billsportsmaps.com

May 30, 2011

Wales, 2 maps – Welsh football clubs in the English football league system (6 clubs) / Plus, 2011-12 Welsh Premier League.

Filed under: Wales — admin @ 7:24 pm

Please note: there is a more-recent post on Wales that I have done (Wales national football team/2016 Euros Qualifiers/November 2015)…
click on the following…
Wales national team – starting line-up (Best XI) from match which clinched their qualification for the 2016 Euros in France. (Wales starting squad from 10 October 2015, Bosnia 2-0 Wales [match-day which saw Wales automatically qualify for the 2016 UEFA Euros tournament].) 17 players + coach are profiled.
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Photo credits – Photo of dawn mists at Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, Swansea from WelshWales.co.uk . Panoramic view of Swansea by Slawomir Purzycki at Panoramio.com . Clifton Hill in Swansea photo by by Slawomir Purzycki at Panoramio.com, here . Swansea Castle and BT Tower photo by Slawomir Purzycki at Panoramio.com . Brandy Cove photo from Wallpaperstravel.com .

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Welsh football clubs that play in English leagues

Note – On the map page (which you can see by clicking on the image above). are the locations of the 6 Welsh football clubs in the English football league system. Their club crests there are sized to reflect 2010-11 average attendance (of home league matches). At the right on the map page are profile boxes of the 6 clubs, which include club info, 2010-11 kits, and photos of their football grounds. [Note: for each club, the lists of seasons spent in each Level have been updated to include the 2011-12 season which will begin in August.]

    Welsh Football Clubs in English Leagues

There are 6 Welsh football clubs in English football leagues. 1 Welsh club has just won promotion to the Premier League for the 2011-12 season – Swansea City AFC.
From Guardian.co.uk, from 30 May 2011, by Kevin McCarra, ‘Swansea reach Premier League thanks to Scott Sinclair hat-trick‘.
From EPLtalk.com, by The Gaffer, from 31 May 2011, ‘Swansea City Breathe Much-Needed New Life Into the Premier League‘.
From Pitch Invasion.net, from 31 May 2011, by Tom Dunmore, ‘Wales In The English Premier League: A Potted History Of A Cross-Border Anomaly‘.

This is the first time a Welsh club has made it into the Premier League [ie, since 1992-93], and the first time since 1982 that a Welsh club has been in the English top flight (that was when Swansea City ended their sole two-season spell in the old English First Division).

1 Welsh club is in the Football League, in the League Championship [the 2nd Level] -Cardiff City FC.

The other 4 Welsh clubs playing in English leagues are in Non-League football…2 are in the Conference National [the 5th Level] – Newport County AFC and Wrexham FC.
One is now in the Conference North [a 6th Level league] – the just-promoted Colwyn Bay FC.
And one is now in the Western Football League Division One [a 9th Level league] – the just-promoted Methyr Town FC.

The reason for Welsh football clubs being in the English football leagues, and not in a Welsh league, goes back to the late Nineteenth Century, when it was far easier for, say, clubs from southern Wales to travel to play clubs in southern England and the Midlands than it was to travel to the northern half of Wales, because of the lack of prominent road and rail infrastructure between North and South Wales. So a Welsh league concept never caught on back then. The main reason why there is a Welsh football league system today has to do with FIFA. From en.wikipedia.org/Welsh Premier League page…
…{excerpt} ‘The league was formed in October 1991 by Alun Evans, Secretary General of the Football Association of Wales (FAW), as he believed that the Welsh international football team was under threat from FIFA. Wales, along with the other three home nations (England, Northern Ireland and Scotland), had a permanent seat on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and it was thought that many FIFA members were resentful of this and pressing for the four nations to unite into one combined side for the whole of the United Kingdom.
The new league was formed for the 1992-93 season. At the time, Wales was almost unique in world football in that despite the FAW being a FIFA member it did not organise a national league. Traditionally, the strongest teams in Wales had always played in the English leagues. Aberdare Athletic, Cardiff City, Merthyr Town, Newport County, Swansea City and Wrexham have all been members of the Football League.” {end of excerpt}

This led to a dispute between the Football Association of Wales and the Non-League football clubs from Wales that wished to remain in English league system.

The Football Association of Wales did not attempt to coerce the 3 professional clubs then in Wales who played in the English Football League – Cardiff City, Swamsea City, and Wrexham – into joining the new League of Wales. But they did insist that the the amateur Welsh clubs playing in English Non-League football join the new Welsh league system. 8 of those Welsh clubs in English Non-League football did not wish to join the new League of Wales…Bangor City, Barry Town, Caernarfon Town, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport County, Newtown and Rhyl. They were dubbed the ‘Irate Eight’. 3 eventually changed their stance and joined the League of Wales. Those clubs were Bangor City, Newtown, and Rhyl. The other 5 were forced to play their home matches for the 1992-93 season across the border in English venues, and became known as the Exiles [which is in fact the nickname now of Newport County, and that word appears on their crest]. For 3 seasons, North Wales club Colwyn Bay played their home matches 83 km. (51 miles) away, at Northwich Victoria’s ground in Cheshire (located south-west of of Greater Manchester). Newport County played way over in northeast Gloucestershire, in Moreton-in-Marsh, which is 214 km. (116 miles) away from Newport, South Wales.

Barry Town joined the League of Wales a year later, for the 1993-94 season, while the other 4 exiled clubs – Caernarfon, Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport County – again played their home matches in English football grounds. After a third season of this (1994-95), a court ruling in 1995 allowed the four still-exiled clubs to return to their Welsh football grounds. But Caernarfon instead chose to join the League of Wales. That left Colwyn Bay, Merthyr Tydfil (now called Merthyr Town after being re-formed in 2010) and Newport County as Welsh members of English Non-League football leagues. Those 3 clubs, along with Cardiff City, Swansea City, and Wrexham, make up the half-dozen Welsh football clubs which to this day play in English football leagues.

