Derbies bring in the crowds
The ability of local derbies to attract big crowds is shown in the attendance figures for the National League and its north and south divisions for the 2015-16 seasons.
The biggest crowd in the National League was for the Lincolnshire derby between Grimsby and Lincoln (7.650). This was followed by Tranmere Rovers versus Chester (7.433) and Wrexham versus Tranmere Rovers (6,707).
In the National League North it was former league club Stockport County versus insurgent club FC United of Manchester (4,797), followed by FC United versus Chorley (4,150) and Boston United versus North Ferriby United (2,592). The last two are separated by the Humber, but there is a somewhat under used bridge which was the product of a political decision.
In the National League South the biggest attendance was Ebbsfleet versus Maidstone United (3,800), followed by Sutton United versus Ebbsfleet (3,142) and Maidstone United versus Sutton United (3,030).
A similar pattern can be seen lower down the pyramid: in the Evo-Stik NPL Halesowen Town versus Stourbridge (2,107); Weymouth versus Dorchester Town (1,808) in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier.
The National North was watched consistently by bigger crowds than the National South. Stockport County and Salford City, the subject of a television documentary, did particularly well. Salford City also attracted big crowds when they played away, as did Darlington 1883 in the National Premier. At step three the Northern Premier attracted bigger attendances than the two southern leagues (Ryman Premier and Southern Premier),
In the north large independent towns have less local opposition while most Ryman Premier sides have league clubs nearby. The Southern Premier has clubs spread right across the South of England from Truro in Cornwall to the eastern counties.