Now the 2016/17 fracas of Non-League football has settled, we take a detailed look at who has been promoted and relegated from steps 5, 6 & 7. We will also point out which teams have been reallocated in time for the new season.
The National League
Promoted: Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers (League 2)
Relegated: North Ferriby United, Southport, York City (National League North) and Braintree Town (National League South)
What a season it turned out to be for Lincoln City. FA Cup quarter-finalists and returning to the Football League as champions all in one season, a year the club will never forget. Joining them for the first time in League Two is Forest Green Rovers after they beat Tranmere Rovers 3-1 in the play-off final at Wembley. A massive step forward for the Gloucestershire club.
Of course, the same feelings won’t be shared by the relegated teams. North Ferriby and Southport will be extremely disappointed to have finished 12 points from safety, whilst Braintree and York will be looking to bounce back quickly after coming so close to staying in the division.
National League North
Promoted: AFC Fylde and Halifax Town (National League)
Relegated: Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic (Northern Premier), Worcester City (Midland Football League)
Movers: Gloucester City (National League South)
Both of the promoted teams are now only one step away from the football league and if AFC Fylde can carry their scoring record of 16/17 into 17/18 then they stand a real chance of fighting for promotion. Halifax’s defence record was the fourth-best in the National League North last season, so I wouldn’t rule them out of a genuine promotion push either.
Altrincham had a season to forget, winning four games from a possible 42. Stalybridge didn’t fair much better, winning only eight of their games and finishing six points from safety. After missing out by a tantalising point, Worcester will now play in the Midland Football League in order for the club to stay alive, a great disappointment for all their fans.
National League South
Promoted: Maidenhead United and Ebbsfleet United (National League)
Relegated: Margate (Isthmian League), Bishops Stortford and Gosport Borough (Southern League)
Maidenhead and Ebbsfleet were the standout teams in the National League South, with the two finishing 14 and 12 points ahead of 3rd place Dartford. Ebbsfleet managed to overcome a difficult play-off final against Chelmsford to book their place in the National League where both will be hoping to make a great impression.
All three teams at the bottom were unable to win more than 9 of their 42 games, with Bishops Stortford and Gosport conceding over 100 goals, the only teams in the division to do so. Margate’s defence leaked in fewer goals that 12th places Hemel Hempstead, however, a mere 26 goals scored wasn’t enough for them to challenge for safety.
Evo-Stik Northern Premier
Promoted: Blyth Spartans and Spennymoor Town (National League North)
Relegated: Skelmersdale United and Frickley Athletic (Division One North), Ilkeston and Corby Town (Division One South)
The Spartans ran away with the 16/17 Northern Premier League, accumulating 101 points and scoring 114 goals in the process. 2nd place finishers Spennymoor managed to beat 3rd place Stourbridge in their play-off final to cap off a great season for Town, who are now placed just two leagues from the Football League.
Arguably the worst news to come out of this season was the folding of relegated Ilkeston after a high court hearing, a massively disappointing season for all concerned with the club. Skelmersdale, who finished bottom of the table, were the only team to have more than 100 goals scored against them, 118 being the total. Frickley hosted the 2nd worst defence in the league, ultimately costing them any chance of staying up. Corby will drop down to Division One South for the 17/18 campaign as they narrowly missed out on safety, one point separated them and Sutton Coldfield Town.
Evo-Stik First Division North
Promoted: Lancaster City and Farsley Celtic (Northern Premier)
Relegated: Burscough (North West Counties Premier Division) Goole AFC (First Division North)
Lancaster and Farsley were the league’s runaway teams, with City edging out Celtic by a point to claim the title. Farsley held their nerves in the play-offs and the two will battle it out again in the Northern Premier League next season.
Ilkeston’s unfortunate demise worked to Goole’s advantage, as they received a reprieve from relegation due to their superior points per game ration across the four divisions. This means they will again be playing their football in the First Division North, a huge pre-season boost for the club. Burscough weren’t so lucky, they’ll have to play in the North West Counties League next season after ending the season 20 points adrift.
Evo-Stik First Division South
Promoted: Shaw Lane and Witton Albion (Northern Premier)
Relegated: Northwich Victoria (North West Counties Premier Division) and Rugby Town (Midland Football League Premier Division)
Movers: AFC Rushden and Diamonds (Southern League Division One Central)
Again, the top two in the First Division South were the runaway teams in the league. Shaw Lane ended the year as champions with a very impressive 102 points tally. Witton Albion ran them close, and despite a three-point deduction they managed to finish a hefty 17 points clear of third place Spalding United.
After a 10 point deduction, Northwich Victoria ended the campaign bottom of the pile. Without the deduction, they would have been safe, a bitterly disappointing end to their 16/17 season. Rugby Town couldn’t find what was needed for them to stay up, they drop down the Midlands Premier Division after finishing four points off 20th place Loughborough Dynamo.
