Non League football is, and has been, the cornerstone of many communities for decades. With the recent commercialisation of football at the highest level, more and more people are turning to Non-League for a community spirit and player interaction that is unparalleled by clubs at the top of the football pyramid. With Non-League day last Saturday showing us some excellent football across the country, it truly highlighted the importance of these humble little clubs in the world of football.

A ten minute drive down the road, I have my local club Hampton & Richmond F.C. Tucked in tightly behind the peaceful housing of the surrounding area, the club boasts a capacity of 3,500 and sees a large number of these seats and terraces filled every other week as the Beavers fight another season for promotion in the National League South. 

The ground has a lively atmosphere, and on the sunny Saturday morning of Non-League football day, the Beaver’s ‘Ultras’ at the far end of the ground were in full song. The club is based mostly on its committed and enthusiastic volunteers, who work tirelessly to keep the pitch in good condition, and the burgers flipping in the kitchen. Their selfless efforts help create brilliant and family friendly atmospheres on game-day, and embody the spirt of the club perfectly. 

Tracey Hatheway, head volunteer at the Club house, has been helping out at the Den for the last 7 years, and loves her club with a passion.

“They needed volunteers and I had some spare time, so I helped on the turnstiles, set up a tuck shop then went onto helping behind the bar, and I’m still doing it 7 years later!!”

“Non-league football clubs have a way of drawing you in and once you’re in you never leave!”

She is a great admirer of the family feel that Non-League has, that helps bring people in the community closer together, especially now in this time of social media, and believes it is a great way to meet new people.

“The people you meet, volunteers, staff, managers, players and supporters on match days makes it all worth it. There are some amazing people in non-league football that don’t get the recognition they deserve.”

“The fact at this level you can still interact with the players and playing staff make it all the more special. The higher you go, the less likely that can happen.”

So, if you are tired of watching your club behind a screen, switch off the tele this Saturday and head down to your local club, and enjoy the beauty of Non-League football: the thrills, spills and the community spirit.