From TwoHundredPercent.net, from 23 July 2010, by Rob, ‘Diagnosis: Merthyr‘.



    The 2011-12 Welsh Premier League

Click on the image below, for a map of the 2011-12 Welsh Premier League, with 2010-11 average attendances, and list of title winners…
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Welsh Premier League 2011-12

The Welsh Premier League
The League of Wales began play in 1992-93. In 2002-03, the name of the league was changed to the Welsh Premier League. For sponsorship reasons, the league is officially known as the Principality Building Society Welsh Premier Football League. Originally there were 18 teams in the league. There are now 12 teams, following a re-vamping after the 2009-10 season. Most of the league’s clubs field part-time professional squads (the two full-time professional teams in the Welsh Premier League [as of 2011-12] are Neath FC and The New Saints). One club is promoted from and relegated to the two feeder leagues…one covering South Wales (and which is called the Welsh Football League), and one covering North Wales (which is called the Cymru Alliance).

Current champion is North Wales-based Bangor City FC. This is Bangor City’s 3rd Welsh title. Bangor City also had the highest average attendance in league matches, drawing 754 per game to their Farrar Road Stadium, in Bangor. Bangor, in the ceremonial county of Gwynedd, has a population of around 21,700 {2008 estimate}. Despite being the club with the largest fan base in the Welsh football league system, Bangor City’s squad are part-time professionals.

The most-titled club in the Welsh league system is currently in the second tier – the South Wales club Barry Town, who last won the Welsh championship in 2003, but were relegated the following season while under financial duress. Barry Town have won 7 Welsh titles. Barry Town even had a spell in the third division, but have been in the second tier since 2008-09, and were in a relegation battle in 2010-11, finishing in 13th, one spot above the drop in the Welsh Football League Division One.

The second-most titled club in the Welsh league system are The New Saints, who were previously known as TNS (full name – Total Network Solutions Llansantffraid FC). The New Saints/TNS have won 5 Welsh titles, most recently in 2010. The club had merged with Oswestry Town FC in 2003, and in 2006 they shed the sponsorship part of their name. Now known as The New Saints of Oswestry Town & Llansantffraid Football Club, the club represents two towns that straddle the border between Montgomeryshire, Wales and Shropshire, England. The club actually plays in England, in Oswestry, Shropshire at Park Hall. The New Saints are one of the few full-time professional clubs in the Welsh league system [note: the only other club I could find that currently lists itself as full-time professional is Neath FC].

3 clubs – Aberystwyth Town, Bangor City and Newtown – have played in all 19 seasons of the League of Wales/Welsh Premier League. 3 other founding members – Afan Lido, Llanelli and Porthmadog – are in the Welsh Premier League currently [2011-12], after being relegated and then promoted back. Afan Lido was the promoted club for 2010-11. Afan Lido FC is one of two clubs currently in the Welsh Premier League that come from the South Wales town of Port Talbot, the other being Port Talbot Town FC [Port Talbot is the home-town of 3 brilliant actors - Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, and Michael Sheen, and has a population of around 35,000.]. Afan Lido won promotion as the highest-placed club in 2nd Level Wales that had successfully applied for promotion, after finishing in 2nd place in the South Wales-based Welsh Football League. The first place club in the 10/11 WFL, Bryntirion Athletic, did not apply for promotion at the start of the season, so they could not gain promotion; meanwhile, none of the top finishers in the North Wales-based Cymru Alliance had applied for promotion. In Wales, it is usually stadium infrastructure deficiencies which prevent clubs from applying for promotion; or which causes clubs to be denied for promotion. Basic financial problems within a club can also result in relegation, as was the case in 2010, with the relegation of the club with the second-largest fan base in the Welsh league system, the two-time Welsh champion Rhyl FC. Two seasons ago Rhyl, as reigning champions, had finished in 4th but were denied a license for the 2010-11 season and thus sent down to the Cymru Alliance, because their finances were a mess {see this, from BBC.co.uk, from May, 2010, ‘Rhyl FC’s Welsh Premier appeal fails FAW test‘}.

The Welsh Premier League is currently ranked by the UEFA Coefficient for leagues {see this} at 46th out of 53 national leagues in Europe [ranking as of May, 2011], which puts Wales league football, strength-wise, between Estonia and Armenia.

From the DailyPost.co.uk, fro 26 March 2010, by Dave Jones, ‘Welsh Premier League attendances are a concern‘.

From Two Hundred Percent.com, from 27 Aug.2011 and 7 Sept.2011, by Neil Mace, ‘Dipping a Toe Into the Welsh Premier League‘.
A Welsh Premier League Odyssey, part two [Port Talbot]‘.
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Photo credits on main map page -

Colwyn Bay/Llanelian Road…Photo of Llanelan Road ground with hill in background by Matthew Wilkinson at Flickr.com, here. Photo with cows on hillside by Matthew Wilkinson at Flickr.com, here. Aerial photo from ColwynBayFC.co.uk, 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.

