As fans become continually discontented with the sterility and cost of football in the top tiers, so the appeal of non-league football has grown. Here are just seven reasons you should get into non-league football.
In 2010, the idea of ‘Non-League Day’ came to founder James Doe as a social media experiment aimed at getting fans to enjoy grass roots football while the big leagues break for international matches. Since then, it’s become something of a movement. But you don’t need to wait for Non-League Day – when the top clubs break for international games – to get into non-league football.
Here are seven reasons why you should visit your local non-league side:
- It’s cheap: You are unlikely to spend more than £15 on full-price entry
- The beer is better: The beer at non-league football is often supplied by a local brewer and is cheaper than drinking big brand generic lager at a league venue, plus you can often drink it in your seat or in the stands (except FA Cup/Vase matches)
- The atmosphere is friendly: With fewer axes to grind and a shared love of grass roots football, non-league fans mix quite happily, often swapping ends at half-time to be behind the one its team is kicking towards
- You’re close to home: Most towns have a football team in some league or other. Personally, I flit between Tunbridge Wells FC (SCEFL – 9th tier of English football) and Maidstone United (Vanarama National – 5th tier of English football)
- There’s a community spirit: Being local, teams often get involved in the community. Take a look at our interview with Lewes FC to see what the club is doing in the Sussex town
- New cultures are emerging: Non-league football is catching on, with interesting fan cultures surfacing, such as those St Pauli-style movements at Dulwich Hamlet, Clapton FC and Whitehawk.
- The standard is good: Let’s myth-bust straight away that you’ll see bad football. Players like ‘Sir’ Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright, Charlie Austin, Jamie Vardy and Chris Waddle played non-league football
The last Premier League match I went to – at the Boleyn Ground, West Ham two seasons ago – cost £55 plus booking fees. It was OK as a spectacle but I was way up in the gods and faced a massive schlep home via a long wait in line for the tube. Give me grass roots football anytime!
Use the handy Non-League Day match finder tool to locate your nearest match. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy your experience enough to become a regular.