Brief history of the Shires League, as of 2019
The Shires Badminton League was set up in 1983 by Malcolm Campbell of Northants to promote junior badminton in the Midland counties. Until 2002 there were only approximately 8 members of the league, mainly from central England. During the 2001-2002 season, the league secretary (Ian Rizzotto) received three requests from other counties to join the Shires League. He decided to find out whether other counties around the country were interested in joining and carried out a feasibility study. This turned out to be most successful and in 2003 the membership rose rapidly to 19 counties at age groups U13, U15 and U17. These counties were split into three geographical groups with a final at the end of the season for the two most successful teams in each group.
At the start of the 2002-2003 season, about 14 more counties were approached by the League Secretary and asked to join, with around half accepting the offer. This brought the total number of counties in the league for 2003-2004 up to twenty-seven. These teams were split into four geographical groups called A, B, C and D, with a final at the end of the season for the two most successful teams in each group.
With the introduction of second teams in the league during 2004-2005, the total number of teams taking part increased to 31. By the 2006-2007 season some groups reached the maximum number of 8 counties per group. This continued up until 2009-2010 when it became necessary to realise that changes were needed to ensure the expansion of the league and to find solutions to ever increasing problem of arranging so many fixtures in a season.
During the 2010-2011 season, a total new idea was tried. All the counties are placed in one group. The league secretary selects six counties for each county to play, based on geographical and known abilities, so that each group of six were as similar in ability as practically possible. After play-offs matches are arranged for position 5th to 12th, the top eight teams are invited to the finals. This arrangement is proving extremely successful. It easily allows for counties to join and leave the league from season to season.
In 2016, the rules regarding “Age Groups” changed and our current U17 players were renamed as U18. So at the start of the 2016-17 season, we began for the first time with age groups named U18, U16 and U14. We also for the first time introduced an U12 group, which effectively is for players of primary school age.
In 2017 an U20 team was also added to the repertoire and although it was not represented in large numbers, sufficient interest has remained in order to run a league in 2018 and 2019. We now have teams at the age groups U12, u14, U16, U18 and U20, with finals in each of those age groups with the exception the U20.
During the entire history of the league so far, matches have remained the same, even with the introduction of “Rally Point” rules, which was adopted in 2006. Teams consist of 4 boys and 4 girls, playing a total of 20 matches, each match being the best of 3 games. The contest starts with 4 mixed doubles matches, followed by 4 boys singles and 4 girls singles running concurrently. Each player then plays two level doubles matches (cross over doubles 1v1, 2v2, 1v2, 2v1), making 4 boys doubles and 4 girls doubles and 20 matches in total.
Trophies were presented to the winners and runners up of each group in the league up until 2009, when it was agreed to provided each of the players in the county teams reaching positions 1st to 12th with a certificate for their achievement.
The Shires League Finals have taken place during April / May since 2003 and each final has attracted the top eight teams in the league. At first the finals were held at Babington, Leicestershire, but in recent years we have gone for Hertfordshire Sports Village, Stoke Mandeville SC, Aldersley Leisure Centre in Wolverhampton and Walsall University.
The cost of administration for 2019-2020 season starts with an initial fee of £25 with an additional cost of £25 per county team entered. However, counties involved in a “final” will have to contribute towards the costs of such an event.
If your county is not currently a member but would like to be considered, please contact Mr I Rizzotto (see contact details on this page), the league secretary as soon as possible. The full list of league rules (guidelines) may be viewed on this website.
Ian Rizzotto (Shires League Secretary)