Its been a long summer and the football season is back, and its getting earlier and earlier! I can still recall the days when the season began on the final weekend of August or the first weekend in September, leaving a small overlap between the cricket season and the football one.
For most, the sign the season is close is the Community Shield (still think of it as the Charity Shield) at Wembley. They get excited because the Premier League will be starting soon, but me? Nah!
Even though my boyhood club, Hull City, are back in the competition (and finding new ways to turn their devoted supporters away), for me, this last weekend has been all about Hampton & Richmond Borough being back in the National League. Premier League? Not interested now and never likely to be.
Last weekend in the lunch room at my work, all the football talk was of the Community Shield, or some meaningless preseason tournament that their club was in, or which country their club was playing a friendly in and so on.
No recognition that the first of the preliminary rounds of the FA Cup were happening or that some Championship matches were kicking off, or that up and down the country, thousands of supporters were getting ready to cheer on their teams in the competitions immediately below the Football League.
Isn’t this sad? It shows the stranglehold that the Premier League has on the nation’s footballing consciousness. That to millions, the only football that matters is on Sky Sports and the like.
Now I have to be careful, in that one of the people I work with at H&R is Martin Tyler, a regular commentator for Sky but his other role, the one I know him better for, is being the club’s assistant manager. His passion for the non league game is boundless, despite his profession.
He loves the game and lends such support as he can for such causes as Non League Day, which this year is September 3rd. A day when the National team are elsewhere and there are no top flight games, gives many Premier League ‘groupies’ (no, not supporters in my view) get a chance to watch football as it always used to be.
3pm kickoffs, terraces to stand on, getting up close and personal with players and management, switching ends at half time, not spending fortunes to watch a decent game of football and so on.
Call me an old romantic if you like (and it’s partly true), but the sterile, hyped, manufactured excitement of the Premier League does not appeal and why should it, when you can have great days out, watching the game we all love in local surroundings.
Follow the glory, associate yourselves with success if you like, but I know where you’ll find me most Saturdays…