Football fans show support with increased attendances

The football league season has finished for local clubs and the release of official crowd figures for the year shows how the sport has bounced back following the covid crisis and lockdown.

This season, Northumberland had eight clubs competing in leagues that record attendance and whilst comparing figures to the 2020/21 would be close to meaningless given the covid restrictions, it's interesting to see how fans have responded following the relaxation of restrictions.

The highest average attendance, unsurprisingly, goes to Blyth Spartans in the National League North, at a healthy 917. Attendances have continued to rise at Croft Park with the average in 2019/20 of 846, 801 in 2018/19 and 742 the season before. The biggest home crowd this season was 2,027, for the New Year fixture against Gateshead.

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At 643, Morpeth Town AFC's average attendance this season shows just how far they've come since promotion from the Northern League, a 32% increase compared to three seasons ago. A massive crowd of 1,637 were in attendance at Craik Park for the FA Cup game against York City last October.

Ashington AFC have been a real success story when it comes to building their fanbase. Even with attendances limited last season they still managed to average 206, but now with restrictions removed this season, the figure was more than doubled to 439, making them one of the best supported clubs in the Northern League. The biggest crowd at Woodhorn Lane was seen at their Northumberland Senior Cup game against Newcastle United U23s, 1,357.

Of the other sides in the county, Berwick Rangers, in the Lowland League, had an average of 399, up from 365.

Blyth Town FC made their return to the Northern League and brought with them a solid support, averaging an attendance of 152.

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Tweedmouth Rangers had an average attendances of 78 in the East of Scotland League, whilst Bedlington Terriers averaged 65.

Alnwick Town Ladies complete the list, competing at National League level for the first time in their history and recording an average attendance of 54, although they did play in front of over 22,000 against Newcastle United Ladies at Tyneside’s St James’ Park.