Merthyr Town/Penydarren Park …Photo from behind goal by Foo-med at en.wikipedia.org, here. Main Stand photo from Tims92 site, ‘Merthyr Tydfil – Penydarren Park‘. Aerial image from Bing.com/map/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Swansea City AFC/Liberty Stadium…Exterior photo of Liberty Stadium from 100 Football Grounds Club, http://100groundsclub.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-matchday-242-liberty-stadium.html. Tims92, ‘Swansea City – Liberty Stadium‘. InterestingPhoto.com. Close-up photo of stands from Fullflow.com, here. Aerial image of Liberty Stadium from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Newport County/Newport Stadium… Photo with running track in foreground from Photobucket.com [link was broken/I took a screenshot of the Google search page]. Photo taken during an Exiles match by Owain Vaughn at en.wikiedia.org, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Cardiff City/Cardiff City Stadium…Interior photo with crowd by Phil Tucker at Flickr.com, Phil Tucker’s photostream @ flickr.com. Interior photo of empty stadium from Cardiff Blues.com, Cardiff Blues and Cardiff City FC sign stadium contract. Exterior photo from Cardiff City FC.co.uk, Cardiff City Stadium. Aerial photo from Colorcoat-online, Cardiff City Stadium, project summary/gallery.

Photo credits on Welsh Premier League map page -
Aerial image of Bangor city’s Farrar Road ground from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Main Stand photo from WelshPremier.com site, ‘Farrar Road’s days are numbered‘ (12 May 2011). Rooftop photo of Farrar Road ground from TheOnlinemail.co.uk, here.

Thanks to Soccerway.com, for attendance figures (League and Conference clubs).
Thanks to King’s Lynn Town FC Supporters Trust site TheLinnets.co.uk, for Colwyn Bay attendance figure, ‘Average Attendance – Evo-Stick Premier Division‘.
Thanks to the Toolstation Western Football League site, for Merthyr Town attendance figure, ‘Toolstation Western Football League – First Division Attendance Statistics‘.
Thanks to the Zamaretto League [Southern Football League] site, for 2009-10 Merthyr Tydil attendance figure, ‘[Zamaretto League] Premier Division Attendances 2009-2010‘.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Football in Wales‘.
Thanks to unofficial Welsh premier League site, Welsh-Premier.com/League History.
Thanks to Demis.nl, for the base maps, Demis Web Map Server.

May 25, 2011

Minor League Baseball: the Texas League.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball: MiLB Double-A — admin @ 7:21 am

Click on image below for 2011 Texas League map, with team profiles including ballpark photos
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Texas League (baseball)





The Texas League is one of 3 Double-A (AA) minor leagues in Organized Baseball. Double-A is two steps below Major League Baseball. {You can see my map of all 3 Double-A minor leagues, with 2010 attendances and all 30 teams’ MLB affiliations, here.} Of the 3 leagues, the Texas League draws the highest these days. The Texas League pulled in an average of 5,264 per game in 2010.

Click on image below for chart of Texas League teams, with metro populations, teams’ average attendances the last 2 seasons, teams’ MLB affiliations (including tenure), and Texas League titles
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The Texas League (II) has played continuously since 1902, except for 3 years off during World War II (1943-45), making this season, 2011, the Texas League’s 107th season. The oldest current ball club in the Texas League that has played continuously in the same metro area is the Arkansas Travelers, of Little Rock, AR, who have been a minor league ball club since 1963 (starting out with a 3-year stint in the Triple-A PCL), and have been in the Texas League since 1966, making 2011 the ball club’s 46th straight season in the Texas League [Note: before this, there was a Little Rock Travellers in the now-defunct Southern Association from 1901-09; 1915-58;1960-61 - see this, 'Little Rock, Arkansa Teams History' at Baseball-Reference.com, here]. Another team, the Midland (Texas) RockHounds, have now played 40 straight seasons in the league. Midland also have the longest current affiliation with an MLB team (the Oakland A’s) – 13 years.

The first incarnation of the Texas League was established in 1888, and played 5 seasons, up to 1892. A decade later, in 1902, the Texas League (II) was re-formed as a D-class minor league, with 6 teams (all teams with no MLB affiliations [ie, were Independents])…Corsicana Oil Citys, Dallas Giants, Fort Worth Panthers, Paris Eisenfelder’s Homeseekers, Sherman-Denison Students/Texarkana Casketmakers, Waco Tigers. By 1911, the Texas League was a Class B level league [~equivalent to the Class-A Short Season level today, 5 levels below the Majors]. In 1921, the Texas League became a Class A level league. In 1936, the Texas League moved up another level, becoming a Class A1 league. And in its first season back after WWII, in 1946, the Texas League became a Class AA level league. The teams in the Texas League that first season at Class AA in 1946 were (with MLB affiliation)…Beaumont Exporters (New York Yankees), Dallas Rebels (Detroit Tigers), Fort Worth Cats (Brooklyn Dodgers), Houston Buffaloes (St. Louis Cardinals), Oklahoma City Indians (Cleveland Indians), San Antonio Missions (St. Louis Browns), Shreveport Sports (Chiicago White Sox), Tulsa Oilers (Chicago Cubs).
From the Baseball-Reference.com, ‘Texas League (AA) Encyclopedia and History‘.


On the map page
On the map page each team’s location is shown with a dot and the team’s home ball cap logo. At the right of the map page, each team’s home cap logo is also shown in larger size in the team’s profile box. The profile boxes include a photo of the team’s ballpark, the team’s year of establishment and their year of joining the Texas League. 2010 home regular season average attendance is also listed along with ballpark capacity, and the year the ballpark opened. Finally, the profile boxes include each team’s Major League Baseball parent-club, and the length of time the team has been part of that MLB team’s farm system.

The list of 8 teams’ 2010 average attendances is below the map. 2010 attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)
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Map page photo credits -
Arkansas Travellers/Dickey-Stephens Park…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals/Arvest Ballpark…Photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Springfield Cardinals/Hammons Field…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
Tulsa Drillers/ONEOK Field…Photo by Tom Gilbert at Tulsa World via NewsOK.com, here.

