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What’s in a start?

So, what exactly is in a start? If your team is sitting pretty near the top it probably means everything.

But those with a few defeats already under their belt can't stress enough the ten-game rule – no looking at that league table until the start of October!

Embracing the early few weeks of the Non-League season is easy after racing out of the starting blocks, not so if your side is propping up the rest.

But how much can we read into the fledgling tables as August has come to a close? Let's examine it.

Looking at the Blue Square Bet Premier this time last year and the answer is 'very little'.

Top this time last season were Wrexham with 13 points from a possible 15 with eventual run-away winners Fleetwood way down in eighth.

The early play-off pack consisted of York, they stayed the pace, but joining them were Gateshead, Kidderminster and Tamworth who clearly peaked too early!

The bottom four read Southport, who eventually went on to just miss out of the top five, and Alfreton, Bath City and Ebbsfleet. Only the Romans went down.

Better clues 

The Blue Square Bet North and South gave a few better clues to the months ahead.

Out in front in the North were Gary Lowe's Hyde – gold star for that – but down in ninth were the side that ended up joining them in the Premier. Nuneateon took just seven points from the first five games but things were soon to get better.

The top three in the South at the end of August were familiar. Welling, Woking and Dartford would be the trio up there the whole way, with Garry Hill's Cards taking the title and the Darts joining them having beaten Welling in the promotion shoot-out.

None of the Evo-Stik NPL's three leaders stayed the pace. Chorley were overhauled by Chester, AFC Fylde got the better of Lancaster City in the NPL North while New Mills topped the lot heading in September in the NPL South.

But it didn't last, they ended in ninth while very slow starters Grantham, way down in 17th, stormed to the title.

The Ryman's early standings were best ignored, even more so considering they were a week behind the other leagues.

Hendon led the way in the Premier but champions Billericay ended August in 11th while play-off winners AFC Hornchurch were giving no sign of what was to come after three games brought two defeats.

In the North, champions-to-be Leiston were second with seven points while in the South Whitehawk were already soaring and topped the table. That's the way it stayed.

Brackley were joint top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier after five games, perhaps a good omen a year on for Jon Brady's side in the Blue Square Bet North?

The Central's early runners were the eventual promotion riders, Bedworth United and St Neots held the top two places and both went up, while in the South & West, winners champs Bideford had ten point on the board from 15 available but play-off winners Gosport won just once.

So what's in a start? Well that all depends on if your cup is half empty or half full, doesn't it!

By Sam Elliott, The Non-League Paper

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