September 10, 2016

2016–17 Football League Two (4th division England), map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division./Plus the 2 promoted sides (Cheltenham Town, Grimsby Town).

Filed under: 2016-17 English football,Eng-4th Level/League Two — admin @ 4:41 pm

2016–17 Football League Two (4th division England), map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division

By Bill Turianski on 10 September 2016;

-2016–17 Football League Two (
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…League Two [Summary] (
-New font and logos for Football League…2016-17 English Football League [new logos and new font, with branding info] (
-Kits…Sky Bet League Two 2016 – 2017 [Kits of teams in 16/17 League Two] (
-Predictions, from a favorite blog…TTU Go Predicting: A Club-by-Club League 2 Preview 2016-17 (from 4 August 2016 by Lloyd at

    The 2 promoted clubs from Non-League/5th division into the Football League Two for 2016-17
    (Cheltenham Town & Grimsby Town)

Cheltenham Town bounce straight back to League Two; while Grimsby Town are back in the Football League for the first time in 7 seasons.

Cheltenham Town FC
The well-traveled and West-Country-fixture Gary Johnson stepped in as manager of Cheltenham Town in March of 2015, when the Robins were in the League Two/4th division relegation-zone. Cheltenham were relegated to the National League a few weeks later. Johnson stayed on and did a huge house-cleaning, releasing over a dozen players and signing on 18 players, many of whom were added to the Robins’ roster thanks to “…a windfall of £200,000. It was the lion’s share of the estate of a long-standing Cheltenham fan, Bryan Jacob, who passed away in 2013 and generously bequeathed his life savings to the Robins Trust. Last April they voted to invest the money in the club and Johnson embarked on a recruitment drive…” {quote by Barry Glendenning at Gary Johnson has mapped Cheltenham Town’s clear course to promotion (}.

Cheltenham Town started slow, but stormed to the top of the 5th-division-table in late-December 2015, and never looked back, coasting to the 15/16 National League title by 12 points over nearby rivals Forest Green Rovers. The Robins began to put distance from the rest during a mid-winter 22-game-unbeaten run. The Gloucestershire side scored the most (87 goals), conceded the least (30), and finished with a whopping +57 goal difference. Cheltenham clinched promotion with two games to spare, in front of 5,245 at Whaddon Road on 16 April 2016 (see the fans’ pitch invasion below). In 2015-16, Gary Johnson did what no Non-League manager had done in 27 years…Cheltenham Town’s automatic promotion back to the Football League was the first time a just-relegated team had won the 5th division title since 1988-89 (when the original Maidstone United (I) had first accomplished the feat). Gary Johnson told the BBC, “[After last season) we had to change our thoughts, we had to change our attitude and we had to change our players and when we did that and when we got the right characters in, this is what happens."

Many of the players Johnson brought in last summer had never played in the Football League, and many of those 18 that Johnson recruited before last season have stayed on for 2016-17. Those staying include the top 7 goals scorers from last season (Wright, Holman, Waters, Munns, Pell, Downes, Morgan-Smith). In the illustration below, you can see photos of the 3 top scorers for Cheltenham Town last season: Danny Wright (age 31), who scored 23 goals; Dan Holman (age 26), who was joint-top-scorer in the 5th division in 15/16; and Billy Waters (age 21), who scored 11 goals. Holman was signed in January 2016, from Colchester United, after a successful loan spell at Woking. Dan Holman ended up scoring a National-League-leading 30 goals last season (14 for Woking, and then 16 for Cheltenham), (Holman was joint-top-scorer, with Pádraig Amond [then of Grimsby Town; now playing for Hartlepool United]). Below, you can see a photo of Holman scoring what ended up being the promotion-clinching goal for the Robins.

I added two more Cheltenham Town players to the graphic below, both defensive standouts and both centre-backs: Danny Parslow and squad captain Aaron Downes. Downes, who is Australian-born (from the New South Wales interior), does have League experience (captain at Chesterfield, Torquay Utd). I pictured Downes below after one of his 5 goals last campaign [away to Kidderminster], when the squad were wearing their fan-voted-upon and weird-in-a-nice-way away kits of purple-and-yellow-with-the-red-robin-badge. (Downes suffered an ACL leg injury in January, was out for the remainder of the 15/16 campaign, and finally made it back into the squad with a game appearance on 10 September as a late sub in Town’s 2-2 draw with Newport County.) The Welsh-born Danny Parslow, who also has had League tenure (with York City), was selected to a 5th-division-Team of the Year (by, here: Pitchero’s non-league teams of the season [2015-16/Non-League]). Also selected to that Team-of-the-Year was the aforementioned Dan Holman.
Photo and Image credits above -
Small illlustration of 15/16 & 16/17 CTFC kits, from CTFC 16/17 jersey, photo by CTFC at Aerial shot of Cheltenham, photo by Arpingstone at File:Cheltenham.from.leckhampton.arp.jpg. Aerial shot of Whaddon Road, photo unattributed at Whaddon Road, photo unattributed at Exterior shot of Whaddon Road, photo by Owen Pavey at Danny Wright, photo by Dan Holman, photo by ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock via Billy Waters, photo by Danny Parslow, photo by Mike Ripley via w. Aaron Downes, photo of him and teammates celebrating after scoring, photo by Cheltenham Town fans’ pitch invasion [16 April 2016] at Whaddon Road, 1st image from screenshot of video uploaded by Elliot Richmond at, Cheltenham town FC league champions 2016 ( 2nd image of pitch invasion, screenshot from video by 15/16 & 16/17 CTFC away jersey, segment of illustration by CTFC at [fan-vote-on-purple-kit].

Grimsby Town FC

From Cod Almighty site [Grimsby Town fansite],
-A brief history of [Grimsby] Town (from 2005, at
-Under the flyover: Town’s Conference years (from 2 August 2016, by Rod Counte, at

After being relegated from the Football League in May 2010, Grimsby Town had an awful time of it stuck in Non-League football. Grimsby, who drew between 3.0 K and 4.3 K in the 6 seasons they spent out of the League, were one of the biggest clubs there in the 5th division during this time period (2010-16). But it still took the Mariners three seasons to even qualify for the 5th division play-offs. There then followed three consecutive play-off disappointments, losing to Newport County in the 12/13 play-offs 1st round, then losing to Gateshead in the 13/14 play-offs 1st round, then losing to Bristol Rovers in the 14/15 play-offs Final, in penalties.

Grimsby Town wins promotion after 6 seasons in Non-League…
However, in 2015-16, the fourth time in the play-offs was the charm, as manager Paul Hurst finally led Grimsby out of Non-League, beating Forest Green Rovers 3-1 at Wembley, on 15 May 2016. {See screenshots of highlights below; and see video highlights here, Forest Green 1-3 Grimsby Town (} The crucial point in the game was a two-minute span late in the first half, when Grimsby striker Omar Bogle scored twice. As Trevor Green of the the Grimsby Telegraph wrote, “six years of non-league hurt is finally over.” {See this, Grimsby Town PROMOTED! Mariners 3-1 Forest Green (from 15 May 2016, by Trevor Green at}

Photo and Image credits -
Photo of Omar Bogle scoring, photo by Getty Images via Screenshots of video uploaded by dids99 at, Forest Green 1-3 Grimsby Town ( Photo of Omar Bogle and his Grimsby teammates celebrating 2-0 lead, photo by Grimsby Telegraph at Photo of 16/17 jersey, photo by GTFC at Photo of cheering Grimsby fans at Wembley, photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images at Aerial photo of Blundell Park, photo by GTFC at

Thanks to the following…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (
-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,;
Non-League attendances from
-Thanks to the contributors at RSSSF page, England – First Level All-Time Tables 1888/89-2015/16 (rsssf.com_.
-Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia, at 2016–17 Football League Two.

August 28, 2016

2016–17 Football League One (3rd division England): map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division./+ 4 promoted clubs for the 2016-17 3rd division (Northampton Town, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers, AFC Wimbledon).

Filed under: 2016-17 English football,Eng-3rd Level/League One — admin @ 6:08 pm

2016–17 Football League One (3rd division England, incl Wales): map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division

By Bill Turianski on 28 August 2016;
-2016–17 Football League One (
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…LEAGUE ONE [Summary] (
-New font and logos for Football League…2016-17 English Football League [new logos and new font, with branding info] (
-Kits…Sky Bet League One 2016 – 2017 [Kits of teams in 16/17 League One] (
-Predictions, from a blog which I admire…TTU GO PREDICTING: A CLUB-BY-CLUB LEAGUE 1 PREVIEW 2016-17 (

    Below: illustrations for the 4 promoted clubs for the 2016-17 3rd division…
    (Northampton Town, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers, AFC Wimbledon).

Northampton Town won the 2015-16 League Two by a whopping 13 points and return to the 3rd division for the first time in 7 seasons (the Cobblers’ previous stint in the 3rd division being a 3-season-spell ending in 2008-09).

Oxford United finished in 2nd place in the 15/16 League Two, and return to the 3rd tier for the first time in 15 seasons (a spell which included 4 years in Non-League football [2007-08 to 2009-10]).

• Back-to-back promoted Bristol Rovers finished 3rd in League Two last season, and are now back in the 3rd division for the first time in 6 seasons (a spell which included one year in Non-League [in 2014-15]).

• And AFC Wimbledon won the 2015-16 League Two play-offs Final (2-0, over Plymouth Argyle), and the 14-year-old supporter-owned club from South West London make their 3rd-division-debut in 2016-17.

• Northampton Town FC

Est. 1897. Nickname: the Cobblers. Colours: Claret and White. Location: Northampton, Northamptonshire, situated (by road) 97 km (64 mi) NW of central London; also, Northampton is situated (by road) 87 km (61 mi) SE of Birmingham. Population of Northampton is around 212,000 {2011 census}. Northampton Town are nicknamed the Cobblers because the town was a major centre of shoemaking and other leather industries; the economy in Northampton these days is much-less manufacturing-based, and now more distribution-and-finance-based.

Northampton Town play in a stadium which would seem to have a too-small capacity for a town of its size.
Northampton has a town-population of around 212,000 [2011 census}, yet Northampton Town play at the Sixfields Stadium, which has a capcity of only 7.7 K. That can be explained by the fact that this part of Northamptonshire is rugby-union-county. Rugby union Premiership side Northampton Saints RFC are a 1st division rugby team which vastly outdraws Northampton Town, and whose stadium is more than twice the size of the Cobblers' ground. The Saints rugby union club draws around 10-to-12 K, versus the 4.2-to-6.0-K which the Cobblers have drawn since they moved in to Sixfields in 1994-95. (Northampton Town drew 5.2 K last season [2015-16].)

Northampton Town have been primarily a lower-Leagues club, with 89 seasons spent in the Football League [first in 1920-21], all but four seasons of which have been spent either in the 3rd division [with 48 seasons including 2016-17], or in the 4th division [with 38 seasons]. {NTFC League history, here.} (Note: there is an article on the single season Northampton Town spent in the First Division, 1965-66, further below.)

Manager of Northampton Town:
Rob Page (age 41), born in Llwynypia, Rhondda Valley, South Wales. Rob Page, as a player, was a defender who made 104 league appearances for Sheffield United (2001-04) and 70 league appearances for Coventry City (2005-08), as well as 41 appearances for the Wales national team (1996-2005). Page came over to Northampton Town after a one-and-two-thirds-seasons stint as manager of Port Vale (with 3rd-division finishes of 18th and 12th).

Rob Page replaced Chris Wilder.
Chris Wilder had got Northampton Town promoted as League Two champions in May 2016. That was after Wilder had left the 6th-place-Oxford United in January 2015, and joined bottom-of-the-table Northampton Town. It seemed to be a head-scratcher as to why Wilder would leave a bigger and higher-placed club (Oxford), for a club like Northampton, which looked doomed to be relegated to the Conference. As the BBC said {here}, “…people will question the Wilder move”… Ha! The question actually ended up being this…Why hasn’t any bigger club noticed how solid a manager Chris Wilder is? Of course I say that now with the luxury of hindsight, because Wilder kept the all-but-relegated Northampton Town up in the spring of 2015, moving them half-way up the table to a solid 12th-place finish. Then the following season, Wilder led the cash-strapped Cobblers to automatic promotion to League One. Northampton Town simply cruised to the league title, finishing 13 points higher than the 2nd-place-finishers, Wilder’s former club, Oxford United. Then finally, a bigger club noticed, and in June of 2016, Wilder signed on as the manager of arguably the biggest club currently in the 3rd tier, Sheffield United.

