Non-League Football is on the rise! - We have the stats to prove it!
Sheffield is a proud city, once proud for its worldwide production of Steel which sadly declined as manufacturing moved aboard. With the World student games arriving in the early 90s, Sheffield began to rebrand itself as the “City of Sport” however after a somewhat underwhelming event and the misfortunes both Owls and Blades fans have ‘enjoyed’ over the last 30 years it is easy to see why the council shifted from promoting Sheffield as the “City of Sport” to the tagline of “The Outdoor City”. With that in mind the Team at Sheffieldfootball.com wanted to analyse how many of us headed outside to take in the purest form of the Sport that Sheffield gave to the world: Non-league football. We have analysed attendance figures from our local clubs comparing the pre-covid 18/19 season to the 21/22 season. The two previous seasons to 21/22 had been declared null and void due to Covid restrictions not allowing a full fixture list to take place. After completing this analysis and rank ordering the results, it is fair to say Sheffield is a proud city; we are a proud football city who loves their local football!
Worsbrough Bridge Athletic find themselves top of the tree! When comparing attendance figures from the 18/19 season to 20/21 their numbers are seriously impressive. Attendances have grown by 136% and Briggers Chairman Mark Booth and the club staff should rightly feel proud for the growth the club has experienced over this short period of time. Their increased social media presence, partnerships with local business and friendly welcome have ensured many returning supporters enjoyed a great season for the Briggers who finished in the top 10 of the NCEL Division one. The club celebrate their centenary in November this year with special guest Danny Wilson, who will be very familiar to Reds, Owls and Blades having managed all three clubs and this appears to be a very poignant moment to celebrate the fantastic work happening at the club. Another remarkable success story comes from the countrymen at Hallam FC. Over the period analysed, Hallam saw attendances rise by 129%! This will certainly not be a surprise to anyone who has attended a game at Sandygate. There is a tangible buzz around the World’s Oldest Ground, and it certainly takes a little longer to be served at Ann’s Cabin of goodies, but this only adds to the feel that you’re at a sporting event in the city that means something to the people! To accommodate the growing numbers further the popular shed end has been further extended and the addition of outdoor bars have helped ensure the club maximise the opportunities presented to them by increased attendances.
The return of football to Handsworth, who previously played their home games at Worksop Town FC, has contributed further to the wonderful local non-league scene that can be enjoyed in Sheffield. Their slick 3G pitches and sharp lettering behind the dugouts makes Oliver’s Mount an excellent choice to take in some weekend or midweek football. This argument is further solidified by the fact that Handsworth have enjoyed a growth of 42% in attendance when comparing the pre-covid average to that of the 21/22 season. Construction work around the pitch has further improved the fan experience as drinks, refreshments and toilets are now available in a much more accessible way. Overhearing the famous non-league phrase of “Decent set up here” was a familiar experience when the seasiders of Cleethorpes Town visited Handsworth earlier in the season and this is testament to the hard work of the hierarchy at Handsworth. On the subject of admiration for ground improvements and renovations then look no further than the team at Staveley Miners Welfare FC! Staveley have developed a superb non-league ground that is modern, hospitable, and accessible for all. They host an excellent pitch side clubhouse, which serves an extensive menu and a wide range of drinks creating a matchday experience that is difficult to rival! This tireless work has contributed to the growth of gate receipts with the Trojans experiencing superb growth of 39% over the period studied. Despite their voluntary relegation to NCEL Division One, the Trojans enjoy an enviable level of attendance of fans who fully understand that the community (and serving that community) is the main aim of the club. Players will come and go but the Trojans are building a facility that will finely serve its community for many years to come. The most pleasing aspect of our study was the fact that all clubs experienced growth across their attendances. This illustrates the fact that we are part of a footballing city which truly loves the game at all levels. We look forward to this time next year where we hope to report further growth but for now, we’d like to congratulate the clubs, their staff and volunteers for maintaining our clubs and growing them from strength to strength. It is all to easy to forget that just two years ago the country was in the middle of a pandemic; we were unsure whether our clubs would survive, never mind come back stronger. Considering that backdrop, this makes the achievements of our clubs even more commendable. Whilst compiling this study of attendance figures we delved further into recent history and the numbers of your club can be found in the table below.