These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Monday, October 22, 2012

THE HEART OF OUR COMMUNITIES


Printed in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying round game v Gosport Borough on Sunday 21st October 2012.  Finished 0-0 in front of 523. But not me, I overslept and missed the bloody train!  

Well what a resounding success Non League Day was. Radio coverage on BBC 5 live's breakfast programme and TalkSport. Sky Sports News live at Bromley against Welling United and Soccer AM at Woking. Football Focus talked about Non League Day with features on Newport County and Forest Green Rovers. On twitter #nonleagueday was trending alongside Rick Astley and #NoBraDay while league clubs were encouraging their supporters to go to a local game. There was free entry at Bexhill if you dressed like a pirate and pay what you want at Wingate and Finchley.
So did it get those all important punters through the turnstiles?
Five of us went to Lancing v Peacehaven in the FA Vase and while no one lost their non league virginity, people seemed suitably impressed with Lancing’s set up and the football on display as Peacehaven trounced their league rivals 5-0. On that performance they must be one of the favourites to get promoted to the Ryman League Promised Land.  It was a decent attendance too with 170 people and crowd congestion temporarily shutting the tea bar!
In the Blue Square Premier there was a three game ground-hop. Maidstone had nearly two thousand for their Ryman League Division South game v Dulwich. Wealdstone had 300 more than their average – playing a side bottom of the league and bringing no more than 20 supporters of their own while Lowestoft, Tilbury and Cleethorpes Town drew their best gates of the season. Swanage had five times their normal crowd against Newport Isle of Wight in the Vase.
The man with the fantastic plan James Doe said “A bit of very basic number crunching showed me that 70% of games across Steps 1-4 (about 130) had crowds in excess of the season's average. Several sides posted season's bests, with AFC Fylde setting a new stadium record for the visit of FC United of Manchester. The biggest crowd of the day in London came at Bromley for their aforementioned derby with Welling where 1,334 turned out, which was around 800 more than their average - a truly massive increase.
To all those that helped out with Non League Day I thank you. An event like this can only succeed when people pull together and give their time and effort for free.”
The football pyramid in this country is unparalleled and something we should be immensely proud of. Just like the Olympics that relied on an army of volunteers to make it tick, so does lower league football. But with many finding it hard to attract people its days like Non League Day that shine a spotlight on grassroots football.
But it’s also so much more than ninety minutes of football. Before the Lancing game the Connor Saunders Foundation presented the club with a defibrillator, becoming the fourth Sussex team to receive one. The Foundation was set up after Connor Saunders, a Peacehaven player and son of the manager was killed by a single punch in an unprovoked attack outside a shop.  The small Sussex town and the wider community were in shock at such a pointless death but out of the tragedy his friends and family stepped up to commemorate his life. The Foundation puts on fundraising events, football matches, has established a new football academy and is building a multi purpose sports court.
To me this shows the power of small football clubs like Peacehaven and how the people behind them play such an invaluable role in our communities and are pivotal to society’s health and wellbeing.  
Anything that encourages more people to support them should be cheered on loud from the terraces.
Here's to Non League Day 4. 

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

7:57 pm

 

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