Printed in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying
round game v Gosport Borough on Sunday 21st October 2012. Finished
0-0 in front of 523. But not me, I overslept and missed the bloody train!
Well what a resounding success
Non League Day
was. Radio coverage on BBC
5 live's breakfast programme and TalkSport. Sky Sports News live at Bromley
against Welling United and Soccer AM at Woking
Football Focus talked about Non League Day with features on Newport County
and Forest Green
Rovers. On twitter #nonleagueday was trending alongside Rick
Astley and #NoBraDay while league clubs were encouraging their supporters to go
to a local game. There was free entry at
Bexhill if you dressed like a pirate and pay what you want at Wingate and
So did it get those all important
punters through the turnstiles?
Five of us went to Lancing v Peacehaven in the
FA Vase and while no one lost their non league virginity, people seemed suitably
impressed with Lancing’s set up and the football on display as Peacehaven
trounced their league rivals 5-0. On that performance they must be one of the
favourites to get promoted to the Ryman League Promised Land. It was a decent
attendance too with 170 people and crowd congestion temporarily shutting the tea
In the Blue Square Premier there was a three
game ground-hop. Maidstone
had nearly two
thousand for their Ryman League Division South game v Dulwich. Wealdstone
had 300 more than their average – playing a side bottom of the league and
bringing no more than 20 supporters of their own while Lowestoft, Tilbury and
drew their best gates
of the season. Swanage had five times their normal crowd against Newport Isle of
Wight in the Vase.
The man with the fantastic plan James Doe
said “A bit of very basic number crunching showed me that 70% of games across
Steps 1-4 (about 130) had crowds in excess of the season's average. Several
sides posted season's bests, with AFC Fylde setting a new stadium record for the
visit of FC United of Manchester
. The biggest crowd of
the day in London
came at Bromley for their aforementioned
derby with Welling where 1,334 turned out, which was around 800 more than their
average - a truly massive increase.
To all those that helped out
with Non League Day I thank you. An event like this can only succeed when people
pull together and give their time and effort for free.”
The football pyramid in this country is
unparalleled and something we should be immensely proud of. Just like the
Olympics that relied on an army of volunteers to make it tick, so does lower
league football. But with many finding it hard to attract people its days like
Non League Day that shine a spotlight on grassroots football.
But it’s also so much more than ninety minutes
of football. Before the Lancing game the Connor Saunders Foundation
the club with a defibrillator, becoming the fourth Sussex
team to receive one. The Foundation was
set up after Connor Saunders, a Peacehaven player and son of the manager was
killed by a single punch in an unprovoked attack outside a shop. The small
town and the wider
community were in shock at such a pointless death but out of the tragedy his
friends and family stepped up to commemorate his life. The Foundation puts on
fundraising events, football matches, has established a new football academy and
is building a multi purpose sports court.
To me this shows the power of small football
clubs like Peacehaven and how the people behind them play such an invaluable
role in our communities and are pivotal to society’s health and wellbeing.
Anything that encourages more people to support
them should be cheered on loud from the terraces.
Here's to Non League Day 4.