ON THE ROAD WITH THE REDS NEXT SEASON
Friday May 13, 2011
Alfreton Town have not only joined the top echelon outside the Football League at a time when they are probably best capable of competing at this level, but they have undoubtedly chosen an ideal time as far as distances are concerned in the Conference Premier.
Gone in opposite directions are the potentially long treks to Crawley and Eastbourne Borough, with Newport County and Gateshead now probably the longest distances, but neither of them are as far as Blyth Spartans and Workington were.
There will be four clubs around London, including promoted Essex side Braintree Town and either Farnborough Town or Ebbsfleet also from the Conference South, with Farnborough the easiest to reach; there will also be Hayes & Yeading together with either Luton Town or AFC Wimbledon (assuming neither Wrexham nor Fleetwood overcome massive play-off deficits).
Bath City and Forest Green Rovers represent the West Country, while Newport and Wrexham provide Welsh opposition with Fleetwood Town and Barrow in the North-West.
The North-East sees trips to Gateshead and Darlington with the remaining 11 clubs within fairly easy reach, with the furthest of those an accessible Cambridge United.
York City, Grimsby Town, Rushden & Diamonds (if they survive their current problems) and Kettering Town come next in distance, followed by Stockport County, Kidderminster Harriers and AFC Telford United/Guiseley (BSBN play-off finalists).
That leaves Mansfield Town, Lincoln City and Tamworth who are positively local.
There will be 13 grounds that Alfreton Town have never previously played at, beginning with the four around London and the four mentioned earlier representing the West Country and Wales.
The remaining five new grounds will be Darlington, York, Kidderminster, Rushden and Stockport County, and before anyone starts shouting "Lincoln City and Grimsby Town" the Reds played regularly at Sincil Bank and Blundell Park against their Reserves in the mid-1960's in the Midland League under Jim Bullions.