|Bishop's Stortford FC circa 1976-77 season|
(Image copyright Vince Taylor @groundtastic)
With the England national side in action tonight and no Premiership or Championship football taking place this weekend as a result, this Saturday will once again become 'Non-League Day'.
The initiative, which was conceived back in 2010, is designed to encourage football fans without a game at their usual league club to turn their attention and support to their local non-league team, with a strong emphasis on promoting it as a day out for the family and to help support the local community spirit.
I grew up watching my local side, Bishop's Stortford, with my granddad. The picture to the left is the first football ground I ever knew; The George Wilson Stadium, or Rhodes Avenue as it was more commonly known. Sadly, it was bulldozed around 20 years ago to make way for much needed housing in the centre of the town and the football club was shoved out to the outskirts of town when a new stadium was finally built after 7 odd years of exile.
I cannot tell you how much I miss that old stadium, not least of all as I have the memories of my granddad stood, as he always did, in the same spot under the shelter of that corrugated 'Town End' as seen in the picture at the top. Back then me and my mates would sit behind the goal and spend the whole game winding up the opposing keeper. Back then supporting my local side was all that mattered. Those players were my heroes.
Tomorrow 'The Blues' are at home to Havant & Waterlooville in the oddly named 'Skrill South' (Conference South to the traditionalists) and I will be planning to attend, hopefully with my boy.
I know Al from God, Charlton & Punk Rock is a huge fan of non-league football and a big Sutton United fan. In all the drama of the Doncaster game a few weeks back I forgot to mention to Al that Bishop's Stortford and Sutton United met that same day with my local side running out the winners! I'm not sure what game Al's picked, but his trusty scooter will be off somewhere for sure.