Are professional clubs at a disadvantage in the National League?

national league

There are a handful of Football League quality players in the lower leagues who are playing part time and have their own business or job on the side.

Because their profession outside the game it is not financially viable for them to quit their day job and join a professional team who require full time commitment.

When you see a player step up to the Football League it is normally to a League One or Championship team. This is likely because these clubs will pay the wages required to be a professional footballer in this day and age.

leon lobjoit

Leon Lobjoit joined EFL League One team Northampton Town from tenth tier Buckingham Town last season.

Another reason is the fact that footballers careers are so short that they need a back up job for when they leave the professional game, so a lot of the talented players who could be playing higher up are playing in part time leagues.

New Blyth Spartans signing Dale Hopson is an example, he recently signed from Northern Premier League side Whitby Town where he scored 30 goals from midfield in the seventh tier.

Speaking to Hopson he tells me:

“With my work as a school teacher/coach it’s got to be a good offer from a pro team to get me to quit my job.

For me playing for Blyth fits my schedule better being the fact they are only part time.”

He was linked with Hartlepool United amongst others but opted for semi-professional football instead.

This suggests that professional teams in these regional divisions and even in the National League are at a disadvantage in terms of signing talented players.

You’d think that the appeal to play for a pro club, such as say York City, would tempt the players. But in reality a professional team like York will be looking at the players dropping down leagues who are desperate to cling on to their ‘professional footballer’ status.

Upon leaving Cardiff for York City, new signing Theo Wharton told the club’s media:

 

“Yeah [professional status] was a big thing to be honest. I wanted to keep that routine of training everyday and waking up going to work”

The assumption is that full time teams have the infrastructure as a business to operate more effectively and have the resources to develop these players further with extra training sessions.

My Say

In my opinion I think there are a lot of better players playing in non-league than some playing in the EFL. And personally I think it’s all down to a players pedigree.

A professional club will look to the academies of top teams to sign their recently released academy players instead of turning to non-league where there is arguably more talent but less reputation.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please tweet me your opinions or comment down below! ūüôā

Header photo by: Bill Broadley

Introducing YCFC Weekly

national league, york city fc

Something I’ve really wanted to do for a long time is to make videos. I’ve never really been comfortable in front of a camera so this is my attempt at trying to rectify and develop my presenting skills.

‘YCFC Weekly’ will be a weekly show which will be published every Sunday throughout the season.

It will include:

  • All the news surrounding the club that week
  • Match recaps, stats, analysis
  • Fan comments/opinion
  • Transfer rumours/new signings

Just to recap this is not a ‘Fan TV’ concept, it will be more of a news series which will give the fans a new way to digest what is happening at the club they support in less than three minutes.


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York City’s teenage goalkeeping prodigy Ryan Whitley is First Team bound

football, Interviews, national league, york city fc

The goalkeeping situation at York City FC is still uncertain after Jon Worsnop and Luke Simpson conceded a combined total of eight goals against League One side Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday in a pre-season friendly.

The Minstermen have not had a stable number one since the departure of Michael Ingham in 2016 and will be looking for a long term solution to this problem.

Introducing Ryan Whitley, only 17 years-old and currently the third choice goalkeeper at Bootham Crescent.

Whitley is a local lad from York and rose up through the youth team ranks to eventually play in the U18’s and Reserve side during the 2016/17 season.

He has previously trained with Manchester City and the England youth set up, plus in 2015 was subject to Premier League interest; reportedly demanding a ¬£200,000 fee plus add ons for York City to let the 6′ 5″ teenager move on.

Mills last week gave a big confidence boost to Whitley in the York Press when he explained that he would be happy to have the youth team goalkeeper as his back up to Jon Worsnop in the first team.

worsnop

Jon Worsnop in action (www.icephotographyyork.com)

Jon Worsnop was signed from Bradford Park Avenue this summer and has been the shot stopper for The Minstermen in each of their pre season games so far. He is seen as the direct competition for Whitley, however the youngster views his presence as a good thing:

“Worsnop is an experienced keeper who has played for a long time. I can take bits off both keepers to improve myself. They coach me every session and don’t just concentrate on themselves which I think is really good and positive for a young keeper like me.”

He also drew similarities between himself and now transfer-listed Luke Simpson in which he admitted “I’ve known Simpson for about a year now. He has been in a position like me when he was at Oldham so he gives me really good advice.”

A self proclaimed lifelong York City fan, Whitley has been going to Bootham Crescent since he was nine years old and has previously been a season ticket holder, sitting in the Main Stand at home games.

