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October 4, 2009

England: Non-League Football, attendance map for 4th October, 2009 (all clubs drawing above 600 per game- 45 clubs).

Filed under: Attendance Maps & Charts — admin @ 5:35 pm

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Attendance in the Conference is up 10.5%.  Last season,  the final average attendance for the entire league as a whole was 1,857.  This season,  as of 4th October, 2009,  the average is 2,051.  The main reason is the huge gates,  in Non-League terms,  of Luton Town and Oxford United (in the 5,00o-6,000 range).  The Oxford v. Luton match of 8th September (a Tuesday) drew 10,613. (!)   Also,  Mansfield Town,  another former Football League club,  is seeing a big upswing at the turnstiles,  with a 40% increase from last season,  to 3,392 per game.  And one of the newly promoted clubs is AFC Wimbledon,  who are seeing a 20% increase to 3,844 per game.  Two more clubs in the Conference are drawing above 3,000 per game:  Wrexham (3,734) and Cambridge United (3,032).

It must be pointed out that all but one of these clubs have spent considerable time in the Football League,  in the past.  The one club without League history is AFC Wimbledon,  but 1). AFC Wimbledon is the heir to Wimbledon FC,  who spent 14 seasons in the top flight,  and famously upset Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup;  and 2). AFC Wimbledon is almost certainly bound for promotion to the Football League in the near future.

If you are wondering what all these decent-sized clubs with long histories in the Football League are doing in the 5th Level (ie, the Conference),  it is because so many small,  but well-performing clubs like Dagenham & Redbridge,  Barnet,  Burton Albion,  Aldershot,  and Morecambe are currently in the League.  All of these clubs are drawing less than 3,000 per game.  In fact,  11 clubs in League Two are drawing lower than 3,000. 

Prior to 1987,  there was no automatic promotion and relegation between the Football League (Levels 1-4),  and the lower leagues that made up Non-League football.  What we are seeing today is a sort of leveling out…all these clubs that spent decades in the lower reaches of the League,  and never had to worry about relegation (like,  say,  York City) now find themselves out of the League.  And clubs like Yeovil Town,  with no League history,  have punched above their weight and climbed up to the League.

The biggest increases among clubs in the leagues below the Conference are found at Havant & Waterlooville (+55%),  Newport Country (+51%),  and Tamworth (+47%),  all 6th Level clubs.  Newport County,  of south Wales;  and Tamworth,  of south-east Staffordshire,  were promoted last season.  That explains the gate increases there.  With H&WFC,  the club has seen an increase from 722 to 1,122 per game most likely due to the matches against other clubs within close vicinity,  which produced traveling support that increased the gates.  Their recent matches v. Bath City,  Eastleigh,  Basingstoke Town,  and Dover Athletic all fall into this category,  with gates in the 1,100-1,400 range rather than the normal 700-800 range.   [I guess that's one problem with doing a map like this,  when only about 30% of the season has been played...certain matches will skew the figures.  So I will make an updated version of this map in May,  2010.]

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51 weeks ago I made a map for Non-League attendance leaders,  with a cut-off point of all clubs drawing above 800 per game {see it, here}.  This year,  I have put the cut-off at 600 per game.  This added 7 more clubs total to the map.  Meanwhile, 33 of the 38 clubs on the map last season are back on the map this season.  Gone via promotion to the Football League are Burton Albion and Torquay United.  Gone from the map because of a drop in attendances are Bath City,  Lewes,  and Northwich Victoria.

Here are the clubs that were not on the Non-League attendance map last October… Braintree Town,  nicknamed the Iron,  are from Essex,  and play in the Conference South (a 6th Level league).   Truro City play in a location pretty far off the beaten path,  in Cornwall.  The club are currently in the Southern League (in the 7th Level).  Truro City have now been promoted four straight seasons.  Truro City are the only football club from Cornwall in the top 10 Levels of the English football league system   Farnborough are in the Conference South (6th Level),  and are from that north-east Hampshire town where ’The Football Ramble’ originated {see this recent article in the Guardian.co.uk,  about the unlikely rise of this independent sports show…click here}.   Havant & Waterlooville are also from Hampshire,  and also in the Conference South,  and are located in Havant,  which is about 10 km. north-east of Portsmouth.  The club,  nicknamed the Hawks,  made it to the 4th Round of the 2007-08 FA Cup (after beating Swansea in the 3rd Round).  Their 4th Round match versus Liverpool,  at Anfield,  was widely broadcast,  and saw the plucky south coast side take the lead on the Reds twice,  only to fall 5-2.   Eastwood Town are in the Conference-North,  and are from Nottinghamshire.  The club,  nicknamed the Badgers,  made it to the 2008-09 FA Cup 3rd Round (after beating Wycombe Wanderers in the 2nd Round).   Leamington are from Whitnash, Warwickshire,  that historic county which wraps around the eastern end of the West Midlands.  Leamington Spa and Warwick are both neighboring towns of Whitnash.  Leamington are in the Southern League (7th Level).   Lowestoft Town are from north-east Suffolk,  on the North Sea 33 km. (20 miles) south-east of Norwich;  and 59 km. (37 mi.) north-east of Ipswich.  The club has the great nickname of the Trawler Boys.  Lowestoft Town are in the Isthmian League, North (aka the Ryman North),  an 8th Level league. [note- there are just two clubs from the 8th Level on the map: Lowestoft Town and FC Halifax Town (who are the re-born Halifax Town AFC].  Gateshead are located in Tyne and Wear,  within Greater Newcastle.  The club crest features the town of Gateshead’s Angel of the North sculpture {see this}.  Gateshead were promoted to the Conference last season,  and have seen an attendance increase of around 300,  to 718 per game.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here for the page on 2009-10 Conference National}.   Thanks to the King’s Lynn FC site’s Turnstile Count {click here}.   Thanks to ESPN Soccernet {click here},  for Conference attendance figures {click here}. 

Thanks to the Blue Square South official site {click here}.   Thanks to the BBC site’s Non-League page {click here}.  Thanks to the Two Hundred Percent site,  for it’s excellent coverage of the Non-League scene {click here}.

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