Four standout players on the 2016-16 Northampton squad…
Further below can be seen the two top offensive threats for Northampton Town in 2016-17 – Ricky Holmes & Marc Richards. Ricky Holmes led the team in assists (with 10 assists in league games), and scored 9 league goals as well, and was one of three Cobblers players selected for the 2015-16 League Two Team of the Year {see this}. In June 2016, Holmes was transferred to Charlton for a fee of £675,000. Marc Richards, in his second stint with the Cobblers, is age 34. Richards led the Cobblers with 15 league goals last season. Richards still starts for Northampton Town, as of August of the 2016-17 season. Also still in the Cobblers’ squad as of August 2016-17 are two more players shown below. Both were also selected to the Team of the Year: goalkeeper Adam Smith (age 23), and the Northampton Town Player of the Year, John-Joe O’Toole. O’Toole is a cult hero at Town, and is a scrappy 27-year-old attacking midfielder who scored 12 league goals (plus 2 assists) in 15/16.
Photo and Image credits above -
NTFC 16/17 jersey, photo by The Drapery (Northampton town centre), photo by Gordon Cragg/ via Exterior photo of Sixfields from ridge above stadium, photo unattributed at Photo of Ricky Holmes and Marc Richards celebrating their teams’ promotion at Sixfields (with bubbly), photo by Pete Norton /Getty Images via Photo of Adam Smith, photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images Europe via Photo of John-Joe O’Toole, photo by Northampton Chronicle and Echo at


    Northampton Town’s meteoric decade of the 1960s, with 3 promotions & 3 relegations in a 9-season span…

From 1960-61 to 1968-69, the Cobblers had a stunning and meteoric 9-season-/-3-promotions-/-then-3-relegations rise and fall. During this period, Northampton played their solitary season in the First Division. That was in 1965-66, when Northampton Town finished 21st out of 22, and went straight back down. Then they were relegated twice more in three seasons, and by 1969-70, the Cobblers were right back where they started the decade, in the basement of the Football League. The man who was most responsible for getting Northampton Town in to the top flight for that solitary season was Dave Bowen. Dave Bowen was born in Maesteg, Glamorgan, South Wales. He was in training as a collier at 17 when his family moved to Northamptonshire. Bowen joined the Northampton Town set-up in 1947, as a 19-year-old, and by 1950 he had made 12 appearances for the senior squad. In 1950, during National Service duties with the RAF, Bowen met Pat Whittaker, the son of Arsenal manager George. That led to his signing with Arsenal, and Bowen went on to play for the Gunners for 9 seasons as a defensive midfielder (Wing Half), and later, as the Arsenal team captain (1957-59). (Dave Bowen also captained Wales when they qualified for and then played in the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.) After 146 league appearances for Arsenal, Bowen returned to Northampton Town, in 1959-60, as player/manager (he retired from the field in 1961).

In Dave Bowen’s second season managing Northampton Town, in 1960-61, the Cobblers won promotion to the Third Division…
By this time, Bowen was becoming known as a canny manager who could assemble a very competent squad on a shoestring budget. Bowen was also becoming a great locker-room motivator. Two seasons later, in 1962-63, Northampton were positively rampant, scoring 109 goals (in 42 games, making for an astounding 2.59 goals-scored-per-game ). Northampton Town won the Third Division title that season, finishing 4 points above Swindon Town (and with a +48 goal difference). In 1963-64, Northampton Town made their Second Division debut, finishing a credible 11th. The following season, 1964-65, propelled by a mid-season 17-match unbeaten run, Northampton clinched an improbable promotion to the top flight, finishing in 2nd place, 2 points behind Newcastle United. Further below, in the first illustration, you can see a colour-photo from May of 1965 at the County Cricket Ground (where Northampton Town played for 97 years [1897-1994]). In the photo below, the just-promoted Northampton team are saluting their fans with a Thank You banner, as they take a victory lap of sorts. I say “a victory lap of sorts”, because the County Cricket Ground was one of the more odd Football League venues. It was a dual-football-cricket-venue, and for football it had stands on only 3 sides and a wide swath of grass (to complete the cricket-field) on the fourth side {see this photo}.

Here is a great, and recent article about 1960s-era Northampton Town…from The Football, from 19 October 2015, by Mark Godfrey, What a load of Cobblers! (

1965-66: Northampton’s fairy tale season in the First Division started out more like a nightmare, as they went win-less in their first 14 matches…
In 1965-66, the Cobblers were pretty much out of their league in the First Division, and heavy defeats would come at the hands of Everton, Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Stoke City. But they finally got their first win on 23 October 1965, over West Ham United, and as mid-season approached, the team had acclimated, and began to mount a relegation battle. Along the way they set a club-record for home attendance – with a 24,523 crowd at the County Cricket Ground, in a loss versus Fulham in late April 1966. A win against Sunderland the following week didn’t change the fact that the Cobblers now needed other results to go their way, and the Cobblers conceded relegation on the last game of the season. One small solace was that they had won both derby matches against nearby Aston Villa (located about 60 miles west). A notable achievement in Northampton Town’s 1965-66 season was made by Cobblers FW Barry Lines (1960-69), who became the first player ever to score in all four divisions of the Football League for the same club. Though, granted, the Fourth Division had been instituted just 7 seasons earlier (in 1958-59.)

Following relegation from the First Division in May 1966, Northampton would get relegated again the next May (1967), and two seasons later another relegation in May of 1969 would find them back in the Fourth Division. Since then, Northampton Town have never again been in the 2nd division, let alone in the top flight. And no club in the English football pyramid has ever come close to going the 3-promotions-then-3-relegations route in so short a time as in the 9 years it took Northampton Town to do so. As it says in the article by Mark Godfrey linked to 3 paragraphs above {or here}…”In English football, only Swansea City come close to matching this ‘achievement’. The Swans’ rise and fall was encompassed neatly within sixteen years between 1970 and 1986. [And] Carlisle United did it in twenty-two years between 1964 and 1987.”
Photo and Image credits above –
Image of 1960s-era Lilywhite postcard [of The Drapery section of Northampton town centre circa 1960s], image uploaded by Kevin Lane at Photo of 1964-67 Northampton Town retro jersey, by Toffs at Photo of Dave Bowen [as Arsenal player in the late 1950s], photo by Arsenal FC at Illustration of Arsenal 1947-57 kit, illustration by 1962-63 Northampton Town Third Division team, photo by Bob Thomas/Popperphoto via Getty Images via Illustration of Northampton Town 1965-66 kit, illustration by Photo of Northampton Town squad in front of airplane which would fly them to their first First Division match in Plymouth, photo unattributed at; from the book Northampton Town: A Season in the Sun (1965-66), by Mark Beesely {here}. Color photo of 1964-65 Northampton squad parading a Thank You banner to the fans, at the old County Cricket Ground [circa May 1965], photo by Bob Thomas/Popperphoto via Team-photo of 1965-66 Northampton Town squad, photo unattributed at; from the book Northampton Town: A Season in the Sun (1965-66), by Mark Beesely {here}.

    • Oxford United FC

Est. 1893, as Headington United. Nickname: the U’s. Colours: Yellow and Oxford Blue [Navy Blue]. Location: Oxford, Oxfordshire, situated (by road) 95 km (59 mi) WNW of central London; also, Oxford is situated (by road) 48 km (30 mi) NE of hated rivals Swindon. Population (city-population of Oxford is around 159,000 {2013 estimate}; the metro-area-population of Oxford is around 244,000 {2011 census}. (Oxford is the 52nd-largest city in the United Kingdom {2013 figure}.)

Oxford United League history {here} (

Manager of Oxford United:
Michael Appleton (age 40), born in Salford [which is now part of Greater Manchester]. By getting Oxford United their long-sought-after promotion back to the 3rd division, Michael Appleton helped to restore his reputation as an up-and-coming manager. A defender in his playing days, Appleton had made 121 league appearances for Preston North End (1997-2001). Appleton then moved on to West Bromwich Albion, but he ended up making only 31 league appearances for the West Midlands side. Appleton was forced to retire early, in 2003, after a knee injury – and then a botched knee-operation – which he had suffered two years before. After retirement, he remained with the Baggies, coaching the WBA youth set-up for 5 years. In 2009, he became part of the West Bromwich senior squad’s coaching staff. Appleton began to get a reputation as a solid judge of talent, and a young coach with potential. In November of 2011, Appleton got his first shot at a manager’s job, when he was hired by then-2nd-division side Portsmouth. But the Portsmouth manager job at that point in time was no plum position. That was because Pompey were in their protracted supporter-takeover process, and the club was hampered by a no-cash-flow-situation, ongoing court-cases, and the looming threat of relegation(s) due to points-deduction. Portsmouth did get relegated from the 2nd division that season [2011-12], but the penalty of a 10-points-deduction (due to falling into administration) was the real culprit there (Portsmouth finished 8 points below the drop).

The next season, in November 2012, Appleton sort of left Portsmouth twisting in the wind, when he jumped ship and signed on as manager of then-2nd-division-side Blackpool. This move would backfire on Appleton, seeing as how Blackpool were (and still are) run by the divisive Oystons. Appleton lasted just 11 league games for the now-stuck-in-the-4th-division-Blackpool, resigning in January 2013. Then Appleton was able to win the Blackburn Rovers manager’s position, but, again, Appleton walked into a set-up where the ownership was severely at loggerheads with the bulk of the home-support. The owners of Blackburn Rovers were and still are the Venky’s chicken-processing conglomerate. An example of how clueless the folks who run Blackburn Rovers are is this…when they bought the then-Premier-League club Blackburn Rovers, the chicken-kings from Pune, India did not even know that clubs in England (like Blackburn) could actually get relegated. They thought they were buying a franchise which would always stay in the top flight (seriously). But I digress. Appleton barely lasted 2 months with the probably-going-nowhere-but-down Blackburn, then he was sacked in March 2013.

Oxford United hires Michael Appleton prior to the 2014-15 season…
But, 15 months later, in June 2014, Appleton got another shot, and was hired as Oxford United manager. In his first season in charge, Appleton’s Oxford United had a mediocre 14th-place finish [in 2014-15]. The following season, however, Appleton got Oxford promoted, as the U’s finished in 2nd place, after spending most of the season in the automatic promotion places. And so Oxford United had returned to the 3rd division after a 16-year absence. As Appleton told BBC {here}, “There’s a lot of people who say you can’t get out of this league playing decent football, but I’d go as far as to say you can get out of this league doing that and this is just the start of it.”

Last season, second-place finishers Oxford United led the 4th division in scoring, with 84 goals, as well as having best goal-difference (of +43). And the U’s lost just one of their final 10 games. Two Oxford players were selected to the 2015-16 League Two Team of the Year…the on-loan defender George Baldock and midfielder Kemar Roofe. But neither are with Oxford for 2016-17, as Baldock has rejoined Milton Keynes, and Kemar Roofe (who was also selected as League Two Player of the Year/see him below) was sold to Leeds United in the summer of 2016 for a fee of £3 million. One standout player for Oxford United who will return for 2016-17 is the 26-year-old midfielder Liam Sercombe (see him below).