Upon asking about any recent interest from other clubs he replied “There’s been no news to me about deals and offers from other clubs. My dream would be to play for the First Team then hopefully get a move if I play well. Only time will tell but I will have to work hard and keep my attitude right.”

With the gradual inclusion of youth players in the York City first team coupled with the success stories of Ben Godfrey (Norwich City), Jamie Hopcutt (√Ėstersund) and Gabby McGill (Middlesbrough) over recent times you could argue that the National League North is the perfect level to give these hot prospects the platform to develop into first team regulars and Ryan Whitley seems to have the potential to do just that.


Follow football journalist Dan Simmonite using the social media links below:

FOLLOW Dan on Twitter

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Duo looking to impress on trial with York City

football, national league, york city fc

Yesterday York City FC’s twitter page posted a selection of photos from the first training session back. The usual faces: Sean Newton, Simon Heslop and Jon Parkin were all in attendance, but not everyone recognised the two new faces snapped at Wigginton Road Training Ground.

The eagle eyed of you will have spotted a new player to the right of Dan Parslow and another fresh face lurking behind Hamza Bencherif.

These players have since been identified and sources suggest they are midfielder Adam Porritt and left back Ben Gordon. But who are these new players training with the current squad?

Adam Porritt

porritt20-year-old Porritt is a typical Gary Mills player; a utility man as the midfielder is also equally as capable of playing in defence. He played most of last season semi-professionally with local club Goole AFC, two tiers below the National League North.

The Huddersfield Town academy product also had a loan spell in the 2015/16 season with National League champions Lincoln City before playing briefly with Harrogate Town under Simon Weaver at the end of last season.

Ben Gordon

gordonThe left back is a player with Premier League pedigree having progressed as a youth player at Chelsea before spending four years at the London club on a professional contract, albeit without making a senior appearance.

In recent years the 26-year-old has had stints with SPL side Ross County and League One outfit Colchester United before signing with Boston United last September, switching from National League side Woking.

The two-time England U20 international made 21 appearances in the National League North last season, playing alongside York City loan rejects Josh Robinson and Ben Clappison.

The club have understandably not made a statement on trialists at the club, however you must presume that these two players are in training to impress Gary Mills and earn themselves a professional contract at Bootham Crescent.

York City’s first friendly is on Saturday 8th July where the Minstermen travel to Farsley Celtic, a fixture¬†which could see the new trialists given their first run-outs of the pre season.


Are you happy with these signings? Let me know in the twitter poll and tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

How I started working with BT Sport

Blog Post, national league, york city fc

I’ve just finished my first year studying Media and Journalism BA (Hons) at Northumbria University and I will be going into second year with a years worth of work experience with BT Sport.

What was my role with BT Sport?

I worked on the National League Highlights Show which was broadcast every Sunday at 10PM on BT Sport 1. Specifically for York City FC.

My job would be to film the full game from the dodgy gantry on top of the popular stand at Bootham Crescent then climb down the shaky ladder and sprint across to the main stand where alongside my colleague we would film interviews with Gary Mills and the oppositions manager.

If you want a good laugh then you can watch my first ever interview with Gary Mills. It’s quite embarrassing for me and I can tell you that 19 year old Dan has learned from his mistakes which is what it’s all about!

All the footage would then have to be edited down to under eight minutes and sent as a full package over a server to BT Sport under a deadline.

Additionally I edited a longer highlights package which would be sent to York City to use on MinstermenPlayerHD; their paid subscription video platform.

I study in Newcastle and live in York so the role was ideal for me as on home games I’d be able to spend the weekend with my family and friends. On top of this travel was paid for, so I’d not have to worry about the expensive train journeys… including a ¬£150 return to London for my training course – trains are way overpriced!

York City were lucky enough to be broadcast as a live game on BT Sport when they played Forest Green in which I experienced the whole thing from the production trailer behind the ground and got to meet presenters Matt Smith and Kevin Davies.

18622629_10213360605998499_2703105833219314138_nFollowing this I got an all access pass at Wembley Stadium for the FA Trophy Final and helped out with BT Sport interviews on Wembley Way as well as looking after the presenters on the day.

Oh and I got a cheeky picture in the royal box before a scary man in a suit came up and kicked me out!

 

How can I apply?

The best thing to do is contact the nearest National League club near you. Below is a map of all the clubs in the National League next season.

mqp

My advice would be to go onto the clubs website and find an email for the media department. Better yet find out who the media officer is, find them on twitter and get in touch from there.

It’s best to get your foot in before they advertise on the website. York City for example started advertising for the role around this time.

