National League Round-Up 2022/23

Wrexham's Hollywood Owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney lift the champions trophyWrexham's Hollywood Owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney lift the champions trophy

The close of another National League season is finally upon us. A season of surprises and fairy tales, sackings and signings, misery and jubilation, failings and Hollywood finales has drawn to a close.

An overview of the promoted, relegated and surprise packages follows:

The Promoted

Wrexham (1st – 111 points)

The Hollywood fairy-tale we’ve all been waiting for. Whether you are behind the story or not, it must be said that Wrexham had one of the most impressive Vanarama National League campaigns of recent years.

Breaking records for most points, wins, and fewest defeats it was a season in the sun for the divisions only Welsh outfit.

Undefeated at home all season, it became clear very quickly that The Racecourse and its 10,000 people chorus was not an away day that visiting teams could look forward too (only Woking took points away at Wrexham after a 2-2 draw back in February).

Wrexham just edged Notts County to the automatic promotion spot; ‘super Ben Foster in goal’(‘s) last minute penalty heroics against County viewed as the pivotal moment in clinching victory in what was until then a two-horse race for the title.

League two football awaits. The Hollywood tale continues.

Notts County (2nd – promoted via playoffs – 107 points)

In any other season Wrexham’s ridiculous tally of points and goals would have stuck out like a sore thumb, yet in a season that will be referenced for years to come, Notts County almost matched the Welsh Dragons for points and even outscored them (117 goals).

Luke William’s side may have made the regular season look a breeze, only losing on three occasions, but the play-offs told a far different story.  Relaying on extra time and the comeback of the season to sweep aside Bromley in the semi-final it was penalties that decided their fate at Wembley. Substitute goalie Archie Mair clinched a hero status as he saved two Chesterfield penalties to promote the side to the football league.

Notts County’s player of the season Macaulay Langstaff netted 42 goals none of which converted from the spot. An incredible tally for any level of football.

The national League record attendance was broken in Notts’ home game against Yeovil. 16,551 were in attendance on the 19th November last year.

The Relegated

Torquay United (21st – 48 points)

After being promoted to the National league as champions of the National League South in 2019, the clubs spell in the topflight of non-league football ended on the final day of the 20222/23 season. Failing to pick up as many points as the likes of Aldershot, York, and Maidenhead, Torquay were subjected to the final relegation place.

Yeovil Town (22nd – 40 points)

Yeovil Town became no strangers to sharing the points with their opponents, drawing a league high 19 times throughout the 2022/23 campaign, a feat that ultimately denied them enough points to survive the drop.

Winless from March to the end of the season, Yeovil fans perhaps knew their fate far earlier than they would have liked. Yeovil fans only celebrated 35 goals this season, their side failing to outscore the league’s highest scoring individuals, Macaulay Langstaff (42) and Paul Mullin (38).

Scunthorpe (23rd – 34 points)

For any Scunthorpe supporter recent years have been woeful and depressing and the 2022/23 season was no different. After relegation from league one in 2019 before falling further out of the football league and League Two in 2021, it would seem things couldn’t get much worse for the Iron. Yet it did. Financial problems plagued the club’s mechanics, taking its toll on the pitch. Winning just eight games, drawing ten, and losing 28, it was a truly painful season for Scunthorpe.

They are the only relegated side set to play their football in the National League North next season.

Maidstone United (24th – 25 points)

The step into the National League from lower divisions can often prove to much for a club despite a promising and triumphant season in the National League North/South. This is certainly the case this season for bottom placed Maidstone. Winning the National League South in 2022, Maidstone gained promotion into the National league.

This season, however, was absent of many highs at all. Winning only five games, the last of which was a 3-2 win of Maidenhead on the 26th of November last year. With the pairing of the worst defence (104 goals conceded) and a shyness in front of goal (45 goals scored) it was never in doubt that Maidstone would land themselves a relegation place.

Teams To Note

Woking (4th – 82 points)

The appointment of Darren Sarll last season always appeared to be a promising one for the Cards, yet none could have predicted the heights that the ex-Yeovil gaffer could take his new side this season. After a flurry of experienced signings in the likes of Padraig Amond and Scott Cuthbert, Sarll had a strengthened side from the previous season.

Woking’s relentless worth ethic and ‘fight till the end’ mentality saw them reach the play-offs for the first time in their history. Although the Cards lost to Bromley in the first round it must be said that even finishing in the top seven was a huge achievement.

Dorking Wanderers (16th – 57 points)

Dorking wanderers are the fairy-tale non-league story. After being founded by chairman and now manager Marc White in 1999, his Dorking Wanderers have risen from the Crawley and district league to the National League in less than 25 years.

Anyone who watched Dorking before their promotion to the National League in 2022 would notice their distinct playing style. Moving the ball side to side, taunting a high press from the opposition before capitalising on the overload higher up the pitch. Whilst it was clear that this playing style flourished in the lower leagues many were sceptical of its ability to outwit opponents of higher quality. However the leagues only part time team proved wrong anyone who doubted them. Not only did Dorking Survive the drop but they so to were one of only three sides to beat promoted Notts County.

Barnet (5th  – 74 points)

The Bee’s are no strangers to a relegation battle, escaping the drop by fine margins in 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively. However, this season would bring a far different outcome for the London based side.

An improved squad from last year was essential to Barnet’s play-off push, none more impactful than Nicke Kabamba who netted 19 league goals. Barnet’s times of trouble seem far behind them, next season looking rather hopeful indeed.

Who knows what next season will bring, but the competition looks stronger and tighter than ever.