billsportsmaps.com

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).

2016-17_football-league-two_map_w-2016-crowds_titles_seasons-in-1st-division_post_f_.gif
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; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
-2016–17 Football League Two (en.wikipedia.org).
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…League Two [Summary] (soccerway.com).
-New font and logos for Football League…2016-17 English Football League [new logos and new font, with branding info] (switchimageproject.blogspot.com).
-Kits…Sky Bet League Two 2016 – 2017 [Kits of teams in 16/17 League Two] (historicalkits.co.uk).
-Predictions, from a favorite blog…TTU Go Predicting: A Club-by-Club League 2 Preview 2016-17 (from 4 August 2016 by Lloyd at thetwounfortunates.com).

    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 (guardian.com/football)}.

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 pitchero.com, 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.
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Photo and Image credits above -
Small illlustration of 15/16 & 16/17 CTFC kits, from en.wikipedia.org. CTFC 16/17 jersey, photo by CTFC at cheltenhamtownfc.9drw.uk/home-shirt-2016-17. Aerial shot of Cheltenham, photo by Arpingstone at File:Cheltenham.from.leckhampton.arp.jpg. Aerial shot of Whaddon Road, photo unattributed at punchline-gloucester.com. Whaddon Road, photo unattributed at skysports.com. Exterior shot of Whaddon Road, photo by Owen Pavey at footballgroundguide.com. Danny Wright, photo by ctfc.com. Dan Holman, photo by ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock via theguardian.com/football/cheltenham-town-promotion-halifax. Billy Waters, photo by ctfc.com. Danny Parslow, photo by Mike Ripley via lusoweb.co.uk/altrincham15-16 w. Aaron Downes, photo of him and teammates celebrating after scoring, photo by ctfc.com. Cheltenham Town fans’ pitch invasion [16 April 2016] at Whaddon Road, 1st image from screenshot of video uploaded by Elliot Richmond at youtube.com, Cheltenham town FC league champions 2016 (youtube.com). 2nd image of pitch invasion, screenshot from video by bbc.com/football. 15/16 & 16/17 CTFC away jersey, segment of illustration by CTFC at ctfc.com/news/article [fan-vote-on-purple-kit].

Grimsby Town FC

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

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 (youtube.com).} 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 grimsbytelegraph.co.uk).}

grimsby-town_2016-promotion_2016-national-league-play-off-final_wembley_omar-bogle_nathan-arnold_n_.gif
Photo and Image credits -
Photo of Omar Bogle scoring, photo by Getty Images via dailymail.co.uk/football. Screenshots of video uploaded by dids99 at youtube.com, Forest Green 1-3 Grimsby Town (youtube.com). Photo of Omar Bogle and his Grimsby teammates celebrating 2-0 lead, photo by Grimsby Telegraph at grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/grimsby-town-forest-green-result... Photo of 16/17 jersey, photo by GTFC at grimsby-townfc.co.uk/new-201617-kit-unveiled Photo of cheering Grimsby fans at Wembley, photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images at gettyimages.ch. Aerial photo of Blundell Park, photo by GTFC at grimsby-townfc.co.uk/club/contact_us.

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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 (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Attendances from E-F-S site, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm;
Non-League attendances from soccerway.com.
-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.

June 15, 2015

England: 2015-16 League Two [4th division], location-map with 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed.

Note: to see my most recent post on the English 4th division, click on the following: category: Eng-4th Level/League 2.
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England: 2015-16 League Two [4th division], location-map with 14/15 attendances




Links…
Teams…2015–16 Football League Two (en.wikipedia.org).
News, fixtures, results, table, etc…Football League Two page at BBC.com (bbc.com/football).
Kits…Sky Bet League Two 2015 – 2016 [home, away & alternate kits] (historicalkits.co.uk).

    England: 2015-16 League Two [4th division]
    Location-map with 14/15 attendances, all-time seasons in 1st division + major titles listed

By Bill Turianski on 15 June 2015; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.com.

New template for English Football League & Premier League maps, for the category ’2015-16 English Football’…
Map…
The map is a basic location-map which includes the traditional counties of England and Wales, and I have also listed the 9 largest metro-areas which emanate from a single city (London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, Nottingham, Bristol). I have included regional names like the East and West Midlands, East Anglia, the West Country, the Black Country, etc. There is also an enlarged inset map of Greater London, at the lower-right-center of the map page. I have included a few extra details for the Greater London inset map – the City of London’s small confines are noted, as are the locations of the following: Regent’s Park; Hyde Park, Parliament [Westminster]; Wembley Stadium; the Royal Observatory, Greenwich [home of 0 degrees longitude (the Prime Meridian), and Greenwich Mean Time]; and the Dartford Crossing. (The Dartford Crossing is a vital and heavily-traveled dual-tunnel/bridge crossing located on the River Thames just east of Greater London, which connects Dartford, Kent to Thurrock, Essex, and is the only fixed-road crossing of the Thames east of Greater London; the busiest estuarial crossing in the UK, it services around 130,000 vehicles daily). The four largest municipalities adjacent to Greater London are also noted (the Medway Towns [incl. Gillingham] in Kent, Southend-on-Sea in Essex, Slough in Berkshire, and Watford in Hertfordshire).
Chart…
As for the chart, that will always be on the right-hand-side of the map page. The chart template is a bit different from ones I have used in the past. For the first time, I have included the last two seasons of league placement data – for all the clubs in the league – as well as the last two seasons of attendance data. Basically, the chart shows, from left to right, the following seven items…
1). light-grey column…league placement and average home attendance from 2 years ago (2013-14 season);
2). Club name/crest;
3). darker-grey column…league placement and average home attendance from last season (2014-15 season);
4). change in home average crowd size (2014-15 avg attendance subtracted from 2013-14 avg attendance);
5). percent-capacity (avg attendance figure divided by stadium capacity);
6). blue column…all-time seasons spent in the English first division (with date of last 1st div appearance listed);
7). major domestic titles listed…English titles [aka Football League First Division titles to 1992/Premier League titles], FA Cup titles, League Cup titles (with dates of last titles listed).
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Thanks to all at the links below…
-Blank map of UK traditional counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Attendance, at soccerway.com, us.soccerway.com/national/england/league-two/20142015/regular-season/r25245.
One crest on the map is partially from a photo [Leyton Orient crest], at leytonorient.com/news/article/new-kit-290714-1789322.aspx.

August 11, 2014

England & Wales: the highest-drawing football clubs within the English football leagues system (all clubs [74 clubs] that drew above 4 K per game in the 2013-14 season) / Plus a short illustrated article comparing English and German attendances last season, by division.

(Note – to see my latest map-&-post of the Premier League, click on the following: category: Eng>Premier League.)
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england_2014-attendance-map_74-clubs_all-drawing-above-4k_post_d_.gif
England attendance map 2014 (all English & Welsh clubs drawing above 4,000 per game in 2013-14 [74 teams])



This continues my new category of European football leagues attendance maps. This map is for England, including the Welsh clubs within the English football leagues system – of which there are 6, with 2 clubs from Wales on the map here/ {see this post I made from 2011 on Welsh clubs within the English system} [There are 2 Welsh clubs on this map - Premier League side Swansea City, and just-relegated Championship side Cardiff City]).

The map & chart here shows all football clubs in the English football leagues system which drew over 4,000 per game in the 2013-14 season (from home domestic league matches). The larger the club-crest is on the map, the higher the club’s attendance. The chart at the right-hand side of the map page shows 2013-14 average attendance, stadium capacity, and percent capacity. Also shown at the far right of the chart are: each club’s English titles (with year of last title), seasons spent in the English first division (with last year in the top flight listed if applicable), and FA Cup titles (with year of last title). [Some data found at Premier League/Clubs (en.wikipedia.org).]

In addition to the main map, there are 3 inset maps on the map page…for Greater London and Surrounding Area (12 clubs from Greater London on the map plus Watford in Hertfordshire); for the West Midlands including Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton (5 clubs on the map from the West Midlands [but not Coventry City]); and for a section of Northwest England, including Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester (4 Lancashire clubs, 3 Merseyside clubs and 5 Greater Manchester-based clubs on the map). I added an extra detail of listing the historic counties of England on the map(s).

    A brief comparison of English and German attendances by division (2013-14 figures)

england_and_germany_football-leagues_attendance_2013-14_by-division_c_.gif

{Note: 2013-14 English leagues football attendance [top 4 levels] can be seen at the following link, by clicking on “England” on the left-hand sidebar at: http://www.european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm}.

There were 74 clubs in the English system which drew over 4,000 [4 K] per game last season – all 20 Premier League clubs; all 24 Football League Championship clubs; 20 of the 24 Football League One clubs; 9 of the 24 Football League Two clubs; and 1 Non-League/Conference club. As far as clubs which draw over 4,000 go – that is the most in Europe (and in the world). Second-most is Germany, which had 52 clubs that drew over 4 K last season.

