Sunday, October 14, 2012

Non-League Day

1987 and we celebrate winning the FA Trophy, the pinnacle cup competition for Non-League teams. LtoR: Me, my brother Tim and Kidderminster player Clive Boxall
Events back in England yesterday, reminded me of the years I spent watching countless matches in what are the various leagues outside of the Barclays Premier & npower Football League divisions. No less than 40,000 semi-professional and amateur clubs exist in what is known as the Non-League game. Yesterday, was Non-League Day 2012, an opportunity for football fans around the country to celebrate what is generally regarded as less-glamorous games than in the big leagues, but which still attract great numbers of fans, week in and week out. I grew up watching my hometown team Cheltenham Town, never missed a home match and hardly any away games either, travelling the length and breadth of the country, for fifteen years before moving my allegiance to Kidderminster Harriers and doing exactly the same. At clubs like these, it's easy to get intimately involved much the same as I was, as programme editor, matchday announcer, sports reporter for radio and the newspapers, and so on. That's the beauty of the game beneath the big leagues. And that's what was celebrated yesterday. The Blue Square Bet Premier is the division below the top 4 and with England playing on Friday night and all games in the Barclays Premier and the npower Championship on-hold, it was an opportunity for the smaller fish to have their day in the sun. Free coaches were laid on for fans who wanted to take in three matches in 1-day, with a 12.30 kick-off for Macclesfield v Newport, followed by Kidderminster's visit to Stockport at 3pm and then a 6pm start for Hyde v Tamworth. A great way to sample the top level of non-league football. For more on my early football days, click here.

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