billsportsmaps.com

August 7, 2018

2018-19 Premier League (1st division England, including Wales) – location-map with chart, including 17/18-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division./+ the three promoted clubs for 2018-19 (Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Fulham).

http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018-19_premier-league_map_w-2018-crowds_all-time-seasons-in-1st-div_titles_post_c_.gif
2018-19 Premier League (1st division England, including Wales) – location-map with chart, including 17/18-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division





By Bill Turianski on 7 August 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-2018-19 Premier League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…SUMMARY – Premier League [2018-19] (us.soccerway.com).
-Guardian/football’s Premier League page…theguardian.com/premier-league.
-Kits…Premier League 2018 – 2019 (historicalkits.co.uk).

A brief re-cap of 2017-18…
Champions…Manchester City.
Teams that qualified for Europe…Champions League Group Stage: Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham. CL GS play-off round: Liverpool. Europa League Group Stage: Chelsea, Arsenal. EL GS 2nd qualifying round: Burnley.
Teams that were relegated to the 2nd division…West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City, Swansea City.
Teams that were promoted from the 2nd division to the Premier League…the 3 clubs profiled below…

    Below: illustrations for the 3 promoted clubs
    (Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City, Fulham)
    •Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

Est. 1877. Nicknames: Wolves; the Wanderers. Colours: Old Gold [aka Pale Orange] and Black. Location: Wolverhampton, West Midlands, situated (by road) 17 miles (28 km) NW of Birmingham; Wolverhampton is situated (by road) 130 miles (210 km) NW of central London. Population of Wolverhampton: city-population of around 256,000 {2014 estimate}.

Manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nuno Espírito Santo (age 44, born in Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe).

-From the Guardian, Wolves’ link with agent Jorge Mendes to face Premier League scrutiny •Portuguese’s Molineux relationship will have to pass top-flight test; •FA and EFL fail to explain how arrangement complies with rules (by David Conn on 17 April 2018 at theguardian.com/football).

Below: Wolves win the 2017-18 EFL Championship, clinch promotion with 4 games to spare, and return to the Premier League after a 6-year absence…
wolverhampton_promoted-2018_molineux_nuno-espirito-santo_d-jota_leo-bonatini_ivan-cavaleiro_barry-douglas_john-ruddy_conor-coady_ruben-neves_r_.gif
Photo and Image credits -
Wolves 17/18 jersey, photo unattributed at footyheadlines.com. Aerial shot of Wolverhampton including University of Wolverhampton and Molineux Stadium, photo from wlv.ac.uk via pinterest.com. Aerial shot of Molineux, photo by PA via itv.com/newswolverhampton-named-least-prosperous-place-in-uk. John Ruddy, photo by Getty Images via express.co.uk/football. Connor Coady, photo by David Rogers/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Rúben Neves, photo by James Baylis AMA via expressandstar.com/football. Diogo Jota, photo by James Bayliss/AMA via shropshirestar.com. Ivan Cavaleiro, photo by David Rogers/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Léo Bonatini, photo by James Bayliss/AMA via gettyimages.fr. Barry Douglas, photo by AMA via expressandstar.com/football. John Ruddy makes penalty save at Cardiff, photo by PA via mirror.co.uk/football. Nuno Espírito Santo celebrating win in Cardiff, photo unattributed at espn.com/soccer.

    •Cardiff City FC.

Est. 1877. Nickname: the Bluebirds. Colours: Blue, with white trim. Location: Cardiff, Glamorgan, South Wales, Wales, UK. Cardiff is situated (by road) 41 miles (66 km) E of Swansea; and Cardiff is situated (by road) 152 miles (244 km) W of central London. Population of Cardiff: city-population of around 361,000; metro-area population of Greater Cardiff/South Wales Valleys: around 1.09 million {2016 estimates}.

Manager of Cardiff City, Neil Warnock (age 69, born Sheffield, West Yorkshire).

-From the Guardian, Cardiff may not be liked but Neil Warnock’s achievement is remarkable – The promotion king has forged a rugged, uncompromising and successful side from a bunch of misfits and the Premier League is in for an uncomfortable ride (by Nick Miller at theguardian.com/football/blog).

-From BBC/football, Neil Warnock: Anatomy of a promotion winner (by Chris Nathan at bbc.com/sport/football).

Below: After 4 seasons in the 2nd tier, unheralded Cardiff City are promoted to the 2018-19 Premier League on the final day of the season…
cardiff-city_promoted-2018_cardiff-city-stadium_neil-warnock_jumior-hoillet_callum-patterson_kenneth-zohore_sean-morrison_d_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – 17/18 Cardiff City jersey, from cardiffcityfcstore.com. Aerial shot of Cardiff and Cardiff Bay, photo unattributed at airlines-airports.com. Cardiff City Stadium, aerial shot, photo unattributed at telegraph.co.uk/football. Callum Paterson, photo unattributed at 7msport.com. Sean Morrison, photo from cardiffcityfc.co.uk. Kenneth Zohore, photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images via theguardian.com/football. Junior Hoilett, photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Cardiff City fans’ pitch invasion, 1st image: screenshot from video at walesonline.co.uk/football; 2nd image: photo by Richard Joyce at twitter.com/@RichardDJoyce; 3rd image: photo by Simon Galloway via the42.ie. Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock and captain Sean Morrison lift the promotion-trophy, photo by Reuters via dailymail.co.uk/sport/football.

    •Fulham FC.

Est. 1879, as St. Andrews Cricket & Football Club. Nickname: the Cottagers. Colours: White jersey, Black pants, Red trim. Location: Fulham, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, West London W6. Fulham is situated (by road) 4.4 miles (7.0 km) W of central London. Population of Fulham: city-population of around 87,000 {2011 census} [Fulham is within the metro-area population of Greater London, which is around 14.4 million {2016 estimate}].

Manager of Fulham, Slaviša Jokanović (age 45, born in Novi Sad, SFR Yugoslavia).

-From the Guardian, Drills, travels and tactics: the keys to Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham success (by Paul MacInnes on 26 May 2018 at guardian/football).

Fulham wins the 2018 League Championship Play-off Final (Fulham promoted back to the Premier League after 4 seasons in the 2nd division).
fulham_promoted-2018_craven-cottage_slavisa-jokanovic_tom-cairney_ryan-sessegnon_ryan-fredericks_aleksandar-mitrovic_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – 17/18 Fulham jersey, unattributed at footyheadlines.co.theyneverlinktosources. Aerialshot of Craven Cottage from visitfloridablog.org via news.wfsu.org. Craven Cottage, exterior view from across the River Thames, photo unattributed at cardiffcityfc.co.uk. Street-view of exterior of Craven Cottage on Stevenage Road, photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Street-view of front gate of Craven Cottage with the cottage in background, photo by texantreks.com/2011/12/my-trip-to-craven-cottage-for-fulham. Shot of Jimmy Haynes Stand at Craven Cottage, photo unattributed at pinterest.co.uk. Ryan Fredericks, photo unattributed at blog.tipbet.com. Tom Cairney, photo unattributed at joe.co.uk/sport. Ryan Sessegnon, photo by REX Features via telegraph.co.uk/football. Aleksandar Mitrović, photo unattributed at themag.co.uk. Slaviša Jokanović (Fulham manager), photo by Nick Potts/PA Wire via football.london/fulham-fc. Fulham win semifinals over Derby/pitch invasion, photo from twitter.com/[@MJPotts17]. Sessegnon passes to Cairney to set up winnng goal, screenshot from youtube.com. Tom Cairney scores winning goal in 2018 Championship play-offs Final, photo from efl.com/news/play-off-final-captain-cairney-carries-cottagers-up. Cairney after scoring, photo unattributed at independent.ie/sport.

___
Thanks to all at the following…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
-England – First Level All-Time Tables 1888/89-2015/16 (rsssf.com).
-Thanks to the contributors at 2017-18 Premier League & 2018-19 Premier League (en.wikipedia.org).

July 27, 2018

England, 1st division – all-time: List of all clubs with at least one season in the English 1st division (120 seasons/since 1888-89/65 clubs).

england_1st-division-premier-league_120-seasons_chart-of-all-time-most-seasons-in-1st-div_by-club_w-seasons_consec_titles_colours-and-crest_post_i_.gif
England, 1st division – all-time: List of all clubs with at least one season in the English 1st division (120 seasons/since 1888-89/65 clubs)





By Bill Turianski on 27 July 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-2018–19 Premier League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats (us.soccerway.com).

Sources…
-Club League History Summary 1888-89 to 2018-19 Seasons spent by each of the 140 Clubs in the Four Flights of English League Football from 1888-89 to 2018-19 (myfootballfacts.com).
-English Clubs Divisional Movements 1888-2016 (rsssf.com).
-historicalkits.co.uk.

The chart can be seen by clicking on the image at the top of this post.
The chart shows 5 things…
A) Seasons in the English 1st division [120 seasons, counting 2018-19 (since 1888-89)]. 65 clubs in total have played in the English 1st division. Shown in a dark-blue column.
B) Consecutive seasons in the 1st division [pertaining to the 20 Premier League clubs in 2018-19].
C) Last season that the club was previously in the 1st Division [pertaining to all the clubs (42 clubs) with history in the top flight, but who are below the 1st division 2018-19; or defunct clubs (3 defunct clubs with 1st division history/see last paragraph)].
D) An illustration of each clubs’s jersey worn the last time the club was in the 1st division; for the twenty Premier League teams of 2018-19, the jersey shown is the current one. All jersey illustrations are from the excellent and very comprehensive site called Historical Football Kits {historicalkits.co.uk}.
E) English titles [1st division title, since 1888-89: First Division titles, 1889-1992 / Premier League titles, 1993-2018 (119 titles)]. Shown in a dark-purple column. Title-holders’ crests are shown alongside.
…And at the far left-hand-side of the chart, three more things are shown…
F) Current club jersey badge.
G) Current club colours.
H) Current level of the club [2018-19], within the English football pyramid…Levels: 1=1st division aka Premier League; 2=2nd division aka Football League Championship; 3=3rd division aka Football League One; 4=4th division aka Football League Two; 5=5th division [non-League] aka the National League; 6=6th tier comprised of 2 regionalised leagues [National League North & National League South]; 7=7th tier comprised of 4 regionalised leagues [Northern League, Southern League Central, Southern League South, Isthmian League]; 8= 8th tier comprised of 8 regionalised leagues;…

Below, the 10 clubs in English football with the most seasons spent in the 1st division…

Everton have played the most years in the English 1st division – 116 top flight seasons. Liverpool-based Everton were a founding member of the 1st Division in 1888-89. Everton have only been relegated twice (in 1929 and in 1950), and have played just 4 seasons in the 2nd division. Everton have played in the 1st division consecutively since 1954-55 (65 straight seasons).

Second-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Aston Villa – 105 seasons. But of course right now, the Birmingham-based Aston Villa are stuck in the 2nd division. 2018-19 will be the 3rd straight year Villa are out of the Premier League.  Aston Villa were a founding member of the 1st Division in 1888-89.

Third-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Liverpool – 104 seasons. And Liverpool have been in the top flight for 57 straight seasons (since 1962-63).

Fourth-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Arsenal – 102 seasons. And the North-London-based Arsenal have been in the top flight for a record 94 straight seasons (since 1919-20).

Fifth-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Manchester United – 94 seasons. The Greater-Manchester-based Man United have been in the top flight for 44 straight seasons (since 1975-76).

Sixth-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Manchester City – 90 seasons. The City-of-Manchester-based Man City have been in the top flight for 17 straight seasons (since 2002-03).

Seventh-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Newcastle United – 87 seasons. 2018-19 will be the Tyne-and-Wear-based Newcastle’s second season back in the Premier League.

Eighth-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Sunderland – 86 seasons. The Tyne-and-Wear-based Sunderland, relegated from the Premier League in 2016-17, suffered a second-straight relegation in 2017-18, and are now stuck in the 3rd division.

Joint-Ninth-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Tottenham Hotspur – 84 seasons. The North-London-based Spurs have been in the top flight for 41 straight seasons (since 1978-79).

Joint-Ninth-most seasons in the 1st division belongs to Chelsea – 84 seasons. The West-London-based Chelsea have been in the top flight for 30 straight seasons (since 1989-90).

