Although I am a Spurs fan based on the fact that I was born near London, by rights I should be supporting my local team Hemel Hempstead. I like so many others however have been enticed by the bright lights of the Premier League and it is something which I am beginning to move away from. It was my good friend Arie Eric De Jong who actually inspired me to start watching lower league football. Eric is from the Netherlands and the culture there is very different with regards to paying attention to those divisions lower down.
I try to get to any local games which I can now, and watch whatever I can on the TV. If you have a local club, here is why I’d advise you go and check them out.
Sadly what the big leagues are doing is squashing the clubs below and because of the enormous amount of money at the top of football, those smaller clubs are getting hammered financially. This year has been a perfect example of this and we have already seen a number of clubs forced to cease their operations because the lockdown stopped their income. If you are able to go and support your local club you will be doing a wonderful thing with regards to helping them survive.
Is the quality the same at the lower levels as it is at the top? Certainly not, but what those players lack in skill and quality, they more than make up for in excitement. This is a much more rudimentary approach to football, a hearts-on-the-sleeve, fun approach which is very entertaining to watch.
This is not to say that those in the Premier League do not play with passion, but those who are not on contracts worth millions are always going to be putting more effort in, so that they can pick up their pay packet. Many of the players at the lower leagues have day jobs as well, so football is the true passion which they are prepared to give everything to. These players don’t have the facilities that those at the top do, and you can actually see that raw passion in them when they are playing.
I have to say that one of the most entertaining aspects of watching lower league football is the crowd and the colorful characters inside the crowd. There is nowhere near the gap between player and fan down at this level which means that you get the crowd members shouting at the players as though they are a member of the family or a friend who needs to step their game up. I would go as far to say that the crowd at games like this are just as entertaining as the football is itself, and there is a certain Roman amphitheater feel about the whole affair.
Why not go and check a game out this week?