Photo and Image credits above –
16/17 Oxford United jersey, photo unattributed at
Oxford skyline shot at golden-twilight, photo by Dillif at File: Oxford Skyline Panorama from St Mary’s Church – Oct. 2006. View of Oxford near the town centre, photo by Lauren Meshkin at Aerial view of the Kassam Stadium, photo by Dave Price at Photo of Kemar Roofe, photo by AFP/Getty Images via Photo of Liam Sercombe, photo by the Oxford Times at Screenshot of Michael Appleton being congratulated by supporters after Oxford clinched promotion [last game of 2015-126 season], image from video at

    • Bristol Rovers FC

Est. 1893, as Black Arabs FC. Nickname: the Black Pirates; BRFC are also nicknamed the Gas (so-named, because Bristol Rovers’ old ground, Eastville Stadium [BRFC played there from 1897 to 1986] was located next to an odiferous natural gas-holding facility [aka a gasometer]). Colours: Pale-Royal-Blue and White Quarters. Location: Horfield, a northern ward in the Bristol Unitary Authority, situated (by road) 190 km (118 mi) W of central London; also, Bristol is situated (by road) 22 km (14 mi) NW of Bath. Population: city/unitary-authority-[county]-population of Bristol is around 449,000 {2015 estimate}; the metro-area-population of Bristol is around 1 million {2009 estimate}. Bristol is the 8th-largest city in the United Kingdom.

Bristol Rovers League history {here} (

Manager of Bristol Rovers:
Darrell Clarke (age 37), born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Clarke was appointed manager of the floundering Bristol Rovers in March of 2014, after then-manager John Ward stepped down and was appointed Director Football there. Clarke could do nothing to reverse Bristol Rovers’ fortunes that season (they were relegated out of the Football League on the final day of the 14/15 season). But Darrell Clarke stayed on with Bristol Rovers as they made their 5th-division debut, and the Rovers reversed the recent trend of League teams being stuck in the Non-League Wilderness, by winning automatic promotion straight back to the 4th division. As it says in his Wikipedia page,”[Darrell Clarke] oversaw a rapid turnover of players for the 2014–15 season, releasing 16 players and signing 13 players on free transfers, including striker Matty Taylor. After a poor start Rovers rose up the table and ended the campaign in second place, one point behind Barnet. Clarke led Rovers to promotion with a 5–3 penalty shoot-out victory over Grimsby Town at Wembley Stadium in the 2015 Conference Premier play-off Final on 17 May 2015, after a 1–1 draw after extra time. He won three Manager of the Month awards during the season, in September, December and February”. Then Darrell Clarke led the Bristol Rovers to a second-straight promotion the following season of 2015-16 (more on that below).

Bristol Rovers FW Matt Taylor led the 2015-16 League Two in scoring (with 27 league-goals)….
Last season, the 25-year-old former-Chester-and-former-Forest-Green striker Matty Taylor scored 28 goals in all competitions for Bristol Rovers, as the north Bristol side claimed 3rd place, and the last automatic promotion spot, in the 15/16 League Two. Even on points, Bristol Rovers ended up beating out poor-old Accrington Stanley, on goal difference {table}. (Then, of course, Stanley lost in the play-offs.) Bristol Rovers secured their promotion only in the 92nd minute of the final game, which was a 2-1 home win over Dagenham & Redbridge, before a near-full-capacity crowd of 11,130, at the Memorial Stadium in Horfield, Bristol. The winning and promotion-clinching goal was scored by Rovers defender Lee Brown, off of a rebound off the goal-post, from a shot by Matty Taylor (see fuzzy screenshots below). Then there was a massive pitch invasion by the Gas faithful (see it further below). A few months later, Taylor signed a new deal with the Gas. Bristol Rovers, led by young manager Darrell Clarke, have now achieved back-to-back promotions. Three-peat, anyone? Up the Gas !
Photo and Image credits above -
16/17 Bristol Rovers jersey, photo by Aerial view of Clifton Suspension Bridge, photo by Harris Aerial Images at Street-view shot of Gloucester Road in Horfield, Bristol, photo by weirdoldhattie at File:A38 Gloucester Road Bristol.jpg ( Roof-top view of Memorial Stadium, photo unattributed at Terrace-view of looming Main Stand at Memorial Stadium, photo by [April 2012] memorial-stadium. Matty Taylor, photo by Rex Features via Screenshot of promotion clinching goal for BRFC: 1st image and 2nd image from video uploaded by jedi gas at BRISTOL ROVERS 2 V DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE 1..7 May 2016. Bristol Rovers fans’ pitch invasion of 7 May 2016, photo by Bristol Post at BRFC manager Darrell Clarke celebrating back-to-back promotions with the Gas faithful, photo by JMP/REX/Shutterstock via Lee Brown, carried off the field by BRFC fans, photo by Press Association (PA) via

• AFC Wimbledon

Est. 2002. Nickname: the Wombles; the [original] Dons. Colours: Royal Blue with Yellow trim. Location: Kingston upon Thames, South West London.

Manager of AFC Wimbledon:
Neil Ardley (age 43), born in Epsom, Surrey. Ardley played as a right-back/defensive-midfielder for Wimbledon FC for 11 seasons (from 1991-2002, making 245 league appearances and scoring 18 goals). He also made 111 league appearances for Watford, had a season with Cardiff City, and finished his playing career with Millwall in 2006-07. He began his coaching career in 2007, and he ran the Cardiff City youth set-up for 5 years. He was hired by AFC Wimbledon in October 2012, when the club, who were at that time in their second season in the Football League, were in a very precarious position, sitting just above the relegation zone. Ardley then proceeded to guide AFC Wimbledon marginally up the table and away from the drop, but only just – it wasn’t until the final day of the 12/13 League Two season that they avoided relegation, by a point (Barnet and Aldershot went down that year). After that, Ardley led AFC Wimbledon to 4th-tier finishes of 20th, 15th, and then to 7th last season, when they qualified for the final play-off spot. Then they caught fire and won the 2016 League Two play-offs (see below/ you can see Neil Ardley in the centre of the 5th photo below). Lyle Taylor was Wimbledon’s leading scorer in 2015-16, netting 22 league goals. The Greenwich, South East London-born and Montserrat-international Taylor also came through in the play-offs, scoring the-go-ahead goal in aet of the 2nd leg of the semi-finals (versus Accrington). And then Lyle Taylor scored the first goal in the Final at Wembley (versus Plymouth). George Francombe led AFC Wimbledon last season with 11 assists in league games (plus he scored 3 goals). Another play-offs-goal-scoring-hero, Adebayo Akinfenwa (aka Beast Mode), has moved on to 4th-tier side Wycombe.

Below are all the goal-scorers in the 2016 League Two play-offs for Wimbledon…
Photo of Tom Beere scoring in play-offs 1st R/1st leg, photo by BPI/Rex/Shutterstock via Photo of Adebayo Akinfenwa after scoring in play-offs 1st R/2nd leg, photo by Getty Images via Photo of Lyle Taylor being carried on shoulders of fans following win, photo by Getty Images via Photo of Lyle Taylor scoring in Play-offs Final, photo by REX/Shutterstock via Photo of Neil Ardley about to congratulated Lyle Taylor for scoring in the Final, photo unattributed at Photo of Adebayo Akinfenwa scoring a penalty kick, photo by Matthew Aston/AMA/Getty Images via Photo of AFC Wimbledon squad celebrating at the podium, photo unattributed at

Current location of AFC Wimbledon, and the location of the new stadium the club plans to build (back in their spiritual home in Wimbledon)…
Image credit above – Map by relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.

AFC Wimbledon currently play at Kingsmeadow [aka the Cherry Red Records Stadium], which is located in the Norbiton area of Kingston upon Thames, South West London. (The Norbiton area of Kingston upon Thames is located 18 km (11 mi) SW of central London.) Kingsmeadow has a capacity 4,850 (2,265 seated), and opened in 1989. The original owner of the ground was the 7th division club Kingstonian FC, and they still play there. AFC Wimbledon bought the ground from Kingstonian in 2003, with very favourable lease-terms for Kingstonian {see this}. Kingsmeadow is about 7 miles west of where Wimbledon FC played, at the old Plough Lane ( The spiritual home of AFC Wimbledon is Wimbledon, borough of Merton, South-West London. AFC Wimbledon intend to move back to the Wimbledon area, into a purpose-built stadium, and plans were well underway for that. (Note: you can see the site of the proposed new stadium on the map above). But then the mayor of London (at the time), Boris Johnson, tried to scuttle it in the early spring of 2016 (he is a kill-joy Tory, after all). But a reprieve has come in the shape of London’s new mayor – Sadiq Khan (take that, Brexit voters – a Muslim is going to save AFC Wimbledon’s new stadium). See this, from 22 August 2016, AFC Wimbledon: Sadiq Khan returns Plough Lane stadium decision to Merton Council (

-{Also see this, ‘All systems go’: Sadiq Khan hands back Plough Lane AFC Wimbledon stadium decision to Merton Council (}
-{Also see this, London mayor backs AFC Wimbledon’s plans for Plough Lane return (PA article via}

Update: [from 15 September 2016]: Council stands by AFC Wimbledon decision; excerpt: ” The cross-party planning committee noted the Mayor’s decision and the unanimous decision it made in December 2015 to give the go-ahead to AFC Wimbledon and Galliard Homes. Officers will now finalise the planning process of completing legal agreements and look forward to progressing delivery on site. The council has always been adamant that the Plough Lane site should be for sporting intensification. The new development will eventually comprise over 600 much-needed new homes, a 20,000 seater stadium, retail space, a squash and fitness club, car and cycle parking.” (

Below is a photo of the Raynes Park neighborhood of Wimbledon in the London borough of Merton; and an old [circa-late-1980s] photo of old Plough Lane; and an exterior-shot and a small panoramic shot of Kingsmeadow; plus a bunch of photos of present-day fans of the club: AFC Wimbledon supporters at the 2016 League Two play-offs semi-finals match at Kingsmeadow [photos from 14 May 2016 match of AFC Wimbledon 1-0 Accrington Stanley. Attendance: an overflow and record-setting crowd of 4,870].
Photo and Image credits above -
Photo of 16/17 AFC Wimbledon jersey, photo unattributed at Photo of river-side view of Kingston Bridge and Railway Bridge in Kingston upon Thames, Greater London, photo by Alan McFadden {here} at Photo of the Raynes Park Tavern in Wimbledon, borough of Merton, photo by Stuart Smith at Circa-1980s shot of Plough Lane, photo by Getty Images via Photo of entrance to Kingsmeadow, photo by Photo of Kingsmeadow (panorama of interior), photo by Groundhopping The Globe! site at The 8 photos of AFC Wimbledon fans are by Louis Darling at at: [Gallery].


    AFC Wimbledon were established as a wholly-supporter-owned Protest-club of Wimbledon FC, in 2002…

{See these quotes from, Relocation of Wimbledon F.C. to Milton Keynes, which points out this…” the Milton Keynes Development Corporation envisaged a stadium in the town hosting top-flight football and was keen on the idea of an established League team relocating there.”…, and which begins with this sentence…”Wimbledon Football Club relocated to Milton Keynes in September 2003, 16 months after receiving permission to do so from an independent commission appointed by the Football Association.” (}

So the question is…Why didn’t Wimbledon FC-owner/Milton Keynes FC-owner Pete Winkelman just buy an existing club in the Milton Keynes area and then try to move them up the football leagues ladder, like AFC Wimbledon later did, and, you know, like every other club in the history of English football has done? The answer is that Pete Winkelman felt he was entitled to contravene over one hundred years of tradition and behavior, and take a club away from its supporters, simply because he could (and because it was easier)… and then 2 of the 3 guys that the FA entrusted to make a decision on this, one of whom is a lawyer (solicitor), agreed, because in their infamous words, keeping Wimbledon FC in South London where all their fans were was “not in the wider interests of football”.

In 2002, after Wimbledon FC had been taken over by outside interests (Winkelman and company), the new ownership essentially turned the original Wimbledon FC into a franchise. They did this by moving the club (against the wishes of virtually all its supporters), 56 miles north, to the New-town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, as Milton Keynes FC (aka McFranchise; aka the McDons) (est 2004). In other words, Milton Keynes stole Wimbledon’s team AND their League-place. So the football authorities let outside interests steal Wimbledon FC from their supporters, and the football authorities gave their approval for the League-placement-theft – by Milton Keynes – of Wimbledon’s League-place. You might say Wimbledon FC was not worth much circa 2002 – as the club was basically homeless and in considerable debt. But Wimbledon FC’s League-place? Well, that was (and still is) priceless. Because anyone can start a football club in England (and they still do). But to start a football club, in England, means that the football authorities (the FA) will place that new club way down in the nether-reaches of the football pyramid. Like in the 7th level or the 8th level or the 9th level (which was where AFC Wimbledon started out, in 2002-03). But the FA, in 2002, basically let Milton Keynes circumvent this, as Wimbledon FC became Milton Keynes FC…and thus, suddenly, Milton Keynes had a club in the Football League. Without playing their way up the ladder. And by “re-locating” someone else’s club.