If you’re successful you will most likely get an interview with the media officer for the role and then be sent down to BT Sport studios in the Olympic Park, Stratford for two days (all expenses paid) for a training course.

It’s also best to mention that this role is unpaid, but if you love football the perks of the job are amazing to say the least.

So what am I doing now?

Unfortunately York City were relegated from the National League at the end of last season and this meant that it was my time to move on considering BT Sport will not be covering the regional divisions.

But this experience has helped me drastically in the world of football media. People in the industry actually take me seriously now and that has lead me on to my new roles for the 2017/18 season.

For 2017/18 I will be the Programme Editor at Blyth Spartans FC as well as the Matchday Media Officer with Northumberland FA for the county team.

croft park

Croft Park – Home to Blyth Spartans FC.

I’m only going into my second year but I have all of these opportunities at my fingertips and I’m in a great position to showcase and develop my skills further. It’s made me realise the career path I want to take and now I’m more motivated than ever!


If you want any advice on getting into football media or just want a general chat then please contact me on twitter or email me. I’ll be happy to help out and possibly point you in the direction of a role which you’d be interested in.

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Who is Brody Robertson? – Alfreton Town’s New Striker

football, national league

Today Cleethorpes Town have confirmed that striker Body Robertson has left the club for National League North side Alfreton Town; following former director of football John McDermott to Derbyshire.

Robertson helped Cleethropes to a Northern Counties East League Premier title as well as the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy this past season at The Bradley Football Development Centre.

He also led the line for the Grimsby-based side at Wembley in their FA Vase Final defeat to South Shields in May.

BRODY ROBERTSON

The striker makes the step up to the sixth tier of English football with a prolific scoring record which saw Robertson score 41 goals in the 2014/15 season and 28 goals in the 2016/17 season.

On top of moving up three divisions Robertson will be playing in front of an average attendance of 546, compared to Cleethorpes’ average attendance of 193.

How many goals do you think Brody Robertson will get in the National League North? Let me know by voting in my twitter poll and let me know your comments below.


LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW

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Non-League Players Stepping Up

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Since the likes of former Non-League stars Jamie Vardy and Michael Antonio making the step up to the Premier League many EFL clubs are now looking towards the National League to find the next hidden gem.

The National League season only finished two weeks ago however players are already on the move to bigger clubs. I have outlined the few major deals going on in the past few weeks.

Michael Ihiekwe (Tranmere Rovers to Rotherham United)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE

The former Liverpool and Wolves trainee kept 19 clean sheets at Prenton Park this season as they agonisingly lost out on automatic promotion to Lincoln then lost in the playoff final to Forest Green at Wembley.

Ihiekwe joins newly relegated Rotherham who will play in League One after a dreadful season in the Championship which saw them gain only 23 points. The 24 year old is expected to replace Kirk Broadfoot in the centre of defence at The New York Stadium.

Ricky Miller (Dover Athletic to Peterborough United)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (1)

The Ricky Miller transfer is probably one of the more high profile signings of the summer¬†so far. The forward has been dubbed the ’40 goal striker’ after a hat trick on the last day bringing his goals per game ratio to 0.98.

Miller is 28 years old which is said to be prime age for a striker and he will be hoping that his second chance in league football will end in success after disappointing at Luton in 2014/15.

George Smith (Gateshead to Northampton Town)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (2)

Smith is a product of the Barnsley youth academy and made 37 appearances across two seasons in League One before moving into the National League with Gateshead.

He moves back up into League One with Northampton Town on a two year deal and hopes to challenge David Buchanan for his place in the first team during the 2017/18 campaign.

He is the only player in this list to obtain a fee for his services which is pure profit for Gateshead who signed him for free at the start of the season.

Danny Lloyd (Stockport County to Peterborough United)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (4)

The Liverpool-born player has scored an average of one in every other game during the National League North season and assisted 19 (all competitions) which is a great record considering he plays on the wing.

Lloyd has played most of his football in the North-West for teams such as Colwyn Bay, AFC Fylde and Stockport County.

Peterborough beat competition from Scottish clubs Hibernian and Motherwell to sign their second non league player of the transfer window. The Posh have a good record in developing non league players having had Dwight Gale grace the ABAX Stadium before moving to Crystal Palace.

Arthur Gnahoua (Kidderminster Harriers to Shrewsbury Town)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (5)

Being Kidderminster Harriers’ top scorer in the National League North this season has¬†allowed former Macclesfield striker the chance to prove his worth in League One with Shrewsbury Town.

Gnahoua makes his first move to the EFL having scored an average of one in three appearances in non league. He will jump up three divisions and has been awarded a year long contract to impress in Shropshire.

