In the absence of Premier League and Championship football this weekend – due to the now dreaded international break – Non League Day 2018 gives you the chance to attend a game and to lend your support to your local non-league club and the grassroots game.
Established by James Doe in 2010 as a kind of social media experiment, Non League Day has blossomed in a way that was entirely unexpected – and is now backed by Premier League clubs and various charities.
Non League Football Needs Your Support
Non League Day is, of course, scheduled to coincide with the international break, and it promotes the importance of affordable grassroots football. Match-going fans who support Premier League and Championship clubs now almost uniformly dread the international break. No game to go to, often stultifyingly dull international games on the box instead – and a gaping hole in your weekend.
The football pyramid is propped up by the grassroots foundations of the non-league, and it needs support. It’s all too easy to be snobby and dismissive about non-league, but attending a game can be a hugely refreshing alternative to the kind of watered down experience we sometimes get in the all-seater stadia at the top end of the game.
Non league football is somehow simultaneously both a throwback and an insight into something more pure and civilised – capturing the raw essence of ‘real football’. You can get a beer at most non league grounds, you’re pitchside and you can stand anywhere in the ground, moving around as you please as the game takes place and getting a different perspective on the game.
To encourage support on the day, lots of clubs offer reduced ticket prices, free entry for kids, while some will even provide other bonuses like free hot dogs and a drink for kids.
Go once and you will almost certainly go again
From a personal perspective, and as someone who until recently had a season ticket at a top Premier League club and still goes to the odd game, attending non-league football in the last 12 months or so has proved a revelation. My own local non-league club is West Didsbury & Chorlton FC, who play their football in the North West Counties Premier League – the eighth tier of English football. Just a fiver to get in and free for kids, it is a delightful experience – reconnecting to a world almost forgotten.
You’re struck by the volunteers who sustain these clubs solely because of their the love of the game and the club. It survives – by the skin of its teeth – entirely because of the commitment of its community, and this engenders a genuinely warm and welcoming atmosphere. The football is pretty good too, the atmosphere is great – a real good laugh – and once you’ve been once the chances are you’ll go again.
Last year’s BBC documentary about Salford City highlighted everything that is great about non-league football and the family vibe of these clubs. Neville, Giggs and co weren’t the stars of that show – it was the old fella who cut the grass, the women in the burger van, the players and everybody who works their backsides off to keep this wonderful tradition going. It is a world away from the Premier League, and that is its USP.
You can use this match-finder to find your nearest non-league game – have a look and see if your club has any deals and special offers. It’s a great way to affordably take the kids to a live game – and in turn provide much-needed support and remind yourself that football is not a reality TV show.
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