Red denotes relegated
Green deonotes finished in relegation zone but received reprieve
Blue denotes finished in the top five
BOLD denotes promoted
|10/11||AFC TELFORD UNITED||-||-||-||-||-||-||20th||24th|
|13/14||AFC TELFORD UNITED||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||23rd|
Altrincham finished in the relegation zone in 05/06, 06/07 and 07/08 but reprieved from relegation due to Boston United's double relegation, Canvey Island taking voluntary relegation and Halifax Town folding
Southport finished in the relegation zone in 10/11 but were reprieved from relegation due to Rushden and Diamond's demise.
Chester FC finished in the relegation zone in 13/14 but were reprieved from relegation due to the demise of Salisbury City and Hereford United.
|05/06||ST ALBANS CITY||-||24th|
|08/09||HAYES & YEADING UNITED||-||-||-||-||17th||16th||21st|
Salisbury City were demoted from the league in 09/10* as they were in adminstration. In 13/14 they were demoted after missing a deadline to clear outstanding debts, and then expelled in July 2014 despite minority owner Mark Winter offering £91,000 to safeguard the club's future.
Dartford reprieved from relegation in 13/14 due to the demise of Hereford United and Salisbury City.
In 04/05 only Champion's Grays Athletic were promoted. Play-Off winner's Eastbourne Borough lost to Altrincham in the only North/South play off final played.
The North and South divisions of the Conference (now known as the National League) were formed in 2004/2005 - the league's start their thirteenth season in August with many clubs dreaming of promotion to non-league's top table and many owner's seemingly breaking the bank in order to do so. The bad news for the newly promoted sides to the National League (Maidstone United, Sutton United, Solihull Moors and North Ferriby United) is that most clubs that have gone before them have struggled in the lower reaches of the table. Only three clubs promoted from the new Step Two have succesfully gained a further promotion to the football league - Fleetwood Town in 11/12, AFC Wimbledon in 10/11 and Newport County in 12/13. Looking at the fact two of those came from the South Division and that the average finishing position for the North sides is 16.65 compared to 13.98 for the South sides you could say the SOUTH is the strongest league?
AVERAGE FINISHING POSITION FOR PROMOTED NORTH SIDES - 16.65
AVERAGE FINISHING POSITION FOR PROMOTED SOUTH SIDES -13.98
Eastleigh and Dover Athletic have bucked the trend by finishing in the top ten for the last two seasons after promotion to the National League. Eastleigh had a chance to go up by finishing in the play-offs in their first season with Dover Athletic qualifying in their second season. All four promoted sides from the 13/14 season in Bromley, Boreham Wood, Guiseley and Barrow all stayed up albeit both Boreham Wood and Guiseley only by a few points.
So what chance do the promoted sides have this season in probably the most highly competative division in English football (odds courtesy of betway) -
Odds offered to go down - 9/4
Title odds - 50/1
Can The Stones secure a third promotion in as many seasons to secure another level in the rapid rise up the pyramid? I think most of their huge number of supporters will be happy with a mid-table finish. Boss Jay Saunders has signed defender Jack Evans from Eastbourne Borough who started last season at Sutton United. He has played for Gillingham in the football league and the conference for Tamworth. Centre Back's Kevin Lokko (from Welling United) and Anthony Acheampong (ex Barnet signed from Ebbsfleet United) have also been recruited which has allowed the club to put Callum Davies up for transfer who surprised many by dropping down from League Two side Gillingham in January to join The Stones. Winger Tom Murphy has joined from Dover Athletic and Dumebi Dumaka, who impressed many fans for Grays Athletic before his move to The Gallagher Stadium last season, has comited to the club for the forthcoming season. The stadium capacity is now 3,030 which will be full at many of the games this season - Off the field the club are looking to raise £50,000 (they have a total of just over £11,000) from a supporters fund raising scheme "Stand up for Stones" to help build a new stand and increase the capacity further.
Odds offered to go down - 9/4
Title odds - 50/1
Paul Doswell has opted to keep a settled squad at the National League South Champions. Roarie Deacon, a midfielder, has joined after making 37 appearances for League Two side Crawley Town last season. He also played in the league Stevenage FC and came through the Arsenal youth set-up. Bradley Hudson-Odoi has also joined after imrpessing for Wealdstone last season - The striker scored 15 goals in 31 games for The Stones.