Gozie Ugwu (Woking to Chesterfield)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (6)

Ugwu is a product of the Category One status Reading FC academy. He finished the season 8th highest scorer in the National League playing for a team fighting for survival which is a decent accomplishment.

Like most National League players he leaves Woking on a free transfer and joins Chesterfield on a two year deal. He will link up with former non league player Kristian Dennis up top for The Spireites.

Oxford-born Ugwu is said to have a great physical presence on the pitch along with the ability to score goals. His last stint in League Two ended with 2 goals in 29 appearances for Wycombe Wanderers.

Luke Armstrong (Blyth Spartans to Middlesbrough)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (7)

Luke Armstrong has helped Blyth Spartans to the Northern Premier League title this season; scoring 21 goals in the seventh tier of English football.

The ex Cowdenbeath¬†forward will link up with his old youth team Middlesbrough in the Championship¬†for the 2017/18 campaign. He¬†will continue his development with the U23’s although Blyth manager and farther Alun Armstrong claims he has the option to bring his son back on loan.

Jamie Grimes (Dover Athletic to Cheltenham Town)

MICHAEL IHIEKWE (3)

Dover just missed out on the playoffs in the National League this season, after only gaining four points in their final five fixtures.

Jamie Grimes joins team mate Ricky Miller in the football league but will play with Cheltenham who just escaped relegation from League Two by four points. The 6′ 1″ centre half has previously played non-league football for Kidderminster Harriers and Forest Green in recent years.


Most of these players making the step up are strikers which to me is no surprise as the bigger clubs will tend to scout these players based upon their statistics and goals per game.

LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW

Also let me know your thoughts on twitter,¬†I’d love to hear your feedback! ūüôā

Non League Finals Day: All you need to know

football, national league, york city fc

On Sunday Wembley will be host to Macclesfield v York City and Cleethorpes v South Shields in the FA Trophy and FA Vase.

The Non League Finals Day will be broadcast live on BT Sport 1HD/4K from 11:30AM.

FA VASE: Cleethorpes v South Shields

Kick off Р 12:15pm

Last years winners – Morpeth Town

Prize money Р£25,000 winners. £17,000 runners up.

FA VASE GRAPHIC

This season Cleethorpes have won their league and the Lincolnshire Senior Trophy while South Shields have won the Northern League Division One and the Northern League Cup.

Cleethorpes Town

Cleethorpes could have been knocked out in the 2nd round of the FA Vase but fortunately for them two goals in the last 10 minutes salvaged them a 2-1 away win at AFC Emley.

Two successive 2-1 wins in the 3rd and 4th rounds against Bootle and Billingham Town

grimsby

Cleethorpes ground share with Grimsby Borough FC.

 

earned them a spot in the 5th round in which again they came from behind, this time two goals down, to turnover Atherton Collieries at home.

A quarter final supplied a 7 goal thriller against Southall, the score 5-2 in favour of the Grimsby based side. This set up a semi final against Bromsgrove Sporting with a total of 4000+ fans watching Cleethorpes win 2-1 over the two legs to reach the FA Vase Final.

Cleethorpes are currently in brilliant form, they have won their last 10 fixtures and go into this final looking for a treble alongside South Shields.

South Shields

The level 9 side started their FA Vase campaign in the 2nd qualifying round with a convincing 4-0 win at Esh Winning. A 2-1 home win against Runcorn Linnets ensued as fans were treated to a Robert Briggs stoppage time winner at Martiners Park.

The Tyne and Wear club then made easy pickings of Marske United and Staveley M.W. in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, winning 2-0 and 3-0 respectively.

julio

Former Middlesbrough man Julio Arca (now 36) currently plays for South Shields.

 

The 4th round ended in controversy as The Mariners went 4-2 down with 10 men in the 81st minute against current FA Vase holders Morpeth Town. Shortly after the 4th goal the floodlights went out and the game was abandoned by the referee.

After some harsh criticism online following the floodlights incident South Shields won the replay 4-0 in Morpeth’s own back yard to progress to the 5th round in which they travelled 327 miles south to beat Team Solent 5-2.

The quarter finals were kinder to South Shields as they were awarded a home tie to Newport Pagnell, the home advantage obviously helping as they sent their opponents back down south with a 6-1 thumping.

With Wembley in sight South Shields beat Coleshill Town in the first leg 2-1 before travelling back home to secure a spot in the FA Vase final with a 4-0 win in front of 3464 spectators.

South Shields have only lost twice all season and will be looking to make their first trip to Wembley one to remember by bringing back the FA Vase.

