Non-league can still be a 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 can still be a stakeholder concept

The Grey Neutral: Bernie the goal, Bury and Belgium

NON-LEAGUE football has its heroes and Hitchin Town lost one of its legendary figures this past week when it was announced Bernie Gogan had passed away. Gogan was a member of Hitchin’s 1968-69 team that finished runners-up in the Isthmian League. Hitchin had a very decent team in those days and Gogan, along with his striking partner Roy Cutler, were known as the “terrible twins”. … Continue reading The Grey Neutral: Bernie the goal, Bury and Belgium

Let’s see how effective academies really are

NON-LEAGUE teams are full of players who have academy experience. Some might say that there are too many academy products and that the traditional non-league game was a mixture of former pros and youngsters. Today, many teams appear to be very young, genuine former pros (not “experience with the xxxx academy”) are in short number and players move on with even more regularity than in … Continue reading Let’s see how effective academies really are

Young, gifted and green

THINGS haven’t gone particularly well for Hitchin Town this season, the first three games yielded just one point and a refashioned team was heavily beaten 5-0 at Alvechurch. Famously loyal, the fans have kept very quiet – there was a time when such a start to the season would have prompted calls for the manager to be sacked, but there’s no sign of #burkeyout among … Continue reading Young, gifted and green

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

Scene it, won it, got the eco t-shirt

WHEN is a young player not a young player? Raheem Sterling, aged 24, 49 caps for England and over 300 first-class appearances. Surely, a young player is, first of all, somebody who is on the way up, still growing and potential-rich. Given there are currently a batch of players who are indeed in the ascendancy, the PFA giving it to Sterling suggests a lack of … Continue reading Scene it, won it, got the eco t-shirt

Let’s see how effective academies really are

NON-LEAGUE teams are full of players who have academy experience. Some might say that there are too many academy products and that the traditional non-league game was a mixture of former pros and youngsters. Today, many teams appear to be very young, genuine former pros (not “experience with the xxxx academy”) are in short number and players move on with even more regularity than in … Continue reading Let’s see how effective academies really are

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