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Dartford v Alfreton Town

 

Dartford will host Alfreton Town for the first time on Saturday as the Darts look to make it three wins in a row.

In contrast to the opening week of the season where Tony Burman’s men suffered three straight defeats, Dartford bounced back with two excellent results.

On Saturday the Darts recorded their first Conference Premier win in 26 years thanks to a bullet header by Lee Burns. The versatile Burns came on as a substitue and his goal was enough to beat Kidderminster Harriers.

Two days later unbeaten Cambridge United welcomed Dartford at their Abbey Stadium. Last season’s top scorer Danny Harris opened his account and the scoring with a speculative effort. The U’s hit back from the spot five minutes from time after Dartford conceded their third penalty of 2012/2013. However it was summer signing Nathan Collier who grabbed the winner in the 88th minute beating Craig Ross, his former goalkeeper at Hampton and Richmond with a deflected shot.

The win has moved the Darts up to fourteenth and seven places above Saturday’s opponents Alfreton Town. The Derbyshire club started of slow this season which will not deter them in their second season at the top of non league football. Last campaign the Reds picked up just ten points in the first 19 matches before finishing the campaign in fifteenth.

Nicky Law’s team have lost every other fixture starting on the opening weekend of the season. Sandwiched between the defeats against Stockport County (0-1), Hereford United (0-3) and Nuneaton Town (0-3) the Derbyshire club drew 3-3 with Southport and beat Barrow 3-1. Alfreton Town have yet to record an away victory this term and so far Paul Clayton with four and Ben Tomlinson with two have scored all of their goals.

After seven years in the Conference North Alfreton Town tasted Conference Premier football for the first time last season so Law will know what it is like for newly promoted clubs, about Dartford he commented: “It will be another tough game. They have been sort of up and down like we are, and by all accounts they played really well at Cambridge United on Monday”.

Team News

Marcus Bettinelli will continue between the sticks for the injured Louis Wells. Full back Adam Green was substituted on Saturday with an injury and took no part in Monday’s win at Cambridge United.

Nicky Law has no injury worries but striker Tom Denton completes a three-match suspension. Nathan Arnold should be  fit after missing the Barrow game with a chest infection. Law may also look into the loan market before the transfer deadline.

Did you know…

Dartford has averaged an attendance of 1219 at Princes Park this season compared to Alfreton Town’s home crowd of 626

So far this season…

Dartford

Alfreton Town

Goal Count

5

6

Shots On Target

21

23

Shots Off Target

14

27

Card Count

8 Yellow / 1 Red

8 Yellow / 1 Red

Fouls Won

48

37

Fouls Conceded

36

50

Corner Count

28

19

*statistics taken from www.skysports.com (score centre) and www.bbc.co.uk

Cambridge United v Dartford

Dartford clinched their first Conference Premier win in 26 years on Saturday and hope to add to their points tally at Cambridge United tomorrow.

Monday’s Bank Holiday clash will be the first meeting between the two sides since 1966 when the U’s won 3-0. However it is the Darts that hold the better record with seven wins to three.

The two clubs have been kept apart for so long due to Cambridge United’s success in the Football League. Elected in 1970, the U’s reached their peak in the early nineties climbing to the second tier of English football. Dartford’s trip to the Abbey Stadium will be the first time the club has returned there since defeat 42 years ago.

After four games Dartford finally registered points in a 1-0 win against basement side Kidderminster Harriers. Lee Burns scored the decisive goal with a excellently taken header after 36 minutes. Ryan Hayes made his first start impressing on the wing with a man of the match performance and goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli recorded his first clean sheet.

Tony Burman was delighted with the three points but felt his side has played better in the previous three games. The Dartford boss told BBC Radio Kent: “”It’s good to get off the mark but it was only a matter of time. We played better in the three games we had but today we got the three points”.

Tomorrow’s fixture will be tough against an unbeaten Cambridge United team who occupy sixth spot. The signing of Tom Elliott in May has proven to be astute by manager Gez George. In the first three fixtures, the 20 year old has opened the scoring in a draw and two wins. His first of the season was cancelled out by a last minute penalty against Forest Green Rovers. The former Stockport County striker netted in The U’s 2-1 win versus Lincoln City and scored a brace within a three minute spell in a 2-0 triumph against Southport.

On the weekend the striker failed to added to his tally in a 2-2 draw against newly promoted Nuneaton. Unsurprisingly Elliott netted first but a minute later Adam Walker equalised. James Armson finished a penalty in the final minute but a dramatic finish ended when U’s defender popped up to grab a draw.

Team News

Full back Adam Green hobbled off with assistance on Saturday and could be a doubt. Louis Wells remains on the sideline with a groin injury.

Michael Gash and Adam Marriott have secured loan deals for a month. Gash moved to Braintree Town and Marriott to Conference North side Bishop’s Stortford. Injuries to Kevin Roberts and Jonathan Thorpe has reduced the players available for Gez George.

Did you know…

Dartford conceded just two fouls against Kidderminster Harriers, the lowest by any Conference Premier side in a match this season.

The Darts last away day victory in the Conference was on 23 November 1985 against Barrow when the game ended 2-1. Four months later they tasted their last win in the top flight of non league football before Saturday, also against Barrow.

Cambridge United are one of six unbeaten clubs in the Conference Premier and only lost six in the league at the Abbey Stadium last season.

 

 

Dartford v Kidderminster Harriers

 

At least one team will get off the mark on Saturday as the two bottom clubs Dartford and Kidderminster Harriers face each other at Princes Park.

Dartford last met the Harriers in their final season in the Alliance Premier League, now the Conference Premier back in 1985/1986. At Watling Street the Darts emphatically recorded a 5-1 win which was one of their highlights and the biggest victory of their season. The return fixture at Aggborough was stark in contrast as Kidderminster Harriers claimed a convincing 4-1 triumph.

It has been a tough opening week for the Darts who suffered a third successive league defeat this time against Macclesfield Town. A Tom Champion own goal and a last minute penalty converted by Silkmen’s midfielder Charlie Henry ensured the home team won 2-0.

Tony Burman was pleased with the first half hour and felt his side should have taken advantage of the chances created. However after the own goal the pressure mounted on his players.

One bright spark on a disappointing afternoon was goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli who was drafted in on loan to replace the injured Louis Wells. At 20 years old the Fulham Academy youngster made his Dartford début at the Moss Rose Ground. Also making their first starts for the club were striker Harry Crawford and full back Richard Rose.

Kidderminster Harriers finished sixth, outside of the play-offs for the third time in seven years last season. Whilst they didn’t struggle for goals, racking up the fourth highest total in the Conference Premier they shipped in a fair few.

This season the Harriers took 188 minutes to open their goalscoring account in a 3-2 defeat at home to Mansfield Town. After taking the lead twice through midfielder Jack Byrne and striker Marvin Johnson, Kidderminster Harriers failed to hold on. In the week they fell to league favourites Luton Town in a 2-0 defeat and a week ago lost 1-0 away at Lincoln City.

In an attempt to strengthen the back line Steve Burr can now look towards experienced defender Exodus Geohaghon who spent time with Championship club Peterborough United. Whilst in attack Ricky Shakes, formerly of Kent rivals Ebbsfleet United has been involved in the first team with one start and two substitute appearances. The Kidderminster Harriers boss also captured the signing of Nathan Blissett last Friday, who has previously teamed up with Saturday’s goalscorer Johnson at Romulus in the Northern League Division One.

Burr is far from satisfied by his teams performance so far and believes some players are not producing the goods but they can still show what they can do collectively. In the home dug out Burman is optimistic that the Darts can get up and running by taking points on Saturday.

Team News

Marcus Bettinelli is expected to make his Princes Park début in goal for the Darts replacing the injured Louis Wells. Lee Noble returns from his one match suspension after missing last weekends defeat at Macclesfield Town.

The Harriers will be missing defender Lee Vaughan who will serve his final match of his four game ban. The 26 year old was sent off on the final day of last season in a 3-0 defeat against Mansfield Town.

Did you know…

Saturday’s meeting will be the 29th time the two teams have met. Dartford are one win behind on ten and on seven occasions the two sides have drawn.

Possession is not always the key, the Harriers have yet to have less possession than their opponents in the Conference Premier this season and have lost every match so far.

Including last season Kidderminster Harriers have lost their lost five league matches.

Kidderminster Harriers boss, Steve Burr was on the scoresheet last time he played against the Darts in the F.A Trophy semi-final back in 1989. Burr was playing for our last opponents Macclesfield Town who reached Wembley with a 4-1 aggregate win.

The Darts have taken 17 shots at goal scoring twice, a success rate of 12%. The Harriers have taken twice as many shots with just two goals to show. The table below selected statistics from this season so far.

Macclesfield Town v Dartford

 

Dartford will participate in their first ever league match against Macclesfield Town on Saturday.

The Darts last played the Silkmen in their F.A Trophy run to the semi finals back in 1989. After a goaless draw at Watling Street the second leg ended 4-1 to Macclesfield Town, who went on to lose to Telford United in the final.

Fifteen years earlier the two clubs met at exactly the same stage in the same competition and it was Dartford who went on to reach Wembley. Dartford took a 2-1 lead into the return home leg and held the Cheshire club to a goaless draw to triumph on aggregate. The Darts went on to finish runners up losing out to Morecambe.

Dartford will travel to the Moss Rose Ground after a 3-2 opening day defeat to Tamworth and a 1-0 reverse at Woking. Defensive errors were punished in the opener but the back four tightened up on Tuesday night losing out to an unfortunate penalty decision.

After a disastrous 2012, Macclesfield Town are in the process of rebuilding. Steve King has taken over the reigns and a new squad including Matthew Barnes-Homer, Charlie Henry, Craig Braham-Barrett and Kieran Murtagh has been reconstructed. Over a squad worth of players were released in the summer as the Silkmen start afresh.

The former league club were relegated last season finishing at the bottom of the football league and without a win in 2012. An opening day defeat continued the trend against fellow relegated side Hereford United. The first television match of the season ended with the Silkmen unable to take a point in a 2-1 defeat. In the first half Chris Carruthers put the Bulls in front but a second half penalty scored by Barnes-Homer levelled the match. Hereford United went on to win when Marlon Johnson grabbed the decisive goal.

On Tuesday night the Cheshire club completed their first three point haul since New Years Eve by beating Wrexham. Goals from Waide Fairhurst and Arnaud Mendy as well as a clean sheet earned the Silkmen a 2-0 victory.