Corpus Christie Hooks/Whataburger Park…Photo from mysite.verizon.net/CharlieBallparks, ‘A Tasty Burger, a Tasty Field‘.
Frisco RoughRiders/Dr. Pepper Ballpark…Photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, ‘Little Ballparks‘.
Midland RockHounds/Citibank Ballpark image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.
San Antonio Missions/Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium…Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Texas League‘.
2009 attendance figures from BizOfBaseball.com/Minor League attendance database, here.
Thanks to NumberTamer.com…2010 attendance figures from NumberTamer.com/ -Numbertamer.com’s Minor League Baseball – 2010 attendance analysis [pdf] (Note, league attendances begin on page 28 of the 60 page pdf.)

May 18, 2011

Brazil: 2011 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A.

Filed under: Brazil — admin @ 10:54 pm

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Brasilerão 2011


The 2011 Brasileiro season starts on the weekend of Saturday 21 May and Sunday 22 May, 2011. Brazil – 2011 Serie A, fixtures, results, table (Soccerway.com).

Reigning champions are Rio de Janeiro’s Fluminense, who went from relegation-threatened to title winners in the space of just 12 months. The player most instrumental in Fluminense winning the championship was diminutive Argentinian midfielder Dario Conca, who netted 9 times in league matches, and had a league-leading 18 assists. From Pitaco do Gringo’s Brazilian football site, from December 6, 2010, by Jon Cotteril, ‘Fluminense crowned Brasileiro champions 2010‘.

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Photo from oglobo.globo.com.

Clubs promoted from Série B to Série A for 2011 are: Coritiba [from Curitiba], Figueirense [from Florianópolis], Bahia [from Salvador], and América [from Belo Horizonte].

The only Brazilian club still alive in the 2011 Copa Libertadores is Santos (who qualified as winners of the 2010 Copa do Brasil). Four Brazilian clubs bowed out of the Copa Libertadores on the same evening (of 4th May) {see this article by Tim Vickery at his blog at bbc.co.uk, ‘Copa exits may prompt Brazil tactics re-think‘.} Santos won their 1st Leg in the 2011 Copa Libertadores Quarterfinals 1-0 away to Once Caldas of Colombia. In the 2nd Leg, Santos advanced to the Semifinals with a 1-1 draw, late on Wednesday the 18th, in Santos São Paulo state. Neymar scored Santos’ goal. In the Semifinals, Santos will play the winner of the Jaguares de Chiapas v. Cerro Porteño tie {2011 Copa Libertadores Knockoput Stages Bracket (en.wikipedia.org}.

From In Bed With Maradonna site, by Jack Lang, ‘The IBWM Guide to the 2011 Campeonato Brasileiro‘.

Below…The three top-drawing clubs in 2010 Brasileiro – Corinthians, Ceará, and Fluminense…
Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, est. 1910. 4 Campeonato Série A titles (2005). Highest attendance in Brazil in 2010: 27,542 per game…
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Photo credits – Maatheeoos at Loucporticorinthians.com. Skyscrapercity.com/thread, here, via JucaMartins.com.

Ceará Sport Club [Fortaleza], est. 1914. 2nd highest attendance in Brazil in 2010: 23,514 per game…
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Photo credits – Claudiocruzlima.blogspot.com. dariofontanelle at panoramio.com [via Soccerway.com].

Fluminense Football Club [Rio de Janeiro], est. 1902. 2 Campeonato Série A titles (2010). 3rd highest attendance in Brazil in 2010: 21,646 per game…
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Photo credits – Sidneyrezende.com. Futbolita.com/Fluminense.

On the far right of the map are average attendance figures from last season. Corinthians led the 2010 Campeonato Série A in attendance, with 27,542 per game. Second best was the just-promoted northeast club Ceará, from Fortaleza, Ceará state, who drew 23,514 per game, an impressive figure for a club that has no major trophies. That 20,000+ figure for Ceará was not a just-promoted-fluke, because the club drew 21,200 per game in 2009, in the second division. The third-highest-drawing team for 2010 were champions Fluminense, who, along with Flamengo, were forced to play most of their home matches across the city of Rio de Janeiro, at Botofogo’s Engenhão (Botofogo rents from this municipal stadium from the city), because of the massive renovation and upgrade project currently being undertaken at Maracanã, in order for that giant venue to be suitable for hosting 2014 FIFA Wotld Cup matches. Speaking of Flamengo, they had a massive attendance drop because of the aforementioned difficulties for their fan base in getting cross-town to Engenhão, plus they were terrible last season, and were actually in threat of relegation for a while (they finished in 14th place). Flamengo’s gates dropped about -20,000 per game, from 40,036 per game in 2009, to just 19,965 per game in 2010. Another club that had been at or near the top of the attendance rankings in the last couple of seasons, Atlético Mineiro [Belo Horizonte], also saw their gates drop off significantly – down around -25,000 per game (from 38,761 per game in 2009, to 13,515 per game in 2010), and they also did poorly, finishing in 13th place after a 7th place finish in 2009.

Corinthians, boasting the highest attendance, had a good regular season, finishing third. But thanks to Internacional’s 2010 Copa Libertadores championship (and thus Inter’s automatic qualification for the 2011 Copa Libetadores Second Stage), Corinthians were pushed down to the 2011 Copa Libertadores First Stage (which is essentially a preliminary round before the group stage). And there, Corinthians flamed out, failing to score a single goal versus unheralded Deportes Tolima of Colombia. As this is Cruzeiro’s Centenary year, it was a pretty bad turn of events, and the predictable response from certain fan elements resulted in vandalism at the club’s training ground. Also, it was Ronaldo’s swan song, as he has now retired.

