School’s out for Christmas and that means just one thing… Presents? Turkey? Mince pies? Of course not, half-season report cards!

Here’s my take on the National League clubs thus far, my grade for which is determined through a mixture of league position in comparison to last year and pre-season expectations, alongside performances in the cup competitions. Let’s get going then!National League Winter Report Card – How does your team rank at the halfway stage?

AFC Fylde

League Position: 17th
League Position (21 December 2016): N/A
FA Cup: Round 2
FA Trophy: Round 1

Following on from last season’s championship success in the National North, AFC Fylde have completed a solid start to their National League campaign. Albeit slightly below pre-season predictions and expectations, their position suggests the club are cementing their place for next season. Striker Danny Rowe’s heroics have not only allowed this but also a decent stint in the FA Cup.

GRADE: C+

Aldershot Town:

League Position: 6th
League Position (21 December 2016): 10th
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 1

Aldershot have shown improvements already on their start to the previous National League campaign and find themselves in amongst the six-way fight for the National League title, including a brief stint at the top. Despite this the Shots have disappointed in Cup competition, but it’s clear to see what their main priority should be at this stage of the season.

GRADE: A-

Barrow:

League Position: 19th
League Position (21 December 2016): 5th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

Despite progressing in the FA Trophy, Barrow have been incredibly lacklustre in this season’s campaign. Despite a resurgence of late, the club still find themselves in a relegation scrap – a far cry from the promotion hopes of last season.

GRADE: D

Boreham Wood

League Position: 7th
League Position (21 December 2016): 9th
FA Cup: Round 2
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

A team that often goes under the radar, Boreham Wood have again left themselves dreaming of a place in the playoffs at the halfway stage. Not the biggest or most glamorous of the National League sides, the Southern outfit find themselves in 7th, smashing pre-season expectations out of the water, with a good run in the FA Cup to match.

GRADE: A

Bromley:

League Position: 8th
League Position (21 December 2016): 13th
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

Considering I had predicted this Bromley side to be in a relegation scrap before the opening day, I am pleasantly surprised with their start to the campaign. Thanks to the likes of Josh Rees, the Londoners are within reach of a place in the playoffs, thus leaving fans dreaming of a promotion to the Football League come May.

Grade: A-

Chester:

League Position: 21st
League Position (21 December 2016): 7th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

It pains me to say it, but my side Chester have been one of the most disappointing performers in the opening half of the National League campaign. With a disappointing FA Cup performance against Kidderminster to match, the Blues should be preparing to fight against relegation in the second half of the season. A revival of form from Ross Hannah, though, could be the difference maker.

GRADE: D

Dagenham & Redbridge:

League Position: 5th
League Position (21 December 2016): 4th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 1

As expected, the Daggers find themselves in the fight for promotion to the Football League, at the halfway stage. Despite exiting both cup competitions at the first hurdle, the East Londoners would surely prefer to turn their attention towards a very possible promotion.

GRADE: A-

Dover Athletic:

League Position: 4th
League Position (21 December 2016): 6th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 2

Yet again Dover find themselves dreaming of a promotion to League Two in December. After being just a place outside the playoffs this time last season, the Whites now find themselves two spots higher and within touching distance of top spot, even occupying the coveted position during parts of the campaign thus far.

GRADE: A

Eastleigh:

League Position: 18th
League Position (21 December 2016): 12th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 1

This time last season, Eastleigh were holding their own in midtable, with their eyes directly pointed towards the playoff places. Fast forward a year and the Spitfires are out of both cup competitions, each at the first stage, and in a relegation scrap, despite the money being pumped into the club by its owner.

GRADE: D

Ebbsfleet United:

League Position: 10th
League Position (21 December 2016): N/A
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

A team expected to be underdogs, Ebbsfleet have responded from a worrying start to the season with a resurgence that has left them in the top ten. Added to an appearance with Football League opposition in the FA Cup and victory in the Trophy, the club are desperate to progress further, a realistic possibility indeed.

GRADE: A-

FC Halifax Town:

League Position: 16th
League Position (21 December 2016): N/A
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 1 (ONGOING)

Halifax are a club that have suffered an up and down start to the 17-18 campaign. Starting brightly, the side were looking to aim for a spot in the top seven by December. Now they find themselves in 16th place and, although relegation isn’t an immediate threat, if their current decline continues then Town could be up against it come April.

GRADE: C-

Gateshead:

League Position: 15th
League Position (21 December 2016): 11th
FA Cup: Round 2
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

Another midtable side who aren’t in the immediate fight against the bottom four, the Heed have to settle for 15th going into the second half of the season. But despite an indifferent reaction to their league start, Gateshead’s fans will certainly be delighted with their progress in the cup competitions, getting to the second round of the FA Cup and progressing past Guiseley in the Trophy, following two postponements.

