Hartlepool United’s club-by-club guide to the National League

Joe Fryer is beaten as Pools go down at Leyton Orient. The clubs will meet again in the National League. Picture by FRANK REID
Joe Fryer is beaten as Pools go down at Leyton Orient. The clubs will meet again in the National League. Picture by FRANK REID

Get your satellite navigation devices ready or national railcards!

Hartlepool United now know the A-Z of the National League. Actually, it’s the A-W, from Aldershot to Wrexham.

Following the weekend play-off finals, the cast list has been assembled for the 2017-18 season.

Pools fans will need plenty of energy – 13 of the awaydays are south of the equator, or are certainly that way on.

It would have been 14 but, fortunately, Tranmere lost to Forest Green on Sunday at Wembley.

There are a number of familiar old haunts – half of the 24 teams are former Football League clubs.

Apart from the fact the majority of clubs are in the south or south east, most grounds have capacities between 4,000-6,000.

Aldershot

Recreation Ground

Capacity: 7,100

Manager: Garry Waddock

This season: Fifth

The Shots were beaten in the play-offs by the excellent Tranmere after a very good season. Boast the meanest defence in the division, conceding only 37 times.

Barrow

Holker Street

Capacity: 5,045

Manager: Paul Cox

This season: Seventh

An old Pools foe from 1922-72, Barrow are a good National League out fit. Draw specialists, had they turned just four of their 15 draws into wins, they would have reached the play-offs.

Boreham Wood

Meadow Park

Capacity: 4,500

Manager: Ian Allinson

This season: 11th

With the Eastenders studios just around the corner, Boreham Wood is better known for national TV characters than National League, but Wood, managed by long-serving boss Ian Allinson, completed a solid second season at this level. Not bad for a club whose attendances are just a few hundred.

Bromley

Hayes Lane

Capacity: 5,000

Manager: Neil Smith

This season: 10th

One of the clutch of London and South East clubs in the NL, Bromley have just clocked up a club record points total in clinching a top 10 finish.

Chester

Deva Stadium

Capacity: 5,376

Manager: Jon McCarthy

This season: 19th

Another old FL rival of Pools, Chester finished just two points above the drop zone. They have been managed for the last 12 months by Teessider, Jon McCarthy, who had a brief spell at Pools three decades ago before finding fame with Birmingham and Northern Ireland.

Dagenham & Redbridge

Victoria Road

Capacity: 6,078

Manager: John Still

This season: Fourth

Proof for Pools that it is possible to recover from the drop. Dire last season when they finished last in League Two, they made the NL Play-offs, losing out to Forest Green. Managed by the wily old John Still.

Dover Athletic

Crabble Athletic Ground

Capacity: 5,745

Manager: Chris Kinnear

This season: Sixth

Having reached the play-offs last season, the Lilywhites finished just three points outside the top five this time.

Watch out for Nicky Deverdics being afforded a warm welcome back.

Eastleigh

Silverlake Stadium

Capacity: 5,192

Manager: Richard Hill

This season: 15th

An ambitious south coast outfit with a demanding owner, Eastleigh were going well early-season under none other than Ronnie Moore.

After club and boss parted company, in came Martin Allen, but he too departed sharply. Mikael Mandron top scored on 18 goals.

Ebbsfleet

Ditton Community Centre

Capacity: 5,011

Manager: Darryl McMahon

This season: Second (NL South)

Another member of the Kent enclave, Ebbsfleet enjoyed a stunning season, scoring 96 times in finishing runners-up to Maidenhead in NL South, winning promotion via the play-offs.

Fylde

Mill Farm

Capacity: 6,000

Manager: Dave Challinor

This season: First (NL North)

Ambitious with a capital A, the Lancashire side won National League North, plundering over a century of goals. Third (MNL North) and boast a stunning, new, state-of-the-art stadium.

Their presence in the division ensures a trip out to Blackpool for Pools fans.

Gateshead

International Stadium

Capacity: 12,000

Manager: Neil Aspin

This season: Eighth

At one stage, the Heed looked good bets for a place in the play-offs, but Neil Aspin’s side lost five of their last six fixtures. Great for Pools to have a derby again!

Guiseley

Nethermoor Park

Capacity: 4,000

Manager: Adam Lockwood

This season: 20th

This is not a million miles away either for Pools fans. Survived in the NL by the skin of their teeth.

Halifax

The Shay

Capacity: 5,830

Manager: Billy Heath

This season: Third (NL North)

Another old sparring partner from days gone by, the Shaymen are celebrating promotion after beating Salford on penalties and Chorley in extra-time in the final.

At a mere 96 miles, it will feel like a home match!

Leyton Orient

Brisbane Road

Capacity: 9,271

Manager: Omer Riza

This season: 24th (League Two)

It is hard to believe the Londoners were just a penalty at Wembley away from reaching the Championship, just three years ago.

Finished the season in utter turmoil and were forced to field their youth team but it was still good enough to beat Pools.

Macclesfield Town

Moss Rose

Capacity: 6,355

Manager: John Askey

This season: Ninth

Yet another former rival of Pools, the Silkmen have enjoyed a good season, registering 20 wins and would have been higher but for a five-match sequence without a victory.

Maidenhead

York Road

Capacity: 4,000

Manager: Alan Devonshire

This season: First (NL South)

Under the wiry ex-West Ham winger Alan Devonshire, Maidenhead clinched the NL South title, conceding only 29 times.

Maidstone United

The Gallagher Stadium

Capacity: 4,200

Manager: Jay Saunders

This season: 14th

Remember Brian Honour’s wonder goal in the 1991 promotion season at Maidstone?

The Kent club collapsed in 1992 and were forced to re-start at the bottom and have climbed back up the ladder.

Solihull Moors

Damson Park

Capacity: 4,313

Manager: Liam McDonald

This season: 16th

A homely little ground just a Keith Nobbs-clearance from the end of Birmingham Airport’s runway. Would have finished in the top 10 but for a run of six straight defeats near the end of the programme.

Sutton United

Gander Green Lane

Capacity: 5,013

Manager: Paul Doswell

This season: 12th

Sutton captured the headlines this season in the FA Cup, going all the way to the fourth round and making loads of money before going out to Arsenal. A lesson for Pools next season?

Managed, for free, by Paul Doswell who pumps in 40 grand of his own cash into the playing budget.

Torquay United

Plainmoor

Capacity: 6,500

Manager: Kevin Nicholson

This season: 17th

The Gulls looked like dropping into the NL South only to pull off a Houdini act by winning their last three matches to stay up at the expense of York City.

Dropped out of the Football League in 2014 and showing no sign of making a return.

Tranmere Rovers

Prenton Park

Capacity: 16,587

Manager: Micky Mellon

This season: Second

Imagine piling up 95 points and NOT winning promotion?

That is the situation on the Wirral, where Micky Mellon’s team missed out on automatic promotion AND then lost 3-1 at Wembley to Forest Green on Sunday,

Woking

Kingfield Stadium

Capacity: 6,036

Manager: Vacant

This season: 18th

Woking have parted company with boss Garry Hill after six and a half years in charge amid talk of the South London club being taken over.

Wrexham

The Racecourse Ground

Capacity: 10,771

Manager: Darren Keates

This season: 13th

Last but by no means, Wrexham complete the A-Z and are the 12th ex-Football League member.

Mid-table this season but they should have been much higher, only to win only one of their last 10 matches.