Back in 2015-16 Portland stormed to the top of the average attendance league with an average crowd of 134 as they also took the Division One title on the pitch, earning them promotion to the Wessex Premier.
For 2016-17 no clubs managed to reach the dizzying three figure heights of Portland’s 2015-16 average and the average attendance crown goes to Alton FC who posted an average attendance of 86 – one lower than their figure for the 2015-16 season in which they had finished as attendance league runners-up to Portland. By way of comparison Alton’s 86 would put them in 9th spot in the Wessex Premier, between Fareham Town (87) and Hamworthy (78)
Following closely behind Alton are Totton & Eling who recorded an average of 80. This represented quite a large increase from their 2015-16 average of 62 and was, along with Laverstock & Ford, the largest average attendance increase seen within Division One – though this is excluding Hamble Club and Baffins Milton Rovers who were both in the Hampshire League in 2015-16.
One key difference between the averages for Division One and the Premier league is the size of the gap between the leaders and the chasing pack. In the Premier the difference between top club, Portland, and fourth placed Andover Town was 63 spectators per game, whilst in Division One the difference between Alton and fourth placed Romsey Town was only 19 spectators per game. As well as the average I also calculated the standard deviation (a measure that is used to quantify the amount of variation, or dispersion of a set of data) for both divisions and the standard deviation for the Premier is 40, whilst it is 19 for Division One, suggesting that on the whole there is much more variance in average attendances across the Premier Division.
At the very he rear of the attendance table are United Services Portsmouth who managed to draw an average crowd of just 21. Like Team Solent in the Premier Division US Portsmouth are a club who receive backing from an institution – in their case the forces – and therefore don’t have a developed support base. One other point is that it’s not the most straightforward ground to get into as Hopping Around Hampshire found in 2013:
You need to walk all the way to the far side of the naval playing fields to the entrance of HMS Temeraire, where the sentries at the barrier will let you in if you say you’re going to the match. From here, walk to the left, through the car park, up a short flight of steps, around the large building on your right, down another flight of steps and through an open gate to the athletics/football stadium.
Tied with US Portsmouth in bottom place, also on 21, are Fleet Spurs, a club which occupies a space on the geographical fringes of the league and who in 2017-18 will be competing in the Combined Counties League.
The bottom three is completed by Folland Sports who attracted an average of 23 spectators per game. Having a works team background Folland’s have never had the best attendances, but in 2016-17 the club suffered several blows when it came to enticing the crowds through their turnstile. Relegated at the end of the 2015-16 season and usurped by up-and-coming neighbours – and eventual Division One Champions – Hamble Club Folland’s average attendance shrunk from 51 in 2015-16, the biggest decline among the Division One clubs.
Hamble Club were just one of four clubs promoted into the Wessex League for 2016-17. Joining them from the Hampshire Premier League was Baffins Milton Rovers whilst Weymouth Reserves and Shaftesbury came from the Dorset Premier League. Of these clubs all made the Division One average attendance top ten with Shaftesbury reaching the highest position, finishing in fifth place with an average attendance of 64 and Hamble Club the lowest of the group in 9th spot with an average of 50. All except Weymouth Reserves achieved promotion to the Wessex Premier in their first season.