Club Football Is Far From ‘Paused’ - The Importance Of The World Cup On Non League & Womens Football
The Budweiser account recently posted on social media’s claiming that ‘club football is on pause’ ahead of the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, this is far from the truth.
You may have seen the comedic situation going around the football world in which Northern Premier League (tier 7) side Ashton United have made a 28 day loan offer for Man City’s star striker Erling Haaland, and whilst this is far from reality for Ashton, the publicity it’s bringing in is perfect at a time like this. They’re getting regular features in national newspapers, as well as television interviews. This publicity should hopefully turn into support this Saturday when Ashton face Bamber Bridge at home.
The World Cup is only affecting the men’s game. I know a lot of people who have been interested in women’s football since the success of the Lionesses in summer, myself included, and there’s never been a better opportunity to get yourself to these games. There’s independent women’s teams in leagues as high as the 3rd tier who struggle to get 50 supporters a game.
It sounds very cliché but it’s genuinely true that every person makes a difference at this level, when one person attends it creates a domino effect where people bring their friends and family, and then word gets out a lot more about a team and it leads to big attendances. A few years ago, tier 4 women’s side Newcastle United were playing in front of just over 100 fans, skip to 2022 and they’re playing games at St James Park in front of 22,000 people, as well as having an average of nearly 1,000 fans at their own ground too. This didn’t happen overnight, this was all down to Newcastle men’s team fans grouping together and giving women’s football a go, and as stated before, many of them remained interested.
Whilst on the topic, let me tell you about my story. I grew up as a Liverpool fan, not knowing a lot, or caring at all, about Non League football until 2017 when I attended a pre season game at my local town team, then tier 9 Stockton Town. I instantly got hooked, skip to 2022 and I’m a season ticket holder there as well as a volunteer, I attend as many games as I can home and away and I’m well and truly addicted to non league football as a whole. There’s no feeling quite like being amongst the action, in the crowd with a drink in hand, supporting the team you live a few minutes away from.
The vibe at lower league games in both the men’s and women’s game is so much different to elite level men’s football. These players are part timers, they play football on Saturday and it’s back to the building site on Sunday. They care about the support, and they appreciate every single fan who steps through those gates. After games you can talk to them, even have drinks with them, they’re all down to Earth humans who play football for the love of the game, not for the millions of pounds.
This improves the quality of the game drastically. You’ll find a majority of lower league games are very exciting, I can name on one hand how many 0-0 draws I’ve seen in my five years of watching the grassroots game, in fact the league in which the team I support play in has seen only four goalless draws all season, through 15 games. That’s nearly 150 games in which at least one goal has been scored. How can you not be entertained?
No matter the city, town or village you live in, there’s a local club right on your doorstep who needs your support more than ever right now. The current cost of living crisis in the UK is affecting these lower league clubs massively, with a lot of clubs on the brink of permanent extinction, and your support will help bring in some much needed income.
Clubs have already started pushing fixtures to Friday’s/Sundays in order to avoid clashes with possible England fixtures so there’s no excuse to not support your local side for the next six weeks, and beyond. At a more than affordable price, it’s at least worth giving a go.