It’s well known within my circle of friends (can two people make a circle?) that I’m a bit of a non-league fan. Well, it’s a case of having to, since Grimsby Town are a Conference club these days. But there’s something about the English lower leagues that appeal to me – perhaps it’s the misplaced belief that (to quote a phrase so overused on The Fishy that it’s now only ever used ironically) I could do a job at that level.
In all reality, and honesty, I’ve never even played so much as a Sunday league match. I’m 31, I’m unfit and I’m about four inches short and three stone too light to play in my favoured centre back position.
So the likelihood of me being in a condition, or having the requisite stature or skill to turn out for the worst non-league side in history, is pretty non-existent.
Still, that doesn’t stop me from watching non-league football. And I’m not talking about Grimsby Town – I’m talking about proper non-league football, where the team and the players are primarily interested in playing, and then taking any glory if it happens to come along.
My local non-league side are Garforth Town. After they got stuffed 6-0 pretty much every week last season, they were relegated from the Northern Premier League Division One North into the Northern Counties East League (NCEL) Premier Division.
My hometown club is technically Cleethorpes Town (I’m a Croft Baker baby). When Garforth were nailed-on certainties for relegation last season I was disappointed to see Cleethorpes finish fourth in the NCEL Division One because promotion would have brought them together.
But one year on it looks like that might just happen. Garforth have been so mid-table this season it’s embarrassing, and with Cleethorpes currently two points clear at the top of the NCEL Division One – and crucially five points clear of third placed Bottesford Town – it looks like they’ll be facing each other in 2014/15.
Cleethorpes can confirm promotion on Saturday if they beat 14th placed Teversal and Bottesford Town fail to beat rock bottom Appleby Frodingham. So with the Mariners not playing on Saturday, there’s another local side you can cheer onto victory – and possibly promotion – at the Bradley Community Stadium at 3pm.
Get yourself down there and get behind the Owls!