Team News

Dartford’s play-off hero Lee Noble was dismissed for a second caution against Woking and will be suspended. Louis Wells picked up a groin strain despite his outstanding performance and so his fitness will be tested.

Steve King should have a full squad to choose from after new signings Jack Mackreth and Junior Yiadom-Konadu returned to training.

Did you know…

The Darts are one of four clubs in the Conference Premier without a point so far. New boys Nuneaton Town, Mansfield Town and Dartford’s next opponents at home Kidderminster Harriers are the other three teams.

During Macclesfield Town’s football league years their 24 game streak without a league victory was their worst run.

14 years ago the Silkmen were up against last season’s champions of England, Manchester City in the third tier of English football. Over the last five years, whilst Dartford have progressed Macclesfield Town have stagnated.

 

Woking v Dartford

 

The Darts take on Conference South champions on Tuesday night when they travel to Woking.

Both newly promoted sides started with opening day defeats in a weekend that produced plenty of goals. Dartford lost 3-2 at home to Tamworth in their first top flight fixture in 26 years. Woking went down 3-1 away to Wrexham as they returned to Conference Premier action for the first time in three seasons.

Dartford boss, Tony Burman spoke to PURE DFC and assessed his sides first game, he said: “We’ve played pretty well – I’m disappointed we’ve not got all three points to be honest. We’ve made three mistakes on the goals, and we’ve been punished. The third goal was a great strike, but on the first and second goals we’ve let the ball bounce and that’s not right, and with the third goal, the ball’s been played down the line but we haven’t hit it into decent areas. I can’t fault the lads’ effort and I can’t fault the way they’ve played”.

Despite frailties at the back on Saturday, Burman is optimistic that his team is going forward with promise, he added: “We’ve had enough chances, and created enough. Every game is going to be tough, and we need to get into a routine and learn the league quickly. We will get punished if we make mistakes, and we’ve been punished today not because of a bad team performance but because we’ve made three bad mistakes”.

Débuts were handed out to Mark Arber at centre half and striker Harry Crawford from off the bench. The 20 year old striker marked his first match in a Dartford shirt with a well taken headed goal which was enough to saviour a point.

Dartford return to the venue where they were beaten last season by a headed goal from defender Alan Inns after just three minutes. The defeat at the Kingsfield Stadium was Dartford’s second loss to Woking last term, the Surrey side triumphed 3-2 at Princes Park.

Two years ago the Darts fared better in an entertaining 2-2 draw. Ryan Hayes opened the scoring with a deft lob on seven minutes. Woking’s Elvis Hammond equalised mid-way through the first half and Craig Faulconbridge’s header in first half stoppage time put the hosts in front. George Purcell equalised five minutes into the second half with a well executed volley.

Woking manager, Garry Hill also gave débuts to new signings and after trailing 2-0 to Wrexham one of the debutants Bradley Bubb opened his account. The former Basingstoke Town and Farnborough striker has been prolific at Conference South level and may be one to watch. Bubb replaced ex Welling United winger Loick Pires on Saturday who has joined Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson and Lee Sawyer over the summer to play for the Cards this season.

Last Meeting

18 February 2012: Woking 1 Dartford 0 – Attendance: 2528

Woking Line Up: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns, Adam Doyle, Wayne Gray (Mo Shariff), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Ola Sogbanmu), Elvis Hammond (Paris Cowan-Hall), Kevin Betsy. Subs not used: Joe McNerney, Andy Little.

Dartford Line Up: Louis Wells, Lee Burns, Adam Green, Tom Bonner, Paul Goodacre, Tom Champion, Lee Noble (Ryan Hayes), Jon Wallis, Jacob Erskine (Tony Garrod), James Rogers (Richard Graham), Danny Harris. Subs not used: Matt Jones, Deren Ibrahim.

Did you know…

Matchday One produced a total of 42 goals at an average of 3.5 goals per game. The highest average since 1995 when 39 goals were scored over 11 fixtures at 3.54 per match.

Elliot Bradbrook’s start on Saturday was his 100th league start since joining Dartford in 2009.

Dartford and Woking have been the best supported clubs in the Conference South over the past two seasons. The Cards took the attendance league title from the Darts.

Average Attendance 2011/12

Average Attendance 2010/11

Woking

1834

1167

Dartford

1246

1171

Woking top scored in the Conference South last season with 92 goals ahead of Dartford’s tally of 89. Whilst the Cards netted more in the first half the Darts were more potent later in the second half.

 

 

 

 

 

Dartford v Tamworth

 

Dartford return to Conference Premier action for the first time in 26 years on Saturday with a home fixture against Tamworth.

This weekends league opener will be the first time Princes Park has tasted top flight non league football after The Darts won promotion via the playoffs three months ago.

After a a promising pre season which included wins over West Ham United, Leyton Orient and Arsenal, Tony Burman will be hoping his side will make the most of the home advanatge and get off to a flying start.

Added to last seasons squad are former Dagenham and Redbridge defenders Mark Arber and Richard Rose. Both players have impressed in recent friendlies and will be in contention to make their débuts. Nathan Collier, who joined from Hampton and Richmond could also make his first appearance in a Dartford shirt.

Rose became the third signing of the summer and has gained experience at Gillingham and Hereford United before loan spells with Bristol Rovers and Longford Town. The 29 year old has featured at right back but is able to fill in across defence and midfield and made a handful of appearances with The Daggers last season.

At the last minute Harry Crawford has agreed to wear the number 21 shirt. The 20 year old striker has opted to move across the Thames after he was released by Southend United at the end of last season. Crawford has also spent a loan spell with Kent rivals Dover Athletic in 2010.

Saturday will be the first time the two sides have contested against each other in league or cup. Tamworth will visit Princes Park with seven years of Conference Premier experience, although this was interrupted by a two year stint in the Conference North. Since The Lambs have returned to the top they have safely finished below mid table on all three occasions.

Manager, Marcus Law has been mostly around the Northern League scene before a spell at Kettering Town. Now boss of Tamworth he has made a host of signings including former Premier League midfielder Lee Hendrie. The 35 year old earned one cap with England some 14 years ago as a substitute against the Czech Republic.

With the loss of last season’s top scorer Iyseden Christie, Law swooped to sign Adam Cunnington from Dagenham and Redbridge and winger Peter Till from Conference Premier champions Fleetwood Town.

The Lambs had a difficult ending to last season with just two wins in the final half of the campaign. However, Tamworth’s warm up for the season opener has included a victory over West Bromwich Albion, a draw against Crewe Alexandra and a defeat at home to Bristol Rovers.

Did you know…

On Saturday it will be 26 years, 4 months and 25 days since Dartford won their last Conference Premier fixture. Then known as the Alliance Premier League The Darts beat Barrow 3-2 at Watling Street.

Last Five Opening Day Results

The Darts

2011 Weston Super-Mare 0 Dartford 4 Conference South
2010 Dartford 2 Havant & Waterlooville 2 Conference South
2009 Dartford 3 Horsham 2 Isthmian Premier
2008 Hendon 3 Dartford 0 Isthmian Premier
2007 Dartford 2 Maldon Town 2 Isthmian Division One (N)

The Lambs

2011 Barrow 1 Tamworth 1 Conference Premier
2010 Tamworth 4 Eastbourne Borough 2 Conference Premier
2009 Stevenage 1 Tamworth 1 Conference Premier
2008 Droylsden 1 Tamworth 1 Conference North
2007 Tamworth 4 Burscough 2 Conference North

 

 

 

Season Preview 2012/2013

AFC Telford United | Alfreton Town | Barrow AFC | Braintree Town | Cambridge United | Dartford | Ebbsfleet United | Forest Green Rovers | Gateshead | Grimsby Town | Hereford United | Hyde FC | Kidderminster Harriers | Lincoln City | Luton Town | Macclesfield Town | Mansfield Town | Newport County AFC | Nuneaton Town | Southport | Stockport County | Tamworth | Woking | Wrexham

AFC Telford United

Founded: 2004   Ground: The New Bucks Head Stadium   Capacity: 6300

As three times F.A Trophy winners Telford United perished, Telford United Supporters Club Ltd created and became owners of the newly formed AFC Telford United. In the space of seven years The Shropshire club have won three promotions and are now back where they belong.

Last Season
Final Standing 2011/12 20th – Conference Premier
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy Second Round
County Cup Runners Up
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Chris Sharp
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2264 (10th) / 4591 v Wrexham

Promotion through the Conference North playoffs the year before was followed by relegation survival in their first Conference Premier season, by five points. The Bucks enjoyed a steady start winning and drawing four of their first dozen fixtures leaving the side in thirteenth. One win in fifteen followed and The Bucks slipped to just above the drop zone eventually picking up enough points to keep out of any real trouble.

Lesson learnt from last season – AFC Telford United picked up just one win on their travels against York City in the second game of the season. The Bucks are twenty one league games without an away win. Chris Sharp’s credible goal tally helped his team to survival but he will need support up front if The Bucks wish for a comfortable season.

The Manager – Andy Sinton

Capped twelve times for England the former Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder was appointed in 2010 after a five year spell with Fleet Town. The 46 year old led The Bucks to promotion in his first season and kept them in the Conference Premier.

Transfers In/Out

Right sided defender Luke Hubbins was the first to sign this summer after his release from Birmingham City. The 20 year old gained experience of the Conference Premier last season with Tamworth. Michael Briscoe, another defender joined The Bucks after his release from Kidderminster Harriers, he too had a spell with Tamworth and previously Macclesfield Town. Former Newport County striker Jake Reid also joins AFC Telford United as does Kieron St Aimie, an ex Tamworth player.

Andy Sinton released eight players in the summer including Sean Newton who joins Stockport County. Shane Killock moves to Conference North side Harrogate whilst Ashley Cain, Jon Adams, Carl Rodgers, Robbie Williams and Ryan Robinson were not offered new deals. Kyle Perry returns to his parent club Lincoln City after his loan spell ended. Adam Proudlock scored an average of one goal in three games last season and has moved to Chester this summer.

Best Performances (as Telford United)

League:               3rd – Alliance Premier League (1981/82)*

F.A Cup:              Fifth Round (1984/85)

F.A Trophy:         Winners (1970/71, 1982/83, 1988/89)

* Now Conference Premier League

Best Performances (as AFC Telford United)

League:               20th – Conference Premier League (2011/12)

F.A Cup:              First Round (2008/09, 2011/12)

F.A Trophy:         Semi-Finalists (2008/09)

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Alfreton Town

Founded: 1959   Ground: The Impact Arena, North Street   Capacity: 3600

For the second season in the their history Alfreton Town will be playing in the Conference Premier. Promoted as champions of the Conference North a year ago, The Reds formed as part of a merger between Alfreton Miners Welfare and Alfreton United.