Speaking of Brazilian greats who have returned from Europe back home to Brazil to finish out their careers, Ronadinho has joined Flamengo. The 31-year old Porto Alegre-born free kick specialist and playmaker got his pro start with Grêmio from 1998-2001, before a 5 million Euros transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, where he played from 2001 to 2003. In 2003, a 32.5 million Euros transfer saw him move to FC Barcelona, where he basically became one of the planet’s best footballers circa 2003 to 2006 (winning the Ballon d’Or in 2003-04 and in 2005-06). Ronaldinho scored 70 goals in 145 league matches for Barça, but by 2008, a hard partying lifestyle and the onset of an on-field complacency saw him fall out of favor with the Barça management, and he was sent to AC Milan, where he remained from 2008 to 2011. Fans of Flamengo hope Ronaldinho still has enough left in him to propel the most-supported club in Brazil back to the top of the attendance ranks, and back to the top of the table.

Another Brazilian great in the twilight of his career will be returning to Brazil in August – Juninho (Pernambucano), aged 36, the free kick wizard who helped guide Lyon to 7 straight Ligue 1 titles in France (from 2001-02 to 2007-08). Juninho has left the Qatari club Al Garafa to return to the Rio de Janeiro club where he first made his name…Vasco da Gama. From SI.com, by Tim Vickery, from 4 May 2011, ‘Vasco da Gama legend Juninho returns to Brazil for nominal wages‘.

It has really become trend for a certain category of Brazilian footballer to return to play again in Brazil, and that is the player who, while a veteran, is not by any means in the swan-song stage of his career – more in the 29-to-33-years-old range. Examples of this can be seen with the 30-year old Luis Fabiano (who has left Sevilla in Spain for São Paulo FC), the 33-year old Deco (who left Chelsea for Fluminense last August), and the 29-year old Elano (who left Galatasaray in Turkey for Santos FC). The strong economy of Brazil in recent years is part of the reason for this type of influx. Just being back within the welcoming embrace of the Brazilian culture is another reason. And playing in the Copa Libertadores is another (and in late March Deco scored the winning goal for Fluminense, in a crucial Copa Libertadores match versus Club América). Here is an article from the Caught Offside site, by Tom Webber, from 24 March, 2011, ‘Why Are So Many Brazilian Players Moving Back To Brazil‘.

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Thanks to Demis.nl, for the base map of Brazil, Demis Web Map Sever.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A‘.
Thanks to BolanoArea,com, for attendance figures, here.
Thanks to Soccerway.com, for Brazilian Série B (2nd division) attendances, here.
Thanks to Jack Lang, for his great preview of the 2011 Brasieiro. Here is one of Jack’s two blogs, Snap. Kaká and Pop!.
Thanks to Jon Cotteril, at Pitaco do Gringo site, for info, and for featuring my 2010 Brasileiro map on his site last year – http://pitacodogringo.wordpress.com/ .

May 12, 2011

League Championship, 2010-11 season: the 2 automatically-promoted clubs, and the 4 play-off clubs.

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2010-11 Football League Championship, Top of the Table


2011 Football League Championship Play-off Final – at Wembley Stadium in London, on Monday 30 May, Swansea City v. Reading, 3pm GMT/10am ET.
From Guardian.co.uk, on Wed. 18 May 2011, by Smon Burnton,’Reading possess the crucial ingredient for play-off final – form…Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea have enjoyed the double over Reading this season but the best stat belongs to his rivals‘.

Other 2011 English football promoted club(s)/play-off clubs maps …
6th Level/2011 Conference North – map posted Thursday, 28 April, at 12midnight GMT/7pm ET. – {click for post on Conference North}.
6th Level/2011 Conference South – map posted Sunday, 30 April, at 12noon GMT/7am ET. – { click for post on Conference South }.
5th Level/2011 Conference National – map posted Tuesday, 3 May, at 12midnight GMT/7pm ET. -{ click for post on Conference National }.
4th Level/2011 Football League Two – map posted Saturday, 7 May, at 7pm GMT/2pm ET. – { click for post on Football League Two }.
3rd Level/2011 Football League One – map posted Monday, 8 May, at 12midnight GMT/7pm ET. – ( a click for post on Football League One }.
2nd Level/2011 Football League Championship – map posted Thursday, 10 May, at 12noon GMT/7am ET.

From Guardian.co.uk/football, from Press Association on Saturday, 7 May, ‘
QPR crowned champions and promoted after escaping points deduction
• FA punish QPR with £875,000 fine
• London club escape points deduction
‘.

From Guardian.co.uk/football, from 3 May 2011, by Barney Ronay, ‘Paul Lambert one step ahead as he steers Norwich to Premier League‘.

Final 2010-11 Football League Championship table (Soccerway.com).


Top Scorers -Leading scorers in 2010-11 Football League Championship -
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Photo credits – Danny Graham photo from London Evening standard site (thisislondon.co.uk), ‘here‘. Shane Long photo from GetReading.co.uk. Grant Holt photo from Football365.com, here. Lucciano Becchio photo by PA via DailyMail.co.uk, here. Scott Sinclair photo by John Walton/EMPICS Sport/guardian.co.uk, here. Max Gradel photo from uk.eurosport.yahoo.com, here. Adel Taarabt photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Europe/zimbio.com, here. Jay Bothroyd photo by Action Images from telegraph.co.uk, here [from article 'The 10 best footballers in the Coca Cola Championship in pictures'].

