The National Athletics League was formed in 1969. The idea of forming a National League for athletics was set in motion by a fact- finding trip to Poland in 1966 by Tom McNab and Tony Ward. Following a pilot league season in 1968, 18 clubs were organised into three divisions of six clubs in 1969, the inaugural season.
The League was renamed the British Athletics League (BAL) in 1973. By 2018, the BAL had grown to 38 Athletics clubs and five divisions, with eight clubs in the Premiership Division and in each of the Divisions One to Three with Division Four consisting of six clubs. 82 clubs have been members of the BAL since 1969.
The first League fixtures
The original member clubs which participated in the League were Achilles, Belgrave Harriers, Blackheath Harriers, Birchfield Harriers, Brighton & Hove AC, Bristol AC, Cardiff AAC, Croydon Harriers, Edinburgh Southern Harriers, Hillingdon AC, London AC, Notts AC, Polytechnic Harriers, Sale Harriers, Southampton AC, Surrey AC, Thames Valley Harriers and Woodford Green AC.
Clive Williams of Cardiff AAC recalls the first fixture at Twickenham in 1969. Click here to read more.
Between 1969 and 2019, many international track and field champions and medallists competed in BAL fixtures. This includes everyone from Daley Thompson and Steve Backley to Sebastian Coe and Adam Gemili.
“Over the years, the British Athletics League has played a crucial role as an incubator for young talent. The competition has been of constant high standard and I remember fondly my own competitions as a member of the Haringey team.”– Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics and two-time Olympic champion
The League in 2019
2019 member clubs were: Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC, Bedford & County AC, Blackheath Harriers & Bromley AC, Birchfield Harriers, Bournemouth AC, Bristol & West AC, Cardiff AAC, Chelmsford AC, City of Sheffield and Dearne AC, Crawley Ac, Croydon Harriers, Enfield & Haringey AC, Glasgow City AC, Harrow Ac, Havering Ac, Herne Hill Harriers, Herts Phoenix AC, Kingston & Polytechnic Harriers, Liverpool Harriers, Notts AC, Nene Valley Harriers, Newham & Essex Beagles, Portsmouth AC, Reading AC, Rugby & Northampton AC, Sale Harriers, Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, Southampton AC, Southend AC, Swansea Harriers, Thames Valley Harriers, Tonbridge AC, Trafford AC, Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow AC, Woodford Green & Essex Ladies AC and Yeovil Olympiads.
In 50 years of history, Birchfield Harriers are the most successful British Athletics League Club based upon League positions since 1969. The club joined in 1969 and have been in the topflight division for 45 years. They have won 10 league titles