billsportsmaps.com

July 11, 2018

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Harrogate Town AFC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    •Havant & Waterlooville FC.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    •Braintree Town .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

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

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

July 3, 2017

2017-18 [Non-League] National League (aka the Conference) [5th division England], map with 16/17-crowds-&-finishes chart./+ features on the 4 promoted clubs (AFC Fylde, FC Halifax Town, Maidenhead United, Ebbsfleet United).

Filed under: 2017-18 English football,Eng-5th level,Eng. Non-League — admin @ 1:09 pm

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2017-18 [Non-League] National League (aka the Conference) [5th division England], map with 16/17-crowds-&-finishes chart



By Bill Turianski on 3 July 2017; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-2017–18 National League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Official site…thenationalleague.org.uk.
-Table, fixtures, results, attendance, stats…SUMMARY – National League [2017-18] (us.soccerway.com).
-5th division/National League page at BBC.com…bbc.com/sport/football/national-league.

-Hartlepool United’s new crest(s): 17/18 white home badge, twitter.com/BLKSportUK;
template badges, twitter.com/Official_HUFC.

-Maidstone United FC’s Gallagher Stadium is getting bigger with a £400k investment (kentlive.news).

-Preview…Michael Triffitt’s National League 2017/18 Preview (by Michael Victor on 25 May 2017 at sports.betvictor.com).

2016-17 brief re-cap…
Promoted…Lincoln City won the 2016-17 National League, winning automatic promotion back to the Football League, after 6 seasons stuck in Non-League. Forest Green Rovers won promotion to the Football League for their first time ever, after they defeated Tranmere Rovers 3-1 at Wembley to win the 2017 National League play-off final.

Now relegated down to Non-League/5th division/National League are…Leyton Orient and Hartlepool United. Both will be playing in Non-League football for the first time in many decades, with Leyton Orient in Non-League football for the first time since 1905; and Hartlepool Utd in Non-League football for the first time since 1921…

Promoted up from the 6th division and into the National League/5th division are the four clubs profiled below…

    Clubs promoted to National League for 2017-18, from National League North (2 teams) & promoted from National League South (2 teams)…
    (promoted from National League North: AFC Fylde & FC Halifax Town / promoted from National League South: Maidenhead United & Ebbsfleet United)
    AFC Fylde.

(Est. 1988, as Kirkham & Wesham FC, following a merger of Kirkham Town FC and Wesham FC; name changed to AFC Fylde in 2008.) Location: Wesham (in the Borough of Fylde), Lancashire (population: around 3,500/2011 figure). Wesham, Lancashire is located, by road, 7 miles (11 km) SE of Blackpool. Wesham is located, by road, 49 miles (79 km) N of Liverpool. Colours: White jerseys and pants, Blue trim. Nickname: the Coasters. Manager: Dave Challinor (age 41).

-From The Set Pieces.com, The Rise and Rise of AFC Fylde (by David Cowlishaw on 30 Jan. 2017 at thesetpieces.com).

AFC Fylde are from western Lancashire, just south-east of Blackpool, in an area known as the Fylde. Their opulent new stadium is in the very small town of Wesham (population of just 3,500 or so). AFC Fylde are owned by Lancashire-based businessman David Haythornthwaite, who made his considerable fortune in the animal feed business {see this interview, from the Lancashire Post, from 2015}. Haythornthwaite had twice tried to buy Blackpool FC, first in the late 1990s, and later around 2006. But he then decided to just take over a small Non-League club nearby: the then 10th-level side Kirkham & Wesham FC. Haythornthwaite took over the club in 2007, when Kirkham and Wesham were in the North West Counties League. The following year [2008], he changed the club’s name to AFC Fylde, and stated his intention for the club to achieve Football League status by 2022 – a proclamation the club have been wearing ever since, on the sleeves of their home jerseys {see photo below, of their 2008-09 jersey, as well as their 2016-17 jerseys, with the “2022” shoulder-patch}. Since 2007-08, AFC Fylde have won 5 promotions, and now draw 1.9 K per game. And it is starting to look like their 2022 target for promotion to the Football League will be attained ahead of schedule. In 2017-18, AFC Fylde won the league and the sole automatic promotion, beating out Kidderminster by 8 points. Led by Chester-born manager Dave Challinor (age 41), Fylde finished with a plus-46 goal difference, a number that was bulked up by the league’s top scorer, the local-born Tommy Rowe (age 27, born in nearby Blackpool), who netted an astounding 48 goals in 42 league appearances {see photo and caption below}.

AFC Fylde have benefited from the fan unrest at Blackpool FC (which is about 13 km, or 8 miles, up the road). There, the ownership (the Oystons) have so polarized Tangerines supporters, that the Blackpool average gate has plummeted over twelve thousand per game in 6 seasons (from 15.7 K in 2010-11, to 3.4 K in 2016-17). And it looks like AFC Fylde have picked up some of those disaffected Blackpool supporters. But nevertheless, AFC Fylde did not really start building a sizable fanbase until their swank new stadium opened. Their third-most recent promotion (in 2011-12, going up from the 8th level to the 7th level), saw only a tiny attendance increase of a couple dozen or so (from 322 to 345 per game). Their second-most-recent promotion did see a decent crowd-size-increase (a 200-odd-increase, going from 318 per game in 2013-14, to 531 per game when they went up to the National League North in 2014-15). But the minute Mill Farm opened [in August 2016], AFC Fylde saw crowds, for the first time, well above one thousand-per-game (they drew 1.9 K in 2016-17). (Below, in the illustration, there is a small chart showing AFC Fylde’s finishes-and-crowd-sizes for the past 6 seasons.) Now that they are in the 5th division, I think AFC Fylde’s crowds will certainly increase some more. But I think Fylde will soon end up hitting a ceiling with respect to their crowd-size growth.

A few years ago, we saw another tiny western Lancashire club, with a Sugar-daddy owner (Fleetwood Town), rise the ranks and build a thousands-strong fanbase. But even though the now-3rd-division-side Fleetwood Town continue to excel on the pitch (with a 4th place/playoffs-qualifying season in 2016-17), their crowd-size has plateaued at about 3.2-K-per-game. Actually, despite a very solid season, Fleetwood’s attendance actually dipped slightly in 2016-17, from 3.3 to 3.2 K. I think that this is what very well might happen with AFC Fylde. They almost certainly will get into the Football League, and probably before their 2022 target. But then I think they’ll stop being able to increase their crowd-size much more than to 3 K or 4 K or maybe 5 K per game. There is simply an overwhelming glut of Football-League/Premier-League-cailbre clubs in this northwestern corner of England, and there is, perhaps, not enough willing customers to fuel the continued rise of once small clubs like Fleetwood and Fylde. But I could be wrong. The one thing that Fylde has over Fleetwood is a more central location (Fleetwood is on a dead-end spit of land north of Blackpool, while Fylde [in Wesham] is situated more inland, right between Blackpool and Preston. That means Fylde, in Wesham, is smack between two 100-thousand-plus cities, each less than 15 minutes away by road {see that on a map, here}. At the following link there are photos of that new venue in Wesham, Fylde, Lancashire……{Gallery: Mill Farm Sports Village / AFC Fylde} (fwgroup.co.uk)}.
afc-fylde_mill-farm_dave-challinor_danny-rowe_f_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Aerial shot of Mill Farm and surrounding countryside, photo by Mill Farm Sports Village at mfsv.co.uk. Mill Farm, aerial shot by AFC Fylde at afcfylde.co.uk/mill-farm. Interior/match-day shot of Mill Farm from touch-line, photo by fwpgroup.co.uk/job/mill-farm-sports-village-afc-fylde. Football-League-by-2022 patch on jersey [since 2007], photo unattributed at timetoast.com/timelines/the-history-of-afc-fyldes-2022-campaign; 2022. 2016-17 AFC Fylde Jerseys, photos by afcfylde.co.uk/official-online-store/replica-kits. Dave Challinor, photo from afcfylde.co.uk. Danny Rowe, photo from afcfylde.co.uk/rowey-eyes-records.

    FC Halifax Town.

(Est. 2008/Phoenix-club of Halifax Town AFC [1911-2008].) Location: Halifax, West Yorkshire (population: around 90,000 /2015 estimate). Halifax is located, by road, 14 miles (22 km) W of Leeds. Halifax is located, by road, 205 miles (331 km) N of London. Colours: Blue (jerseys and pants) with white trim. Nickname: the Shaymen. Manager: Billy Heath.

