The 2021/22 National League North season concluded on Sunday, May 7, and what a season it’s been.
Following two tough years of postponements, empty stadiums and seasons ending early, it was great for both fans and players to regain some sense of normality which was topped off by Gateshead FC achieving the unthinkable.
On the final day of the season, over 4,000 fans attended Gateshead International Stadium not only to see The Heed pick up a 2-1 win against the visitors Hereford, but also witness their team lift the Vanarama National League North trophy after topping the table with an impressive 94 points.
Gateshead started the season off as 20/1 outsiders with some bookmakers such as BetStorm and had eight teams favoured ahead of them. However, following a consistent season and an extremely strong finish with just one defeat suffered in their final eighteen league matches, The Heed were able to clinch the title by finishing seven points clear of second-placed Brackley Town.
Here are the finishing positions of the teams favoured for the title at the beginning of the season:
|Team||Pre-Season Odds||Expected Finish||Actual Finish|
Towards the end of September, just six games into the season, there were a few shifts in prices on teams to win the title.
Pre-season favourites York had lost their opening three matches which resulted in their odds drifting from 7/2 to 6/1.
Second favourites Fylde remained unbeaten in the league for nine matches, winning five of their first six games which pushed them into pole position with their odds shortening from 4/1 to just 2/1.
Gateshead suffered just one loss during that period which was a 2-1 defeat away to Leamington with their odds being cut from 20/1 to 16/1.
The price on Gateshead to pick up their first league title since winning the Northern Premier League Premier Division way back in the 1985/86 season continued to drop as Mike Williamson’s side proved to be relentless both at home and on the road.
By January, Gateshead emerged as the bookies’ favourites for the title with odds of just 2/1 being offered. The Heed were second in the table at that point but with having two games in hand over league-leaders Brackley Town, they were looking set for glory if they were able to continue to pick up points.
Despite losing two games in a row when those odds were offered, Gateshead bounced back to prove there was value in the short price offered on them by winning 17, drawing 5 and losing just 2 of their 24 matches that came after.
For a club that has had its woes in recent years and very nearly ceased to exist in 2019, credit has to go to all at the players, manager and staff and the impressive feat they have achieved this season.
With the way the team has played this season, we have high hopes for them in the National League next term.