Daniel Robinson on his debut article for The Football Front writes an account on his first non league experience and the effects its had on him since.
I had my first experience of non-league football at the start of last season. I won’t bore you with the finer details but I’d somehow ended up with a free season ticket for my local team, Workington Reds of the Blue Square North.
My first trip to the fortress known as “Borough Park” was on the first day of the season. The opposition- Solihull Moors. I went early with my mate, got a pie and programme and took our seats.
Neither of us were expecting a great spectacle.
The match kicked off, and Workington dominated Solihull for most of the first half, until Solihull were awarded a very dubious penalty (My first taste of the shocking officiating at this level). The Solihull player converted his penalty and the Reds were 1-0 down at half-time. In the second half Workington dominated again, but just couldn’t make their dominance count (another thing that would become one of my gripes). At around the 70th minute, a young lad came off the bench for Reds called Conor Tinnion. I could sense by the fans reaction and shouts of “Come on Conor” that this boy was a bit good. He came to Workington on a free after being released by another club, Carlisle United. You could tell he had come from a much higher level. To cut a long story short, Tinnion made a big influence and Workington ended up winning 2-1 after scoring two goals in the last 5 minutes.
From that day on, I was hooked.
I went to nearly every home game for the rest of the season come rain or shine. Not every game would be like Solihull at home obviously and I’ve had to suffer some boring 0-0s and watch Workington on the wrong end of 5-0 hammerings. That didn’t stop me going though, and I still go to every home game this season even though my season ticket has expired. So far this season, Workington are stuck at the foot of the table and they need the fans support more than ever. Attendances are starting to drop and they weren’t that high in the first place. Cash has never been in abundance at Workington either and if the money from the fans stops coming in, there is a real possibility of the club dissolving.
It’s only been a season and a bit, but I’ve already developed a great love of Workington Reds and non-league football. It’s a community. The matches are enthralling and tight (most of the time) and although the officials are generally useless they are willing to join in the banter with fans.
I didn’t realise I would enjoy non-league football so much. Why don’t you go down to your local team’s match one weekend and experience it for yourself?