However, the German first division, the Bundesliga, draws much higher on average than the English Premier League does – over 6.5 K higher in 2013-14 (Bundesliga averaged 43,499 per game in 2013-14, versus 36,670 for the Premier League last season). Of course, the Bundesliga is the highest drawing association football league in the world. But Germany’s preeminence in crowd sizes changes as you go down the pyramid in their league system, especially below the second division. Before I get to that I should point out that while last season [2013-14], the second division in Germany outdrew the second division in England (by about 1.2 K), in the two seasons previous, the second division in England – the Championship – drew slightly higher than the second division in Germany – by about .2 K in 2012-13, and by about .5 K in 2011-12. That drop in League Championship attendance last season (down by about .8 K in 2013-14 compared to 2012-13) can mostly be attributed to the temporary inclusion of a rather small club into the second tier, the now-relegated Yeovil Town, combined with the temporary expulsion of a somewhat large club, the now-promoted-back-to-the-second-tier Wolves (switching Yeovil for Wolves in the second division was the equivalent to a -.63 K drop in Championship attendance, when you subtract 2013-14 Yeovil Town crowds [6.6 K] from 2012-13 Wolves’ crowds [21.2 K] and divide by 24).

The third division in England – League One – outdrew the third division in Germany – 3.Liga – by about 1.4 K in 2013-14, while two seasons ago [2012-13] England’s third tier outdrew the third tier in Germany by about .2 K, and three seasons ago [2011-12] England’s third level outdrew Germany’s third level by 1.7 K. So the average for the past three seasons is about +1.1 K more in England’s third division than in Germany’s. Below the third division, it is impossible to compare the two countries’ leagues on a like-for-like basis because Germany’s system is national for only the top 3 divisions and becomes regionalized from the 4th level on down, while the English system stays national all the way to the 5th division. Nevertheless, you can compare the two sets of lower leagues in this way… Germany’s 4th level (90 clubs within 5 regional leagues) could be compared with England’s 4th-through-6th levels (92 clubs in 3 levels [4th level /League Two/24 clubs + 5th level/Conference/24 clubs + 6th level/Conferences North & South/22 clubs in 2 regional leagues making 44 clubs]).

Generally, below the 3rd level, the German football system starts to be full of clubs drawing in the 1 to 2 K range (only 10 of the 90 clubs in the five German Regionalliga [4th level] drew above 2 K last season, and just 6 drew above 3 K, and a mere 4 of those 90 clubs drew above 4 K last season) {2013-14 German leagues football attendance can be seen at the following link, by clicking on “Germany” on the left-hand sidebar at: http://www.european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm}. Meanwhile, below the third tier, the English system has, usually, a plethora of clubs drawing above 2 K (there were 28 last season, with 21 League Two clubs drawing above 2 K last season, and a somewhat impressive 7 clubs in Non-League drawing above 2 K (all in the Conference/see these figures at soccerway.com}. Also, England’s fourth tier boasted a majority of clubs drawing above 3 K (16 clubs above 3 K in League Two last season). And, as alluded to two paragraphs above, last season those two divisions in England (4th and 5th levels) included 10 clubs drawing above 4 K (9 League Two clubs plus the now-promoted Luton Town).

So, Germany is king of big-league football attendance, but England’s league system has significantly more substantial support in the lower levels of the Football League and the in the top tier of Non-League football.


In case you are wondering, below are the clubs which came closest to being on this map…
(Below are all clubs in the English system that drew in the 3 thousands in 2013-14)…
York City (3.7 K per game in 2013-14 in League 2), Colchester United (3.7 K in League 1), Hartlepool United (3.7 K in League 2), Exeter City (3.7 K in League 2), Grimsby Town (3.5 K in 5th level/Conference), Wycombe Wanderers (3.4 K in League 2), Crawley Town (3.4 K in League 1), Mansfield Town (3.3 K in League 2), Bury (3.1 K in League 2), Cambridge United (3.0 K in 5th level/Conference).
-Attendance data sources – Premier League and Football League, European-Football-Statistics.co.uk; Non-League, http://us.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national/20132014/regular-season/r21458/.

Finally, here are the winners of each of the top 5 divisions in England last season (with each club’s average crowd size).
1st division, 2013-14 Premier League, 36,670 per game (winner: Manchester City at 47.7 K).
2nd division, 2013-14 League Championship 16,609 per game (winner: Leicester City at 24.9 K).
3rd division, 2013-14 League One, 7,476 per game (winner: Wolves at 15.4 K).
4th division, 2013-14 League Two, 4,351 per game (winner: Chesterfield at 6.2 K).
5th division, 2013-14 Conference National, 1,864 per game (winner: Luton Town at 7.3 K).
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Thanks to the contributors at ‘Premier League‘, ‘Football League Championship‘, ‘Football League One‘, ‘Football League Two‘, ‘Conference Premier‘ (en.wikipedia.org).

Thanks to European-Football-Statistics.co.uk, for attendance figures.

Thanks to the Footy-Mad sites [http://www.footymad.net/premier-league-news/], for club League Histories, such as http://www.derbycounty-mad.co.uk/league_history/derby_county/index.shtml

November 20, 2013

England, 4th division: Football League Two – 2013-14 Location-map, with attendance data & 2013-14 home kit badges, featuring top 4 in the table after 16 games: Oxford United, Chesterfield, Rochdale, Fleetwood Town.

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England, 4th division: Football League Two – 2013-14 Location-map, with attendance data & 2013-14 home kit badges




Note: to see my most recent post on the English 4th division, click on the following: category: Eng-4th Level/League 2.

On the map page
Facsimiles of each clubs’ home jersey badges for the 2013-14 season are shown, in alphabetical order, across the the top of the map page. Below that, at the lower left, is a location-map of the clubs in the 2013-14 Football League Two. At the right-hand side of the map page is attendance data for current League Two clubs from the two previous seasons (2011-12 and 2012-13). Change (by percent), as well as percent capacity (ie, how much the club filled their stadium on average), from last season, are shown. League movement (if any) of the clubs is shown as well.

The 2013-14 League Two
The 2013-14 League Two has been a very tightly-contested affair, with just over one-third of the season having been played so far (16 games played out of 46, for most clubs). To give you but one example of how evenly-matched the clubs in the fourth division are currently – and not just the clubs in the top half of the table – last week’s league leaders Fleetwood Town lost away to last-place Northampton Town 1-0 on Saturday 16th November 2013 (with a goal by the Cobblers in the 93rd minute)…and Fleetwood dropped clear out of the three automatic promotion places into 4th place with the loss, as Oxford United, Chesterfield, and Rochdale all won.

So currently, Oxford United, Chesterfield, and Rochdale all have 29 points and are separated at the top of the table by goal difference. Clubs like Portsmouth and Cheltenham Town, who are currently in 16th and 17th places on 20 points, find themselves in a simultaneous promotion campaign/relegation battle, both being at present 6 points above the relegation zone and 6 points below the play-off places. I wouldn’t say anyone could win promotion this season in the fourth tier, but there are certainly more than a dozen sides with a good chance of being one of the 4 clubs to gain promotion, and there are probably more than 16 sides that could feasibly win promotion.

Below are brief illustrated profiles of the top four clubs in League Two as of 17th Nov. 2013, with: a brief write-up of each club’s manager and 2 featured players; a photo and caption for each club’s manager; a photo for each club’s current top scoring threats; a photo or two of each club’s ground; plus each club’s league history (with Non-League history noted), as well as a look at each club’s home league average attendance from the last two seasons, plus current average attendance listed (current home league average attendance to 17 Nov. 2013 {via soccerway.com, here}).

    Below, the top 4 in League Two after one-third of the 2013-14 season…

Oxford United FC, currently 1st place (29 points/+12 goal difference).
46-year-old Sheffield-born Chris Wilder, manager of Oxford United since December 2008 (back when they were in the middle of their 3 season spell in Non-League football), has been managing for over a decade now, having got his managerial start with the then-9th-Level (now Conference club) Alfreton Town, back in 2001-02, when Alfreton were in the Northern Counties East Football League, and the then-35-year-old Wilder got them promoted into the Northern League. Wilder then managed then-Conference side Halifax Town for 6 seasons (2002 to 2008), up until Halifax went broke and were liquidated (the Phoenix-club FC Halifax Town is now back in the Conference as of 2013-14). Wilder then worked as Alan Knill’s assistant at Bury in the first part of 2008-09 before getting the job at Oxford. Flash forward 3 years and 11 months later, and Chris Wilder is currently the third longest-serving manager in the Football League {see this, List of English Football League managers‘ (en.wikipedia.org)}. In Wilder’s first full season at the helm at Oxford (in 2009-10), the U’s won promotion via the play-offs (beating York City in the final at Wembley). Since then, Oxford United have finished in 12th, then in 9th, and then in 9th again last season (2012-13).

Throughout last season there were calls for Wilder’s dismissal by some supporters, and Wilder knows that probably only promotion will keep him at Oxford past this campaign. With a population of around 150,000 {2011 estimate}, Oxford is basically too big a city to only be hosting a fourth division side. Oxford United draw around 6K to 7K and in the past have gotten up to 10.3K (in 1986-7). Oxford fans would feel at the very least that their club should be in the third tier, and there are probably many gold-and-blue fans who dream of their club one day returning to the top flight – where Oxford United played for 3 seasons in the 1980s (86/87, 87/88, 88/89), when they were owned by Mephistophelian media baron Robert Maxwell, and when the U’s won their only major title, the 1986 League Cup.

