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October 13, 2008

Non-League Football in England: Attendance Map for October, 2008.

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This map shows the 38 highest drawing non-league football clubs this season (just under one third of the season has been played so far in the 5th Level,  about one quarter has been played in most of the other lower levels).   Instead of just focusing on the 5th Level of English Football…the Conference,  which is officially known as the Blue Square Premier League,  I have included all clubs outside the League that have a current average attendance above 800 per game.  All but one club in the Blue Square is on the list,  the exception being the Essex-based Grays Athletic,  who have seen their average gate dip 27%,  to 665 per game.   The West Sussex-based club Crawley Town currently top the Conference table,  with Kettering Town,  Cambridge United,  and Kidderminster Harriers all within touching distance of first.   For the Blue Square Premier League table,  {Click here}. 

Of the 15 clubs on the map below the Conference,  three supporter-run clubs stand out…AFC Wimbledon,  FC United of Manchester,  and AFC Telford United.  Two were recently formed as a direct result of fan antipathy towards the original club they supported,  and one (Telford) was formed when the original went bust. 

AFC Wimbledon were formed in 2002 by dissident supporters,  when Wimbledon FC announced their intention to change their name to the MK Dons,  and move from south London 56 miles north to the Buckinghamshire town of Milton Keynes (this move occured in September, 2003).   In their 6 seasons of existance,  AFC Wimbledon have won promotion 3 times,  including last May,  when the club won the Isthmian League Premier Division playoffs on the third try.  They are currently in the 6th Level,  in the Conference South.  They sit third in the table,  in the playoff places,  level on points with Team Bath (227 avg. attenadance),  and one point behind Hayes & Yeading United (489 avg. attendance).  AFC Wimbledon seem on course for eventually gaining promotion to the League (which means two more promotions),  and more power to them.  The Wimbledon FC fans who saw their plucky underdog club win the 1988 FA Cup,  only to have their club ripped out from under them 14 years later,  must be pretty proud of how far their AFC Wimbledon have come since.  For Wikipedia’s page on AFC Wimbledon,  {Click here}.

FC United of Manchester were formed in 2005,  after fan disaffection in the wake of US trailer-park slumlord/corporate takeover artist/fish-protein baron/NFL owner Malcolm Glazer’s debt-laden buyout of Manchester United  {see this}.  The club plays at Gigg Lane,  home of League Two’s Bury FC.  FC United often outdraw the club they rent from,  (although it must be mentioned that Bury’s attendance is up 15%, to 2,996 per game,  in the wake of the Shakers’ excellent form under manager Alan Knill).  FC United won promotion to the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division last spring (the league is usually referred to as “the Unibond”),  in the 7th Level.   This season seems one of consolidation for the club,  as they sit right in the middle of the table,  at 11th  {Unibond Premier League table, Click here}.

AFC Telford United were formed in May, 2004, by supporters,  when it became clear that that their club Telford United FC,  noteworthy FA Cup Giant-killers {see this},  were about to fold.  The phoenix club’s motto, numquam obliviscere,  is Latin for “never forget”.   AFC Telford won promotion twice in their first three seasons,  going from the 8th to the 6th Level,  and currently sit 7th in the Conference- North,  six point behind leaders Southport  {Conference- North table, Click here}. 

Thanks to the  King’s Lynn FC  website,  for non-league gate figures  {Click here}.

Thanks to the  Two Hundred Percent  site,  for excellent coverage of non-league football  {Click here}.  [Note:  the 18th September post, 'Stable Management And The Conference',  is good.]

Thanks to Tony’s English Football Site  {Click here}.

Pyramid Passion is a site for nice photos, etc. of Non-League football grounds…{Click here}.

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