Last Season
Final Standing 2011/12 15th – Conference Premier
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy Third Round
County Cup Third Round
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Nathan Jarman
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1063 (18th) / 3354 v Mansfield Town

Alfreton Town took an age to settle in their first season which effectively started in March. At the beginning of November they picked up a paltry ten points in their opening nineteen games, The Reds looked doomed. A few steady results in December set the wheels in motion as The Derbyshire club propelled themselves up the ladder in 2012. Eight wins from their final twelve matches made sure of a second season in the Conference Premier.

Lesson learnt from last season – Alfreton Town will need to tighten up at the back especially in home games. At The Impact Arena they conceded the most goals by any side at home. The second half of the season proved The Reds had the belief to mix with their opponents and will hope for a better start this time round.

The Manager – Nicky Law

An experienced defender spanning a sixteen year career, Nicky Law moved into management with Chesterfield in 2000 too late to prevent relegation. The following season he won the club promotion then departed for Bradford City. In 2004 he had a short spell with Grimsby Town before joining Northern Counties East side Buxton. Law won two titles for the Derbyshire club as well as three cups. Now approaching his fifth season as Alfreton Town boss he also has a Conference North title to his name.

Transfers In/Out

Previously on loan, attacking midfielder Daniel Meadows signed a permanent two year deal from Nottingham Forest, the 19 year old spent the final five weeks of last season with Alfreton Town. Experienced goalkeeper Phil Barnes agreed a one year deal from Conference North side Gainsborough and former Kidderminster Harrier’s midfielder Dan Bradley for two years.  A player with plenty of previous Conference experience under his belt is Simon Russell, the midfielder links up with Nicky Law’s squad from Lincoln City.

Last seasons top goalscorer Nathan Jarman moves to rising Conference North side Chester FC. Central defenders Adie Hawes and Greg Young were released by mutual consent. Winger Jamie Mullan and goalkeeper Dan Lowson were not offered new deals and central midfielder Nicky Deverdics leaves after playing on a non contract basis. Matt Wilson goes out on loan to Conference North contenders Guiseley and Jordan Hall has his contract cancelled by mutual consent.

Best Performances

League:               15th – Conference Premier League (2011/12)

F.A Cup:              Second Round (2008/09)

F.A Trophy:         Fourth Round (2002/03, 2004/05)

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Barrow AFC

Founded: 1901   Ground: Holker Street   Capacity: 5000

Based in Barrow-in-Furness the two times F.A Trophy winners experienced 44 years in the football league from 1921 to 1972. The Bluebirds spent the majority of the eighties in the Alliance Premier League (now Conference Premier) until flirting with the top two divisions. An experienced club Barrow AFC are entering a fifth successive season in the Conference Premier.

Last Season
Final Standing 2011/12 13th – Conference Premier
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy Second Round
County Cup Quarter Final
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Adam Boyes
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1260 (15th) / 2190 v York City

Barrow AFC had a solid season last time hanging around mid table from game six. In fact it was the clubs best final standing recorded since returning to the top flight. Excellent form at Holker Street kept the points ticking over for The Bluebirds as their home became a fortress, however their away form hindered chances of a better finish. Once safe Barrow AFC didn’t really push on, winning just once in their final eleven matches.

Lesson learnt from last season – The Bluebirds must continue their solid home form, only four sides boasted a better record. On their travels they leaked goals with only bottom side Kettering Town conceding more. The Cumbrians will have to go right to the end of the season to improve on their mid table finish.

The Manager – David Bayliss

With plenty of football league experience as a player David Bayliss finished his playing career with Barrow AFC only a year ago. He teamed up as joint manager with Darren Sheridan to earn promotion to the Conference Premier in 2008. Two years ago Bayliss and Sheridan won Barrow’s second F.A Trophy beating Conference National champions Stevenage in the final. In February Bayliss became the last man standing.

Transfers In/Out

Defender Matt Flynn became The Bluebirds first summer signing when he joined from the latest football league addition Fleetwood Town. Young striker Obi Anuoro spent last season with Vauxhall Motors before his release from Wrexham, the 20 year old provides Bayliss with another attacking option. Having played 13 times on loan last season Alex Ray-Harvey has been captured from Burnley. Defender Sean Hessey and midfielder Garry Hunter join from Accrington Stanley and Morecambe respectively.

After three seasons former captain Phil Bolland left the club. Also released were fellow defenders Cliff Moyo, Andy Nicholas and Kelvin Lomax, plus utility player Paul Smith. David Bayliss also let midfielders Andy Ferrell and Robin Hulbert go, whilst striker Andy Cook turned down a new deal to join Grimsby Town. Winger Jack Mackreth decided to move to Macclesfield Town.

Best Performances

League:               8th – Division Three (1967/68)*

F.A Cup:              Third Round (on 11 occasions)

F.A Trophy:         Winners (1989/90, 2009/10)

* Now League Two

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Braintree Town

Founded: 1898   Ground: Amlin Stadium   Capacity: 4151

Set up as a works team the Crittall Window Company were an integral part to Braintree Town’s history up until the eighties. In 1983 the club were renamed Braintree and since then the Essex club has climbed the non league pyramid. Four league titles and six promotions later The Irons enjoyed a successful debut in the Conference Premier in 2011/12

Last Season
Final Standing 2011/12 12th – Conference Premier
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy Second Round
County Cup Third Round
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Ben Wright
Average / Highest Home Attendance 896 (21st) / 2029 v Cambridge United

Braintree Town got of to a flying start taking the Conference Premier by surprise in the first dozen fixtures. By the end of September, The Irons were occupying second spot. When the Essex boys achieved promotion the basis of their success was the ability to keep clean sheets coupled with the goal scoring prowess of Sean Marks and Jai Reason, this simply continued. The next twelve games saw the club hit poor form to slip down the table but stability was restored from the New Year onwards.

Lesson learnt from last season – Clean sheets had been so important to winning the Conference South title two years ago and their tight defence helped the club reach second at one point. The Irons will need to rediscover the knack of shutting out attacks and hope for other players to chip in with some goals – Ben Wright, Jai Reason and Sean Marks netted 45 of the 76 goals last season.

The Manager – Alan Devonshire

F.A Cup winner in his playing days Alan Devonshire has plenty of experience on the field. Known for his 14 year career at West Ham United the former England midfielder started life as a manager with Maidenhead United. After three years he switched to Hampton and Richmond winning the Isthmian Premier League then followed up the success with a playoff Final defeat in the Conference South. In May he was appointed boss of Braintree Town replacing Rod Stringer.

Transfers In/Out

The Irons welcome left sided midfielder Daniel Sparkes from Conference North side Histon after he signed a two year contract. Another addition to the middle of the field is 20 year old Callum McNish after his release from Exeter City. Devonshire made a double signing of former Norwich City midfielder Sam Habergham and left back Josh Dawkin on free transfers. Released by Leyton Orient Kane Shepherd has made a move to Braintree Town to replace last seasons top scorer for The Irons.

Alan Devonshire has lost the services of striker Ben Wright who has teamed up with Forest Green Rovers. Jai Reason rejected a contract renewal in May as he wanted assurances he would play in central midfield. Aswad Thomas moves to Grimsby Town for an undisclosed fee to help Braintree Town bolster their coffers. 

Best Performances

League:               12th – Conference Premier (2011/12)

F.A Cup:              First Round (2005/06)

F.A Trophy:         Fifth Round (2001/02)

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Cambridge United

Founded: 1912   Ground: Abbey Stadium   Capacity: 10847

Elected into the Football League in 1970, Cambridge United hit football fame in 1989 giant killing their way to the F.A Cup’s last eight. A year later The U’s reached the Quarter Finals again and the Fifth Round of the League Cup albeit from the division above. By 1993 The U’s were playing in the second tier. Football League status was lost seven years ago after a slide down the pyramid and so the club has struggled to bounce back since.

Last Season
Final Standing 2011/12 9th – Conference Premier
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy Quarter Final
County Cup
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Tom Shaw & Michael Gash
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2433 (7th) / 4796 v Luton Town

Up to December things were looking good for Cambridge United as they ended November in fifth place well within a chance of the playoffs. U’s fans expected a challenge for promotion but a rapid change in fortune from December to early March, when the club lost seven out of ten, left United down in mid table. Cambridge United’s form returned to their satisfactory start but it was too late to have a shot at the end of season finale.

Lesson learnt from last season – Cambridge United were excellent at the back at home boasting the second best defence. Against the teams in the bottom half they managed clean sheets in half of their matches home and away. To improve and get back to the football league they will need to pick up more points from the teams around them.

The Manager – Jez George

Described by Cambridge United legend Dion Dublin as the clubs ‘heart and soul’. Jez George may not have the playing credentials of the former U’s striker however he has spent time as United’s Director of Youth Football. George spent five years managing Cambridge Regional College producing a line of players who would move on to Cambridge United’s first team. Appointed mid way through the 2010/11 season as caretaker boss he steered the club to safety before last seasons promising start.

Transfers In/Out

It didn’t take long for George to acquire new players to rebuild his squad. Defender Scott Garner joins The U’s from Grimsby Town. The 22 year old captained England C in November. Billy Gibson agreed a one year deal after his release from Yeovil, striker and former Stockport County player Tom Elliott has been purchased after netting seven times last season. Goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge was much valued by his last employers Tamworth as he switched allegiances. Ricky Wellard spent February 2011 on loan with United and has now signed a permanent deal. Former York City midfielder and product of the Glenn Hoddle Academy Adriano Moke eventually agreed a one year after the deal initially fell through due to a medical. George has also captured 18 year old goalkeeper Will Norris from Royston Town and welcome back winger Robbie Willmott after he was released by Luton Town. Up front Sam Smith scored seven goals for Lincoln City last season, he joins up with The U’s squad.

Former Ebbsfleet United striker Ashley Carew and Jordan Patrick were not retained for the coming season. Ashley Corker and Robert Ambrusics also departed the club. Keiran Murtagh who was on loan last season with Conference South champions Woking has joined relegated Macclesfield Town. On loan at Newport County last season Ryan Charles impressed enough to earn a permanent deal.