Ryman Premier League
Promoted: Havant & Waterlooville and Bognor Regis Town (National League South)
Relegated: Grays Athletic, AFC Sudbury, Canvey Island (Ryman Division One North) and Harrow Borough (Ryman Premier League)
Havant & Waterlooville were crowned champions after pipping Bognor Regis to the title by two points, the two will battle it again next season though as the National League South welcomes the two teams into the league.
Harrow Borough were handed a huge lifeline as the result of Worcester’s requested relegation, meaning they will get another crack at the Ryman Premier League next season. Grays, Sudbury and Canvey all slip out of the Premier Division though and will get to battle each other again next season with all three looking to bounce straight back.
Ryman Division One North
Promoted: Brightlingsea Regent and Thurrock (Ryman Premier Division)
Relegated: Great Wakering Rovers (Essex Senior League), Wroxham (Eastern Counties League Premier Division), Ware (Ryman Division One North)
Movers: Pheonix Sports, Thamesmead Town and VCD Athletic (Ryman Division One South)
Brightlingsea Regent see themselves promoted to the Ryman Premier Division after soaring to the title, collecting 103 points and scoring 114 goals. 3rd place finishers Thurrock managed to battle out a 1-0 play-off final win against 2nd place Maldon and Tiptree, seeing them join Brightlingsea in the Premier Division next season.
Due to the FA’s reorganisation of the leagues, Ware keep their place in the Division One North despite finishing in the bottom three by the narrowest of margins. Great Wakering and Wroxham both finished with 25 points, a full 26 behind Ware who finished level on points with Heybridge Swifts and Waltham Abbey.
Ryman Division One South
Promoted: Tooting & Mitcham United and Dorking Wanderers (Ryman Premier League)
Relegated: Godalming Town (Combined Counties League Premier Division), Three Bridges (Southern Combination Premier Division) and Chatham Town (Southern Counties East League)
Tooting & Mitcham’s superior goal difference handed them the league title by the finest of margins as they finished level on points with Dorking Wanderers. Luckily for Dorking, they were able to scrape past Corinthian Casuals in the play-off semi-finals thanks for a penalty shootout victory. The Ryman Premier League awaits.
Despite winning more games than the two teams above them, Godalming finished bottom of the league with an unsatisfactory 24 points after being deducted three points. Three Bridges claimed 22nd spot with 29 points to their name after winning just seven and losing 31. Chatham finished two points ahead of Three Bridges but were still a distant seven points away from staying up after taking no points away from 29 of their games in 16/17.
Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division
Promoted: Chippenham Town (National League South) and Leamington (National League North)
Relegated: Cinderford Town (Southern League Division One South West), Hayes & Yeading United (Southern League Division One Central), Cirencester Town (Southern League Division One South West) and Cambridge City (Southern League Division One Central)
Chippenham Town were very impressive in the Southern Premier League this season, finishing as the league’s highest scorers and finishing 11 points clear of 2nd place. That team was Leamington and they too will be heading up, the National League North awaits them after beating Hitchin in dramatic fashion in the play-off final.
Cinderford Town ended the season at the league’s bottom club, losing 35 of their 46 games and winning just eight. Hayes & Yeading’s 41 points weren’t enough to keep them in the division as they eventually lost on safety by six points. Cirencester Town will be joining Cinderford in the Souther League South & West Division One, their 11 wins weren’t enough to keep them alive in the Southern Premier League. Cambridge City will be bitterly disappointed as they drop out of the division on goal difference, with Kings Langley’s superior goals scored keeping them up.
Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central
Promoted: Royston Town and Farnborough (Evo-Stik First Division South)
Relegated: Petersfield Town (Wessex League Premier Division) and Histon (Eastern Counties League Premier Division)
Movers: Kidlington (Evo-Stik League Southern League Division One South West), Potters Bar Town (Ryman League Division One North)
After winning 32 of their 42 games, the league’s standout performers were certainly Royston Town. Their staggering 121 goals helped them to claim the title by 12 points. Farnborough finished the season 2nd in the league, 13 points clear of third-placed Barton Rovers. After their comprehensive 4-0 play-off final victory, they’ll get to battle it out with Royston again next season.
Petersfield Town will want to forget their 16/17 campaign, accumulating just nine points from 42 games, losing 37 of them. Histon eventually finished five points from safety despite picking up the same amount of wins as Northwood, their five less draws ultimately costing them a place in the Division One Central next season.
Evo-Stik League Southern League Division 1 South West
Promoted: Hereford and Tiverton Town (Evo-Stik First Division South)
Relegated: Bridgwater Town (Western League Premier Division) and Wantage Town (Hellenic League Premier Division)
Hereford’s 107 points tally proved to be 18 better than anyone else in the league this season, a fully deserving title for The Whites as they carry on their pursuit of League football. Tiverton Town joins them in the Evo-Stik First Division South as they beat 2nd place Salisbury 2-0 in the play-off final.
Bridgwater Town will be aiming to bounce back next season after a dismal season left them with just 10 points, 27 adrift of 20th placed Slimbridge. Wantage Town didn’t fair much better themselves, a total of 21 points after just four wins all season left them 16 points away from safety. Both teams will be hoping to climb back up the divisions as soon as possible.