While the glitz and glamour of the Premier League is where the money is, and subsequently the best players are showcased; the non-league fixtures are where you could see some of the best games of football played. The seventh fifth tier and below are the competitive routes of the game that continue to grow season-on-season. The passion that can be experienced at some grounds such as Meadow Lane and the Hive Stadium isn’t something that you are likely to witness in the Premier League.
Of course, at the foundation of many Premier League sides remain the passionate supporters; but these same sides also have thousands of tourist supporters that visit the stadiums just to say that they have witnessed a game. The ‘real’ fans of football you will find in the lower leagues. The connection between the players and the fans is an important factor in the success of a club, and results play a part in how much these fans can enjoy their weekend. But, if you’re heading to a non-league game, what should you be aware of?
Pick a fixture
The fifth, sixth and seventh tiers are the best of the National League in terms of quality, and there will be a team local to you no matter where you are based. The top of these tiers consists of teams that are fighting for a place into the illustrious Football League, but fear not if you aren’t located near any of these teams as the National League North and South are the two divisions below it. Adequately they are separated, so teams don’t have to travel long distances to games every weekend and is perfect for finding a match in your area.
You should also take into account the schedule. Due to the cup competitions that also take place throughout the English season; some tickets may be harder to get their hands on for fans than others. This could especially be the case for FA Cup fixtures, where National League teams could be pitted against a Premier League side. These tickets would be popular among everybody in the local area so the prospect of getting one of these tickets compared to a regular league fixture would be significantly lower.
While the risk of wearing the colours of the team that you are supporting at a non-league game isn’t a problem; as a rule, supporters still opt against doing it if they are planning to go to an away game. As we said, it isn’t a problem so if you wanted to wear the colours of your team you can. The problem that mars the Premier League and Football League with fan colours being an issue isn’t the same in the National League. Fans’ are happy to talk with opposing team supporters, and for the most part, they will happily drink together if they are in the same bar. For a bit of fun, read this read by Coral on
However, it should be noted that each non-league club will have their own specially dedicated pub for home supporters before and after the game which may not welcome away fans’ in; especially groups of those in significant numbers. It is also worth considering the fixture that you’re attending before going into a pub pre-game also. If it is a big fixture against a local rival, then fans may be less welcoming, and if you are wearing the colours of a main rival, then this could also be a sticking point.
If you’re attending a popular fixture, then it is worth getting to the stadium earlier and taking in the atmosphere, but most fans tend to put bets on before the game to make the fixture more interesting. Betting on football has been a famous pastime and is a famed part of the pre-game ritual for most supporters and the perfect way to start their day. Whether that is heading onto an online betting app while having your first pint of the day, or going into a local betting shop. If you prefer to bet online, have a look at BestFreeBets guide to the latest betting offers from the biggest bookmakers. There’s nothing better than finding a good old promo code.
The top three leagues of non-league are accounted for on online betting websites, but the array of markets it smaller than you would expect for a televised Premier league fixture. However, you can still place wagers on the winning team and the correct scoreline; both of which can be added into a longer bet called an accumulator.
During the game
The better stadiums in non-league will have seating areas, but for the most part, it will largely be standing only sections. This will be important to take into account since if you’re heading to the game with older fans that need to sit down, then you will have to get the stadium earlier than most to save your space. During the game, there will be a stall to get the legendary refreshments and food at nonleague grounds. The food predominantly includes burgers, hot dogs, pies, and most importantly, a big portion of chips. As Coral says “food is a big part of the non-league experience”.
Meanwhile, the consumption of alcohol will largely depend on the stadium that you’re visiting. Should there be a concourse area away from the pitch, then there will be alcohol served. However, at most non-league games you may have to leave the stadium and enter their local clubhouse should you want a drink. The FA regulations state that no alcohol can be consumed pitch side and this is a matter that stewards take very seriously, so the breaking of this rule could see you removed from the stadium.