January 4, 2008

Non-League Football in England, Attendance Map.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:56 pm


[ This map was made in connection with the Pitch Invasion site ( ]

The statistics used for the map are from December 28, 2007, courtesy of the King’s Lynn FC official website, which you can access, here.** 

Since then, no other club has broken into the top 32 Non-League average attendances, although Worcester City, Stafford Rangers, and Dover Athletic have all now broken the 900-per-game mark (which was my cut-off point, for the map). 

Using the latest gate figures (January 2, 2008), here is the list of the biggest gate increases, from last season to this season, of clubs that made the map.   

A. (#20) Histon, up 56% (from 790 to 1,229).;     B. (#15) Salisbury City, up 34% (from 1,118 to 1,498).;     C. (#3) Cambridge United, up 27% (from 2,818 to 3,519).     D. (#4)  Torquay United,  up 26% (from 2,633 to 3,320).     E. (#22) Chelmsford City, up 19% (from 1,001 to 1,193).;     F. (#4) Stevenage Borough, up 18% (from 2,126 to 2,520).

Histon and Salisbury were both promoted last spring, with their debut in the 5th Level (The Conference).  Cambridge and Stevenage did not move from the 5th Level, but are both doing well this season (both are in the playoff places).  Chelmsford City is a 6th Level club that is in the top 5 of their league (the Conference South).  And Torquay, believe it or not, got relegated out of the Football League, yet has increased their gate by 667 fans a game.  Maybe they are pulling a Bradford City (ie, get relegated, then slash ticket prices.) 

I just checked around, and their prices are about the same as Oxford and Stevenage Borough’s.  Torquay’s unusual gate increase must be because of the optimism engendered by the club’s new ownership.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they are playing well.  The Gulls are in 2nd place, four points behind Aldershot Town.  Still, to be cast from the promised land of The League, and then see such a marked increase in attendance, is a good sign for Non-League football.

Other clubs (that did not make this map) with big increases in crowds are (#38) Farsley Celtic, up an astounding 186% (from 308 to 880);  and (#40) Lewes, up 55% (from 520 to 805).    Farsley Celtic are from Leeds, and were just promoted up to the Conference, for the first time.    Lewes, known as The Rooks, are from East Sussex, and are leading the Conference South (in the 6th Level) by 9 pts.  **(See this  feature);   **(see this photo gallery). 

There are a couple other burgeoning minnows, but the one that deserves the final mention here is Chasetown FC.  On Saturday, they will play in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.  As an 8th Level club, Chasetown will become the lowest ranked club in history to reach the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, when they host Cardiff City, in their 3,000 capacity ground. (See this article.)   This club is from south Staffordshire (just north of Birmingham).  Nicknamed The Scholars, they play in the Southern League, Division One-Midlands (see standings, with attendances, here…  some of the clubs in this league don’t even average 100 per game.) 

Chasetown’s average gate this season is #68 in Non-League football, at 462, up 51% from last season.  Go Scholars !    **(Here is BBC-Staffordshire’s coverage of the story.)    **(Chasetown FC Official site, here.)

Football Clubs of Hampshire, Berkshire, the West Country, and South Wales.

Filed under: England's Regions — admin @ 8:19 am


The logos of the bigger clubs on the map are sized to 2006-’07 average attendances, and reflect the size of the club’s fan base. 

Almost all of the League clubs from this region are doing very well.  Both Bristol clubs were promoted, last season (City to the 2nd Level, Rovers to the 3rd Level).  In fact, Bristol City are currently tied, on points, for the lead in the 2nd Level.  This is a stunning development, and great to see.  Bristol is the 6th-largest city in England, but has not seen top-flight football since Bristol City were relegated out of the old First Division, in 1980.  Manager Gary Johnson is an unassuming bloke, who worked miracles with mighty minnows Yeovil Town ( 2 promotions in 4 seasons).   At BCFC, he has assembled a tenaciouis squad that can beat anyone, even on the road.  People are now actually starting to take this club seriously, as promotion candidates.  

