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 26, 2015

#NOTHINSPECIAL

Printed in the Southern Premier League match v Cambridge City Saturday 24th October 2015. We won 3-1 in front of 292

It was FA Cup day. It was Non League Day. And here I was standing by Brighton beach watching my missus and eldest having paint thrown at them in a sponsored run. This wasn't part of the deal when we decided to have kids. Saturday was carved in stone as football day, now being eroded by temper tantrums*, commitments and a community pub. (*from me, when I miss a footballing Saturday).

Once again tho Non League Day, ironically the brainchild of a football league QPR supporter, swelled crowds across the country but the one million dollar questions remains – how the hell do you get people to come back, more than just once a season?

Suffolk side Bungay Town who have hit with the headlines with their Non League Day offers, paying people 5p to watch a game and last season a free punnet of mushrooms said they would be doing nothing special for once – well apart from winning 13 nil! Bungay might play 11 levels below the Premiership but they have a top class marketing 'department'. Chairman Shaun Cole said “I love Non League Day, its a great chance for clubs like us to take on the big boys in the semi-pro game, not on the pitch but in the media. I see a lot of clubs complaining that they don't get attention but if a club that plays at the second level of the Anglian Combination make the national press then surely anyone can. Just be a bit creative in what you do.”

Bungay seem very lucky in that they have a great team behind the scenes. Their former chairman has secured over a million pounds of funding over the past 10 years, and from a town of little over 5,000 they have an incredible 25 teams.

But this years Non League Day was going to be different for Bungay Town 'What do you do when everyone is expecting something special, or at least a little odd? The answer to that is nothing. Or #nothinspecial. That's because what we do (and hundreds of clubs like us up and down the country) every Saturday is special in itself. At every club in the land at our level there is a small group of people who mark out the pitch, wash the shirts, collect the subs, maybe arrange some insurance, pump up the footballs and try to find them in the hedge after our heroes have failed to be quite as clinical (or cynical) as some of Chelsea's finest. We at Bungay Town FC think that in itself is worth celebrating and if we can persuade a few fans of the pro game to watch their local non league side this weekend then so much the better. No free mushrooms, paying you to get in, fancy dress, stilt walkers, supporters wearing onesies or pensioners riding unicycles. Just a lower level English Non-League game which thousands of us enjoy every week.'

Which reminds me of the sign seen hanging from a few lower league fences recently 'Before you complain, have you volunteered yet.'

What so many people do to make grassroots football tick in this country isn't #nothinspecial, but above-and-beyond; giving so many of us, players and supporters alike, something special to do on a Saturday. Unless or course, you have to watch strangers throw paint over your family.


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