Oxford United currently feature a striker who has had a longer spell there than Wilder – the Wiltshire-born 29-year-old James Constable, a classic lower-divisions bruiser of a forward, who has shaken off recent injuries and has scored 5 league goals this season so far. Overall, Constable has scored 85 league goals for Oxford in 216 games going back to the start of 2008-09, when he joined the then-Conference side on loan from Shrewsbury Town (Constable signed for Oxford 10 months later in the summer of 2009). Oxford fans will always love Constable for turning down the chance to almost double his wages – if he had went over to Oxford United’s much-hated nearby rivals Swindon Town. Here is what it says about that at James Constable’s page at Wikipedia…’Oxford accepted an improved offer for Constable from local rivals Swindon on 19 January 2012. Oxford allowed Constable to talk to the club, although he refused the opportunity to discuss the move with Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio.’…{end of excerpt}.

Just last week, Constable became only the third Oxford United player to have scored 100 goals in all competitions for the club {see this, ‘Constable’s century joy‘ (oxfordmail.co.uk, from 18 Nov.2013, by David Pritchard)}.

An up-and-coming striker also features in Oxford’s current set-up, the 25-year-old Deane Smalley, who signed for Oxford originally in the summer of 2011, but suffered an injury-plagued 2012, then re-signed with Oxford on less terms following a goal-less loan out to Bradford City. Smalley scored 5 goals in 2012-13 for Oxford (such as the one he is seen celebrating below), and has scored 5 league goals this season so far.

Perhaps the biggest impediment to Oxford United’s progression is their stadium situation – they don’t own the Kassam Stadium, nor does the Oxford City Council. It is owned by a shell company of the former club owner Firoz Kassam, and as such is an ongoing thorn in the side of Oxford United (since 2005-06). A sizable chunk of revenue Oxford United makes on ticket sales gets lost because of rent charges. To make matters worse, for the second season now, Oxford United must endure a stadium share with the second division Rugby Union club London Welsh RFC. So the pitch gets torn up, Oxford are more susceptible to injuries, and any attempts at an on-the-turf-passing-style get bogged down (literally) by mid-season.

In the spring of this year, supporters fought back this way…’Oxford fans successfully safeguard their stadium‘ (wsc.co.uk from 14 May 2013). In October 2013, this happened, ‘Kassam Stadium owners fail with appeal against community asset‘ (bbc.co.uk/sport/football).

Here is a recent article by Matthew Derbyshire from the Two Unfortunates site, about Oxford United’s stadium plight, ‘THE COMMUNITY VALUE OF FOOTBALL: OXFORD UNITED’S STADIUM BATTLE‘ (thetwounfortunates.com).

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Photo and Image credits above -
Exterior-view photo of the Kassam Stadium by nodale at panoramio.com ; photos by nodale at panoramio.com.
Chris Wilder, photo from oxfordmail.co.uk.
Deane Smalley, photo from julianalsopsyellowbanana.wordpress.com.
James Constable, photo from sportinglife.com.

Chesterfield FC, currently 2nd place (29 points/+9 goal difference).
Liverpool-born Chesterfield manager and Football League veteran MF Paul Cook had to wait a while for his second shot at managing an English pro club. Cook had a rough go of it in 2006-07 as manager of Merseyside 5th-division club Southport, this right at the time when the former Football League club had decided to return to professional status after 28 years as an amateur side following their being elected out of the League in 1978. Many players were unable (or unwilling) to make the jump to full-time status, and Cook had to rebuild virtually from scratch, and Southport finished in 23rd and went down to the Conference South (Southport stayed pro and rebounded in May 2010). Cook then signed on as manager of Connacht, western-Ireland-based Sligo Rovers in April 2007, and stayed at the helm of Sligo Rovers for 4-and-a-half seasons, winning two FAI Cups and leaving Sligo in good hands (Sligo Rovers won the League of Ireland title later that season, their first in a quarter century). Cook had left Sligo in February 2012 to take over at his old club Accrington Stanley, and with Cook in charge Stanley survived another year in the League, finishing in 18th in 2011-12. Eight months later, in October 2012, Chesterfield needed a new manager after John Sheridan bolted off to Plymouth Argyle, and they chose Paul Cook to try to get the North Derbyshire club back to the third division (Chesterfield finished in 8th last season).

In the following off-season (last summer), one of Cook’s requests to the CFC board was to sign (on a free transfer) the 28-year-old Liverpool-born MF Gary Roberts, who was playing for Swindon Town then, and whom Cook knew from his latter playing days at Accrington (circa 2005-06). That signing has been paying dividends, as Roberts has scored 4 goals in 14 league matches and has also notched 4 assists this season so far. Another player Cook brought in after past association has also been contributing to the Spireites good form, and that is ex-Sligo Rovers and ex-Hibernian MF Eoin Doyle, who scored 10 league goals in the SPL last season for Hibs. The Dublin-born Doyle is 25. He has scored 3 league goals and made 3 assists this season so far.

Chesterfield, with a population of around 103,000 {2011 estimate} is about 43 km or 29 mi north of Derby and is about 17 km or 10 mi south of Sheffield. Chesterfield FC, which has not been in the second division since 1950, nevertheless has good potential. Both much-larger nearby League clubs from Sheffield – Sheffield Wednesday (in the 2nd division relegation places, currently) and Sheffield United (in the third division relegation places, currently) – are still stuck in the doldrums. So Chesterfield has a real opportunity to attract new fans from the Greater Sheffield/North Derbyshire area, especially because Chesterfield boasts nice new facilities now. After more than a century at the eventually decrepit Saltergate (see photo below), Chesterfield now has a fine new 10K-capacity/3-year-old stadium, which the club itself owns. Currently, Chesterfield can count on a solid 5-6,000-strong fan base, and their support might have the potential to grow. But the Spireites need to get back to the third division, and get ensconced there again, if they expect to grow their fan base any more (their last spell in League One lasted 1 year [2011-12]). Chesterfield first dropped into the 4th division in 1961 (that was the third season that the Fourth Division [est. 1958-59] had existed), and when you add up all their years of League football, Chesterfield are an historically-third-division club, with 52 seasons being spent there, including 12 of their last 20 seasons (going back to 1994-95 and recently having a 6 year stay in the third tier from 2002-03 to 2006-07 {data from CFC-footy-mad site here}). Here is a recent article on Paul Cook and Chesterfield, from Skysports.com from 14 Oct. 2013 by Johnny Phillips, ‘Chesterfield manager Paul Cook could be the next big thing in football, says Johnny Phillips‘ (skysports.com/football).

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CFC’s old ground (Saltergate), photo from ciderspace.co.uk/asp/opposition/chesterfield.
Aerial photo of new stadium by Rob McGann (Robinson Steel Structures of Derby) via bullsnews.blogspot.com/2010/08/chesterfields-new-stadium.
Paul Cook, photo from goal.com.
Gary Roberts, photo from chesterfield-fc.co.uk/news/article/20131111-roberts-post-daventry.
Eoin Doyle, photo from thestar.co.uk

Rochdale AFC, currently 3rd place (29 points/+5 goal difference).
Rochdale AFC play at Spotland Stadium, in Rochdale (which is in the north-eastern part of Greater Manchester, but was historically in the south-eastern part of Lancashire). Rochdale borough has a population of around 95,000 {2001 census figure}. Spotland has a capacity of 10,249, was opened in 1920, and was last renovated in 1999-2000. Ownership of the ground is a three-way split between Rochdale Borough Council, Rochdale AFC, and the (just-promoted) second-division rugby league club Rochdale Hornets RLFC. Rochdale AFC, aka the Dale, draw 2.5 K or so in mediocre years and up to 3.5K in good seasons, and have done so for over two decades now {attendances from E-F-S site, here}.

Rochdale AFC manager Keith Hill (age 44), was born in Bolton, Lancashire. Hill was a defender who had 388 league appearances and 11 goals, playing for Blackburn Rovers, Plymouth Argyle, Rochdale (for 5 seasons), Cheltenham Town, Wrexham, and Morecambe from 1987 to 2003. Hill is now in his second spell managing Rochdale, after previously getting the club promoted to the 3rd division for the first time in 36 years (in May 2010, seen in photo below). Following that 4-and-half-year spell running Rochdale, Hill was hired by second division club Barnsley in June 2011, but was sacked in December 2012 as Barnsley languished in the relegation zone (Hill’s then-number-two, David Flitcroft [who was also assistant under Hill at Rochdale], took over, and did a fine job of keeping Barnsley in the Champiionship by the skin of their teeth last May).

Keith Hill returned to Rochdale in January 2013, with one objective – to get the Dale back to the third division. Rochdale currently feature twin scoring threats in the Norfolk-born ex-Colchester FW Ian Henderson (age 28), who has tallied 5 league goals this season so far; and a young potential phenom in the 21-year old striker Scott Hogan, who is Manchester-born and previously played for Conference side Hyde. Hogan has scored 6 league goals so far this season.

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Photo and Image credits above -
Exterior-view of main stand at Spotland, photo by David Dixon at geograph.org.uk.
Photo of 13/14 RAFC home jersey badge from football-shirts.co.uk/rochdale-shirt.
Interior photo of Spotland by 100groundsclub.blogspot.com/2009/08/my-matchday-223-spotland
Keith Hill celebrating May 2010 Rochdale promotion (during pitch invasion), photo from manchestereveningnews.co.uk.
Ian Henderson, photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Scott Hogan, photo from manchestereveningnews.co.uk.

Fleetwood Town, currently 4th place (28 points/+9 goal difference).
Fleetwood has a population of around 26,000 {2001 census figure}. Fleetwood is just north of Blackpool on the Fylde coast of west-central Lancashire.

