Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Non League Day - Sept 4th 2010
I know this is an Arsenal blog but anyone who has read it or follows me on Twitter will know that from time to time I mention another. I once described The Arsenal as the wife and Cambridge City as the mistress but that suggests cheating and secrecy. The Arsenal won't mind I sneak off to see someone else when they are away from home. The two can exist together as the chances of them ever meeting is slim.
Saturday 4th September has been declared 'Non League Day' as there is no club or international football that day. It's the brainchild of James Doe, a lifelong football fan and supporter of Harrow Borough FC. Its aim is to promote the semi professional game in this country by virtue of a fortuitous break in the football calendar.
My dad travelled to London in the 60s and 70s on the train to watch football. It was not a place for a child. He saw too much fighting for him to take me. The crush on the platform was the final straw. Cambridge City, the local non-league club, were the safer option. He'd watched them with his dad and now he was taking me. They had a wonderful wooden stadium which I remember feeling as big as Wembley. I even saw them play The Arsenal once in a friendly. Pat Rice led the team out. Money worries led them to sell their 'Wembley' to developers and build a small ground around the training pitch next door. They lose that ground at the end of the season and with it go many of my memories of my dad.
He always stood in the same place with the same people. John, always pessimistic, Jed, who made me laugh with every comment, Whizz, with his headphone for latest scores. Dad knew Whizz for 30 years but didn't know his real name! When my dad died in 1999 I didn't go for 4 years. It was our place and I couldn't go without him.
But I returned with my son and he loves it too. The old faces have gone. They're not standing where we always stood. I don't stand there either. That was our spot.
I urge you, this weekend to support non league day. These clubs need your support. You can get into the game, buy a programme, raffle tickets, a tea and a burger and still have change from £20. Many clubs are offering special deals on Saturday. City are letting anyone showing a season ticket to a Premiership or Championship team in free!
So on Saturday my son and I will drive from (near) The Arsenal up the M11 to see City vs Stourbridge in the Zamaretto Premier League.
If you fancy it go to http://www.nonleagueday.co.uk/ where there is a map of games so you can find your nearest. Go on, you won't regret it.
Video from http://www.youtube.com/user/citymatchdayvideo. This is such a valuable service for us fans who've moved away & I hope the club don't mind me borrowing it for my blog! (Right click & select show all if you can't see the goals!)