As an Englishman living in the US, it can be difficult to explain to people quite what football, or soccer as it is known here, really means to us. I have managed to get my friends to watch some games in the English Premier League, and a few of them have even picked a team. Last year then when I went back to the UK with my buddy Greg Lindae, I simply had to show him the match day experience. My team is Tottenham and we managed to get tickets to a Wednesday night game there, which we thankfully won. Whilst the Premier League games are electric however, I wanted to show my buddy the authentic side of football and so we went to a non-league game on the Saturday afternoon. If you want to see real football, here is why you should go non-league.
No Airs, No Graces
At non-league level, the players either have full time jobs and play on a weekend, or they are paid very low wages as a professional footballer. The result of this is that the players really wear their heart on their sleeve an play for absolutely every ball. The passion which is shown at this level is incredible and whilst you may not get the highest quality of football, you will see the most passion.
Fans of lower league or non-league clubs, are far more involved in the club itself, and far more a part of the club, than you’ll see in the higher divisions. The game may still be about bring finances into the club, but these non-league teams respect their fans, and involve them in decisions. What this means is that you have a core fan support who are true football fans, fans that travel to support their team and fans that actively let their players know what they think about them. If you want the very best fan experience with supporters who make up the fabric of a club, go non-league.
Before all of the TV money came along and players were earning £100,00+ every single week, football was a game for the people, and Saturday afternoon provided working class families with a chance to go and see an event, and have a release. Whilst this may have changed at the higher levels, it has not changed at non-league level and you can count on a truly authentic experience. These clubs have not sold their soul for money and so instead of prawn sandwiches and fancy beer which you’ll see on offer in the Premier League, here at non-league level you can still get a pie and a bovril from a friendly face.
Football is a beautiful game and nowhere is this more true than down in the lower divisions, where the game is still played in the spirit that it was supposed to be played in.