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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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