By Alex Narey
I’m often asked about the task The NLP team faces in getting this paper out and into the shops come Sunday morning. People want to know how we manage to cover off just shy of 100 match reports alongside a plethora of league round-ups, while also staying on top of the mountain of weekly news and features that help pad out the issue.
Nothing gives you greater satisfaction once the job is done at 10pm on a Saturday night, but the truth is, without the help of the hundreds of contributors and club volunteers, there simply would not be a paper to read. To say it is a collective effort would be the understatement of the year.
And since The NLP has been running, I don’t think there has been a greater collective effort than what was needed this year with the weather battering the fixture programme in the second half of last season. It became a regular theme; waking up on a Saturday morning and before I had even had time to look out of the window, a wave of emails, texts and WhatsApp messages revealed the mood of the day.
From January 20 to the middle of February, we were losing up to 60 games on a weekend and that was just across Steps 1 to 4. And then, just when we thought we were seeing the sun break through the clouds, along came the ‘Beast from the East’, with Saturday March 3 seeing only ten games played across the whole programme.
Of course, we still had a paper to deliver, and that is where the Non-League community really helped to pull us through; reporters who were without a game were happy to be diverted elsewhere, while our trusted photographers – who deserve great credit for the job they do in braving the elements – were always ready to put their hands up for the cause.
I shouldn’t pick out individuals because they all go that extra yard, but Garry Griffiths, a midland-based snapper and one of our very best, was always the first to call with a plan of attack; nothing would stop Garry attending a match and doing the job he loved. Mind you, he would probably do anything to avoid being dragged out to the shops by his wife – his words, not mine!
As for our reporters, many are trained journalists but also a great number of club secretaries, voluntary press officers and club stalwarts, and they are just a different breed. They never let us down, and file copy to the strictest of deadlines with not a scent of discontent.
They take great pride in their work and their words; like Andrew Simpson at Witton Albion and Ruth Tunnell at Maidstone United. These people care about the clubs they write for, but they always play it straight down the line when it comes to being honest and forthright. Their editorial integrity comes before any suggestions of being biased towards the team that pulls at their heart strings.
Non-League football should be very proud of what it delivers and how it delivers it. Every word and every photograph in this paper is printed because we and you love this game. We couldn’t have got by this season without you and never before have you all played such an integral role in the game as a whole. Thanks for all your efforts. I and everyone at The NLP would like to wish you a Happy New Year. Enjoy a drink or two, you’ve earned it!