Who doesn't love looking at non-league attendances? How amazingly small some are. How shockingly large some are. Admittedly, it was more fun when we were nearer to the top of the pile when it came to crowds, but still, some great stats are thrown up.
And everyone loves to massage a good attendance stat. Even hoary club officials, who really should know better. Many moons ago, when coming back from an away game, Peter Morris popped up on the radio, seriously bigging-up our support base. We listened, wide-eyed as he told the interviewer that were we to get promoted to the Football League (not quite as mad an idea back then), we would be getting 4000+ through the turnstiles every week! Wow. That's a lot! What a great addition we'd be to the Football League!
Not that Peter Morris was alone in cherry-picking our attendance statistics when it suited. I've also heard Imraan Ladak use similar figures. Probably at a time he was trying to unload us to another
Of course, this figure of 4000+ was based almost entirely on the last two home gates the previous season, when it suddenly dawned on the people of Kettering that their local club had a really good chance of winning the league, and were it not for the fact that Maidstone United's team of exciting young talent stayed stubbornly above our team of veteran journeymen, we may well have done it.
This led to three obvious results.
- The gates swelled from, an already healthy 2000+, to an incredible 4000+ for the last two home games
- You couldn't stand anywhere near where you'd managed to comfortably stand for the previous 9-months
- The team shat themselves in front of a large crowd
The additional bodies who came for the last couple of games boosted our average home attendance for the 1988-89 season to a massive 2500. To put into context, this is almost exactly 5 x what we see today. A once-in-a-generation golden age of large gates, title attempts, FA Cup glory, and botched finances by our boardroom.
Where our rivals such as Macclesfield, Wycombe and Barnet turned such bonanza periods into new grounds, promotion, or both, our officials pluckily managed to avoid paying Tax bills, fritter away goodwill, shed support and leave us ready for being picked off by shysters like Mark English and his ilk.
Cowper Street, circa 1989