FOOTBALL fans are known for showing unerring commitment to watch their favourites wherever they’re in action, but what about players?
Danny Andrews left Witton last week to sign for Colwyn Bay, blaming – in part, at least – the prospect of having to travel more miles for ending a five-year stay.
“After finding that out, I had my concerns,” he admitted.
Both Albion, along with tenants Northwich Victoria, have been switched by the Football Association to the Northern Premier League’s Division One South for next season.
Carl Macauley, Witton’s manager, told the Guardian he has struggled to persuade players to sign this summer as a result.
He said: “Time and again our transfer targets have talked about travel, and that they’re reluctant to do it.
“One or two have even referred to us joining the Southern League, which isn’t even true!”
But is reality the same as perception?
How far did Vics and Witton go last season?
Both teams travelled a total of 2,343 miles to away fixtures last term, an average of 112 miles each time.
That placed them almost perfectly in the middle of the table.
Radcliffe Borough and Mossley had least distance to travel overall, while Scarborough Athletic and Spennymoor Town both covered in excess of 4,500 miles each.
They were happy travellers too, weren’t they?
Only promoted duo Warrington Town, who won the title, and play-offs victors Spennymoor picked up more points on their travels than Northwich, who won 14 of their 21 away matches.
Witton provided entertainment value away from Wincham Park as well; only the teams mentioned above scored more than their 45 goals.
Their away games yielded 91 goals on aggregate, a tally only bettered by fixtures involving Prescot Cables and Droylsden.
Witton Albion and Northwich Victoria will face each other in the Northern Premier League's Division One South next season. Picture: PAUL HEAPS
Will the rivals travel further in 2016-2017 then?
In short, yes.
The total figure will rise to 2,927 miles in the campaign to come, an average of 139 miles for the 21 round trips.
That’s an extra 27 miles each time, or the equivalent – roughly at least – of driving from Northwich to Manchester.
Which will be their longest trip?
Four fixtures, against AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Lincoln United, Spalding United and Stamford, require journeys of more than 200 miles in total.
Spalding’s Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, at 134 miles, is the furthest away from Wincham Park.
The Dog and Duck Stadium, home of also-transferred AFC Rushden & Diamonds, is next on that list.
What about the shortest hop?
Aside from playing each other, of course, Witton and Vics’ jaunt to Kidsgrove – a mere 19 miles – marks the least amount of time they’ll spend on the road.
Leek Town, Newcastle Town and Market Drayton Town are the other Division One South destinations that represent a round trip in double-digits.
We’ve been here before though, haven’t we?
Vics finished eighth in Division One South in 2012-2013, when they travelled 2,272 miles.
However they were hosting opponents at Stafford Rangers’ Marston Road ground – a 40-plus mile round trip for their supporters just to take in a home game.
Albion’s previous single-season stay was in 2009-2010. They finished seventh, taking in 3,143 miles along the way.
Only four teams – Goole, Spalding, Brigg and Cammell Laird – were on the road for longer than they were.
Witton Albion played in Division One South in the 2009-2010 season
And if either side realise their ambition of returning to the Northern Premier League’s top flight?
Both clubs can use the prospect of playing at step three to tempt new recruits, of course. And they might need to.
In 2014-2015, when they were relegated from the Premier Division’s final afternoon away to Stamford, Witton’s total mileage was close to 3,500.
In 2013-2014, that figure was 3,166.
All mileage was calculated using the AA’s Route Planner, and selecting the most direct route between each club’s home ground.
One-way systems and roadworks can of course vary in different directions.