Lincoln City and feeling Non-League

Set up in 2010, Non League Day looks to promote grass roots football and provide it with a platform to really showcase all its merits to the country.

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Non-League Day celebrates the great and good of lower league football. Photo: SparklePete (via Flickr)

It’s the day when your local plumber or builder can become a terrace favourite thanks to a winning goal.

Always scheduled on an international break, it gives fans of Premier League and Championship clubs the opportunity to go and watch football at a lower level and experience the passion of grass roots football that holds up the top of the English game.

But how relevant is Non League Day to a club like Lincoln? A club that is desperate to climb out of the division? A club that has no “big” team nearby?

The club appears to take a rather limp-wristed view towards the day as ticket prices remained the same and there was virtually no announcement about it being Non League Day.

Indeed, Imps fan, John Smalley, felt that publicity for the event hadn’t been very good at all. “I saw something on twitter this week and I have been aware of these sort of events in the past when the British international teams have played. But why Lincoln haven’t advertised the event I don’t know.”

The day aims to boost attendances for all Non-League clubs but John Smalley mentioned how disappointed he was disappointed with recent attendance figures, “I would have thought that the football club, even though they don’t wish to be associated with non-league, obviously the aim being to get back in the league, they would want to get as many people in the crowd to support the team.”

Lincoln City’s attempt to perhaps distance themselves from non-league was a point also raised by Lincoln fan, Michael Neary.

“You can’t celebrate non-league day and be desperate to get out of non-league at the same time.”

In fact Michael took issue altogether with the term ‘non-league’.

“It makes it sound like nothing, or as if it’s only football played in the football league is important.”

It’s certainly true that non-league football does evoke a feeling of standing up to watch the game, part-timers playing and cheap tickets.

In this case it’s important to remember that Lincoln City and many other clubs in the Skrill Premier are fully professional clubs, with proper stadiums and high ticket prices.

Clubs like Barnet, Luton, Grimsby, Wrexham, and Lincoln among others have all felt what it feels like to be in the Football League and are hell-bent on returning to that level.

Mick enjoys watching Lincoln at this level and sees the positives to this division.

“It gives them the chance to rebuild in a sustained way” also mentioning that non-league, as already mentioned, is seen by some as a demeaning term for “a high level of competitive sport by men who have worked very hard to play at this level.”

He went further, saying that Non-League Day should perhaps be called “Football Day”. That way, football at any level can be celebrated and applauded.

Ashley Franklin, another Lincoln City fan, felt that Non-League Day was a good idea, but Lincoln’s location and not having a Premier League or Championship club nearby means that Non-League day “doesn’t really make a difference to Lincoln City.”

The issue of Lincoln’s location was also mentioned by John Smalley, who said, “Lincoln isn’t really on the way to anywhere.”

For anybody that lives in Lincoln or has to travel to Lincoln, they will know it’s a city that you really have to want to go to, as its location means you cannot stumble across it.

Indeed, the closest big city is Nottingham, which has two big football clubs already, as well as a wide range of non-league clubs in Nottinghamshire.

The general consensus from the three fans we spoke to is that playing non-league football does have its advantages, such as allowing the club to rebuild sustainably. It can also provide a club with more coverage from outlets such as ‘The Non League Paper’ as well as the coverage BT Sport are looking to provide.

But the idea of Non-League day, while perhaps good, possibly doesn’t really mean as much to Lincoln.

Lincoln’s location and desire to return to past glories means Non-League day is a rather annoying event to be a part of.

It is a fantastic initiative for clubs lower down the leagues, but for Lincoln, they’d love to not be involved much longer.

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