Note:
There are three clubs that have history in the English 1st Division, which are now defunct…
-Wimbledon FC (19 seasons in the 1st division, most recently in 1999-2000), (1889-2004)/Dissolved/Franchise became Milton Keynes FC (est. 2004). Milton Keynes FC [4th-division] have divested itself of Wimbledon FC’s titles & honours. South-London-based AFC Wimbledon [a current 3rd-division side], is the Phoenix-club of Wimbledon FC.
-Accrington FC (5 seasons in the 1st division, in the late Nineteenth century), (1878-96)/Dissolved. Accrington FC, a Lancashire-based club that was a founding member of the First Division in 1888-89, was an entirely separate club from Accrington Stanley FC (1891-1968), or Accrington Stanley FC (est. 1968) [a current 3rd-division side].
-Darwen FC (2 seasons in the 1st division, in the late Nineteenth century), (1870-2009)/Dissolved. Darwen FC was a Lancashire-based club that was dissolved in 2009, when they were a 9th-level team.
__
Thanks to…
My Football Facts.com,
RSSSF.com, and
Historical Football Kits/[English Clubs section].

July 11, 2018

2018-19 National League [Non-League/5th division England], map with 17/18-crowds-&-finishes chart./+ Illustrations for the 4 promoted clubs (Salford City, Harrogate Town, Havant & Waterlooville, Braintree Town).

2018-19_national-league_aka-conference_map_w-2018-attendances_post_d_.gif
2018-19 National League (aka the Conference) [5th division England], map with 17/18-crowds-&-finishes chart



By Bill Turianski on 11 July 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
-2018-19 National League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Official site…thenationalleague.org.uk.
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…SUMMARY – National League [2018-19] (us.soccerway.com).
-5th division/National League page at BBC.com…bbc.com/sport/football/national-league.

Brief re-cap of the 2017-18 5th division…

Promoted to the Football League [4th division]…Macclesfield Town won the 2016-17 National League, winning automatic promotion back to the Football League, after 5 seasons back in Non-League football. Tranmere Rovers won the Play-off final, beating Boreham Wood 2-1, after being stuck in non-League football for 3 seasons.

Now relegated down to non-League/5th division/National League are… Chesterfield and Barnet.

    Promoted up from the 6th division and into the National League/5th division are the four clubs profiled below…
    (Promoted from National League North: Salford City and Harrogate Town. /
    Promoted from National League South: Havant & Waterlooville and Braintree Town.)
    Salford City FC.

Est. 1940. Colours: Red shirts, White pants, Black trim…‘ The club’s colours are red, white and black [in tribute to Machester United's colours]. Prior to the change in ownership in 2014, the club played in tangerine and black (earlier colours include tangerine and white, and all navy blue).’…{-excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salford_City_F.C.}. Nickname: the Ammies [ie, the Amateurs]. Location: Kersal, Borough of Salford, Greater Manchester. Population of Kersal: around 12,900 {2014 figure}. Population of Salford: city-population of around 248,000 {2016 estimate}. Kersal, Salford is situated 2.75 miles (4.5 km) NW of Manchester city centre. Kersal, Salford is situated (by road) 203 miles (327 km) NW of London.
Manager of Salford City, Graham Alexander (age 46, born in Coventry, West Midlands). Alexander, the former Fleetwood Town and Scunthorpe United manager, was hired by Salford City on 14 May 2018.

Salford City: from the 8th tier, to the 5th division, in 4 seasons…
That Salford City have now achieved 3 promotions in 4 seasons  should come as no surprise. That is because there is big money propelling the club forward. ‘Class of 92′-/-former-Manchester-United stars Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, and Nicky Butt bought the club in March 2014. Indeed, the consortium has ambitious aims for the non-League club, with a target of reaching the 2nd division (the League Championship) by 2029 (a 15-year-plan, as it were). In January 2015, manager Phil Power was sacked and the dual-manager team of Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson were brought in. (Morley and Johnson had had success at another Greater Manchester-based lower-non-League club, Ramsbottom United: the two had gotten Ramsbottom promoted to the 7th tier in 2014.) Three months later in April 2015, Salford City won promotion from the 8th tier by winning the Northern Premier League D1-North, beating out Darlington by 4 points. That season (14/15), Salford City drew 384 per game (4th-highest in the league that year).

In September 2015, the Class-of-92-five sold half their stake in Salford City to Valencia CF owner Peter Lim (who is a Hong Kong-based billionaire), so that meant the Salford City project had even more wealth behind it. Then Salford City got a fair deal of exposure in October 2015, when the club was featured in the BBC television series ‘Class of 92: Out of their League’. And in November 2015, Salford City (est. 1940) qualified for the FA Cup 1st round for the first time ever, beating Notts County 2-0 (in a televised match), before losing to Hartlepool in a 2nd round replay.

In that 2015-16 season, the first full season under Morley-and-Johnson, Salford City were in the play-off places for most of the season. They finished in 3rd, and then beat Ashton United in the semi-final, and then beat Workington in the final, 2-0, in front of 2,000 at the old Moor Lane. That crowd there for that play-off final was about 1,300 larger than Salford usually drew back then (Salford drew 642 per game in 2015-16).

By 2016-17, Salford City, playing their first-ever season in the 6th tier (the National League North), had more than doubled their crowds. The club drew 1,395 per game in 2016-17. But Salford, who finished 3rd, flamed out in the play-offs, losing in the semi-finals to the eventual play-offs winner, Halifax Town.

In late 2016, the club had began a complete re-development of their Moor Lane ground. {See this article from StadiumDB.com, See what Salford City are building in less than a year.} On the 19th of October 2017, just eleven months later, the completely new venue was opened, with a new name: the Peninsula Stadium. {See this, Sir Alex Ferguson opens new Salford City stadium as Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville watch on (dailymail.co.uk/football).} This, of course, drew even more fans to Salford City matches. In 2017-18, Salford ended up drawing 1,611 per game, which is about 1,200 more than they were drawing 3 seasons ago.

Meanwhile, in the 2017-18 season, Salford City cruised to the National League South title with relative ease. They had picked up, on a free transfer from Rochdale, a local-born striker, Jack Redshaw, who had a good deal of Football League experience (with Morecambe, particularly, scoring 15 goals for the Shrimps in 2012-13). Redshaw, evidently comfortable playing a couple levels lower and back in his home town, led Salford City with 17 league goals. For a time, it looked like the prolific-scoring Harrogate Town would contest the title, but the North Yorkshire side faltered down the stretch, while Salford won 5 straight from late-March-to-mid-April. And so, on the 21st of April, before a crowd of 2,466, Salford City clinched the title (and automatic promotion), with a game to spare, despite losing on the day (to Boston United 1-2) (see photo of Salford City fans’ pitch-invasion/celebration, below).

Then on 8 May, two-and-a-half weeks after clinching automatic promotion to the 5th division, joint-managers Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley stepped down, because they could not come to an agreement with Salford City regarding new contracts. {See this article from official Salford City site, Mutual Consent (from 8 May 2018 at salfordcityfc.co.uk). Also see this short thread at Reddit/soccer [link at end of paragraph], and specifically this comment there…’The press release mentioned differences about personal terms and contract length. I think the last run of the documentary on the club had touched about that as well. Basically Salford were willing to pay top dollar for the best players/managers in the division. The whole team was basically poached from other teams in the division or even one or two division up. For the co-managers i believe that they were the highest paid manager in that division and the one above. The problem was that when it was divided by two, it wasn’t really more than what they were making in jobs outside’…(comment by szu at reddit.com/soccer/[thread: Salford part ways with joint-managers].}

Salford City might not make it to the 2nd division before 2030, but it is starting to look like this club, from a few miles north of Old Trafford, will be playing in the Football League pretty soon.

Salford City: promoted to the 5th division for the first time…
salford-city_promoted-2018_moor-lane_aka-peninsula-stadium_anthony-johnson_bernard-morley_jack-redshaw_carl-piergianni_michael-nottingham_tom-walker_manu-class-of-92_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Salford City 17/18 jersey, photo from umbro.co.uk/salford-city-fc. Salford Quays, photo by khaosproductions at flickr.com. Aerial shot of Peninsula Stadium, photo unattributed at thenationalleague.org.uk. Interior shot of Peninsula Stadium, photo by Shaun Best at twitter.com/@shaun_best. Carl Piergianni, photo by @SalfordCityFC at twitter.com/SalfordCityFC. Michael Nottingham, photo by Gareth Lyons at picssr.com. Tom Walker, photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Jack Redshaw, photo by Salford City at twitter.com/@SalfordCityFC. Co-managers Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson, photo unattributed at mirror.co.uk/football. ‘Class of 92′ Man U players who are co-owners Salford City (G Neville, N Butt, G Neville, R Giggs, P Scholes), photo by BBC via standard.co.uk. Fans and players celebrate promotion, photo from manchestereveningnews.co.uk/football.

    • Harrogate Town AFC.

Est. 1914. Colours: Black-and Yellow [vertically-striped jerseys]. Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Population of Harrogate: around 75,000 {2011 census}. Harrogate is situated (by road) 16 miles (26 km) N of Leeds. Harrogate is situated (by road) 21 miles (34 km) W of York. Harrogate is (by road) 210 miles (338 km) N of central London.

‘Harrogate (HARR-ə-gət) is a spa town in North Yorkshire, England. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town is a tourist destination and its visitor attractions include its spa waters and RHS Harlow Carr gardens. 13 miles (21 km) away from the town centre is the Yorkshire Dales national park…’ {-excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrogate}.

Manager of Harrogate Town, Simon Weaver (age 40, born in Doncaster). Simon Weaver has been manager of Harrogate Town for 9 years now. Weaver played 16 seasons as a MF, mainly in the 5th division, including 3 Football League seasons (at Lincoln City and at Kidderminster). In May 2009, he was hired as the player/manager of Conference South side Harrogate.

In 2010-11 Harrogate Town were a mid-table 6th-tier side, drawing 293 per game. In June 2011, Simon’s father, Irving (a multi-millionaire property developer), took over Harrogate Town. In 2017-18, the club went full-time professional, a rare step for a 6th-tier club. In the 6-year-span from 2012 to 2018, Harrogate Town saw an increase in crowd-size of over 800 per game: the club averaged 1,134 per game in 2017-18. A good family atmosphere at their Wetherby Road ground, and a good relationship with the Harrogate supporters trust, has helped increase their crowds. The team’s brand of football has probably helped swell crowds, too, as Harrogate were the highest-scoring team in the 6th tier by far. In 2017-18, the Harrogate squad were a well-organized unit that scored 100 goals, 19 more than anyone else in both the National Leagues North and South. But Harrogate were unable to keep pace with Salford City, and finished in 2nd place, giving them a bye in the first round of the play-offs. In the semi-finals, Harrogate Town beat Chorley 2-1, with both goal scored by Dominic Knowles, with the winning goal scored in the 94th minute. In the play-off final, Dominic Knowles scored a brace again, as Harrogate beat Brackley Town 3-0, in front of 3,000 at Wetherby Road (see screenshots and photos below).

And so 6 seasons after his father took over as owner of Harrogate Town, Simon Weaver’s Harrogate team have won promotion to the 5th division. And so now in 2018-19, following the back-to-back relegations of nearby York City, Harrogate Town are the highest-placed club from the county of North Yorkshire.

Harrogate Town: promoted to the 5th division for the first time…
harrogate-town_promoted-2018_wetherby-road_simon-weaver_joe-leesley_josh-falkingham_james-belshaw_dominic-knowles_d_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Harrogate Town 17/18 jersey, from harrogatetownafc.com/online-store. View of Harrogate town centre, photo by Alamy via dailymail.co.uk. Wetherby Road front gate/office, photo by Joseph Gibbons at gibbos92.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/harrogate-town-fc-wetherby-road. Main Stand at Wetherby Road, photo by benrobinsongroundphotos.weebly.com/harrogate-town_wetherby-road. Family Stand, photo by Joseph Gibbons at gibbos92.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/harrogate-town-fc-wetherby-road. The two-way slope in the pitch at Wetherby Road, photo by thedribblingcode.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/sat-29-oct-2011-harrogate-town-v-hyde-conf-north. James Belshaw, photo from twitter.com/@HarrogateTown. Joe Leesley, photo by Ian Hodgson at dailymail.co.uk/football. Josh Falkingham, photo from harrogatetownafc.com. Dominic Knowles, photo from yorkshirepost.co.uk. Simon Weaver, photo from strayfm.com/news. Screenshot of 2nd goal (by Dominic Knowles) in 2018 National League South play-off final, image from HIGHLIGHTS | Harrogate Town 3-0 Brackley Town (Play-off Final) (uploaded by Through The Lens Visuals at youtube.com). Dominic Knowles, photo from yorkshirepost.co.uk. Promotion celebration, image from HIGHLIGHTS | Harrogate Town 3-0 Brackley Town (Play-off Final) (uploaded by Through The Lens Visuals at youtube.com).

