An open letter to David Triesman, Chairman of the FA

by Mystical Mike

Friday, October 17th, 2008
 

I once sat on a dusty seat at the back of New Writtle Street Stadium in Chelmsford cradling a cold glass of lemonade thinking life couldn’t get much sweeter. My dad had just opened up the ground for the first time that season and I’d just finished cleaning every one of the wooden seats in the main stand. It was 1988 and I was just about old enough to get on my bike and make the morning journey to the home of Chelmsford City.

 

Twenty years later, and after some hard nomadic years, my team are finally back in their home town and by all accounts doing ok in the Blue Square South. There was no need for us to have spent the past 10 years struggling, there was no need for 100 fans to dig deep in their pockets to save the club they’d seen ripped apart by property developers and greedy chairmen, but still it happened.

 

This week alone I’ve heard of at least four top Non League clubs with such a vibrant and important history and stadiums that have seen generations sweat blood and tears be threatened by the gloom facing the global economy.

 

Just one of those, Grays Athletic in the Blue Square Premier, were forced to slash players’ wages by fifty percent, through no fault of their own, after three of their sponsors pulled out.

 

But let’s not kid ourselves this is anything new, even in the best financial economy, Non League football has always suffered from financial difficulty, the difference being now there are even fewer people able to put their hands in their pockets and save a piece of history.

 

Of course, ours is no different to what’s happening at the very top of the game, but the end result couldn’t be further apart.

 

If say, the likes of Tottenham Hotspur were to lose their ground or their revenue, their demise would be writ large on every back page of every newspaper in every land. Contrast to our level, where every week we see at least one club struggling to keep going, and you barely hear a murmur as they sink.

 

We can’t ever pretend to be as big as the likes of Liverpool or Chelsea, but we are fans of football clubs who have the same right to expect to turn up at 3pm on a Saturday and enjoy the game, without worrying if the club will still be there.

 

I’ve been to the World Cup final and the FA Cup final and sat in some of the most expensive seats in the most expensive stadiums in the world, but I can safely say I’d trade every one of those positions for one more season watching from the half way line at New Writtle Street.

 

We don’t want loans on the scale of the Government’s rescue package, but we do need help restructuring the foundations of the game. Let’s ensure not another part of footballing history is consigned to the bulldozers and that our wimpers are finally heard.

Non League Show

Caroline Barker presents The BBC Non League Football ShowEvery Monday from 9pm via www.bbc.co.uk/nonleagueReal Football, real fans.If you’ve got a story email the team nonleague@bbc.co.uk

 

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  • Bakes

    My formative years were spent watching non-league football at my local club, Welling United. I was a regular from the age of 9 to 16, travelling home and away. I must admit that I seldom get to see them these days now I have a season ticket at a Premier League club but they are still the first result I look for and I get down to see them when I can. I know that if I ever have a son or daughter interested in the game, this is where I will be taking them. My passion for football was created at Park View Road and I think it would benefit all fans to experience the other side of football, not just the glitz and glamour of the Premier League. I hope you are sitting at New Writtle Street for years to come.

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