From the Yorkshire Post, FC Halifax Town 2 Chorley 1 (AET) – Garner’s strike extra special as Shaymen earn return at first attempt (by Leon Wobschall on 13 May 2017 at yorkshirepost.co.uk/sport/football).

Halifax is, by road, 22 miles west of Leeds, in West Yorkshire. FC Halifax Town play at the Shay Stadium (opened 1921; capacity 14,000). FC Halifax Town share the ground with 2nd-division rugby league side Halifax Town RLFC (see caption in illustration below). The Halifax Town rugby league team has played at the Shay for 20 years now [since 1998], while the Halifax Town association football club has played at the ground since they were formed as a Phoenix-club in 2008.

FC Halifax Town are the Phoenix-club of Halifax Town AFC (1921-2008), who were dissolved in 2008 due to massive debts (with over £800,000 owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). Halifax Town had played in the Football League from 1921 to 1993, and from 1998 to 2002 (69 seasons in the League, with 40 seasons in the 3rd division and 29 seasons in the 4th division). The old club’s best finish was in 3rd place in the Third Division in 1970-71. Halifax Town were drawing in the 5-K-range back then in the late-60s/early-70s {historical attendance at european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn}. And the old Halifax Town drew as high as 6.9 K in the late 1940s. The original club’s peak-attendance in modern times was in 1998-99, at 3.0 K per game (which was the season after they had won promotion back to the Football League). But the original Halifax Town folded a decade later, in 2008.

A new club to take its place was formed that same year (2008), and the new FC Halifax Town were assigned to the 8th level, in the Northern Premier League Division One North. Since then, the new club has won 4 promotions and suffered one relegation (in 2016). And after one season back in the 6th tier, and under former North Ferriby United manager Billy Heath (age 46), FC Halifax Town have now returned to the 5th division, after winning the 2017 National League North play-offs. The Shaymen won promotion with a 2-1 aet victory over Lancashire side Chorley, in front of a 6th-division attendance record of 7,920 at The Shay {see photos below}.

Since re-forming, Halifax has averaged between 1.1 K [in their first season, in the 8th division] to 1.8 K [last season, in the 6th division]. The Shay is owned by the local authority in this part of West Yorkshire, the Calderdale Metropolitan Council. The Shay has been in a constant state of redevelopment since 2008 {the ongoing development of which you can see in the background of the last photo below}. The Shay was built into the side of a somewhat steep hill, a quarter-mile south of the town centre. The Shay currently features 4 largish roofed stands, two of which were built into the side of the hill. It is frankly too large for Non-League, but it must be pointed out again that Halifax just recorded the largest-ever crowd in the 6th tier, when they won that play-off final in May 2017. Granted, one needs to factor in the short travel-distance to that match for the traveling Chorley supporters (distance between Chorley and Halifax is about 49 miles by road). But still, that 7.9 K figure points to the fact that this Non-League club from West Yorkshire definitely has the potential to draw much higher than the 1.8 K they drew in 2016-17. {Here is a video…2017 National League North play-off final at Halifax, W Yorkshire, video uploaded by FC Halifax Town at We’re On Our Way ! Behind The Scenes-Play-Off Special vs Chorley (12:31 video at youtube.com).}
fc-halifax-town_promoted-2017_the-shay_scott-garner_billy-heath_k_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Shot of Halifax (from Beacon Hill), photo by Mr Barndoor at File:Halifax view from Beacon Hill.jpg (commons.wikimedia.org). The Shay (rugby-league-configuration), photo unattributed a totalrl.com jpg. The Shay (w/ large crowd for football match), photo by Pliny Harris at onefootballforum.co.uk/threads/the-shay-halifax-town-ground-guide. Screenshot of crowd at 2017 NL-N play-off final, from video uploaded by FC Halifax Town at We’re On Our Way ! Behind The Scenes-Play-Off Special vs Chorley [12:31 video at youtube.com]. Scott Garner scores winner in extra time v Chorley (National League North 2017 play-off final), photo by Tony Johnson at yorkshirepost.co.uk. Billy Heath, photo from yorkshirepost.co.uk/football. Halifax Town fans’ pitch invasion following promotion (play-off win), screenshot from video uploaded by twitter.com/ThomasFeaheny.

    Maidenhead United FC.

(Est. 1870.) Location: Maidenhead, Berkshire (population: around 73,000 /2011 figure). Maidenhead is located, by road, 30 miles (47 km) W of central London. Colours: Black-and-White [vertical stripes]. Nickname: the Magpies. Manager: Alan Devonshire (age 61).

Maidenhead United are from Berkshire, on the River Thames, located, by road, 7 miles north-west of Windsor Castle, and 30 miles west of central London. They play at York Road, and have done so since their second year of existence, all the way back in 1871 (146 years ago). Maidenhead’s York Road has now been officially acknowledged as the “oldest senior football ground continuously used by the same club” {see this, Country’s ‘oldest’ football ground in Maidenhead gets plaque (bbc.com, from Oct. 2012)}. You can see a photo of the English Heritage blue-plaque displayed at Maidenhead’s York Road, in the illustration below.

Manager of Maidenhead United is Alan Devonshire (age 61), who was a midfielder at West Ham United (with 370 league appearances and 30 goals, from 1976 to 1990). In his second spell as Maidenhead manager, Devonshire has just led the club to to their highest level, with automatic promotion, to the 5th division, as the 2016-17 National League South champions. Maidenhead United were the leaders of the National League South for most of the 2016-17 season, but almost lost that lead to Ebbsfleet United down the stretch. Ebbsfleet had beaten beat Maidenhead 1-2 in front of 3.3 K at York Road in Maidenhead, in the penultimate match. But, the following week, thanks to a final-match-fixture versus an already-relegated Margate, Maidenhead won 0-4 and sealed promotion to the National League automatically.

In the process, Maidenhead saw their crowd-size more than double – from 482 per game in 2015-16, to 1,012 per game in 2016-17. Further below, you can see a photo of their manager, Devonshire, as well as a photo-and-caption of the 2016-17 National League South top scorer, Dave Tarpey, who ended up with an incredible 1.07-goals-per-game work-rate (44 goals in 41 league matches). The photo of Tarpey is of him celebrating with teammates and fans, after a spectacular goal in December 2016. Here is a video of Tarpey scoring that sweet goal…{Maidenhead United’s Dave Tarpey scores wondergoal (0:22 video uploaded by Proper Sport at youtube.com)}.
maidenhead-utd_york-road_alan-devonshire_dave-tarpey_f_.gif
Photo and image credits above –
Maidenhead Bridge, photo by Tom Bastin at File:Maidenhead Bridge (1).jpg (commons.wikimedia.org). Action-shot [2011] of match at York Road, photo by Paul Paxford at flickr.com/paxie via pitchinvasion.net/a-year-in-non-league-football-photos [Jan. 2012]. Photo of UK historical plaque, by ChrisTheDude at File:YorkRoadplaque.jpg (en.wikipedia.org). Bell Street End, photo by Antti’s Football Scarves at saturday3.com/[york_road_maidenhead_united_18.08.2012]. Railway Stand (opened 2014), photo by Maidenhead United FC at footballgroundguide.com/leagues/conference/conference-south/maidenhead-united-york-road. Action-shot [April 2017], photo by Marc Keinch at pitchero.com/clubs/maidenheadunited/photos/[14 Apr. 2017 Maidenhead Utd 2-0 Concord Rangers]. Alan Devonshire, photo by PA at dailymail.co.uk/football. David Tarpey, photo unattributed at twitter.com/toptargets.

    Ebbsfleet United FC.

(Est. 1946 (as Gravesend & Northfleet FC). Northfleet, Kent (population: around 29,000/2011 figure). Northfleet is 25 miles (40 km) E of central London. Colours: Red shirts and White pants. Nickname: the Fleet. Manager: Daryl McMahon (age 33; born in Dublin, Ireland).

-From Kent Online.co.uk, Ebbsfleet United 2 Chelmsford City 1 National League South play-off final match report (by Steve Tervet on 13 May 2017 at kentonline.co.uk).
-Also from Kent Online.co.uk, Ebbsfleet United unveil further plans for Stonebridge Road as owners prepare for a Football League future (by Tom Acres on 14 March 2017 at kentonline.co.uk).

