Thursday, 19 May 2011

21st Century Hampshire Top Twenties: 1999/2000

Portsmouth's United Services sports grounds, as viewed from the Spinnaker Tower.
Fratton Park is just visible as a few tiny pixels in the top-left corner.
So, what exactly do you write about during the close season when you produce a football blog? Do you ignore football altogether and write about cricket and trains? How about posting all the photos that you didn't think were good enough originally, just to fill the scary void of nothingness that is The Season Of No Football? Or write nothing at all?

Or how about twelve weeks of made-up league tables?

There is nothing the average football fan likes more than comparative statistics - and rightly so! So here's my idea for the next three months...

Over the summer, I shall be publishing a Hampshire Top Twenty league table for each of the seasons of the 21st century. The first is for the season 1999/2000. The top five steps throughout the whole period are the Premiership, followed by the three divisions of the Football League and then what is now known as Conference National. Below that, until the Conference South and North were formed, came the Southern and Isthmian Leagues (for this geographical area) both with at least two divisions (they were overall steps 6 and 7). Below them at overall step 8 was the Wessex League. The cut-off point for twentieth place in this featured list was second-bottom of the Wessex League.

Numbers after the clubs' names refer to the overall step of the pyramid they were in during the season, followed by the position within the step (thus, the Wessex League was at overall step 8 this season, so "8/7" after Eastleigh's name indicates that they finished 7th in a step 8 league - which for them, happened to be the Wessex). If two teams finished in identical positions at the same step, e.g., in the Southern and Isthmian Leagues, I have left them level. The Combined Counties League was an unofficial feeder league to the Isthmian, which at this point had four divisions, hence I've assumed it was a step 10 league, which explains the omission of Cove until the mid-decade restructuring.

To qualify for the table, a club must have resided within the Hampshire border. Got that? Here goes:

The Top 20 Football Clubs in Hampshire, 1999/2000

1. Southampton 1/15
2. Portsmouth 2/18
3. Aldershot Town 6/2
4. Farnborough Town 6/12
5. Havant & Waterlooville 6/13
6. Basingstoke Town 6/18
7. Bashley 7/20
8. Fleet Town 7/22
9. Lymington & New Milton 8/2
10. Andover 8/3
11. AFC Totton 8/4
12. BAT Sports 8/5
13. Moneyfields 8/6
14. Eastleigh 8/7
15. Fareham Town 8/11
16. Gosport Borough 8/14
17. Hamble ASSC 8/16
18. Whitchurch United 8/17
19. Brockenhurst 8/18
20. Portsmouth Royal Navy 8/20

Sensible Saints had been the top club in Hampshire for 40 years, and it didn't look as though anything would change any time soon as Milan Mandaric seemed to swap managers at Pompey approximately once a fortnight. The fluttering phoenix of Aldershot Town was on its way up, missing out on the Isthmian League title to the runaway train of Dagenham & Redbridge by 24 points. The only other club that came close to winning a title in 1999/2000 was the short-lived Lymington & New Milton, runners-up in the Wessex League on goal difference behind Wimborne Town. All these clubs will appear in the Top 20 at least once more, with the exception of Portsmouth Royal Navy (see photo for an aerial view of their ground).

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