NON LEAGUE DAY
Printed in the Southern League Central Division match v Uxbridge. Coming back from a festival I missed the game – only a 5-2 thriller in front of 315 people. Slough are second in the league.
For most of us watching today’s game, Non League Day won’t change our habits, but next Saturday (4th September) is a first in the footballing calendar. With no Premiership or Championship matches Non League Day is the chance to try and encourage supporters of bigger clubs to go and support their local non league team.
Lower league football clubs scratch their heads and try and come up with ideas to prise people away from wall to wall football on the TV and get more punters through the turnstiles. Slough are running with Target 400 games to increase our attendances with free tickets, kids for a quid and posters around town. At Barkingside they are offering half price entry for season tickets holders of league clubs (although this still led to one ‘loyal’ Barkingside supporter moaning about it in the Non League Paper, obviously happy with crowds of less than 100!)
So bobble hats off to QPR supporter and part-time Harrow Borough fan Jamie Doe, who started a Twitter and Facebook campaign suggesting the opportunity for 'professional' football supporters to go out and support their local team for one-day in the hope that price-comparison of watching the top-men will encourage them to go and watch the 'little-uns' more and more. Jamie said, "The idea for Non-League Day came to me after going to OPR's pre-season game at Tavistock a couple of weeks ago. The club and fans were made really welcome by the hosts and it was obvious how financially important the visit was to them. In the last year or so I've heard repeatedly how money is becoming really tight for non league clubs - the last time I went to watch Harrow they were about to hold a fundraising night to buy some new bulbs for the floodlights. Their plight cannot be unique so I wanted to start Non-League Day to try and give our local clubs a bit of publicity and a shot in the arm."
Maybe they wont throw their expensive season tickets in the bin and decide to watch non-league football instead, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be encouraged to show a little support for their smaller local brethren – many Chelsea supporters used to come and watch Slough play when Chelsea were away. Some may only go just the once, but others may start to go more regularly and every penny counts. Just look at the play off final against Chesham where lots of people came to support the Rebels for the first time in years.
Non League Day is now gathering momentum, backed by the Football Supporters Federation and with publicity from the BBC and various leading sports websites. They stress that this is not a protest movement, but an opportunity for fans to experience life at the other end of the football spectrum where many clubs are kept alive by the benevolence of hard working volunteers.
Many of us non league fans shake our heads in dismay at just how the Premiership can be awash with cash, while grassroots football struggle. Jamie’s simple but innovative way of tackling the problem. As he put it "With England playing the night before and the premier league and championship taking a week off, I urge all fans of the big clubs to get out and watch their local non-league team instead on Saturday 4th September. Given the current financial climate, clubs outside the football league need all the support they can get, so your presence at a game will be genuinely appreciated. With tickets and refreshments at a fraction of the cost, what's stopping you?"