Best Performances

League:               23rd – Division One (1992/93)*

F.A Cup:              Quarter Finals (1989/90, 1990/91)

F.A Trophy:         Quarter Finals (2011/12)

*now The Championship

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Dartford

Founded: 1888   Ground: Princes Park   Capacity: 4097

Over the last six years the progression of Dartford has been better than expected. Reformed in 1992, The Darts were in exile for 14 years until Princes Park opened in November 2006. Their new stadium accelerated their rise back up the non league ladder with two Isthmian titles and a Conference South playoff victory. The Darts are set to compete in the top flight for only the fourth season in the clubs history.

Last Season
Final Standing 2011/12 2nd – Conference South Playoff Winners
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy Third Round
County Cup Runner Up
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Danny Harris
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1246 (2nd) / 2559 v Welling United

At the start of the season Dartford aimed for the top five yet by March they were still in with a shot at the title. The Darts ended in a comfortable second place but pushed champions Woking thanks to the tremendous form displayed in 2012. Dartford picked up an astounding 49 points in the second half of the season as they made Princes Park a difficult place to visit. A runner up spot secured home advantage in the playoffs and after fending off Basingstoke Town in the semi-final, Lee Noble’s strike defeated Welling United in the final.

Lesson learnt from last season – Dartford capitalised on opponents in the bottom half of the table, taking 55 out of 66 points, which may be important in the Conference Premier. Against teams in the top half, away days became problematic at times but the side became very difficult to beat, proven by amassing the highest runners up points total since the formation of the Conference South. The loan market became valuable with outstanding performances from defenders Connor Essam and Luke Wilkinson.

The Manager – Tony Burman

When Dartford were reformed in 1993 Tony Burman was chosen to lead the club. A prolific goalscorer for The Darts, Burman was part of the Dartford side that first reached the top flight of non league 26 years ago. In his first spell as manager the Kent League title was almost won but promotion was granted anyway, he left in 1996 due to work commitments. His second permanent spell started in 2005 where three more promotions have been achieved in seven years, he only stepped in as caretaker.

Transfers In/Out

Tony Burman has spent the majority of the summer waiting for the right player and securing most of his squad that earned promotion. The first signing did eventually arrive in July when Mark Arber followed in his father’s footsteps to wear the white shirt. The former Dagenham and Redbridge and Stevenage defender will bring a wealth of experience to the side. Nathan Collier also signed after impressing during pre season from Hampton and Richmond.

Only three players were released over the summer including midfielder Richard Graham. Paul Goodacre struggled with injury and joins AFC Hornchurch’s promotion push whilst fellow defender Matt Jones also departed. Second choice goalkeeper Derren Ibrahim will take up first team opportunities with a dual registartion agreement at Kent rivals Maidstone United. Striker Tony Garrod has taken up a new challenge with Conference South side Staines Town.

Best Performances

League:               3rd – Alliance Premier League (1984/85)*

F.A Cup:              Third Round (1935/36, 1936/37)

F.A Trophy:         Runner Up (1973/74)

*now Conference Premier

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Ebbsfleet United

Founded: 1946 Ground: Stonebridge Road Capacity: 5011

Forming as a merger between Gravesend and Northfleet the club changed their name to Ebbsfleet United sixty one years later. The Fleet became the first Kent club to win the F.A Trophy in 2008 under their new guise. The internet venture of MyFC has been controversial at times and after a lack of subscription renewals relegation beckoned two years ago. Since then Ebbsfleet United bounced back via the Conference South playoffs and stabilised in the Conference Premier last term.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 14th
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy Third Round
County Cup Quarter Final
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Calum Willock
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1017 (20th) / 1651 v Luton Town

A slow start left the Kent club in the relegation zone in their first season back in the Conference Premier. From mid October they never returned to the leagues depths. A six match unbeaten run steadied the ship and so The Fleet moved up to mid table. For the rest of the season Ebbsfleet United were inconsistent, in the end a satisfactory return for the club crying out for more subscription fees.

Lesson learnt from last season – Ebbsfleet United picked up plenty of points against the lower sides, winning nine, drawing two and losing once against the bottom six. At the other end of the table it was a different matter as The Fleet scored one point out of the top six.

The Manager – Liam Daish

Credit is due to the former Republic of Ireland international who is now entering his seventh season at Stonebridge Road. The ex Birmingham City and Coventry City defender has led his club to F.A Trophy glory, suffered a relegation, won a promotion and survived his team being picked by members of MyFC, never a dull moment.

Transfers In/Out

Fleet fans will be excited over the signing of striker Moses Ahikodi who previously had a very successful but short spell at Stonebridge Road. Ashikodi could potentially pair up with Nathan Elder up front after the 27 year old signed on the dotted line departing relegated Hereford United. Full back Ryan Blake and Liam Bellamy made their loan deals permanent after joining from Brentford. Cameroonian defender Patrick Ada signs from Burton Albion and former Dagenham and Redbridge striker Phil Walsh also joins the ranks.

Daish has suffered two big losses this summer, top scorer Calum Willock who impressively scored twenty times last season chose to drop a division to try and get Dover Athletic promoted. In addition to Willock leaving 21 year old forward Michael West departs to join League One’s Crewe Alexandra. Ricky Shakes has left the Kent club for Kidderminster Harriers and Liam EnverMarum will spend a trial period with Stevenage. Other leavers include Clint Easton and John Herd.

Best Performances

League: 7th – Conference Premier (2006/07)

F.A Cup: Fourth Round (1962/63)

F.A Trophy: Winners (2007/08)

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Forest Green Rovers

Founded: 1890 Ground: The New Lawn Capacity: 5147

Currently the longest serving Conference Premier club having won promotion in 1998, The Gloucestershire side now feel they are ready to push towards the football league. Two years ago Dale Vince the owner of Ecotricity, a green energy company, was confirmed as Chairman. Whilst he has used the club as a platform to spread the green message he has helped save Forest Green Rovers and stabilise them.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 10th
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup First Round
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Yan Klukowski
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1035 (19th) / 1848 v Stockport County

Rovers survived relegation the following year and so a tenth place finish in 21011/12 was more the satisfactory. From the beginning of the season Forest Green became draw specialists taking a point in eight of their first 14 fixtures. Drawing proved to be the foundation for their improved season as they became difficult to beat. Whilst draws turned to victories the odd defeat from October onwards ensured the Gloucestershire club only reached the top ten for only the third time in their 14 year stay.

Lesson learnt from last season – Forest Green Rovers turn of fortune started from the back as they ended up with the fourth best defensive record. Away from home only champions Fleetwood Town had a better defence than Rovers. If Dale Vince continues backing the club and making steady progress there is no reason why the club cannot finish in the top half and push for the playoffs or better.

The Manager – David Hockaday

When David Hockaday stepped up as youth team coach at Southampton to manager of Forest Green Rovers the club finished in the relegation zone, the club were reprieved because Salisbury City were demoted. With the club facing financial problems Hockaday still managed to reach the third round of the F.A Cup. Along came Mr Vince and since then the Forest Green Rovers boss has seen year on year improvements.

Transfers In/Out

A busy summer has seen the introduction of numerous signings for Rovers. Paul Green as joined from Tamworth after the defender made 40 appearances last season. Added to the back is former Johnstone Paint Trophy winner Ed Asafu-Adjaye following his release from Luton Town. Hockaday’s intentions of bolstering the attack is clear, Gambian international striker Omar Koroma has agreed a three year deal after an injury stifled his career at Portsmouth. Magno Vieira will add quality up front, a Brazilian with a wealth of Conference experience he has impressed at numerous clubs at this level. Phil Marsh and Ben Wright are also available to select in attack, Marsh top scored last year with Stalybridge Celtic and Wright did the same at Braintree Town.

Goalkeeper James Bittner left after making 20 appearances last season, he has joined Hereford United. Defender Luke Graham has hooked up with Bittner to follow suit. Jake Thomson is no longer part of Forest Green’s midfield after being released but it wasn’t long before Newport County snapped him up. Striker Charlie Griffin has made way after scoring seven times last season and Michael Uwezu was released by the club.

Best Performances

League: 8th – Conference Premier (2007/08)

F.A Cup: Third Round (2008/09)

F.A Trophy: Runners Up (1998/99, 2000/01)

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Gateshead

Founded: 1889 Ground: Gateshead International Stadium Capacity: 11800

Reformed thirty five years ago Gateshead were once a regular feature in the lower divisions of the football league before starting again. The Heed got back to the top of non league until sponsorship dried up and they returned to the Northern League in 1998. The North East club are back on the up winning the playoffs to reach the Conference North four years ago and in their first season in the Conference North triumphed in the playoffs again.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 8th
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy Quarter Final
County Cup Runner Up
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Jon Shaw
Average / Highest Home Attendance 843 (22nd) / 1604 v York City

Gateshead continued their progression by finishing higher up the pyramid than the previous season for the sixth successive campaign. The prolific goal scoring form of Jon Shaw fired the North East outfit to a top ten finish with his 28 strikes in the league. The Heed were the early pace setters topping the Conference in early October helped by a seven match unbeaten run from day one. By January the playoffs were a possibility but after the New Year the club picked up more defeats.

Lesson learnt from last season – Gateshead will need to last the distance if they are to improve for a seventh successive season. The Heed lost half of their final 16 games but the excellent first half of the season rewarded fans with a steady season. Having lost top scorer Jon Shaw who netted 40% of Gateshead’s goals they will need to find a suitable replacement.

The Manager – Ian Bogie

It has been half a dozen years since Ian Bogie took the reins at Gateshead and what a six years it has been. The Tynesider became The Heed’s first ever full time manager and he has guided them from the Northern Premier to the Conference Premier. Two playoff victories in back to back seasons propelled the club upwards and now he’ll be eyeing up a top five finish.

Transfers In/Out

It has been a case of more out than in this summer for Gateshead who have added former Crawley Town defender Glenn Wilson to thier ranks on a free. Chris Bush may link up with fellow defender WIlson after signing from AFC Wimbedon. In between the sticks Ian Bogie has opted to agree terms with Adam Bartlett who left Hereford United. The biggest signing so far was the arrival of James Brown from Hartlepool United. The Heed have also swooped for ex Dunfermline defender Paddy Boyle on a six month loan.

Leaving the International Stadium this summer is Jon Shaw who found tremendous form in front of goal last season, he has transferred to Luton Town to aid their promotion push. Another eleven players have departed including goalkeepers Tim Deasy and Paul Farman who were released along with defenders Chris Carruthers, Craig Baxter and Eddie Odhiambo. Midfielders Martin Brittain, Chris Moore and Alan O’Brien did not have their contracts renewed. Meanwhile Rob Briggs joined Blyth Spartans, Sam Rents has moved to Sutton United and Kris Gate to Harrogate Town.

