As we know, there are probably more former-Football League clubs bumming around at the non-league level than ever before. And not just in the top division. York, Stockport and Kidderminster are all currently just one sh*t-season away from sampling the delights of Latimer Park!
This glut of ex-League teams means there are a lot of clubs getting enormous gates in context of their non-league status. Tranmere and Lincoln both pulled in average home gates of over 5000 this season. Mind you, that only tells part of the story. Lincoln had their best season for, well, probably ever. 5000+ for them is dream-land. In the meantime, a crowd of 5000 at Prenton Park probably looks very spartan! And those in attendance are probably still shell-shocked at being a non-league club and then losing out to the hobby-humus club from Nailsworth in the play-off final. Forest Green Rovers managed to lose 5 supporters compared to the season before, despite promotion. That said, an average gate of 1753 is not to be sniffed at when you have a population of under 6000.
But, who cares what other clubs did? What about the mighty Poppies? Overall our average league gate dropped from 522 to 502. Does mean the 20 biggest whingers on Poppies Chat Facebook group actually put their money where their considerable mouths were and stopped attending? We can but hope! 502 isn't a great average gate by KTFC standards. However it was still the fourth highest average gate in our division last season.
And we had the most consistent support in the division. Consistent? How does that work?
Our highest gate of 658 contrasted with our lowest gate (a Tuesday night game against Redditch - obviously) of 343. 343 represents a 48% differential between our largest and smallest attendances. The "South-West Mafia" of Weymouth, Chippenham and Dorchester all had a highest attendance far in excess of ours (no doubt when playing each other), but all recorded smallest gates lower than us. Thus, Weymouth experienced a 74% difference between highest and lowest gate. Chippenham had a differential of 76%.
Dorchester had an eye-watering 93% difference between their highest gate - an incredible 2033 against Weymouth, and the piddling 149, no doubt for a Tuesday night February game against Redditch. Such is Dorchester's relaince on their local derby with Weymouth, that this game accounted for over 20% of their total home support for the entire season!
A number of the newly-minted clubs also saw a surge in support. At least until they stop winning. AFC Fylde saw the small matter of a 275% increase in "lifelong Coasters" from 522 to 1962. The media whores at Salford City saw gates balloon from 642 to 1395. It's strange how the small matter of national exposure and their own BBC TV series can double your attendances!
More fun are the crowds at the lower end of the non-league scene. Not for the small sizes of the crowds. We're in no position to mock clubs for small crowds. No, more enjoyable is when you see a club average exactly one person less when compared to the previous season. It makes you wonder if something personal happened! Or did a fan exclaim, "Shent goo agen" and actually follow through on the threat? Then you see another team added a single fan during 2016-17 and you wonder if this fan simply changed allegiance! But for every club in turmoil, you have a Soham Town Rangers, who averaged exactly 125 contented, steady-souls for the past couple of seasons.