When you look at it, its probably not the question of the moment, but when you sit down and think, there’s definitely a case for the South being the slightly easier ride.
For a start, the geographical distances involved travelling about the North add some extra burdens to the teams. Now that Blyth Spartans have taken their place in the North, one of the few to choose to make the jump from the Northern League in recent years, the mileage has increased further.
Last season it was the travelling to AFC Darlington that got to a few clubs; now, throw in the Spartans and Spennymoor, and that’s three long journeys for the likes of Brackley Town and Leamington to make and both these clubs will be hoping that the away fixtures do not get postponed! As its questionable if either club can really afford an overnight stay, this is going to make any performance a tough ask.
In the South, given the more congested landscape, the distances for travelling are a lot less. As usual, there’s one outlier, and that’s Truro City FC. No question, its a great journey in the late summer and spring, if your away fixture is in those months. But if you have to travel to Treyew Road in December, and I have, then its a cheerless and bleak trip all the way down into Cornwall.
Thankfully, the furthest east of the South clubs, Braintree Town, get their awayday in April. The unluckiest must be Concord Rangers, just down the road from Braintree, they have to go west in January… Good luck guys.
When you look at the members of both leagues, one thing that stands out in the South is the lack of Big Clubs, namely, those with a Football League pedigree. The only club with any kind of link to the professional leagues is Bath City, due to Bristol Rovers sharing the ground for 10 years while in the Football League, as the Pirates sorted out their financial issues.
That’s it. In the North, you can instantly see such clubs as York City, Stockport County, Southport, Kidderminster Harriers, and Boston Utd, all of whole had numerous seasons in the Football League. Yes, ok, I’ve left out Gainsborough Trinity, but their League experiences are now so far in the past to be beyond the memory of anyone, perhaps its wise to let them be…
As a result of this, I’ve been struggling to try and work out why this could be? Yes, the National League itself has 9 former league clubs in it, yet none of those within the South footprint have sunk to the point of dropping into that League. Torquay Utd were the closest ex-League club to flirt with the drop last season, but they managed to hold on and finish clear.
Is it because of the money? Well, I’m not sure, really. It might be, but I don’t think its as simple as all that. Does the travelling have a greater effect in the North than the South? Well, it might but then again, I’m not sure. It’s a definite problem, for sure.
First seen in View From The Allotment End, the excellent North Ferriby Utd fanzine.