In case it had escaped your attention, Saturday 3rd September 2011, is Non-League Day 2011.
Non-League Day is the brainchild of QPR and Harrow Borough fan James Doe who after going on QPR’s pre-season tour of Devon in 2010, was greatly impressed by the relaxed atmosphere and the friendliness of all the local supporters he encountered. Realising that because of International fixtures, there were no Premier League or Championship games on this corresponding weekend last year, he saw a perfect opportunity to persuade fans of those bigger clubs to check out their local non-league side instead. The event proved to be an enormous success with many clubs reporting a significant increase in the numbers coming through the turnstiles and several even enjoying their highest gate of the season.
|Harrow Borough's "Earlsmead" home|
Charlton Athletic were due to play a League 1 fixture away at Exeter on that day, but the club encouraged its fans who did not relish the trip down to St James’ Park (the other one), to go and watch a non-league club closer to home. In hindsight it was probably good advice, as they went down in Devon by an only goal. Chelsea captain John Terry, ruled out of the England match with a pulled hamstring, was seen at Eastbourne Borough’s match with Darlington (his brother Paul was playing for the visitors) and Match of the Day commentator Jonathan Pearce, went along to Lewes’ Dripping Pan where he was even roped into drawing the raffle at half-time.
|Lewes' quaint "Dripping Pan" during renovations in 2006|
For this year, Macmillan Cancer Support has come on board as the official charity, along with ex-England international Chris Waddle as the official ambassador. The support of the All Party Football Group in Parliament has also been secured.
|MacMillan cancer Support bus|
James Doe said, “With England playing in Bulgaria on Friday 2nd September and the Premier League and Championship taking a week off, I urge all fans of the big clubs to get out and watch their local Non-League team instead on Saturday 3rd September 2011! Given the current financial climate, clubs outside the Football League need all the support they can get and your presence at a game will be genuinely appreciated. With admission and refreshments at a fraction of the cost, what's stopping you?”
So for that Saturday (and hopefully many other match days throughout the season), please urge your family, friends, drinking buddies, work colleagues - in fact anyone you know, who normally attends a higher level of football (or is an armchair Sky Sports fan), to join in and support Non-League Day.