All the money in the world does not get you a Football League club. You have to earn it, on the field, by winning enough promotions, until you arrive into the 4th division. Now granted, prior to 1986-87, Non-League clubs did not play their way into the League per se, because before 1986-87, there was no automatic promotion between Non-League football and the 92-team/4-division Football League. As it says in the link at the top of this section (again, {here}), “The bottom four clubs [in the 4th division] had to apply for re-election by the other member clubs at the end of each season, alongside any non-League teams who wished to take their place.” The bottom clubs of the lowest Football League division had to go ‘cap-in-hand’ to the General Meeting of the Football League each off-season, and endure a vote by their Football League colleagues, who also considered the applications of ambitious Non-League clubs eager to join the Football League.

So clubs in this era (1888-89 to 1985-86) still did have to earn it, because all the Football League clubs each off-season would only elect Non-League clubs into the League which (in their minds) did have the merit…the merit to cut it in the Football League. And if clubs couldn’t cut it in the League, they would get voted out in due time. And in the latter stages of the election-for-promotion/relegation format, indeed in all the post-War years, very few Non-League clubs were being elected into the League, and most seasons no clubs were being elected – at all – into the League. To see how hard it was, take a look at the chart in the following link, {here, Promotion to/Relegation from the Football League by year (}, which shows that in the last 40 seasons of the Football League’s election-for-promotion/relegation format (1946-47 to 1985-86), only 7 clubs were elected into the Football League (Workington elected in, 1951; Peterborough Utd elected in, 1960; Oxford Utd elected in, 1962; Cambridge Utd elected in, 1972; Hereford Utd elected in, 1972; Wimbledon FC elected in, 1977; Wigan Athletic elected in, 1978). That’s it…7 Non-League clubs elected in to the Football League in the last 40 seasons of the election-for-promotion/relegation format. That means that for 4 decades, only 17 percent of the time was there even one solitary Non-League club allowed in to join the League. That is how hard it was, back then, to get into the Football League.

It has always been very tough to get into the Football League. Then the rules changed in 1986-87, and the top division of Non-League football (the 5th division) was given an automatic promotion-place. Since 1986-87, a club truly does have to play their way in to the Football League. And that should have been when the Milton Keynes Development Council (which was still in existence, and existed until 1992), and by extension, the Milton Keynes town leaders, should have stopped trying to “re-locate” (ie, steal) other fans’ League clubs. Because after 1986, Non-League clubs could now play their way into the Football League. (Besides having first tried to “re-locate” / read: steal Wimbledon FC in the late 1970s, the Milton Keynes Development Commission had tried to “re-locate” [steal] Charlton Athletic in the early 1970s, and then they had tried to “re-locate” [steal] Luton Town in the mid-1980s {see, again, the second paragraph here}.) But no, the town fathers running Milton Keynes still felt they could only get a Football League team if they STOLE ONE. Forget about investing in local Milton Keynes/Bucks/Bedfordshire lower-Non-League football clubs like Bletchley Town [now defunct], or Wolverton Town & B.R. [now defunct], or Stony Stratford Town, or New Bradwell St Peter, or Newport Pagnell Wanderers (Newport Pagnell Town from 1972). No, those people running things in that new-town 45 miles north of London decided they would rather not invest in any of the aforementioned local football clubs (not very civic-minded of them). Instead, circa the late 1980s and onward, the movers and shakers of Milton Keynes decided they would still rather try to nick a pre-existing League club. Less bother for them (or so they thought). So it’s not just that Milton Keynes “re-located” (read: stole) a football club from South London. That is a crime in itself. But the real crime is that Milton Keynes stole something priceless…a hard-earned place in the Football League. End of.

And so in early 2002, the heartbroken supporters of Wimbledon FC said, “Sod it, let’s just form our own club.”
And they did. They formed AFC Wimbledon, and they put up flyers on signposts in the area announcing an open tryout for players, on the Common in Wimbledon (true story). Then, essentially skint, the supporters who ran and owned the threadbare-but-proud-AFC Wimbledon put together squads which were good enough to get AFC Wimbledon promoted 6 times in 14 seasons. Up from the 9th division to the 3rd division.

Fourteen years later and with 6 promotions under their belt, AFC Wimbledon are now an established Football League club in the 3rd tier…
In 2016-17, AFC Wimbledon are a club which is now playing in the same division as the team that supplanted them – Milton Keynes FC. Meanwhile, Pete Winkelman, who took over a second-division team in 2002, went on to build a 30-K-capacity White Elephant in Milton Keynes. A stadium for a team that is these days playing to about 21 thousand empty seats per game – or a pathetic 29 percent-capacity. AFC Wimbledon are playing to 82 percent-capacity these days, and a new stadium is weeks from being approved. And Milton Keynes FC – well, they just got relegated straight back down from the League Championship last season. Because even with all that filthy new-town lucre, the McDons still couldn’t hack it in the 2nd division. So now supporter-owned AFC Wimbledon – who started from scratch – have reached the same level as the people (Milton Keynes) who “re-located” their original club. In just 14 years. And in those same 14 years Milton Keynes FC has not made any progress at all, and in fact the club (read: the franchise) has dropped down one division.
Thanks to the following…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (
-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,

Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia, at 2016–17 Football League One.

August 15, 2016

2016–17 Football League Championship (2nd division England, incl Wales): map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division./+ 3 promoted clubs for the 2016-17 2nd division (Wigan Athletic, Burton Albion, Barnsley).

Filed under: 2016-17 English football,Eng-2nd Level/Champ'ship — admin @ 4:41 pm

2016–17 Football League Championship (2nd division England, incl Wales): map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division

By Bill Turianski on 15 August 2016;
-2016–17 Football League Championship (
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…CHAMPIONSHIP [Summary] (
-New font and logos for Football League…2016-17 English Football League [new logos and new font, with branding info] (, from May 2016).
-New crests for Sheffield Wednesday and QPR and Aston Villa (among others)…New season, new badges: We take a look at club crests which have changed for 2016/17 (
-Kits…Sky Bet Championship 2016 – 2017 [Kits of teams in 16/17 Championship] (

    Below: the 3 promoted clubs for the 2016-17 2nd division (Wigan Athletic, Burton Albion, Barnsley)

Wigan won the 2015-16 League One title and return straight back to the 2nd division, while the 3rd-division play-offs winner Barnsley return to the 2nd division after a two-season spell in the third tier. Burton Albion finished in 2nd place in the 3rd division last season, and now have won back-to-back promotions – and so Burton Albion find themselves in the 2nd tier for the first time in their 66-year history.

• Wigan Athletic FC.
Est. 1932. Nickname: the Latics. Colours: Light Royal Blue and White [usually with blue/white vertically-striped jerseys]. Location: Wigan, Greater Manchester, situated (by road) 41 km (27 mi) NW of Manchester; and situated (by road) 37 km (23 mi) NE of Liverpool. Population of Wigan: town-population is around 97,000; borough-population is around 318,000 {2011 census}.

Wigan has been, historically, much more of a rugby league town than a football town….
The rugby league (Super League) club from Wigan – Wigan Warriors – are the most-successful English rugby league club, and are one of the higher-drawing teams in Super League (drawing around 14 K per game/see this). So, like as with Hull City AFC, because of all the rugby fans in town, it has always been an uphill battle for the association football club of Wigan. In fact, before Wigan Athletic were formed in 1932, no less than 4 earlier attempts had been made to establish a Wigan-based football club (Wigan County [1897-1900/defunct], Wigan United [1890s-1908/defunct], Wigan Town [1905-08/defunct], and Wigan Borough [1919-31/defunct]).

Wigan applied 34 times for election to the Football League, until they were finally voted in, in 1978…
Wigan Athletic were almost elected in to the Football League in 1950 (when Scunthorpe United and Shrewsbury Town were voted in). Wigan would have to wait another 28 years to be allowed to join the Football League. Wigan Athletic was kept out of the 92-team Football League all that time, despite trying on 34 applications to get elected to the Football League, and despite setting the record for the largest crowd at an FA Cup match which involved a Non-League-club versus another Non-League-club [in 1954, when Wigan hosted Hereford United at their old Springfield Park, in front of 27,000]. Wigan Athletic were not voted in to the Football League until the 1978-79 season. (There was no automatic promotion to the Football League until 1986-87.) Wigan drew 6.1 K in their first season in the Fourth Division in 1978-79, which was, and still is, a very good crowd-size for a team that had just shed its Non-League status. {Wigan Athletic League-attendance history at the following link at E-F-S site, here.}.

Then in 1995, sporting-goods millionaire Dave Whelan bought Wigan Athletic, and started pumping considerable sums into the club. Eight years later, in 2003, Wigan were promoted to the 2nd division. Two years later, in 2005, Wigan won promotion to the Premier League (thus beginning their 8-season spell in the top flight). After all those decades of not being allowed in the Football League, and then having a bit of a meteoric rise in the decade of the 2000s, Wigan were never really able to grow a fan-base, as they moved up the football pyramid. Wigan were drawing 7.2 K when they won promotion to the 3rd tier in 2003. Then Wigan were drawing 11.5 K two years later when they won promotion to the 2nd tier in 2005. The next season, in their Premier League debut, Wigan drew 20.2 K, which is their peak crowd-size…so they have never drawn above 80-percent-capacity (their ground holds 25.1 K). Wigan Athletic have the unusual status of not being a very big club (I mean, they drew just 9.4 K last season), but nevertheless they are a club which has one similarity to all the big clubs and successful clubs in England. And that is the fact that Wigan Athletic have spent more seasons in the 1st division [8 seasons] than they have spent in the 2nd division [5 seasons]. {Wigan Athletic League history, here (footy-mad sites).}

Manager: Gary Caldwell (age 32).
Gary Caldwell is Scotland-born, from Stirling (in the Central Belt). Caldwell is a former defensive back who played 106 league matches for Celtic (2006-10), and finished his playing career with 102 league matches for Wigan Athletic (2010-15). Caldwell, as team captain, helped Wigan avoid relegation in 2011-12, and was voted Wigan’s Player of the Year. The following season, he jointly lifted the FA Cup [with playing-captain Emerson Boyce] after Wigan shocked Manchester City 1-0 in the 2013 FA Cup Final. But then, a few weeks later, of course, Wigan became the first-ever club to win the FA Cup title yet be relegated in the same season. So after a 8-season stint in the top flight, Wigan were out of the Premier League in May 2013. Following Wigan’s relegation, Gary Caldwell remained part of the squad, but was hampered by injuries and only played 3 matches in 2013-14. For 2014-15, he re-signed with Wigan and was given coaching responsibilities. In February 2015, Caldwell retired from the pitch and joined the Wigan coaching staff. When Wigan were stuck in the 2nd division relegation-zone in April 2015, Caldwell became Wigan’s manager, replacing the sacked Malky Mackay. Caldwell was unable to prevent Wigan from relegation a few weeks later, but he got Wigan promoted straight back to the 2nd division in 2015-16, when Wigan won the 2015-16 League One, finishing 2 points above Burton Albion and 3 points above the play-off places. The 2015-16 Wigan Athletic campaign featured a 20-game unbeaten run in mid-season.

