No Norwich City this week - that’s why it’s time to get out and Love Local Football

Dereham Town v Needham Market. Picture: Ian Burt Dereham Town v Needham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

David Powles, Editor (Digital)
Friday, January 24, 2014
12:18 PM

The launch of our new campaign urging people to support local football.

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Love Local Football logoLove Local Football logo

A call to arms is being launched today encouraging football fans to show their support for grassroots football.

With there being no Norwich City game this weekend, more than 25,000 football fans could find themselves with nothing to do come 3pm on Saturday.

We are asking you to consider giving your nearest non-league football side your support and back our ‘Love Local Football’ campaign.

Across the region scores of non-league footballers will do battle this Saturday for little more than the glory of securing three points for their team.

Wisbech Town Stadium - Spencer LarhamWisbech Town Stadium - Spencer Larham

The games will be full of goals, sendings off, talking points and - above all - drama - available at a fraction of the cost of following professional teams.

These teams rely on an army of non-league club officials who put in hour-upon-hour, for little more than the odd cup of tea, to ensure grassroots game can go ahead - these people deserve your support.

Following local football is also a great way to be part of the community in which you live and feel a sense of pride in their success.

Over the next two days we will be highlighting some of the places to go to ‘Love Local Football’.

Ryman League Premier: Lowestoft Town v Canvey Island.
Manny Osei shoots for Lowestoft.Ryman League Premier: Lowestoft Town v Canvey Island. Manny Osei shoots for Lowestoft.

We also want to hear from you either by using #lovelocalfootball on Twitter or by emailing the reasons why you Love Local Football to david.powles@archant.co.uk

• Click here to use our interactive map to find a game near you.

• Your guide to some region’s local football clubs and how to watch them play

Norm Bygrave on why he loves local football.

Whether it be watching Lowestoft Town in the relative non-league heights of the Ryman League Premier Division or watching a game in the local park in the Crown Fire Central and South Norfolk League or one of many in between, I get immense satisfaction out of watching the game I love at non-league level.

A multitude of reasons see me scouring the lists of local matches each week picking out the games I fancy will entertain me for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon or midweek evening.

For me the attraction of watching live football, in the flesh, will keep me away from the television screen where multi-millionaires dive, cheat and con their way to a win bonus.

For me the game between players who want to be there for a few extra pounds in their pockets or just for the joy of playing with a bunch of mates is far more real.

One can still see moments of sublime beauty, such as Robert Eagle’s pin point left foot driven cross that found the head of Jake Reed for Lowestoft’s opening goal on Tuesday evening, that live long in the memory after the referee has blown the final whistle.

Non-league football is much more than that, the banter with the fellow crowd members, the ability to watch from where you want, the delight of a new ground, almost every one with it’s own story to tell, or watching your mates or your team trying to gain much needed league points or move to the next round of the cup.

If you’ve never tried it, then either this afternoon or the next time City are away, pick a game and get down to your local ground, they will certainly be glad to see you, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Writer and Dereham Town fan Ian Clarke spells out his love for local football.

Watching local football allows you to get right in the heart of the action and be part of what goes on at a community club.

I love turning up to see my home town team Dereham Town and having a yap with the guy on the gate and the chap who sells the raffle tickets.

You can join in the banter from the touchline as the lads warm up. Club officials wander past and share a few snippets of news ahead of the game.

The PA system crackles as the announcer runs through the line-ups shortly before the club house empties following a few pre-match pints and cuppas.

I enjoy positioning myself close to the dug outs.

There is never a dull moment there with the officials’ decisions under constant scrutiny, instructions being bellowed out to the players and plenty of interaction with the vocal fans.

The quality on the pitch is generally high and commitment from players equally so.

Ok, payments to non league footballers have gone up and up. But on the whole, those taking to the pitch are doing it as they love the game and give it their all.

I have a season ticket at Carrow Road. I have always supported the Canaries and always will.

I sit in the top of the Norwich and Peterborough Stand so am literally a long way from action. I feel a long way from the stars too.

The remoteness is in stark contrast to what happens at Dereham’s Aldiss Park and other local clubs.

After the game the lads are in the bar mixing with the supporters, most of whom tell them exactly what they should have done in those key points during the 90 minutes.

Local football is great and deserves our support.

Here Wisbech Town fan Spencer Larham, who has lived in their clubhouse for the past couple of years, explains why he Loves Local Football.

The main reason people should follow local football is because it is a lot more personal. If you go to a Premier League or football league ground, you are one of thousands of people.

You are just a statistic, another number going through the turnstiles.

With your local club, you can get a lot more involved.

You get to know the players. They have a lot more in common with you and you can interact with them.

With Premier League players on 70 or 80 thousand a week, you have nothing in common with them and they don’t understand what it’s like to be a supporter.

At non league grounds like the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium, you can get within four or five feet of the action.

At a Premier League game, you pay £50 or £60 to be sat so far back from the pitch you may as well be watching the game on TV.

There may be less people but you can still get a good atmosphere. We travelled up to Ashington on Saturday for the FA Vase and before the game the two set of fans were in the bar singing at each other.

Just because it’s a smaller team, it doesn’t make it any less important. I get the same feeling when Wisbech score a goal as a Liverpool and Manchester United fan gets when their side scores.

Local teams like Wisbech are run by people who really are passionate about the club and town – they care about its future.

I was living in a flat in the town when, a couple of years ago, the landlord hiked up my rent.

The club approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking the flat in the clubhouse. That’s the kind of club Wisbech is.

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