Ebbsfleet United are from Northfleet in northwestern Kent, which is on the south side of the Thames Estuary. Northfleet is located 25 miles east of central London, and just east of Dartford, Kent and the busy Dartford bridge/tunnel crossing there. This part of Kent is part of the High Speed 1 rail link to the Channel Tunnel and to Europe (at the Ebbsfleet International Railway Station/ see photos below).

This season [2017-18] will be Ebbsfleet’s 14th season in the 5th division. Previously Ebbsfleet had spent 13 seasons in the 5th division in three separate spells (1979-82 [the first 3 seasons of the 5th division], 2002-10 [an 8-season spell], and 2012-14 [a 2-season-spell]). They were relegated to the Conference South (now called the National League South) in April 2013. That point in time (early 2013) was right when the failed club-ownership venture known as MyFootballClub.com was winding down. Excerpt from Wikipedia…“Between 2008 and 2013, the club was owned by the web-based venture MyFootballClub, whose members voted on player transfers, budgets and ticket prices among other things instead of those decisions being made exclusively by the club’s management and staff as at most other clubs.” {excerpt from Ebbsfleet United F.C.}

Ebbsfleet United was established in 1946, from a merger between Gravesend United (est. 1893) and Northfleet United (est. 1890). They are known as the Fleet and wear red jerseys with white pants and trim. They play at Stonebridge Road, which abuts heavy industry (a shipping terminal and a metal refinery are nearby). Four years ago in 2013, following the end of the aforementioned web-based ownership experiment, Ebbsfleet United were bought by Kuwaiti investors fronted by new owner Dr Abdulla Al-Humaidi (who is now Chairman of the club).

Now, with the new (and deep-pocketed) ownership, Ebbsfleet’s Stonebridge Road is currently under a comprehensive renovation and expansion, and all 4 sides of the ground are planned to be re-built. The first rebuilt stand, the new Main Stand (see it below in mid-construction), is slated for an opening at the start of the 2017-18 season, with the other 3 sides all set for similar refurbishment. The region is also seeing a regeneration, {see this: Green light for major Ebbsfleet redevelopment scheme (by Muhammad Aldalou on 22 May 2017 at insidermedia.com)}.

Ebbsfleet just missed out on promotion two seasons ago, losing the 2016 National League South play-off final to fellow Kent side Maidstone United. But in 2016-17, after narrowly missing out on automatic promotion, the 2nd-place-finishing Ebbsfleet went the extra step and won promotion in the play-offs, with a 2-1 win over Chelmsford City, on 13th May 2017. Before a solid 3.1-K-crowd at Stonebridge Road, in the 75th minute, Ebbsfleet MF Darren McQueen took an Andy Drury volleyed cross, and bundled the ball into the net, for the promotion-winning goal (see photos below).

Ebbsfleet had been drawing in the 1.1-K-range the last time they were competitive at this level (in 2011-12, when they finished in 14th place in the 5th division). The season they were last relegated (2012-13), they drew .8 K. Then they drew .9 K in the 6th division in both 2013-14 and in 2014-15, then drew a decent 1.2 K in 2015-16, and then Ebbsfleet increased their crowd-size a bit more to 1.3 K last season. Now, back in the 5th tier for 2017-18, and owing to the revitalisation of their ground, the Fleet will probably see their average attendance continue to incrementally rise, maybe to near 1.5 K (or maybe even higher, if they start the season well). I can’t confirm it, owing to the hard-to-find status of Non-League attendance figures from the 1979-to-2010 era, but if Ebbsfleet United do draw above 1.5 K this season, it will probably be their best-ever average attendance.
ebbsfleet-utd_promoted-2017_stonebridge-road_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Northfleet/Gravesend shoreline at Thames Estuary, photo by Clem Rutter at File:NorthfleetThames8810.JPG (commons.wikimedia.org). Ebbsfleet International Railway Station, photo by eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/stations/ebbsfleet-international. Train, photo by mattbuck at File:Ebbsfleet International railway station MMB 08 395004.jpg. Exterior of Stonebridge Road ground, photo by Clem Rutter at File:NorthfleetStadium8833.JPG (commons.wikimedia.org). New Main Stand [photo from early 2017], photo by Alan Woods at footballgroundguide.com/ebbsfleet-united-stonebridge-road. Interior shot of round [from 2014], photo by Joseph Gibbons at gibbos92.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/ebbsfleet-united-fc-stonebridge-road. Screenshots of 2nd goal in final (Darren McQueen from an assist by Andy Drury, images from Highlights – Ebbsfleet United vs Chelmsford City – Play-Off Final (video uploaded by Clarets TV at youtube.com). Darren McQueen winning goal, photo from TSG Photoshelter at tgsphoto.photoshelter.com/gallery/Ebbsfleet-United-vs-Chelmsford-City-13-05-17. Ebbsfleet captain Danny Kedwell and manager Daryl McMahon lift trophy, photo by Andy Payton at kentonline.co.uk.
___

-Thanks to the contributors at 2016–17 National League (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to Nilfanion…Blank map of UK historic counties, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:United Kingdom police areas map.svg (commons.wikimedia.org). Blank relief map of Greater London, by Nilfanion (using UK Ordnance Survey data), at File:Greater London UK relief location map.jpg.
-Thanks to Soccerway for upper-division-Non-League attendance figures, uk.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national.

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).

2016-17_national-league_aka-conference_map_w-2016-crowds_post_b_.gif
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; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
-2016–17 National League [England 5th division football] (en.wikipedia.org).
-5th division/National League page at BBC.com…bbc.com/sport/football/national-league.
-NATIONAL LEAGUE [Summary] (soccerway.com).
-Club colours…thenationalleague.org.uk/clubcolours.

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 bbc.co.uk/sport).

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 (thenonleaguefootballpaper.com).

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.
solihull-moors_damson-park_crests_b_.gif
Photo credits above – Shots of main stand, 1st photo by solihullmoors.com.
2nd photo with main stand filled, photo by richardl1969 at stadiumsandcities.wordpress.com. Photo of Moors fans, photo by solihullmoorsfc.co.uk/news/[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 theguardian.com/football).

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 hulldailymail.co.uk).
north-ferriby-utd_grange-lane_eon-visual-media-stadium_east-riding-of-yorkshire_c_.gi
Photo credits above –
footballgroundguide.com. unattributed at footballtripper.com. Screenshot of promotion-winning-goal-celebration, from video uploaded by North Ferriby at youtube.com. North Ferriby squad celebrates their promotion, photo by hulldailymail.co.uk.

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 (bbc.co.uk/football).}

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.
sutton-united_gander-green-lane_c_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Aerial shot of Gander Greeen Lane, photo by suttonunited.net/info_stadium. View of Main Stand at Gander Green, photo unattributed at nescot.ac.uk/news. Standing terrace at Gander Green lane, photo by BeautifulGame15 at backpagefootball.com/400-sutton-united-fc-vs-dartford-fc-part-two. 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 youtube.com.

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 kentonline.co.uk).

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 (en.wikipedia.org)}.
maidstone-utd_gallagher-stadium_kent_promoted-to-5th-division-for-2016-17_i_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Aerial shot of stadium, photo by Gallagher Group at gallagher-group.co.uk/case-studies/maidstone-united-fcs-new-stadium. Interior shot from terrace behind goal, photo by Steve McCaskill at pixelsport.co.uk/2012/10/23/non-league-day-maidstone-united-5-0-dulwich-hamlet. Shot of a full-capacity main stand during a Maidstone game, photo by kentnews.co.uk/sport. Close-up shot of 3G pitch with main stand in background, photo by maidstoneunited.co.uk. Shot of captain Worgan lifting trophy with squad celebrating promotion, photo by Gary Browne at kentonline.co.uk.

___
-Thanks to the contributors at 2016–17 National League (en.wikipedia.org).
-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, uk.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national.
-Thanks to the excellent site known as Non-League Matters, for lower-division Non-League attendance figures, nonleaguematters.co.uk.

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

April 20, 2013

England and Wales: Conference National (aka Blue Square Bet Premier League) 2012-13 Location-map with final attendance figures for top 5 finishers, and promoted & relegated clubs listed / Plus photos of the 5 clubs’ grounds & their managers, and their League histories.

conference-national_april-2013_.gif
England & Wales: Conference National (aka Blue Square Bet Premier League) 2012-13 Location-map with final attendance figures for top 5 finishers



2013 Conference National PLAY-OFFS. [All times Greenwich Mean Time.]
SEMI-FINALS:
Tuesday 23rd April 2013, 19:45
Wrexham v Kidderminster.

