Why non-league isn’t doing it for me anymore

NON-LEAGUE football has been part of my DNA for the past 30 years, but I’m sad to say that I no longer get the buzz I used to experience from this level of the game. There are a number of reasons and none of them imply that non-league is less important than it used to be, indeed there is an upturn in interest at some … Continue reading Why non-league isn’t doing it for me anymore

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?

The trials of a nomadic existence

GRAYS Athletic play at a very nice stadium. Brand spanking new, great facilities and a football-friendly artificial surface that performs very well. The only problem is, the club is ground-sharing at Aveley, a town of 8,000 people some four miles from Grays. They’re in their second year of a two-year agreement, and like most tenants, there is a degree of uncertainty about the future. Grays … Continue reading The trials of a nomadic existence

The Non-League 100: Enfield 1967-70

UNTIL the last 20 years or so, Enfield were a huge name in the non-league game, from their triumphs in amateur football through to the club’s Conference years. The demise of a once great institution is as complex as it is sad, but Enfield made their name in the days before players were paid to play. In the late 1960s, Enfield were an outstanding team, … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Enfield 1967-70

Commentary Box: The uphill battle to save non-league

THE ongoing saga of Dulwich Hamlet is a sad story, for many reasons, and one that should cause non-league club chairmen and officials a few sleepless nights. Not for the first time, a non-league club is being bullied by people who know how to manipulate and also, most importantly, how to use money and the law to get their own way. The club’s landlords are … Continue reading Commentary Box: The uphill battle to save non-league

The Non-League 100: Dulwich Hamlet in the ’30s – heroes in pink and blue

DULWICH HAMLET have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, but back in the 1930s, they were one of the leading clubs in the amateur game. Big crowds flocked to their Champion Hill ground, especially for important cup-ties. Dulwich were remarkably consistent in the late 1920s and through to the mid-1930s. In that period, they won the Isthmian League in 1932-33 and won no … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Dulwich Hamlet in the ’30s – heroes in pink and blue

The pied piper of Billericay

THEY strode, both young and old, along Tye Common Road, heading for Billericay Town’s Blunts Wall Road ground. Queues were building outside the turnstiles, parking was restricted and the bar, which bears the club slogan of “#together we sail as one” on its exterior was packed. There was a real buzz about the place, almost a carnival atmosphere. And, of course, there was the Billericay … Continue reading The pied piper of Billericay

The Non-League 100: Hendon 1964-66 – goals and silverware

IT IS hard today to be a non-league club in London given the massive distractions that people have in the metropolis. Competing with Football League clubs is a tough task for non-leaguers and Hendon have always had to contend with Arsenal and Tottenham to name but two. The club has, sadly, been in decline for some time, a condition not helped by the loss of … Continue reading The Non-League 100: Hendon 1964-66 – goals and silverware

A game with no glory – a fly on the Hitchin wall, 1996-97

NON-LEAGUE football has changed significantly over the past 20 years – players are younger (or is it me?), the quality has declined a little, the cost of watching it has gone up and clubs travel ridiculous distances to play in front of small crowds. The game is more scrutinised than ever before, so it is hard to get away with some of the sins of … Continue reading A game with no glory – a fly on the Hitchin wall, 1996-97

The road to step two doesn’t need to be feared

THE POPULAR VIEW is that the jump from Southern and Ryman Premier to step two is a big one. Too many supporters wring their hands in anguish at the prospect of their team not being equipped to survive elevation to the executive suite of non-league football. But there’s good news for aspiring play-off candidates. The promoted clubs’ records over the past five years go a … Continue reading The road to step two doesn’t need to be feared

Tilbury revisited: Still exotic

IT SOUNDS unlikely, but I always felt there was something vaguely exotic about Tilbury. As a child, Tilbury meant sea-faring vessels arriving from far-flung places or going off around the world. A rare treat was sitting in a car, close to Tilbury Fort and watching the ships creep along the Thames Estuary. Tilbury promised travel and adventure. There was history,too. In 1588 Queen Elizabeth addressed … Continue reading Tilbury revisited: Still exotic