    •Havant & Waterlooville FC.

Est. 1998, via merger of: Havant Town FC, and Waterlooville FC. Colours: White with blue and yellow trim. Location: Havant, Hampshire. Population of Havant: around 45,000 {2011 census}. Population of Waterlooville: around 64,000 {2011 census}. Havant is situated (by road) 7 miles (12 km) NE of Portsmouth. Havant is situated (by road) 71 miles (114 km) SW of central London.

Manager of Havant & Waterlooville, Lee Bradbury (age 43, born in Cowes, Isle of Wight). Bradbury has been manager of Havant & Waterlooville for 5-and-a-half years now (since Nov. 2012). He was previously the youth team coach at Portsmouth. And before that, Bradbury was manager of the then-3rd-division Bournemouth (from Jan. 2011 to March 2012).
-Bradbury’s Hawks Sign Off Historic Season With Treble (thenationalleague.org.uk).

Havant & Waterlooville were formed in 1998, the result of a merger between two 8th-level/Southern League D1 South clubs: Havant Town FC, and Waterlooville FC. They are nicknamed the Hawks, and play at the small and bare-bones West Leigh Park in Havant, Hampshire. Havant is about 7 miles (by road) NE of Portmouth. Waterlooville is about 5 miles NW of Havant, and Waterlooville is about 8 miles N of Portsmouth. Havant & Waterlooville FC are most famous for their exploits in the 2007-08 FA Cup, when the Hawks beat Bognor Regis, Fleet Town, Leighton Town, York City (in the 1st round), Notts County (in the 2nd round), and then-3rd-tier-side Swansea City 4–2 (in a 3rd round replay). This amazing Cup run was capped off by dream 4th round tie at Liverpool, where Havant & Waterlooville took 6,000 fans. There at Anfield, Havant & Waterlooville actually took the lead twice on Liverpool, but they ended up losing 5-2. {Heroic Havant [Liverpool 5-2 Havant & Waterlooville, FA Cup 4th round match from 28 Jan 2008], by Kieran Fox at news.bbc.co.uk.}

Havant & Waterlooville had been charter-members of the Conference South in 2004-05, and had played in that 6th-tier league for 12 straight seasons before relegation to the 7th level, which happened on the final day of the 2015-16 season. Then Havant & Waterlooville bounced straight back to the 6th tier by winning the 2016-17 Isthmian League by 2 points over Bognor Regis.

Then in 2017-18, back in the National League South, Havant & Waterlooville ran neck-and-neck with Kent/Thames Estuary side Dartford, for the title. Havant played very well down the stretch (ultimately going 7-wins-2-draws-1-loss in their last 10 matches). But Dartford were even better, and had gained on Havant – Dartford won their last 9 matches. In their penultimate matches, Dartford won 2-0 over Bath City; but Havant & Waterlooville, in front of 1,153 at West Leigh Park, thrashed East Thurrock 6-1, scoring 4 goals in the last 28 minutes. (That flurry of late goals proved the crucial difference in the title-race.)

So with one more game to play in the 17/18 National League South, that made it Dartford and Havant & Waterlloville even on points, but with Havant having a goal-difference that was four better than Dartford. On final match-day, going into the final minutes, it was Dartford leading 1-2 to Bath City away, while Havant & Waterlooville, who had blown their 2-goal lead, were knotted 2-2 to Concord Rangers at West Leigh Park. Then in the 89th minute, Havant’s top scorer Jason Prior slotted home from the near left side (see photo and screenshots below). And Havant & Waterlooville had won the National League South over Dartford, thanks only to a goal difference of 3.

So now Havant & Waterlooville have made it two straight promotions, and will play in the 5th division for the first time. Havant & Waterlooville drew 879 per game in 2017-18. They will be one of the 4 or 5 smallest clubs in the 5th tier (if you go by crowd-size). Only Boreham Wood and Gateshead drew less in the National League last season, and Solihull drew the same as Havant did (879). And besides Braintree Town, the other newly-promoted sides drew higher (Salford and Harrogate).

Havant & Waterlooville: promoted to the 5th division for the first time.
havant-and-waterlooville_promoted-2018_west-leigh-park_lee-bradbury_ryan-young_wes-fogden_rory-williams_jason-prior_m_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – 17/18 Havant & Waterlooville jersey, illustration from havantandwaterloovillefc.co.uk/shop. Aerial shot of West Leigh Park, image from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view. West Leigh Park [from an evening match in 2010], photo by Stuart Noel at footballstadiums.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/west-leigh-park-havant. Jason Prior, photo from havantandwaterloovillefc.co.uk. Lee Bradury, photo from havantandwaterloovillefc.co.uk. Ryan Young, photo from havantandwaterloovillefc.co.uk. Wes Fogden, photo unattributed at portsmouth.co.uk/football. Rory Williams, photo from portsmouth.co.uk/football. Jason Prior and Havant fans celebrate the promotion-winning goal in extra-time, screenshot from video uploaded by Marsh Media at youtube.com/[Havant & Waterlooville PROMOTION WINNING goal! (Jason Prior)]. Jason prior after scoring the goal that got them promoted, photo from havantandwaterloovillefc.co.uk. Pitch invasion following promotion-win, 2 screenshots from video uploaded by Groundhopping FC at youtube.com.

    •Braintree Town .

Est. 1898, as Manor Works FC. Colours: Orange jerseys [previously yellow jerseys]. Population of Braintree, Essex: around 53,000 {2011 census}. Braintree is situated 10 miles (16 km) NE of Chelmsford and 15 miles (24 km) W of Colchester. Braintree is situated (by road) 51 miles (87 km) NE of central London.

Braintree Town began in 1898 as Manor Works FC, the works team of the Crittall Window Company. The company manufactured iron windows (and still is located in Essex, in the adjacent town of Witham). Back in 1898, this works team literally worked with iron, and that was the basis for their nickname of the Iron. That being said, the fact was that in 1898, the new club took over most of the squad of the recently defunct Braintee FC of the North Essex League. (The Crittall Window company was founded in 1889 in Braintree, Essex. By the mid-1890s the Crittall company employed 30 men. By 1907, the company had expanded and branched out with the Detroit Steel Product Co, the first steel window factory in the United States. By 1918, the Crittall Window Company employed 500 men.)

By 1911, Manor Works FC joined the Essex & Suffolk Border League (where they remained until 1928). In 1921, Manor Works FC changed its name to Crittall Athletic FC, to be more closely identified with their parent company. Crittall Athletic were founder members of the Eastern Counties League in 1935, and largely remained part of that competition for around 50 years. While part of the Metropolitan League in 1968, Crittall Athletic changed its name to Braintree & Crittall Athletic. They re-joined the Eastern Counties League in 1970. In 1981, all links with the Crittall Window Company were severed, and the club changed its name to Braintree FC. The following year of 1982 saw the club change to its present-day name of Braintree Town FC.

A decade later, in 1991, Braintree Town won promotion to the Southern League. But by 1996, travel costs were hurting the small club, so they asked league officials to be switched over to the Isthmian League, in order to reduce traveling fees. And so they were placed into the Division Three of the Isthmian League, although it was an effective drop of two divisions. But that did not hold back Braintree Town at all, because they promptly got themselves promoted twice in 2 seasons, ascending to the Isthmian League Division One in 1998. And after three seasons in the Isthmian League D-1, they were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2001. Five seasons later, in 2005-06, Braintree Town won the Isthmian League Premier Division, winning promotion to the Conference South. That 2005-06 season also saw Braintree Town reach the 1st round of the FA Cup for the first time (losing 4–1 at Shrewsbury Town).

Braintree Town played 6 straight seasons in the 5th division, from 2011- to ’17. From 2006-07 to 2010-11, Braintree Town were a 6th division side that were drawing in the 400-500 range. They qualified for the Conference South play-off play-offs 3 times in this 5-season-span, and won promotion to the 5th division in 2010-11 by winning the Conference South by 7 points over Farnborough. In that promotion-winning season of 2010-11, Braintree drew 661 per game, and their support increased even more in their first season in the 5th tier, when they drew 901 per game and finished a rather decent 12th-place. The next season, 2012-13, Braintree finished in 9th place. The next season, 2013-14, Braintree drew an all-time high of 994 per game, and the team finished in 6th, just 4 points off the play-offs. The next season of 2014-15 saw Braintree Town slip down to 14th place. But the following season of 2015-16 saw Braintree qualify for the 5th division play-offs by finishing in 3rd place (losing in the semifinals to eventual promotion-winners Grimsby Town). This play-off-qualifying run in 2015-16 was when the Cowley brothers were running the Braintree squad. (Manager Danny Cowley and his brother Nick [1st team coach] were at the helm at Braintree for one season, then moved on in the summer of 2016 to Lincoln, and then the Cowley brothers got Lincoln City promoted to the Football League in 2017.) However, 2016-17 was disastrous for Braintree Town, and the team obviously felt a void after the departure of the Cowleys; under manager Hakan Hayrettin, Braintree were relegated on the last day of the 2016-17 National League season, dropping back down to the 6th tier. Heyrettin left by mutual consent and Brad Quinton was hired as the new Braintree manager in May 2017. Brad Quinton, who is Braintree Town’s all-time appearances record holder, had been manager at 7th-division-side Enfield Town for 3 years before taking the reins at Braintree. Quinton was an integral part of the 2010-11 Braintree squad that won automatic promotion to the 5th division. Quinton had played as a DMF for Braintree Town for 12 seasons, making 546 appearances (and scoring 69 goals).

Back down in the 6th tier in 2017-18, Braintree Town qualified for the National League South play-offs thanks to a solid final 10 matches (6-wins/3-draws-1-loss). But Braintree finished in 6th, meaning they would have to play the new extra elimination round in the play-offs, and they would have to play away the whole way. Braintree beat Hemel Hempstead away 0-0/3-2 on penalties in the eliminator. Then Braintree beat Dartford away 0-1 in the semifinal, with the winning goal by Braintree MF Billy Crook (who made the Team of the Year/see photo and caption below). And then in the final, Braintree beat Hampton Richmond Borough away 1-1/3-2 on penalties. The equalizing goal that forced extra time and penalties was scored by MF Reece Grant (see photos and captions below). And so Brad Qunton’s Braintree Town were back in the 5th division. Braintree Town drew 524 per game in 2017-18. They return to the National League/5th division as one of the smallest clubs…they drew lower last season than every other club that are in the 2018/19 National League, and of the whole 5th division in 2018-19, only Boreham Wood (who drew an all-time high of 626 per game in 2017-18), are arguably a smaller club than Braintree Town.

Braintree Town bounces straight back to the 5th division.
braintree-town_promoted-2018_cressing-road_bradley-quinton_billy-crook_reece-grant_marc-anthony-okoye_b_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – 17/18 Braintree Town jersey, photo from andreascartersports.co.uk. Main Stand at Cressing Road, photo by phildanmatt.weebly.com/braintree. Shot looking towrds pitch at Cressing Road, photo by Russell Cox at footygrounds.blogspot.com/[July 2011/Cressing Road]. Panorama shot of Cressing Road by phildanmatt.weebly.com/braintree. Billy Crook, photo by John Weaver at eadt.co.uk/sport. Brad Quinton, photo by Chris Jarvis at braintreeandwithamtimes.co.uk/sport. Traveling Braintree fans at Hampton & Richmond Borough for the National League South play-off final, photo by thegrassrootstourist.com/[vanarama-national-league-south-promotion-final]. Reece Wright scoring and celebrating (3 photos) by thegrassrootstourist.com/[vanarama-national-league-south-promotion-final]. Reece Wright celebrating [inset photo], by Jon Weaver at braintreeandwithamtimes.co.uk/sport. Braintree players and supporters celebrating promotion; Manager Quinton and captain Marc-Anthony Okoye celebrating Braintree Town’s promotion: 2 photos by thegrassrootstourist.com/[vanarama-national-league-south-promotion-final].

___

-Thanks to the contributors at National League (English football) (en.wikipedia.org).
-Havant & Waterlooville 16/17 attendance from nonleaguematters.co.uk.
-Thanks to Nilfanion…Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org). Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.

-Thanks to Soccerway for upper-division-Non-League attendance figures, us.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national.

June 25, 2018

The 6th division in England: 2018-19 [Non-League] National League North & National League South (2 separate 22-team leagues, at the same level) – maps, with 17/18-attendances-&-finishes chart./ + The top 16 drawing clubs in the 6th tier (chart showing all clubs in the 6th division that drew above 1,000 per game in 2017-18).