Wednesday 24th April 2013, 19:45
Grimsby v Newport.

Sunday 28th April 2013, 13:30
Kidderminster v Wrexham.

Sunday 28th April 2013, 16:30
Newport v Grimsby.

PROMOTION FINAL:
Sunday 5th May 2013, 15:00 pm, at Wembley Stadium,
Newport County v. Wrexham in the Play-offs Final – meaning their will be a Welsh team joining the Football League, League Two next season…

From Two Hundred Percent site, from 29 April 2013, by Ian King, ‘Wrexham & Newport County: Salutary Tales Of Struggle & Redemption‘ (twohundredpercent.net).

From The Guardian, from 5 May 2013, by Stuart James, ‘Newport County victory over Wrexham puts them back into Football League‘ (guardian.co.uk/football).

Fixtures, (bbc.co.uk/sport/football/conference/fixtures).

Note on relegated clubs listed in the small chart section on the right-hand side of the map page – The reason why there is a question mark next to just-relegated AFC Telford United is because AFC Telford United will most likely be one of 3 ex-Conference-National clubs now placed in Conference North, with a re-shuffling of current Conference North clubs resulting in either Bishop’s Stortford or Gloucester City being placed (or re-placed, in Stortford’s case) into Conference South for the 2013-14 season. This is all, of course, pending which 6th Level and 7th Level clubs, exactly, find themselves in Conference North/Conference South (ie, in the 6th Level) in the following few weeks.

From bbc.co.uk/football, from 20 April 2012, ‘Mansfield 1-0 Wrexham‘.

    Champions of the 2012-13 Conference National,and returning to the Football League after 5 seasons in Non-League football, Mansfield Town FC.

Mansfield Town. Est. 1897 as Mansfield Wesleyans/ changed name to Mansfield Town FC in 1910. The Stags.
Field Mill [aka One Call Stadium], Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Opened circa 1861. Mansfield Town began playing at Field Mill in 1919-20. The first stand was built in 1922. The stadium was last renovated in 1999 to 2001. The provisional capacity is 7,574 (with one of the main stands temporarily closed for safety reasons).
Mansfield Town average attendance: 2,764 per game. (From 2012-13 home league matches in Conference National/5th Level).

mansfield-town_field-mill_paul-cox_matt-green_e.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Mansfield Town F.C.‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
bing.com/maps.
100groundsclub.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-matchday-241-field-mill.html.
crosbyherald.co.uk.
PA at bbc.co.uk/football.
Unattributed at thisisnottingham.co.uk

    Below: the 4 play-off clubs (#2 v. #5; #3 v. #4 in the 1st Round of the 2013 Conference National Play-offs)…

#2, Kidderminster Harriers.
kiddermisnster-harriers_aggborough_steve-burr_h.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Kidderminster Harriers F.C.‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
Screenshot of satellite view of Aggborough from bing.com/maps.
harriers.co.uk.
harriers.co.uk.

#3, Newport County AFC.
newport-county-afc_rodney-parade_justin-edinburgh_k.gif
Photo and Image credits above –
Newport County A.F.C.‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
Pwimageglow at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:West_Stand,_Rodney_Parade,_Newport.jpg.
Unattributed at thefa.com.
Photo from Play-offs final at Wembley by Andrew Couldridge at thetimes.co.uk/

#4, Grimsby Town FC.
grimsby-town_blundell-park_rob-scott_paul-hurst_joint-managers_e.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Grimsby Town F.C.‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
insidefutbol.com.
wrexhamafc.co.uk.
mtfc.co.uk.
EMarketing.co.uk via facebook.com/OfficialGrimsbyTown.

#5, Wrexham FC.
wrexham_the-racecourse-ground_andy-morrell_e.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Wrexham F.C.‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
uk.eurosport.yahoo.com.
Huw Evans/PA via bbc.co.uk/football.

___
Thanks to this group of sites for clubs’ League histories (Footy-mad.co.uk sites, such as http://www.wrexham-mad.co.uk/league_history/wrexham/index.shtml.
Thanks to this site for data on clubs’ League histories, http://stats.football365.com/hist/tier2/attable.html.

Thanks to Soccerway.com, for 2011-12 attendance data, http://int.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national/20122013/regular-season/r18216/.
Thanks to ESPN Soccernet for current attendance figures, http://espnfc.com/stats/attendance/_/league/eng.5/english-conference?cc=5901.

November 18, 2012

England: Conference National – 2012-13 Location-map, with 2011-12 attendance data.

conference-national_location-map_attendance_badges_post_.gif
England: Conference National – 2012-13 Location-map, with 2011-12 attendance data & 2012-13 home jersey badges



The Conference National is the 5th Level of English football. It is the highest level in Non-league football. For sponsorship reasons it is known as the Blue Square Bet Premier. 2 clubs get promoted each season to the Football League, into League Two. Promoted are the league winner and the winner of the four-team play-offs. The bottom 4 clubs each season get relegated to the 6th Level, into either the Conference North or the Conference South.

Conference National table, with fixtures and results (soccerway.com).

Below are the top five clubs in the Conference National as of 19 November, 2012, with current average attendances listed (most clubs have played 9 or 10 out of 23 home matches so far); [current attendance figures for Conference clubs can be found at the link above]…

1st place in the Conference as of 19 Nov. 2012, Grimsby Town. Grimsby Town FC, Blundell Park, Cleethorpes, Northeast Lincolnshire.
grimsby-town_fc_blundell-park_b.gif" Photo credit above - mtfc.co.uk.

2nd place in the Conference as of 19 Nov. 2012, Newport County. Newport County AFC, Newport, South Wales, Wales.
newport-county-afc_rodney-parade_f.gif
Photo credits above –
agroundhoppersdiary.blogspot.com/2012/08/newport-county-rodney-parade.html.
Action photo from Newport v.Hereford, 28 Aug. 2012 by bullsnews.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html.

3rd place in the Conference as of 19 Nov. 2012, Forest Green Rovers. Forest Green Rovers FC, Nailsworth, Stroud Valley, Gloucestershire.
forest-green-rovers_the-new-lawn_d.gif""
Photo credits above –
photodivauk.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/away-with-the-rovers/.
buildingdesign-news.co.uk/mar-12/mitsubishi-forest-green-rovers.htm.

4th place in the Conference as of 19 Nov. 2012, Wrexham. Wrexham FC, Wrexham, North Wales, Wales.
wrexham-fc_racecourse-ground_north-wales_c.gif
Photo credit above –
soccerway.com/teams/wales/wrexham-fc/venue/.

5th place in the Conference as of 19 Nov. 2012, Dartford. Dartford FC, Dartford, Kent, on the south bank of the River Thames, 22 km. (13 miles) east of central London.
dartford-fc_prines-park_.gif
Photo credits above –
esi.info/Glulam-individually-designed-wood-solutions.
Keith Gillard at newsshopper.co.uk.
Steveboswell at en.wikipedia.org.

Thanks to soccerway.com for Conference attendance figures, http://www.soccerway.com/national/england/conference-national/20122013/regular-season/.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Conference National / Conference National clubs 2012–13‘.

May 1, 2012

Conference National, May 2011-12 – the 1 promoted club – Fleetwood Town FC – and the 4 play-off clubs / Plus a map of the 7 Lancashire-based Football League clubs in the 2012-13 season.

conference-national_may2012_1-promoted-club_fleetwood-town_and-4-playoff-clubs_post_.gif
2011-12 Conference (aka Blue Square Premier League), Top of the Table map



bbc.co.uk/Sport/Football//Non-League
Conference National Play Off fixtures.
2011-12 Conference National (aka Blue Square Bet Premier League) Play Offs
all times below are GMT (ie, Britain) / subtract 5 hours for Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Semi Finals,
First Leg,
York City v Mansfield Town 2nd May 2012. Kick Off 19:30.
Luton Town v Wrexham 3rd May 2012. Kick Off 19:30.
Second Leg,
Mansfield Town v York City 7th May 2012. Kick Off 14:00.
Wrexham v Luton 7th May 2012. Kick Off 16:30.
Play Off Promotion Final,
Sunday 20th May 2012- at Wembley Stadium – 3pm Kick Off.