Best Performances

League: 6th – Division Two (1921/22)*

F.A Cup: Quarter Final (1952/53)

F.A Trophy: Runners Up (1998/99, 2000/01)

* Now The Championship

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Grimsby Town

Founded: 1878 Ground: Blundell Park Capacity: 9546

Ten years ago The Mariners were mixing with life in the second tier of English football recapturing their golden era of the thirties. The collapse of ITV Digital started the decline of the Lincolnshire club when they were relegated from second tier to the fourth between 2003 and 2004. Six more seasons were spent in the football league until Grimsby Town fell into the non league world two years ago.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 11th
F.A Cup Second Round
F.A Trophy Quarter Final
County Cup Winners
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Liam Hearn
Average / Highest Home Attendance 3308 (4th) / 6672 v Lincoln City

A stuttering start left Grimsby Town playing catch up last season but an incredible 15 match unbeaten run from November to March gave them playoff hopes. In that unbeaten period they won home games 7-0 versus Stockport County and 6-0 against Bath City.  Beaten just four more times from March wins turned to draws and so for a second year in a row The Mariners finished eleventh.

Lesson learnt from last season – Blundell Park witnessed the most goals scored by any home team last season. If Grimsby Town can take their attacking football on the road then it could be an interesting season for the club. Keeping top scorer Liam Hearn is key, over the last four season he has scored 72 goals in 188 games for Alfreton Town and his current side.

The Managers – Rob Scott and Paul Hurst

Rob Scott and Paul Hurst have been an inseparable duo since turning to management. The pair were appointed joint managers of Ilkeston Town in 2008 where they won the Northern Premier League playoffs. Boston United came calling a year later and the same outcome was achieved. In March 2011 Scott and Hurst resigned and on the same day were announced as Grimsby Town’s new management team.

Transfers In/Out

The Mariners have been active this summer with the introduction of striker Greg Pearson from Burton Albion. The striker spent two loan spells Aldershot Town and Crewe Alexandra last season and is hungry to return to the football league. Aswad Thomas will be added to Grimsby’s defence from Braintree Town as well as the arrival of Sam Hatton from AFC WImbledon on a free. Winger Joe Colbeck was relegated with Hereford United last term but has moved from the West to East and Andy Cook joins from Barrow AFC. In goal Scott and Hurst offered goalkeeper Greg Fleming and deal which he accepted as did former Chesterfield midfielder Derek Niven who spent nine years with The The Spireites. Simon Ford returns to the club after spending time away with Bristol Rovers and Chesterfield.

A number of Grimsby Town players have moved on to other clubs notably Michael Coulson will be back in League Two with F.A Trophy holders York City. Also up front Kiernan Hughes-Mason has teamed up with Jamie Day at Welling United and Robert Duffy has switched to Lincoln City. At the back Scott Garner will start the season at Cambridge United and goalkeeper Kenny Arthur has moved across the border to Airdrie United. Congolese striker Serge Makofo, defenders Charlie I’Anson and Gary Silk and midfielder Anthony Church were all released.

Best Performances

League: 5th – Division One (1934/35)*

F.A Cup: Semi Final (1935/36, 1938/39)

F.A Trophy: Quarter Final (2011/12)

* Now The Championship

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Hereford United

Founded: 1924 Ground: Edgar Street Capacity: 5300

It’s easy to mention the defining moment in Hereford United’s history, every year we’re treated to that F.A Cup moment in 1972 when the Southern Leaguers shocked Newcastle United. The Bulls were elected to the football league in that same season and spent quarter of a century there. Hereford were relegated last season but they have been here before in 1997, it took them nine seasons to get back out.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 23rd – League Two (Relegated)
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy
County Cup
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Thomas Barkhuizen
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2553 (19th) / 5143 v Torquay United

Hereford United struggled all season in League Two and with eight fixtures remaining sacked Jamie Pitman, although he remained part of the coaching team. The Bulls may well have picked up results against the teams at the bottom but against the top half they had the worst record. In the end, their season came down to one home fixture and after racing into a 3-0 lead against Torquay United looked like they would escape, however Barnet also won sending Hereford United down despite their 3-2 triumph on the final day.

Lesson learnt from last season – The Bulls were poor at home finishing with the worst record in League Two. At Edgar Street, Hereford United conceded the most home goals, with the exception of Northampton Town and scored the fewest and so they will need to become harder to beat on their own patch.

The Manager – Martin Foyle

A playing career spanning 20 years at Southampton, Aldershot Town, Oxford United and Port Vale, Martin Foyle can add eight more years as a manager. Forced into retirement through injury he spent three seasons as the Port Vale boss moving to Wrexham for a short period as caretaker manager. York City and a F.A Trophy runners up medal followed in 2009 and last season managed another runners up spot this time in the Northern Premier League with Northwich Victoria, who ended up relegated.

Transfers In/Out

Martin Foyle hasn’t had long to plan Hereford’s assault at returning to the football league but he has started by signing Forest Green Rovers ex goalkeeper James Bittner and from the same club defender Luke Graham. Following his release from Gateshead Chris Carruthers has joined The Bulls along with former Bristol City striker Marlon Jackson, ex Cheltenham Town defender Andy Gallinagh and a regular from last seasons Bath City team Marley Watkins.

Former Premier League players Russell Hoult and Richard Sneekes have been released. Joe Colbeck has moved to Grimsby Town having made 72 appearances for The Bulls, whilst Tyler Weir and Josh Hunt also parted company with Hereford United.

Best Performances

League: 22nd – Division Two (1976/77)*

F.A Cup: Fourth Round (1971/72, 1973/74, 1976/77, 1981/82, 1989/90, 1991/92, 2007/08, 2010/11)

F.A Trophy: Semi Final (1970/71, 2000/01)

* Now The Championship

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Hyde FC

Founded: 1885 Ground: Ewen Fields Capacity: 4073

History was made at Hyde in 2012 when they took the Conference North title and win a place in the top flight of non league football for the first time. The Greater Manchester club hold the record for England’s heaviest competitive defeat losing 26-0 to Preston North End in 1887. In the nineties the Northern League side reached the semi-finals of the F.A Trophy in successive seasons and in recent times they have gradually earned the right to join the elite.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 1st – Conference North Champions
F.A Cup Third Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup First Round
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Scott Spencer
Average / Highest Home Attendance 645 (7th) / 1868 v Stalybridge Celtic

The Tigers were formidable at Ewen Fields last season only defeated by Guiseley. Guided to the championship by Gary Lowe the clubs formal links with the Glenn Hoddle Academy has aided progress. Hyde FC won their first ten matches and racked up an impressive 90 points to take the title, no wonder fans have every reason to get excited about 2012/13.

Lesson learnt from last season – Hyde FC scored the most and conceded the fewest at home and in order to survive the Conference Premier home form will be important. The Tigers will have to do better against their closest competitors as last season they won once against teams finishing in the playoffs.

The Manager – Scott McNiven

At 34 years old Scott McNiven is new to football management but he has plenty of playing experience with teams in the North West. Seven years at Oldham Athletic, a season at Chester City and non league spells with Fleetwood Town, Guiseley, Farsley Celtic and Flyde. McNiven finished his playing career with Hyde and replaces title winning ex boss Gary Lowe.

Transfers In/Out

Hyde FC will welcome former Everton striker Phil Jevons to the squad, the 32 year old spent five years on Merseyside before 11 seasons in the football league. McNiven has raided the lower leagues for midfielder Grant Spencer who has joined from Ramsbottom United and Alex Brown has signed from Northern Premier champions Chester.

Giunluca Havern played 31 times in Hyde’s title winning side and joined Altrincham this summer. Joel Richardson is another player who has left The Tigers.

Best Performances

League: 1st – Conference North (2011/12)

F.A Cup: First Round (1955/56, 1983/84, 1994/95)

F.A Trophy: Semi Final (1988/89, 1994/95, 1995/96)

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Kidderminster Harriers

Founded: 1886 Ground: Aggborough Capacity: 6250

The Harriers were firmly placed on the map in the mid nineties when they famously reached the F.A Cup fifth round. In the new millennium Aggborough finally hosted league football for five years. The two time Conference champions struggled with life in League Two and with the collapse of ITV Digital relegation became a reality in 2005. The one time F.A Trophy winners were the first side to play at the new Wembley in the same competition losing the final.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 6th
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy Third Round
County Cup Runner Up
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Nick Wright
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2095 (12th) / 3565 v Mansfield Town

For the third time in their seven year stay The Harriers finished sixth, this time falling five points shy of the playoffs. Determined to get back to the football league Kidderminster Harriers hit form in small pockets of the season. In August they went unbeaten in five, between November and January they were undefeated in nine and won seven out of eight from mid March to mid April.

Lesson learnt from last season – Overall Kidderminster Harriers had the fourth best attack scoring 82. At home for a team who finished sixth they did ship in a fair few goals. To go one step further they will need to extend their consistency to reach the playoffs and beyond.

The Manager – Steve Burr

Regarded as an excellent striker in his playing days at Macclesfield Town, Steve Burr has 11 years experience in the dugout. He suffered relegation with Nuneaton borough, led Hucknall Town to the Northern Premier League and tasted a drop with Northwich Victoria before winning the Conference North. He also led The Vics to the F.A Cup third round, Stalybridge Celtic to a playoff final and The Harriers to Wembley in the F.A Trophy.

Transfers In/Out

Released by Burton Albion at the end of the season Ryan Austin will strengthen The Harriers back line with new signing Exodus Geohaghon. Coming in from Kent is Ricky Shakes who played for Ebbsfleet United last term. Winger Danny Pilkington was promoted with York City last season and he joins Steve Burr’s squad. Rising up from the Northern Premier League is young defender Cheyenne Dunkley who was snapped up from Hednesford Town. Keith Briggs has re-signed, the former captain joined champions Fleetwood Town last summer but returns to The Harriers.

Out of Aggborough goes Dan Bradley who spent the second half of last season on loan with Kidderminster. Michael Briscoe joins AFC Telford United, Nick Wright and Luke Jones switch to Mansfield Town. Goalkeeper Tony Breeden has been released following the return of first choice Danny Lewis. Jack Cresswell and Dave Hankin also left the Worcestershire club.