Former Conference dwellers Yeovil Town had their highest ever finish last season (5th place, 3rd Level).  Cheltenham, a tiny club, are punching above their weight, hanging on for dear life in the 3rd Level (they have the fan base of a 5th Level [Conference] club, really).  Plymouth are actually competing for a playoff place in the 2nd Level (they have never been in the top-flight).  Reading’s debut season in the Premier League, last term, produced a dream-finish of 8th place, and it looks like they will survive the inevitable sophmore slump.  Swindon won promotion back to the 3rd Level.  And in 2006-’07, Portsmouth had their best season in 52 years.

Of the two Welsh clubs, Swansea City is definately faring better, what with a new stadium, solid attendance figures (for the 3rd Level), and a three-point lead in League One.  Cardiff City are doing OK, but they seem to be treading water, and their perpetually delayed new ground is really needed.

That leaves just Southampton (stuck in the purgatory of the 2nd Level), and poor Torquay (relegated out of the League, and into the Conference [5th Level], only to start drawing significantly more fans than last season). 

2006-’07 Season Average Attendance/ % Change this Season (so far)/ Club standing in The League.  [Clubs listed in numerical order, within context of the entire 92-club English Football League.]

17. Reading: 23,829 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); avg. attendance down 2%, this season. Reading sit 13th, in the Premier League, on January 2, 2008.    20. Southampton: 23,556 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 11%, this season.   Southampton sit 15th place, in the 2nd Level.    31. Portsmouth: 19,862 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07);  down 2%, this season.  Portsmouth sit 8th, in the Premier League.    37. Cardiff City: 15,223 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 10%, this season. 

39. Plymouth Argyle: 13,012 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 1%, this season. Plymouth sit 7th, in the 2nd Level.    41. Bristol City: 12,818 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); Up 17%, this season.  Bristol City sit 3rd, in the 2nd Level.     42. Swansea City: 12,720 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 6%, this season. Swansea City sit First, in the 3rd Level.    52. Swindon Town: 7,419 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 6%.  Swindon Town sit 12th, in the 3rd Level.

58. Bournemouth: 6,028 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 6%, this season.  Bournemouth sit in the relegation zone, at 22nd, in the 3rd Level.    60. Yeovil Town: 5,765 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 5%.  Yeovil Town sit 8th, in the 3rd Level.   66. Bristol Rovers : 5,476 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); Up 28%, this season.  Bristol Rovers sit 19th, in the 3rd Level.   80. Cheltenham Town: 4,359 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); down 0.6%, this season.  Cheltenham sit in the relegation zone, at 22nd, in the 3rd Level.    86. Torquay United : 2,633 avg. attendance (in ’06-’07); Up 26%, this season.  Torquay United sit 2nd, in the 5th Level (The Conference).

January 2, 2008

Blue Square Premier League. (The Conference). 2007-08 Clubs.

Filed under: Eng-5th level — admin @ 7:09 am


This Map was made in connection with the Pitch Invasion site, which is featuring Non-League Football all this week.
See these figures for England, here.)  **(For Germany, here {scroll to the bottom, for lower leagues}.)   **(For all Non-League clubs’ gate figures, click here.)Media coverage is decent for non-league football.  In 2006, Setanta Sports began broadcasting 2 live matches a week, in-season.  Sky Sports News shows standings of Levels 5 through 7 on their sidebar scroll, and it is not unusual to see a feature, or a report, on a non-league club, especially during FA Cup season.  Then the romance of a minnow taking on a big club is played to the hilt.  You’d have to be a pretty cynical fan not to get a kick out of seeing Exeter City take Manchester United, at Old Trafford, to a 3rd-round replay, then hold their own in their quaint West Country home grounds, as they did in January, 2005.  Not incidently, the windfall from all this helped Exeter City avoid dissolution.  