2011-12 Promotion / Play-offs Map. Promoted to the Football League: Fleetwood Town FC, with second promotion spot to play offs winner.

From Guardian.co.uk/Football League blog, from 10 April 2012, by Jacob Steinberg, ‘Long-term planning leaves Fleetwood Town on verge of promised land – A win over Wrexham will take Fleetwood into the Football League for the first time in their turbulent history‘.

On the 16 April 2012 broadcast of the BBC London Non-League {Season 5 Episode 37 podcast here}, Fleetwood Town chairman and local businessman Andy Pilley confirmed that the club has actually turned a small profit for the 2011-12 season [interview with Micky Mellon and Andy Pilley at ~16:00 into BBC Non-League Football Show Season 5 Episode 37 (Mon. 16 April 2012)].

This despite the fact that Fleetwood Town had the highest wage bill in the league, and drew just 2,264 per game to their home league matches (9th-highest in the league). So Crawley Town they are not – unlike last season’s Conference champions Crawley Town, Fleetwood Town does not have undisclosed ownership which has plowed far more money into a promotion campaign than any other club in the league could ever hope to invest. FTFC’s money comes from a local source. From the fleetwoodtown.com site, ‘Andy Pilley is…the founder and managing director of Business Energy Solutions (BES). He founded the company in 2002 from a spare bedroom following the deregulation of the energy market.’ And sure they spent to get promoted – FW Jamie Vardy cost six figures to buy from Conference North club FC Halifax Town. But Fleetwood Town have still managed to live within their means, and thanks to their great FA Cup run, and broadcast revenue from their Third Round match versus Blackpool, they even managed to make a profit. Congratulations to Fleetwood Town FC, its chairman Andy Pilley and the board, its manager Micky Mellon, it’s players, its supporters, and all the folks who pitch in at the Highbury Stadium up there on the Fylde in coastal Lancashire…the Cod Army will now take their deserved place in the 2012-13 Football League’s League Two.

Below is a little chart I put together that shows the recent league history and average attendances of Fleetwood Town in the past 8 seasons. In that space of time, Fleetwood Town have been promoted 5 times and have seen their average attendance increase from 206 per game to 2,264 per game – a jump from the 9th Level to the 4th Level and a numerical increase at the gate of over two thousand a game. Also shown is Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium before and after the Parkside Stand was opened in April 2011…
fleetwood-town2004-05-to-2011-12__attendances_LEAGUE-HISTORY_parkside-stand_13e.gif
Image and photo credits above – bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Town_F.C.. fwpgroup.co.uk/projects.

Below – Fleetwood Town, 2011-12 Conference National champions -
Seen below are Fleetwood Town’s manager, Micky Mellon and the team’s top 2 leading scorers from the 2011-12 season, Sheffield-born Jamie Vardy (age 24), and Liverpool-born Andy Mangan (age 25).
fleetwood-town_micky-mellon_jamie-vardy_andy-mangan_h.gif
Photo credits above – Mickey Mellon, photo by Ian Hodgson at dailymail.co.uk .
Jamie Vardy, photo by Derick Thomas at fleetwoodtoday.co.uk.
Andy Mangan, photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.

Map of the 7 Lancashire-based clubs in the Premier League/Football League

Fleetwood Town’s first-ever promotion to the Football League means there are now 7 clubs from Lancashire that are in the top 4 levels of English football (that is, of course, the Premier League (1st Level), Football League Championship (2nd Level), Football League One (3rd Level), and Football League Two (4th Level) -
Blackburn Rovers (Premier League or League Championship {TBD} for 2012-13),
Blackpool (League Championship for 2012-13,
Burnley (League Championship for 2012-13,
Preston North End (League One for 2012-13),
Accrington Stanley (League Two for 2012-13),
Fleetwood Town (League Two for 2012-13),
Morecambe (League Two for 2012-13).
Click on image below for map of 7 Lancashire-based clubs in the Football League/Premier League -
lancashire_football-clubs_2012-13_.segment_.gif
Photo credits above -
Morecambe, Tony Scholes at http:clarets-mad.co.uk/feature, league_two_[stadiums].
Fleetwood, fwpgroup.co.uk.
Blackpool, Terry Robinson at geograph.org via en.wikipedia.org’.
Preston, skyscrapercity.com/thread, PRESTON | Deepdale Redevelopment.
Blackburn, Blackburn Rovers/fussballtempel.net
Accrington, bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.
Burnley, Simon Kirwan at lightboxuk.photoshelter.com.

_

Photo credits on the map page –
Fleetwood Town/Highbury Stadium – placenorthwest.co.uk. fleetwoodtownfc.com. fwpgroup.co.uk.

Wrexham/Racecourse Ground – redpassion.co.uk

Mansfield Town/Field Mill – findaproperty.com. 100groundsclub.blogspot.com/2010/02/field-mill. bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.

York City/Bootham Crescent – bluesqfootball.com. campdavemorecambe at flickr.com. cqout.com/shop/Footy Postcards.

Luton Town/Kenilworth Road – SoccerWord.com. Stadiums.Football.co.uk. lutontoday.co.uk/’Grand designs for Kenilworth Road’. bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011–12 Football Conference‘.
Thankls to soccerway.com, for attendance figures.
Attendance data from 2005-06 to 2008-09 from: http://www.tonykempster.co.uk/gridsindex.htm.
Thanks to fleetwoodtown-mad.co.uk at League History for Fleetwood Town league history.
Thanks to FWP Group fgor the aerial photo of Highbury Stadium, http://www.fwpgroup.co.uk/projects/default_item.php?id=101.

January 11, 2012

2011-12 Conference National – Location-map, with attendance data and league table chart (inclusive to 11 January, 2012).

Filed under: 2011-12 English Football,Eng-5th level,Eng. Non-League — admin @ 7:00 pm

2011-12_conference_standings-map_jan-2012_post_.gif
2011-12 Conference National


Conference National (aka Blue Square Bet Premier League) – results, fixtures, table (Soccerway.com).

fleetwood-town_parkside-stand_2b.gif
Photo credit – http://www.fleetwoodtownfc.com/club/highbury-stadium/.
As of 12 January, 2012, coastal Lancashire-based Fleetwood Town occupy the sole automatic promotion-spot and lead the Conference by a point over North Wales-based Wrexham, though the Red Dragons have a game in hand on the Cod Army. Fleetwood made a splash recently with their first-ever FA Cup Third Round Proper appearance, though they fell 5-1 to the second-tier club just down the road, Blackpool. Now Fleetwood, managed by the Scot Micky Mellon, can concentrate on their goal of gaining promotion to the Football League for the first time ever.

Wrexham have plenty of history in the League (80 seasons, last in 2007-08). Since late 2011, Wrexham has become the latest club in Britain to become fully supporter-owned, and they too have made a few headlines recently, being the sole remaining Non-League club still alive in the 2011-12 FA Cup. From Guardian.co.uk, from 11 Januarry 2012, by David Conn, ‘Wrexham hoping FA Cup run can complete Dragons’ rise from the ashes – Wrexham, now owned by a supporters trust, are making headlines for the right reasons again…‘.
wrexham-fc_racecourse-ground_b.gif
Image credit above – bing.com/maps/bird’s eye satellite view.
Wrexham are helmed by player/manager Andy Morrell, who at 37 is still putting balls into the net. Wrexham is seeing attendance up +23% (730 more per game than last season, to a 3,791 per game average). Wrexham’s gates are currently second-best in the Conference. {Attendance figures can be seen at the following link, just above the league table, here (Soccerway.com)}.

The biggest draw in the Conference is, for the third straight season, Luton Town, who found themselves relegated out of the Football League following financial meltdown and a 30-point deduction in 2008-09. Luton sit third, 6 points off the pace. Like another recent example of a rather large club to be marooned in Non-League football – Oxford United – Luton Town are finding it very hard to get out of the Conference and back into the Football Legaue. It must drive Hatters fans crazy knowing their club outdraws over 75% of fourth-division clubs [League Two] and over 60% of third-division clubs [League One], but still remain at the wrong side of the bottleneck at the top of the fifth division. Luton are averaging above 6,000 per game once again (6,127 per game as of 11 Jan. 2011), which is a spectacular figure for Non-League football.
luton-town_kenilworth-road_b.gif
Image credit above – bing.com/maps/bird’s eye satellite view.