Will Griggs, 2015-16 League One leading scorer…
In 2015, for £1 million, Wigan Athletic bought FW Will Griggs (who is a Northern Ireland international), from 2nd-division-side-Brentford. In the 2015-16 season, Will Griggs helped propel Wigan to first place and promotion, as he led the league in scoring, with 25 league goals (26 goals in all competitions). During the 15/16 season, a Wigan fan made a video – ‘Will Grigg’s On Fire’ – using an old song from 19 years ago as the backing track (the track was from the band Gala’s 1997 rave hit ‘Freed From Desire’). The video went viral in a couple branches of social media, just in time for the 2016 UEFA Euros. Every time Northern Ireland got mentioned, it seemed it was obligatory to mention “will-griggs-is-on-fire”. Northern Ireland had a great tournament, advancing to the Knockout stages. (The ironic thing is, Will Griggs actually did not play one minute, in the whole tournament.)
Photo and Image credits -
2016-17 Wigan Athletic jersey, photo unattributed at, Street-level shot of Wigan near the town centre, photo by razzmatazz at Rooftop-view of Wigan with DW Stadium in mid-ground, photo by graham at Aerial photo of DW Stadium, photo unattributed at Interior shot of DW Stadium, photo unattributed at Will Grigg, photo by James Bayliss/Getty Images at

Burton Albion FC.
Est. 1950. Nickname: the Brewers. Colours: Yellow and Black. Location: Burton upon Trent, south-east Staffordshire, situated (by road) 19 km (12 mi) SW of Derby; and situated (by road) 48 km (30 mi) NE of Birmingham. Population of Burton upon Trent is around 72,000 {2011 census}.

From the Guardian/football, by Jacob Steinberg on 5 August 2016, Burton living the impossible dream as patience and ambition stoke flames (

Manager: Nigel Clough.
Nigel Clough is son of legendary player-and-manager Brian Clough. This is Nigel Clough’s second spell as manager of Burton Albion.

From the official Burton Albion site…”BURTON ALBION – a brief history. The formation of Burton Albion Football Club at a public meeting on 5th July 1950 brought senior football back to the town of Burton-Upon-Trent after a ten year absence. In the pre-war years Burton could proudly lay claim to three Football League sides in Burton Wanderers, Burton Swifts and Burton United. When Burton Town ceased to exist it left a void to be filled and the Brewers aimed to fill that gap.”…{excerpt from}.

1998-99 to 2008-09 (Burton Albion in the 6th and then the 5th divisions)…
Nigel Clough’s first spell as manager of the Brewers lasted 11 years. As a 32-year-old, and still a player (MF), Nigel Clough began managing Burton Albion in October 1998, when the club was in the Southern League (which was then part of the 6th division [and is now part of the 7th division]). Four seasons later, in May 2002, following yet another Non-League re-alignment, when Burton Albion had been switched over into the 6th-division Unibond Northern League, Clough was able to win the then-52-year-old-club their first-ever promotion, into the Conference National (the 5th division). Clough then spent 6-and-a-half more seasons with Burton, with Conference finishes of 16th, 14th, 16th, 9th, 6th, and 5th [from 2002-03 to 2007-08]. Then in the 2008-09 season, with Burton Albion 13 points clear at the top of the Conference in January 2009, Nigel Clough was given the chance to manage the 2nd-division/recently-relegated Derby County (a job his father once had, when Brian Clough led Derby County to the first of the club’s two English titles [in 1972]). With Nigel Clough’s departure, caretaker manager Roy McFarland then led Burton Albion (haltingly) to promotion to the Football League in May 2009, with the Brewers winning the Conference by 2 points over Cambridge United. And that began Burton Albion’s 6-season-spell in the 4th division.

2009-10 to 2015-16 (Burton Albion in the 4th division)…
With managers Paul Peschisolido (who was eventually sacked in March 2012), and then Gary Rowett at the Brewers’ helm, from [half-way-through] 2009-10 to [part-way-through] 2014-15, Burton Albion had League Two finishes of 13th, 19th, 17th, 4th, and 6th. In November of 2014, with the Brewers doing very well in 5th place, manager Gary Rowett left the club to take over at 2nd-division-side Birmingham City. To fill the vacancy, Burton Albion hired ex-Dutch and Premier League star Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as manager (Hasselbaink had been manager of the Belgian 2nd division club Royal Antwerp). Hasselbaink then guided Burton further up the table, and Burton clinched their historic first-ever promotion to the 3rd division in their third-from-final match of the season, on 15 April 2015, beating Morecambe away 1-2. Two weeks later they won the League Two 2014-15 title.

Hasselbaink continued on as Burton’s manager in 2015-16, when the club played their first season in the 3rd division. As measured by average attendance, Burton Albion were the smallest club in the 3rd division last season (they drew just 2.7 K in 2015-16). Yet the Brewers had no trouble at all adapting to the higher league-level, with a defensive style of play that shut down opposition scoring threats. In fact, in the first week of December 2015, the quasi-minnows Burton Albion were shock-League-One leaders, 2 points clear at the top of the table. That’s when Hasselbaink suddenly departed for a bigger club, signing on as manager of 2nd-division-spendthrifts Queens Park Rangers. But as the Guardian’s Jacob Steinberg points out in his article on Burton Albion, …”One of Burton’s strengths has been recovering from losing managers to bigger clubs.”

Meanwhile, Nigel Clough found he could make little progress at Derby County…
In the 4-and-a-half-seasons (2009-13), that Nigel Clough managed Derby, he could not get the Rams out of mid-table (with finishes of 18th, 14th, 19th, 12th, and 10th). He was sacked in September 2013, after Derby lost 3 matches in 8 days. But a month later in October 2013, Nigel Clough got another shot at managing a decent-sized club, when he took the reins at Sheffield United, who were (and still are) mired in the 3rd division. As with Derby, Clough could not move the Blades up the league ladder. But he did get Sheffield United into the FA Cup Semifinals in 2013-14, and Clough was awarded, by the League Managers Association, the FA Cup Manager of the Season award in 2014. After finishes of 7th and 5th (when the Blades lost in the play-offs 1st round to Swindon Town), Clough was let go by Sheffield United in late May 2015. Seven months later, in December 2015, Clough got his second appointment as Burton Albion manager, replacing Hasselbaink.

Nigel Clough returns to Burton Albion, and the Brewers are promoted to the 2nd division 6 months later…
So in December of 2015, the board at Burton Albion looked to their longest-ever-serving manager – Nigel Clough – and Clough began his second spell as Burton manager. It might have been a laboured run-out of the season for Burton, one which featured several 0-0 draws (and Burton had the least goals-allowed in the 3rd tier last season, with just 37). But, on the 8th of May 2016, on the last game of the season, away to Doncaster Rovers, Clough led Burton Albion to (another) 0-0 draw, which clinched promotion. Meaning the Brewers finished in second place, and, most importantly, Burton Albion had achieved an historic first-ever promotion to the 2nd division. And then, there at the Keepmoat Stadium in South Yorkshire, a nice away-fans pitch invasion was had by the Burton Albion faithful (see it below). Burton Albion drew 4,089 per game in the 3rd division in 2015-16 (making them only the 77th-highest-drawing club in England & Wales last season). With that in mind, and as measured by crowd-size, Burton Albion are the smallest 2nd-division-club in England in 10 years (since Colchester United, in 2006-07). [Colchester Utd drew 3,982 per game in 2005-06, when they won promotion to the 2nd division, which was about 100 per game less than Burton Albion drew in 2015-16.]

Let’s hear it for minnows in the second division !
Burton Albion have sacked just one manager in the last 20 years. Burton Albion have ambition to burn, yet have never paid more than £20,000 for a player. Burton Albion play in a modern 6.9-K-capacity stadium, and are steadily growing their fanbase. Burton were drawing 3.2-K two seasons ago, drew 4.0-K last season, and now are drawing 5.0 K 2016-17 LC table, w/attendance}. Burton Albion have now achieved back-to-back promotions…and have went up 3 divisions – from Non-League football to the League Championship – in 8 years flat. Go Burton Albion !
Photo and Image credits –
Burton Albion 16/17 jersey, photo unattributed, from some lame site that NEVER ATTRIBUTES SOURCES. Old black-and-white photo of the early days at Burton Albion’s old ground, The Lloyd’s Foundry Ground – Wellington Street, photo by Burton Albion FC at Aerial shot of Burton upon Trent by Martin Handley at, Burton-upon-Trent [Dec. 2011]. Aerial shot of the Pirelli Stadium, photo unattributed at Shot of Pirelli Stadium brick-work, photo from Street-view shot of main entrance to the Pirelli Stadium, photo by Alan Slater at
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, photo by Press Association (PA) via Nigel Clough, photo by Empics via
Lucas Akins, photo [from March 2016] by James Bayles/Getty Images at Mark Duffy, photo by Burton Mail at Jon McLaughlin, photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images at 1st photo of Visiting Burton fans’ pitch invasion at Doncaster on 8 May 2016, photo by Press Association (PA) via

• Barnsley FC.
Est. 1887. Nickname: the Tykes. Colours: Red and White. Location: Barnsley, South Yorkshire, situated (by road) 26 km (16 mi) N of Sheffield. Population of Barnsley: town-population is around 91,000 {2011 census}.

Barnsley have played one season in the 1st division (in the 1997-98 Premier League)…
{Barnsley League history, here.}
Barnsley have only played one season of first division football, when they finished in 19th place in the 1997-98 Premier League, and went straight back down to the second division. But…Barnsley have played more 2nd division seasons than any other club in England – Barnsley have played 77 seasons in the English 2nd division (last in 2013-14). {See this article I wrote 6 years ago,
The English 2nd Level (currently known as the Football League Championship) – All-time 2nd Level…the clubs that have spent the most seasons in the 2nd Level, which has been called…the Second Division (1892-93 to 1991-92) / Football League Division One (1992-93 to 2003-04) / Football League Championship (2004-05 to 2010-11). Also included is a chart of All-time 1st Level.

Barnsley have 1 major title – the 1912 FA Cup title…
In the 1911-12 season, Second Division side Barnsley FC, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, became the 4th team from outside the First Division to win the FA Cup title. (Note…All-time [1872 to 2016], there have been eight clubs from outside the 1st division who ended up as winners of the FA Cup that season…{See this, FA Cup Finals/ look for green-shaded winners in italics… [Notts County/1885, Tottenham/1901, Wolverhampton/1908, Barnsley/1912, West Bromwich/1931, Sunderland/1973, Southampton/1976, West Ham United/1980].}

Barnsley won the 1912 FA Cup title on Wednesday the 24th of April 1912, when they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0, in a Cup final replay at Brammall Lane in Sheffield, before an over-flow crowd of 35,888. (The replay was necessary because of the rules of the day and because, four days previously it had went: Barnsley 0-0 West Bromwich Albion, at Crystal Palace in south London, before a full-capacity crowd of 54,434.) The lone goal in the replay was not scored until the 118th minute, when Barnsley Inside Right Harry Tufnell, at the half-line, received a pass from Half Back George Utley, then Tufnell went on a breakaway after he executed a proto-nutmeg on WBA captain and full-back Jesse Pennington (bypassing Pennington by kicking the ball ahead to his right, and then running to his left around the defender). It was a footrace to the West Brom goal now, and Tufnell’s pace allowed him to speed clear of the last defender, and then he rounded the Goalkeeper and rifled a low shot that found the left corner. The Barnsley squad held on for the final few minutes, and the second-division side were FA Cup champions. The Barnsley team then took the trophy, travelling the sixteen miles up the road back to Barnsley, in a new-fangled motor car coach (see it below). As they entered Barnsley, the streets were packed with joyful residents, and they held the Cup up, to show the cheering crowds, as they made their way to the Barnsley town centre. To claim the Cup, Barnsley had beaten Birmingham City, Leicester Fosse, Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City [in the fourth replay], Swindon Town [in a semi-finals replay], and then West Bromwich Albion [in the replay of the final].

Below: Second Division team Barnsley FC – the FA Cup champions of 1911-12…
Photo and Image credits above –
1912 FA Cup finalists’ kits from
Screenshots from 1912 FA Cup Final Replay – Barnsley Victorious (4:13 video at uploaded by glavino4).

