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January 19, 2011

England, Non-League Football: 2010-11 Conference North [a 6th Level league].

Filed under: 2010-11 English Football,Eng-6th level — admin @ 10:09 am

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2010-11 Conference North



Conference North/South tables, fixtures, results (Soccerway.com), here.
The Conference North is one of two leagues that comprise the 6th Level of the English Football Pyramid. The Conference North’s sister league is the Conference South. These two leagues were instituted in 2004-05. Clubs were drawn from the Northern Premier League, the Southern League, and the Isthmian League [those three leagues now make up the 7th Level]. After each season, two promoted clubs go up to the Conference National (5th Level) – the league winner and the winner of the 4-team playoff. Three relegated clubs go down to the 7th Level, to the Northern Premier League Premier Division or the Southern Football League Premier Division (which is composed of clubs from the South West, the South Central, and the Midlands). [Theoretically, a club relegated from the Conference North could go to the Isthmian Football League Premier Division (which is composed of clubs from Greater London and the South East), but there would have be real unusual circumstances for that to happen].

There are 22 clubs in the Conference North, but because of Ilkeston Town’s demise last September, the 2010-11 Conference North season has 21 clubs, and only two clubs will be relegated.

The map page shows the clubs’ profile boxes placed from top to bottom in the order of the current Conference North table (as of Wednesday, 19 January, 2011). The profile boxes include the club’s home kit badges, nickname, year of formation, stadium and capacity, location, 2009-10 final placement, and all-time highest league placement. Current average attendances and 2009-10 average attendances (from home league matches) are shown at the right of the map.

Current leaders are phoenix club Nuneaton Town, who hail from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, which is 14 km. (9 mi.) north of Coventry and 31 km. (19 mi.) east of Birmingham. Nuneaton has a population of around 70,000 {2001 figure}. Nuneaton Town FC are heir to another phoenix club, Nuneaton Borough AFC, who had 4 seasons in the Conference (5th Level) from 1999-2000 to 2002-03, and existed from 1937 to 2007. They were wound up in May 2007. Nuneaton Town were then formed in 2008. The club plays at tiny Liberty Way, which has a capacity of 3,800 (with just 300 seated). They wear royal blue and white halves, and still go by the nickname of Boro. Nuneaton won promotion from the Southern Football League Premier Division in 2009-10, and are one of three clubs in Conference North this season that have the chance of winning back-to-back promotions (the other two are talked about in the last paragraph). Nuneaton have been managed by Kevin Wilkin since 2006 (ie, in the last days of Nuneaton Borough, and also as the sole manager of the re-formed Nuneaton Town). Nuneaton Town draw well for this league, pulling in 1,002 per game currently.
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[Photo credits - Nuneatontownfc.com, here. I-want-football-2009.blogspot.com, here.]

Second place, two points back with 3 games in hand, are the Derbyshire club Alfreton Town. Alferton Town FC were formed from the merger of Alfreton Miners Welfare and Alfreton United, in 1959. Alfreton is 20 km. (12 mi.) north of both the cities of Derby and Nottingham, and serves somewhat as a bedroom community of both. It has a population of 22,000. Alfreton Town FC have never had a higher final placement than their current spot. Crowds are up 50% this season, to 746 per game.
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[Photo credits - parkin1s at PhotoBucket.com, here. Wherestheteahut.blogspot.com, here. Southport FC fansite at btinternet.com/~portconnection, here.]

Alfreton Town are managed by Nicky Law, who had an extensive career in the lower half of the Football League including captaining Chesterfield to a Division Three playoff final win over Bury at Wembley in 1995. Law has been Alferton’s manager since 2007. Alfreton Town play at North Street, which has a capacity of 3,600 (1,500 seated). That size of stadium is pretty much the norm in the 6th Level. It is one example of how the new gulf between English football levels is no longer between Levels 4 and 5 (the League/Non-League dividing line), but between Levels 5 and 6. Most clubs these days that play in the Conference National (5th Level) play in grounds of 5,000 to 6,000 or larger; while most clubs that play in the Conference North and Conference South play in grounds that are 3,000 to 4,500, with more standing capacity than seated capacity. 15 of the 21 Conference North clubs this season play in grounds that are smaller than 4,500 capacity; and 15 of the 22 Conference South clubs this season have grounds at or smaller than 4,500 capacity.

Another way that Conferences North/South are separated by a wide gulf from the Conference National is that most clubs in the Conference are full-time, and virtually all Conference North/South clubs are part-time. It is pretty much the normal routine these days for clubs that are relegated to Conference North or South to revert to part-time status once they get the drop. Not all clubs conversely go full-time immediately after getting promoted up to the Conference, though, but it usually happens by a couple seasons in.

Median average attendance for the Conference North is currently {19 Jan.} 443 this season; median average attendance for last season (2009-10) was 435 per game. The biggest club in Conference North this season are #1 draw Shropshire phoenix club AFC Telford United, who pull in pretty large crowds for this level…they currently are seeing 1,976 pass the turnstiles each game at the New Bucks Head in Telford {click here and zoom in for a Bing.com/Bird’;s Eye satellite view…you can see that the ground is pretty up-to-date}. The other club that is frankly too big for this level is Lincolnshire club Boston United FC, who played 5 seasons in the League (2002-03 to 2006-07). Boston United are now 3 seasons on from recovering from a two-level-relegation – one relegation from on-field performance and one relegation thanks to Steve Evans and his cooked books. [In 2007, Manager Evans and then-Boston Utd. chairman Pat Milkinson were charged with conspiracy to cheat the public revenue {see this, from BBC.co.uk from June 2007/11th and 12th paragraphs}. Evans is currently practicing his house-of-cards financing at Crawley Town in the Conference, and again, no one knows where the money is coming from. But I digress.] Boston United, who won promotion from the Northern Premier League Premier Division in 09/10, are drawing 1,477 per game this season, and, at fifth place, are in the running for a twice-promoted run. There is one other just-promoted club that could make it back-to-back promotions – Greater Leeds-based Guisely FC, who are in third place currently in Conference North, yet are only drawing at the league median, at 443 per game.
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Thanks to Mike Avery.co.uk, for 2009-10 average attendances, here. Thanks to HarrogateTown.com, for 2010-11 average attendances, here.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Conference North‘.

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