Guiseley:

League Position: 23rd
League Position (21 December 2016): 23rd
FA Cup: Round 2
FA Trophy: Round 1

Following their Trophy exit against Gateshead just last night, Guiseley will be forced to focus their attention on the upcoming fight for survival. Despite overcoming the battle from this exact position last season, the Yorkshire club will find it more difficult this year competing with two sides, Chester and Leyton Orient, both starting to find their form.

GRADE: D

Hartlepool United:

League Position: 14th
League Position (21 December 2016): N/A
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 1

Just seven months after their relegation from the Football League, Hartlepool don’t look at all close to making their way back any time soon. The North-East side find themselves in 14th and out of both cup competitions, forcing some to declare their season over, despite pre-season expectations of a playoff place.

GRADE: C-

Leyton Orient:

League Position: 20th
League Position (21 December 2016): N/A
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

Another club relegated from the Football League in May, controversial Leyton Orient owner Francesco Becchetti left his place which paved the way for new ownership and management. Steve Davis’ appointment was ill-fated, however, with the club finding themselves fighting against the drop. Davis’ removal as manager has allowed Justin Edinburgh to try his hand as boss, which may lead to greener pastures come the end of the season.

GRADE: D

Macclesfield Town:

League Position: 1st
League Position (21 December 2016): 8th
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 1 (ONGOING)

As they await to start their FA Trophy campaign, Macclesfield Town sit top of the National League at the halfway mark. Although six teams are within one or two wins from their spot, Macclesfield have been at the summit a few times throughout the season, thus asserting their claim as a team competing for the title.

GRADE: A+

Maidenhead United:

League Position: 13th
League Position (21 December 2016): N/A
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

Although tipped to be battling to survive, Maidenhead United have made a steady start to their National League season. The newbies also won their first games in both the FA Cup and Trophy, and occupy a midtable place as they look to secure their place in the division for next season.

GRADE: B

Maidstone United:

League Position: 11th
League Position (21 December 2016): 18th
FA Cup: Round 2
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

After showing massive improvement from their first half showing last season, Maidstone are another club exceeding expectations in midtable. The club manoeuvred their way into the FA Cup Second Round, as well as the Trophy, and also occupy a comfortable league position, with potential to challenge for the top seven.

GRADE: B+

Solihull Moors:

League Position: 24th
League Position (21 December 2016): 16th
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 2 (ONGOING)

Although tipped, Solihull Moors’ time in the National League may just be up. Last season’s first half showing was one of promise and hope for the future, but it’s been nothing but disappointing this time round, as the Midlands side sit at the foot of the National League. A win in the FA Trophy against Tranmere Rovers, however, may be the spark that lights a resurgence.

GRADE: D

Sutton United:

League Position: 2nd
League Position (21 December 2016): 14th
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 2

Brilliant, just one word to describe Sutton’s start to this National League campaign. The U’s sit in 2nd, twelve places up on their start to last season, even after the loss of their FA Cup heroes of last time out, including Roarie Deacon. Although their FA Cup campaign was nothing short of lacklustre in comparison, a comfortable win in the Trophy could be the start of their next Cup success.

GRADE: A

Torquay United:

League Position: 22nd
League Position (21 December 2016): 17th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 1

It really must be difficult to be a Torquay fan. Once living the high life in the football league, the Gulls always seem to be dragged into the same relegation scrap every season. Unfortunately for them, there’s only so many times you can perform a miracle and escape, this may not be one of them times. Coupled with a loss at the first stage of each Cup competition, this Torquay United side have made the worst start to the National League of anyone.

GRADE: E

Tranmere Rovers:

League Position: 9th
League Position (21 December 2016): 2nd
FA Cup: Round 1
FA Trophy: Round 1

Tranmere have been nothing short of disappointing, when viewing their expectations for the season. Having missed out on the Football League at Wembley last time out, Rovers have been struggling this season but a sudden burst of form has left them in ninth and within touching distance of the playoffs.

GRADE: C+

Woking:

League Position: 12th
League Position (21 December 2016): 19th
FA Cup: Round 2
FA Trophy: Round 1

A very up and down start to the season for Woking. The Cardinals enjoyed a solid start to the season and sat in the top seven for a while, before a late dip of form placed them in midtable obscurity. An eventful run in the FA Cup that almost saw them overcome Peterborough was put to an end in Round Two, alongside their FA Trophy campaign in Round One.

GRADE: B-

Wrexham:

League Position: 3rd
League Position (21 December 2016): 15th
FA Cup: 4th Qualifying Round
FA Trophy: Round 1

A stark contrast to last season, Wrexham have made an impressive start to the season and sit in third position. Despite defeats at the first stage in both cup competitions, Wrexham will have always been focusing their attention on fighting for promotion.

GRADE: A-