Non-League Day was created by James Doe in 2010 as nothing more as a social media experiment but has now grown into a nationally recognized day.
NLD is always scheduled to coincide with the international football break in the Premier League and Championship to give fans of clubs from the top two leagues to see their local sides. Many clubs even let season ticket holders from these clubs attend NLD matches for a discount or in some cases with no charge at all.
The people behind Non-League Day claim it is not an attempt to get people to support a new club but to experience grassroots football. NLD even offer a ‘find a match’ section on their website which allows you to enter your postcode and find your nearest games!
I talked to Bradley Dobson who is the founder of The Northern Premier League Facebook Group to find out what non-league football means to him and how it can grow with the help of NDL.
A lot of people still imagine the average non-league football fan to be an elderly gentleman with a dog, flat cap and smoking a pipe. This just isn’t true anymore is it? All sorts of people are involved with non-league football?
– This isn’t true at all anymore! So many more young supporters are attending non-league games these days. As an example from The NPL Group we have a lad called Ben Hall who is only 16 and he follows Ossett Albion home and away. Ben has a massive bunch of friends that attend the games with him, they have named themselves the ‘Ossett Ultras’. Young people are getting more involved because it’s cheaper and local. Most clubs do something within their community to attract young supporters to attend their games. Take Curzon Ashton, they have offered anyone under the age of 16 a free season ticket. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Non-league Day burst on to the scene in 2010, do you think its national coverage makes people aware of their local football teams and has been a success so far?
– It has been a huge success! and I can see it only getting bigger and better as the seasons go on. Personally, I think the media side of things could do better to promote it. Us as supporters can only do as much as we can in regards to telling our friends and family and others about NLD, however media brings in so much more publicity. Everything has a cost in this day and age, not many company’s want to promote stuff on the free, but it’s what NLD needs from the media side of things ( TV, Radio, Newspapers, Flyers etc .. ) they all come with a cost. Overall, NLD is a blooming good idea and I wish it all the best for many seasons to come.
A lot of clubs offer free entry to season ticket holders from Championship/Premier League clubs on NLD, do you think this is fair to current supporters of the smaller teams?
– It’s an awkward question that one, if you ask me, not it’s not fair on the current supporters. I can see the relevance from the clubs to attract Premier League supporters in on the free, but couldn’t you give your own supporters some sort of discounted ticket price also? I understand the club will rely on the match day admission fees, maybe not so much make it free for the Premier League supporters, even a £1.00 entry fee? I don’t know on that one, next question.
The top of non-league has got stronger in recent years with higher attendances following an influx of ex-league teams and has even seen BT Sport show live games from the Conference National, do you think this helps increase the interest?
– NO! Whether you’ve just watched an absolute class game on TV, if you ask anyone what they think of non-league it’s always ” It’s just kick and long ball “. People who support the Football League sides will never truly understand just how brilliant non-league is until they attend the games. Okay, the quality isn’t great half the time (most of the time) but the whole day out is fantastic, win or lose. I’m all against TV games, give me a cold Tuesday night in Halifax any day!
Despite the increase of interest in the top level of non-league, further down the pyramid teams are regularly struggling with financial difficulties, is non-league, as a whole, still in good shape?
– Non League as a whole, yes! It’s only when you get that dodgy backer that seems to run the clubs into the ground. Take Cammell Lairds, they get what? 30/70 people per home game and yet each season they come back fighting. It you stick to your given budgets and don’t try do the impossible, you’ll come back each year and try, try again.
Finally, what game will you be attending on Saturday? I’m working, but if I was it would be FC Halifax Town vs Barnet, C’MON SHAYMEN!
To find a name near you this weekend visit – http://www.nonleagueday.co.uk/map.html