Main map – 2018-19 National Leagues North and South (44 teams/2 leagues) – click on image below

2018-19_national-league-north-and-south_the-6th-level_2-leagues-44-teams_w-2018-attendances-and-finishes_map_post_c_.gif
Main map – 2018-19 National Leagues North and South (44 teams/2 leagues)




By Bill Turianski on 25 June 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-National League (English football) (en.wikipedia.org).
-Official site…thenationalleague.org.uk
-Nuneaton Town changes name back to Nuneaton Borough…ANNOUNCEMENT: Back to the Borough (pitchero.com/clubs/nuneatontownfc).
-Bradford Park Avenue changes name back to Bradford (Park Avenue) AFC…Club To Revert Back To Historic Name And Badge (bpafc.com).

-FA chiefs restructure non-league game [below the 6th level] (bbc.com/sport/football).
-Non-League allocations for 2018-19 Steps 1-4 (ie, levels 5-9) [pdf] (thefa.com).

    6th division England:
    2018-19 National League North & National League South
    (2 separate 22-team leagues, at the same level)

The 6th level in English football is where the regionalised leagues begin. Above is the 5th division, the National League, which is the highest level of non-League football and the only non-League level that is nationalised. The 6th level has two leagues: the National League North and the National League South. Below that is the 7th level, which used to be comprised of 3 leagues, but starting now [2018-19] there will be 4 leagues in the 7th level (the new league in the 7th level will be the result of splitting the Southern League into two leagues: the Southern League – Central and the Southern League – South) {see link to article at BBC/sports above; also see pdf above, which shows the whole set-up in chart form}.

A brief history of the 5th and 6th tiers in England…
1979-80: 5th level of English football instituted with the Alliance Premier League: the 5th level and the highest level of non-League football in England (and Wales).
1986-87: Promotion/Relegation established between the 5th level and the 4th Division of the Football League.
2004-05: The 6th level of football instituted, with the creation of 2 regional leagues below the 5th level: the Conference North & the Conference South (22 teams in each league).
2015-16: names of the three leagues changed to…5th level: National League / 6th level: National League North & National League South.

The map(s)…
Above is the two leagues combined on one map (click on image at the top of the post for all 44 teams in the 2018-19 National Leagues North & South)…
Below is a map each for: the 2018-19 National League North, and the 2018-19 National League South. All the maps are location-maps which also show each club’s 2017-18 home average attendance as well as their 2017-18 league finish (with play-off bids and promotion/relegation noted).

There is also a small chart further below, which shows the 16 clubs in the 2018-19 6th level that drew above 1,000-per-game last season [in 2017-18] (11 clubs in the 18/19 NL North / 5 clubs in the 18/19 NL South). Then I wrote a few words about each of the sixteen 6th-tier clubs that drew above 1,000 per game last season.

My next post will be a map of the 2018-19 National League [the 5th division], with illustrated profiles of the 4 promoted clubs (Salford City, Harrogate Town, Havant & Waterlooville, Braintree Town). That will be posted on the 11th of July 2018.

Map of National League North (2018-19 season, with attendances and finishes from 2017-18) – click on image below
2018-19_national-league-north_aka-conference-north_map_w-2018-attendances_post_b_.gif
National League North 18/19 map w/ 17/18 attendances and finishes

Map of National League South (2018-19 season, with attendances and finishes from 2017-18) – click on image below
2018-19_national-league-south_aka-conference-south_map_w-2018-attendances_post_d_.gif
National League South 18/19 map w/ 17/18 attendances and finishes

6th Level clubs which draw above 1,000-per-game (16 clubs: 11 in the National League North / 5 in the National League South)…
2018-19-national-leagues-north-and-south_all-clubs-that-drew-over-1-k-in-2017-18_16-clubs_m_.gif
Attendance figures from: nonleaguematters.co.uk.

Top draws in the 6th tier…

Stockport County: 99 seasons in the Football League (last in 2010-11). Financial problems have plagued the club since the early 2000s, and that led it to being a supporter-owned club for a while circa 2005-10. Stockport were in the 2nd division as recently as 2001-02. They were drawing between 6-to-8-K back then. But though they have fallen a ways since then (4 relegations), Stockport County can still draw above 3 K despite being stuck in the 6th tier (and in 17/18 they drew 3.4 K for the second-straight season). Stockport will be playing their 6th season of 6th-division football in 2018-19. Stockport, population 136,000 {2011 census}, was historically part of Cheshire, but now is in Greater Manchester. As the crow flies, Stockport is about 7 miles south of central Manchester. Stockport County wear Blue-and-White, but last season they wore pale-royal-blue-with-navy-blue-and-white-trim. Stockport County play at Edgeley Park, which has a 10.8-K-capacity (all seated).

York City: 72 seasons in the Football League (last in 2015-16). Back-to-back relegations have devastated the North-Yorkshire-based club. But most of their supporters have not abandoned them…York were drawing 3.2 K in their last Football League season (2015-16), and have only dropped off about .5 K (down 14%) since then. York drew 2.7 K last season, as they were relegated to the 6th tier for the first time. York City wear unique Red jerseys with Dark-Blue sleeves, and play at Boothan Crescent (cap. 8, 256).

Hereford: Phoenix-club of Hereford United (1924-2014). They still play at Edgar Street (though one stand behind the goal failed the safety inspection). The 4-year-old re-formed club has been marching up the pyramid, with 3 straight league-winning promotions. And their support has been outstanding. In their inaugural season, Hereford drew an astounding 2.8 K in the 9th-level Midlands League (in 2015-16). Then in 16/17, the Bulls drew 2.8 K again (in the 8th tier, winning the South League South & West by 18 points). Their support tailed off a little last season (maybe because they clinched the league title again with such ease). Hereford drew 2.5 K and won the Southern League by 13 points. And Hereford drew about 1.7-K-per-game more than anyone else in the Southern League last season. Hereford make their 6th-level debut, now situated in the National League North. Hereford will probably will be one of the favorites for promotion (again). Like the original club, Hereford wear White-with-Black.

FC United of Manchester: Supporter-owned club. Protest-club formed in 2005, after the cynical debt-laden leveraged-buyout of Manchester United by the Glazers. FC United started off with three consecutive promotions (2006-08). The club won promotion to the 6th tier in April 2015, and a month later, in May 2015, FC United moved into their nice and functional purpose-built Broadhurst Park (cap. 4,400). But factional unrest within the club has hurt them in the past couple of years. Attendance has fallen 1.2 K in two seasons (down from 3.3 K in 15/16, to 2.1 K in 17/18). And their promotion campaign has stalled (this will be FCUM’s 4th season in the 6th tier). Like Man Utd, FC United wear Red-and-White-with-Black.

Woking: The Surrey-based club is nicknamed the Cards (as in the Cardinal red in their Red-and-White halved jerseys). Woking have never been higher than the 5th division, and were a mainstay there fifteen years ago (Woking played 17 straight seasons in the 5th tier from 1992-93 to 2008-09). But this is now their second spell in the 6th tier after 3 seasons up in the 5th. Woking draw solid (2.2 K last season), and will probably still draw above 1 K back in the 6th tier (they drew between 1.1 and 1.8 K in their 3 season-spell in the 6th tier from 2010-12).

Chester: Phoenix-club of Chester City (1985-2010). Located in western Cheshire right on the border of Wales. Like the club they replaced, Chester play at the Deva Stadium (cap. 5,400 with 4 K seated). (The Deva Stadium is actually partially located in Wales.) Like FC United of Manchester, and also like Hereford, Chester began life (in 2010-11) with three straight promotion-winning seasons. That got them to the 5th tier, but then Chester stalled out after 4 seasons in the 5th division, and now find themselves back in the 6th tier. Crowds have diminished, somewhat alarmingly (down almost .9 K in 6 years, from 2.7 K in the promotion-winning season of 2011-12, to 1.8 K last season). Chester wear Blue-and-White.

Torquay United: 78 seasons in the Football League (last in 2013-14). Torquay are located on the south-west coast, in Devon. Torquay have now suffered two relegations in 5 seasons. The first time they were stuck in non-League, they escaped back to the Football League after just 2 seasons. That was in 2008-09. Then followed 5 seasons in the 4th division, and Torquay were good enough to make the play-offs twice in that 5-year stint, even making it to the League Two play-off final in 2011 (losing to Stevenage). But now the Gulls are moving out of the 5th division in the wrong direction. In 6 seasons, Torquay have lost 40% of their fanbase, going from 2.8 K in League Two in their 2011-12 play-off run, to 1.7 K last season when they were relegated. Torquay wear Yellow-and-Navy-Blue.

Kidderminster Harriers: 5 seasons in the Football League (last in 2004-05). Kidderminster is a town of 55,000 located just south of the West Midlands, in north Worcestershire, 17 miles (27 km) south-west of Birmingham city centre. Robert Plant (of Led Zeppelin fame) grew up here. In 2000-01, Kidderminster drew an all-time high of 3.4 K. That was the season of their Football League debut. The dream lasted 5 seasons. Back in non-League 5 years later, Kidderminster were drawing above-or-near 2 K most seasons. Kidderminster drew 1.6 K last season and are now entering their 3rd season in the 6th tier. Kiddy wear Red-with-Black-and-White.

Darlington: 81 seasons in the Football League (last in 2009-10). Saddled by the White Elephant that was the 25-K-capacity Darlington Stadium, Darlington were a financial mess by the time they were relegated out of the 4th division in April 2010. Darlington were drawing 1.9 K and playing in a 25.5-K-arena. Of course it was going to end badly. Two years later, in 2012, Darlington were expelled from the Conference National [the 5th division]. The Phoenix-club Darlington 1883 rose in its place…‘A new club was immediately formed but The Football Association ruled that, as a new club, it must have a different playing name from the expelled club. The name chosen was Darlington 1883, and that club was placed in the Northern League Division One, the ninth tier of English football, for the 2012–13 season. They won three promotions in four seasons before the FA approved their request to change to the traditional Darlington FC name.’ {-excerpt from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darlington_F.C..} Darlington are from County Durham. The town of Darlington has a population of around 92,000 and is located 37 miles by road S of Newcastle, and about 4 miles north of the border with North Yorkshire. Darlington wear sharp-looking Black-and-White hoops, and are nicknamed the Quakers. They drew 1.2 K when they won the Northern League (7th tier) in 2015-16. Darlington were a mid-table side that drew 1.4 K last season, but that was a let-down from their strong run 2 years ago (2016-17), when they drew 1.7 K and finished in 5th (but Darlington 1883 were barred from the play-offs due to failing ground size regulations). Still, it looks like Darlington are going in the right direction. Especially because they have been playing back in town since 2016-17, at the 3,000-capacity Blackwell Meadow, which they rent from rugby league side Darlington RFC.

Dulwich Hamlet: Despite being rendered homeless by soulless corporate landlords, Dulwich Hamlet won promotion into the 6th tier, by winning the Isthmian play-off final (beating Hendon 1-1/4-3 on penalties). The Pink-and-Navy-Blue-clad Dulwich Hamlet are from South London, in the London Borough of Southwark. (Dulwich Hamlet attract a fanbase that has been derided as hipster. Oh, so a lot of them have beards and like artisanal products, whatever, more power to them; they’re from the largest city in the UK and yet they are still supporting lower non-League football, and that is good enough for me.) For three years the club has been drawing impressively for a 7th-tier side. They drew 1.0 K in 2015-16, and then in ’16-17 and ’17-18, Dulwich Hamlet drew 1.3 K (in a division where the median average attendance is only about 250). But last season, as the squad chased promotion, their eviction from their Champion Field ground diminished their crowd-size considerably. In March and April 2018, once they were forced to play at Tooting & Micham’s Imperial Field (located 5 miles away, further south-west, in SW London), Dulwich Hamlet started seeing smaller crowds: like 800 or so, instead of the 1,300 or so they were drawing earlier that season. And so it is going to be interesting to see, in 2018-19, how Dulwich Hamlet do, as a new 6th-division-side that also happens to be homeless.

AFC Telford United: Phoenix-club of Telford United (1872-2004). Telford United were a founding member of the 5th division (Alliance Premier League) in 1979. AFC Telford Utd play at the 6,300-capacity New Bucks Head (opened 2003), which was originally built for Telford United to play at before they went bankrupt. Telford United was a mainstay of the 5th tier back in the 1990s, but never played above the 5th division. The re-formed club has had a harder time surviving in the 5th tier. Although AFC Telford United have been drawing above 1 K, most seasons, for many years now, they have become more of a 5th-division/6th-division yo-yo club, with their most recent relegation in 2014-15. Nicknamed the Lilywhites or the Bucks, Telford wear White with navy and red trim, and now they wear Navy Blue pants (previously black). Telford, located in Shropshire, is somewhat of a commuter-town of Birminghmam. Telford is on the large side for a non-League town: its population is around 142,000 {2011 census figure}.

