Tag Archives: National League

Harrogate Town promoted to the Football League for the first time in their history

There must be something in the Yorkshire air this season. First Leeds United gain promotion to the Premier League and now Harrogate Town will be playing in the Football League next season.

What a success story for little Harrogate Town. They pushed National League Champions Barrow all the way all season, before eventually finishing second.

After defeating highly fancied Notts County in Sunday’s play-off final 3-1, it is a fairy tale story for a club living in the shadow of Leeds.

A town more famous for its tea rooms than its football club, will be playing amongst the likes of Bradford City, Forest Green Rovers, Port Vale and Oldham Athletic next season.

For the very first time in their history, Town are a Football League club. Harrogate itself attracts tourists from around the world to sample tea and cake in their famous tea rooms.

The club, who averaged around 1,400 in the National League has spent most of its existence in the Midland Football League, Northern Counties East League and Northern Premier League.

The success of Harrogate is down to the father and son team of the Weaver’s. Father Irving bought the club back in 2011. Two years earlier son Simon was appointed as Manager at the age of 31.

In his first season in charge the club finished bottom of the Conference North and were due to be relegated. However, Northwich Victoria were demoted due to financial problems and Town were reprieved.

During the 2017-18 campaign the club made the decision to turn full time. At the end of the season they won the National League North play-offs after beating Brackley Town, which earned them promotion to the National League.

The club finished sixth in their first National League campaign and were rewarded with a play-off game against AFC Fylde. Unfortunately for the Yorkshire side they were beaten 3-1 and lost out on the chance to become a Football League club.

Fast forward a year and Harrogate and the Weaver’s have been rewarded for their hard work and dedication by securing a place in the English Football League Two.

When the season starts again, little Harrogate will no doubt be written off. But in Yorkshire folk are made of true grit and with the enthusiasm of both father and son this little football club could well climb up the Football League ladder and continue to make Yorkshire proud.

Woking Manager Alan Dowson stresses the ‘club can manage if matches have to played behind closed doors’   

The Woking Manager Alan Dawson believes that the club can cope with having to play their matches behind closed doors for the foreseeable future.

Speaking to 24/7 football, Dawson said:

“If it’s got to be played behind closed doors then surely supporters can pay the normal price and watch it at home, but at this minute nobody in football has got this nailed, but whatever happens we will be ready when the time comes.”

Dawson, however, while optimistic about Woking’s future remained pessimistic regarding fellow National League clubs, he added:

“If the League starts tomorrow, I’m not so sure how many clubs in the bottom ten of the football league and top ten of our league could actually survive the football league, we certainly could.

“ I bet we are the only club in the top ten in our league and the only club in the bottom ten of the football league who haven’t got loads of debts.”

The manager was subsequently quick to praise everybody at the club and what the team has achieved this season:

“I feel the players have been the most achieving in the world. We’ve got a great football club here, how about having a crack at the football league.

“We are planning now for the future every single day from the directors to everybody else in the club from the players, myself and management, because they know that whatever happens Woking will have a future, but I’m not so sure other clubs will”.

Woking FC have had to overcome the disappointment of the National League agreeing to end the season,  having seemingly been perfectly positioned for a late play-off charge.

Despite this disappointment, Dawson ultimately stressed it was the right thing to do as he  personally experienced the challenges of COVID-19 but has since made a full recovery.

“It was at the Dagenham game that I had a bit of a cough and I thought it would be a bit of flu, but it got worse and worse with a headache starting and the sweats starting and before I knew it I walked down the stairs and I was in an ambulance and was in St. Peters hospital for oxygen, but I’m all right now and ready to crack on.”

National League clubs vote to end regular season

Following The FA’s decision to conclude the 2019/20 season for Grassroots football, The National League Clubs (Steps 1 & 2) have voted to end their current season as it stands.

A National League statement added:

“In the knowledge that the ordinary resolution has passed, the League’s board has chosen to communicate the decision now and before the last few responses are received, which will not change the outcome, to enable clubs to make business decisions with greater clarity as soon as possible.

“The options concerning the sporting outcomes of the 2019-20 season remain under careful and timely consideration, and further updates will be given in due course.”

The promotion and relegation outcomes are now under “careful consideration” after the league’s board had urged clubs in its three divisions to vote in favour of ending the regular season without further games because of coronavirus.

The National League board will now meet on Friday (24/04/20) to discuss the next steps and whether it will be plausible to continue with the playoffs or not.

The idea of ending the current season as it is, as opposed to voiding it, leaves some clubs in a promising position and Barrow AFC boss Ian Evatt has said cancelling the league ‘is the right thing to for football’, and Barrow should rightfully be promoted to the Football League.

Barrow took a huge gamble being one of the clubs to vote for the league to be ended. For some in non-league though it is more than the standings they have to think about.

Evatt told talkSPORT:

“We understand that contracts are 44 weeks and we’re getting to that stage where players are out of contract at the end of April and clubs need to save that money, it’s that simple.”

With The Northern Premier League abandoned as a result of Grassroots football being concluded, some will be having a watchful eye on the National League developments, one being league leaders South Shields.

The Mariners were runaway leaders in the competition before it was considered null and void but should the National League find a way of deciding promotion and relegation it could see a way for South Shields gaining entry to the National League North (NLN) next season.

One way that is said to have been considered is by a points-per-game basis. If that was to be the case then York, who top the NLN, would miss out to Kings Lynn who, despite being second, are only two points behind playing two less games hence, a higher points-per-game ratio.

