Teams who have endured the worst seasons in the National League

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The National League is regarded as one of the toughest divisions in English football.  Sometimes, it can be unforgiving, and teams are just out of their depth in the fifth tier.

Here are the teams who endured the worst seasons in the history of the fifth tier:

Dover Athletic (Finished season 2021/22 with one point)

It would be cruel to label Dover the worst club in National League history, as there were extenuating circumstances. They were handed a 12-point deduction due to issues involving COVID-19.

Even without the points deduction, Dover would have still only picked up 13 points in the sixth tier, having recorded just two wins and seven draws while suffering 35 defeats.

While Athletic had issues at both ends of the pitch, their defence conceded 101 goals, which was the main reason they endured such a torrid campaign in the fifth tier.

Hyde FC (Finished season 2013/14 with ten points)

Without Dover’s points deduction, Hyde would be the club who have picked up the least number of points in a National League campaign.

Hyde claimed just ten points in the fifth tier in season 2013/14, incredibly recording just one victory from their 46 outings in the National League.

Similarly to Dover, Hyde struggled to keep the opposition out, conceding a staggering 119 goals in the fifth tier. Coupled with scoring just 38 goals, they ended the season with a goal difference of -81.

Lewes (Finished season 2008/09 with 24 points)

Having won promotion in the previous season, the Sussex outfit picked up far more points than the first teams on our list. However, they garnered just 24 points from their 46 games in the fifth tier.

Lewes at least claimed six wins and six draws but still finished bottom of the table and finished a whopping 27 points adrift of the safety of 21st place Barrow.

Unsurprisingly, one of the main causes of their demise was a poor defensive record, with 89 goals conceded in the campaign.

The fact that their attack was impotent didn’t help Lewes’ cause, as they scored a disappointing 28 goals, nine fewer than the next least prolific team in the division.

Maidstone (Finished season 2022/23 with 25 points)

The team from Kent won promotion to the National League in season 2021/22 from the National League South. However, they found the step up in level difficulty, taking just 25 points from their 46 outings.

The Stones scored just 45 goals and conceded 101 goals to finish bottom of the fifth tier, 23 points from safety. In season 2023/24, they finished fourth place in the National League South, only to lose out on promotion by losing in the play-offs.

Grays Athletic (Finished season 2009/10 with 26 points)

After five seasons in the National League, Grays experienced a nightmare campaign in season 2009/10, picking up just 26 points.

The Gravelmen conceded 91 goals and scored just 35. Their top goalscorer in the campaign was Jamie Slabber, who scored a grand total of four goals in the fifth tier, illustrating their lack of goals.

Grays have not returned to the National League since their relegation in 2010. They have spent the last seven seasons in the Isthmian League North Division.

Histon FC (Finished season 2010/11 with 28 points)

The signs of struggle were there in season 2009/10 when Histon finished 18th place in the National League. However, season 2010/11 was even worse for Histon, as they finished 24th place in the National League table, having picked up just 28 points during the campaign.

The Cambridgeshire team conceded 91 goals while scoring just 49 goals.  Despite the goals conceded, Histon didn’t have the worst defensive record in the division, as 23rd-place Eastbourne conceded 104 goals.

Weymouth (Finished season 2021/22 with 28 points)

The Dorchester outfit didn’t finish bottom of the table, but their points tally of 28 wasn’t enough to save them from relegation. They finished a massive 27 points ahead of the aforementioned Dover Athletic but 15 points away from safety.

Weymouth conceded 88 goals and scored just 40, leading to a goal difference of -48.

Barnet (Finished season 2020/21 with 31 points)

The Bees picked up just 31 points from 42 games in season 2020/21, finishing 22nd in the table. They had conceded 88 goals and scored just 37 goals.

Barnet finished second place in the National League table in season 2023/24, missing out on promotion due to a defeat in the play-offs.

Kings Lynn Town (Finished season 2020/21 with 31 points)

Kings Lynn finished 21st in the table, picking up 31 points in season 2020/21, the same season as Barnet, finishing above the Bees courtesy of a superior goal difference to the Bees.

The Norfolk outfit, which is the phoenix club of King’s Lynn F.C., conceded an astounding 99 goals but scored 50 times in the National League.

Bath City (Finished season 2011/12 with 31 points)

Having managed 10th place in the National League the previous season, Bath finished 24th place in the fifth tier in season 2011/12. They won just seven of their 46 games in the National League.

City’s defensive record was woeful, as they conceded 89 goals and scored 43 goals. Bath hasn’t returned to the National League since having spent the last 12 seasons in the National League South.

Kettering (Finished season 2011/12 with 33 points)

The Northamptonshire outfit finished second from bottom in season 2011/12, picking up 33 points, just two points above Bath City in the relegation fight.

Kettering had the worst defensive record of the season, conceding a century of goals while scoring just 40, contributing to a -60-goal difference.

Do you remember any of these teams’ struggles in the National League?

By Bob