Billericay Town: Controversial owner Glenn Tamplin is widely disliked, with appalling behavior towards one of his players and towards rival fans on social media. Tamplin also fired the manager, took the manager’s job for himself, then fired himself, then when he couldn’t find another manager, he re-instated himself. But despite all this, the club has just been promoted to the 6th tier for the first time. Billericay Town got there with a huge wage bill that included former-Premier-League talent. Attendance has shot up almost 500, from 565 per game two years ago, to 1,057 last season, when Billericay won the Isthmian League by 4 points over Dulwich Hamlet. Billericay, Essex, with a population of around 28,000, is a commuter town that is located, by road, 34 miles (55 km) E of central London. Billericay Town wear all-Blue (dark Cornflower blue).

Boston United: 5 seasons in the Football League (last in 2006-07). Boston got into the Football League on tainted circumstances in 2002 (violation of registration rules), and after 5 seasons in the 4th division, they were relegated back to non-League. And at that point, the club was in such poor financial shape that they were demoted further down an extra level, down to the 6th tier. And Boston United has basically never recovered from that. Boston is in Lincolnshire; the town of Boston has a population of around 35,000. Boston United are nicknamed the Pilgrims, and wear Amber-and Black.

Dartford: Dartford are from Dartford, Kent. The town of Dartford is home to the Dartford Crossing, the easternmost transit over the River Thames. Dartford FC play at the marvelous Princes Park, a singular ground that is environmentally-friendly and is built primarily of wood and has a living green-roof over the clubhouse. Princes Park opened in November 2006, and has a capacity of 4,100 (642 seated). The new and unique ground greatly improved the club’s crowd-size (crowds went from the mid-200s to over 800), and helped propel them to promotion to the 7th division in 2008, and then into the 6th division in 2010, and then into the 5th division in 2012. In their promotion-winning season of 2011-12, Dartford drew 1.2 K. And in their first season in the 5th tier they drew an all-time high of 1.3 K. Dartford had a three-season-spell in the 5th tier (2012-15). Back in the 6th tier, Dartford are still drawing above 1 K, but only slightly (in 2017-18, Dartford drew 1,023). In 2017-18, Dartford just missed out on promotion, winning their last 9 games chasing Havant & Waterlooville, only to be denied automatic promotion by goal-difference. Then in the 2018 National League South play-offs, Dartford lost to the eventually-promoted Braintree Town. Dartford will probably be one of the favorites to win promotion in 2018-19. Dartford wear White-with-Black.

Southport: 50 seasons in the Football League (last in 1977-78). Southport was the last club to leave the Football League through the re-election process [automatic relegation from the Fourth Division was instituted in 1986–87]. Since then, Southport have played 19 seasons in the 5th tier, within three different spells; their last season in the 5th tier was in 2016-17. Southport have been drawing above 1 K most seasons since 1992-93. The town of Southport is part of Merseyside, and is a coastal bedroom community just north of Liverpool. Southport play at York Street, which opened in 1923 and has a capacity of 6,643 (1,826 seated). Southport are nicknamed the Sandgrounders, for the town’s sandy beach promenade, and they wear Yellow-with-Black.
___

Thanks to all at the links below…
-Thanks to the contributors at National League (English football) (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to Nilfanion at Wikipedia…Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org). Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg. Blank relief map of Greater Manchester, by Nilfanion (using Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater Manchester UK relief location map.jpg (commons.wikimedia.org).

Photos/Images of kit badges…
[Ashton Utd 17/18 jersey badge], ashtonunitedfc.gr8sports.co.uk
[Curzon Ashton 17/18 jersey badge], twitter.com/[@curzonashton].
[Chester 17/18 jersey badge], chesterfc.com/all-ticket.
[Nuneaton 18/19 kit (image of lighter-blue-fade-striping behind the badge)], twitter.com/[@Official_NTFC]
[Spennymoor 14/15 jersey badge], oldfootballshirts.com.
[Billericay], billericaytownfc.co.uk/product/2017-18-home-shirt-2.
[Chippenham], pitchero.com/clubs/chippenhamtown.
[Dulwich Hamlet], pitchero.com/clubs/dulwichhamlet/.
[Eastbourne (script on badge)], ebfc.co.uk/news.

-Thanks to the Non-League Matters site for non-League attendance figures, nonleaguematters.co.uk.

June 16, 2018

Gridiron Football: NFL representation in the largest metropolitan statistical areas (USA & London, England).

Filed under: NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 12:02 pm

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Gridiron Football: NFL representation in the largest metropolitan statistical areas (USA & London, England)



Sources…[note: data was retrieved on 2 March 2018; some population data may have changed depending upon when the links below are later accessed]…
-List of metropolitan statistical area [in the USA];
-London Commuter Belt (en.wikipedia.org).

The chart shows all cities in USA (plus London, England) which have a metropolitan statistical area population of over 1 million. The NFL teams from each city are shown at the far right (via current [2018] helmet-logos).

I made this chart because, like millions of other sports fans, I am very curious about what the NFL’s short-term – and long-term – plans are, with respect to expansion and re-location of franchises. The average NFL fan would undoubtedly be interested. But fans of embattled franchises would be even more interested in the subject. That is, fans of such teams as the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles (formerly San Diego) Chargers, the Oakland (formerly Los Angeles) Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the the Buffalo Bills…because their team might be one that moves out of their present location. And that moves to London, England (or, in the Raiders’ case, to Las Vegas, Nevada).

It looks like it is inevitable that there will be an NFL team in London: all signs point to it. {See this, Potential London NFL franchise (en.wikipedia.org).} And there doesn’t look like there is any real wish on behalf of the NFL, or its owners, to have another round of expansion. Because it does not appear that the market would bear it (it would really have to be a two-team-expansion). And also, a 32 team league, as the NFL currently is, is just too perfect a number to mess with. Perfect in the sense that divisional-alignments, playoff set-up, and scheduling are very optimal in the current 32-team format.

So, once again, some NFL fanbase is most likely going to get screwed, and the home-town-fans of that team will be absolutely devastated to see their team re-locate to England. But that’s how the NFL rolls. Treating their fans like pawns. However much joy will be bestowed upon sports fans in England to see an NFL team grace their shores…that joy will NEVER outbalance the grief that will be bestowed upon one set of fans in the USA who lose their NFL team. When that NFL franchise uproots and moves to London, it will be just one more example of the diabolical nature of the NFL.

This chart is similar to the one I made for Major League Baseball {here}.

June 9, 2018

Baseball: MLB representation in the largest metropolitan statistical areas (USA & Canada).

Filed under: Baseball — admin @ 1:19 pm

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Baseball: MLB representation in the largest metropolitan statistical areas (USA & Canada).


By Bill Turianski on 9 June 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Sources…[note: data was retrieved on 2 March 2018; some population data may have changed depending upon when the links below are later accessed]…
-List of metropolitan statistical area [in the USA];
-List of census metropolitan areas and agglomerations in Canada;
-San Juan, Puerto Rico (en.wikipedia.org).

The chart shows all cities in USA and Canada which have a metropolitan statistical area population of over 1 million. The MLB teams from each city are shown at the far right (via current [2018] home ball-cap logos).

I made this chart because I am trying to understand why MLB is so reticent to pull the plug on the dismally-drawing Tampa Bay Rays (and perhaps the similarly-dismally-drawing Oakland A’s).

And if you think I am exaggerating the problem, that would mean you have not been looking at attendance figures recently, because it really is that bad…currently [June 9 2018], the Rays are drawing 13.8 K and the A’s are drawing 15.4 K (plus the Marlins are drawing 10.5 K, but they’ll never move the Marlins out of Miami, which has to be the worst sports-supporting town in America). Here are the current MLB attendance figures {espn.com/mlb/attendance}.

I think, and a whole lot of other people also think, that MLB should be sending the Rays (and perhaps the A’s) to somewhere else…somewhere else where attendance would be much, much higher than the 14-or-15-K-per-game that the Rays (and the A’s) have been drawing. Like Montreal [the 16th-largest city in USA-and-Canada]. Or maybe Portland, Oregon [the 28th-largest city in the USA/Canada]. Or maybe Charlotte, North Carolina [the 25th-largest city in USA/Canada]. Or maybe San Antonio, Texas [the 27th-largest city in the USA/Canada].

-Montreal Expos ownership group positioned for MLB relocation (by Mat Germain on April 12 2018 at draysbay.com).
-How Portland lands a Major League Baseball team… (by John Canzano on June 5 2018 at oregonlive.com/sports).

Anywhere else? I doubt it. I don’t really think there are any other cities that could support an MLB team. Because that entails 81 home games a year. And that entails having the wherewithal to fund and build a modern venue. And that entails having the possibility of creating a fan-base capable of supporting the team. And that also entails a situation where the other major league teams there (or the big-time D-1 college teams, there) wouldn’t siphon off a big chunk of support from a theoretical MLB team there.

What I am saying is this…It is a lot harder to successfully maintain an MLB team, than it is to maintain an NFL or an NHL or an NBA team. And I don’t think Vancouver or San Juan or Sacramento or Las Vegas or Austin or Columbus or Indianapolis or Nashville or Virginia Beach/Norfolk or Providence are capable of supporting an MLB team.

But San Jose sure as heck could support an MLB team. However, moving the A’s slightly south to San Jose is impossible, in the current climate, thanks to the restraint of trade that the San Francisco Giants and the MLB front office is engaging in. Restraint of trade that is screwing the Athletics’ franchise {see this, U.S. Supreme Court rejects San Jose’s bid to lure Oakland A’s (sfgate.com from 2015)}. Lawyers representing the city of San Jose: “More baseball fans [would] watch the A’s in San Jose than in Oakland, and they [would] enjoy the games in more pleasant surroundings,” the city’s lawyers said. “To bar the A’s from moving is to reduce consumer welfare, for the sole benefit of a competing producer, the [San Francisco] Giants. This is precisely the harm that antitrust law is designed to prevent.” (See 2 paragraphs further below, in the B. section, for more on that).

The subtitle of this chart could very well be “one reason why the Cleveland Indians draw so poorly”. I say that, because look how small metro-area Cleveland, Ohio is now…it is only the 36th-largest city in the USA-and-Canada these days. Cleveland’s population hasn’t shrunk as much as that of the uber-Rust-Belt city, Detroit, but it is close. Once upon a time, in 2000, the Cleveland Indians actually had the highest attendance in MLB. But that was because, back then (18 years ago), the Indians were a very good ball club PLUS the fact that: the Indians had a shiny new stadium, the Cavaliers sucked back then, the Browns were bad and were just out of “hibernation” (from 1996-98), the local economy wasn’t so ravaged, and the metro-area of Cleveland was about 20% larger. The population decline in Cleveland is even worse if you look at from a long-term perspective…since 1950, the city of Cleveland has lost 58% of its population {see this, Philadelphia Is Bouncing Back From Problems Still Plaguing Cleveland (by Carl Bialik from July 2016 at fivethirtyeight.com)}.

As to the smallest city to currently host an MLB team, that is Milwaukee, Wisconsin [the 43rd-largest city in the USA-and-Canada]. Home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Well, hats off to Wisconsinites. I say that because the folks of Greater Milwaukee have been giving the decidedly small-market Brewers some pretty darn good attendance figures. {Which you can see, here, in my latest MLB paid-attendance map [2017 figures].} And think about it…the Brewers, from just the the 40th-biggest city in America, have to compete for fans with the nearby and vastly popular Chicago Cubs (as well as the White Sox), plus they also have to compete for fans with the somewhat nearby Minnesota Twins. But the Brew Crew still drew over 31 K per game last year, which was 10th-best in MLB. (By the way, the Brewers are doing very well at the moment, with the best record in the National League (at 38-25 [June 9 2018].)