Fleetwood Town manager Graham Alexander played 21 years for Scunthorpe United, Luton Town, Preston North End, and Burnley, as a defender and a holding midfielder. Alexander became the oldest player to make his Premier League debut at the age of 37 (when he played right back/defensive midfielder for Burnley in the 2008-09 Premier League). Alexander was also the third oldest goal scorer in Premier League history. A dead-ball specialist, he retired in 2012 with 837 league appearances and 107 league goals (130 goals in all competitions). In Graham Alexander’s final match in April 2012, he scored a 92nd-minute equalizer at Deepdale versus Charlton. Graham Alexander played well over one thousand games in all competitions, second-most as a pro in the English leagues only to Tony Ford {see this ‘Tony Ford (footballer born 1959)‘}.

Alexander made his coaching debut in December 2011 while still a player, as a joint-caretaker manager of Preston North End (along with David Unsworth), following Preston’s sacking of Phil Brown. That position only lasted 5 games, though, as Preston brought in tough guy Graham Westely, to poor results (Westley has slunk back to 3rd-division-but-relegation-threatened Stevenage now). Alexander was appointed manager of Fleetwood Town in December 2012, following the surprise sacking of Mickey Mellon. Mellon had gotten Fleetwood Town into the Football League in May 2012. Fleetwood Town is a former 9th- and 8th-division club which has won 5 promotions in the last decade. This is a club that was drawing just 206 per game nine seasons ago in 2004-05, and now draws in the vicinity of 2,800. Actually, at the time of his sacking last December, Mellon had the Cod Army in the play-off places (in 7th place). But Mellon’s squad had just lost 3 matches in a row including an FA Cup 2nd Round match to Aldershot. Graham Alexander didn’t exactly have too poor a run-in managing Fleetwood for the latter half of last season, but, for all intents and purposes, once the Fleetwood squad knew they were safe from relegation, they coasted, and Fleetwood finished in 13th place in 2012-13, losing their final 4 matches. In the off season there were a few key personnel moves. The headline-maker was the club’s biggest signing ever, of Jamaican-born almost-23-year-old FW Jamille Matt (bought from Kidderminster for an undisclosed sum above £200,000). There was also the signing of 21-year-old play-maker Antoni Sarcevic, a MF with real potential, who was instrumental in getting Phoenix-club Chester FC up into the Conference last season. Both have produced so far, with Matt scoring 5 league goals in 12 appearances and Sarcevic netting 3 times with 3 assists.

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Photo and Image credits above -
Aerial photo of Highbury Stadium, from fwpgroup.co.uk/job/fleetwood-town-football-club.
Photo of Graham Alexander, from skysports.com.
Photo of Jamille Matt, by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
Photo of Antoni Sarcevic and Fleetwood teammates celebrating from visitfleetwood.info.

__
Thanks to footballfashion.org and Igloo Films, at footballfashion.org/wordpress/2013/07/29/portsmouth-fc-201314-sondico-home-and-away-kits/, for image of Portsmouth 13/14 home jersey badge.
Thanks to Football-shirts.co.uk for photo of Rochdale 13/14 home jersey badge, football-shirts.co.uk/rochdale-shirt.
Thanks to Torquay United shop for images which allowed me to assemble a 13/14 TUFC home jersey badge facsimilie {tufcshop.com/tufc-2013-coaster ; tufcshop.com/tufc-replica-kits }.

Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2013–14 Football League Two‘.

October 24, 2012

England: League Two – 2012-13 Location-map, with 2011-12 attendance data.

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England: League Two – 2012-13 Location-map, with 2011-12 attendance data




Note: to see my most recent post on the English 4th division, click on the following: category: Eng-4th Level/League 2.

At the top of the map page, the 2012-13 home jersey badges of the clubs in England’s 4th division are shown in alphabetical order. I added the clubs’ names under the badges mainly because if I had not, I am pretty sure I would have confused a few folks because, for the club’s Centenary, Gillingham’s kit badges and jersey colors this season are very different than their usual. Gillingham 12/13 Centenary Vandamel Football Shirt Design (Footballshirtculture.com). The badge is the Kent-based club’s original kit badge from 1911-12, and their home jersey color this season is not the Gills’ present-day royal blue, but the 1911-12 version – red-with-royal-blue-sleeves.

Here are the other League Two clubs this season which have home kit badges that are different from their official crests…
Bradford City sport a star (for their 1911 FA Cup title) – black stars seem to be a new kit-design trend, as both Huddrsfield Town and Man City also feature black stars on their home kit badges this season. Like Nottingham Forest, Southend United’s badge is, as usual, a reverse of their official crest. For 2012-13, Exeter City sport a striking shield device, with their flanking-winged-horses-coat-of-arms sitting in a larger version of the black-and-red-shield that is in the center of the crest itself. Exeter City’s badge has a sort of MC Escher feel about it {see it here (exetercityfcshop.co.uk)}. Since 1986, Torquay United have had, for most seasons, a seagull-in-disk device on the kits which is different, and more simplified – in a good way, I feel – than their official crest. Torquay United’s official crest, with its tacky color-blend effects, looks too much like a cheap clip-art design. Finally, League 1/League 2 yo-yo club Wycombe Wanderers are celebrating their 125th anniversary, and on their badge this season they sport gold olive branches flanking their chained-goose-with crown-in-disk device (which is based on the Buckinghamshire coat of arms). You can see it here (jerseyrevival.com).

Gillingham FC, League Two leaders as of 24 October 2012 -
After 14 games played for most of the clubs in the fourth division, Kent’s only Football League club, Gillingham FC, hold a 2-point lead in League Two, ahead of Port Vale in second place. Gillingham have spent the lions’ share of their years in the 3rd Level (ie, League One), with 56 seasons in the third division (last in 2009-10). Gillingham’s highest league placement was in 2002-03, when they finished in 11th place in the second division. That was during a 5-season-spell when Gillingham were, for the only time in their history, a second division club. That era coincided with the almost complete redevelopment of Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium [known since 2011 as MEMS Priestfield Stadium for sponsorship purposes].

Much-traveled motivator/quick-fixer Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen is the Gills’ manager, after he helped keep Barnet from dropping out of the League in May 2012. This was a good karmic ending because you could say Allen was atoning for his sin against Barnet 13 months earlier, when he bolted from the the small North London-based club after just 3 games, leaving Barnet twisting in the wind and needing to find another way to once again save off relegation (which they did – just). The reason Allen bolted then was because Notts County, then in a relegation-battle of their own in League One, made Allen a better offer. Allen kept Notts County up in 2011-12, but poor league form the next season saw the Notts County board sack Allen in February 2011. So Allen then went back to Barnet and Barnet avoided relegation on the last day of the season for the third straight year. Then in July 2012 Allen made it nine job hires as manager in 9 years, with his appointment as the manager of Gillingham. [Clubs managed by Martin Allen - 2003–04, Barnet. 2004–06, Brentford. 2006–07, MK Dons. 2007, Leicester City. 2008–09, Cheltenham Town. 2011, Barnet. 2011–12, Notts County. 2012, Barnet. 2012, Gillingham.]. With the blossoming of Kent-born Gillingham striker and captain Danny Kedwell, Gillingham have held the top spot in League Two for virtually the whole season. Some observers feel Kedwell can forge a similar path to the top level like another rough-and-tumble ex-Non-league striker – Grant Holt, of Norwich City. The only problem with that scenario is that Kedwell is 29 years old.
Below, Danny Kedwell, Martin Allen, Priestfied Stadium…
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Image and Photo credits above – kentonline.co.uk. businessforkent.co.uk. bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view. Interior photo of Priestfield from PA via dailymail.co.uk.

New Stadium in Rotherham
The good news for Millers fans up in South Yorkshire is that Rotherham United have a new stadium, the 12,021-capacity New York Stadium, which was built by, and is owned by Rotherham United FC. The bad news for Millers fans is that their new manager is the felonious controversy-magnet Steve Evans, late of Crawley Town. Evans’ latest dust-up sees Evans banned and fined (the FA.com). Well, once Evans eventually takes his act elsewhere, RUFC supporters will still have their shiny new ground, which, as you can see below, looks rather nice. First of all, the New York Stadium is located in the city-center of Rotherham, not out in some god-forsaken lot many kilometers outside the town’s core, like with Coventry City’s Ricoh Stadium or Colchester United’s Colchester Community Stadium. And as far as the design of the New York Stadium goes, you can see in the photo below how the stands are very close to the pitch and they have a steep incline, making for excellent sight-lines. The staggered roof line prevents the stadium from having a bland, cookie-cutter look. Plus, Rotherham top brass didn’t pull a Notts County and over-expand – 12,000 capacity suits Rotherham United just fine. Rotherham is only 9.5 kilometers (or 7 miles) from Sheffield in South Yorkshire. So it has always been an uphill battle for Rotherham United to build a larger fan base. That is because the club is situated right in the midst of the fan bases of Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, both of whom can draw in the the high 20K-range when playing in the upper reaches of the football ladder. The last time Rotherham United were in the second division was a 4-season spell from 2001-02 to 2004-05, and they drew in the mid-7,000-per game range then. In their new stadium this season, Rotherham are currently averaging 8,135 per game and will probably end up averaging around 7 or 8 thousand this season, maybe a bit higher than that if they can maintain a promotion drive (Rotherham are currently just within the play-off places in 7th place).

