A major talking point for Yeovil Town this season has been attendances at Huish Park, which have fallen dramatically.
While the club announced a 21.3% drop in season ticket sales, the record for the Glovers’ lowest home crowd in the Football League was broken twice, most recently when just 2,205 fans turned up to watch the 2 – 2 draw with Morecambe.
Understandably, this has concerned many people, with Ciderspace posting a characteristically thorough blog post that hits the nail on the head, and Somerset Live commendably questioning chairman John Fry on the situation.
The number of fans travelling to watch Yeovil play away also makes for depressing reading, with a large amount clearly feeling as though they don’t want to support the club, or team, or manager anymore.
Here’s a run-down of the green and white’s away followings from this season compared to their previous visits, with a bit of input from us about why they’re significantly lower than they have been in the past and just how worrying it is.
Before we get started, it’s important to point out that we’re not criticising the fans in any way. We’re merely using the size of Yeovil’s away following this season to highlight how many people have become disillusioned with the club.
Luton Town 8 – 2 Yeovil Town (05/08/2017)
Attendance: 8,101 with 258 away supporters
258 Yeovil fans made the trip to Luton this season, compared to 303 who made the journey for last year’s league encounter. In between those two games, there was an EFL Trophy match at Kenilworth Road that just 88 Yeovil fans attended, but this was understandable considering the competition’s controversy and the fact the match took place on a Tuesday night.
So that means there were 45 fewer Yeovil fans at the most recent league encounter with Luton, which may not sound like a significant drop, but you would expect a lot more when you take into account the fact that it was the opening game of the season.
The club tried to pass off the low attendance for the home match against Accrington Stanley a week later by blaming the school holidays, so you would expect a few to make the same excuse here. However, this has been refuted, with statistics showing that holiday times make little difference.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 – 0 Yeovil Town (08/08/2017)
Attendance: 9,487 with 440 away supporters
If the away following at Luton was disappointing for some people, there must have been some faith restored when 440 green and white supporters made the trip to Wolves.
That many people travelling 170 miles on a Tuesday night for a game we had no chance of winning in a cup that nobody really cares about (the EFL Cup) after shipping eight goals a few days earlier is actually rather impressive!
This is especially when you consider the amount of Glovers fans who attended previous games against opposition near Wolves such as Walsall (166 Yeovil fans in 2016), Birmingham City (680 Yeovil fans in 2014, although that was in the Championship on a Saturday) and Shrewsbury Town (125 Yeovil fans in 2012).
The somewhat surprisingly high turnout may be explained by the fact that it was Yeovil’s first ever match at Molineux, with many fans simply wishing to tick the ground off their list, or the lure of Championship opposition.
Forest Green Rovers 4 – 3 Yeovil Town (19/08/2017)
Attendance: 2,651 with 526 away supporters
Yeovil’s away following at Forest Green Rovers was their highest of the season so far, and the first time they’ve managed to break the 500 barrier this campaign – they also brought a smoke bomb! However, that’s not too much to shout about.
Firstly, the game came after a 3 – 2 home win against Accrington Stanley, which in theory should have persuaded a few more to turn up, especially since Gloucestershire isn’t too far away from Somerset.
Secondly, the Glovers hadn’t played Forest Green in a competitive match since 2003, meaning many fans won’t have had the opportunity to visit the New Lawn. You would have expected a similar situation to the Wolves game, where a number of fans turned up to tick the ground off their list.
Supporters may have been unconvinced by a Glovers’ defence that had already shipped 10 goals in two games by that point, or maybe they just didn’t like the idea of a vegan-only football stadium!
Exeter City 1 – 3 Yeovil Town (29/08/2017)
Attendance: 1,509 with 159 away supporters
It’s not worth spending too much time discussing the away attendance for this game because, as previously mentioned, the EFL Trophy frequently brings in anomalously low crowds due to controversial rule changes.
It will be more meaningful to compare the amount of fans that Yeovil take to St James’ Park when they play Exeter in the league in January.
Although it will be certainly be lower due to work on the away terrace lowering the away capacity temporarily, it’s the Glovers’ most local game, and they previously sold out their allocation at Exeter on the opening day of the 2015/16 season.
Crawley Town 2 – 0 Yeovil Town (02/09/2017)
Attendance: 2,024 with 222 away supporters
After two encouraging performances (a 2 – 0 win over Coventry City and the 3 – 1 win over Exeter City mentioned above), Yeovil slumped to a disappointing defeat against Crawley. Luckily, only 222 of their fans were there to see it.
This is a huge decrease when compared to the 342 fans that made the same trip last season. It’s only slightly more than the 198 who travelled to Sussex on a Tuesday night in 2012!
If two superb wins against strong opposition don’t get the fans back, this is perhaps a sign that the problems at Yeovil Town run deeper than results on the pitch, with discontent towards the management and ownership of the club possibly keeping the fans away.
In the interest of fairness, we should point out that there is, of course, every chance that fans decided not to travel to Crawley after seeing that the match would be refereed by the infamous Trevor Kettle!
Grimsby Town 2 – 1 Yeovil Town (16/09/2017)
Attendance: 3,945 with 60 away supporters
It’s not often that less than 100 Glovers supporters attend an away game, with Yeovil almost always reaching triple digits, aside from some Tuesday night games or matches against extremely northern teams such as Hartlepool and Carlisle.
Even though it’s still a hefty journey (especially to a place with the word ‘grim’ in the name), the Glovers managed to take 101 hardy souls last season, while an impressive 387 Grimsby fans attended the return fixture in Somerset.
For these types of games, you do sometimes get Yeovil supporters exiled up north, however news of the club’s woes has clearly reached the other end of the country, as there have been a number of social media posts making it clear that they just can’t be bothered.
Of course, another way of looking at it is to take our hats off to the fans who did make the journey, which you can do with all the games mentioned above. Despite this optimistic view, it’s hard to deny that there is still cause for concern, especially if the crowds continue to get smaller both home and away.
Are you a fan who no longer attends Yeovil Town games, home or away? Let us know why you made the decision to stay away in the comments or on Twitter (@bestteamwest).