Best Performances

League: 10th – League Two (2001/02)

F.A Cup: Fifth Round (1993/94)

F.A Trophy: Winners (1986/87)

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Lincoln City

Founded: 1884 Ground: Sincil Bank Capacity: 10120

This season will be only the third campaign The Imps have spent in the Conference. Relegated from the old Division Four in 1987 The Imps went on to pip Barnet to the Conference title in 1988 to complete a swift return. In 2011, Lincoln City slumped towards relegation and roles were reversed when Barnet survived on the final day at their expense.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 17th
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy Second Round
County Cup Runner Up
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Sam Smith
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2347 (8th) / 5506 v Grimsby Town

Last season was only the second time The Imps have competed in non league football and they struggled to get to grips with the Conference. Just one win in their first nine left Lincoln City at the wrong end of the table and after that start they never reached higher than sixteenth. Three straight defeats in the first half of March left fans uncertain until they went on to win three in a row in the second half of the month. Safe by the end of the season but not a great season.

Lesson learnt from last season – At Sincil Bank, The Imps were defensively sound conceding a goal less than champions Fleetwood Town. It was up top where the Lincolnshire club struggled and on the road so a lot of work will be required in the summer if they want to improve.

The Manager – David Holdsworth

A former central defender and very experienced one too, David Holdsworth racked up 570 first team matches in his football league career. Moving into the management side with Ilkeston Town in 2008 he played with a tight budget to turn the club into playoff contenders. A move to Mansfield Town followed and although he had them in reach of the playoffs he left by mutual consent after nineteen games. This season is the start of potentially his first full campaign with The Imps.

Transfers In/Out

As this is David Holdsworth’s first summer in charge of Lincoln City it is no suprise he has been one of the busiest managers in the Conference Premier. In comes striker Adam Smith from Mansfield Town who could partner former Welsh under 21 Rob Duffy. On a twelve month contract Andrew Boyce has joined from Gainsborough Trinity and goalkeeper Paul Farman has turned his loan spell from Gateshead into a permanent deal. Also between the sticks arrives ex Scunthorpe United goalkeeper Jake Turner. From Mansfield Town, 31 year old midfielder Gary Mills has seen his fair share of medals and hopes to add to his collection. Holdsworth made a triple signing when midfielder Geoffrey Gouveia and Daniel Gray were brought in from Boston State Team in the States and Chesterfield respectively. Defender Tom Miller spent time on loan with The Imps last season and made his deal permanent. Graham Hiutchison has joined Lincoln City on a youth loan deal and 19 year old striker Vadaine Oliver signs from Sheffield Wednesday.

Holdsworth has let over a teams worth of players go this summer in a massive clear out including four strikers. Journeymen Richard Pacquette and Jefferson Louis, who has joined Newport County have left as well as Francis Laurent, Nialle Rodney and injury prone Andrew Hutchinson. Midfielders Simon Russell has joined Alfreton Town and Jean-Francois Christophe has been released. Kyle Perry spent last season on loan at AFC Telford United but is no longer part of Holdsworth’s plans neither are Danny Hone, Tony Sinclair, Karlton Watson and James Wilson. Goalkeeper Joe Anyon has moved to Shrewsbury Town. Nick Draper has gone out on loan to Sheffield FC. Top goalscorer Sam Smith moved to Cambridge United.

Best Performances

League: 5th – Division Two (1901/02)*

F.A Cup: Fifth Round (1993/94)

F.A Trophy: Winners (1986/87)

* Now The Championship

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Luton Town

Founded: 1885 Ground: Kenilworth Road Capacity: 10226

English League Cup winners in 1988 and runners up the following season, runners up of the F.A Cup in the fifties and a total of 16 top flight seasons in the football league. The Hatters have the most pedigree in the Conference Premier and will make a fourth attempt to return to League Two. It’s been a harsh fall for the Hertfordshire club but their superb fan base will still be there.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 5th
F.A Cup Second Round
F.A Trophy Semi Final
County Cup
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Stuart Fleetwood
Average / Highest Home Attendance 6111 (1st) / 8415 v Kidderminster Harriers

So close yet again, a second successive playoff final defeat to add to the semi final loss three years ago. Hatters fans certainly know all about heartbreak over the last six seasons. After the first ten games Luton topped the division unbeaten but they dropped to seventh at one stage. In a season of high points totals The Hatters soon climbed up again after a 13 match unbeaten run.

Lesson learnt from last season – It’s a good job York City are out of Luton’s life right now. The Hatters were defeated in the playoff semi final three years ago and four out of five times last season, including the playoff final and F.A Trophy semi-final. Defensively the best at home they often rack up good winning margins at Kenilworth Road they just need that killer instinct in the big games.

The Manager – Paul Buckle

As a boss Paul Buckle matches Luton’s profile with one playoff final win, two final defeats and F.A Trophy final loss. He impressed at Torquay United and moved to Bristol Rovers. The former Exeter City midfielder didn’t have a great time with Rovers and was sacked in January. Buckle has been in charge at Kenilworth Road for only three months so he will want to put his own mark on the club.

Transfers In/Out

In Paul Buckle’s first summer he has swooped to sign Jon Shaw from Gateshead and Scott Rendell from Wycombe Wanderers. Both strikers have been amongst the goals during spells in the Conference Premier, Shaw has scored 45 times and Rendell 32 times over a two year period. In midfield 30 year old Danny Spiller comes in from Gillingham and Ronnie Henry from Stevenage, who featured 40 times for Boro last season. Also from The Gills, The Hatters welcome defender Garry Richards who suffered a broken leg in March, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner joins from Torquay United and Iraqi Yaser Kasim joins on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion. Matt Robinson was released from Championship side Leicester City and decided to team up with Buckle at Luton Town. Returning to his first club is goalkeeper Dean Brill.

Kenilworth Road has also seen a clear out, John Paul Kissock moves to Macclesfield Town on loan and is joined by midfielder Charlie Henry. Mansfield Town made a double signing from Luton Town by capturing Godfrey Poku and George Pilkington. Moving into the football league is Kenyan defender Curtis Osano now at AFC Wimbledon and former Republic of Ireland under 19 and 21 Keith Keane who has moved to Preston North End. Danny Crow and Ed Asafu-Adjaye remain in the Conference Premier with Newport County and Forest Green Rovers respectively and Dan Gleeson drops down to the Isthmian Premier League to play for Lowestoft Town. Amari Morgan-Smith, Robbie WillmottShane Blackett and Christian Tavernier were released. Aaron O’Connor reunited with Justin Edinburgh at Newport County AFC.

Best Performances

League: 7th – Division One (1986/87)*

F.A Cup: Runners Up (1958/59)

F.A Trophy: Semi Finals (2011/12)

* Now Premier League

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Macclesfield Town

Founded: 1874 Ground: Moss Road Capacity: 6335

Two times Conference champions and two times F.A Trophy winners, Macclesfield Town eventually won promotion to the football league in 1997 despite winning the title two years earlier. In their début season in what is now League Two, The Silkmen went up again but lasted one season. After 15 seasons in the football league Macclesfield Town were relegated in May after a disastrous run of form.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 23rd – League Two (Relegated)
F.A Cup Third Round
F.A Trophy
County Cup Semi-Final
Top League Scorer 2011/12 George Donnelly
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2227 (21st) / 4214 v Port Vale

On New Years Eve the highest league attendance of the season for the Cheshire club made their way into Moss Rose. The Silkmen were in a comfortable fourteenth place and the fans witnessed Macclesfield Town’s final victory in League Two. In 2012 not a single win was recorded starting with eight straight defeats. Five draws in a row followed, before the season ended with two points taken out of thirty. So far it has been a year to forget.

Lesson learnt from last season – There has been wholesale changes in the summer for Macclesfield Town in attempt to distinguish any memories of 2011/12 season. Over the last seven months The Silkmen have been through three managers starting with Gary Simpson who was replaced with Brian Horton. Horton left after relegation was confirmed and Glyn Chamberlain finished up temporarily charge. Time for transition and stability.

The Manager – Steve King

Next up in the Moss Rose hot seat is Steve King. Whilst in charge at Lewes he took them from Isthmian Division One South to the Conference Premier. King struggled with Northwich Victoria before moving to Farnborough winning the Southern Premier League and then leading them to the Conference South playoff final. He returned to Lewes but in January left his position by mutual consent.

Transfers In/Out

The busiest boss in the Conference Premier equals a new look Macclesfield Town. Steve King has looked towards Luton for the signings of reliable striker Matthew Barnes-Homer, midfielder Charlie Henry and loan signing John Paul Kissock. The Macclesfield manager has also strengthened in the middle of the park by agreeing deals with Kieran Murtagh from Woking, Togolese midfielder Euloge Ahodikpe and former Barrow AFC player Jack Mackreth. From the lower leagues Junior Yiadom has joined from St Neots Town, Harry Agombar from Grays Athletic and Andre Costa from Dulwich Hamlet. Peter Winn will look to impress up front after his move from Stevenage whilst at the other end of the field Ryan Jackson transfered from AFC Wimbledon and experienced goalkeeper Lance Cronin from Gillingham. Craig Braham-Barrett has also been signed and has played under Steve King at Farnborough. Incoming on loan is Fleetwood Town defender Kieran Charnock.

The list of players out seems endless and in May a total of 21 footballers left the club having been released. Amongst the squad-full was 30 year old Matt Hamshaw. Club captain Paul Morgan departed with Jose Veiga, Dwayne Mattis and Jon Bateson. Striker George Donnelly has switched to Rochdale and goalkeeper Jack Cudworth joins up with Barrow AFC on loan. Michael Bakare, Lewis Chalmers, Steve Collis and Greg Daniels were not offered new deals in the summer along with Tom Fisher, Scott Kay, Jack Lane and Vinny Mukendi. In addition to the aforementioned players Adam Roberts, Michael Thomas, Jay Burgess, Ryan Meredith, George Robertson, Jordan Trinci-Lyne and Jake Vernon also left the Cheshire club.

