On 9th October 2020, it was announced that both Sky Sports and BT Sport would introduce a new pay-per-view concept to football matches. They would broadcast five extra Premier League matches on TV but would price it at a massive £14.95 per match, due to anger from the Premier League giving away its product for free during lockdown. It was an idea that caused a strong backlash from the public. Charging a fee of such a high price did not show consideration for the financial struggles of many people and the turbulent times the nation was going through. It forced me to think: is there a way to spend that sum of money for sport but in a more cost-effective way?

I decided, along with advice from one of my teachers a few weeks ago and through genuine curiosity, to attend a non-league football match. I had not known much about non-league football, mainly because it was generalised to have games of lower quality and that it was not broadcasted on any main sports channels. The only way I ever encountered non-league news was when a team had a shock run deep into the FA cup rounds. So, I took a half-an-hour bus journey to a club close by, East Grinstead Town FC, a team that I didn’t know existed a few days back.

I was quite shocked to find out that for children the cost for a ticket for a match was £1, almost 15 times lower than the price sports channels were asking for to screen a single match. I bought it and I went in, not knowing what a pulsating experience I was about to undergo.

It was a great game against Ashford United. The first half remained goalless and it made me start to ponder if my time was worth spending watching the second half. However, my suspicion was well and truly gone when Louie Theophanous scored just a few minutes after play resumed. It was a pleasant experience for me as it was the first goal I had witnessed live in non-league football, and when the crowd erupted into joy and started chanting it was difficult not to join in. Theophanous scored his second goal of the game and Wedgeworth scored in the dying minutes of the match to cap off what was a convincing win for East Grinstead Town.

Reflecting on that game I had no regrets spending that pound and would probably spend as much as the £14.95 sports channels were asking for. Interacting with players was much easier than in Premier League matches and giving the players a pat on the back and saying they did a good job was a satisfying moment as they really appreciated the acclaim. I would have much rather been in that position than sitting on a couch watching a Premier League match to then turn off and not remember it as I didn’t directly experience it in the stadium. My message to you reading this article is to check out non-league football if you haven’t. The experience will be more positive than you think.