Some things you should know about the population figures on the list
A). The definition of these metropolitan statistical areas are pretty broad. (If you are curious, click here; then click on links there, to see each city’s defined metropolitan statistical area [as defined by the US Census Bureau]).
B). And there are some overlaps…For example, Baltimore is part of Washington DC’s metropolitan statistical area, yet Baltimore, Maryland is also part of its own metropolitan statistical area. Which makes sense, when you think about it, because if you are in downtown DC, it is not that much of a schlep to get to the Orioles’ ballpark. Ditto the case with San Jose, California. Not that San Jose has an MLB team. (Though the Oakland A’s sure have tried to move there. But MLB has blocked that, and, supported by court rulings, MLB continues to unfairly allow the San Francisco Giants to own the territory of San Jose, thus effectively utilizing a government-sanctioned form of restraint-of-trade to undermine the Oakland A’s viability as a northern-California-based MLB franchise.) And speaking of San Jose, that city is actually larger (by population) than the city of San Francisco is, these days (true story).
C). I included San Juan, Puerto Rico because Puerto Rico is part of the USA (Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States); plus, the late and lamented Montreal Expos played a bunch of games there, back in the day, right before they moved to DC, to become the Washington Nationals (in 2005). Plus the Twins and Indians played two games there in 2018.
D). I kept the list going well after the smallest MLB city (again, Milwaukee), because I was curious. Plus, I couldn’t resist including my humble town…Rochester, NY…the largest city in the USA without any major league team nor even a D-1 college basketball team (sigh). In case you’re wondering, the second biggest city in that category is Grand Rapids, Michigan, but they got Western Michigan Broncos D-1 football/basketball/hockey just down the road in Kalamazoo. But I digress.
E). If I continued the list, below cities which have a metro-area-population of 1 million, the next cities on the list would be: Honolulu, HI; Tulsa, OK, Fresno, CA; Bridgeport/Stamford, CT; Worcester, MA; Omaha, NB; and Albuquerque, NM. That would take it to all cities in USA and Canada with a metropolitan statistical area population above 900 K.
F). I know this chart is about major league cities in baseball, but it is ultimately also about major league cities in general (and I will be posting a similar chart for the NFL on the 16th of June 2018). So, in that vein…Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the second-smallest market in the USA-and-Canada to have a major-league team (in NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL), and has a metropolitan statistical area population of just 778,000.
G). Green Bay, Wisconsin, the smallest city…by far…to have a major league team in the USA-and-Canada, is only the 157th-largest city in the USA, with a metropolitan statistical area population of only 318,000. Go Packers.
___
Thanks to Wikipedia for data.

May 28, 2018

NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & top offensive players + 1959 NFL attendance data. / 1959 NFL Champions: Baltimore Colts.

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NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & attendance data




By Bill Turianski on 28 May 2018. twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1959 NFL season.
-1959 Baltimore Colts season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1959 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1959 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1959] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of late-1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1959. (Note: this map includes the newly-incorporated states of Alaska and Hawaii, both of which were granted statehood in 1959.) Final standings for the 1959 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1959 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1959 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see the next 8 paragraphs, and the illustration, below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1959 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating: Charley Conerly, Giants. Passing Yards and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs & Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs [tied]: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards & Receiving TDs and Total TDs [tied]: Raymond Berry, Colts.

    In a re-match of the 1958 NFL title game, the 1959 Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants (again).

The Colts were the reigning champions, but they had a hard time of it to win the Western Conference in ’59. They had to gain 2 games over San Francisco, and did so, late in the season, with two wins over the 49ers, and the Colts ended up at 9-3, one game above the Bears. The Giants, however, won the Eastern Conference easily, clinching in week 10, and the Giants had the best record in the league in 1959, at 10-2. The New York Giants also had the best defense in ’59, allowing only 14.1 points per game (170 PA), and the Giants also had the second-best offense (with 284 PF). Meanwhile, the Colts were the most potent offensive threat by far (374 PF), averaging 34.1 points. As to the Colts’ defense…well, on paper, the Colts’ D was only ranked 6th-best in terms of points allowed that season (251 PA); nevertheless, the Colts had the most interceptions by far (40, which was 18 more than any other team). And in the end, it was the Colts’ swarming defense, and particularly their ability to pick the ball off, that would decide the 1959 NFL title game.

Because of the NFL’s rotating-home-venue-for-title-game rule back then, the Western Conference was slated to host the 1959 title game, so that meant Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium would host the event, which was on Sunday December 27, 1959. A full-capacity-crowd (57,545) was on hand: the game had been sold out the day after the Colts won the Western Conference championship. Odds-makers were “ambivalent”: Colts by 3 1/2 in Baltimore, Giants by 3 1/2 in New York City. Game-time conditions were mild: 51°F with a slight breeze.

The Colts scored early in the 1st quarter, with a 60 yard pass play from Johnny Unitas to HB Lenny Moore. But then the formidable Giants defense shut the Colts down for the remainder of the first half, and deep into the 2nd half as well. Yet meanwhile, the Colts defense was containing the Giants, and the much-vaunted New York offense could only muster 9 points (off of 3 Pat Summerall FGs). So, midway through the 3rd quarter, the Giants held a slight lead, at 9-7.

Then, late in the 3rd quarter, the game turned on a 4th-and-1 play. The Giants had the ball on the Colts’ 27, which would have been a relatively easy 34-yard FG attempt. However, with their narrow 2-point lead, the Giants decided to go for it, and ran a running play. FB Alex Webster was stopped cold for a 1-yard loss by Colts DT Ray Krouse. The Memorial Stadium crowd erupted, and the momentum was shifting.

Then the Colts answered with 24 points, starting with a swift march down the field that culminated in a 4-yard Johnny Unitas option-rush-TD. The Colts led 14-9 at this point, with 12 minutes to go. Both offenses were then held to 3-plays-and-a-punt. Then, in 3 consecutive possessions, the Giants turned the ball over, via interceptions. The first of the 3 turnovers occurred with the Giants back on their 7-yard line: New York QB Charley Conerly’s pass was picked off at midfield by Colts All-Pro DB Andy Nelson, and Nelson returned it to the Giants’ 15. Two plays later, Unitas used a misdirection-play to connect with TE Jerry Richardson at the 8, and Richardson reached the end zone, and it was now 21-9 Colts.

Then the Giants made another turnover: Conerly’s 3rd-and-eight pass was intercepted by Colts DB Johnny Sample, who streaked 45 yards to a TD, and it was now 28-9 for the Colts. And then three minutes later, with New York at the 50 yard line but even more desperate, Johnny Sample made another interception, this time off of a Frank Gifford halfback-option. Sample returned the pick-off 24 yards, to the Giants’ 26. A few plays later, Colts K Steve Myhra made it 31-9, with a 25-yard FG. It was much too late in the game for New York to mount a serious comeback, although the Giants did drive for a late TD. That made it 31-16, and that was the final score.

And so the small-market Baltimore Colts had defeated the big-city Giants for the second straight year. Johnny Unitas had an MVP-worthy 18-for-29/264 yds/2 TD/0 Interceptions performance, and HB Lenny Moore had 124 yds from scrimmage and a TD. The Colts faithful stormed the field after the final whistle, and had a celebratory goal-post-razing. And then the joyful mob swiped every memento they could get their hands on, including DT Gino Marchetti’s helmet, the sideline benches, and even the iron goal posts themselves (which were smuggled out of the stadium, and later cut into mantle-piece-worthy trophies). Colts DE Art Donovan, who would go on to have a second career as a raconteur and an in-demand late-night talk-show guest, quipped, “Isn’t it great? The Giants shot their mouths off all week. But we played the football.”

But due to the epic battle that was the 1958 NFL title game [aka the Greatest Game Ever Played], the re-match in ’59 (and the repeat Colts’ victory), was fated to be a barely remembered thing (see a 2009 article from the Baltimore Sun for more on that, below).
-The greatest game nobody remembers (Mike Klingaman at baltimoresun.com).
baltimore-colts_1959-nfl_championship-game_colts-31_giants16_memorial-stadium_c_
Photo and Image credits above- 1959 NFL title game program, photo unattributed at goldenrankings.com/nflchampionshipgame1959. Aerial shot of Colts v Washington at Memorial Stadium [photo circa 1960], photo by Robert F. Kniesche attributed (for once) at pinterest.com/[Colts v Washington]. Unitas in pocket under pressure, photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images via gettyimages.fr. Conerly pursued by Marchetti and Donovan, color-tinted photo unattributed at gatorrick15.wixsite.com. Johnny Sample, 2nd interception, photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Colts fans’ celebratory goal-post-razing, photo by AP via si.com. Colts’ ’58/’59 champions logo, image from ebay.com.

1959 Baltimore Colts: 7 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’59 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1959 AP, 1st team. -Johnny Unitas: 1959 All-Pro (QB), and 1959 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979. -Gino Marchetti: 1959 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972. -Jim Parker: 1959 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Raymond Berry: 1959 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Lenny Moore: 1959 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975. -Gene Lipscomb: 1959 All-Pro (DT). -Andy Nelson: 1959 All-Pro (S). -Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968. -Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1959 NFL… There were very few uniform changes in the 1959 NFL (see Packers and 49ers sections below). However, it would be a different matter in the next few seasons, as more teams finally introduced helmet logos. But as of 1959, just 4 teams wore helmet logos (Rams, Eagles, Colts, Washington). 1959 was the third year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams (because in the past, both teams often ended up wearing a dark-colored jersey). This rule would last 7 seasons (1957-63). Then in 1964, teams were given the option of wearing their white jerseys at home; that rule exists to this day.

-In 1959, the Green Bay Packers, now under the leadership of new head coach Vince Lombardi, introduced new uniforms, the template of which has remained the Packers’ signature look to this day. Gone were the white helmets that had been part of the Packers’ uniforms for the previous three seasons, and gone was any navy blue, and also gone was the dark-bluish-forest-green color the Packers had toyed with in the 1956-58 time period {see my 1958 NFL post for more on that/scroll down to ’58 uniforms section there}. While the Packers had worn kelley-green in the late-1940s-to-mid-1950s time period, starting in 1959 the green was now plain-dark-green. The gold was still yellow/orange, and that would be the Packers’ helmet color once again. The helmet featured a dark-green/white/dark-green center-striping. But the new Packers helmet was otherwise blank…the Packers’ now-iconic football-shaped-G logo would not be introduced until 2 years later, in 1961. {1959 Packers uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com).} The Packers experimented with dark-green facemasks during this time, but abandoned it, probably because the green paint was prone to easily flake off, as you can see in the following post from the excellent packersuniforms.blogspot.com. (Note: The Baltimore Colts also experimented with a colored facemask in this era [a dark-blue facemask]. But the first team-wide introduction of colored facemasks did not occur until 15 years later, when the Chargers got Riddell to embed the color (yellow) into the rubberized coating of the facemask. {See this article by Paul Lukas at espn.com, Uni Watch’s Friday Flashback: How the Chargers started the colored face mask revolution.})

Green Bay Packers helmet history –
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Green Bay Packers Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/packers.

-In 1959, the San Francisco 49ers switched, yet again, from gold to silver helmets (plain silver helmets). The 49ers switched from gold to silver pants as well in ’59. And the Niners also slightly changed the detailing on their white jerseys, introducing a second arced shoulder stripe (similar to the striping on the Colts’ jerseys {1959 49ers uniforms}. All this chopping and changing was blurring the 49ers visual identity during this era. The 49ers of the 1952 to 1964 time period could not make up their mind what their look should be, switching their helmet color 5 times in a 13-year-span…from silver to red to white to gold to silver to gold. {You can see that in Gridiron Uniforms Database’s SF 49ers page.}

___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Colts… Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from ebay.com. Johnny Unitas [photo from 1958 title game], photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com. Jim Parker, [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at profootballhof.com. Raymond Berry [photo from 1960 v Eagles]], photo by Focus on Sports/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Retro Colts logo from ebay.com. Gino Marchetti [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at forum.russellstreetreport.com/[Baltimore football greats...]. Andy Nelson [photo from 1959 title game], photo unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/[Baltimore Colts]. Jim Mutschellar [photo circa 1960], photo by Baltimore Sun at baltimoresun.com. Art Donovan [photo circa 1958], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Lenny Moore [photo from 1958], photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images at gettyimages.com/robert-riger-archive. Gene Lipscomb [photo from 1959], photo by John G. Zimmerman/Getty Images at gettyimages.com.

1959 Offensive stats leaders…
Charley Conerly [photo from 1959], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com. Johnny Unitas [photo from 1959], photo from Complete Pro Sports Illustrated magazine via nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [1959 Topps card], from sportsviews.com. Raymond Berry [photo from 1963], photo by Walter Iooss, Jr/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at this link… worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1959 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

May 16, 2018

2018 CHL Memorial Cup tournament (in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada from May 18 to May 27) – the 4 teams: the Regina Pats, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Swift Current Broncos.

Filed under: Canada,Canada>OHL,Canada>QMJHL,Canada>WHL,Hockey — admin @ 7:44 pm

By Bill Turianski on 16 May 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
-2018 CHL Memorial Cup (en.wikipedia.org).
-CHL official site: chl.ca.
-Preview…Why watch the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup: Top prospects, great storylines (by Rory Boylen at sportsnet.ca/hockey).