Best Performances

League: 24th – League One (1998/99)

F.A Cup: Third Round (1967/68, 1987/88, 1998/99, 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2006/07 and 2008/09)

F.A Trophy: Winners (1969/70 and 1995/96)

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Mansfield Town

Founded: 1897 Ground: Field Mill Capacity: 10000

Elected to the football league in 1931 Mansfield Town are experiencing their first spell in the Conference. The Stags were relegated four years ago and are looking for a return. The Nottinghamshire club reached Wembley in the 2011 F.A Trophy losing to Darlington and last season showed promising signs to mount a challenge in 2012/13.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 3rd
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Matthew Green
Average / Highest Home Attendance 2682 (7th) / 4830 v Lincoln City

Racking up 89 points and still only finishing third is harsh for any club but a degree of inconsistency didn’t help the promotion cause. Winless in their first four games The Stags then won five in a row and proceeded to add to their points total. At the end of January Mansfield Town occupied ninth place and the playoffs seemed their only hope. Then an amazing sequence of 16 wins, two draws and two defeats propelled the club into third, if only they could have started the way they ended.

Lesson learnt from last season – Scoring was certainly not a problem, only champions Fleetwood Town netted more goals. The Stags went on a rampage at times wining back to back games 7-0 and 6-3. Not only that, their defence tightened up and if they continue from where they left off they will be a threat to anyone. To improve on a tremendous 2011/12, winning against teams in the top ten will only make them more dangerous.

The Manager – Paul Cox

Having spent most of his playing career in non league the former defender started his managerial adventures at Northern League’s Eastwood Town. In 2006, he kept The Badgers up in Northern Division One before leading the club to consecutive promotions between 2006 and 2008. In two years at Conference North level he improved Eastwood Town’s standings and led them to the F.A Cup third round for the first time ever. Now in his second season with Mansfield Town Cox has achieved a 49 per cent win ratio with both clubs his managed.

Transfers In/Out

The Stags have decided some wholesale changes will aid their promotion push. Notably Jake Speight joins from Wrexham after scoring 21 times in 38 appearances and following Speight is midfielder Jamie Tolley. Kidderminster Harriers also lost two players to Mansfield Town when striker Nick Wright and defender Luke Jones made the move to Nottinghamshire. Godfrey Poku spent time on loan from Southport last season and he has transferred from Luton Town to The Stags, another former Southport player Andy Owens and ex Luton defender George Pilkington also team up with Paul Cox. Jamie Hand has signed from relegated Hayes and Yeading, Chris Clements from Hednesford Town, Lee Beevers from Walsall and John Dempster has made his loan deal into a permanent signing.

On the move away from Field Mill is 20 year old defender Luke O’Neill, who has been snapped up by Burnley. Fellow defender Martin Riley has joined Wrexham, midfielder Jon Worthington drops down to FC Halifax Town and Adam Smith switches to Lincoln City. Last season Danny Mitchley spent time on loan at Nuneaton Town but has joined Altrincham this summer. Matt Bell, Sam Craven and Joe Kendrick were released.

Best Performances

League: 21st – Division Two (1977/78)*

F.A Cup: Quarter Finals (1968/69)

F.A Trophy: Runners Up (2010/11)

* Now The Championship

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Newport County AFC

Founded: 1912 Ground: Rodney Parade Capacity: 11676

The Exiles are celebrating their centenary year and were a permanent fixture in the football league. In the eighties the Welsh club experienced the highs, reaching the European Cup Winners Cup Quarter Finals in 1981 and the lows, going out of business in 1989. Reformed as Newport County AFC the club have risen again from the Hellenic League to the Conference Premier, last seasons F.A Trophy runners up are feeling optimistic once more.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 19th
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy Runner Up
County Cup Fourth Round
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Sam Foley
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1350 (14th) / 1675 v Grimsby Town

Second season syndrome is a phrase often used by pundits and The Exiles survived it. A nineteenth place finish and a trip to Wembley ensured a third year in the Conference Premier. The Welsh club did struggle to get going winning one of their first 14 fixtures. A managerial change in September turned the tide as the new boss made his team harder to beat.

Lesson learnt from last season – Be more prolific at home, The Exiles managed a meagre 22 goals at Rodney Parade and failed to score in 43 per cent of home matches. The Welsh club will have to be quicker out the blocks this term or they could be in for another battle.

The Manager – Justin Edinburgh

A former Tottenham Hotspur defender with a F.A Cup and League Cup medal. Edinburgh started as a player manager with Billericay Town. Since then he has taken on stern challenges at Fisher Athletic, winning promotion to the Conference South and at Grays Athletic. To complete a triumvirate of teams who have financially perished he took the reins at the now defunct Rushden and Diamonds. Now Edinburgh is in charge of a club that have experienced his previous teams fate before and hopes for a happier era.

Transfers In/Out

Former Luton Town striker Danny Crow has been captured by The Exiles, the 26 year old has experience with Cambridge United as well as Peterborough United. Ryan Charles has made his loan spell permanent after 14 appearances and two goals last season. In defence Tony James joins from Burton Albion and between the sticks comes in Alan Julian from Stevenage. Jake Thomson was released by Forest Green Rovers but the two time Trinidadian international has been snapped up swiftly. Veteran striker Jefferson Louis will start yet another season with a new club. Aaron O’Connor plays under Edinburgh yet again, after joining from Luton Town and Michael Flynn has re joined the club from Bradford City.

The services of Jake Reid have been lost as the striker teams up with AFC Telford United. The Exiles will also miss the experience of former captain Gary Warren who moves north of the border to Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Craig McAllister won promotion with Crawley Town two years ago and after a loan spell at Luton Town he now drops to the Conference South with Eastleigh. Sam Foley was noticed by Yeovil Town and has earned a move to the Somerset club whilst striker Elliot Buchanan signed for Boreham Wood. Goalkeeper Glyn Thompson as well as Lee Baker, Darryl Knights, Troy Greening, Guillaume Velez and Paul Rodgers have all been released.

Best Performances

League: 22nd – Division Two (1946/47)*

F.A Cup: Fifth Round (1948/49)

F.A Trophy: Runners Up (2011/12)

* Now The Championship

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Nuneaton Town

Founded: 1889 Ground: Liberty Way Capacity: 4500

Nuneaton Borough AFC were liquidated in 2008 but were allowed to reform under a different name by the Football Association in addition to a double relegation. Now playing as Nuneaton Town, The Boro have returned to the top flight after three playoff wins in four years. The newbies will hope they can survive a new season in the Conference Premier.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 5th – Conference North Playoff Winners
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup Semi Final
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Danny Glover
Average / Highest Home Attendance 779 (5th) / 1372 v Hinckley United

Nuneaton Town were a consistent force last season often putting mini winning streaks together. By the end of February they moved into second place eight points behind eventual champions Hyde. March was a little trickier but The Boro peaked at the right time by firstly maintaining a playoff place then by overcoming runners up Guiseley in the semi-final and defeating Gainsborough Trinity in the final.

Lesson learnt from last season – In defence Nuneaton Town were solid having conceded the fewest goals home and away bar champions Hyde. A consistent team in 2011/12 although a registration mix up left them six points shyer.

The Manager – Kevin Wilkin

Now in his sixth year at the realm Kevin Wilkin started life off the field after the sacking of his former boss. The 44 year old started as a caretaker manager and when the club were liquidated in 2008 he stayed on. Wilkin has guided The Boro to three playoff finals making it a hat trick of promotions last season.

Transfers In/Out

Left back Tom James has signed from Watford, last summer he made the step up nine leagues but managed one appearance for The Hornets. Striker Kyle Perry went on loan to Telford AFC last season from Lincoln City and will now play at Liberty Way. Teenager Ben Ford has left relegated Kettering Town for The Boro whilst Gavin Cowan signs from last season’s Conference North playoff runners up Gainsborough Trinity. Former Hinckley United striker Danny Newton, ex Boston United midfielder Danny Sleath and former Corby Town defender Delroy Gordon have agreed deals as well as Jon Adams from AFC Telford United. Australian goalkeeper Ben McNamara has signed from Bonnyrigg White Eagles, who play in Australia’s New South Wales Premier League.

Not many players have departed the Warwickshire side, Gary Mills moved to Lincoln City and centre back Guy Hadland has dropped down to the Northern League to play for Barwell. Last season’s top goal scorer Danny Glover has returned to Worcester City.

Best Performances

League: 2nd – Alliance Premier League (1983/84 and 1984/85)*

F.A Cup: Third Round (1949/50, 1966/67 and 2005/06)

F.A Trophy: Quarter Final (1976/77, 1979/80 and 1986/87)

* Now Conference Premier

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Southport

Founded: 1881 Ground: Haig Avenue Capacity: 6008

A founder member of the Third Division North in 1921, The Sandgrounders spent 57 years between Division Three and Four until they were voted out of the football league. Southport won promotion to the Conference from the Northern League in 1993 lasting ten years and finished runners up in the 1998 F.A Trophy. The Merseysiders won the first Conference North title and have since yo yo’d between steps one and two.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 7th
F.A Cup First Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Tony Gray
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1290 (15th) / 2589 v Fleetwood Town

The Sandgrounders had an excellent season considering their début in the Conference Premier resulted in a narrow escape, thanks to Rushden and Diamond’s demise. However the campaign started slowly with two points from the first 15 and then everything clicked. From Bank Holiday August to the end of November Southport tasted one defeat. Inconsistencies followed as The Sandgrounders fell from third to seventh missing the playoffs by five points.

Lesson learnt from last season – Southport have gone from strength to strength since their reprieve in 2011. At Haig Avenue the Merseysiders can improve as their record at home was worthy of a mid table side. On their travels they have been superb with only York City, Wrexham and Fleetwood Town boasting better records.

The Manager – Liam Watson

Southport’s man in charge spent his playing career in the North West and took to management at the age of 29 with Runcorn Halton. Early retirement through injury forced Liam Watson into the dugout where he is now in his second spell with Southport. At Runcorn Halton he turned them into a mid table side, at Burscough he won the Northern League and with The Sandgrounders he has won the Conference North in both of his spells.

Transfers In/Out

Watson has taken a chance on 21 year old midfielder Aaron Chalmers who has yet to settle at a club in his short career, he has been plucked from the North West Counties side Stockport Sports (formerly Woodley Sports). Chris Almond has also moved up the divisions having signed from Skelmersdale United. Southport have agreed deals for striker Steven Tames from Prescot Cables and defender Chris Lynch from Stalybridge Celtic. After a trial spell at the club midfielder Charlie Joyce joins from Morecambe.

Mansfield Town has swooped to sign Andy Owens and Adam Carden joins Northern League Division One North champions AFC Fylde.