There are 24 teams in the “Conference” (as most call it).     First place gains automatic promotion to the League (into League Two, the 4th Level Level).  A playoff decides the second promotion spot.  Last season, east London club Dagenham & Redbridge won automatic promotion, and Lancashire-based Morecambe won the playoff, at Wembley.  It is both clubs’ first time ever in the “League.”   Almost all of the clubs in the 5th Level (Conference) field squads composed of full-time players.  Invariably, some of the smaller clubs, as well as most every other club in the 6th Level on down, field part-time players.   In the Conference, the bottom 4 clubs are sent down to the 6th Level, to either the Northern or Southern League, depending on location of the club in question. 

Here is a chart. ** Click on it,  for the FULL CHART (Enlarged). **


There are several clubs that have successfuly “graduated” from the Conference, in recent years.  I have copied a list of these clubs, from Wikipedia . **To see it, click on the thumbnail icon below.**


Aldershot lead the Conference, as 2008 begins, followed by Torquay United, 4 points behind.  **Click here, for Conference standings.

** Here are 2 good articles about 2 Non-League clubs I like, Forest Green (because they are an underdog club, with a quirky ground),and Stevenage Borough (because they were shafted by the League [denied promotion to League, due to inadequete facillities, in 1996], and have overcome this.) BBC, on Forest Green, click here.   BBC, on Stevenage Borough, click here.

Thanks to King’s Lynn FC Official site for gate figures…Go Linnets !      Also thanks to Tony’s English football Site, which i just discovered yesterday.  It has great maps of all the lower levels of Non-League (no logos, alas) .  Thanks to BBC,  FourFourTwo,  and Wikipedia, for information, and images.  Thanks to Tom Dunmore, of Pitch Invasion, for the impetus, and encouragement

January 1, 2008

Manchester City, part 2 (1956-2007).

Filed under: English Football Clubs — admin @ 12:09 am


Winning the 1956 FA Cup would prove to be the high point of Les McDowell’s tenure as manager of Manchester City.  They finished in 4th in the League, that year.  In 1957, they slid all the way down to 18th place, but righted themselves, with a 5th place finish, in 1958.  City would not finish any higher than 12th, in the next 4 seasons, though, as the club failed to adequetely replace their aging squad.  Manchester City was relegated, once again, in 1963, and McDowell left.  His replacement, George Poyser, failed to improve the club’s standing.  The low point of this era had to be an 8,015 attendance, at Maine Road,  in January, ’65.   And so, after an 11th place (2nd Division)  finish, in 1965, Poyser was sacked.  His replacement was Joe Mercer.

Joe Mercer had a successful career as a defensive half-back, at Everton, and Arsenal, from 1932-’55.  He won championships with Everton and Arsenal; as well an FA Cup with Arsenal, in 1950.  After retiring from play, he managed Sheffield United; and Aston Villa, whom he led to victory in the inaugural League Cup, in 1961.  Mercer suffered a stroke in 1964.  He recovered, and went against his doctor’s orders by returning to sidelines.  But the board at Villa sacked him.   He arrived at Manchester City in the summer of 1965.  That first season, Mercer, and assistant manager Malcolm Allison, made two crucial aquisitions.  First, they procured fiery winger Mike Summerbee from Swindon.  Then, early in 1966, midfielder Colin Bell was bought from Bury.  Bell would prove to be Manchester City’s greatest-ever player, scoring 117 goals, in 394 league appearances for the club (1966-’79).  He became known as “the King of the Kippax,” (after the Maine Road stand renowned for it’s boisterous fans).colin_bell.gif