Rounding out the 4 play-off spots are two northern clubs – Gateshead, of Greater Newcastle, in 4th place; and North Yorkshire’s York City, in 5th place. Gateshead’s crowds are not that large for the Conference (where the median figure currently is 1,805 per game)…Gateshead are averaging 963 per game, but that is a +27% increase (an increase of +210 per game).
gateshead-fc_gateshead-international-stadium_c.gif
Image credit above – bing.com/maps/bird’s eye satellite view.
The problem for Gateshead, nicknamed ‘the Heed’ [a Geordie colloquialism for the word 'Head'), is that they play in a dire multi-purpose stadium, the Gateshead International Stadium, that is as charmless as a running track-scarred venue can get. York are drawing well these days (currently averaging 3,150 per game), despite the fact that the Minstermen's ground is inadequate in a different way - their Bootham Crescent (opened 1932) is a relic of a ground that harks to a bygone era. From York City official site, 'Why Not Bootham?'.
Here is a supporters' site dedicated to getting York City a new ground - http://www.astadiumforyork.com/
york-city-fc_boothan-crescent_b.gif
Photo credits above - yorkpress.co.uk. dubsteps.blogspot.com/2007/11/york-city-havant-waterlooville
That bygone era included no automatic relegation out of and promotion into the Football League, and York City, stuck in the Conference since 2004-05, could be seen as a prime example of a certain type of club - the once-seemingly-permanent-members of the 4th Division who must now labor in the wilds of the Non-League game. Back in the day (before 1986-87), the York Citys of the English football scene didn't really have to worry about losing their League status if they finished in last place, because the old boys' network of club owners would inevitably vote back in last place finishers almost year-in and year-out. In the 29 seasons from when the Fourth Division was formed, in 1958-59, to 1985-86 (which was the last season in the Football League with no automatic relegation out of the League), only three clubs got voted out of the Football League. So the last place finisher (or second-to-last place finisher, see below) in the Football League was spared 26 out of 29 times. It happened to York City in 1980-81, when they finished in last in the old Fourth Division, but were not voted out.

It was only if the club finished in or near last place in the Football League for two or three straight seasons that they risked being voted out - and this occurred with Bradford Park Avenue being voted out of the Football League in 1970, after 3 consecutive seasons at the bottom of the Fourth Division. Present-day Conference National club Cambridge United took Bradford Park Avenue's place in the Football League for the following season [in 1970-71, but CUFC were relegated in 2004-05, after a 36-season spell in the Football League].

The next club failing to be re-elected was Cumbrian club Workington, who were voted out of the Football League 7 years later in 1976-77, after two consecutive seasons at the bottom (and replaced in the Fourth Division for the following season [1977-78] by none other than Wimbledon FC). Interestingly, in that following season of 1977-78, Rochdale finished in last place in the Fourth Division, but 23rd place finisher Southport were voted out instead (Southport had finished in 23rd place for 3 consecutive seasons). The Merseyside-based Southport FC, currently a Conference National club, were the last club ever voted out of the Football League via election. That same election process in 1978 saw present-day Premier League club Wigan Athletic join the Football League, replacing Southport for the 1978-79 Fourth Division season. Wigan had never got a shot at playing League football until 1978-79, and they were a club back then who were able to draw from 4,000 to 6,000 per game [Southport were drawing just 1,873 per game and Rochdale just 1,275 in 1977-78, which were the two worst gate figures in the Football League that season]. Those 4K to 6 K per game figures that Wigan were drawing in their first 4 seasons in the Fourth Division is still higher than most clubs draw in League Two these days. It is an example of a club who was big enough to be in the Football League but for years couldn’t get voted in. One exception, in the other direction, to that state of affairs was Lincoln City, who were voted out of the Football League 3 different times in the early part of the 20th century, but each time were voted back in after just one season in Non-League football. In 1966-67, Lincoln City finished last in the Football League yet were re-elected for the following season. Then in 1986-87, the first season that the Football League allowed one automatic promotion/and one automatic relegation, Lincoln City got the unwanted distinction of being the first club to get the automatic drop to Non-League football.

Now, for the second time in their history, Lincoln City find themselves automatically relegated (along with Stockport County) out of the League [incidentally, Stockport County finished in last place in the Football League in both 1964-65 and 1973-74, and were re-elected both times].

This has added two to the ranks of the clubs with more than 65 years of Football League history that are now stuck in Non-League football. There are presently 8 clubs in this category – Lincoln City and Grimsby Town (with 104 seasons in the Football League each), Stockport County (with 99 seasons in the Football League), Luton Town (with 85 seasons in the Football League), Darlington (with 81 seasons in the Football League), Wrexham (with 80 seasons in the Football League), Mansfield Town (with 70 seasons in the Football League), and York City (with 68 seasons in the Football League). That list will probably expand in future seasons, as newcomers such as Fleetwood Town displace other clubs who have spent multiple decades in the lower divisions of the Football League.

The opening of the barred gate between the 4th Level and the 5th Level in 1986-87 will continue to have the knock-on effect of putting more clubs with no League history prior to 1987 into the Football League, at the expense of down-on-their luck clubs with vast League history. From en.wikipedia.org, ‘Former Conference clubs now in The Football League‘ [21 clubs]. Of the 21 clubs on the list, 13 had no Football League history prior to 1987, and 10 of those are not re-formed clubs (like Aldershot Town, Accrington Stanley, and AFC Wimbledon) and thus are absolute newcomers to the Football League thanks to the establishment of promotion/relegation between the Football League and Non-League football. Those 10 clubs are Barnet, Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Crawley Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Macclesfield Town, Morecambe, Stevenage, Wycombe, and Yeovil Town.

The map page featutes a location-map of the 2011-12 Conference national, with 2 flanking sections. On the left of the map page is a chart which shows attendance data and League/Non-League history – total seasons spent by club in the Football League (ie, the top 4 Levels of English football) and in the Conference National (the 5th Level of English football), as well as how the club arrived into their current spell in the Conference, and how many seasons that spell has lasted.

On the right of the map page is a league table chart which shows the clubs in profile boxes arranged to reflect the standings from 11 January, 2012. At that point in time, most clubs had played 27 or 28 games of the 46-game season. The profile boxes feature the club’s home kit badge, their 2011-12 kits, and info on the club including formation date, nickname, stadium name and location, 2010-11 league finish, 2010-11 average attendance (from home league matches), best finish all-time, and seasons spent in the Football League.

Scoring leaders in the Conference (as of 11 January 2012)…
conference-scoring-leaders_jan-2012_john-shaw_liam-hearn_jamie-vardy_jason-walker_matt-green_e.gif
Photo credits for above – John Shaw (Gateshead), gateshead-fc.com. Liam Hearn (Grimsby Town), mansfieldtown.net/Gallery. Jamie Vardy (Fleetwood Town), fleetwoodtownfc.com/teams/jamie-vardy. Jason Walker (York City), yorkpress.co.uk. Matt Green (Mansfield Town), mansfieldtown.net/Gallery.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011–12 Football Conference‘.
Thanks to Soccerway.com for attendance data.
Thanks to E-F-S site for old attendance figures.
Thanks to this set of lists on the Football365 site – Club’s all-time season by league level [Levels 1 through 4, from 1888-89 to 2001-02].
Thanks to the Footy-Mad.co.uk sites, for their League History charts of each club {Levels 1 through 5], usually found at top menu bar under Club/League History; example, http://www.wrexham-mad.co.uk/.

May 3, 2011

Conference National, 2010-11 season: the 1 automatically-promoted club, and the 4 play-off clubs.

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2011 Conference, top of the table


Play-off Final – AFC Wimbledon 0-0 Luton Town in AET/Wimbledon 4-3 on penalties/AFC Wimbledon are promoted to the Football League (!!!). On 21 May 2011 at City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, attendance 18,195.
From Guardian.co.uk, by Sachin Nakrani, ‘AFC Wimbledon beat Luton on penalties to reach the Football League‘.

Play-off results…
[Wrexham 0-3 Luton Town, at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, Wales, attendance 7,211]
From Conference National site, ‘Luton Take Commanding First-Leg Lead‘.
[Luton Town 2-1 Wrexhan / Luton Town wins on 5-1 aggregate, at Kenilworth Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, attendance 9,078']
From Guardian.co.uk, by Sachim Nakrani, ‘AFC Wimbledon beat Luton on penalties to reach the Football League‘.