Key Players

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Robertson (left) is top scorer for Cleethorpes this season. Jon Shaw (right alongside Gary Mills) played for Gateshead last year in the National League.

29 goals in all competitions from Brody Robertson has skyrocketed the NCEL Prem side to the FA Vase Final and 1st place in the league this season. Robertson netted 41 times in the 2014/15 season for Cleethorpes and will be hoping to bring his shooting boots onto the big stage at Wembley this Sunday.

Unbeknown to some former Middlesbrough midfielder Julio Arca now plays his football in Tyne and Wear. He will be the most recognisable figure on the South Shields team.

However Jon Shaw is a notable mention, the striker-turned-defender has been a rock at the back in the run in to South Shields winning the Northern League Division One; conceding 4 goals in 7 games and winning the player of the month award for April.


FA Trophy: Macclesfield v York City

Kick off Р 4:15PM

Last years winners –¬†F.C. Halifax Town

Prize money Р£50,000 winners. £25,000 runners up.

FA TROPHY GRAPHIC

Former York player Scott Flinders will no doubt start in goal for Macclesfield. Flinders spent a year and a half with the Minstermen; getting relegated from League Two before being released in January this year.

Alongside Finders in the Macclesfield team are two other former York employees: John McCombe and Luke Summerfield.

For York Yan Klukowski could make his first appearance since February, he was on the bench against Forest Green after a spell on the sidelines through injury.

Elsewhere Mills’ preferred goalkeeper Scott Loach has returned to his parent club Notts County which leaves Kyle Letheren between the sticks. Clovis Kamdjo is still out after a crucial ligament injury earlier on in the season.

Macclesfield Town

The Cheshire based side began their FA Trophy campaign with a mouthwatering tie against rivals Altringham in which they won 3-2 on aggregate following a first leg stalemate.

Silk_FM_Main_Stand
 Macclesfield play their home games at Moss Rose.

The second round required a trip to AFC Sudbury in which they won 3-1 which set up a 3rd round tie to now League Two side Forest Green Rovers. They defeated the playoff champions 1-0 at home to reach the quarter finals.

Dulwich Halmet are arguably one of the more famous non league sides but couldn’t edge a famous victory over Macclesfield after The Silkmen beat The Hamlet 4-2 on aggregate after a 2-2 first leg draw in East Dulwich.

Another tricky tie arose when Macclesfield drew playoff runners up Tranmere Rovers in the semi finals. Macclesfield kept their nerve however and managed a 2-1 victory across both legs to reach this years FA Trophy Final at Wembley.

York City

The Minstermen welcomed Worcester City in the first round of the competition and sent them packing with a 3-1 home victory; only their 4th win of the season at the time.

A challenge on Harlow Town’s 3G pitch¬†came in the 2nd round and, without the presence of top scorer Jon Parkin, York managed a 2-1 win to reach the 3rd round of the competition against Nuneaton.

Three goals in the first 20 minutes were enough to put the tie to bed as City saw the rest of the game off to win 3-0 at Liberty Way.

The quarter finals drew York City against National League North side Brackley Town who had won 4-1 in the previous round against Wealdstone. Playing at Bootham Crescent York managed to edge the visitors 1-0.

gary-mills-on-chester1

Gary Mills won the 2012 FA Trophy with York City in his first spell as manager.

 

After a long season at the bottom York fans were disillusioned when they found out that National League champions Lincoln City were to be the team standing in their way of a trip to Wembley.

However when Vadaine Oliver headed in and Aidan Connolly latched on to Morgan-Smith’s deflected shot the York City faithful left the ground with hope of a repeat at Lincoln City.

Four days later in front of 8409 fans they sealed the deal with a 1-1 draw to win the semi final 3-2 on aggregate and reach their first Wembley Final in 5 years. The last time coming when they snatched the FA Trophy and Conference Playoffs in the space of 8 days.

Key Players

Untitled design
Holroyd (left) has a strike rate of 1 in 3 games in the league this season. Newton (right) joined the Minstermen in November and has appeared in 28 league games.

Jon Parkin and Sean Newton have been the diamonds in the dirt at Bootham Crescent this season. Both players joined on loan under Gary Mills late last year and penned permanent deals in January.

Despite City’s front three of¬†Parkin, Oliver and Morgan-Smith scoring most of their combined 24 goals later on in the season, and Sean Newton claiming ‘Clubman of The Year’¬†York City were relegated on the last day when they drew 2-2 with playoff winners Forest Green Rovers.

