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Why Is The National League Still Being Underrated?

The 22/23 National League season was undoubtedly one of the best so far, which saw one of the most intense title races in the league's history, which saw Wrexham Afc & Notts County battle it out for promotion, with both finishing with over 100 points and both being promoted, this saw more eyes on the fifth tier of English football for both on and off the field reasons and whilst the 23/24 season isn't as close in terms of a title race the majority of the league is very close between the playoffs, relegation and those in between, whilst there are still some eyes on the league the buzz from the media seems to have died down despite still being competitive this season.

The National League is the 5th tier of English football and the highest tier of non-league football in England and provides a melting pot which includes a mix of former EFL sides and a mix of full-time and part-time non-league sides, which produces a lot of positive uncertainty when it comes to the National League with this season providing some of the most recent examples of this such as Dorking Wanderers 4-1 win over league leaders Chesterfield in front of TNT Sports as Dorking are a part-time/hybrid team which means that many of their players have other responsibilities as well as training 2-3 times a week and playing once or twice a week, which shows of that the competitive balance of the league is something else as this seasons Chesterfield side has many former players that regularly featured in the EFL, most notably Will Grigg, the Northern Irish striker who featured in the 2016 Euro campaign, which is crazy to comprehend but is certainly what makes the National League unique.

More Player Interest From League Clubs

Whilst it is not just the National League but non-league football as a whole is gaining more interest from many teams across the football league, and in recent months, as some newly signed National League players and academy graduates have made a move to the football league, one of the most notable in the summer break was Kellen Fisher's move from Bromley to Norwich City, after he had had an incredible season and rightfully showcased why he was given that chance to move to the EFL and since has shown glimpses of his quality featuring on multiple occasions within the first team squad.

Additionally, at the start of this year, two more young National League stars made moves to the football league that being Ben Krauhaus, another product of the Bromley academy, made the move to Brentford and will initially be involved with their B team; he certainly has the ability to prove his skillset as he remains at Bromley on loan until the end of the season and the same goes with Aldershot's Josh Stokes who was signed by the Shots in June 2023 from Afc Sudbury. Since performing exceptionally in the league after scoring 16 goals in 29 appearances, Stokes had started to gain interest and went on to sign for Championship side Bristol City, being on loan at Aldershot until the end of the season.

These moves were the start of something for the National League as it proved the amount of talent that is available in non-league, not only within national league academies but further down the pyramid in the space of 7 months, Josh Stokes went from the 10th tier to the fifth tier and from next season will be playing one league below the premier league, this just shows that their is talent hidden within non league especially within non league and now that the National League have produced and help develope some of these players to further their individual careers, teams higher up in the puramid surely will have to start having a much closer look at the National League for up and coming young talent.

Promotion & Relegation Drama

Whilst the current 23/24 season has not had a title race like previous seasons and currently has one of the closest playoff and relegation battles, within the playoffs, you have Bromley and Barnet that have been fighting for the majority of the season for 2nd and 3rd, these being crucial positions in the playoffs as they will give these sides a bye into the semi-finals at home meaning they'll only have to play one game to get to Wembley, since Bromley's win against Wealdstone on Wednesday night the gap to 4th has increased to 5 points which is were Solihull sit however there are only 6 points between them and Oldham in 9th place which means that even with 7 games to go the race for home advantage is still well and truly for anyone to take.

On the other side of the table, the gap between Dorking Wanderers in 23rd and Dagenham & Redbridge in 12th is only 6 points, and similar to the playoffs, anything can happen in the next 7 games.

Whilst the National League may feel they have been unfairly treated with only having one automatic promotion place in comparison to the leagues above them, it can't be denied that it produces some of the closest competition across the league and makes it one of the most unpredictable leagues as it is never a certainty who will beat who on any given day and has set up the next month for some great matchups as the league comes to its conclusion for the 23/24 season.

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