[Fleetwood Town 0-2 AFC Wimbledon, at Highbury Stadium in Fleetwood, Lancashire, attendance 4,112]
From BBC.co.uk, ‘Fleetwood 0-2 AFC Wimbledon‘.
[AFC Wimbledon 6-1 Fleetwood Town / Wimbledon wins on 8-1 aggregate, at Kingsmeadow, Kingston upon Thames, southwest London, attendance 4,538.]
From Bluesqfootball.com, ‘ AFC Wimbledon 6-1 Fleetwood (agg 8-1) ‘.

Leading scorers in 2010-11 Conference National (goals scored in all competitions)…
conference-national_top-scorers2010-11_matt-tubbs_alan-connell_danny-kedwell_magno-vieira_.gif
Photo credits – Matt Tubbs – crawleyobserver.co.uk . Alan Connell – thisisgrimsby.co.uk . Danny Kedwell – surreyherald.co.uk – ‘AFC Wimbledon skipper Danny Kedwell taunts big-spending Crawley Town’ . Magno Vieira – Derrick Thomas at picasaweb.google.com, via fleetwoodtownfc.com/Photo Gallery .

In the play-offs, second-place AFC Wimbledon’s grassroots-supporters-versus-club-stealing-franchise-operators creation-story and somewhat meteoric rise through the lower reaches of Non-League Football is pretty well known {see this, ‘Wimbledon march onwards and upwards with firm grasp of history – AFC Wimbledon, owned entirely by fans, have risen from adversity to be in touching distance of the Football League‘, from Guardian.co.uk, 4 Sept 2010, by Louise Taylor.}. AFC Wimbledon will face Fleetwood Town, a club who also have been progressing up the football pyramid in an impressive manner. Now Fleetwood Town has a visible monument to this rise…just look, on the map page, at that swank new curved-roof main stand (now called the Parkside Stand) at Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium in coastal Lancashire.

Fleetwood Town FC are known (brilliantly) as The Cod Army. This incarnation of the club is it’s third, with the first FTFC existing from 1908 to 1976, and FTFC (II) existing from 1977 to 1996. FTFC (III) began in 1997-98 in the North West Counties Football League Division Two, [then a 9th Level league/now a 10th Level League], as Fleetwood Freeport FC (for sponsorship reasons). The club’s first promotion ensued in their second season, in 1999, and in 2002, their name became Fleetwood Town FC (III). Successive promotions in 2005, and then in 2006 saw Fleetwood Town reach the 7th Level in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Two seasons later, in 2008, Fleetwood Town won automatic promotion to the Conference North by winning the Unibond Norhern Premier League. At this point, the Cod Army already had an impressive fan base for a club at this level, drawing 721 per game in 2007-08 – this in a league that was averaging 313 per game {see these tables from Tony’s Non-League Football site, here}.

Fleetwood Town had a rough go of it initially in the 6th Level in 2008-09, and had to replace their manager with Burnley youth team manager (and former Blackpool and Tranmere midfielder) Micky Mellon. By January, 2010, Mellon became the first full-time manager at Fleetwood, and began introducing a number of new signings that upped the talent quotient in this corner of Lancashire. That season included Fleetwood Town’s first-ever appearance in the FA Cup Second Round Proper, with a then-record-crowd of 3,280 at Highbury Stadium seeing them fall to League One’s Harlepool United by a score of 2-3. Fleetwood Town’s fan base had grown to the point where the club was averaging 920 per game in league matches, and further progress on the pitch was shown by their 8th place finish in their first season in Conference North.

As a pre-season favorite for promotion in 2009-10, Fleetwood Town established themselves as one of the two strongest teams in the league, with the other being their very nearby rivals, Southport FC (who are 28 km./17 miles down the road in Merseyside). Because of the demise of Leeds-based Farsley Celtic during the 2009-10 Conference North season, that club’s matches were expunged, and this led to Fleetwood Town losing 3 points and missing out on automatic promotion, with Southport instead winning the league title [Southport are now back down, having been relegated, by goal difference, out of the Conference National on Saturday, 30 April, 2011]. Fleetwood won promotion via the play-offs, though, winning it over Alfreton Town at Highbury Stadium last May in front of 3,592 (the current record crowd there).

Chairman Andy Pilley announced that the club would go full-time for 2010-11. The club’s best acquisition after their squad went full-time was Brazilian-born striker Magno Vieira, whom Fleetwood Town purchased from then-relegated Ebbsfleet United. [Vieira went on to score 22 goals for Fleetwood Town this season, which was fourth-best in the league.] By September, Fleetwood Town were in 3rd place. Captain George Milligan, out the door after the full-time policy began, returned in November, 2010. But a string of poor results led them to drop to the edge of the play-off places by the new year. However, Fleetwood Town caught fire near the close of the season and finished with 7 wins in their last 8 matches, and with the late season stumbling of Darlington. York City, and Kidderminster, Fleetwood ended up in the final play-off spot. Fleetwood Town ended up with a 1,753 per game average attendance, up 29 percent from last season.

The other play-off match-up features two clubs both with over three-quarters of a Century of League history, but each with recent financial melt-downs… Bedfordshire’s Luton Town FC and Wrexham FC, of North Wales. Of the two, Luton Town have the bigger fan base – biggest in all of Non-League, currently, having drawn above 6,000 per game in both seasons the club has spent outside the League since their near-extinction, administration, and 30-point deduction in 2008-09. Luton Town, known as the Hatters, are the second club in the modern era to have First Division history (with 16 seasons in the English top flight, last in 1991-92) and then subsequent Non-League status [the other one was Oxford United]. Wrexham’s League history only goes up to the 2nd Level (with 4 seasons there, between 1978 and 1982), but the Red Dragons, North Wales biggest club, have 100 seasons of League history, versus 84 seasons accumulated by Luton Town. Wrexham drew 3,061 per game this season (up 7 percent), and are probably hurt by the fact that their Racecourse Ground (capacity 15,500) is too large for their current fan base. Luton Town actually have the exact opposite problem… because of how built-up the area is around their ground, Kenilworth Road (Luton being part of the heavily-populated commuter belt north of London), the club cannot expand or realistically renovate there. This has been a problem at Luton Town for decades. This is how cramped Kenilworth Road is…one of the ground’s entrances is through a portal under a block of flats! That is the Oak Stand entrance, and you can see that entrance-way in one of the three photos for Luton Town on the map page.

Meanwhile, Luton Town look to be of the woods, financial-crisis-wise, but it looks like Wrexham’s problems have only begun. So much so that there was talk for a while that the Conference top brass would not even allow Wrexham to compete in the play-offs, but they will.

Crawley Town FC spent 500,000 pounds on a now-successful bid for promotion to the Football League. This was more than all 23 other Conference National clubs, combined, spent on new signings this season. This was in fact more than all 24 League Two clubs, combined, spent on new signings. Their manager, Steve Evans, is a manners-challenged convicted felon who got his previous for cooking the books at Boston United a decade ago {see this, ‘Shamed manager keeps his job‘ (bbc.co.uk/Lincolnshire, 4 Nov. 2006).

As noted in the following article from TwoFootedTackle.com…’There’s a genuine feeling within the lower levels of the game that Evans’ criminal record should have resulted in a lifetime ban.’ {see this article from Jan.30 2011, ‘Why many neutrals won’t be cheering on Crawley in the FA Cup’}.

From When Saturday Comes site, ‘Creepy Crawley buying their way out of the Conference‘ (WSC.co.uk, 13 Jan. 2011, by Matt Ramsay).

Photo credits for map page -
Crawley Town/Broadfield Stadium…Broadfield Stadium interior photo with railing in foreground from WorldGroundHop.blogspot.com, here. Main Stand photo by Peer Pawelczyk at EuroPlan-online.de, here, via Soccerway.com,, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

AFC Wimbledon/Kingsmeadow…Tempest Stand at Kingmeadow photo from DoingThe106.com, here, via ConferenceGrounds.co.uk, here. Main Stand from 100groundsclub.blogspot.com, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Luton Town/Kenilworth Road…Oak Stand entrance (between row houses) from SoccerWord.com. Kenilworth Road interior photo from Stadiums.Football.co.uk, here. Aerial image of Kenilworth Road from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Wrexham/Racecourse Ground… Interior photo from WikiStadiums.org, here. Photo of Mold Road Stand with The Kop (terrace) in foreground from Soccerway.com, here. Aerial image of Racecourse Ground from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Fleetwood Town/Highbury Stadium…New stand [construction on parts of the is stadium still ongoing] photo from Flower Design Events sire, here. Architect’s rendering of Highbury Stadium with new Main Stand from FWP Group.co.uk, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Conference National‘.
Thanks to Soccerway.com, for attendance figures.
Thanks to the BBC London Non-League Football show.