Host team: Regina Pats.

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Photo and Image credits above – Regina Pats’ jersey illustration and shoulder-patch logo: from sportslogos.net/[Regina Pats]. View of Regina’s skyline, photo by 28thegreat at File:Regina Skyline.png. Brandt Centre, photo by Neil Cochrane/CBC at cbc.ca. PPCLI badge from army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/ppcli/1st-battalion.page. Regina Pats 100th anniversary jersey (a re-working of the team’s first jersey worn in 1917), from patsstore.ca. Sam Steel, photo by Keith Hershmller via chl.ca. Libor Hájek, photo by Keith Hershmiller via rodpedersen.com. Cameron Hebig, photo by Keith Hershmiller/Regina Pats via cjme.com. Cale Fleury, photo unattributed at twitter.com/WHLPats.

2018 QMJHL champions: Acadie–Bathurst Titan.

acadie-bathurst-titan_kc-irving-centre_2018-chl-memorial-cup_d_.gif

Photo and Image credits above – Acadie-Bathurst Titan jersey, illustration from sportslogos.net/[Acadie Bathurst Titan]. Aerial shot of Bathurst, New Brunswick, photo from facebook.com/destimationbathurstNB. View of Bathurst from harbour bridge, photo from iccimmigration.in/immigration/new-brunswick. K.C. Irving Regional Centre, photo by Kevin Jordan at qmjhlarenaguide.com. Olivier Galipeau, photo unattributed at telegraphjournal.com. Jeffrey Truchon-Viel, photo by Emmanuelle Parent via acadienouvelle.com. Evan Fitzpatrick, photo by Vincent L. Rousseau via letitan.com. Antoine Morand, photo by RDS via canucksarmy.com.




2018 OHL champions: Hamilton Bulldogs.

hamilton-bulldogs_first-ontario-centre_2018-chl-memorial-cup_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Hamilton Bulldogs jersey illustration and shoulder-patch logo from sportslogos.net/[Hamiton Bulldogs]. Skyline of Hamilton from top of the Mountain (Niagara Escarpment), photo by Lucasmascotto at File:Collage of Tourist Spots in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.jpg. Exterior of FirstOntario Centre, photo from 900/CHML via globalnews.ca/news. Brandon Saigeon, photo by Aaron Bell via niagarathisweek.com/sports. Robert Thomas, photo by John Rennison/The Hamilton Spectator at thespec.com. Kaden Fulcher, photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com. Ryan Moore, photo by Getty Images at gettyimages.ae.

2018 WHL champions: Swift Current Broncos.
-From the Everett (Washington) Herald, here is an article about the town of Swift Current and its hockey team, subtitled…’Home of the Broncos, Saskatchewan’s seventh-biggest city is a hard-core hockey town on the prairie‘ (by Ben Watanabe on May 4 2018 at heraldnet.com).
-reddit.com/r/hockey/[1986 Swift Current bus tragedy].

swift-current-broncos_credit-union-i-plex_2018-chl-memorial-cup_i_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Swift Current Broncos jersey illustration and shoulder-patch logos from sportslogos.net. Aerial shot of Swift Current, SK, photo by City of Swift Current via heraldnet.com/news/silvertips-fans-meet-the-enemy-stronghold-of-swift-current. Photo of road leading to Swift Current, photo by CanadaGood G Melle at flickr.com; flickr.com/photos/canadagood. Innovation Credit Union i-Plex, photo from tourismswiftcurrent.ca. Swift Current Broncos (I) logo (1973-74) from hockeydb.com/[swift-current-broncos]. Lethbridge Broncos logo from sportslogos.ne/[Lethbridge Broncos]. Swift Current Broncos (II) logos from sportslogos.net/[Swift Current Broncos (II)]. Swift Current Broncos bus crash [December 28 1986] memorial, photo from leaderpost.com/sporst. 1989 Swift Current Broncos players celebrate winning the 1989 Memorial Cup 4-3 in OT over Saskatoon [May 13 1989], photo unattributed at reddit.com/[thread: Swift Current Broncos bus crash, December 30 1986]. Aleksi Heponiemi, photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images via habseyesontheprize.com. Glenn Gawdin, photo unattributed at nhl.com/flames. Stuart Skinner, photo by Keith Hershmiller via leaderpost.com. Tyler Steenburgen, photo unattributed at reddeerexpress.com.

___
Thanks to the contributors at the following links…
- Western Hockey League;
-Ontario Hockey League;
-Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
-Thanks to the fine site known as Elite Prospects.com (Hockey Prospects), for player info…eliteprospects.com.

May 6, 2018

Australian rules football: Australian Football League (AFL), 2018 location-map, with with map showing all venues for 2018 AFL season; plus 2017 attendance figures & titles list./+ Illustration for the 2017 Grand Final champions – Richmond Tigers.

Filed under: Australia,Australian Rules Football — admin @ 5:45 pm

australian-rules-football_2018-afl_location-map_stadiums_2017-club-and-stadium-attendance_titles_post_d_.gif
Australian rules football: Australian Football League (AFL), 2018 location-map, with with map showing all 17 venues for 2018 AFL season; plus 2017 attendance figures and titles list


By Bill Turianski on 6 May 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
-AFL official site.
-2018 AFL season (en.wikipedia.org).
-theroar.com.au/aussie-rules.
-Aussie rules scores/fixtures/ladder, etc..scorespro.com/aussie-rules.

-Your club’s indigenous jumper revealed (afl.com.au).

-If you are new to Aussie rules football and would like to see an explanation of the rules, and/or a brief thumbnail-history of the AFL, you can see all that on my first map-and-post on the subject, [from April 2015]
Australian rules football – the Australian Football League (AFL): 2015 location-map with: rules (in general), clubs-history-chart, and chart of 2014 attendances with titles listed./+ 2014 champions the Hawthorn Hawks.

Here are three articles pertaining to new venues in the Australian Football League…one venue in Shanghai, China that will be used by the Port Adelaide Power and the Gold Coast Suns for the second time in 2018; a giant brand-new 60-K venue in Western Australia that will now be used full-time by both the Fremantle Dockers and by the Western Australia Eagles; and one small venue 117 km west of Melbourne in Ballarat, Victoria that will be used by the Western Bulldogs for the second time in 2018…
-AFL in China: why Port Adelaide took a chance on Shanghai (by Craig Little on 14 May 2017 at theguardian.com/[AFL]).
-WA’s biggest stars ready to shine on new stage Optus Stadium (by Kim Macdonald on 19 Jan 2018 at thewest.com.au).
-AFL game played in regional city of Ballarat for first time (by Bridget Rollason on 19 Aug 2017 at abc.net.au).

    2017 Grand Final champions – Richmond Tigers: their 11th Premiership (title) and their first title in 37 years…

australia_2017-afl-grand-final_richmond-tigers_108_60_adelaide-crows_bachar-houli_jack-graham_dustin-martin_alex-rance_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Shot from upper stands at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during 2017 AFL Grand Final, photo unattributed at adelaidenow.au. Richmond players after a goal with Richmond fans-with-flags-and-banners in the background, photo by Getty Images via dailymail.co.uk. Dustin Martin (Norm Smith Medal winner [MVP]), photo by Getty Images via thenewdaily.com.au/sport. Bachar Houli, photo unattributed at afl.com.au. Alex Rance, photo by Robert Cianflone/AFL Media/Getty Images AsiaPac via zimbio.com. Jack Graham, photo by Getty Images via foxsports.com.au.
___
Sources for map page:
Thanks to all at these links…
-Attendances (2016 and 2017 season): AFL Tables site, at afltables.com/afl/crowds/2017.html.
-Dates of establishment: Australian Football League/Current clubs.
-Titles: List of Australian Football League premiers. (en.wikipedia.org).
-Rules: Australian rules football; Australian rules football playing field (en.wikipedia.org).

-Blank maps on map page…
-Thanks to Ssolbergj for globe-map of Australia, File:Australia (orthographic projection).svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to NordNordWest for blank map of Australia, File:Australia location map.svg (en.wikipedia.org).’-Thanks to TUBS for blank map of China showing Shanghai, File:Shanghai in China (+all claims hatched).svg.

-Jersey Icons…Thanks to thejoesbloggsblog for most of the jersey-pattern icons on the chart on the map page at Australian Football League/Current clubs (en.wikipedia.org). Thanks to the AFLstore for Western Eagles’ jersey-icon, theaflstore.com.au/west-coast-eagles.

-For general historical info, thanks to australianfootball.com.
-Thanks to the contributors at Australian Football League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to AFL Tables site for attendances ( afltables.com/afl/crowds/summary.html ), and for all-time list of AFL venues, ( afltables.com/afl/venues/overall.html ).

April 25, 2018

Japan: NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), 2018 – location map, with profile-boxes of the 12 teams, and NPB titles list (1950-2017).

Filed under: Baseball,Japan,Japan: Baseball — admin @ 12:07 pm

japan_npb-baseball_2018-location-map_with-titles-list_post_b_.gif"
Japan: NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball), 2018 – location map, with profile-boxes of the 12 teams, and NPB titles list (1950-2017)


By Bill Turianski on 25 April 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-Nippon Professional Baseball (en.wikipedia.org).
-reddit.com/r/NPB.
-Official website…npb.jp/eng/teams.
公式サイト…npb.jp.

The map-page…
The map-page features a location-map of the 12 NPB teams in Japan, with team profile-boxes overlaid. The main map is augmented by an inset-map of Greater Tokyo (at the lower-left of the map-page). At the upper-left of the map-page is a globe-map showing Japan’s location in East Asia. Below that, at the far left, is a small multi-color map of Japan, showing the country’s regions within the four primary islands (plus Okinawa) which comprise Japan, as well as NPB representation within those regions. At the upper-right of the map-page is a chart showing NPB titles by team (1950-2017), as well as Central League-/-Pacific League titles won by each team (see: Rules in NPB and league format section 4 paragraphs below for more on that). Below that is a small chart showing NPB representation in Japanese cities (the 8 cities in Japan with a population of more than 2 million in their metro-areas).

The team-profile-boxes feature basic info on the teams, including primary-cap-logo, location and venue, ownership, and titles, plus team mascots. Secondary logos are next to each team’s profile-box.

Demographics of Japan
The population of Japan is around 126.6 million {source: 2017 estimate, here at Japan en.wikipedia page}. This puts Japan as the 10th-most-populous nation on Earth. Japan is not very large in terms of land area, though: it is the 61st-largest country, at 377,972 km-squared (145,936 sq mi). That makes Japan slightly smaller than the US state of Montana, and slightly larger than the nation of Germany. The largest city in Japan (by far) is, of course, Tokyo…which is absolutely gigantic, and has a metro-area population that is the largest on the planet (at ~37.8 million). {Source.} Basically, 30% of the population of Japan resides in Tokyo’s metropolitan area. [Note: again, on the map-page, there is a list of the largest cities in Japan.] Japan has about the 28th-highest adjusted-GDP in the world {see this, List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita).

Nippon Professional Baseball was formed in 1950.
The set-up consisted of 12 teams, with 6 teams in the Central League, and 6 teams in the Pacific League. Like Major League Baseball back then, the teams in one league did not play teams in the other league during the regular season. This 12 team / 2 league format remains to this day. The Japanese mimicry of Major League Baseball’s format continued, when, in 1975, one league – the Pacific League – adopted the Designated Hitter rule (this was 2 years after MLB’s American League instituted the DH rule, while the National League did not). Nippon Professional Baseball continued to take its cues from Major League Baseball when inter-league play between the Central League and the Pacific League was introduced in 2005 (8 years after inter-league play was intstituted in Major League Baseball).

Rules in NPB and league format:
The rules in NPB are the same as in MLB, except with tie games going into extra innings…after 12 innings, the game is declared a tie (a draw) in the standings, except in the post-season, when tied games after 15th innings are abandoned, and then later re-played.

The 2 leagues both play 144-game regular seasons. Unlike in MLB, in Japan, the pennant-winner is crowned before the playoffs begin… the teams with the best regular season records in the two leagues are the Central League Pennant winner and the Pacific League Pennant winner. (In other words, unlike in MLB’s World Series, in Japan, the teams that meet to decide the NPB title in the Japan Series are not necessarily pennant winners.) The top 3 teams in each league make the playoffs. The pennant-winners (again, first place team from the regular season), gets a bye to the second round; while the 2nd-place and 3rd-place finishers play in the First Stage (a 3-game-series). Then the First Stage winners play the Pennant winners in the Second Stage (a 5-game-series). Those two playoff-winners then play for the title, in the Japan Series (a 7-game-series).

