Fans have been turning out in numbers to see the Ryman League’s clubs in action since the first day of the 2016-17 season.
Newly released attendance figures for the opening weeks show the league is on course for another season of rising attendances with gates at top flight fixtures showing the biggest increases.
Despite playing nearly 10 per cent fewer games, the Ryman Premier attracted a total of 24,143 paying fans to overtake last August’s figure of 24,117. Individually, the figures supplied by the Ryman League’s official statistician Mike Wilson record average gates at top flight clubs up 11.4 percent from 305 to 340.
In Ryman North and Ryman South, clubs played around a third fewer games, stats reflected in the overall figures with 9,231 turning out to see 48 fixtures in the latter and 5,587 watching 47 games in the former.
In total, 38,961 fans attended 166 matches across the Ryman League with average individual gates up by 8.2 per cent. In terms of size, the biggest gate before the end of August came at Bognor Regis Town, a crowd of 1007 seeing them beat Worthing 5-0 at Nyewood Lane on Monday 29 August.
Guernsey set the pace in Ryman South with 679 at Footes Lane on Wednesday 17 August when they hosted Cray Wanderers in a 0-0 draw. Bury Town top the Ryman North chart for the 253 supporters who saw their 2-1 opening day win over Waltham Abbey at Ram Meadow on Saturday 13 August.
In the Ryman Premier, Tonbridge Angels pulled the biggest gate on the opening day, 492 for their 3-0 win over Wingate & Finchley at the Longmead Stadium. In Ryman South, Hastings at home to South Park at the Pilot Field proved to be the biggest draw with 360 turning out to see a 4-1 victory for the hosts.