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An American Soccer Fan in Kettering Town
November 16, 2012 6:45 AM   Subscribe

I could imagine a younger version of myself sitting down to a Non-League game, watching ten minutes, then leaning over to my friend and whispering “Hey, you know, like, these guys suck. And your country suffers from a serious deficiency of nachos.” -- An American learns to appreciate Non-League Football Day.

Non-League Day is an attempt to get supporters to visit local, non-Football League clubs when their own Championship or Premiership club isn't playing due to the international break. This way these clubs hopefully get a much needed financial boost and a chance to attract new supporters, while for the fans it's an opportunity to acquaint themselves with grassroots football. This year it was held on 13 October.

The English football league system is of course insanely complicated, with many many levels of football being played before you get to the first level of the actual Football League.

Twohundredpercent is a football groupsblog that pays a lot of attention to Non-League Football.
posted by MartinWisse (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
N.B. it's the English football system rather than the British or UKian one because each of the four countries in the UK (Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England) has their own separate system, with Welsh clubs playing in Wales, Scottish in Scotland and so on, though there are of course exceptions, e.g. Swansea playing in the English and not the Welsh Premier League.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:51 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing I love about the league systems for soccer in most of the world is the way that they naturally create these epic histories for almost every team. I mean, check out the origin story for Cruz Azul.
posted by 256 at 7:05 AM on November 16, 2012


I admit that I've had the daydream of, should I win a substantial lottery, moving to England and purchasing my very own non-league team so I could live out my fantasies of proseco wishes and salmon pie dreams. This is probably based in watching too many American sports movies where the underdog always triumphs. The daydream usually concludes with a cup victory. I've already cleared the first hurdle, tacit approval for the plan provided my wife is also allowed to purchase her age in corgis, but I expect the reality of convincing a a group of fans who have cheered, bled, and cried for their little team that some international doofus with more money than sense should be allowed to take their club on as some sort of hobby would be much more difficult.

I mean, not everyone can be Chelsea Football Club.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let us not take the British nacho deficiency lightly. Insufficient melted cheese and tortilla chips lead to cultural degeneration, moral dissolution, and thighs that don't rub together when you walk. Donate what you can to the "SEND LIQUID CHEESE TO OLD BLIGHTY" fund, won't you?

Or do you too want to live in a world where a Welshman can live his entire life without even hearing the phrase "Firecracker Jalapeno Chicken Nacho Platter?"
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:32 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Does anybody have any decent comparisons to skill levels and salaries for these teams? Is it something that could be compared to a minor league baseball team, I mean are we talking about high school/rec team teams that go out and play for beer money. As a yank, I don't have access to view any of these teams to get an idea of this.

I mean, I was a halfway decent soccer player when I was like 15. What are the chances that 20 years later I can go over there and live out my lifelong dream of being a professional footballer, and would their socialized insurance then pay for the subsequent reconstructive surgeries it would require to fix my knees/legs/brains on such an endeavor?
posted by Blue_Villain at 7:40 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Salaries?
posted by brokkr at 8:19 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the article:

However, one major difference marks our native worldview: professional and even semi-professional sports teams are franchises. Imagine if Manchester United up and moved to London in two years. Unfathomable? Not here. After 71 years in Brooklyn, baseball’s Dodgers headed West to California.


Not quite on the same scale, I admit, but here we have the MK Dons. They were formerly Wimbledon FC, but were bought by a consortium, renamed and relocated some 50-odd miles away in Milton Keynes. Much acrimony ensued, and the fans of the old Wimbledon club formed a new club called AFC Wimbledon.

AFC Wimbledon started out in the 9th tier of the football league, but have worked their way up to the fourth tier. In a couple of weeks they play MK Dons for the first time in the 2nd round of the FA Cup.
posted by afx237vi at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of soul searching going on on the part of the AFC Wimbledon fans. Some of them want to go to the match because, hell yeah FA 2nd round! Others refuse to step foot in the stadium that effectively stole their Championship level team from them. Pretty much all neutrals want to the Wombles to win, so there's a push to fill up the away seats with folks wearing the jerseys of the teams they follow in support of AFC Wimbledon.

