of the three regional champions. They were also Combination Division 2 champions in 1965-66 when the Reserves regularly attract larger crowds than the first team and player-manager Jimmy Wheeler was voted Player of the Season despite only making two first-team appearances.

Capital League

The Capital League was a reserve team league for clubs in and around London. In 1998 most of the teams left to join an extended Football Combination, although the league continued for some years, eventually folding in 2015. Reading Reserves competed from 1995 to 1998. The list of champions up to 1998 is as follows:

1984-85Wealdstone Res 1991-92Cambridge Utd Res
1985-86Gillingham Res 1992-93Barnet Res
1986-87Wealdstone Res 1993-94Gillingham Res
1987-88Brentford Res 1994-95Wycombe Wand Res
1988-89Barnet Res 1995-96Brentford Res
1989-90Southend Utd Res 1996-97Peterborough U Res
1990-91Southend Utd Res 1997-98Northampton T Res

Premier Reserve League

The Premier Reserve League was founded in 1999. It was divided into Southern and Northern sections. A play-off to decide the overall title was introduced in 2004. Initially the competition was open to both current and recently relegated Premier League clubs, although it was restructured to only allow current Premier League clubs in 2006. Reading were the champions in 2006-07, beating Bolton 2-0 in a play-off at the Madejski Stadium. The competition was disbanded in 2012 with the general switch from reserve to academy leagues. The champions of the regional sections and the results of the play-offs were as follows:

South North
1999-00 Derby County Res Liverpool Res
2000-01 Derby County Res Everton Res
2001-02 Ipswich Town Res Manchester Utd Res
2002-03 Watford Res Sunderland Res
2003-04 Charlton Ath Res Aston Villa Res
2004-05 Charlton Ath Res2 Manchester Utd Res4
2005-06 Tottenham H Res0 Manchester Utd Res2
2006-07 READING RES2 Bolton Wand Res0
2007-08 Aston Villa Res0 Liverpool Res3
2008-09 Aston Villa Res3 Sunderland Res1
2009-10 Aston Villa Res31 Manchester Utd Res31
2010-11 Chelsea Res12 Blackburn Rov Res12
2011-12 Aston Villa Res03 Manchester Utd Res03
1 Manchester United won 3-2 on penalties
2 Chelsea won 5-4 on penalties
3 Manchester United won 3-1 on penalties