By Jack Peat, TLE Editor
Non-League Day has rolled around again giving you the chance to invest the crumpled ten bob note lying in your pocket on something more worthwhile than two pints of Fosters and a packet of pork scratchings in your local battle cruiser while watching mediocre celebrity wannabes prance around a pitch.
And this year there’s an added incentive: All other sport is positively shit right now.
The England Rugby Team have been unceremoniously kicked out of their own World Cup, the England Football Team have already completed the task of overcoming piss poor opposition to reach the Euros in France and so all you’re left with is a damp squib of a union game against Uruguay and two even wetter ties for the footballers against Estonia and Lithuania.
So you have three options. The first is to pretend that your half or even a quarter Welsh and quickly switch allegiance before Saturday’s showdown against Australia, although neither team have much to worry about until the quarter finals thanks to the England team forgetting to show up for their respective ties. You could go all out for England against Estonia on Friday or save yourself for the big game against Lithuania on Monday, but trust me, you will be the only one.
Or, if you have a shred of decency, you could get your arse down to your local non-league club and support grassroots football. Here’s our guide to the best London has to offer this Non-League Day.
Political leanings and football have become a common mix in the London non-league arena. Dulwich Hamlet have seen record attendances and league success over the past few years thanks, in part, to new support from anti-capitalism, anti-austerity fans disillusioned by the Premier League.
This left-wing Ultra movement has also captured East London’s Clapton FC, whose Old Spotted Dog Ground in Forest Gate is emblazoned with phrases including: “Football without fans is nothing,” and: “Your heart is a muscle the size of a fist. Keep loving. Keep fighting.”
Every other Saturday the anti-fascist Scaffold Brigada descent upon the ground to air their anti-racism, anti-sexism and anti-homophobic views. This Saturday they play host to local rival Ilford FC with a special ‘3 in 1 offer’ for fans which includes free entry for all under 18s, free entry to senior citizens and buy one get one half price on beer in the clubhouse. In true political fashion the club is also hosting solidarity day with free tickets for asylum seekers and the unemployed.
You can’t argue with that!
Hampton and Richmond Borough is home to the best catering facilities in the Non-League. Don’t question my methodology, don’t question whether I’m qualified to pass judgement, just go and order a bag of their chips and see for yourself.
The Isthmian League Premier outfit welcomes Hendon to the Beveree Stadium this Saturday. Nestled in the lovely hamlet of Hampton, with several good real ale pubs nearby, the Beavers are running their first ever Family Day with discounted tickets for parents and children.
What’s the best way to boost the number of season ticket holders when you’re only a stone’s throw away from Premier League outfits Watford, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur? Give them away for free, I suppose.
Which is precisely what Potters Bar FC did in 2014 to encourage locals to support their local team over shelling out over a grand to see the Gunners. In an attempt to grow their attendances above the 100 mark the Evo-Stik League Southern club offered free season tickets to get more people through the gate and drive up money being spent in the bar and on catering.
And it worked. Speaking to CityAM, chairman Mark Martyn described it as a “humongous success”, with attendances almost doubling. This Saturday The Scholars host Aylesbury at Parkfield. Get down to see what it’s all about!
The Met Police are celebrating Non-League Day in style this year, with a host of sporting events at Needham Park. At 1.45pm there is a display by the Met Police dog section on the main rugby pitch, followed by the English Police Rugby team vs the Australian Police Rugby team at 2pm. Finally, at 4.00pm the English Police ladies rugby team will play the USA Police ladies rugby team.
And in between all that, the Met Police host Needham Market in the Ryman Premier League. With both teams enduring a tough start to the season this will be a crucial game. Admission for both the football and the rugby is £10, with half of that going towards the Police charity www.ukcops.org.
Fisher FC, the Bermondsey club that play their home fixtures in Dulwich.
After going in to administration in 2009 – formally Fisher Athletic – the club has spent several seasons groundsharing with Dulwich Hamlet at Champion Hill. But not for much longer. The Fish are finally on their way home after Southwark’s Planning Committee voted to approve plans that will see Fisher FC return to Rotherhithe in a new ground build at St Paul’s Playing Field. But there’s still a lot of work to do.
The club, wholly owned and run by the fans, needs to raise funds to make the dream of moving back to their home a reality. This year’s Non-League Day is a great opportunity for fans to get involved and help out. The club welcomes Sevenoaks Town to Champion Hill where SE16 residents will be permitted entry for half of the usual price.
Gates will open for supporters at 1:30pm and the bar will be open from 12:30.