Rotherham’s new ground is called the ‘New’ York Stadium because the RUFC chairman Tony Stewart insists that this was what this section of Rotherham was nicknamed a century ago. Whatever. He just thought that the name would garner attention, and maybe it would lead to some sponsorship tie-in with the actual city of New York or even the New York Yankees (dream on). The stadium was built on the former site of the Guest and Chrimes Foundry {which you can still see via Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here}.

Below, The New York Stadium, Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Opened 18 August, 2012. Capacity 12,021 (all seated). Built and owned by Rotherham FC.
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Photo credit above – unattributed at rotherfm.co.uk/news/local-news/new-york-stadium-good-for-rotherham/.

___

Thanks to Soccerway.com, for attendance figures and stadium capacities, http://www.soccerway.com/national/england/league-two/20122013/regular-season/ .
Thanks to Footballkitnews.com, for info on 2012-13 jerseys- http://www.footballkitnews.com/category/english-football-league-two/.
Thanks to Footballfashion.org, for info on 2012-13 jerseys – http://footballfashion.org/wordpress/category/201213-kits-jerseys/.
Thanks to Footballshirtculture.com, for info on 2012-13 jerseys – http://www.footballshirtculture.com/.
Thanks to Wycombe Wanderers site for 125th anniversary crest – http://www.wwfcshop.co.uk/collections/all-products/products/kuk01703 .

December 26, 2011

2011-12 League Two – Stadia map, with galleries of the top 4 clubs in the table, 1st place Crawley Town, 2nd place Cheltenham Town, 3rd place Southend United, and 4th place Shrewsbury Town.

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2011-12 League Two Stadia map




Note: to see my most recent post on the English 4th division, click on the following: category: Eng-4th Level/League 2.

On Boxing Day, 2011, League Two is led by Crawley Town. The Red Devils of West Sussex were pretty much expected to be at or near the top of the table this season in the fourth division, because their transfer and wage bill (abetted by anonymous Far East investors) far exceeds other clubs in League Two. A 15-game unbeaten run was ended by Gillingham today, though, but it still looks like Crawley are in prime position to gain their second consecutive promotion under the mercurial Scot, manager Steve Evans. Crawley lead 2nd place Cheltenham Town by 3 points. Cheltenham Town in second place is a shock, seeing as most media outlets and bloggers pegged them for a relegation battle, not a promotion campaign this season. Ex-Robins MF and captain Mark Yates has been managing Cheltenham Town for 2 years now, and his squad plays some nice passing football, and only Swindon Town have less goals conceded (18) than Cheltenham (at 20, tied with Shrewsbury Town). Cheltenham have a stellar away record, boasting 8 wins, then a draw (to Barnet), in their last 9 matches away from Gloucestershire. Cheltehham Town have had two spells in the third tier (for a total of 4 seasons, last in 2008-09), and it’s starting to look like they could be returning to the third division. Perhaps the biggest impediment to their success could be the eventually-chewed-up-turf at Whaddon Road, the result of their groundshare with Gloucester City AFC (of the Conference North). Last year [2010-11], the poor pitch conditions played a part in Cheltenham’s struggles in the second half of the season, but maybe the mild winter, so far, will aid the Robins this season.

In 3rd place (which is an automatic-promotion-place in League Two) are Southend United. The Essex side, under much-travelled Scottish manager Paul Sturrock, shot out of the gate, but now seem to have flagged a little bit, with 4 straight defeats (two league and two cup losses). In 4th place are a club that was expected by most to be in (another) promotion campaign – Shrewsbury Town. The Shropshire-based club are run by longtime Hereford United manager Graham Turner, who returned in July 2010 to the place where he finshed his playing career and began coaching. In 5th place are the Staffordshire-based Burton Albion, who are managed by Canadian international Paul Peschisolido. In 6th place are the Kent/Thames Estuary side Gillingham, who are managed by Dartford, Kent-born Andy Hessenthaler. In 7th and in the final play-off spot are Wiltshire’s Swindon Town, who are managed by Rome, Italy-born West Ham legend Paolo Di Canio.

From Guardian.co.uk/Football League Blog, ‘League Two 2011-12: the bloggers’ half-term report
The people who really know their clubs give us the lowdown on the League Two season so far
‘.

On the map page, which you can see by clicking on the segment at the top of this post, you can see stadium photos of all 24 clubs in the 2011-12 season of the English Football League Two. Alongside each stadium image, club info is provided – club crest, year of formation, location, stadium capacity, 2010-11 average gate, list of the seasons spent by the club in each of the top 5 Levels of English football, and 2011-12 kits. At the far right on the map page is a location-map of the 2011-12 League Two. At the lower right of the map page are 2010-11 and 2009-10 average attendance figures (from home league matches), as well as league movement (if any) these last 2 seasons.

Below are photos of the grounds of the top four clubs in the League Two table as of 26 December, 2011 – 1st place, Crawley Town (Broadfield Stadium). 2nd place, Cheltenham Town (Whaddon Road). 3rd place, Southend United (Roots Hall). 4th place, Shrewsbury Town (Greenhous Meadow). Also included are photos of standout players on the squads (including team goals and assists leaders), as well as photos of the managers.

Crawley Town. Est. 1896. The Red Devils. Broadfield Stadium, cap. 4,996. Crawley, West Sussex.
First season in the Conference [5th Level], 2004-05. First season in the Football League: 2011-12.
2010-11 avg. gate (home league matches), 2,535 per game (up +152.8%).
Current {26 Dec., 2011} avg. gate, 3,198 per game (up +26.0%).

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Crawley Town Image and Photo credits – Aerial view of Broadfield Stadium from bing.com/maps/. Entrance photo by Shaun at 100groundsclub.blogspot.com Photo of West Stand [at center] by Peer Pawelczyk via soccerway.com. Photo of terrace [at lower center] by Smidrophenia at flickr.com. Photo of Broadfield Stadium [at far left] from worldgroundhop.blogspot.com. Photo of West Sussex countryside by PhillipC at tripwolf.com. Matt Tubbs photo from skysports.com. Tyrone Barnett action photo by Frances Leader/Action Images via guardian.co.uk/football/football-league-blog; Tyrone Barnett photo in white kit from football365.com. Action photo including Kyle McFadzean from crawleytownfc.com/gallery. Andy Drury photo from thisissussex.co.uk. Steve Evans photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.

Cheltenham Town. Est. 1887. The Robins. Whaddon Road, cap. 7,066. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
First season in the Conference [5th Level], 1988-89. First season in the Football League: 1999-2000.
2010-11 avg. gate (home league matches), 2,980 per game (down -8.1%).
Current {26 Dec., 2011} avg. gate, 3,339 per game (up +20.%).

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Cheltenham Town Image and Photo credits – Aerial view of Whaddon Road from bing.com/maps. Small photo at upper right from wolves-stats.co.uk/Cheltenham_Town. Large photo of Cheltenham from the adjacent hillside by Adrian Pingstone at en.wikipedia.org/Cheltenham. Small photo of the three stands [at the center] by footix at Panoramio.com. Exterior photo [at lower left] from thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/. Photo from inside the stands [at lower left] from http://www.courtoffside.com/forum/album.php?albumid=15. Large photo of Main Stand by Shaun at 100groundsclub.blogspot.com.
Jimmy Spencer, Darryl Duffy, and Kaid Mohammed action photos from CTFC.com/galleries. Marlon Pack action photo from features.rr.com; Marlon Pack photo from teamtalk.com/cheltenham-town. Mohammed/Jombati/Smikle celebrating photo from ctfc.com/Gallerycirencesterpeople.co.uk. Photo of Mark Yates from http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/football.

Southend United. Est. 1906. The Shrimpers. Roots Hall, cap. 12,392. Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
First season in the Football League: 1920-21, charter member of the Third Division.
2010-11 avg. gate (home league matches), 5,274 per game (down -31.6%).
Current {26 Dec., 2011} avg. gate, 5,801 per game (up +9.9%).

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Southend United Image and Photo credits – Aerial view of Roots Hall, bing.com/maps. South Stand photo [at top, center] from footballstadiumguide.co.uk/southend-united. Roots Hall main entrance and camera gantry photos from portmanroadtothesansiro.blogspot.com. Fans in South Stand with flags from footybunker.com. Roots Hall photo at far left by Shaun at 100groundsclub.blogspot.com. Aerial photo of Southend-on-Sea by terryjoice at en.wikipedia.org/Southend-on-Sea. Liam Dickinson photos from southendunited.co.uk. Kane Ferdinanand photo from flblog.dailymail.co.uk, ‘Talent scout: Southend United’s Kane Ferdinand‘, by Joe Ridge. Ryan Hall photo from southendunited.co.uk/page/Gallery. Photo of Paul Sturrock with squad at Roots Hall from echo-news.co.uk/sport; Paul Sturrock photo from football.co.uk/southend_united.
Images of old Southend United kit badges are from Historical Football Kits site at http://www.historicalkits.co.uk/Southend_United/Southend_United.htm.

