Tag Archives: non-league

The man in the middle

Saturday 14th April 2018, 2.30pm (day 2,424)

The referee, 14/4/18

Hate ’em or hate ’em, the game couldn’t run without them, at any level — particularly way down in the football capillaries, which is where I was today (West Riding County Amateur League, competition 30 of the season)…

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World’s Oldest Football Club

Saturday 7th April 2018, 3.40pm (day 2,417)

Sheffield FC, 7/4/18

More football, I’ve been packing in the games while being off work. Sheffield FC reign indisputably as the world’s oldest association football club, being founded in October 1857 which, to put it in perspective, was three and a half years before the American Civil War broke out. They have been going steadily along for the last 160 years without ever having made much of an impact in sporting terms, thanks largely to their having steadfastly refused to embrace professionalism back in the 1880s. But they’re still around, a mecca for football tourists the world over (like me let’s face it) if the graffiti in the toilets is anything to go by, and they still have their little community of fans, like this guy, who may well have been in this spot for many decades. Metaphorically at least. Not a great day on the pitch though — they lost 4-0 to Leek Town. Don’t worry — only a month now until the end of the season.

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The next generation

Wednesday 4th April 2018, 8.25pm (day 2,414)

Dulwich fans, 4/4/18

Yeah, I know, more football, but I am spreading the love for another few weeks yet. And teams like London’s Dulwich Hamlet, exiled from their own ground thanks to asset-stripping owners seeking to crush them (and thus playing tonight in Carshalton in Surrey), need our support, and the support of the next generation of fans too. In this regard they are doing well enough, it seems. But those who think community assets like sports clubs should be protected from these kinds of depredations could check out the Save Dulwich Hamlet web site.

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End of the match

Saturday 31st March 2018, 4.50pm (day 2,410)

End of match, 31/3/18

More non-league football in the village of Emley, whose football team in 1998 demonstrated the equalising power of the FA Cup by playing West Ham, 8th in the league at the time, and only losing 2-1. Ten per cent of the whole village turned out for today’s game, which (fortunately for my quest) managed to survive the wet weather: a higher proportion of the population than a lot of much bigger places manage (like Leeds, say), and for tenth tier football. I have enjoyed my tour of these localities this season, I was vaguely aware of the strength of these roots beforehand but days like today prove it. All seem happy here, and so they should as Emley won a tight game 1-0.

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Scene from the Campaign for Real Football

Saturday 17th March 2018, 2.05pm (day 2,396)

Real football, 17/3/18

There’s been a lot of football on here lately, I know that. There’s also been a lot of snow. I tried to avoid them both becoming themes again today, but…. not easy. Remarkably, thanks to there being a 3G artificial pitch beneath the snow, this game was played… perhaps appropriately, it was the team in white who ran out the winners (4-1). Traditionalists will admire the fact that today even saw the use of an orange ball (just visible here being carried out by the black-clad officials). But I am doubtless not the only one who is now fed up with winter 2018 and its sheer persistence.

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The ball comes my way

Saturday 10th March 2018, 3.15pm (day 2,389)

Stockton v Newton Aycliffe, 10/3/18

How often do football photographers, concentrating on their shot, fail then to pay enough attention to the shots of the players and get a ball in the face? A split second after taking this, the missile to top right smacked into the fencing a foot from my head. No wonder I seem to be the centre of attention….

Ah well, no harm done. The guys in yellow and blue were my hosts today, Stockton Town of the Northern League. Expect to see more of them on 24th March.

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Beneath the windmills (more non-league)

Saturday 3rd February 2018, 3.25pm (day 2,354)

Hassocks FC, 3/2/18

Those of you who don’t see the point of football may be getting a little tired of seeing it depicted on here, but there’ll be more to come this season yet; in fact this was my ninth consecutive weekend of going to some game or other (2nd/3rd December was the last footie-free Saturday and Sunday). I’m not apologising — I’m enjoying the groundhopping. Today I got up at 6am and travelled 300 miles before lunchtime to see a game in the ninth tier of English football, specifically the Sussex County league, so I do mean it, I’m ‘keeping it real’. Hassocks, in red, were the hosts but lost an important relegation battle 2-1 to visitors Eastbourne United. Above the pitch, the famous twin windmills known as “Jack and Jill” look down from the rim of the South Downs.

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Substitution

Saturday 11th November 2017, 4.10pm (day 2,270)

Pickering Town, 11/11/17

Down at the ninth tier of English football, there are many leagues, this particular one the Northern Counties East League which encompasses teams from a slew of small towns across north and east Yorkshire. I have been actively watching football for more than 40 years now (blimey) but since school, not played it competitively, so I can’t quite get into the mindset of those who do, and wonder what it must feel like to put oneself through the physical paces week in week out for the satisfaction of a couple of hundred spectators at places like Pickering Town, which is where we were today (my 10th competition of the season). Visitors Barton Town are the ones making the substitution here, 1o minutes into the second half. The score was 1-1 at the time, but Pickering eventually won the game 2-1. Next weekend… somewhere else for these guys.

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End of the food queue, half time

Saturday 7th October 2017, 4.00pm (day 2,235)

Bamber Bridge, half time, 7/10/17

The tour of English football competitions continues: number 8, the FA Trophy, at Bamber Bridge FC v Brighouse Town FC, Bamber Bridge lying just south of Preston in Lancashire. A grim day of weather, which this picture encapsulates — but, I must also add, an excellent day out, entertaining game of almost wholly non-cynical football, welcoming stadium… a fine cocktail to celebrate Non-League Day and all the roots that keep the sport I love going in this country.  4-2 to Bamber Bridge in the end. Maybe some of these fans got their food before the second half, too.

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Catering facilities, Salford City FC

Saturday 15th July 2017, 1.50pm (day 2,151)

Silcocks cafe, 15/7/17

My 2017-18 football season opened at Salford City FC and a pre-season warm-up game against local rivals FC United of Manchester. The hosts won 2-1. You can read what I thought about the game, and see photographs of the day taken by someone much better at that kind of thing than me, if you purchase the next issue of When Saturday Comes (advt.). Salford City have big plans but their stadium, for all its recent renovations, is still pleasingly non-league in many ways. I like this catering van, its garish and gratuitously sexist decoration, and the worshipful posture of the customer.

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