January 5, 2008

Football Clubs of Essex, Herts, and East Anglia (and adjacent areas).

Filed under: England's Regions — admin @ 11:32 pm


East Anglia comprises Norfolk (Norwich City), Suffolk (Ipswich Town), and Cambridgeshire (Peterborough United).   East Anglia is very rural, and agricultural-based.  Ipswich Town’s nickname is the Tractor Boys, and Norwich is the only major city in Britain not linked to a motorway, or waterway.  Herts is short for Hertfordshire (Watford), and is in the heart of the north London commuter belt.  It is home to many large corporations, like Tescos supermarket chain.  In recent years, this county has increasingly become a bedroom community for the expanding London metropolis.   I have also included the clubs from Bedfordshire (Luton Town), Buckinghamshire (Wycombe Wanderers and MK Dons), and Kent (Gillingham).

Essex (Southend United, and Colchester United) has been a dormitory area for London workers for decades.  The southern half of the county can be described as built up/run down: Southend is a famous sea-side resort area that has seen better days.  The northern half of Essex is similar to Suffolk, in terms of it being less citified and more bucolic.   Layer Road, Colchester United’s home, is a real throwback.  Other League Championship clubs do not like coming to this 6,200-capacity bandbox relic.

Layer Road will be gone after this season, when Colchester United move to a new 10,000 seat stadium, outside of town, called (believe it or not) Cuckoo Farm.  I really hope Colchester survives the drop this season [Editor's note: they didn't]. 

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

16. Norwich City: 24,545 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 0.5%, this season.  Norwich sit 20th, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  The Canaries have been playing much better since Glen Roeder took over, as manager.  They look like they will soon be safe from relegation worries.  This is a club with a large, and loyal fan base, and they don’t deserve to be in the third tier.   

22. Ipswich Town: 22,445 avg. attendance;  down 7%, this season.  Ipswich sit in the playoff place, at 6th place, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  The Tractor Boys are undefeated, at home, in the league, but are dreadful away.  They play exciting up-tempo passing football, much in the tradition of the Ipswich side that won the 1978 FA Cup, under Bobby Robson.  But don’t expect them to have a serious run at promotion, unless they start winning on the road.norwich_ipswich.gif   

33. Watford: 18,751 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 11%, this season.  Watford are in the promotion places, at 2nd place (tied on points, for first place, with West Bromwich, and Bristol City), in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  The Hornets has been slipping, lately, after a great start.  This was following their humiliating last-place finish in, and relegation from, the Premier League last season.  Their promotion chances have went from a near-lock, to more like 50-50, due to their poor recent form and the glut of competitive clubs in the second tier. watford.gif  

46. Southend United: 10,024 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 22%, this season.  Southend sit 11th, in League One (the 3rd Level).  The Shrimpers haven’t recovered from their single season foray into the 2nd Level, and selling prolific striker Freddy Eastwood (to Wolves).  They have a pretty large fan base for an historically third level club.  But in the last 20 years, they have spent more time on either side of the third tier…8 seasons in the 4th Level, 5 seasons in the 3rd Level, and 7 seasons in the 2nd Level.   

49. Luton Town: 8,580 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 23%, this season.  Luton, after going into administration, and being deducted 10 points, are in the relegation zone, at 21st place, in League One (the 3rd Level).   Luton were helped tremendously by making it to the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, and receiving broadcast revenues from their fixture with Liverpool, on Sunday.  It meant the players could actually get paid, for the first time in several weeks.  They seem to have been through the worst of it, and are playing well in the league, recently, so they will probably avoid back-to-back relegations.  What the Hatters really need is a new stadium.   Their Kenilworth Road Ground is dilapidated, and the club are unable to expand it, due to it’s location in a residential neighborhood.  One entrance to the ground actually goes under some homes.  This is a club that won the League Cup in 1988, and has spent 16 seasons in the top flight, so their current plight is a shame.

 56. Gillingham: 6,282 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 0.2%, this season.  Gillingham sit 18th, in League One (the 3rd Level).   The Gills are a club that has spent most of it’s existence in the 3rd Level, except for a 5-year spell recently in the second tier (2000-’05).    southend_luton_gillingham.gif   

57. MK Dons: 6,034 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 40 %, this season.  Milton Keynes Dons are in First place in League Two (the 4th Level), leading by 11 points.  Energized by their brand new, 22,000-seat “stadium:mk,” the high-scoring Dons seem a sure bet to return to the 3rd Level.  Whether they will ever make it back to the top-flight, where the original club (Wimbledon FC) spent 14 legendary seasons (and won the 1988 FA Cup), remains to be seen.  There is much ill-will towards this club, which pulled up stakes, and moved to a gentrified “new town,”  like some cynical American sports franchise fleeing to the Sun Belt.

67. Colchester United: 5,466 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 0.6%, this season.  Colchester are in the relegation zone, at 21st place, in the League Championship (the 2nd Level).  Colchester shocked the League Championship last season , with a 10th place finish.  It was the U’s first-ever season in the second tier.   But en route, they were forced to sell versatile fullback/midfielder Greg Halford last January (he’s now on Sunderland).  Then they sold a big offensive threat, Chris Iwelumo (who is racking them up now with Charlton).  Then league-leading 24-goal scorer Jamie Cureton asked out, saying the club lacked ambition (he’s now on Norwich).   All this has seriously set Colchester back, and they’ll likely be in a relegation battle until May.  Manager Geraint Williams has admitted he has to try to find talent on the cheap, during the January transfer window.   Lead scorer/ assists leader is 22-year old Irish winger Mark Yeates, who is deadly accurate with his curling free kicks.  42-year old Teddy Sheringham is doing his swan song here. 

72. Wycombe Wanderers: 4,983 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; down 12%, this season.  Wycombe are in the promotion places, at 7th place, in League Two (the 4th Level).  The Chairboys spent 10 seasons in the 3rd Level, and are keen to return; they’ve fizzled in the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years.

83. Peterborough United: 4,662 avg. attendance, in ’06-’07; up 14 %, this season.  Peterborough sit in the promotion spots, at 5th, in the League Two.  “The Posh” are on the upswing, with deep pocketed new ownership, and a place in the 4th Round of the 2007-’08 FA Cup.  They are favored by many to gain promotion to League One.   

Thanks to Colours Of Football for the kits (

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