FREE football, record breaking matches and a memorial service are all planned as part of a celebration of the country’s second oldest league.

The Northern League was formed in Brown’s Hotel - now the Three Tuns - in Durham on March 25, 1889.

And to celebrate its 125th anniversary, league officials and teams are planning a series of events starting this Friday (March 21) with a service and wreath laying at the Surrey grave of the league's creator, Charles Samuel Craven.

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And on Saturday (March 22), Tow Law Town will become the first team to notch up 3,000 Northern League games when they kick off at home against South Shields. To mark the occasion entry is free to the 3pm match.

Club secretary Steve Moralee said: “I know that we’re only a very small community but we really would welcome more support, especially behind the scenes.

“We’re now competing against some pretty big clubs; to have achieved this record is a source of real satisfaction.”

The Lawyers, whose 1892-built Ironworks Road ground is the second highest in English football, have won 1,246 of the previous 2,999 fixtures, drawn 564 and lost 1,189 scoring 5,700 goals and conceding 5,679.

They won the league in 1924, 1925 and 1995 and, until four years ago, had never been relegated.

Former Newcastle United and England international Chris Waddle played for Tow Law during his early career, and Northern league chairman Mike Amos said the club are a fine example of local football.

He said: “Everyone knows how wild it can get up there, the inhospitableness of the elements matched only by the warmth of those who for so many years have kept the club alive.

“Law are a smashing football club run by dedicated and indomitable people.

“They deserve all the praise in the world.”

Mr Craven’s grandson Bob Rogers will make a presentation to the club before kick off.

A celebration service will be held at Elvet Methodist Church in Durham City at 10.15am on Sunday, March 23, followed by an anniversary dinner at Ramside Hall Hotel.

On Tuesday, March 25, a Northern League XI comprised of the competition’s top players will take on an FA XI at Heritage Park in Bishop Auckland, kick off at 7.30pm, entry will cost £5 adults and £3 concessions.

Original league members Newcastle United have also agreed to host the Northern League Cup Final at St James Park on Tuesday, May 6.