What WSC contributors got right and wrong
6 August ~ Swindon Town's return to League One after a single season in League Two wasn't expected by David Squires. "I'll be happy if we stay up and the only salutes coming from the dugout are of a tactical nature," he said. The Paolo di Canio experiment was eventful, with plenty of controversy coming from the touchline throughout the season, but ten wins in a row at the start of 2012 took them to the top of the league and they took the title by five points. In second place were the WSC contributors' favourites for promotion, Shrewsbury Town.
"We have finished play-offs, mid-table, play-offs, mid-table, play-offs in the last five years," Jon Matthias said. "Heart says this year we'll buck the trend and get promoted while head says it's a mid-table season." This time heart was correct. Graham Turner's side were unbeaten at home all season as they returned to the third tier for the first time since 1997.
"I'm hoping for the play-offs at least given that we'll be among the biggest spenders in the divisions," Alan Chadwick, the Crawley Town fan, said. As expected by the rest of the division the other Red Devils made it two automatic promotions in a row, finishing in third place.
They had to survive the loss of their manager Steve Evans, who left to join Rotherham United in April. "In my opinion, how far can I take Crawley Town?," Evans said when he departed. "League One certainly, but beyond that I was not so sure." Rotherham finished tenth.
Crewe Alexandra had finished 18th and tenth in the two years following their relegation from League One. "After the maddening inconsistency of recent seasons, I'll go mad and say, definitely, the play-offs," Charles Morris predicted. It was tight but the Railwaymen did eventually edge out Gillingham for seventh place, before defeating Southend United and Cheltenham in the play-offs to gain promotion.
At the bottom of the league, Macclesfield Town fan Steve Mundy was confident his team would "defy those who, every year, predict us to be relegated." After 15 seasons of League football, though, this one proved too much for the Silkmen. They finished bottom of the table, nine points from safety.
The rest of the division expected Barnet to go down but their own fan, Ben Kentish, was more optimistic. "Probably lower mid-table, although with a few more good signings a play-off push is not out of the question." Neither were correct, as Barnet scraped survival by two points.
It was Hereford United who eventually took the second relegation spot. "After making some good signings we should be capable of a mid-table finish," Richard Butler said. Despite winning their final two games against Crawley and Torquay, it wasn't to be. The Bulls will play outside of the Football League for the first time since 2005-06.
Elsewhere, many were predicting Plymouth to have a good season, but their own supporter was less hopeful. "A season of struggle both on and off the pitch. No money, no players, no hope. Actually finishing the season will be considered a success and anything above 22nd place a bonus," Steve East said. He got his wish as Argyle survived and finished 21st, two points above the relegation zone.