These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


It’s often the simple ideas that are the best. And you couldn’t get simpler than Non League Day. Pick a date when international football means no Premiership or Championship games and encourage people to go and watch their local non league club. You never know they might even enjoy it. Now in its third year the day just gets bigger and better.

Non League Day is not just a celebration of our level of football but a chance for fans of bigger clubs to dip their toes and experience football at a level they may be otherwise unfamiliar with. It also helps promote hundreds of clubs across the country who are almost exclusively volunteer run and do so much good for the local community. 

I’ve been rehearsing for Non League Day by dragging people along to local games especially cup ones. Often my text invitations are ignored, people pretending their dead or theirs some Very Important Match on the TV which they certainly can’t miss. One man I can usually count on to come is Luke, a Notts County and Glossop North End fan “You're not there in your 1000's, but in your 10's. You’ve grown up with the same supporters as extended family, taking trips to unknown places. Both sets of supports enjoy the game together, friendly ribbing between intelligent supporters as you laugh and joke about the lopsided pitch, the awful misses and reminisce about that one time your team nearly came to glory, for that to never return. All along sipping beer from plastic cups on the terraces."

James and Terry are both long term Brighton and Hove Albion season ticket holders. James came along to watch Whitehawk knock Sittingbourne out of the FA Cup. “The difference in football was like the difference between eating a greasy spoon (Whitehawk) and an Egon Roney rated restaurant. Both good but in their own different ways.”

Terry said: “One of the the first things that I find different from going to a Football League game and going to a non League game is the amount of people travelling to the game. Even a League game with a small crowd of 3000 people it is very noticeable. When I recently travelled on the bus to FA Vase game involving Ringmer and Littlehampton I was expecting everybody to get off the bus when it pulled into Ringmer. But everybody stayed on except the two other guys going to the game with me. Then I saw a large queue in the distance and thought to myself there's Ringmer's ground when in fact it was the queue for the local jumble sale!

It's difficult to compare professional footballers with amateurs as from my opinion to even to play at non league level you have to be quite a good footballer. Obviously there is a difference in fitness. With most non-league guys having jobs and lives outside football they cannot dedicate their bodies into becoming athletes as the professional footballers have the time and advice to do it nowadays. But when you see non league footballers out there running on those sloping pitches they are giving as much effort as players on £200,000 a week. That's the beauty of football.

One of the things I do love about non-league is that you can get a beer. But most of the club houses I have visited are quite ropey and not even up to the standard of the toilets at the Brighton's new stadium! But it's nice to stand and watch the game with a beer on the go and was disappointed that in the FA Cup and Vase games this season it was prohibited to take a beer outside the club house. I guess they want to give these games a more professional feel but then it would not be amateur and non league would it.

With the non league supporters there is much more friendliness and are always up for a chat. Since I have gone to non-league football I have quite enjoyed it and will go again. I am sure there will be thousands more like me who will go to their non League game this Saturday. It reminds me a lot of football in the 70's when I first went and with the price of admission to League football becoming increasingly out of each to the ordinary man's income this can only be good for Non League football and long may the institution prosper.”


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