This Saturday sees the third annual ‘Non-League Day’. The brainchild of QPR fan James Doe, Non-League Day was initially launched to encourage fans of Championship and Premier League to use the international break in their own club’s fixtures to get along and support their local grassroots sides instead. The initiative has proved a huge success, and though Rovers may no longer be in the top two tiers of the game, popular STAND is still happy to endorse the day, and encourage any of you not making the trip to Hartlepool to get your football kicks with a local non-league side instead.
Of course the majority of Rovers fans should be no strangers to the non-league game, having watched Doncaster toil in the Conference for five seasons less than a decade ago. And though I applaud and fully support the ethos of Non-League Day and its desire to get football supporters to appreciate the necessity of the game at a community level, there remains a danger of patronisation from those who have only ever experienced football in all-seater stadia, or televised hyperbole. Haha, look that bloke’s brought his dog in… Hohoho the bloke on the gate is about 90 years old… hehehe half the programme has been printed upside down. Thankfully, amongst Rovers fans, thanks to those five years in the Conference the oddities of non-league football are more often enjoyed with a nostalgic leaning.
Increasingly, as Rovers have edged up the football pyramid (and briefly back down it again) the game appears to have become more serious, more hard work, and well, less fun. The days of being able to decide to go to a game on a last-minute whim, and of being welcomed into opponent’s social clubs are increasingly distant, despite being only eight years ago. For two years during Rovers’ Championship adventure I lived in Worcester, and relished being able to relive all of the above on the terraces of St Georges Lane in support of Worcester City. A ten minute walk from front door to terrace it served a welcome escape from talk of people taking clubs as far as they can, being as it was, just football.
So, if you’re not making the trip up to Hartlepool take the opportunity to acknowledge you can’t influence the game by staring at the videprinter from your sofa and instead get out there and watch some live local football. Give your money to a club that will value your presence and won’t chuck your pounds at an agent’s hype. Enjoy football without the one-eyed partisanship, but with a Kit-Kat and a cuppa instead, and offer your support to a local non-league club, before it’s too late to do so.
We practice what we preach here at popular STAND towers, and so I’ll be hopping across to Leeds to Yorkshire Amateur’s Bracken Edge ground. If you fancy embracing the spirit of non-league day too then why not go for one of the ties we’ve kindly picked out for you below, many of which have Non League Day offers in place for fans of league clubs.
If you’re in the east of the borough then this is the tie for you, especially as this looks set to be the last season Gainsborough spend at their historic Northolme ground. Trinity were one game away from promotion to the Conference National last season and notable Lincolnshire derbies with Lincoln and Grimsby, bust sadly lost 1-0 to Nuneaton in the play-off final. They’ve not quite replicated that form this season as yet, currently sitting in mid-table, but they’ll be favourites to win against struggling Droylsden. Look out for familiar faces too with both Jan Budtz and Craig Nelthorpe on Trinity’s books.
The one non-league side in the region to be name-checked in a Chumbawumba song, Frickley host Stafford Rangers at Westfield Lane, South Elmsall in the shadow of Frickley Colliery’s spoil tip. Athletic haven’t had a great start to the season, and had won just one league game thus far, but will have a decent chance of altering that against mid-table draw specialists Stafford Rangers.
Non-League Day Offer: Season ticket holders at Premier or Football League clubs get in for free; just show your ticket at the turnstile.
Indifferent seems to be the best way to describe Asken Villa’s form in NCEL division one so far this season, as they’ve invariably followed victories with defeats. Coached by Belles Manager and ex-Rover John Buckley Villa will be hoping to chalk another game in the win column against Bradford side, and fellow mid-table dwellers, Albion Sports.
Another NCEL Divsion One clash to consider for those in the North of the region, as Fitzwilliam’s finest host Dinnington Town in what on current form is something of a mid-table battle. If it’s goals you’re after then the Fitzwilliam Stadium could be the place to head; Hemsworth’s seven home games to date have seen a total of 35 goals; five per match.
One step down the pyramid and Thorne Colliery are the region’s only Central Midlands League side in home action on Non-League day. Colliery host DFS Welbeck at their Moorends Welfare Ground, and if you’re thinking of going along, do hurry, because the visitors must end this weekend.
On the road
If you’re really embracing the non-league day spirit, or you’re not in the Doncaster area then you could always help to swell the travelling support of these three local sides;
Leo Fortune-West’s Armthorpe have a long trip to the west coast as they face North West Counties League side AFC Liverpool in the 1st round of the FA Vase. Leo has been donning his boots this season, and indeed found the net in Welfare’s previous tie in this competition against Squires Gate. And he’s not the only ex-Rover on target for them either, with Ben Muirhead also plying his trade at Church Street. The match will be played at Valerie Park, Prescot, and Welfare did have places on their bus going spare. Contact them on twitter here, for more info.
Also on the road in the FA Vase are Retford United as they head to Lincolnshire to face United Counties League side Spalding United at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Fields. After winning the NCEL Premier Division last season, and being denied promotion to the Northern Premier League Retford have been having a tough league campaign this time round, and will be looking for some respite in the cup.
This is where you’ll find at least one member of the fanzine team on non-league day as Rossington Main travel to Leeds for a league game with Yorkshire Amateur. Having lost a number of key players at the end of last season Main have been struggling somewhat this campaign, but following recent improved performances this game offers a chance to get some points on the board. Amateur’s Bracken Edge ground is north of Leeds city centre, just off Harehills Lane.