April 29, 2009

England: 2008-09 Conference (aka Blue Square Premier League): the Promoted Club and the 4 Clubs in the Playoffs.

Filed under: 2008-09 English Football,Eng-5th level,Football Stadia — admin @ 12:53 pm


The 2008-’09 Conference season went down to the wire.  Burton Albion just held on to win the league and gain the sole automatic promotion.  Burton’s form had plummeted following ex-manager Nigel Clough’s January exit.  It will be the Staffordshire club’s first-ever appearance in the Football League.  The town of Burton upon Trent did once have League representation,  though,  from 1892 to 1910,  with Burton Swifts and Burton United.  BSFC merged with Burton Wanderers to form BUFC, in 1901,  but the club folded in 1910.  

Burton Albion were formed in 1950.  The club was promoted from the 6th Level Southern League,  to the Conference,  in 2002.  They moved into the all-mod-cons Pirelli Stadium in 2005.  This ground has a capacity of 6,500,  2,000 of which is seated.  Burton upon Trent is located in Staffordshire,  38 km. (23 miles) north of Birmingham.  It sort of sits on the divide between the East Midlands and the West Midlands.  The town’s population is 61,000 (2001 estimate),  and is best known for it’s brewing heritage.  It is currently home to 5 brewers {see this}.  So one can see why the club is called the Burton Albion Brewers.

Four clubs will battle for the second promotion spot.  The four playoff clubs are a good representation of the rather wide variation of clubs in the 5th Level these days.  Two clubs,  Torquay United and Cambridge United,  boast League history. 

Cambridge United have spent 35 seasons in the League,  including 9 seasons in the 2nd Level.  CUFC were relegated out of the League,  to the Conference,  in 2005.  The club boasts a decent sized fan base, and had the second highest average attendance in the Conference in 08/09,  drawing 3,410 per game.  The highest average attendance CUFC attained was in 1991-92,  when they began their last, 2-season spell in the old Division One (the 2nd Level),  and drew 7,084 per game to the Abbey Stadium.  This was the Cambridge United that featured in the influential book Fever Pitch,  by Nick Hornby. 

Torquay United spent 73 consecutive seasons in the League,  but were never able to get higher than the 3rd Level.  They were relegated in 2007,  and made the playoffs last season,  losing in the final to Exeter City.  The club had a good FA Cup run this season, making it to the Fourth Round.   {see this post I made in January,  which includes a Torquay United gallery}.

One club, in the ’09 Conference playoffs,  Histon,  is a little over 100 years old,  but has never been higher than this level,  and this is just their second season in the Conference.  The club is located just a couple miles outside of Cambridge.  Their Bridge Road ground is the second-smallest ground in the League (Lewes’ ground was smaller, but they are going back down to the 6th Level in 09/10).   

The fourth club in the Conference playoffs,  Stevenage Borough,  were formed relatively recently (in 1976),  but have been trying for 15 years to get into the promised land of the League.  [Note: Wikipedia has the wrong 08/09 home jersey design for SBFC; I would try to get it changed if I knew how, but it's pretty late in the season anyway.]  Stevenage Borough were denied entrance to the League in 1993-’94),  when they won the Conference,  because their ground was not up to standards.  Now Broadhall Way is one of the best grounds in Non-League football.  Stevenage is in Hertfordshire,  43 km. (27 miles) north of London.

As far as average attendance goes,  four of the top 8 drawing clubs in the Conference are on this map.  Histon is the exception,  and as they are near the bottom of the attendance list,  the small club from the village of Impington can be seen as a club punching above their weight.  But considering how Histon beat Leeds United in the FA Cup earlier this season,  no one should be surprised if Histon advance in the playoffs.

Blue Square Premier League average attendance,  2008-2009 season {click here  ( }.   [Note: the top list is by percent capacity; the second list is by average.]    For the second straight season,  the highest-drawing Conference club was Oxford United.  Had it not been for a five-point deduction for roster irregularities,  Oxford would be in the playoffs right now,  as the chairman groused about Monday {see this (BBC)}.  Then he apoligized for calling the Conference “poxy”  {see this}.  He should realize that no club is too big for any league,  something Leeds United fans,  and maybe,  Newcastle United fans,  will need to come to grips with.


The Conference playoffs begin Thursday, 30th April,  with Stevenage Borough v. Cambridge United.  The other match-up features Torquay United v. Histon,  on Friday, 1st May.  The second leg of both match-ups is on the following Monday, 4th May.  The final will be at Wembley, date TBD.


While on the subject of Non-League football,  there is one story that should not go unmentioned…the fourth promotion in seven years for AFC Wimbledon  {see this article,  by David Conn in the site}. 


Thanks to Tony’s English Football site for gate figures and fixtures information {click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages at Wikipedia {click here (set at Conference National page)}.   Thanks to {click here},  for the information on the 08/09 kit.   Thanks to {click here}.   Thanks to {click here}.   Thanks to the Geobytes site,  for their City Distance tool {click here}.   Thanks to the footy-mad site,  for League history of clubs {click here}.  Thanks to Jeremy at Albion Road site {click here},  for finding the first site last Sunday that had the Conference playoffs schedule  (at Tony’s English Football site,  of course). 

Thanks to VirtualGlobetrotting {click here}.  

WordPress database error: [Table 'bil072291136157.wp_comments' doesn't exist]
SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = '1' AND comment_post_ID = 2463 ORDER BY comment_date_gmt ASC


No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress