What's In A Start? The Champions' Augusts Assessed

By Sam Elliott

We know the fixtures are there's no doubt you're busy plotting how many points your side can take from the first few matches.

With two-and-a-half weeks to go, we're left wondering who will race out of the starting blocks in August.

Managers often speak about how important it can be to ‘get off to a good start’ or to ‘start as you mean to go on.’

The question is, however, how important is a good start in the National League? Tom Scott looks at the league’s last ten champions to see how they kicked off their seasons.

Macclesfield Town (2017/18)
The Silkmen finished the season as runaway champions, storming to the title with a clear, ten point margin. But their season was a stuttering start.
Town won only one of their first five fixtures, before recovering towards the end of August.

Lincoln City (2016/17)
This season heralded a new dawn for the Imps. Danny Cowley was appointed their new manager and his side took 12 points from their opening six games.
Their opening day win against Woking was followed up with a resounding 6-1 win against North Ferriby before defeats to Sutton and Dagenham & Redbridge.
The Imps’ form then picked up into mid-September as they went on a five game unbeaten run.

Cheltenham Town (2015/16)
Cheltenham were quick off the line during the opening month of their title winning campaign. The Robins went unbeaten through August, taking 15 points from a possible 21.
Remarkably, the club lost only once between their first game, to March to the following year, losing only five games across the whole season.

Barnet (2014/15)
Barnet certainly started as they meant to go on with a 5-0 demolition of Chester. The Bees only dropped points to Lincoln City in their opening month in an otherwise perfect start to the season.
The club scored 16 goals across their first eight games, only conceding two goals in their defeat to the Imps. Top scorer John Akinde found the net an incredible 31 times during the campaign as Barnet racked up 94 goals.

Luton Town (2013/14)
Luton won the league by 19 points, scoring 102 goals but incredibly began the season slowly, with the Hatters finishing August in 11th place.
Despite only losing once through August, a lack of goals meant Luton didn’t really get going, and only won twice in their opening six games, scoring only five goals.
A loss to Wrexham in early September proved to be a turning point, as the Hatters then went on an unbeaten run that was to span seven months, staying top of the league from December until the end of the season.

Mansfield Town (2012/13)
Mansfield started their campaign with a sense of expectation following play-off disappointment the previous year, but things didn’t go to plan for the Stags as they began the season with two defeats to Newport and Gateshead.
A turbulent August continued with the club picking up back to back wins before a 4-1 loss to promotion rivals Grimsby Town.

Fleetwood Town (2011/12)
Fleetwood won a competitive league by only five points despite registering 31 wins in their 46 games. A certain Jamie Vardy scored 31 goals during the season that began with two wins in three.
Following their decent start, Fleetwood were well beaten away at Barrow and Wrexham either side of a goalless draw at home to York.

Crawley Town (2010/11)
Matt Tubbs fired 37 goals for Crawley as Steve Evans’ side won the league by 25 points, losing only three times through the whole campaign, giving the club League football for the first time in their history.
August saw the Red Devils begin the season with a defeat and a draw, before picking up maximum points in their remaining games in the month.

Stevenage Borough (2009/10)
Stevenage ended a 16-year stay in the division, winning the title by 11 points but started the season with three consecutive draws.
A 3-0 win at home to Ebbsfleet followed, before their first defeat away at Oxford United. This was to be the catalyst for their improvement in form as that defeat was to the Boro’s only one until December.

Burton Albion (2008/09)
Nigel Clough began this season celebrating ten years in charge of Burton Albion and they began the season losing on once in their first seven games.
Starting with a 1-0 win away at Salisbury, Clough’s men then drew with Northwich Victoria and beat Woking before their defeat to Histon.
The Brewers then recorded three straight wins before a second defeat in early September to Stevenage Borough.

Where next?

Collier: National League South So Much Stronger Now Mark Collier knows the National League South will be even tougher next season, but sees no reason why Chippenham won’t improve as well.
Your Club-By-Club Guide: The National League South Suddenly, things are a bit different in the Vanarama National League South.

Match centre

Vanarama National League North
Vanarama National League South

Latest photos