Sports Letters: Pulling power of alien football

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The Independent Online
Sir: Congratulations to Tim Lezard's 'The Price of Loyalty' (5 October); anyone who extols the virtues of non-League football deserves praise, though it's not hard to see why Tim has stopped going to see Swindon Town (the cynic may point out Swindon's non-League defence). My situation is slightly different. When Newcastle United visit Old Trafford, Anfield et al, a visit to Croft Park is top of my agenda, to see the mighty Blyth Spartans.

To the modern breed of football supporter ( pounds 25k, three-bed semi and a Vauxhall Calibra) non-League football is alien; no Cole, Giggs or Klinsmann, poor grounds, no chance of an FA Cup win; yet that is precisely why it is so good. There are no over-paid prima donnas, you can swear till you're blue in the face, a pint at around the quid mark is a damn site better value than pounds 1.90 for a can of McEwan's lager at Sir John Hall Park, and Blyth's food is superior to Newcastle's awful and expensive meat pies.

There is also more chance of seeing someone who is quite obviously as mad as a badger at a non- League ground. For the uninitiated come Bank Holidays, these 'groundhoppers' attend as many matches as they possibly can, instead of going to the pub.

However, the selling point for non-League football remains thus; where else in the world can you shout at players (and policemen), praise their wives prowess in bed and criticise their footballing dexterity, safe in the knowledge they can't run off the pitch and give you a good hiding?

Yours sincerely,


Bedlington, Northumberland

7 October