Barnsley go from last place (on 28 November 2015) to play-offs winners (in May 2016)…
-From the Observer, from 28 May 2016, by Nick Miller, Conor Hourihane at heart of Barnsley’s rise from bottom of table to Wembley (

Barnsley’s Manager: Paul Heckingbottom, (age 39), born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and grew up in suburban Barnsley (in Royston). Heckingbottom had a long career as a Defender in the Football League and the Premier League, including winning the Player of the Year for Bradford City in 2004, and a two-season stint with his hometown team Barnsley from 2006-08, where he helped Barnsley win the League One play-offs final over Swansea City in May 2006 (scoring in the penalty shoot-out win). After retiring in 2011, Heckingbottom went into coaching, and then became part of the Barnsley set-up, becoming the U-21 team coach in 2012-13, then the senior development coach the following season. During this time, Heckingbottom had two separate spells as caretaker-manager of Barnsley. Heckingbottom had taken over as caretaker-manager when Danny Wilson was sacked in February 2015; and one year later, Heckingbottom was also installed as caretaker-manager in February 2016, after Lee Johnson left to take over at Bristol City.

As mentioned, Barnsley went from last-place to the play-off-places in a six-month span in 2015-16…first under Lee Johnson, then not missing a beat when Johnson moved on to a (marginally) bigger club (Bristol City), and so Heckingbottom took over as caretaker again. The Barnsley squad of 2015-16 was notable for their relative youth (averaging about age 23). Their switch over to a 4-4-2 ended up allowing a key player to shine – the Ireland-born MF and captain Conor Hourihane (age 25). Hourihane was involved in about one-third of the Tykes’ goals last season (10 goals and 11 assists in league matches). From New Year’s Day to the season’s close, Barnsley went 18 wins in 23 games…which, as it happens, was exactly what two other successful lower-League clubs did in the same time period (Wigan and Northampton). After Barnsley won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final in April 2016 (over Oxford United), their confidence was unshakable. Then they squeaked into the play-offs, edging out Scunthorpe United for 6th place, on goal-difference. And in the League One play-offs 1st round, Barnsley crushed Walsall 6-1 aggregate. Then, on 29 May 2016, at Wembley Stadium, Barnsley defeated the heretofore play-offs-finals-lock Millwall 3-1, before a crowd of 51,277. So after two seasons in the third tier, Barnsley had returned to their longtime level, the second division. As Heckingbottom told BBC, “If I hadn’t been on the bench I’d have been here watching.” And just over a fortnight later, Barnsley gave Paul Heckingbottom a well-deserved full-time contract.

Photo and Image credits above –
Barnsley 16/17 jersey, photo by Barnsley FC at Barnsley town centre [view to the north], photo by via Aerial view of Oakwell, photo unattributed at [Barnsley FM 2016 thread]. 1st street-level view of Oakwell, photo by red92 at Street-view shot of Oakwell, photo unattributed at Photo of Oak Stand, photo by red92 at
Sean Winnal, photo unattributed at Conor Hourihane, photo by Keith Turner/Rex/Shutterstock via Barnsley squad with cheering supporters, at Wembley, following an early goal by Ashley Fletcher – the first of 3 goals by Barnsley in their 3-1 win over Millwall in 2015-16 League One play-offs Final, photo by Matthew Ashton/Getty Images Europe via
Thanks to the following…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (
-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,

Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia, at 2016–17 Football League Championship.

July 31, 2016

2016–17 Premier League (1st division England, including Wales – location-map with chart: 14/15-&-15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division./+ the 3 promoted clubs for 2016-17 (Burnley, Middlesbrough, Hull City AFC).

2016–17 Premier League (1st division England, incl Wales): map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish + titles-&-seasons-in-1st-division

By Bill Turianski on 31 July 2016;
-2016–17 Premier League (
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…PREMIER LEAGUE [Summary] (
-2016-17 Premier League kits (
-New crests for Manchester City and West Ham United (among others)…New season, new badges: We take a look at club crests which have changed for 2016/17 (

    Below: the 3 promoted clubs for 2016-17 (Burnley, Middlesbrough, Hull City AFC)…

Burnley return straight back to the Premier League, as does the 2nd-division play-offs winner Hull City AFC. Middlesbrough finished in 2nd place in the second division last season, and now return to the Premier League after a 7-season absence.

    •Burnley FC

Est. 1882. Nickname: the Clarets. Colours: Claret and Sky-Blue. Location: Burnley, Lancashire, situated (by road) 45 km (28 mi) N of central Manchester; also, Burnley is situated (by road) 20 km (12 mi) E of hated rivals Blackburn. Population of Burnley is around 73,000 {2011 census}.

Manager: Sean Dyche (age 45, born in Kettering, Northamptonshire).

From, Team Preview: Burnley.

2015-16 Football League Championship winners Burnley return straight back to the Premier League. 2016-17 will be Burnley’s 54th season in the 1st division…but it will be only the Clarets’ 3rd season in the top tier in the last 41 years. (Burnley were a founding member of the Football League, and played in the inaugural season of the English First Division in 1888-89./ Burnley League history (1888-89-2015-16).) Burnley have won the English title twice – their first championship was won in 1920-21, and their second title was won in 1959-60. Burnley also have 1 FA Cup title (1914), as well a two more appearances as an FA Cup finalist (losing to Charlton in 1947, and losing to Tottenham in 1962).

In 1959-60, Burnley pipped Wolverhampton and Tottenham for the title…
Burnley had a well-developed youth team set-up in the 1950s, and almost the entire title-winning-squad of 1959-60 had came through the Burnley youth team. During this period, Burnley became innovators as the first English club to train on a purpose-built training complex nearby their ground (as opposed to what every other club was doing back then, which was to simply train on the pitch they played their matches on, churning up their own home-field-playing-surface in the process). In 1958, former Burnley FW Harry Potts became Burnley manager (Potts served two spells at the helm of Burnley [1958-70; 1977-79]). The Burnley squad of that era was built around the midfield duo of Northumberland-born team-captain and right-half Jimmy Adamson (you can see him in the squad photo below at front-centre directly behind the trophy), and attacking-midfielder Jimmy McIlroy. The County Antrim-born McIroy, dubbed the Brain of Burnley, was an attacking-midfielder/inside-forward with neat footwork and a finely-honed passing ability. Jimmy McIroy scored 116 league goals for Burnley from 1950-62, and was a Northern Ireland international (below, on the left, you can see a photo of McIlroy, and an illustration of him playing for Northern Ireland). In the tightly-contested 1959-60 season, Burnley chased Wolverhampton and Tottenham the entire campaign, and only reached first place on the final day of the season, when they beat Manchester City 1-2 at Maine Road. But in 1962, the chairman of Burnley, Bob Lord, sold McIroy to Stoke City for a cut-rate £25,000, a move that some Burnley supporters labeled ‘insane’, and the Burnley team never was the same. And that began Burnley’s decline, a decline which saw the Clarets out of the First Division/top flight for 33 seasons. There was no first tier football for Burnley from 1976-77 to 2008-09…and that included the club’s nadir of a 7-season spell stuck in the Fourth Division in the 1980s-and-early-1990s. In the late 1990s, the club named a newly-rebuilt stand after Jimmy McIlroy (photos of the Jimmy McIlroy Stand can be seen further below).
Below is an illustration in honor of the title-winning 1959-60 Burnley squad (which I first posted in March 2008/ image below first appeared here, [Burnley FC].
Image credits above – Jimmy McIroy photo unattributed at Clarets-Mad site, at [article: We've wiped away our history]. Unattributed illustration of Jimmy McIroy playing for Northern Ireland, from NIFG site Photo of title-winning 1959-60 Burnley squad, photo unattributed at The Longside [Burnley fan-site] /[Burnley fan-site]. Photo of 59/60 Burnley jersey, from Toffs [image no longer there at...] Burnley 1960 coach-top champions’ parade, photo from Lancashire Telegrapah, such as Title win down to team effort.

Burnley FC have a very tiny catchment area…
When you look at a map of the highest-drawing clubs in England {here}, which shows how over-crowded with big and not-so-big clubs it is up in Lancashire, Merseyside, and Greater Manchester…and then when you look at how small the population of the town of Burnley is (about 73,000)…well, you can see why Burnley are a frugal club. Because, from where can Burnley hope to attract fans, what with Man U and Man City and Bolton and Wigan and Blackburn all within 30 miles of Burnley’s Turf Moor? And northwards, into central and northern Lancsashire and then into Cumbria and the Lake District, the population thins out considerably. And in the other direction, east, is the Pennines, which is a physical as well as a cultural barrier, because on the other side of the Pennines is Yorkshire, and you can forget about getting any people from Yorkshire to support a Lancashire club. So Burnley is boxed in, and the Clarets are doomed to have a very small catchment area for potential fans. And thus Burnley have become a club that is known for spending within its limited means. At the start of the 2014-15 Premier League season, some scoffed at the then-newly-promoted-Burnley for not spending any money at all on new players, and then they went straight back down. But now, two years later here they are back in the Premier League…and Burnley did it flying under the radar and once again without splashing the cash around. Although in July 2016 they did buy, from Charlton, an Iceland starter (the MF Jóhann Gudmondsson).

Burnley’s squad is notable for its preponderance of British-and-Irish-born players…
Over three-quarters of Burnley’s squad is from the United Kingdom or from Ireland. Take a look at their current squad and see what I mean…when I wrote this on 27 July 2016, Wikipedia listed 27 players on Burnley’s first team squad, 16 of which are England-born, 3 of which are Northern-Ireland-born, 2 of which are Republic-of-Ireland-born, one of which is Scotland-born, one of whom is also a key player on the Wales national team (Sam Vokes). If you do the math you find that that’s 22 of 27 Burnley players (81%) coming from the British Isles (England/Northern Ireland/Scotland+Ireland)}.
Photo and Image credits above –
Screenshot of 2016-17 Burnley jersey, image by Aerial shot of Turf Moor with Burnley Cricket Ground alongside, photo by Simon Kirwan at Shot of streets outside Turf Moor [Feb. 2014], with Jimmsy McIlroy Stand visible in background, photo by Richard Ratcliffe at Shot of club shop and cantilevered stand at Turf Moor with looming winter skies above, photo unattributed at Interior/panoramic shot of Turf Moor, photo by Carlos Rosende at, Illustration of Burnley 2016-17 kits from Andre Gray, photo by Sam Vokes, photo unattributed at

    •Middlesbrough FC

Est. 1876. Nickname: Boro. Colours: Red and White [usually with a wide band of white on their red jersey]. Location: Middlesbrough, Teesside, situated (by road) 65 km (41 mi) S of Newcastle. Population of Middlesbrough (borough-population) is around 138,000, while the Teesside built-up-area (aka Greater Middlesbrough) has a population of around 376,000 {2011 census}. That makes Middlesbrough the 18th largest Urban Area in the United Kingdom. {See this, List of urban areas in the United Kingdom (}

Manager: Aitor Karanka (age 42, born in Vitoria, Basque Country, Spain).

From, Team Preview: Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough finished in 2nd place in the second division last season, and now return to the Premier League after a 7-season absence (which was preceded by an eleven-season spell in the Premieer League, from 1998 to 2009). This season [2016-17] will be Middlesbrough’s 61st season in the top flight. (Boro’s first season in the 1st division was in 1902-03./ Middlesbrough League history here.) Middlesbrough has a scant League Cup in their trophy case (won in 2004), although they did make it to a UEFA Cup final (losing to Sevilla in 2006), as well as losing in both an FA Cup final and a League Cup final in the same disastrous season 20 years ago (in 1997, when Middlesbrough lost to Leicester City in the League Cup final, then were relegated by finishing in 19th place, and then lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup final).