Shrewsbury Town. Est. 1885. The Shrews. Greenhous Meadow, cap. 9,875. Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
First season in the Football League: 1950-51
(Shrewsbury Town were elected to the Football League, Division Three North in 1950, after being Midland League champions in 1949-50).
2010-11 avg. gate (home league matches), 5,876 per game (down -7.5%).
Current {26 Dec., 2011} avg. gate, 5,436 per game (up +6.4%).
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Shrewsbury Town Image and Photo credits – Aerial photo of New Meadow (aka Greenhous Meadow) from forums.electronicarts.co.uk. Main entrance photo from thegroundhog.wordpress.com. Pre-match photo of New Meadow by ynysforgan_jack at Flickr.com. The Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury photo by Asdfasdf1231234 at en.wikipedia.org/Shrewsbury. River Severn at Shropshire photo from sirpetespics.blogspot.com. Old kit badges of Shrewsbury Town from historicalkits.co.uk/Shrewsbury_Town. South Stand photo from the-prostar-stadium.blogspot.com. Mark Wright photo from shrewsburytown.com/Gallery. Lionel Ainsworth photo from AMA Sports photo agency via shropshirestar.com. James Collins photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Graham Turner photo from shrewsburytown.com.

After 22 matches played by most clubs in the 2011-12 League Two season, here are the 3 top scoring leaders and the top player in assists…
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Photo credits above – Izale McLeod photo by Tom Jenkins at Guardian.co.uk. Billy Kee photo from burtonalbionfc.co.uk/gallery. Matt Tubbs photo from crawleytownfc.com/gallery. Ryan Hall photo from indiatimes.com.

Last season [2010-11], League Two as a whole averaged 4,175 per game, which was an 8.3% increase over 2009-10. Currently [26 Dec., 2011] League Two’s average attendance is 4,252 per game, which is a 1.8 percent increase from last season. [Current League Two attendance, including unofficial league average (ESPN Soccernet).

At the end of each League Two season, 4 clubs gain promotion to League One [which is the 3rd Level of English football]. First, second, and third place finishers get promoted automatically to League One each May, while the 4th through 7th place finishers compete in a play-off to determine the fourth promoted club. On the other hand, at the end of each League Two season, only 2 clubs are relegated to the Conference National [which is the 5th Level of English fooball, and the highest level in Non-League football]. League Two is the only level in the Fooball League that has a disparate number of promoted teams versus relegated teams [the other levels, the Football League Championship (the 2nd Level) and the Football League One (the 3rd Level), have 3 go up and 3 go down each season]. Currently, the clubs in the League Two relegation places are Plymouth Argyle and Northampton Town, with Dagenham & Redbridge, Hereford United, and Barnet within touching distance of the dreaded drop.

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Photo credits on map page -

Accrington Stanley/Crown Ground, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
AFC Wimbledon/Kingsmeadow (aka Cherry Red Records Stadium), bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Aldershot Town/The EBB Stadium (Recreation Ground), bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Barnet/Underhill Stadium, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Bradford City/Valley Parade, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Bristol Rovers/Memorial Stadium, bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view.
Burton Albion/Pirelli Stadium, http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/photos/medium/4422509.jpg.
Cheltenham Town/Whaddon Road (aka Abbey Business Stadium), bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Crawley Town/Broadfield Stadium, bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view.
Crewe Alexandra/Alexandra Stadium, shepherd-gilmour.co.uk.
Dagenham & Redbridge/Victoria Road, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Gillingham/Priestfield, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Hereford United/Edgar Street, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Macclesfield Town/Moss Rose, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Morecambe/Globe Arena, sixtamesides.blogspot.com.
Northampton Town/Sixfields Stadium, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Oxford United/Kassam Stadium, footballaway.co.uk.
Port Vale/Vale Park, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Plymouth Argyle/Home Park, bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view.
Rotherham United/Don Valley Stadium, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Shrewsbury Town/Greenhous Meadow [aka New Meadow], James Humphries (aka Colds7ream) at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Meadow.
Southend United/Roots Hall, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Torquay United/Plainmoor, bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011–12 Football League Two‘.

Thanks soccerway.com for current attendance figures.
Thanks to European-football-statistics.co.uk, for attendance data from previous seasons.

Thanks to these two sites…
1). Data for ‘Seasons spent in Levels’ lists, thanks to http://stats.football365.com/hist/tier3/attable.html [data up to 2001-02].
2). For league placement data from 2002-03 and on, plus general data on the clubs’ league placement through the years, thanks to Footy-Mad.co.uk sites of each club, usually [at the top menu bar there] at ‘Club/League History’. Example, Barnet-mad.co.uk.

Thanks to historicalkits.co.uk, for images of old kit badges.

Thanks to crawleytownfc.com.
Thanks to [Cheltenham Town] CTFC.com.
Thanks to southendunited.co.uk.
Thanks to shrewsburytown.com.

August 3, 2011

English Football League Two – attendance map and data for clubs in the 2011-12 League Two season.

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League Two Attendance Map

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[Note: to see my latest map-&-post of 4th division English football, click on the following, category: Eng-4th level/League Two.]

I introduced this type of map and chart last year, but last season I only covered the top 2 divisions in England in this fashion. This post covers the English Football League Two, which is the lowest level in the Football League and is the 4th Level in the English football pyramid. At each season’s end, two clubs gain promotion into this level from the 5th Level (for this season, Crawley Town and AFC Wimbledon) and two clubs are relegated out of League Two to Non-League Football and the Conference National (those 2 clubs were Lincoln City and Stockport County). Meanwhile, four clubs gain promotion from this level to League One, that is, from the 4th Level to the 3rd Level (those 4 clubs were Chesterfield, Bury, Wycombe Wanderers, and Stevenage). Finally, 4 clubs are relegated from League One to this level (those 4 clubs were Bristol Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge, Plymouth Argyle, and Swindon Town).

The map shows the locations of the clubs in the 2011-12 season of League Two. Flanking the map are club crests, with the crests sized to reflect 2010-11 average attendance (home league matches). The larger the average attendance, the larger the club’s crest. So, down at this level, most of the club crests are going to be pretty small. In case you are wondering why Bradford City has such relatively high attendance figures for this level, that is because Bradford City instituted a cut-rate ticket scheme 3 seasons ago, and their gates shot up well past the 10,000-per game mark. Even though this pricing scheme has been largely phased out, the crowd-sizes have not diminished that much there in West Yorkshire, despite the Bantams’ lackluster form of late (they finished in 18th place last season)

Percent-Capacity in the lower leagues
This is the first time I have listed percent-capacity statistics for the lower Leagues. On the chart, the far right column shows each League Two club’s percent-capacity figure from last season [ Percent-capacity is found this way...Average Attendance divided by Stadium Capacity = Percent-Capacity ].

Percent-capacity figures for most League Two clubs are usually at or below 50%-capacity. And where a 70-80 percent-capacity number would be a healthy figure for a League Championship club {see this post from August 2010}, and there are 10 clubs in the 10/11 Championship that are in the 70 to 80%+ category; and a where a 60-70 percent-capacity is a very healthy figure for a League One club, and there are 5 clubs in the 10/11 League One that are in the 60 to 70% category, the problem is that getting a percent-capacity figure above 70% or so when you are a fourth-division-club means the club has stadium issues. Namely, that the club won’t have room for growth, in terms of fan base size, if they are promoted – without a costly stadium expansion. And revenue is being lost, because such a high percent-capacity for a small stadium means that inevitably there will be sold-out matches, so average attendance begins to plateau. That is the problem AFC Wimbledon will face if they are able to consolidate their new-found status as a Football League club. A little-noted fact about AFC Wimbledon is that they had a drop-off of minus-2.8% in attendance last season. [The lack of an extra sell-out date because Oxford City was no longer in the Conference in 2010-11 certainly contributed to the fact that Wimbledon's average gate was below the previous seasons'.] Wimbledon drew 3,435 per game last season in the Conference at their Kingsmeadow ground, in southwest London near Surrey. Kingsmeadow only has a capacity of 4,772. So AFC Wimbledon had a 72.8%-capacity last season, which is the highest figure of all clubs in the 11/12 League Two (or the 11/12 League One, for that matter). The club would certainly have had a larger average attendance if their stadium was larger, because those sell-outs last season versus, say, Luton Town, would have drawn well over 5,000 [probably even 7,000] had the ground been larger. So Wimbledon faces the situation where they will be losing revenue because of inadequate stadium capacity. There is an expansion planned at Kingsmeadow in the near future, but AFC Wimbledon’s specific plans are still vague.

Second-best percent-capacity from last season of 2011-12 League Two clubs was by a club that actually was in a relegation battle last season – Northampton Town, who finished in 16th. The Cobblers’ decent 4,605 per game average attendance last season was boosted by a low-price youth ticket scheme the club had introduced last summer, plus by larger crowds attending some of the late-season relegation-battles at the Sixfields Stadium (capacity 7,653). Northampton had a 60.2%-capacity figure last season. Here is an article from NTFC.co.uk, about their good gate figures, ‘Sixfields Attendance On The Increase‘.

There are 3 other clubs in League Two this season that had percent-capacity figures near 60% last season…
Shrewsbury Town, at 59.5%-capacity. The Shropshire club, in yet another failed-promotion-run last season, have been drawing well since their New Meadow ground opened in 2007. STFC drew 5,876 per game last season in the 9,875-capacity ground.
Oxford United at 58.2%-capacity. Oxford United finished in 12th place in their first season back in the League, drawing 7,277 per game at their 12,500-capacity Kassam Stadium. That was second-highest in League Two last season.
The just-relegated Swindon Town, at 57.5%-capacity. This after a 2009-10 season that saw Swindon come agonizingly close to winning promotion the the League Championship, losing to Millwall 1-0 in the 2009-10 League One play-off final at Wembley. Last season, Swindon Town, helped by 9K and plus-10K gates at matches early on in the season, actually had a slight 0.8% increase in a season which ended up seeing them relegated. Swindon Town had an average attendance of 8,450 per game in their 14,700-capacity County Ground.