Chris Holroyd is Macclesfield’s biggest goal threat. The ex Preston North End forward has scored scored 13 goals in the National League this season however has only managed 1 goal in his last 12 league appearances.


LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW

I will be at Wembley on the Sunday with BT Sport trying to look important as I cheer on my team York City in what has been a depressing season.

Follow me on Twitter for more updates and info on the day.

ALSO vote in my FA Trophy and FA Vase polls on twitter and have your say on who you think will win!

Non League’s biggest stadiums

football, national league

There’s a few non league teams who’s grounds have the capacity to hold more than some premier league¬†stadiums. Many of these teams have dropped from the football league or just bizarrely play at big stadiums.

I thought I’d share some the largest grounds across non league football, giving some background and history on the clubs involved.


Untitled design (2)

Prenton Park – 16,587 (Tranmere Rovers)

Home of Tranmere Rovers and Liverpool FC Reserve football teams Prenton Park was opened in 1912, then renovated in 1995 to reach it’s 16.587 capacity today. The highest ever crowd was 24,424 in the 1972 FA Cup tie with Stoke City.

Once a Football League One side not too many years ago, Tranmere now play in the National League with an average home attendance of 5173 this season as they look to get back into the football league through the playoffs.


Untitled design (3)

Select Security Stadium – 13,310 (Widnes FC)

A bit of a strange one considering Cheshire based Widnes play in the North West Counties League Division One – the 10th tier of English football.

Obviously they aren’t the only team playing here as they share with many sports teams including: Widnes Vikings, Everton Ladies FC, Liverpool Ladies FC and Halton Spartans.

Widnes FC¬†moved to the ground in 2012, playing their first home game against ‘Chester Nomads Reserves’ on the 1st September. The clubs highest attendance at the ground has recently been set¬†as 462 spectators watched Widnes play¬†Charnock Richard FC in April – this filled 3.5% of the stadium.

The pitch surface is also artificial grass, which many non league teams are opting for due to the financial benefits of the surface. This season has seen Widnes promoted as champions from the 10th tier and they will be playing in the North West Counties Premier Division in the 2017/18 season.


Untitled design (1)

Gateshead International Stadium – 11,800 (Gateshead)

Gateshead share their all-seater stadium with a signature running track around the outside of the pitch which is used by Gateshead Harriers Athletic Club. The heed have an average attendance of 909 this season which fills just under 8% of the stadium.

The Gateshead International Stadium is the sixth largest in North East England and 3rd largest in Tyne and Wear; behind St James’ Park and the Stadium of Light.

The close proximity of larger teams in the area no doubt have an adverse affect on attendance figures as ‘The Tynesiders’ have the 4th lowest average attendance in the top tier of non league football.


Untitled design

Edgeley Park – 10,841 (Stockport County)

Originally built for now defunct rugby league club Stockport in 1901 Stockport County moved into Edgely Park a year later in 1902. The stadium on Hardcastle Road in Stockport is an all-seater stadium and is owned by Stockport Council who bought the ground for £2 million in 2015 to stop it being demolished and redeveloped.

English Premiership Rugby Union side Sale Sharks played in Stockport from 2003-2012 until moving into the newly built AJ Bell Stadium with Salford Red Devils.

Stockport are a sleeping giant in the 2nd step of non league football. The former football league team have struggled since being relegated from the Conference Premier in 2013; spending the past 4 seasons in the National League North.

They still manage to fill a third of their enormous 10,000 capacity stadium which is a great feat considering the amount of teams in the Manchester area including: Manchester United, Manchester City and Wigan Athletic.


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York City players free to leave following relegation

football, national league, york city fc

As Gary Mills has officially signed on for another year at Bootham Crescent his next job is no doubt figuring out who he wants to keep for York City’s 2017/18 season in the¬†National League North.

I expect a retained list to be published once the FA Trophy has concluded, however until then I thought I’d look into the players York City will most likely have for next season.

 

Contracts


So who could be playing next year?

York City possible lineup

I created a possible York City XI for next season based upon the players York have on deals until 2018. To be honest the line up does not look terrible. Also consider that City will be playing in the sixth tier next season.

Because of the lower level of football I believe that some of the younger players brought in on the merit that they are hungry for success may come good in the National League North.

In particular I see Kaine Felix doing well as I have heard rave reviews about his performances at Stockport last season in the division.

Here’s a clip of his assist against Tamworth:

When I saw him at home he had periods of looking like a dangerous winger with his pace and dribbling skills. I’m hoping he will stay on at City and prove his doubters wrong.

Jack Higgins is another who was a regular in the side, making 15 appearances, up until his loan move to Southport.