Middlesbrough were under pressure to get back to the Premier League, and after a March locker-room-dustup, Boro finished undefeated (6-4-0)…
After Middlesbrough’s wrenching loss to Norwich City in the 2014-15 Championship play-offs final, and after a few years of considerable financial outlay by owner Steve Gibson, there was a great deal of pressure on the Boro squad and on the coaching staff to gain promotion last season. And the pressure almost got to manager Aitor Karanka. At one point in time in March 2016, it looked like Karanka was going to walk away from the club, after a dressing room row revealed that there were players secretly colluding against him. Karanka was actually not allowed at the training grounds the day after he stormed out of that meeting. But then, after Boro lost that weekend to relegation-doomed Charlton, and after another (emergency) meeting was called for by owner Gibson, Karanka and the players worked it out, and then Boro went 6 wins, zero losses and 4 draws in their final 10 games. {See this article posted right before the final match in May, from the Independent, Aitor Karanka has happy Middlesbrough on brink of big time after bump in the road (by Martin Hardy at}

Boro’s cathartic pitch invasion of 7 May 2016…
And so getting that crucial result in the last match of the season (a 1-to-1 draw at home versus fellow-promotion-rivals Brighton, which clinched promotion), ended up in a joyous release of pent-up angst. And that release of anxiety manifested itself in one of the more exuberant pitch-invasions in recent memory. That pitch invasion was captured by visiting Seagulls fan and Instagram-ace Danny Last, in one of the best sports photos from the 2015-16 season {you can see that brilliant photo below, and you can see that photo along with others at: How Boro’s promotion party looked through the eyes of Brighton fans (Teesside Gazette at, by Graham Corking).}.

It’s great to see Middlesborough back in the Premier League. They might not have many titles, but they sure have devoted fans and they sure have history. This is the place where Brian Clough first made his mark (Clough, before he became legendary as Derby County and then as Nottingham Forest manager, played 12 seasons [1955-61], for a then-2nd-division Middlesbrough, scoring an astounding 197 league goals in 213 games). {Here is an article with illustrations that I posted in December 2007, Middlesbrough FC.} Beset by heavy industry, Middlesbrough is frankly charm-deficient and is not the sort of town that WAGS would want their top-shelf-footballer-partners to play for. The last thing Middlesbrough is, is glamorous. That’s why I can’t dislike them.
Photo and Image credits above –
Screenshot of 2016-17 Middlesbrough jersey, image from Aerial shot of Riverside Stadium, photo unattributed at, here. Entrance to the Riverside Stadium, photo by Chris Heaton at 1st photo of Boro fans pitch invasion by Danny Last at and at How Boro’s promotion party looked through the eyes of Brighton fans ( 2nd photo of Boro fans pitch invasion by Phil Noble/Reuters via 3rd photo of Boro fans pitch invasion by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images via

    •Hull City AFC

Est. 1904. Nickname: the Tigers. Colours: Amber and Black [usually with amber/black vertical-stripes on their jersey]. Location: Kingston upon Hull (aka Hull), East Riding of Yorkshire, situated (by road) 98 km (61 mi) E of Leeds. Population of Hull (borough-population) is around 257,000, while the Kingston upon Hull built-up-area (aka Greater Hull) has a population of around 314,000 {2011 census}. That makes Hull the 24th largest Urban Area in the United Kingdom.

Manager: ?

From, Team Preview: Hull City.

Hull City AFC return straight back to the top flight after having won the 16/17 League Championship play-off final. Hull is basically more of a rugby town than a football town. There are 2 first-division rugby league clubs in Hull – Hull City FC and Hull Kingston Rovers – and between them they average around 20-K-worth of fan support (or more). So it has always been an uphill battle for the Hull association football club to establish itself in the upper tiers of English football, because a sizable chunk of the local sports fans and a great deal of the local sports media are all oriented towards rugby. And the League history of Hull City AFC shows that plain as day, because the Tigers have been around for over 110 years, yet this is only their 5th season ever in the 1st division. (Hull’s first season in the top flight was in 2008-09./ Hull City AFC League history here.) Hull City have no major titles but were FA Cup finalist a couple of seasons ago (in 2014, losing to Arsenal).

Hull backed their way into the Premier League, and there are serious signs of fan-unrest up there on the Yorkshire coast…
Hull sort of backed their way into the Premier League last season, with a rather alarming minus-6.3-K-drop-off in attendance. That drop-off was basically twice-as-worse as they had the previous time they were relegated (they had a minus-3.2-K drop-off in 2010-11, after having been relegated in May 2010). That much larger drop-off in crowd size is mostly attributable to the continuing histrionics of owner Assem Allam (see the text-block in the crest-history section of the illustration below). There are a whole lot of longtime Hull City fans who have stopped going to games, because of the unhinged behavior of Allam. {To get a good look at the Hull City supporters many grievances with Allam, see this site,} {Also see this, from the Hull City Supporters site, by Andy Mills, from March 2015, The divisive figure of Assem Allam.} Then on 21 June, manager Steve Bruce walked off the job. Bruce, who had been defending Allam for several years, now just seems to have had it. But by having bailed out less than 4 weeks before the start of the new season, Bruce has sullied his own legacy by bolting – thus leaving the club to twist in the wind. The widespread opinion is that Hull are a lock for going straight back down, again.

A Hull City fan at the comments section of a Guardian/football article, articulated the gloomy situation the best…
…”Thats why us fans are narked. We won’t sit by and watch a tinpot team. Remember the first time we got promoted to the prem? Packed out Wembley (highest play-off final attendance at that point) and won with a stunning volley from a local lad (Dean Windass). Filled the city centre to celebrate and painted the town black and amber. A few games in and we beat four London clubs on the trot to propel ourselves to joint-top part way into the season. We then made a fool of ourselves with a shocking dip in results and things like mid-pitch half-time team talks (entertaining non-the-less). But it was all fun and enjoyed with passion. This time around? Gruelling championship season with a niggling feeling of discontent and disengagement. Play-off final with less than 30,000 fans attending. :-( Numerous anti-Allam protests even though none of the Allam family attended the games. So, whats the reason for this build-up of discontent? Simply that we feel our club is being taken away from us. Made tinpot and plastic. Using it as a money-making machine, trying to market us to the middle east by renaming us Hull Tigers whilst completely alienating the existing fan-base. Telling loyal fans to join a membership scheme which scraps lower fees for kids and pensioners and telling us all to ‘earn your stripes’. I could go on. Steve Bruce provided a minor outlet for us with his great management through these difficult times, hence the big ‘In Bruce we Trust’ banners. Him leaving and no new appointment really is the final straw. From Hull: We will not accept a tinpot team as our local club, however successful you can make it. We want real passion, grit and pride. There’s still elements of those three attributes around, they’re just hard to find.”…(comment by whiterosetiger at Have Hull City suffered the worst-ever Premier League pre-season? by Louise Taylor at
Photo and Image credits above –
Screenshot of 2015-16 Hull City AFC jersey, image from
Hull City AFC crests through the years, most crest images from; 1979 badge is from a photo at Toffs, here ; 2000 tiger-in-white-shield crest is a photo from the Amber Nectar blog, [scroll down a bit for it at the following link...] View of central Hull, screenshot from video uploaded by World Cities at Aerial image of the Humber Bridge, screenshot of video frame by Getty Images at Photo of the KS Stadium, unattributed a Abel Hernández, photo by
Thanks to the following…
-Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Seasons in 1st division, England – First Level All-Time Tables 1888/89-2015/16 (
-Attendances from E-F-S site,

Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia, at 2016–17 Premier League.

July 21, 2016

2016–17 [Non-League] National League (aka the Conference) [5th division England], map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish./+ features on the 4 promoted clubs (Solihull Moors, North Ferriby United, Sutton United, Maidstone United).

Filed under: 2016-17 English football,Eng-5th level — admin @ 2:11 pm

2016–17 [Non-League] National League (aka the Conference) [5th division England], map w/ 15/16-crowds-&-finish

By Bill Turianski on 21 July 2016;

-2016–17 National League [England 5th division football] (
-5th division/National League page at…
-Club colours…

2016-17 will be the second season of the re-branded 5th division in England (and Wales).
Since last season, rather than being called the Conference, the 5th division began being called the National League (groan). The 5th tier of the English football pyramid was instituted in 1979-80 as the Alliance Premier League, and in 1986-87 the 5th division (by then called the Conference), was first granted automatic promotion placement into the Football League. A second promotion-spot was granted for 2002-03 (4-team-play-off-winner). The league-winner last season [2015-16] was Cheltenham Town, while Grimsby Town defeated Forest Green Rovers to win the play-off final at Wembley.

So, just two teams go up to the Football League each season, yet 4 teams go down to the 6th level each season. That helps to further establish the dreaded 5th division Bottleneck, with the now-perpetual cycle of former-Football-League-teams finding themselves down on their luck and stuck in Non-League football. Currently, teams in that category are…Tranmere Rovers, Wrexham, Lincoln City, York City, Torquay United, Southport, Barrow AFC, Macclesfield Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, as well as two re-formed clubs (Gateshead and Chester). There are simply so many lower-League-sized-clubs now filling up the 5th tier that ex-Football-League clubs can languish there in the 5th division for years (like Lincoln City). Although, in the last two seasons, Bristol Rovers and now Cheltenham Town have bucked that trend, and have bounced straight back to the Football League at the first try.

As for the two-league 6th division, that was instituted in 2004-05. The 6th division is when the English football pyramid splits into regional leagues – the National League North and the National League South. Two teams from the North and the South get promoted to the 5th division each season, and the four currently-promoted clubs are featured further below.

The map…
I am using the same template as last year, when I covered the Football League’s 3 leagues and the Premier League (the 2016-17 versions of which will be forthcoming, starting with the Premier League location-map-&-chart, which is to be posted on 31 July 2016).

Here, the location-map shows all 24 clubs in the 2016-17 National League, with their crests shown. The larger British-Isle-map (showing 20 of the teams in the 16/17 National League) is flanked by an inset-map of Greater London (showing 3 of the teams in the 16/17 National League – Bromley, Sutton United, and Dagenham & Redbridge); the Greater London map also includes the surrounding area of parts of the Home Counties around the capital as well (showing one of the teams in the 16/17 National League – Boreham Wood, who are from southern Hertfordshire just north of the North London boundary). The main map includes the traditional counties of England plus widely-used regional names. In the London map I have included notable places of interest (such as Parliament/Westminster, Hyde and Regent’s Parks, and Greenwich Mean Time’s location in SE London), and some infrastructure (Wembley Stadium, the Dartford Crossing), plus I have listed the Home Counties surrounding London, plus the four-closest prominent towns (Watford, Medway Towns incl Gillingham, Slough, Southend-on-Sea).

The chart…
The chart on the right-hand side of the map-page shows the 24 clubs’ attendances, stadium-capacities, and league-finishes for the last two seasons [2014-15 and 2015-16], plus last season’s Percent-Capacity figures as well as Numerical Change in average attendance (from the previous season). At the far right are two columns: one for seasons spent in the English 1st division, and one for English major titles (English 1st division title, FA Cup title, League Cup title)…but none of this current crop of 5th division clubs has ever done either of those things. In case you are wondering, there have been 5th division clubs with top-flight history and even with titles, and last season saw a former-First-Division-side – Grimsby Town – win promotion back to the Football League (Grimsby played 12 seasons in the 1st tier [albeit not since 1947-48].) The only clubs with titles who ever played in the 5th division are Oxford United and Luton Town, and both those are quasi-tin-pot League Cup titles (both won in the 1980s).

Best-drawing clubs in the 5th division, currently…
Currently [2016-17], no club in the 5th tier has ever reached the rarefied air of the first division, and if I were to guess, I would say Tranmere Rovers are the biggest club in the 5th division this season. Tranmere Rovers are from Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula (which is part of Merseyside and is located across the Mersey Estuary from Liverpool). Tranmere drew 5.4 K in their first season down in Non-League in 2015-16 (finishing in 6th, 2 points off the play-off places). But don’t forget about Wrexham, who, as an entirely-supporter-owned entity these days, are debt-free and coming off a +1.3 K per game attendance increase last season (when they finished 8th), drawing 4.6 K up there in North Wales. To round out the top-drawing current-5th-tier sides…The just-relegated-back York City drew 3.2 K last season in League Two at Bootham Crescent. The now-5th-tier-mainstays Lincoln City drew 2.5 K at Sincil Bank in Lincolnshire. And the back-to-back-promoted Maidstone United, of Kent, drew an impressive 2.1 K last season in their sweet new stadium (see it further below). Maidstone played to a very-impressive-for-Non-League 69.6 percent-capacity, and they were the 3rd-best-drawing 6th division side in 2015-16. Only FC United of Manchester and Stockport County drew higher in the 6th level last season.

