How these six teams have fared after promotion to League Two

Notts County promoted - here's how other National League teams have fared in first season in League Two

Pictured is Wembley Stadium
Where the magic happens - Wembley Stadium glistening in the sunshine before the National League play-off final. Credit: Nat Dresner

Notts County have finally made their return to the Football League after a four-year hiatus from the fourth tier of English football. 

The Magpies sealed promotion in dramatic fashion on Saturday, beating Chesterfield 4-3 on penalties after the game finished 2-2 after extra time. 

County joined Wrexham in being promoted back into the Football League after the Welsh outfit sealed the title in April. 

Both clubs are tipped to be fighting at the top end of the League Two table – but how have some of the most recently-promoted teams faired in their first seasons after making the ascent? 

1) Stockport County – 4th

Last year’s National League champions have an opportunity to go back-to-back and bounce into League One at the first time of asking. 

Manager Dave Challinor has guided Stockport to a league title and a play-off place after being appointed in November 2021. 

The Hatters are currently 1-0 down to their greater Manchester rivals, Salford City, in their League Two play-off semi-final. However, Stockport are still in the tie and will hope to turn it around in the second leg to secure a trip to Wembley. 

The recruitment of highly rated EFL players such as Antoni Sarcevic and Paddy Madden have given Stockport the edge this season, as they only missed automatic promotion by four points. 

2) Grimsby Town – 11th

Grimsby’s second return to the EFL in the last six years can be deemed a major success. 

Town famously beat this season’s champions, Wrexham, in the last minute of extra time in the play-off semi-final. They followed it up with a stellar performance against Solihull Moors in the final to secure their EFL status. 

The Mariners were comfortably mid-table throughout their first year back in the division, never dipping below 17th place in League Two. 

3) Sutton United – 8th

In their debut year in the EFL, Sutton United were within touching distance of the play-offs but came up short as the season neared its climax. 

Two defeats in their final four games meant that the U’s finished one point off the play-offs. 

In their second year in League Two, the Amber Army were less successful, finishing 14th, 18 points worse than their first attempt in the division. 

4) Hartlepool United – 17th

The only team on this list that is no longer in League Two. Hartlepool’s first year kept their heads above water, finishing 10 points clear of the relegation zone, however, in their second season they were not as fortunate. 

The loss of manager Dave Challinor to then non-league Stockport County, was a big loss for Pool, as the club’s form dipped drastically in the second half of their return season to the Football League. 

The slide continued into this season and the club’s relegation back to the National League was confirmed with a game to spare. 

5) Barrow – 21st

Another team who survived their first-ever season in the English Football leagues. Barrow, or Barrowcelona, as they were nicknamed in their National League title-winning season, struggled to continue the momentum built the season prior. 

Like Hartlepool, then-Barrow boss Ian Evatt was poached by Bolton Wanderers. Former Blackburn Rovers midfielder David Dunn was appointed as Evatt’s replacement. But the Englishman only lasted four months before parting company with the club. 

At the end of the season, Barrow survived by five points and since then have continued to climb up the league table in the following two seasons. Finishing ninth this season, although 13 points off the play-offs. 

6) Harrogate Town – 17th

The final team on this list and another that is slowly growing in the Football League after promotion from the National League. 

Another team that made their debut in the EFL two seasons ago and League Two is where they remain. 

Two consecutive 19th-placed finishes followed their 17th-place debut season, as Harrogate have comfortably secured their Football League status at each time of asking.