Vanarama National League Review Of The Season: Part One

By Sam Elliott

It was a season like no other and in the first of our three-part season review, Tom Scott looks at the first third of a memorable campaign


After some eye-catching summer business, Stockport County were tipped heavily to end their decade-long stay in the Vanarama National League.

Title winner John Rooney’s signature set the tone for their summer business as Jim Gannon aimed high, however the Hatters would lose their opener with Torquay.

Things couldn’t have gone much better for Gary Johnson’s side. Their County win was only the start.

Wins against Bromley and Chesterfield followed before demolition jobs were dished out against Aldershot and Hartlepool as the Gulls ended the month at the summit.

Eastleigh, the only side to beat Torquay in the opening month, were not far behind. Ben Strevens’ side the only one to go unbeaten in October.

With wins over Maidenhead, Aldershot, Weymouth and Yeovil Town, Sutton United still weren’t on many people’s title radar. They would soon start to turn some heads.

One side who were being talked about was Chesterfield.
But after just two wins in their first six outings, the Spireites chatter was for all the wrong reasons.

John Pemberton’s side made up a litter of promotion hopefuls now occupying the bottom half as Bromley, Halifax, Yeovil and Barnet all stuttered out of the traps.


Wrexham pieced together a decent run that bagged their boss Dean Keates the Manager of the Month gong.

A draw with Bromley was the only blot on their otherwise perfect month that saw Hartlepool and Weymouth put to the sword, before Sutton were dismantled in Wales.

It’s funny how things work out, though.

Despite their torrid trip over the border, Matt Gray’s showed their mettle and ended November on top.

John Pemberton was first on the chopping block as Chesterfield switched things up.

After impressing at Gloucester, James Rowe headed for Derbyshire and brought Akwasi Asante with him – the striker making an instant impact with a debut day goal against Weymouth.

Yeovil’s poor form continued but newly-promoted Wealdstone continued to impress and found themselves within three points of the leaders.


Some much-needed Christmas cheer was dished out early in the month as fans were finally allowed back into football stadiums following months of exile.

If fans were full of the joys, Peter Beadle wasn’t. The Bees boss was shown the door after a resounding defeat to Chesterfield. Former Solihull Moors boss Tim Flowers was drafted in to resurrect their season.

Gary Johnson knows a thing or two about winning leagues and his Torquay side showed why they were being talked about.

Wealdstone, Wrexham, Maidenhead and Weymouth were all put to the sword. Rivals Yeovil were with hit for six on Boxing Day.

Boreham Wood have a habit of going under the radar.

But Luke Garrard’s men ended the year with intent. A perfect month saw them brush off promotion challenging Notts County and Hartlepool on their travels.

James Rowe has settling in well at the Technique Stadium.

His revitalised Chesterfield team looked to have turned the tide with three wins and a draw in his first month backed up with an FA Trophy win over Brackley for good measure.

Altrincham were building quietly. Phil Parkinson moved to quell any mentions of play-offs despite the Robins looking the business against high-fliers Stockport County and Sutton.

Wins over Barnet and Wealdstone made fans take note.

Where next?

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