Mercer’s first season as manager was a success, as City won the Second Division, and returned, once more, to the top tier.  [Note: Manchester City's 7 second division titles is a record.  In Manchester City's entire history, the club has been relegated to the 2nd Level 10 times, and relegated to the 3rd Level once.  They have won promotion to the top flight 11 times.  (The term yo-yo club was pretty much invented for them.)]   The club’s first season back in the First Division (’66-’67) was a struggle, and they finished in 15th place. 
In October 1967, stocky forward Francis Lee made his debut for the club.  Man City paid Bolton 60,000 pounds for him, a club record.  It became money well spent, as Lee became a crucial part of City’s 5-man attacking formation.  With Colin Bell as midfield general, Mike Summerbee and Tony Coleman on wings, and Francis Lee and Neil Young up front, Manchester City played a fluent passing game that got better as the season progressed.  In December, on a frozen Maine road pitch, they schooled Tottenham, 4-1.  It was called “the ballet on ice,” and Spurs legend Jimmy Greaves remarked how the City players “had moved so gracefully in those conditions, while we were falling about like clowns at the circus.”ice_match.gif 

In March of ’68, Manchester City faced reigning champs (and local rivals) Manchester United, at Old Trafford.  George Best scored in the first minute for United, but City recovered, dominating the rest of the match, and racking up three unanswered goals.  But Man City had started the season so poorly, it took the full season to make up lost ground, and outldistance Man.United.  City won the Title on the last game, 3-4 away to Newcastle, thus beating United by 2 points.  So in April, 1968, 31 years after their first crown, Manchester City won their second National Title.

To see Nigel’s Webspace Man City trading cards gallery, from 1968-’69, click here. 

The following season (’68-’69), City fared poorly in the League, finishing 13th.  But their fine FA Cup run led them all the way to the final, where they faced Leicester City.  Assistant manager Malcolm Allison had the idea of the club wearing a change strip of black-and-red stripes, like AC Milan, in order to inspire the squad.

**Click here, for highlights of Manchester City’s 1969 FA Cup victory**City’s league form for the 8 seasons after their 1968 Championship was mediocre, at best, with an average finish of 9th place.  They did finish in 4th place, in 1972, though.  I have included a Youtube highlights of a Manchester derby from that season, mainly because I enjoyed watching it, and it gives a good portrayal of that era.  **See City v. United, November, 1971, here.**However, Manchester City did win more silverware during this time.  In March, 1970, they won the League Cup, beating West Bromwich Albion, 2-1.  One month later, they won the the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup, 2-1, over Gornik Zabreze, of Poland.  City had to beat Athletic Bilbao, of Spain; and Schalke, of Germany, to get to the final**See Man City demolish Schalke, in the 1969-’70 ECWC Semi-Final, 2nd Leg, at Maine Road, here. **   The 2 successful Cup runs help to explain why City finished in 10th place in the League, that season.

No on knew it at the time, but City were about to start their long spell as hapless underachievers.  There was one more moment of glory, though,  when the club won their second League Cup, and last trophy, in 1976.  They beat Newcastle, 2-1.  The next season, Man City just missed winning the Title.  Liverpool beat them out, by one point.   The club’s only appearance in a Cup Final since then was an FA Cup replay loss, to Tottenham, in 1981.**Click, here, for a good article about Maine Road.**Here is a 6-part documentary, about the 1980-’81 Manchester City club. ** CITY ! Part One, click here. (time-9:34).    CITY ! Part Two, click here. (time-8:43).    CITY ! Part Three, click here. (time-8:53).    CITY ! Part Four, click here. (time-8:13).   CITY ! Part Five, click here. (time-8:42).   CITY ! Part Six, click here. (time-7:46).    The years from then to now can best be summed up by the fact that since Manchester United hired Alex Ferguson, in November, 1986, Manchester City has fired 13 managers.  Maybe new manager Sven-Goran Erikksen is the one to change Manchester City’s culture of failure. BBC Man City picture gallery, from 2003, click here.Thanks to:  (historicalkits[dot]co[dot]uk)- the 5 kits on the bottom left of the chart are copyrightt Historical Football kits, and reproduced by permission; (colours-of-football[dot]com);  (webbaviation[dot]co[dot]uk);  (happyaxeman[dot]co[dot]uk/mcfc/);  (rtfact[dot]com);  (viewimages[dot]com);  Nigel’s Webspace; bbc; wikipedia; and (uit[dot]no/mancity).

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