October 28, 2010

2010-11 Conference National (aka Blue Square Bet Premier League) – Stadia map.

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2010-11 Conference National



The Seasons in 5th Level statistic I have included in each club’s profile box on the map page needs some clarification. There was no automatic promotion into the Football League before 1986-87, and because there was no nationwide Non-League division before 1979-80, it is impossible to determine what was the 5th level of English football prior to the formation of the Alliance Premier League in 1979-80 (so the Seasons in 5th Level statistic is for the 32 seasons from 1979-80 to 2010-11). The Alliance Premier League was given one promotion spot to the old Fourth Division in 1986-87, and at that point the APL changed it’s name to the Conference National (and began inserting a sponsors name into their official name, which is currently the Blue Square Bet Premier League). A second promotion spot was added starting in the 2002-03 season. There is talk these days of adding a third promotion spot, and the argument can be made that this is overdue.

The only way clubs could get into the League before 1986-87 was via election, and there was quite a bit of leeway for continually poor-performing League clubs in the lower reaches of the old Fourth Division. A whole lot of deserving Non-League football clubs never got the shot to play in the League. These days, tiny and unheralded clubs that had no League history prior to 1987 can and do move up the football pyramid…clubs like Dagenham & Redbridge and Yeovil Town in the 3rd Level (ie, League One), and seven clubs in the 4th Level (ie, League Two)… Barnet, Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town, Macclesfield Town, Morecambe, Stevenage, and Wycombe Wanderers. Meanwhile, clubs that were once mainstays of the lower Leagues, such as Darlington, Grimsby Town, Luton Town, Mansfield Town, Wrexham, and York City – well, they are finding it very hard to get back into the League. [Actually, Luton Town has spent more seasons in the top two levels of the League than the lower two levels, so their continuing stay in the wilderness of Non-League football must be especially frustrating to their 6,000-plus regular supporters.] To put it another way, the Conference is on the upswing…in terms of on-field quality, and in terms of fan support.

From Two Hundred Percent.net, from 11th October, 2010, by Ian King, ‘League Two and the Blue Square Premier: The Blurring of the Lines‘.

Usually when I make maps with club profile boxes, I include each club’s national titles and national cup titles. That would just end up being wasted space here (the only club here with a ‘major’ title is Luton Town, who won the League Cup in 1988, but I never list the League Cup anyway). So I decided to use the space for 2 topical categories…each club’s all-time best FA Cup run, and best FA Cup run in the last 20 seasons (with all FA Cup runs which reached the 5th Round or higher listed; and all joint-best runs listed). Which is just in time for the 2010-11 FA Cup First Round Proper, to be played the weekend of November 5th through the 7th. My map on 2010-11 FA Cup First Round Proper will be posted Wednesday evening, 3rd November. 14 of the 24 Conference National clubs are in the FA Cup 1st Round {BBC/FA Cup, here}, as well as 18 other, lower-placed Non-League clubs.

2009-10 average attendances (from league home matches) are shown at the bottom, center of the map page. The following link has current 2010-11 Conference National average attendances…{from www.mikeavery.co.uk/Divisional Attendance – scroll one quarter down the page to find the fifth box of stats which is 2010-11 Conference Premier Average Home Attendance, here}.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2010-11 Football Conference‘.

Thanks to the Footy Mad.co.uk sites, for each club’s league history and cup history data, http://www.footymad.net/blue-square-premier-news/ . Note: this following set of pages on the Football365 site was also very helpful for data, even if it is 9 years now since it has been updated [set to all-time 4th tier, up to 2001-02], http://stats.football365.com/hist/tier4/attable.html

Thanks to mikeavery.co.uk, for 2009-10 attendance figures and attendance rankings.

Thanks to Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye view…21 of the football grounds photos on the map page are from this feature. I can’t get images by going to Bing.com, though…I get them by going to each club’s page at en.wikipedia.org, clicking onto the club’s ground, then clicking on the blue-lit numbers of the football ground’s geographical coordinates. There are no Bing.com Bird’s Eye view images for 3 Conference grounds…Barrow’s Holker Road, and Forest Green Rovers’ New Lawn, so for those I had to settle for images via Google Earth satellite view; and Rushden & Diamonds’ Nene Park, so I used an image submitted by jim21 at the en.wikipedia.org page on Nene Park.

April 27, 2010

Football Conference (aka Blue Square Premier League)-Top of the table, 2009-10 season.

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Stevenage Borough will play in the Football League next season for the first time in their 35 year history. Stevenage Borough were famously denied entrance into the Football League in 1996, when, after winning the Conference, their automatic promotion was denied due to their ground being below standards. So 14 years later, it’s payback time for Stevenage and their fans. In the interim, the club had improved their ground, Broadhall Way, to the point where it was considered one of the top facilities in the Conference. This season, Stevenage saw a 30% increase in average attendance, to a very respectable 2,589 per game.
That still was far below the two turnstile giants of Non-League football these days…Luton Town and Oxford United, who both have averaged in the 6,000s this season. Average attendances of the top 5 clubs in the Conference are listed on the left on the map page. The following link shows average attendances in the Conference this season…Conference Premier Attendance Grids and Charts 2009-2010 (www.mikeavery.co.uk).

Stevenage Borough FC page at en.wikipedia.org

The four clubs competing for the other promotion spot to League Two are: Luton Town, Oxford United, Rushden & Diamonds, and York City. All four of the playoff clubs have League history, and their relegations from the League are noted in their club profile box. Also listed are the number of seasons spent in each of the top 5 levels of English football, and the club’s 09/10 kits. Also included in the profile boxes are three photos of each club’s home ground.
On the map I have listed the 23 clubs that competed in the 2009-10 Conference. The odd-number of clubs is due to the mid-season expulsion of Chester City.
That made relegation a matter of three other clubs, and those relegated this season were: Grays Athletic, Ebbsfleet United, and Forest Green Rovers. However, Salisbury City were penalized for failing to pay creditors, and were relegated two levels to the Southern Premier League, in the 7th Level. This was made official on 12th June. Forest Green Rovers, as the highest-placed relegated club, were thus re-instated into the Blue Square Premier League for the 2010-11 season.
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Play Off dates…The Play-Off begins Thursday, 29th April, with Rushden & Diamonds v. Oxford United; and York City v. Luton Town. ; 2nd Legs Monday, 3rd May. Play-Off final Sunday, 16th May, at Wembley Stadium. 2010 Conference Play Off fixtures, at Football Conference site .
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Thanks to Football Supporter’s Federation Ground Guide,FSF Ground Guide. Thanks to Soccerway, England- Conference National/Venues (www.soccerway.com). Thanks Google Maps, Google Earth view.

Thanks to World Stadia.com, www.worldstadiums.com. Thanks to RDFC Fans Blog, Rushden & Diamonds fansite. Thanks tor RDFC official site, www.thediamondsfc.com.

Thanks to Sam Mason at Flickr.com, Sam Mason @ Flickr.com. Thanks to jim2000 at Panoramio.com, jim2000 @ panoramio.com. Thanks to OxKits.co.uk, OxKits.com, A visual history of the kits of Oxford United.

Thanks to SoccerWorld.com, soccerword.com. Thanks to UK European Football Stadiums, stadiums.football.co.uk/Non League Stadiums. Thanks to Bing.com, Luton Town FC, Kenilworth Road (Birds Eye view).

Thanks to Campdavemorecambe at Flickr.com,‘[Photo of]Broadhall Way, Stevenage Borough. Thanks to Ray Stanton at Panoramio.com, [Photo of] Stevenage Borough FC. Thanks to Virtual Globetrotting, Broadhall Way (satellite view).

Thanks to Mike Avery Non-League Football Stats site, http://www.mikeavery.co.uk.
Thanks to Jeremy, at Albion Road site, for tech support help, Albion Road, Fan’s guide to Football Clubs around the world .

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