I've been reading up on the Two Hundred Percent blog mentioned in the FPP and elsewhere. I'd really love to pick up a Wimbledon jersey, but it'd come to like 90 bucks with international shipping. Might bite the bullet in support anyways!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:35 AM on November 16, 2012


Not quite on the same scale, I admit, but here we have the MK Dons.

And won't have another like it for some time, given the passion it's stoked up. Check out some of the comments here, for example.
posted by kersplunk at 9:00 AM on November 16, 2012


Does anybody have any decent comparisons to skill levels and salaries for these teams? Is it something that could be compared to a minor league baseball team, I mean are we talking about high school/rec team teams that go out and play for beer money. As a yank, I don't have access to view any of these teams to get an idea of this.

Technically, non-league football is all of the above. I think most/all(?) teams in the Blue Square Premier, which is the top non-league league are full time, in the sense that the players are paid to play football full time. I don't know how far down you go until all the clubs have only part-time players. Minor league baseball isn't really a full time occupation at the lower levels--it's full time during the season, but a lot of players aren't paid enough to live on. (Heck, sometimes they're not really paid enough to make rent on an apartment (or there are no short term rentals, I suppose)--rookie league and low-A players often live with local families who have a spare room.)
posted by hoyland at 9:06 AM on November 16, 2012


There are non-league teams in the states too. Eric Wynalda used one to kick the Timbers square in the nuts in an effort to get himself a coaching job. (WOMP WOMP)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:20 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I expect the reality of convincing a a group of fans who have cheered, bled, and cried for their little team that some international doofus with more money than sense should be allowed to take their club on as some sort of hobby would be much more difficult.

After watching Orient, Club For a Fiver—which, while not non-League, is not exactly up in the glamorous stratosphere of the EPL—my bet is that they would welcome you gladly, and smile pained smiles for as long as you like while you shovel money into their club, right up until the grim financial realities of the situation overwhelm you and leave you a broken shell of a person.
posted by fleacircus at 9:21 AM on November 16, 2012


Harvey Jerkwater: "Or do you too want to live in a world where a Welshman can live his entire life without even hearing the phrase "Firecracker Jalapeno Chicken Nacho Platter?""

Do you have any idea how many syllables that would be in Welsh? They'd never finish. The Welsh economy would grind to a halt while everyone was busy saying it.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:35 AM on November 16, 2012


The guy in the article above has to travel to England to discover that American collegiate athletics exist, but I think the real thing international football has that would blow American minds is relegation. It's one thing to be a fan of a perennially shitty team, but (I can only imagine) it has to be a hundred times worse to be a fan of a shitty team that is facing demotion to a lower league.
posted by fleacircus at 9:45 AM on November 16, 2012


Thanks fleacircus! I've not seen that for years! That's my evening viewing sorted.

I'm not an Orient fan, but they're just round the corner from me (relatively speaking) so I try to go at least a couple of times a season, if only because:

1) The "No ball games" sign that's on the wall under the away end always amuses me
2) They have one of the greatest chants of any football club, directed at the owners of the flats that occupy the stadium corners:

WE CAN SEE YOU!
WE CAN SEE YOU!
WE CAN SEE YOU WASHING UP!

posted by garius at 9:52 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]




There are an estimated 7,000 clubs in the English Football Pyramid, ranging from the 20 Premier League teams at the top (level one) to the eight Mid-Sussex Football League Division Eleven teams. By my calculations, 7,000 teams times an average of 20 players per team equals every male in England is on a team somewhere on the pyramid.
posted by Ranucci at 8:25 PM on November 16, 2012


By my calculations, 7,000 teams times an average of 20 players per team equals every male in England is on a team somewhere on the pyramid.

I don't understand if you're joking or not. But you're off by two orders of magnitude or so.
posted by hoyland at 10:08 AM on November 17, 2012


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