Non league clubs throughout the country have been looking towards Saturday 7th October for months. This isn’t because of the chance to watch crunch matches in World Cup Qualification, instead they’re awaiting Non League Day 2017. With the event imminent most clubs below the Football League who are playing their game this Saturday at home will have completed their preparations for the big day.
The event deliberately occurs during the international break, as this encourages those who normally support Premier League or Championship clubs to attend the lower level matches. Non League Day was introduced in 2010 by James Doe as a social media experiment and has been carried out every year since to help give clubs a platform to gain extra support.
However, there is more to Non League Day than the football as a lot of clubs throughout the country will be raising money for good causes, with Prostate Cancer UK the official Non League Day partner charity.
— Prostate Cancer UK (@ProstateUK) September 29, 2017
Non League Day Media Officer, Mark Carruthers sees the day as an opportunity for small clubs, as he said: “It’s a big chance for non league clubs to attract the support that would normally go to bigger clubs with the bright lights of the Premier League or Football League. It’s a chance for them to find out what their local club is all about.
“Every club has its own unique features, they’ve got their own characters, their own personalities round the place and they’ve all got their own attractions. I think that’s what Saturday will bring. It will open up these clubs to a new audience.”
Local teams who are at home on the day include Christchurch, Bournemouth FC and New Milton Town. However, teams such as Poole Town, Brockenhurst and Hamworthy United are away from home and so potentially won’t feel the full benefits of the day.
Brockenhurst manager Paul McManus said: “It’s definitely disappointing to be away from home on Non League Day because it takes everything out of our hands.
“When we’ve been at home on Non League Day in the past we use social media to get it out there. We start advertising it a month or so before the day and then smash it on the previous week to get as many people coming as we can. It’s mostly people bringing children and younger people we aim for, but it’s a shame we’re not at home this year.”
The clubs at home get help from the Non League Day team when getting their message out and for the first time are having tickets sold by Kaizen Ticketing. This helps to get more attention for the clubs, as Mark explains: “It’s mainly been a case of promoting what clubs are doing. Some places are doing free entry for children or some are doing half price entry for season ticket holders at Premier League or Football League clubs, while some have got prize winning raffles. For us it’s about promoting not just the day, but what the clubs are doing themselves.
“Across the board people do see an increase in attendance on Non League Day. Even if it is a couple of hundred or even 50 more coming it makes a big difference. If non league clubs are charging £6 or £7 to get in, with an extra 50 people that’s a lot more money coming through the gate.”
This rise can last longer than just the one game. During the 2016/17 season lower leagues all had increased attendance numbers from the year before, with some leagues having a raise of over 15%, while Dorchester Town saw a rise of over 7% and Poole Town had a 32.9% increase on attendances over the season. Both the clubs and event organisers will hope this trend continues.
Anybody interested in going to a match on Saturday in support of Non League Day can find the games near them on this map: http://www.nonleagueday.co.uk/map.html .