Photo credits on map page -
QPR/Loftus Road…Exterior photo of Loftus Road from FussballInLondon.de, here. Interior photo by ynysforgan_jack at Flickr.com, here. Interior photo of main stand from AwayGrounds.com, here. Aerial image of Loftus Road from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Norwich City/Carrow Road…Mskau at Panoramio.com, here. AwayGrounds.com/Championship Grounds. ColonelBlinker.blogspot.com.

Swansea City AFC/Liberty Stadium…Exterior photo of Liberty Stadium from 100 Football Grounds Club, http://100groundsclub.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-matchday-242-liberty-stadium.html. Tims92, ‘Swansea City – Liberty Stadium‘. InterestingPhoto.com. Aeral image of liberty stadium from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Cardiff City/Cardiff City Stadium…Interior photo with crowd by Phil Tucker at Flickr.com, Phil Tucker’s photostream @ flickr.com. Interior photo of empty stadium from Cardiff Blues.com, Cardiff Blues and Cardiff City FC sign stadium contract. Exterior photo from Cardiff City FC.co.uk, Cardiff City Stadium. Aerial photo from Colorcoat-online, Cardiff City Stadium, project summary/gallery.

Reading/Madejski Stadium… Exterior photo by LeamDavid at Fickr.com, here. East Stand photo by Shaun at 100GroundsClub.blogspot.com, ‘My Matcday – 150 Madejski Stadium‘, via Picasaweb.google.com, here. North Stand photo [from final home match in promotion season of 2005-06] by Jason Platt at Panoramio.com, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye S\satellite view, here.

Nottingham Forest/City Ground… Aerial photo of Notts County and Nottingham Forest grounds from BBC/Nottingham, Aerial photographs of Nottingham. Photo of irregular-shaped roof of Main Stand from Inderendent Yeovil Town fansite Ciderspace.co.uk, Ciderspace-the independant Yeovil Town FC website. Photo of City Ground exterior from across the Trent River by NffcChris at en.wikipedia.org, City Ground by NffcChris. Aerial image of City ground from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to Historical Football kits for the kit illustrations, http://www.historicalkits.co.uk/
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Football League Championship‘.
Thanks to FootballGroundGuide.com, for stadium capacities.
Thanks to Soccerway.com, for attendance figures.

May 9, 2011

League One, 2010-11 season. The 2 automatically-promoted clubs, and the 4 play-off clubs.

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2010-11 Football League One, Top of the Table


League One Play-off Final at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester on Sunday, 29 May 2011 – Huddersfield Town 0-3 Peterborough United. Peterborough United win promotion the the 2011-12 Football League Championship (their second time promoted to the 2nd Level in 3 seasons), attendance 48,410.
From Guardian.co.uk, by Louise Taylor, ‘Three second-half goals see promoted Peterborough past Huddersfield‘.

2010-11 Football League One final table (Soccerway.com).

Brighton & Hove Albion FC, managed by the Uruguayan Gus Poyet, ran away with the title. The Seagulls could not have timed their storybook season any better, because the club will be moving in to their fantastic new stadium in August. Falmer Stadium (aka American Express Community Stadium) looks a bit like Huddersfield Town’s Galpharm Stadium (as well as Bolton’s Reebok Stadium). Falmer will seat 22,374, and has the capability to be expanded to around 30,000. Brighton, and their fans, had to endure two seasons of playing over an hour’s travel time away, in Gillingham, Kent in the late 1990s, followed by 12 seasons in the purgatory of the running track-scarred Withdean Stadium, an inadequate facility that only had a capacity of around 8,000. But that is now in the past, and Brighton & Hove Albion look to have a good future. The Seagulls have historically spent the most time in the third tier that they are now leaving, with 51 seasons in the 3rd Level. Brighton has spent 14 seasons previously in the 2nd Level, most recently for a 2-season spell from 2004 to 2006. Brighton has only played 4 seasons in the first division, from 1979-80 to 1982-83, with a 13th place finish in 1982 being the Seagulls’ highest league placement. When Brighton were in the First Division, they drew 24,745 in 79/80; 18,984 in 80/81; 18,244 in 81/82; and 14,662 in their relegation season of 82/83. It remains to be seen if Brighton can still draw in the 20,000-range, but I feel that if Brighton can make it through next season by avoiding the drop, they will be in a good position to cultivate a fan base that can regularly fill the 23,000-capacity Falmer Stadium. Brighton’s metro area is 12th largest in Britain {see this,’List of urban areas in the United Kingdom‘, from en.wikipedia.org}.

