Transparency and honesty – a prerequisite for all non-league clubs

ONE OF the most talked-about aspects of non-league football is the wage bill. Some clubs talk their budget up while others play it down. But mostly, the playing budget is shrouded in mystery. In some countries, declaring your budget for the year is a requirement. In France, for example, it is well known what each club is paying out to its players. In non-league circles, … Continue reading Transparency and honesty – a prerequisite for all non-league clubs

Has non-league sold its soul?

IN RECENT years, non-league football has promoted itself as “real” and the game for local communities. Some clubs have embraced causes, have lent their hand to political movements and have championed inclusiveness. In particular, the drive to build the next generation of fans – a vitally important element given the audience of this level of the game – has rightly placed emphasis on youth development, … Continue reading Has non-league sold its soul?

Has non-league sold its soul?

IN RECENT years, non-league football has promoted itself as “real” and the game for local communities. Some clubs have embraced causes, have lent their hand to political movements and have championed inclusiveness. In particular, the drive to build the next generation of fans – a vitally important element given the audience of this level of the game – has rightly placed emphasis on youth development, … Continue reading Has non-league sold its soul?

Behind the scenes in small-time football

I DISCOVERED what non-league football was all about in, of all places, a gentleman’s urinal. It was 1991 and I had been involved with Hitchin Town of the Isthmian League for just a few weeks when a club “worthie” of many years leaned over and whispered: “The thing is, my friend, we don’t take kindly to outsiders. Just remember that.” This elderly fellow, who had … Continue reading Behind the scenes in small-time football

The Non-League 100: Wealdstone 1984-85, the first double winners

IN an age when former Football League clubs proliferate the top division of non-league, it is often forgotten that the first non-league team to perform the hallowed “double” of National League and FA Trophy was a relatively humble outfit from the Middlesex conurbation, Wealdstone. Wealdstone, the club that nurtured the talents of players like Stuart Pearce and Vinnie Jones, were beneficiaries of a novel points … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Wealdstone 1984-85, the first double winners

Club of the Month: Cray Valley Paper Mills

THE FA VASE final in May will be between Chertsey Town and Cray Valley Paper Mills. There’s not a Northern League team in sight! Chertsey have flown a lot higher in the past, but Cray Valley PM are not a club that many non-league fans will have come across. The name, for a start, harks back to the days of works teams and indeed, the … Continue reading Club of the Month: Cray Valley Paper Mills

Transparency and honesty – a prerequisite for all non-league clubs

ONE OF the most talked-about aspects of non-league football is the wage bill. Some clubs talk their budget up while others play it down. But mostly, the playing budget is shrouded in mystery. In some countries, declaring your budget for the year is a requirement. In France, for example, it is well known what each club is paying out to its players. In non-league circles, … Continue reading Transparency and honesty – a prerequisite for all non-league clubs

Non-league and the stakeholder concept

THE NON-LEAGUE football world often lives within a false economy that does little to dissuade clubs from flirting dangerously with financial ruin. Some clubs live way beyond their means, paying out everything they accrue and agreeing players’ wages that are totally unrealistic when one considers the earning power of the clubs. It’s a questionable  business model – often a club is propped up by a … Continue reading Non-league and the stakeholder concept

Digging-in for those dugouts

WHEN the people of Hitchin marched in support of Top Field, the ancient home of the local football club, it was with one eye on a new stadium being constructed on Fishponds Road. It will be six years in December since that memorable afternoon took place, but there has been some movement on the playing fields of Hitchin. New dugouts. When you consider it is … Continue reading Digging-in for those dugouts

When game management goes astray

HITCHIN TOWN’s FA Cup run seems a long time ago these days. Since losing to Solihull Moors on November 11, they have played 14 games and have lost nine of them. Six home games in the league have yielded a combined attendance of 2,230 – whatever happened to those new found fans that discovered their local club when the TV cameras were present? How fickle … Continue reading When game management goes astray

March of the “amateurs”

A NOTE to the national media – football clubs that enter the FA Cup are not, mostly, “amateur” and they do pay their players hard cash. This oft-repeated and somewhat patronising term, used to describe non-league clubs when anyone wants to underline a story about the “butcher, baker, candlestick-maker” element of football outside the professional game, continues to be used when national media turn up … Continue reading March of the “amateurs”

When Hitchin first met “the little tin idol”

ON Sunday November 11, 2018, exactly 147 years after the club’s ancestors kicked-off the first FA Cup , Hitchin Town will play Solihull Moors in the first round of football’s oldest knockout competition. Hitchin Football Club, which dabbled with Rugby as well as Association, had been in existence since 1865 when the competition was inaugurated. A group of local worthies decided to form a football … Continue reading When Hitchin first met “the little tin idol”