Non league football is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence of late as fans ditch pricey league grounds and adopt new semi-professional teams for their match day fix.
As a football hub London certainly has no shortage of offerings throughout the leagues, home to six Premier League sides, three Championship clubs and many more in the leagues below.
But for those looking for something a little different on a Saturday afternoon you can do a lot worse than seeking out one of the plethora of non league grounds on offer.
We pick out the top ten.
Hampton and Richmond Borough
Newly promoted Hampton and Richmond Borough ply their trade in the leafy hamlet of Hampton in West London. A stone’s throw from the River Thames the Beveree Stadium is a patchwork stadium consisting of a small seating area behind the goal, terrace standing area by the entrance and pitch standing places to cover the remaining parts. There’s a well-stocked clubhouse and an excellent café serving big bags of chips, burgers and hot drinks.
Best Pub: The Jolly Coopers
Closest Station: Hampton
Dulwich Hamlet have a remarkable ability to pull big crowds. Brixtonites and local Dulwich residents ensure that there’s at least 1,000 people in attendance on match day, filling the long seated stand and pitch standing spots. The highlight of Champion Hill certainly has to be the club bar serving a Dulwich Hamlet ale and offering VIP views of the pitch. A new outdoor bar has also opened to ensure standing supporters are well watered.
Best Pub: The Phoenix
Closest Station: Denmark Hill
Clapton FC are the Dulwich Hamlet of the Essex Senior League, regularly pulling in crowds far larger than the norm for that league. Chief behind their popularity is the Clapton Ultras, who are largely covered in the press and are immediately visible under the tin shed of a stand at the Old Spotted Dog stadium. A small clubhouse provides a selection of drinks at a good price and even offers a small window to watch the game if the loud and vibrant Ultras supporters are too much for you.
Best Pub: Hudson Bay
Closest Station: Upton Park
Fisher have returned to Bermondsey after a 12 year hiatus, playing at a new ground that is one of the most centrally located non league grounds in London. St Paul’s Stadium on Salter Road offers wonderful views of Canary Wharf which glistens in the backdrop. A newly built stadium offers all the amenities, including the guarantee of a game with the Fish now plying their trade on a new 3G pitch.
Best Pub: Captain Kidd
Closest Station: Rotherhithe
Hampton Court is a lovely historical part of London, with a palace located on the banks of the Thames and a plethora of pubs and eateries in place to ensure you get well fed and watered. Molesey FC are one of many non league outfits that play in the area, with Kingstonian, Met Police and the aforementioned Hampton and Richmond Borough all close by. Walton Road Stadium is a splendid ground that houses a familiar clubhouse with a suspended seating area that was featured in Bend it Like Beckham! And if that doesn’t make it worth a visit I don’t know what does.
Best Pub: The Europa
Closest Station: Hampton Court
The best grounds in non league football are often the ones with the best clubhouses, and this is a case in point. Reynolds Field is home to a large clubhouse that houses both the teams that are in action and the jovial supporters who have made the trip to see them play. A short walk from Perivale station on the Central Line this is a ground well worth the visit one idle Saturday afternoon.
Best Pub: The Viaduct
Closest Station: Perivale
Cray Valley Paper Mills
One of the best parts of the non league is the random club names it throws up. Harrogate Railway, Corinthian Casuals, er, Fisher! And Cray Valley Paper Mills can certainly count themselves as part of that club. The Eltham-based team ply their trade in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division at the Badgers Sports ground, which is a lovely little place to visit. Located just off the “Yorkshire Grey” roundabout the ground has a modern club house and small terraces to keep you sheltered in adverse conditions.
Best Pub: Rising Sun
Closest Station: Lee
Beckenham Town fc
Beckenham is a lovely green part of south London, home to the occasional Kent County Cricket game as well as a Southern Counties East outfit Beckenham Town. The pitch is befitting of its surroundings, with a bowling green likeness of Premier League quality. With 250 under cover seating Eden Park Avenue offers a rather upmarket non league experience.
Best Pub: The Elm Tree
Closest Station: Eden Park
Home to the famous Raider, Wealdstone is a smart ground a short walk away from Ruislip Station and the Piccadilly and Metropolitan Lines. The club house is notably big, and comfortably accommodates fans for pre and post-match refreshments as well as during the game. Just be careful not to have too many. You may become an internet sensation.
Best Pub: J.J. Moon’s
Closest Station: Ruislip
Hillingdon Borough FC
Based on the fringes of London Hillingdon Borough of the Spartan South Midlands League are one of the leafiest entrants on this list. A stone’s throw from Ruislip Common and the National Nature Reserve, The Middlesex Stadium is a rather barren ground that has a lower league charm and a club house that is a focal part of the community.
Best Pub: The Water’s Edge
Closest Station: Ruislip