The other automatically-promoted club from League One to the League Championship are another club from the south coast of England, Southampton FC. Southampton returns to the second tier after 2 seasons in the wilderness of the third tier, which is a level that Saints supporters would have thought the club had outgrown. Because prior to their 2 seasons in the 3rd Level, Southampton had a 4-season spell in the 2nd Level, and prior to that, the club spent 23 consecutive seasons in the top flight. Southampton spent from 1978-79 to 2004-05 in the First Division/Premier League.Southampton’s highest league placement was in 2nd place in the First Division in 1983-84, while their best finish in the last 20 years was in 8th place in the 2002-03 Premier League. Southampton has an FA Cup title – they won the FA Cup in 1976, when the club was in the Second Division (they are one of only 8 teams to have ever won the FA Cup while not in the top flight. {see this, ‘FA Cup/Winners from outside the top flight‘, from en.wikipedia.org}). Southampton, who averaged 22,161 per game this season (up 5.6% from 09/10) have a pretty decent-sized fan base, and can come pretty close to filling their 32,689-seat St. Mary’s Stadium on a regular basis when the team is playing well, and even when they are not. For example, they drew 30,680 per game when they finished in 8th in the Premier League in 2002-03. And they were drawing almost exactly that figure (30,610 per game) when they got relegated from the Premier League on the last day of the 2004-05 season. Southampton fans must be pretty optimistic, because they have a solid manager, ex-Scunthorpe physio and ex-Scunthorpe manager Nigel Adkins, who took over in September 2010, and got the Saints first in to the play-off places by November 2010, and then into 2nd place on New Year’s Day. The club effectively clinched automatic promotion with 2 games to spare on 2nd May, 2011 (because their lead with 2 games to play was 6 points and a goal difference of over 15 more than the third place team). Adkins’ Saints broke the club record for clean sheets, with 20 out of 46 clean sheets this season. The other reason Southampton supporters will be looking forward to their return to the second tier is that this time, their arch-enemies, the nearby Portsmouth FC, are also in the second division, so the South Coast derby will resume next season. Portsmouth and Southamprton played in the FA Cup in 2009-10, but besides that there hasn’t been a regular league South Coast derby match since 2005.
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Photo credits on the map page -
Brighton…Withdean Stadium photos by Colin Smith at en.wikipedia.org, here. Falmer Stadium under construction, July, 2010, by Tescoid at en.wikipedia.org, here. Aerial photo from England.Brighton.blogspot.com, here.

Southampton…Exterior photo of St. May’s Stadium by Marcsfc at Flickr.com, here. Interior photo from Urban75.og/blog. Aerial view from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Huddersfield Town…Interior photo of the Galpahrm Stadium from Sky Sports.com, Huddersfield Town. Extreior night-time photo of the Galpharm by Matthew Ashton at The Guardian, “Huddersfield’s community stadium dream sours in ownership wrangle [6 May, 2009]“. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Peterborough United…Photo of London Road Terrace by ynysforgan_jack at Flickr.com, here. Photo of Norwich and Peterborough South Stand from ExtremeGroundhopping.blogspot.com, here/new address at ExtremeGroundhopping.woedpress.com, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Milton Keynes Dons…Exterior photo of Stadium mk from Rowecord structural Engineering site, RoweCord.com. Interior photo from SportyDesktops.com. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Bournemouth… Photo of Main Stand at Dean Court from Tims92.webs.com, here. Photo of parts of the three stands at Dean Court from DATM.info (Huddersfield Town fansite), here. Aerial image of Dean Court from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Huddersfield Town…Interior photo of Galpharm Stadium from SkySports.com/Huddersfield Town page. Exterior photo of Galpharm Stadium at night, by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS Sport, at guardian.co.uk, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

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

May 7, 2011

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

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2010-11 League Two, Top of the Table


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 3, 2011

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

Filed under: 2010-11 English Football,Eng. Non-League,Football Stadia — admin @ 7:00 pm

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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)…
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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.

May 1, 2011

England, Non-League Football/6th Level – Conference South: the 1 promoted club, and the 4 Play-off clubs.

Filed under: 2010-11 English Football,Eng. Non-League — admin @ 7:00 am

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2010-11 Conference South, top of the table




Play-off Final result – Farnborough 2-4 Ebbsfleet United, at Rushmoor Stadium in Farnborough, Hampshire, attendance 3,365.
From Bluesqfootball.com, ‘Farnborough 2-4 Ebbsfleet‘.

1st Leg match reports, from the Football Conference site, from 4th May, 2011…
[Chelmsford City 1-4 Ebbsfleet United, at Melbourne Stadium in Chelmsford, Essex, attendance 1,701.]
Fleet Take 3 Goal Advantage Home‘.
[Woking 0-1 Farnborough, at Kingfield Stadium in Woking, Sussex, attendance 2,726.]
Boro Take Single Goal Advantage‘.
2nd Leg match reports,
[Ebbsfleet United 2-1 Chelmsford City / Aggregate 6-2 to Ebbsfleet United. At Stonebridge Road in Gravesend, Kent, attendance 1,538.]
No Miracle Comeback for Chelmsford‘.
[Farnborough 1-1 Woking in AET / Aggregate 2-1 to Farnborough. At Rushmoor Stadium, in Farnborough, Hampshire, attendance 2,137.]
Extra-Time Winner for Boro

The promoted club – Braintree Town – had clinched the title on 23rd April, but the play-off places were not decided until the final day of the season on Saturday, 30th April. Chelmsford City needed a win to qualify for the play-offs, and they did, with a 3-1 result over lowly Hampton & Richmond, in front of 1,178 at the running-track-marred Melbourne Stadium in Chelmsford, Essex. The host of the BBC Non-League Football Show, Caroline Barker, a Chemlsford City board member, will be pretty relieved about that result, but the Clarets have their work cut out for them now, as they must face former Conference side Ebbsfleet United, who have been ably managed by Liam DaIsh in spite of the impediments put in front of the team by the experiment-gone-awry that was and is the MyFootballClub.com ownership of Ebbsfleet United {see this, ‘What happened to MyFootballClub and Ebbsfleet United?‘, from BBC.co.uk, from 6 September, 2010, by Dave Lee}. Maybe, without this sideshow, Ebbsfleet United would never have lost their Conference status. The club finished in 7th place in the Conference National in 2006-07, and a month later were taken over by MyFootballClub.com – it has been downhill since. Chelmsford City have never been higher than the 6th Level; the Clarets averaged 868 per game this season (but have averaged above 1,000 per game for the previous three seasons). Ebbsfleet were similarly drawing slightly above 1,000 per game (at their Stonebridge Road ground in the Thames Estuary town of Gravesend, Kent) when they were in the Conference National, and they drew 1,007 per game this season in the Conference South [3rd highest], so their relegation has barely affected attendances. But actually, 4 of the 5 clubs at the top of the table in the Conference South drew worse this season than last [Conference North was the opposite...every club in the top 5 had attendance increases compared to 2009-10]. The especially harsh winter in Britain, and the cancellation of scores of Saturday matches (and the matches being re-scheduled for poorer-drawing weekday dates) probably had a dampening effect on attendances Specifically with Chelmsford City, I would add that the club’s failure to progress past the play-off stages for two straight seasons has likely kept a percentage of their supporters away – plus, I can’t see their stadium helping.