He was signed from the Conference North in 2016 and was Stalybridge Celtic’s top goalscorer, with 13 goals from defence, which obviously shows he has the ability at this level.

Realistically who can we keep?

Vadaine_Oliver_2017-02-11_1

 

Oliver has scored 7 league goals in 18 apps. since returning in January.

 

Vadaine Oliver has been a new player since coming back from Notts County but has said himself that he wants to be playing in the football league. The National League North would be a step in the wrong direction and I see a League Two or high level National League club coming in for the striker.

Jon Parkin would be a massive coup for the club if he decides to stay on for another year. I can see him getting 25+ goals in the sixth tier, even at 35 he is still a goalscorer. My guess is that he will either sign on or retire.

Moke, Whittle and Letheren will no doubt attract interest from National League or higher next year so I will be surprised if Gary Mills can persuade them to sign longer deals at the club.

Due to injury problems Oyebanjo and Lappin will most likely be heading for the door as their contracts expire in June.

I expect alot of these players to have a relegation release clause of some kind so some of the ones on contract can move on for free. Failing this at least York will get some sort of financial benefit from outgoing players.

Let me know who you think we should keep by tweeting me.

What about the players on loan?

I have not included players Parslow, Bencherif, Hall or Morgan-Smith on the contracts list because they are contracted on loan until the end of the season. These players have been fantastic for York in the latter stages of the season and with them all out of contract at their parent clubs it gives City an opportunity for next season.

Danny_Parslow_09-05-2009_1

 

Parlsow was clubman of the year at York City 08/09,10/11 and 12/13.

 

Realistically I don’t think any of these players will sign.¬†Asa Hall was wanted back by Cheltenham in March, Parlslow was voted players player of the season when Cheltenham won the National League in 15/16, Bencherif left Halifax for Wrexham when they were relegated last year and Morgan-Smith is way too good to be playing in the sixth tier.

That being said in my eyes Parslow has an outside chance of signing. He will be 32 years old in September and obviously has a place for York City in his heart having been at the club 10 seasons.


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National League South Playoffs: Preview

football, national league

The National League South is composed of 22 teams, all in close proximity compared to the north and many teams surrounding the capital. Maidenhead United sealed automatic promotion ahead of Ebbsfleet United this season with 98 points.

In bizarre fashion this year two teams were disqualified from the National League South playoffs: Poole Town and Hungerford Town. Despite appeals their disqualification from the playoffs was upheld by the FA. This means that 7th place Hampton & Richmond Borough will take the remaining playoff place.

The first leg fixtures will start on Wednesday 3rd May at 19:45. All live goal updates can be accessed by following my twitter account.

south

Chelmsford City v Dartford

First Leg: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 Р19:45 K.O. @ Melbourne Stadium

Second Leg: Sunday 7th May 2017 Р15:00 K.O. @ Princes Park

CHELMSFORD

Chelmsford City

Chelmsford City are probably most known for having ex England international Jimmy Greaves play for them in the late 1970’s. The Essex club finished 4th this campaign and only lost 6 games along the way.

After a bottom half finish last season this season may come as a bit of a surprise for Chelmsford supporters. Led by the goals from Shaun Jeffers, who has scored 21 goals in the league this season, they go into the playoffs with the same odds as 3rd placed Dartford.

With the current chairman resigning from his position and financial pressure over a failed takeover you could say there is a lot riding on them to achieve promotion through the playoffs.

DARTFORD

Dartford

Dartford were spared relegation in the 2013/14 Conference Premier due to two teams being demoted higher up. However the season after they were relegated to their current league; the National League South.

Having just missed out on a playoff place last season they will be looking to make this campaign count and get back to the top tier of non league football. They are currently 4th in the form table of the division, having won 4 of their last 5 games, and will be looking to continue in the playoffs.

Luke Wanadio is one to watch for Dartford. The ex Fulham youth player attracted interest from football league clubs a few years go when playing for Staines Town, being dubbed a ‘non league sensation’. He has scored 12 goals for Dartford this season.

Hampton & Richmond Borough v Ebbsfleet United

First Leg: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 Р19:45 K.O. @ Beveree Stadium

Second Leg: Sunday 7th May 2017 Р15:00 K.O. @ Stonebridge Road

HRBFC

Hampton & Richmond Borough

A smaller club in the London area due to the popularity of the nearby ruby union team, Hampton have a core support of 400 fans who occupy the Beveree Stadium.