Best Performances

League: 4th – Division Three North (1924/25 and 1938/39)*

F.A Cup: Quarter Final (1930/31)

F.A Trophy: Runners Up (1997/98)

* Now League One

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Stockport County

Founded: 1883 Ground: Edgeley Park Capacity: 10841

The other Hatters with a strong football league history, Stockport County spent 106 uninterrupted years between the second and fourth tiers. The Hatters peaked in the nineties notably under Dave Jones when they reached the League Cup semi-finals in 1996/97. It took ten years for Stockport County’s plight to be confirmed when they were relegated to the Conference Premier in 2011.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 16th
F.A Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup Quarter Final
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Nick Chadwick, Danny L Rowe and Tom Elliot
Average / Highest Home Attendance 3677 (3rd) / 6393 v Tamworth

Last season was new territory for Stockport County and with instability and financial concerns from previous campaigns it was hard to know what to expect. What the Conference Premier did get from The Hatters was a slowish start, eight draws in the first 11 fixtures followed by an awful middle, 13 defeats from 18 then ending with a satisfactory end, five wins from the final seven games.

Lesson learnt from last season – Tighten up away from home, Stockport County were hammered 7-0 by Grimsby Town, 6-1 by Alfreton Town and 5-0 by Southport all away from home. If they can take the final month of last season as a basis to improve then Edgeley Park will be a comfortable place.

The Manager – Jim Gannon

Now synonymous with the club having spent ten years playing for Stockport County during their prime in the nineties. Gannon returns for a second spell in charge after keeping them up, missing the playoffs by a point then relegation in his first spell. Gannon spent time with Motherwell, Peterborough United and Port Vale before moving back to Edgeley Park.

Transfers In/Out

Jim Gannon moved quickly in the transfer market when he signed striker Craig Hobson from Stalybridge Celtic and midfielder Alex Kenyon from Lancaster City. The defence will include new signings James Tunnicliffe who played 17 times for Wycombe Wanderers last season. Another striker, Tom Collins has joined the ranks from Telford United AFC and so does Sean Newton, The Bucks top scorer last season.  Danny L Rowe returns on loan from Fleetwood Town and centre half Jordan Fagbola signs from Rochdale.

Two of The Hatters top scorers from last season have left the club, Danny Rowe has been released and Tom Elliott joins Cambridge United. Non contract players Bernie Hirmer and Jordan Rose also departed Stockport County.

Best Performances

League: 8th – League One (1997/98)*

F.A Cup: Fifth Round (1949/50)

F.A Trophy: Fourth Qualifying Round (2011/12)

* Now The Championship

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Tamworth

Founded: 1933 Ground: The Lamb Ground Capacity: 4195

When The Lambs won the Southern League title in 2003, a year after finishing second, Tamworth reached the Conference for the first time in their history where they competed in three seasons. A break of two years from the top flight ended in 2009 when the Conference North was won. The former F.A Vase winners and Trophy runners up are hoping to survive yet another campaign in the Conference Premier.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 18th
F.A Cup Third Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup Quarter Final
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Iyseden Christie
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1097 (3rd) / 1923 v Wrexham

Tamworth started bright enough last time out and occupied a playoff spot after eight games. Still in contention in October the months ahead would set the seasons tone. A great F.A Cup where they bowed out in round three to Everton may have pushed the squad too far. The Lambs went three months with a solitary league victory and then finished the campaign with two wins in 18 matches.

Lesson learnt from last season – Despite a winless run at the tail end of the season The Lambs drew seven of their last 12 so they can be tough to crack. The Staffordshire club will need to pick up more goals on their travel as they netted just 17 on the road.

The Manager – Marcus Law

A former goalkeeper who retired through injury whilst playing in the States. At the age of 36, Marcus Law has been around the non league management scene since 1999. Starting out at Coventry Sphinx he moved onto Racing Club Warwick. During his time with Quorn he achieved promotion to the Northern Premier League Division One South. He repeated the feat with Barwell leading the club to the Midland Alliance title and his last role prior Tamworth was at Kettering Town.

Transfers In/Out

One signing that has made the headlines this summer is Tamworth’s new midfielder Lee Hendrie, the former England one cap wonder has signed from Redditch United. Another player with top flight experience albeit north of the border is Tommy Wright who was released by Forest Green Rovers. Marcus Law has looked towards Kidderminster to find former skipper of The Lambs Tom Marshall and goalkeeper Tony Breeden. On the wing Peter Till has signed from champions Fleetwood Town, in midfield The Lambs welcome Lloyd Kerry from Hinckley United and up top Adam Cunnington who left Dagenham and Redbridge. Former Burton Albion goalkeeper James Wren also joins the club as does Marcus Kelly from Kettering Town and Jamie Smith.

Paul Green completed a move to ambitious Forest Green Rovers after being in last seasons first team. Top goalscorer Iyseden Christie will no longer be part of Tamworth’s plans. Jonathan Hedge has completed a move to Cambridge United, Sam Habergham is now part of Braintree Town’s squad and Danny Thomas has gone abroad to Iceland’s Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar. Kieron St Aimie and Francino Francis joined the club at the same time however this time they have been released.

Best Performances

League: 15th – Conference Premier (2004/05)

F.A Cup: Third Round (2005/06, 2006/07 and 2011/12)

F.A Trophy: Runners Up (2002/03)

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Woking

Founded: 1889 Ground: Kingfield Stadium Capacity: 6000

The Cards are back in the Conference Premier where they feel they belong. The winners of three F.A Trophy’s, two near promotion misses into the football league and a famous F.A Cup run to the fourth round the club have non league pedigree. After a three year absence Woking will be taking part in their eighteenth Conference season following their Conference South title exploits last term.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 1st – Conference South Champions
F.A Cup Third Qualifying Round
F.A Trophy Third Qualifying Round
County Cup Winners
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Giuseppe Sole
Average / Highest Home Attendance 1833 (1st) / 4048 v Truro City

The Cards enjoyed an exceptional season winning the Conference South by nine points. Having gone 17 matches unbeaten from September to  January the Surrey club looked in control. During January and February Woking showed signs of dropping points but then came Giuseppe Sole goalscoring prowess. Deservedly Woking lifted the Conference South title with consistent performances.

Lesson learnt from last season – Woking will want to get their fans behind them after recording the highest average attendance in the Conference South last season. The Cards were also tight at the back and scored a hatful of goals, so making home form count in their return to the Conference Premier will give them solid foundations.

The Manager – Garry Hill

A successful manager in non league football, Garry Hill is set to embark in his second season at the Kingfield Stadium. His achievements include leading Heybridge Swifts to the Isthmian Premier, Dagenham and Redbridge to the Conference in his first season and Weymouth to the Conference South title. He has had less successful spells at St Albans City, Hornchurch and Rushden and Diamonds.

Transfers In/Out

Woking started their summer activity by raiding the place they arrived from, the Conference South. First Loick Pires and Jack Parkinson were taken from Welling United to bolster Garry Hill’s squad. Defender Brett Johnson agreed a pre contract deal from League Two’s AFC Wimbledon. Mike Cestor played for The Cards on loan from Leyton Orient last season and now the Frenchman has been a permanent member of the squad. In from Southend United is midfielder Lee Sawyer who previously played for the Surrey side two years ago. Up front Bradley Bubb who is prolific at Conference South level has made a loan move from Aldershot Town.

Garry Hill will hope to shake up his strike force this summer, experienced Elvis Hammond was released, Moses Ademola joins Eastleigh and Paris Cowan-Hall signed for Plymouth Arglye, the three forwards scored 37 league goals between them in 2011/12. Ola Sogbanmu drops to the Isthmian Premier with Carshalton Athletic and Dale Binns teams up with Ademola in Hampshire. Wayne Gray and Derek Duncan were released by the club.

Best Performances

League: 2nd – Conference Premier (1994/95 and 1995/96)

F.A Cup: Fourth Round (1990/91)

F.A Trophy: Winners (1993/94, 1994/95 and 1996/97)

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Wrexham

Founded: 1864 Ground: Racecourse Ground Capacity: 15500

Three years ago the club hit an all time low when after 87 years their football league membership was ended through relegation. A stark contrast to the highs of the seventies when European football via the Welsh Cup was the norm and the early eighties in the second tier of English football. A famous F.A Cup victory versus Arsenal in 1992 will always be remembered as another highlight in the long history of the Welsh club.

Last Season

Final Standing 2011/12 2nd
F.A Cup Third Round
F.A Trophy First Round
County Cup Third Round
Top League Scorer 2011/12 Jake Speight
Average / Highest Home Attendance 3806 (2nd) / 5812 v AFC Telford United

It’s always harsh for a team to rack up a massive 98 points without winning the title. Since automatic promotion was introduced Wrexham would have won the Conference on the majority of occasions. The Reds led the table in September before one defeat at the end of that month. The Welsh club went on an incredible unbeaten run of 16 which included just three draws. It’s amazing to believe that when that run ended Wrexham lost top spot and never regained first place, all this despite only five more loses in the final 18 fixtures.

Lesson learnt from last season – Wrexham cannot do much more this time round to achieve a return to the football league. In fact with expectations high it may become a little trickier. Excluding champions Fleetwood Town, The Reds were the most consistent side and so they will need to continue where they left off.

The Manager – Andy Morrell

Already well respected by the club and supporters, Andy Morrell is currently player manager. His first spell with the club was successful between 1998 and 2003 where he scored 40 times in 108 appearances. His form at Wrexham earned a move to Coventry City and he later moved on to Blackpool and Bury. Morrell returned in 2010 and after the departure of Dean Saunders he picked up the baton in the dug out.

Transfers In/Out

It could well be the signing of the summer, former Blackpool and Southampton Premier League striker Brett Ormerod joins the club at the age of 35. At the other end of the field will be new signing Martin Riley from Mansfield Town. Former Tranmere Rover goalkeeper Andy Coughlin will also be playing for the Welsh club in 2012/13.

Leaving the Welsh club is last seasons talisman Jake Speight who agreed to switch to Mansfield Town and joining him from the Racecourse Ground is Jamie Tolly.  Wrexham’s success last season has meant clubs higher up the ladder have been on the prowl. Striker Mathias Pogba signed a 2 year contract with Crewe Alexandra as does defender Nat Knight-Percival who agreed terms with Peterborough United. Welsh under 23 goalkeeper Chris Maxwell has moved to last seasons champions Fleetwood Town. Obi Anoruo will be a Barrow AFC player whilst Welsh under 19 Max Penk and Steve Leslie have left the club.

Best Performances

League: 15th – Division Two (1978/79)*

F.A Cup: Quarter Final (1973/74, 1977/78 and 1996/97)

F.A Trophy: Fourth Round (2008/09)

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