Distribution of NPB teams throughout Japan…
While it is true that Japanese baseball franchises do sometimes move, that is part of a broader trend of teams simply going to areas that had been historically ignored by Nippon Professional Baseball. Because as recently as 1988, 30 years ago, 9 of the 12 NPB teams used to be located in just two regions – the Greater Tokyo Bay area [the Kanto region], which previously had 6 teams (5 teams are located there now), and the central Japan/Osaka/Kobe area, which previously had 3 teams (2 teams are located there now). Since then, franchises have moved to Kysuhu Island (where the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks [est. 1989] are located), and Hokkaido Island (where the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters [est. 2004] are located. The Osaka region lost its 3rd team when the Orix BlueWave merged with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. And then when the only-ever players’ strike in NPB (in the late summer of 2004) forced the league to reverse their decision to contract to 11 teams in 2005, the new franchise (the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles) was not re-placed in the Osaka region, but instead put in the Sendai region north of Tokyo. There is one area that has never had an NPB team, and that would probably support one pretty well – the NW Honshu Island (main island) city of Niigata, which is on the west coast on the Sea of Japan. Niigata (population of around .8 million) is home to one of the highest-drawing J-League soccer teams in Japan – Albirex Niigata, who became the first-ever J-League team to average over 40,000 per game, in 2005.

Foreign player restrictions:
4 foreign players on the 25-man active roster allowed, with no organizational limit.

Minor leagues in Japan:
Each NPB team has 1 minor league team in its organization, and most of the minor league teams use the name and uniforms of their parent-club, and the minor league team also plays in the same area as their parent-club (exception – in location: Hokkaido’s minor league team is still located in the Tokyo Bay area).

Japanese-born players in Major League Baseball
Up to the 2018 season, a total of 55 Japanese-born players have played at least 1 game in Major League Baseball. {Source: List of Major League Baseball players from Japan.} The biggest restriction is the 9-year rule, disallowing any NPB player without 9 years’ tenure with a NPB team’s organization, and along with that, another impediment is the ‘Posting’ system {see this: en.wikipedia.org/[Posting system]}.

Current [2018] Japanese-born players in MLB…

ichiro-suzuki_trading-cards_orix-1996_seattle-2001_miami-2016_3000-hits_b_.gif
Photo credits above – 1996 BBM Ichiro card, from ebay.com. 2001 [Mariners/Keebler stadium-giveaway-item] Ichiro card, from ebay.com. 2001 Topps Ichiro card, from topps.com.

Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners OF (age 44). Once he finally retires, Ichiro will become the first Japanese-born player to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he will probably be elected on the first ballot. After all, he is one of the 31 players in all of Major League Baseball history that is in The 3,000 hits club [and there has never been any allegations of doping/steroid abuse wrt Ichiro]. Ichiro, who prefers to be referred to by his first name, played in NPB for 9 seasons with the Orix Blue Wave (1992-2000), where he was a 7-time All-Star (1994–2000), a 3-time Pacific League MVP (1994–1996), and was part of the 1996 Orix Blue Wave team that were NPB champions (see 1996 trading card above). Ichiro was signed by the Seattle Mariners in Nov. 2000, becoming the first Japanese-born position player to sign for an MLB team. In the following year of 2001, amid heavy coverage by both Japanese and North American media, Ichiro was the first player to lead in Batting Average and Stolen Bases (.350/56), since Jackie Robinson did it in 1949. And he became only the second player to win the AL Rookie of the Year award and the AL MVP award (the first was Boston’s Fred Lynn in 1975). Ichiro played 11-and-a-half seasons for Seattle (2001-12), then played 2-and-a-half seasons for the New York Yankees (2012-14), then played 3 seasons for the Miami Marlins (2015-17). He returned to the Seattle Mariners in 2018, as a 44-year-old. Excerpts from the Ichiro Suzuki page at en.wikipedia.org…”Ichiro has established a number of batting records, including MLB’s single-season record for hits with 262. He achieved 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any player in history. Between his major league career in both Japan and the United States, Ichiro has the most hits by any player in top-tier professional leagues…In his combined playing time in NPB and MLB, Ichiro has received 17 consecutive selections both as an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, won nine league batting titles and been named MVP four times…He is also noted for his longevity, continuing to produce at a high level while approaching 43 years of age…In total he has over [4,450] hits in his career.”…{Excerpts from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichiro_Suzuki.}

Junichi Tazawa, Miami Marlins Relief Pitcher (RHP) (age 31). Tazawa never played in NPB. He was un-drafted out of high school, and so he played for the company team of Nippon Oil in the corporate league [unaffiliated with NPB], and was MVP in that company-league’s post-season in 2008. It was then, circa late-2008/early-2009 that Tazawa became the first amateur Japanese ballplayer to shun the NPB, and sign with an MLB team (the Boston Red Sox) {see this article from 2008 from ESPN.com, Amateur Tazawa bypassing Japan leagues for MLB}. Tazawa worked middle relief for the Red Sox for 7 seasons (2009; 2011-16), and was part of the Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series championship team, making 13 appearances in the 2013 post-season including 5 appearances in the World Series that year, with these post-season stats: 13 app/1-0/1.38 ERA/7.1 IP. Tazawa has been a middle reliever for the Marlins since 2017.

Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs Starting Pitcher (RHP) (age 31). Played in NPB for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (2005–2011); posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and signed with the Texas Rangers in Jan. 2012. Yu Darvish is the son of an Iranian-born father and a Japanese mother. In NPB, Darvish was a two-time Pacific League MVP (2009, 2011), a 5-time NPB All-Star (2007–2011), and led the Pacific League in Strikeouts 3 times and in ERA twice. Darvish was a member of the 2006 NPB champions the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. In MLB, playing for the Texas Rangers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and now the Chicago Cubs, Darvish has an overall 18.3 WAR, going 56-44 (3.50 ERA) [as of 24 April 2018]. Darvish’s best season in MLB was in 2013, when he went 13-9 (2.84 ERA) and led the majors in Strikeouts (277, with 80 Walks). Darvish has been a 4-time All-Star (2012–2014, 2017). But Darvish had a bad World Series with the LA Dodgers in 2017, getting bombed in both appearances, going 0-2 with a 21.60 ERA (when the Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros in 7 games). Darvish’s problems continued on into 2018, where he is [as of 24 April 2018] 0-2 (6.86 ERA) for the Cubs.

Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees Starting Pitcher (RHP) (age 29). Played in NPB for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (2007–2013); posted by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and signed with the New York Yankees in Jan. 2014. Was 6-time NPB All-Star (2007–2009, 2011–2013), and led NPB in ERA twice (2011, 2013); plus Tanaka was a member of the 2013 NPB champions (the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles). Tanaka has been a vital part of the Yankees’ rotation since 2014, with an overall 12.6 WAR, going 55-30 (3.63 ERA) [as of 24 April 2018]. In 2014, Tanaka went 13-5 (2.77 ERA) for the Yankees and was a 2014 All-Star, but injuries kept him from playing most of the second-half of 2014. In 2016, Tanaka went 14-4 (3.04 ERA), with the best WAR for the Yankees that year, at 5.2.

Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers. Starting Pitcher (RHP) (age 30). Played in NPB for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp (2008–2015); posted by Hiroshima Toyo Carp and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Jan. 2016. Was a 5-time NPB All-Star (2010, 2012–2015). For the Dodgers, Maeda has been a solid starter, going 16-11 (3.48 ERA) in 2016, and 13-6 (4.22 ERA) in 2017.

Yoshahisa Hirano, Arizona Diamondbacks. Relief Pitcher (RHP) (age 34). Played in NPB for 11 seasons with the Orix Buffaloes (2006-07; 2009-17). Hirano had more than the requisite 9 years tenure in NPB, so he didn’t have to be posted. Hirano signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dec. 2017. Was the NPB Middle Reliever of the Year in 2011, and Saves leader in the 2014 Pacific League. So far, Hirano has fit in very well in MLB with Arizona, and [as of 24 April 2018] he has made 11 appearances in middle relief, with a 1-0 record and a 1.74 ERA for the division-leading D-backs.

Kazihisa Makita, San Diego Padres. Relief Pitcher (RHP) (age 33). Played in NPB for the Seibu Lions (2011-17); posted by Seibu Lions and signed by the San Diego Padres in Dec. 2017. Makita has a sidewinder (or submarine) delivery. Was Pacific League Rookie of the Year in 2011, and an NPB All-Star in 2011 and 2013. For the Padres, [as of 24 April 2018] he has 11 appearances in middle relief, with a 4.50 ERA.

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels. Starting Pitcher (RHP) and DH/OF (Bats Left) (age 23). Played in NPB for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (2013–17). Was posted by Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, and was signed by the Los Angeles Angels in Dec. 2017. Ohtani is a dual-threat player who can pitch with speed and finesse AND who can hit for power and for average. Ohtani proved it in Japan, and right now, so far, he is proving he can do it in Major League Baseball. Ohtani was part of the 2016 NPB champions (the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters). As a starting pitcher in NPB, Ohtani had the Pacific League’s best ERA in 2015, and he was voted to the NPB Best Nine as a Pitcher in 2015 and 2016, as well as being voted to the NPB Best Nine as DH in 2016. Which is absolutely unprecedented. Ohtani recalls the pitching-and-slugging skills once displayed by no less than Babe Ruth himself, back in the 1910s and 1920s (Babe Ruth, for the Boston Red Sox in 1919, hit 20 HRs and pitched for a 9-5 record with an ERA of 2.97 in 133 IP). Ohtani’s current MLB numbers: [as of 24 April 2018] 3 HR, 1 Triple, 1 Double and 11 RBIs in 42 AB (a .333 BAvg and a .619 SPct) plus a 2-1 pitching record (4.46 ERA) in 4 GS and 20.1 IP. Ohtani appears to be the real deal, and along with Mike Trout, could very well lead the division-leading Angels to post-season glory soon. {From Deadspin, from the 25th of April, Shohei Ohtani Threw The Ball Hard As F*ck (by Tom Ley at deadspin.com).}
shohei-otani_hokkaido-nippon-ham-fighers_los-angeles-angels_d_.gif
Photo credits above – Ohtani as pitcher and as batter for Hokkaido, 2 photos by Kyodo News/Getty Images via si.com. Ohtani batting for LA Angels, and Ohtani pitching for LA Angels, 2 photos by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com.

    2017 Japan Series: Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks beat Yokohoma DeNa BayStars, 4 games to 2. (Fourth NPB title in 7 seasons for Fukuoka.)

2017-japan-series_npb_fukuoka-softbank-hawks_2017-champions_fukuoka-dome_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Dennis Sarfate, photo by Kyodo News via gettyimages.com. Keizo Kawashima, photo by Kyodo News via japantimes.co.jp. Nao Higashihama, photo by Kyodo News via gettyimages.com. Yuki Yanagita, photo by Kyodo News via gettyimages.com.
Alfredo Despaigne, photo by Gaffkey at File:Hawks54-Despaigne.jpg (commons.wikimedia.org).
Fukuoka at twilight, photo by Alamy via theguardian.com/travel/flourishing-fukuoka…. Fukuoka Dome, photo unattributed at blog.gaijinpot.com/fukuokas-seaside-momochi. The Fukuoka Hawks’ balloon-release (a 7th inning tradition at Fukuoka Dome), photo by Brad Merrett at bradmerrett.com/blog/go-hawks. Mascots: photos from softbankhawks.co.jp.

___
Thanks to all at the following links…
-Blank map of Japan, by Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) at File:Japan location map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Globe-map of Japan, by Connormah at File:Japan (orthographic projection).svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Map of Japan’s regions, by Ken Nashi at start-point.net/maps.
-Map of Tokyo (Kantō MMA) metro-area, by Kzaral at File:Tokyo-Kanto definitions, Kanto MMA.png.
-worldatlas.com/articles/10-biggest-cities-in-japan.
-Seibu Lions mascot/photo from store.seibulions.jp.
-Chiba Lotte Marines new mascot (Mystery Fish), image from palusuke.com.
-Hiroshima Toyo Carp mascot (Slyly), illustration from seiga.nicovideo.jp.

-Thanks to MeGaNiNjA (スピードさん) @MegaNiNj4, for requesting this map (via twitter), and for helping me find mascot illustrations.
-Thanks to the guy who runs the twitter feed for the Reddit/NPB page, for finding mistakes, on my map here (twitter.com/NPB_Reddit).

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