Full-time-pro clubs versus part-time-pro clubs in the 5th division – the distinctions are blurring…
Most clubs in the 5th division these days are full-time-professional, and even the handful of current part-time professional clubs in the National League essentially behave as if they are full-time-pro. In the old days [pre-1986-87], the Non-League/Football League divide was also the divide between amateur and professional clubs. These days, the majority of 5th-division/Non-League clubs are full-time professional. But it is rather hard defining who is fully pro and who is not. So to get to the bottom of this, I made contact with Richard Joyce, who is Press Officer at Forest Green Rovers. I had remembered that on his old FGR-based podcasts, he had described which Conference teams were still part-time [back in 2010-11].

Richard Joyce explained to me that in the 5th division now [circa 2014 or so], the lines between full-time-pro clubs and part-time-pro clubs have become blurred…”On the topic of clubs still operating as semi-professional sides – there are still quite a few. Sometimes it is difficult to tell which ones are because some train slightly more than your traditional part-time side in an attempt to get as many hours on the training field as possible. For example Boreham Wood train three times a week and in the mornings – which is just one less training session than FGR. So although that may mean they are close to being ‘part time’ they more or less have a full time schedule.
But there are still definite proper ‘semi-pro’ clubs such as Braintree Town, Bromley and North Ferriby United. Some other semi-pro clubs include Sutton, Maidstone, Solihull Moors and Woking, however some of those sides can sometimes train a lot more than you would associate with an ‘old school’ part-time team. They also sign a lot of full time players, who although are playing for a part-time club, still train and behave like they are full time professionals. With so many talented players available and unable to secure a move to a full-time outfit, they choose to join a part-time team which means they can still play at a good level in the National League. It depends financially where clubs position themselves but if they can work as many hours on the training field as possible to enhance their chances on matchdays then it seems like a good move to make”…
(Quote by Richard D Joyce, Press Officer at Forest Green Rovers FC).

    Clubs promoted from National League North & promoted from National League South, for 2016-17…
    (Solihull Moors, North Ferriby United, Sutton United, Maidstone United).

Promoted clubs from National League North, for 2016-17…
Solihull Moors FC. (Est 2007, via merger of Moor Green FC [6th-level-side] and Solihull Borough FC [8th-level-side].) Solihull, West Midlands (population 206,000/2011 figure). Solihull is 14.5 km (8 mi) E of Birmimgham, and Solihull is 24 km (15 mi) W of Coventry. Colours: Blue & Yellow [hoops]/ red-black-white [hoops] on the road. Nickname: the Moors. Manager: Marcus Bignot. Here is a recent article about Marcus Bignot…Marcus Bignot’s journey: From rejection at Birmingham to Solihull, via Crewe (by Ged Scott on 6 July 2016 at

This is the highest-league placement for the nine-year-old club. As Moor Green FC, pre-merger, the club was a charter member of the Conference North in 2004-05. Before and after the merger (in 2007), Moor Green/Solihull Moors were a mid-to-lower-table 6th tier side that never really threatened to win promotion, and drew less than 300 per game.

By 2014-15, when they finished 12th, Solihull Moors’ crowds had improved by about a couple-hundred-per-game and they were averaging 463. Then last season [2015-16], the Moors came out of nowhere to win the league by 9 points, increasing their average gate again by about a couple-hundred-per-game – to 671 per game, at their 3-K-capacity Damson Park located about a mile north of Solihull town centre. Here’s an article on the Moors’ 2016 promotion to the 5th level…Solihull Moors confirmed as National League North champions (

As you can see below, Solihull Moors had a pretty nondescript crest prior to 2015 (it looked like lame and ugly clip-art, in a dismal colour-scheme of greenish-gold-and-black). But now Solihull Moors new crest rightfully incorporates – within a shield-device – design elements from the crests of the original two clubs which went on to comprise the new club. Plus the Moors no longer play in drab home whites with black pants, but rather in bold hoops. Solihull Moors are located somewhat close to central Birmingham, and are located about a half-mile from Birmingham International Airport (the flight tower for the airport is visible from the stands at Damson Park {see it here}), and, as it says in the Football Ground Guide website, ‘The ground is situated very close to Birmingham Airport, so you are ‘treated’ to a procession of planes taking off throughout the afternoon.’). There is a power-vacuum in Birmingham/West-Midlands-football these days (Aston Villa has imploded, Birmingham City are still going nowhere, and West Bromwich are surviving in the top flight – but just barely). So Solihull Moors could benefit from this, and the club could see a continued increase in attendance, and maybe the Moors will start to pick up some disaffected fans of the nearby and just-relegated Aston Villa.
Photo credits above – Shots of main stand, 1st photo by
2nd photo with main stand filled, photo by richardl1969 at Photo of Moors fans, photo by[tickets]

North Ferriby United AFC. (Est. 1934.) North Ferriby, East Riding of Yorkshire (which is part of Greater Hull [population 433,000/2011 figure]). North Ferriby is 14 km (9 mi) W of Kingston-upon-Hull. Colours: Green & White. Nickname: the Villagers. Manager: Steve Housham.

Here is an excellent and informative article on NFUFC (from the Guardian, of course)…How North Ferriby’s village football team made the jump to the National League (by Richard Foster on 15 July 2016 at

Promoted as play-off winners of National League North (North Ferriby Utd 2-1 Fylde). This is the highest-league placement for the 83-year-old club. In late 2011, North Ferriby were a relegation-threatened 7th division side. A year-and-a-half later (in May 2013), the Villagers had reversed course and won promotion to the 6th division. Now, after just 3 seasons in the 6th tier, Norh Ferriby continue their climb up the pyramid and will now make their 5th division debut for 2016-17. But North Ferriby United will face an uphill battle, as one of the smallest clubs in the 5th tier this season.

The Villagers play at the tiny 2.7-K-capacity Grange Lane, and drew only 446 per game in 2015-16. But that crowd-size more than tripled for their play-off final win over Fylde, when they drew 1.8 K and won it late in extra-time, with the winning goal in the 95th minute by Danny Hone {see fuzzy screenshot below}. Here is an article from the Hull Daily Mail….Brilliant North Ferriby United seal promotion to National League (on 14 May 2016 by Charlie Mullan at
Photo credits above – unattributed at Screenshot of promotion-winning-goal-celebration, from video uploaded by North Ferriby at North Ferriby squad celebrates their promotion, photo by

Promoted clubs from National League South, for 2016-17…
Sutton United. (Est. 1898.) Sutton are from the southern reaches of Greater London near the boundary with Surrey, and Sutton is about 17 km (10 mi) SW of central London. Colours: Amber & Chocolate. Manager: Paul Doswell.

Sutton Utd spent 6 seasons in the Conference – 5 seasons from 1986-1991, as well as the 1999-2000 season. And during that first spell in the 5th division in the late Eighties, Sutton had their historic giant-killing of 1st-division side Coventry City, in the 1988-89 FA Cup 3rd Round. {See this article I wrote 4 years ago on Sutton United’s legendary Cup-upset, 2011-12 FA Cup, Second Round Proper./ + Sutton United’s FA Cup Giant Killing – January, 1989 – Sutton United 2-1 Coventry City.}

Sutton United now return to the 5th tier after a 16-year absence. Last season, the U’s won the National League South on the second-to-last game of the season, on 23rd April 2016, when they beat Chelmsford City 2-0 in front of a solid 1.5 K at Borough Sports Park (aka Gander Green Lane). {See this article…Sutton United clinch promotion to the National League (}

Sutton United these days average 1.0 K and still play at their Gander Green Lane (which opened in 1912 as a racing track). The pitch is now 3G there – that playing surface was installed in the summer of 2015. Like Maidstone United (see the Maidstone section further below), Sutton will be in promotion-limbo until 3G pitches are allowed in the Football League.
Photo and Image credits above – Aerial shot of Gander Greeen Lane, photo by View of Main Stand at Gander Green, photo unattributed at Standing terrace at Gander Green lane, photo by BeautifulGame15 at Screenshot of Sutton fans applauding the Sutton squad (and vice-versa) after Sutton clinched the 2016 National League South title, image from a youtube video uploaded by Clarets TV at

Maidstone United (II) (Est. 1992 as Maidstone Invicta, a Phoenix-club of Maidstone United FC (1897)./ Changed name to Maidstone United (II) in 1995.) Maidstone is in Kent, about 64 km (40 mi) SE of central London, by road [or 52 km/33 mi from London as the crow flies]. Nickname: the Stones. Colours: Amber & Black. Manager: Jay Saunders.

Maidstone United have now achieved back-to-back promotions. Maidstone were promoted as play-off winners of the 2016-17 National League South. The re-emergence of Maidstone United is a great story – they had the 3rd-highest crowd size in the 6th tier last season (only FC United of Manchester and Stockport County drew higher in the 6th division in 2015-16). On 14 May 2016, 17 miles NE of Maidstone, in Northfleet, Kent, before 3.8 K at Ebbsfleet United’s Stonebridge Road, Maidstone United won promotion to the 5th tier in a dramatic play-off final aet shootout win, beating their nearby rivals by the score of 2-2/4-3 on penalties. Maidstone FW Dimebe Dumaka had scored at the last gasp in added time, to even it up in the 121st minute. Then in the penalty shoot-out, Alex Flisher, Jack Paxman, Bobby-Joe Taylor and Dan Sweeney scored from the spot, while Maidstone GK/captain Lee Worgan made 2 penalty-saves, the latter of which was off of Ebbsfleet-brace-scorer Danny Kedwell…and the Stones were promoted. Here is an article…Ebbsfleet United 2 Maidstone United 2 match report (aet, Stones win 4-3 on penalties) (from 14 May 2016, by Chris Tucker at

Maidstone United’s new, compact (3.0 K-capacity), attractive, and very functional Gallagher Stadium (which opened in 2012), has helped swell crowds and helped propel Maidstone back up the pyramid. The original Maidstone United, which was wound up in 1992, were a charter-member of the 5th division in 1979, and went on to spend 3 seasons in the 4th division of the Football League (from 1989-1992). In 1989-90 the original Maidstone United (I) had their highest league-placement when they finished in 5th place in the 4th division and drew a peak 2.4 K per game. But 2 seasons later, the first version of Maidstone Utd had overspent themselves into oblivion. So Maidstone United (I) were wound up, and a re-formed club with a nucleus of the youth side was established that same year (1992). Twenty four years later [2015-16], the second iteration of Maidstone United (II) drew a healthy 2.1 K – in the 6th division – en route to promotion, so you could say that Maidstone United are back.

The only problem with Maidstone’s ascent is that they play on a 3G pitch, and the Football League still bans that, so until the rules change, Maidstone United are in a neutral mode with respect to another promotion push. Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium is the first purpose-built football stadium in Britain that utilizes a 3G pitch in its business model. See this, at the Wikipedia page for the Gallagher Stadium, where it says that…”Rather than the traditional choice of grass, Maidstone were the first English team to build a stadium with third generation artificial turf”…”The reasons for going with the synthetic turf were threefold, the first being to eliminate match postponements caused by waterlogging and freezing conditions, the second so that the pitch can be hired out, bringing in vital funds (around £120,000 to £150,000 profit per year), and thirdly so that the stadium can be a hub for all the club’s youth and community teams.”…”A major downside of the 3G pitch is that so far the club has only gained permission to use the pitch in the Football Conference [the National League/5th division].”…{excerpts from Gallagher_Stadium/3G Artificial Pitch (}.
Photo and Image credits above -
Aerial shot of stadium, photo by Gallagher Group at Interior shot from terrace behind goal, photo by Steve McCaskill at Shot of a full-capacity main stand during a Maidstone game, photo by Close-up shot of 3G pitch with main stand in background, photo by Shot of captain Worgan lifting trophy with squad celebrating promotion, photo by Gary Browne at

-Thanks to the contributors at 2016–17 National League (
-Thanks to Nilfanion…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-divisions Non-League attendance figures,
-Thanks to the excellent site known as Non-League Matters, for lower-division Non-League attendance figures,

Special Thanks to Richard Joyce at Forest Green Rovers official site.

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