Odds for promotion
Not coincidentally, the three clubs with the highest wage bill in League Two this season are also the three highest-rated clubs to win promotion (by the bookmakers, at least). Those 3 clubs are Crawley town, Swindon Town, and Bristol Rovers.
From Statto.com, English League Two Promotion Odds.
Topping the list is actually Crawley Town, despite the West Sussex club having just been promoted from Non-League football for the first time. This is thanks to Crawley Town’s shadowy and deep-pocketed Far East investors. Last season, Crawley Town spent more on player transfers than any other club in their league or the division above them (ie, this division), and such lavish outlay for these levels continues at Crawley. Swindon Town is second-favorite for promotion, while Bristol Rovers, Oxford United, and Shrewsbury Town round out the top five best odds for promotion.
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Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011-12 Football League Two‘.

May 7, 2011

League Two, 2010-11 season: the 3 automatically-promoted clubs, and the 4 play-off clubs.

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2010-11 League Two, Top of the Table


2010-11 Football League Two final table (Soccerway.com).
League Two Play-Offs.
1st Legs,
Saturday, 14 May – Torquay United v. Shrewsbury Town.
Sunday, 15 May – Stevenage v. Accrington Stanley.
2nd Legs,
Friday, 20 May – Shrewsbury Town v. Torquay United.
Friday, 20 May – Accrington Stanley v. Stevenage.
League Two Play-off Final, Saturday, 28 May at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester – Stevenage 1-0 Torquay, attendance: 11,484.
From BBC.co.uk, ‘Stevenage 1 – 0 Torquay‘.
Stevenage win promotion to League One. [That makes it back-to-back promotions for Stevenage...a club that had never been in the Football League before 2010.]


Chesterfield FC won the 2010-11 League Two title. The Spireites rode the wave of an inaugural season in their new 10,338-seat b2net Stadium in Chesterfield, north Derbyshire, and were energized by the 3,123 per game increase in crowds. Chesterfield ended up averaging 6,834 per game, which was third best in the 2010-11 League Two season (Bradford City and just-promoted Oxford United drew first and second highest in the league this season {2010-11 League Two average attendance (ESPN Soccernet.com)}. In John Sheridan‘s third season as manager, Chesterfield returns to the third tier for the first time in 4 years. The Spireites last spell in the 3rd Level lasted 6 seasons (2001-02 to 2006-07), and only saw Chesterfield reach a high of 16th place [in 2005-06]. The third tier is where Chesterfield has spent the bulk of their seasons {Chesterfield League history, here (Chesterfield-Mad site)}. Chesterfield has spent 51 seasons in the third division, but have never managed to win promotion to the 2nd Level.

The other two automatically-promoted clubs this season in League Two were Greater Manchester’s Bury FC; and, qualifying on the last day of the season, 3rd Level/4th Level yo-yo club Wycombe Wanders, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Wycombe manager Gary Waddock, who took over in October 2009, has returned the Chairboys back to the third tier. Wycombe has a larger fan base than Bury, and were pulling in 5,544 per game in 2009-10, when they had just won promotion to League One (they went straight back down that season). Wycombe have spent 11 seasons previously in the third tier. The Wanderers drew 9th highest in League Two this season, pulling in 4,495 per game. At their 10,000-capacity Adams Park, Wycombe Wanderers have a ground share with the Rugby Union club London Wasps (Wycombe Wanderers own the ground).

Bury are pretty strongly overshadowed by the red and the light blue halves of Manchester, and they must fight for fans with Rochdale AFC, who are fron the adjacent town to Bury, and will renew their deby matches when Bury join ‘Dale in League One next season. Bury have considerable first division history (having spent 22 seasons there) and also own two FA Cup titles (won in 1900 and 1903). But the Shakers have not been in the top flight since 1929. Their last, two-season spell in the second division ended in 1999. Bury survived the abrupt departure of manager Alan Knill to Scunthorpe earlier this spring, and kept their league form under Knill’s replacement, caretaker manager Richard Barker, who had been Bury’s youth team coach. Bury drew 3,313 per game (13th highest in the league), which was an 13.5 percent increase from 2009-10. Bury play at Gigg Lane, which the club owns. They ground-share with supporter-owned 7th Level club FC United of Manchester.
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Photo credits for the map page -
Chesterfield…Exterior photo and first interior photo of b2net Stadium from 100groundclub.blogspot.com, here. West Stand of b2net Stadium photo by Kate Hall (aka ginger kate) at Flickr.com, here. Aerial photo of b2net Stadium from Chesterfield.co.uk, here.

Bury… Gigg Lane photo (furthest on the left) from PitchCare.com, here. Photo of Gigg Lane under the roof of the Main Stand from AwayGrounds.com, here. Aerial photo of Gigg Lane from BuryFCyouth.co.uk, here.

Wycombe… Interior photo of Adams Park from VisitBuckinghamshire.org, here. Exterior photo of Adams Park from Geograph.co.uk, here. Aerial image of Adams Park from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Shrewsbury Town…Exterior photo of the New Meadow [aka Greenhous Meadow] from TheGroundhog.wordpress.com, here. Interior photo of New Meadow by ChrisBrookesPhotography.co.uk at Flicker.com here. Aerial photo of the New Meadow by James Humphreys [aka Colds7ream], at en.wikipedia.org, here; Colds7ream’s wikipedia user page, user:Colds7ream.

Accrington Stanley…Photo of the Crown Ground [aka Fraser Eagle Stadium] with sign by Robert Wade, from Geograph.org.uk, here. Photo taken from the terrace from forums.electronicarts.co.uk, here. Aerial image of the Crown Ground from Bing.cpm.maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Stevenage…Main Stand of Broadhall Way by Campdavemorecambe at Flickr.com, here. Photo of terrace by Ray Stanton at Panoramio.com, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Torquay United…Exterior photo of Plainmoor from EMPICS Sport, via DailyMail.co.uk. Photo of Plainmoor with terrace in foreground from ImageShack.us, here. Aerial photo of Plainmoor from Stadiums.Football.co.uk, here.

Thanks to HistoricalFootballKits.co.uk, for the kit illustrationa, ‘Npower League Two 2010-11‘.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Football League Two‘.
Thanks to ESPN Soccernet for attendances.

October 6, 2010

League Two, 2010-11 season – Attendance map (2009-10 figures).

Note: to see my most recent post on the English 4th division, click on the following: category: Eng-4th Level/League 2.
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League Two, 2010-11 season


Port Vale FC toil under the radar and in obscurity in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. The Valiants are the rather surprising leaders of League Two after 10 matches. Port Vale have won 4 of their last 5 matches and sit atop League Two with 22 points, 3 points ahead of Chesterfield. [Chesterfield are riding a club resurgence and a swell-in-attendances following the opening of their new ground, B2net Stadium{photos, here; en.wikipedia.org page, here}.

In September, 2009, Port Vale manager Mickey Adams placed the entire squad on the transfer list, after he judged the team to be basically not trying hard enough {here is an article from the Guardian.co.ik, by Louise Taylor, from 29 September, 2009, 'Micky Adams is playing a dangerous game at Port Vale'}. This move had followed a poor 2008-09 season, when Vale finished 18th, and that had followed relegation in 2007-08. So Adams in one stroke called the entire squad out on their professionalism and lit a fire under them. Port Vale then finished eight places higher and with 20 more points than the season before. So it can be judged that Adams' move worked, seeing as how there actually was little in the way of an injection of talent in the squad throughout last season, because Vale are one of the many clubs these days that is operating on a shoestring budget (even if their gates are higher than many of their fellow fourth division clubs...Port Vale averaged 5,080 per game last season, this in a league where the median average attendance in 09/10 was around 3,600).

