It’s been a long time coming but yesterday I returned to Non-league football. I say a long time because around 30 years ago was the last time I graced a non-league clubs terraces and they were predominately those of Dorchester Town Football Club (The Magpies). I used to go to every home game and when they pushed for the league title I remember going away to a few hostile grounds including Ashford Town. Exciting times that will live long in the memory.
Yesterdays visit wasn’t to Dorchester Town but their local rivals Weymouth (The Terras). Currently in the play off positions and pushing for promotion to higher echelons of non -league status. I was accompanied by the SDS chair (Mr Tony Baylis) – a former Weymouth Club mascot – Ivan the Terra – Bull and Paul ‘Tiny’ Warren (ex Royal Engineers). As we positioned ourselves in ‘the smokers corner’ I recalled the moments when I was ejected from the South End by the Police (I dropped the ‘C Bomb in the direction of the GK) as The Magpies gave away a penalty during a cup match. I received a caution but still managed to sneak back into the ground before the final whistle. No CCTV around in those days to scupper young JT.
As anyone who watches this level of football will acknowledge every aspect of the day out is pretty raw and in stark contrast to the commercial bubble I have been part of since August last year at The (soon to be sold) Home of English Football – Wembley Stadium. The little quirks of smokers corner, the elderly gent berating the ref in a yocal ascent, beer on the terraces and the movement of fans from one end to the other after half time all adding to the moment. Maybe i’m noticing it more because I haven’t been here for so long but thoroughly enjoying it all the same.
The crowd of just over 1000 were rewarded with a pretty high standard of football with exceptional goals scored by young players making their way in the game. Some on loan or purchased from the likes of Yeovil Town and others doing a shift to top up their Carpentry & Joiners wages. I believe the French No.4 is playing to top up his dole money. Either way, their effort was greatly appreciated and resulted in a home win and a place in the play offs.
You may recall that last week I spent a ridiculous amount of cash on securing my seat at the New White Hart Lane. Once again buying into the Corporate Monster that is Premier League football. But this trip has convinced me that the buzz of football, a quality day out with a few beers and a laugh can also be achieved 10 minutes from my house at our Local Football Club. I have a feeling this wont be my last visit to Non-league football – COYT!!