Having won the Isthmian League title in 2016 Hampton will be looking at back to back promotions if they can come out on top in the playoffs. After a strong start to the season Hampton lost Nicke Kabamba and leading goalscorer Jamal Lowe to League 2 Portsmouth in January. This halted their early success and they could only manage a 7th place finish.

However Hampton must be thinking it’s fate as they were awarded the remaining playoff place after 5th and 6th place Poole Town and Hungerford were ruled out of the playoffs due to FA National League regulations. They play

EBBSFLEET

Ebbsfleet United

A club with ambition Ebbsfleet have had some large investment to get them back into the National League, however just missed out on automatic promotion by 2 points.

They remain the favourites to win the playoffs however were in the exact same position last season, finishing second in the league and eventually losing out to Maidstone in the final on penalties.

They are the highest scorers in the National League South this season, having scored 96 goals. On top of this they have only conceded 30 all season, which gives them a mouthwatering goal difference of +66.


Vote in my poll for who you think will win the Vanarama National League South Playoffs 2017 and tweet me your reasons why!

National League North Playoffs: Preview

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After a 42 game season and 9 months of football the National League North has come to a close for the 2016/17 season. After Darlington lost their appeal to compete in the playoffs this year, up stepped 6th placed Chorley who filled the last remaining playoff place.

The teams competing in this years National League North playoffs will be: Kidderminster Harriers, Salford City, F.C. Halifax Town and Chorley.

The first leg fixtures will start on Wednesday 3rd May at 19:45. All live goal updates can be accessed by following my twitter account.

north

Chorley v Kidderminster Harriers

First Leg: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 – 19:45 K.O. @ Victory Park

Second Leg: Sunday 7th May 2017 Р15:00 K.O. @ Aggborough Stadium

CHORLEY

Chorley

Chorley are a team who will count themselves lucky to be in the pack for promotion this season as they take Darlington’s spot in the playoffs. Chorley were promoted to the National League North in 2014 following a dominant league win which saw them beat Droylsden 13-1 in the process.

The 2014/15 season was their first season back in the sixth tier since 1990 and they made it a good one with a 4th place finish, eventually just missing out to Guiseley 3-2 in the playoff final. Last year Chorley finished 8th, failing to secure a playoff spot.

Chorley have been led by ex York City player Jason Walker’s 14 league goals this season. As well as being helped by their¬†tight knit defence who have only conceded 41 goals this season; joint best in the National League North.

KMINSTER

Kidderminster Harriers

Once a football league side over 10 years ago Kidderminster will be aiming to put their name back on the footballing map with promotion from step 2 of the non league system.

Recent years have seen a rebuilding process at the club. Armed with with the money from when non league sensation Joe Lolley was sold to Huddersfield Town for £250,000 in 2014, former Watford midfielder John Eustace has led the team to a 2nd place finish this campaign.

Key players to look out for are midfielder James McQuilkin, who was named 2016/17 supporters player of the year. And Daniel Nti, who was signed from York City in March, the pacey forward managing to find his feet in the National League North.

Salford City v F.C. Halifax Town

First Leg: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 Р19:45 K.O. @ Moor Lane

Second Leg: Sunday 7th May 2017 Р15:00 K.O. @ The Shay Stadium

SALFORD

Salford City

Salford City have had somewhat of an increase in exposure over the past few seasons with ex Manchester United players Phil Neville, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all having a share in the club.

The owners have ambitions of playing in the Championship by 2029 and in the process Salford are looking for their 3rd promotion in 3 seasons. They are no strangers to a playoff promotion, having been promoted last season through a 3-2 win over Workington.

Salford are lead at the back by towering defender Michael Nottingham, who was named Solihull Moors’ player of the season in the National League North last year. He has also been awarded supporters player of the season for Salford this campaign. So you can say that he’s a been great player at regional level.

HALIFAX

F.C. Halifax Town

The phoenix club are another team who’s predecessors were once a football league side. Having reformed in 2008 Halifax Town have had 3 promotions and 1 relegation in 8 seasons. Also seeing the likes of now England international Jamie Vardy grace their home soil in ‘The Shaymen’ colours.

Halifax were relegated controversially last season on goal difference following an incident which went viral at Guiseley last season. Before winning the 2016 FA Trophy, which left them on a high note going into the 16/17 season.

Halifax finished this season in 3rd with a 2-0 win over fellow playoff rivals Chorley, which will only fill them with confidence going into the playoffs.¬†Scott Garner is one to watch for ‘The Shaymen’ as he picked up four accolades at the players awards ceremony this season and is back training ahead of the playoffs.


Vote in my poll for who you think will win the Vanarama National League North Playoffs 2017 and tweet me your reasons why!