The other play-off match-up is between Hampshire’s Farnborough, and the Sussex club Woking. These two clubs are only about 15 km. (9 miles) apart. Farnborough FC are a phoenix-club that replaced, in 2007, Farnborough Town FC, who had 13 seasons of Conference history in 4 separate spells. The current incarnation of Farnborough won promotion to the Conference South last season after winning the 7th Level Southern League Premier Division. Farnborough drew 782 per game this season [6th highest in the league]. Woking FC, nicknamed the Cards (or the Cardinals) also have considerable Conference history, with 18 consecutive seasons in the 5th Level, from 1991-92 to 2008-09. A decade-and-a-half ago, Woking came up agonizingly short of automatic promotion to the League, with back-to-back 2nd place finishes in 1994-95 and 1995-96 [That was in the era of one solitary promotion spot to the Football League. A second promotion spot to the 4th Level (via the play-offs), was instituted in 2002-03.]. Woking do have some Non-League success to brag about, though, as they are one of only 3 clubs to have won 3 FA Trophy titles. Woking won the FA Trophy (which is a competition for clubs from Levels 5 through 8) in 1994, 1995, and 1997. [The other 2 clubs who have won the FA Trophy three times are actually both defunct - Telford United and Scarborough.] Woking have maintained their 5th Level-sized fan base and draw well for the 6th Level – the Cards had the second-highest average attendance in the Conference South this season, pulling in 1,167 per game [the highest drawing club was Dartford, who pulled in 1,171 per game to their magnificent Princes Park]. Woking have an unusual ground, Kingfield Stadium. It features one rather large (for this level, at least), all-seater stand behind one goal, and mostly terrace/standing capacity in the other 3 sides. {Here is Woking FC’s Kingfield Stadium page at ConferenceGrounds.co.uk.}

The north Essex-based Braintree Town, known as the Iron, are a pretty small club to be finding themselves moving up to the 5th Level. I am not saying they have a fan base as small as the mighty minnows that are Hayes & Yeading United FC, who drew only 385 per game this season in the Conference. But Braintree Town’s fan base is only marginally bigger. Braintree were only drawing around 500 or so for most of their home matches this season. They ended up with an average attendance of 661 per game, a number inflated by 2 matches – one versus Chelmsford in August that drew 1,265 (and which was an Essex derby), and their final home match, after they had clinched promotion, which drew 1,645. But it is testament to the squad that a team representing such a small club could methodically march to promotion like Braintree Town did. And this is no fluke promotion-run by Braintree Town, because last season, the Iron missed out on the play-offs by just one point. Here is part of what the chairman, Lee Harding, wrote this week in the Braintree Town website… ‘We may not have the best facilities in the Premier Division next season, nor the highest attendances, but one promise I will make to our League is that we will not embarrass our competition by getting ourselves into financial trouble. There will be no administrations, CVAs or liquidations at Cressing Road! In my eight years at the Club we have made sustainable progress, we continue to have substantial assets behind us and are working towards a new stadium.’

Braintree Town are managed by Rod Stringer, who was appointed manager just under 12 months ago, coming over from the south Essex 7th Level club Aveley FC, after revitalizing that club and leading them to promotion from the 8th Level to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2008-09. Braintree Town’s leading scorer this season was Sean Marks, who had the second-highest goal tally in the Conference South (second only to Dover Athletic’s Sam Birchall [who had 32 goals]). Marks scored 22 goals this season for Braintree Town (in all competitions).

braintree-town_cressing-road_sean-marks_north-essex-on-tour.gif

Photo credits – NorthEssexOnTour. Pixel8photos.photoshelter.com.

Photo credits on the map page [including each club's official site]-

Braintree Town [braintreetownfc.org ]
Panoramic image of Cressing Road Stadium from NorthEssexOnTour.blogspot.com, here.. Main Stand photo by David Bauckman at PyramidPassion.co.uk, here.

Farnborough [ farnboroughfc.co.uk ].
Photo of Main Stand at Rushmoor stadium from farnboroughfc.co.uk, here. Interior photo of Rushroom Stadium by Stewart Tree at Flickr.com, here.

Ebbsfleet United [ebbsfleetunited.co.uk]
Aerial image of Stonebridge Road from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. Stonebridge Road Stand (terrace) photo by Phil Moss at Flickr.com, here.

Woking [ wokingfc.co.uk ]
Aerial image of Kingfield Stadium from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. Photo with Leslie Gosden Stand in background by PL Chadwick at Geograph.org, here.

Chelmsford City [ chelmsfordcityfootballclub.co.uk ]
Aerial image of Melbourne Stadium from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here. Main Stand photo from BlueSquareSouth.com, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Conference South‘.
Thanks to Soccerway.com, for attendances.
Thanks to the Braintree Town site.
Thanks to NorthEssexOnTour.com.
Thanks to the BBC London Non-League Football Show.

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