Why non-league football deserves more coverage

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NON-LEAGUE IS ON THE UP

In England the Premier League tends to dominate all the headlines when it comes to football. Huge money, huge stadiums & huge names are everywhere in the top flight and it's easy to get caught up in the hype of what is the most popular division in the world. The league is dominated by foreign stars and has been for some time now, with the influx of broadcasting money being shelled out on attracting some of the brightest talents from around the globe.

But it's important to remember where and how the game began, with the non-league set-up in our country like nothing anywhere else in the world. The English footballing pyramid is unique and the clubs lower down the ladder still fetch big crowds & produce some great stuff on the pitch. Over the last few years coverage of non-league has improved, with BT Sport concluding a deal which sees them televise games from the National League - usually one a week.

But we feel that the game deserves so much more. Over the last few years we've seen players such Jamie Vardy, Charlie Austin, Rickie Lambert and Andre Gray all successfully make the jump from semi-pro to the big time in the Premier League & there's plenty more where that came from. Non-league is full of players who could make the jump to full-time professional football and it's one of many reasons why we feel that it's deserving of more coverage - read our thoughts below....

AT ONE WITH THE FANS

The Premier League as a spectacle is absolutely incredible at times. The tempo, quality and entertainment on display every week is something that simply cannot be competed with but something that it is lacking is the connection with the supporters. The average Premier League player takes home an obscene amount of money and at the top level it's so far away from it's roots. Football was once seen as the working mans game and in the PL it doesn't seem to be the case anymore, players are more like celebrities these days and it can cost an arm and a leg to follow your team.

Lower down the ladder though this isn't the case. In non-league you find some of the most passionate supporters not just in England but throughout the world. These guys have been there, seen it and done it all, standing by their team through thick and thin, attending every game possible. These clubs don't pull in tens of thousands of spectators and have every game on TV, but you can very much so feel the connection between the fans, players and the club itself which makes it a special experience.

The players are very much like the supporters and the majority of them play for the love of the game - unlike some of the financial driven personalities of the top flight. And this weekend we were given a stark reminder of just how fantastic the relationship between the club and it's players is when Gateshead made the long trip to Ebbsfleet in the National League. Steve Watson's men came out narrow 1-0 winners in a tense game at Stronebridge Road and at the full-time whistle they went and saluted each of the travelling fans, something which they do at the end of every away game - we don't see this too often up the pyramid do we?

Non-league football also provides fans with things you thought you'd never see. One of which happened a couple of weeks ago and we're still not over it - JON PARKIN FLOSSING! He became the latest footballer to get involved with the Fortnite trend and stunned York supporters after smashing home a penalty against Bylth Spartans at the end of August. There's plenty of things you expect to see in football but him doing that just isn't one of them!

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MOMENTS OF QUALITY

Naturally the level of quality drops further down the footballing ladder as expected, but that doesn't mean that non-league players able to produce those moments of magic. Already this season we've seen some absolute belters which would be all over the news if they were scored in the Premier League. We've picked a couple of our favourites out:

Probably the goal of the season so far (and it'll take some beating) came from Mickleover Sports man Pablo Mills - he's a man known to many after spending over 10 years in the Football League with clubs such as Rotherham, Bury and Derby. The commanding centre back scored this absolute rocket completely out the blue and in turn sent social media into meltdown, with Mickleover's official Twitter (@MickleoverSFC) raking in almost 2k RT's and 5.5k likes - not bad for a club with 7.6k followers! Watch it below:

Another one that caught our eye was this filthy effort from Maidenhead United forward Josh Kelly. The striker is known for being clinical but he took it to new levels with his first of two goals against Eastleigh a couple of weeks ago. After being played through, he swiftly beat the keeper before sending the final defender for a hot dog and walking the ball into the net, classy stuff. Lionel Messi would've been proud of that one!

INVESTMENT IN NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL

The non-league structure in England is an important part of the football pyramid and it's something that's going from strength to strength. It's great to see major broadcasters like BT Sport getting involved with the National League and re-investing back into the game, but for it to continue to flourish we need more of this. This weekend for example, we had no Premier League or Championship football due to the international break which was a perfect opportunity for more games to be broadcasted and raise awareness of some of these great clubs - but only Ebbsfleet v Gateshead on Saturday made the cut.

Investing back into grass roots football is so important not just for the clubs but also for the England team and the success that the Three Lions enjoyed this summer will only encourage more youngsters to get involved. We're a strong believer in supporting non-league and grass roots football which led to us completing our first ever sponsorship deal a few months ago, with National League North outfit Altrincham FC.

Altrincham FC Moss Lane

Alty do some magnificent work for the local community and are a club firmly on the up after winning the Northern Premier League Premier Division last term. They've got some great players on the books and their bond with the supporters is excellent - as it is with many non-league clubs. We've also pledged to donate £50 to the Motor Neurone Disease Association every time leading goalscorer Jordan Hulme hits the back of the net this season - with the total currently standing at £300!

Non-league football is something firmly on the up and with more investment and coverage, we could see plenty more success stories like Jamie Vardy & co...

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