On the contrary, a club disappointed with this outcome is Notts County, who are playing in the National League for the first time in their 158-year history.

“We would like to place on record our disappointment that the season has been brought to a premature end,” said a statement from the Magpies’ board of directors.

“While we appreciate the views of other clubs and respect the overall outcome of this vote as a representation of opinion across the three divisions, our stance has always been that the National League should operate in tandem with the EFL due to the intrinsic link between the two leagues.” The full statement is on their website.

The National League will have to work with the English Football League (EFL) on the principle of two teams getting promoted. What’s more, there is still the task of balancing the books after Bury’s expulsion left League One with 23 teams.

Football in England is suspended indefinitely, with the Premier League and EFL still hoping to play seasons to a conclusion.

Macclesfield A Step Closer to Safety

When Sol Campbell was appointed Macclesfield Manager, it was to a triumphant fanfare of his own confident ego kicking in and the fact that Macclesfield, were the strongmen of League 2 in propping everyone else up, cut adrift and seemingly heading towards the National League … Fast!

However, under his guidance, Macclesfield have had something of a transformation, being turned into a very formidable, solid and hard to beat team, which slowly but surely has eaten away at the distance between themselves and 22nd place ( the safety place) to such an extent, that they successfully dragged Notts County and Yeovil, by way of their own good form and the latter,s poor runs into trouble.

A run so good, that they were unbeaten in 5 games, with 3 draws and 1 win, on the back of going into this weeks game against Exeter City, themselves going for promotion, while Exeter themselves had not been on the best run, and though occupying the play off places, their current form was the opposite of Macclesfield’s so an interesting match awaited, with both sides obviously wanting the best result for very different reasons.

It was against this backdrop that a tense edgy game was expected at Macclesfield and on early starters it was Exeter City who took the lead, on 27 minutes, only for Macclesfield to pull one back, 3 minutes later, a lead which lasted precisely 4 minutes, before Exeter took the lead again, only to be pegged back again, deep into first half injury time.

Half Time: Macclesfield 2~ 2 Exeter City

The second half was a tense affair and going into the last 10 minutes, it looked as if it was going end all square, when Macclesfield, with 5 minutes remaining, took the lead again and managed to hold onto it until the final whistle, to Win 3~2.

The Win Lifts Macclesfield out of the bottom 2 and makes for a very interesting final few games, because, 2 points now seperates the leagues oldest Club, Notts County, who are now bottom on 37 points, level with Yeovil who are above them, going into the final 5 games of the season.

Will Macclesfield survive?… On current form it would be hard to bet against them

Up and down in League Two

The basement division of the Football League, League Two, is highly competitive year in year out with teams ensuring they don’t fall through the trap door and into non-league football at one end and at the other, teams desperate for promotion and the opportunity to play some well established and reasonably sized clubs in League One.

Some big clubs have fallen out of the Football League and struggled to come back with the likes of Wrexham FC, Stockport County and Macclesfield Town to name a few still plying their trade in the non-league side of the game.

With this in mind, we take a look at the clubs who look like getting promoted this season and those who unfortunately look like falling out of the Football League.

Firstly at the bottom end of the table, Barnet FC who currently occupy the last place are going to need a miracle to survive. The ‘Bees’ find themselves 7 points adrift of safety and with just 1 win in their last 5 games, they look a team bereft of confidence. The club did this week part company with manager Graham Westley and immediately after announced that Martin Allen would be back in the hot seat for the FIFTH time.

Whether Allen can provide the great escape remains to be seen, but with the club still having to play teams around them this could provide them with a platform for that escape.

The other team in desperate trouble at the wrong end of the table are Chesterfield FC, who like Barnet have gone through a change of manager this season as they bought Jack Lester in to replace Gary Caldwell in September. Despite the change of management the ‘Spireites’ still find themselves in trouble as they are 6 points adrift of Grimsby Town who are just above them in the league table, and with the two sides locking horns in early April it could be the decider as to who ends up going down.

At the top end of the division sees the side with one of, if not the smallest budget in the league flying high. Accrington Stanley finds themselves top of the league 3 points clear of Luton Town with a game in hand and on a run of 9 games unbeaten.

John Coleman’s men have surprised many to be sitting top of the league with just 9 games to go, but having played some attractive attacking football and having 3 players in double figures with goals its hard to deny ‘Stanley’ top spot in the league table. If they can continue the terrific run they have been on then come May they will be lifting the league title.

Luton Town were the early pace-setters in the league but recent form has seen them slip to second place and on a run of 5 games without a victory it will be cause for concern for the ‘Hatters’ supporters, as they would prefer to go up automatically rather than via the playoffs.

If the club can rekindle some of the form that they were in at the start of the season then there is no reason why they can go up automatically and also push Accrington all the way to the wire in terms of who will win the league title.

Wycombe Wanderers occupy the final automatic promotion spot in League Two and find themselves 3 points ahead of the chasing playoff pack. ‘The Chairboys’ have plenty of firepower in their team with Craig Mackail-Smith, Nathan Tyson and Adebayo Akinfenwa but indifferent form in recent times hasnt helped the club consolidate a strong automatic promotion spot.

Just two wins in their last five games will be cause for concern for the Wycombe supporters but with the playing staff they have access to and the fact that they are the leagues second highest goal scorers behind Luton, they will be hoping that they can fire themselves to promotion.

League Two fans let us know who you believe will go up and unfortunately go down this season in the comments section…