WYVERN_COMBINATIONA wyvern, sometimes spelt wivern, is a legendary winged creature with a dragon's head (which may be said to breathe fire or possess a venomous bite) and wings; a reptilian body; two legs (sometimes none); and a barbed tail. A sea-dwelling variant, dubbed the sea-wyvern, has a fish tail in place of a barbed dragon's tail. The wyvern in its various forms is important to heraldry, frequently appears as a mascot of schools and athletic teams (chiefly in the United States and United Kingdom), and occasionally appears in medieval and modern European and British literature as well as a multitude of video games.

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A League - a long time in the making by Ray Murphy

Friday 19th August 2011 saw the Wyvern Combination Football League make its first appearance in the local non league circles, though this is some seventeen years after steps had first been taken to get the league started.

You can trace the initial stages of this league back to 1994 when myself and at the time manager of Bashley Frank Whitman, who sadly passed away earlier this year, tried to form a league for reserve sides that were at the time playing in the Southern and Isthmian Football Leagues in the local area.

Meetings had taken place with various clubs and all seemed positive. The concern for all clubs at that time was that as good as the Wessex League itself was for the local area, the jump that players had to make from the then Wessex Combination if your Club was involved in this and make appearances in the Southern or Isthmian League was vast.

Behind the scenes of the instigation of the league that was given at that early stage a name ‘The Wyvern League’ for no other reason that we felt we needed a name for the league to sound an actual viable proposition and the Wyvern area appeared to be the target for Clubs that we were trying to entice to join.

Clubs that gained promotion from the Wessex League into the Southern League invariably saw their reserve side’s drift away from the Wessex League Combination after a short period of time, Problems also encountered for the Wessex League for the non Wessex Combination sides in organising fixtures.

Along with Frank Whitman, Geoff Butler then with SalisburyCity also expressed a great interest in the formation of a league that would encompass such sides. At that time as well as Bashley and Salisbury showing an interest there was also approaches made by clubs such as Weymouth, Dorchester Town, Basingstoke Town, Bognor Regis Town, Fareham Town, Waterlooville, Andover with tentative interest also shown by A F C Bournemouth and Southampton who were looking into the possibilities of a younger side of their constitution to be incorporated into the league.

The formation of the league also saw a set of rules submitted to the Hampshire Football Association and these rules had even been amended to meet the relevant Hampshire F A Requirement though because of the amount of different counties that were being suggested at the time as we were also looking at including Berkshire in the constitution, any official sanction would have had to be made by the Football Association itself.

Why that league never actually took off the ground at that time perhaps it was ahead of its time but despite several promises from clubs to take entry there was just not enough final entries to make the division viable.

The whole idea was put on the back burner for some fifteen years. John Stimpson from Gosport Borough and Roger Allen arrived to join forces with me to try and see if we could rejuvenate the idea. Again meetings were held with a variety of clubs by this time the emergence of Sholing F C, A F C Totton, Havant & Waterlooville, Basingstoke Town, Bashley, DorchesterTown and Eastleigh all expressed interest in joining.

A new set of rules were drawn up to present to Clubs at a meeting and even some deposit cheques were lodged with the league in waiting. Again, though, the final hurdle was just too high to reach to ensure enough quality of clubs to make the division viable.

With the decision by the Wessex League to disband their own Combination Division at the end of the 2010/11 season, it was inevitable that the Wyvern League would make itself a success this time around. Led by both Allen and Stimpson and building a strong committee of football followers with healthy league backgrounds and with the Hampshire Football Association tweaking the rules and the name to ‘The Wyvern Combination Football League’ the ideas of 1994 are now rewarded and arguably a fine tribute to the late Frank Whitman RIP.

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