I hope Port Vale keep up the good form, and decent crowds continue to show at Vale Park, like the 8,443 who attended the 28th September match versus high-flying nearby rivals from 50 km. to the west, Shrewsbury Town (which Vale won 1-0, with a 74th minute goal by the veteran MF Gary Roberts). Because what Port Vale need, apart from consistency, is for more people from the Six Towns that make up the Potteries to start showing up at Vale Park, a ground that holds 18,947 {Vale Park page at port-vale.co.uk, here}`; FootballGroundsGuide.com page, here} and is frankly too large for a club the size of Port Vale. Port Vale are just like Notts County in that they are also the second biggest club in a mid sized English Midlands city, and just like Notts County, Port Vale had a taste of success around 15-20 years back. But of course Vale only made it to the 2nd Level before their recent, decade-long slide, and are in fact the club which has played the longest number of seasons in the second tier without ever having made it to the top flight...Port Vale have played 41 seasons in the second division, yet have never won promotion to the first division. And also just like Notts County, when Port Vale in the past decided it was time to expand their ground, it was an over-expansion. Both significantly enlarged the capacities of their grounds to keep up with the town rivals (Port Vale's being Stoke City...{see this: 'The Potteries Derby', from en.wikipedia.org}; Notts County's being Nottingham Forest). These big expansions were undertaken in spite of the fact that attendance averages were decidedly far smaller than the planned expansion. Unlike Notts County, this occurred with Port Vale in 1949-1950 (while Notts County over-expanded following their last, single season in the top tier in 1991-92). Vale Park opened in 1950 with a 40,000 capacity (!). 40,000 capacity was, back then, and is, now, a ridiculous size for a mid-table, 3rd division football club, even in 1950 , which was during the Post-War era that saw dramatic attendance increases throughout the country [many clubs had their all-time average attendance high in the Post-War years around 1946-47 to 1949-50 or so, including Stoke City, who drew 31,500 per game in 1947-48]. This specter of a club that over-expanded and then languished is still apparent in Burslem, because Port Vale currently play in a ground with one stand uncompleted – the Lorne Street Stand, which was demolished in 1998, and only partially rebuilt, due to lack of funds. The rub is that the club built the posh bits of the Lorne Street Stand, namely, the Executive and Corporate boxes, but left a gaping blank concrete space below, with steps, but no seats.
port-vale_vale-park_lorne-street-stand_tims92.gif
At the time, Port Vale were riding high, coming off a plus-60-year best league finish, at 8th place in 1996-97 in the old Second Division, and a pre-popstar-fame Robbie Williams was probably having the time of his life supporting the Valiants. But Port Vale were drawing only around 8,000-9,000 per game back then (with a modern-day turnstile peak of 9,214 per game in 1994-95), in what turned out to be a last, 6-season spell in the second division. One can’t help but think this partially unfinished, yet still half-empty ground sets the tone for new arrivals to Vale Park, be they players or first-time-spectators. Because what does it say about the viability of a club that has left a gaping empty space in their ground for a dozen years? And that for decades has played to crowds that are less than 50% capacity ?
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Thanks to Tims 92 site [English football stadium photos, League and Non-League]…Saturday, 17th January, 2009, Vale Park, Port Vale 1-1 Shrewsbury Town.
Thanks to The Groundhog.WordPress.com/visit to Port Vale (May 26,2007), here.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, 2010-11 Football League 2
Thanks to www.mikeavery.co.uk , for attendance figures, 2009-10 Attendance all teams high to low.

May 17, 2010

League Two, 2009-10 season. The 3 promoted clubs and the 4 play-off clubs.

england_league-two-2009-10-may.gif


League Two Play-Off fixtures and results, England – League Two (Soccerway.com).

Notts County FC, empowered by the support shown by their re-awakened fan base, took the title. Lee Hughes scored 33 goals for the Magpies, and the club overcame a mid-season lull to finish strong and on top. Notts County had their highest average attendance in 16 years. The club drew 7,353 per game this season, a 65 percent increase from 08/09, when they drew 4,446 per game and finished in 19th place. This is a club that had finished in 21st place twice, 19th place twice and in 13th place in the last 5 seasons. Their new, mysterious foreign ownership had promised to invest heavily at the start of this season, and several top calibre players (for the fouth division, anyway), including goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, joined the squad (with celebrity executive Sven-Göran Erikson on board as well). But the Qatar-based owners pulled out in February, and Notts County were almost wound up. Sven is gone now too, and the club’s financial worries are still not over, but the bottom line is this…all the early season hype and media glare got the fans back into Meadow Lane, and now that the club has won promotion, the crowds should continue to swell. But the thing is, Notts County has never come close to filling their 19,500-seat ground on a regular basis.

The last, single, season Notts County were in the the top flight was in the last season of the old First Division (in 1991-92, under manager Neil Warnock). That season the Magpies drew 11,133 per game and were relegated. It was during that season, in January 1992, that the club made plans to rebuild three sides of Meadow Lane to make it the near-20,000 seat stadium it is today. But relegation and poor play in the following seasons saw average gates diminish as re-building and expansion continued. The average gate had dwindled to the 8,000-range for the next two seasons in the second tier, and by 1994-95, in the same season that the final re-building phase was completed, Notts County were relegated to the third tier (into the old Division Two). With their big new ground the Magpies then went through a 14 season period where they drew above 6,000 just once, drawing 6,154 per game in 2002-03.

Notts County’s second-most-recent top flight spell had been three seasons in the First Division in the 1980s, with the club drawing 11,613; 10,265; and 9,463 per game from 1981 to 1984. So why did a club, which had never pulled in more than 11,000 per game in the modern era, build a stadium that has an almost 20,000 capacity? My guess is jealousy of their (very) nearby rivals, Nottingham Forest. The two clubs have grounds the closest together of any clubs in England, separated by only 275 meters (300 yards) [you can see that in the photo on the far right in the Notts County section on the map]. When Nottingham Forest were in their heyday, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and winning trophies as recently as the 1989 and 1990 League Cup (and making a 1991 FA Cup finals appearance), it must have irritated the board at Notts County to see Nottingham Forest so big and (relatively) successful.
So when Notts County got that taste of the promised land (ie, first division football), in 1991-92, they re-built Meadow Lane too big for their fan base, believing they could increase their support as they consolidated their position in the top flight. The exact opposite happened. They were relegated that season and have never had an average attendance of higher than 10,000 per game since. I’m not saying Notts County are akin to a club like Darlington FC, in building an empty white elephant of a stadium that will never be filled on a regular basis, but over a decade of playing to 25% capacity or less cannot have been good for Notts County or their supporters.
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Second place and automatic promotion goes to AFC Bournemouth. The Cherries also saw an increase at the turnstiles, though more modest…Bournemouth drew 5,720 per game (up 16% from 08.09). Brett Pitman scored 28 goals for Bournemouth this season. Two years on from their finanancial meltown and administration, Bournemouth are a club on the rise. It could be argued that this is a club that definitely belongs in the third tier and perhaps ever the second tier, if one were to go by city population, because Bournemouth is in the top 30 largest cities in England, List of towns and cities in England by population [en.wikipedia.org].
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Third place and automatic promotion goes to the longest-running non-promoted club in the League, Rochdale AFC. 36 seasons in the fourth division, and finally a promotion. Well done to irrepressible manager Keith Hill, their goal-scoring tandem of Chris O’Grady (22 goals) and Chris Dagnall (20 goals), and the league’s stand-out defender, the young and promising Rochdale-born Craig Dawson, who has eschewed signing with a bigger club for next season, opting instead to continue contributing to the success of his hometown club.
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The League Two 2009-120 Play-Off features one down-on-their-luck-but-finding-revitalization club, Rotherham United; and three small clubs that five years ago were not even in the League…Morecambe, Aldershot Town, and Dagenham & Redbridge.
In the first legs… Rotherham snatched a late goal at Aldershot, when former Rochdale striker Adam LeFondre stole a back pass and netted. Second leg is Wednesday, 19th May in at The don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, in East London, Dagenham demolished Morecambe 6-0, with a double-brace from Joshua Scott and a brace from Paul Benson (who had scored 18 goals this season). Second leg is up in Lancashire at Morecambe’s Christie Patk on Thursday, 20th May.
League Two fixtures, here, (news.bbc.co.uk).
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Morecambe will say goodbye to Christie Road, as they are set to move into their new stadium in August. From FC Business.co.uk, “Morecambe’s new 12 million-pound stadium to be called ‘Globe Arena’ [16 Feb., 2010]. www.morecambestadium.co.uk, Globe Arena, Morecambe FC. There is a new Morecambe logo as well, New Morecambe crest- what do you think? (www.thevisitor.co.uk)
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Thanks to BBC/Nottingham, Aerial photographs of Nottingham. Thanks to Bing.com/maps, Meadow Lane [Birds-Eye view]. Thanks to Jazza5 and Berndt Jatzwauk at en.wikipedia.org, Meadow Lane.

Thanks to SoccerVoice.com, Soccer Voice.com/Ground Guide, League 2. Thanks to AFC Bournemouth-Mad.co.uk, Dean Court.

Thanks to Shanandphil at Flickr.com, shanandphil’s photostream @ flickr.com; Rochdale FC [exterior]. Thanks to mikeserieys at Flickr.com, Rochdale Promotion 17/4/2010 (Set)/ My favorite picture of the day [part of mikeserieys' photostream @ flickr.com].

Thanks to campdavemorecambe at Flickr.com, Christie Park, Morecambe FC; campdavemorecambe’s photostream @ flickr.com. Thanks to The Groundhog.co.uk, Rotherham (DVS) [Don Valley Stadium]. Thanks to TeamTalk.com, Rotherham United.

Thanks to Aldershot FA.com, Alderhot Divisional Football Association. Thanks to FourFoutTwo.com/blogs, [scroll 2/3 down page] ‘The Recreation Ground: They don’t make ‘em like this anymore’ [part of 03/09/08 entry on Andy Mitten's blog].

Thanks to Gouldy99 at Flickr.com, Gouldy99′s photostream @ flickr.com. Thanks to Stadiums.Football.co.uk, League 2 Stadiums. Thanks to Away Grounds.com, Away ground- UK Football Ground Guide.
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Thanks to E-F-S site, for attendance figures, Attendance Figures, European Football Statisrics.co.uk.
Thanks to Aerofilms Football Grounds- Then and Now, from Ian Allen Publishing, Aerofilms Football Grounds from the Air: Then and Now (Paperback) [BookDepository.com].

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