By Matt Bishop
Tomorrow marks the seventh annual Non-League Day; a day that started as a social media experiment before becoming an occasion that now brings thousands of fans together – even from different countries – to celebrate the lower leagues.
One of those international fans is Feyenoord supporter Jeroen Koot, who is making the trek over from Holland to a small part of North Yorkshire, with 34 other Dutch friends, to watch North Ferriby United entertain FC United of Manchester, with the result being worth a flutter with some of the best sportsbooks reviewed.
Following years of abject displays in Europe, Feyenood failed to qualify for the Europa League a few years ago, and the disgruntled Koot decided to fill the void of overseas away days by watching football all over the continent.
Regular trips to Germany and Belgium ensued, but so did trips to a little section of Yorkshire, where the National League North Villagers play their football.
“England is still like the promised land of football for us,” Koot told the BBC. “A lot will travel from here to go to Premier League matches. It is also great for someone like me who loves lower league football.
“Most of us are Feyenoord fans, and a few years ago when there was a decline in European away trips we decided to look for other matches abroad, somewhere to do some groundhopping trips with friends.”
Saturday’s visit to North Ferriby is the group’s second attempt to get to Grange Lane, as a previous game was postponed. On that occasion, they settled on watching Hull City at home to Liverpool in the Premier League.
“It is not everyday that 35 Dutch fans come over to watch lower league football matches and you are made very welcome,” Koot said.
“At Premier League matches, a group of fans from abroad is not such a big deal. The football is great, but you are one of the many.
“In England, with all the divisions and non-league teams, support and money at the bar is very important.”
And at the bar, the Dutch travellers are sure to help out.
“When in England, of course you do as the English do,” he joked.
By Matt Bishop