NORTH FERRIBY UNITED
Odds offered to go down - 1/2
Title odds - 100/1
The Villagers proudly sit at non-league's top table for the first time in their 82 year history. They won via the play-offs and a 2-1 win over AFC Fylde. They are the bookmaker's favourites to go down.
Steve Housham has replaced succesful boss Billy Heath who left the club to join FC Halifax Town after the end of last season. The former Gainsborough Trinity manager has already gone on record saying it's going to be tough job with the playing budget he has been handed compared to some other clubs in the division but nobody expected them to win the FA Trophy in 2015 but they famously did - Can they show everybody the odd's compilers are wrong to think they will finish in the drop zone?
Odds offered to go down - 9/4
Title odds - 40/1
Founded in 2007 following a merger of Solihull Borough and Moor Green. Neither of these sides played in the top division in non-league football so this is unchartered territory for The Moors. Marcus Bignot has been in charge since 2011 and has slowly built up his squad - finishing 19th, 9th, 8th, 12th and finally champions last season. Bignot lost his first seven games in charge of the club!! He learnt his trade playing under Ian Holloway at Bristol Rovers and QPR so he'll certainly know how to motivate his squad.
THE COLD END NATIONAL LEAGUE PREDICTIONS
* knowing my record they'll probably be all wrong!!!
MAIDSTONE UNITED will finish the highest of the promoted sides.
NORTH FERRIBY UNITED will finish in the bottom six.
GUISELEY who stayed up by just one point last season will also finish in the bottom six.
CHRISTIAN ASSOMBALONGA scored 31 in 34 appearances for Ryman Division One (North) Waltham Abbey last season - The Abbotts struggled towards the bottom of the table finishing in 21st (of 24 teams). Although he has moved up the pyramid I predict the 25 year old will score many goals for his new team Dagenham & Redbridge.
TRANMERE ROVERS will lose less than the 12 games they did last season and make a real challenge for the title.
It will also be interesting to see how two other players who have moved from the Ryman League to the National League - 6ft 5" central-defender Moussa Diarra has moved North to Barrow from the title winner's Hampton & Richmond. The 26 year old defender netted 14 goals for The Beavers last season and will be a big part of their defence this season. Ethan Pinnock's displays in the centre of defence for Dulwich over the last few seasons brought many a football league scout to Champion Hill. He has signed a professional contract and I predict big things to come for the 23 year old. FGR paid a five-figure sum for his services which I think is a bargain considering his potential.
DIARRA's goal-scoring feats for a centre back may make him a good value bet for first goal scorer in Barrow's matches.
OPENING WEEK FIXTURES
Saturday 6th August
Barrow v Aldershot Town
Boreham Wood v Forest Green Rovers
Bromley v Tranmere Rovers
Dagenham & Redbridge v Southport
Eastleigh v Guiseley
Gateshead v Chester
Macclesfield Town v Torquay United
Maidstone United v York City - 12.15pm KO Live on BT SPORTS
North Ferriby United v Braintree Town
Sutton United v Solihull Moors
Woking v Lincoln City
Wrexham v Dover Athletic
Tuesday 9th August
Aldershot Town v Maidstone United
Braintree Town v Eastleigh
Chester v Dagenham & Redbridge
Dover Athletic v Boreham Wood
Forest Green Rovers v Sutton United
Guiseley v Wrexham
Lincoln City v North Ferriby United
Solihull Moors v Woking
Southport v Gateshead
Torquay United v Bromley
Tranmere Rovers v Barrow
York City v Macclesfield Town
Saturday 13th August
Aldershot Town v Wrexham
Braintree Town v Macclesfield Town
Chester v Maidstone United
Dover Athletic v North Ferriby United
Forest Green Rovers v Gateshead
Guiseley v Dagenham & Redbridge
Lincoln City v Sutton United
Solihull Moors v Bromley
Southport v Woking
Torquay United v Barrow
Tranmere Rovers v Eastleigh
York City v Boreham Wood
Barrow have a 700 mile round trip on the second Saturday of the season when they travel to Torquay United - I wonder how many off their loyal fans will make the journey?