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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Non League Media

Its often said that Non League Football is one of English sport’s best kept secrets. Sure a very bright spotlight is shone on our section of the national game when the FA Cup gets interesting as autumn turns into winter but judging by some of the email enquiries I get on a regular basis there is a lot of ignorance about semi professional football from the general football populace.
However this isn’t because all the fraternity gathered here today are like some sort of secret society, indeed the amount of media coverage has never been better its just that the major outlets ignore us.
Instead its left to a myriad of small publications and broadcasting outlets to get the message out. The reflects the democratisation of the media over the last twenty years which means there really is nothing stopping any of us letting the world know about our Saturday afternoon passion except our own indolence!
Barring coverage in the local press which has always been good this has been a slow process started by the publication of the non league football annual in the 1970s. This was followed in the 1980s by the introduction of Non League Football Monthly (latterly Team Talk) published by the annual editor Tony Williams. Suddenly it became possible to unearth stories of clubs all over the country whilst keeping an eye on their league position. Next came the fanzines which helped but news still lacked the immediacy until the end of the century.
It was then that the spread of the internet coupled with the introduction of the Non League Paper meant at least you could find out basic details from non league games all over the country within 24 hours of the final whistle on a Saturday.
Since then it has increasingly become easier than ever to keep tabs with what is going on almost a minute by minute basis, whilst also finding space to reflect on some of the wider issues affecting the game.
Online once you get past the official websites of clubs, leagues and local press, there are a few essential sources every self respecting non league football fan should consult regularly. Namely our wonderful strictly unofficial Blue Square South site with up to date stats, a lively forum and best of all a very good videprinter, all genuinely run by the fans for the fans and long may it continue. Next stop is always Non League Daily which by mid morning will be freshly stocked with a comprehensive round up of all the non league news from the last 24 hours. Elsewhere on the net you will find a plethora of blogs, sites and forums covering every aspect of the game. A couple to watch are the erudite forum from the site started by the late Tony Kempster and a site which follows in his footsteps from Mike Avery. Finally don’t forget there are loads of highlights available on you tube.
I’m not a fan of print media but if my internet was cut off I’d head straight for the newsagent to pick up the non league paper. New monthly magazine Non League 24 is not to my taste as its a bit too polished but I’m sure it would fill a train journey if needs be. I’d be more likely to have a copy of Non League Digest to hand, again this scores by being a wholly fan produced publication looking in all corners of the game at home and abroad. Its similar to Groundtastic and you can order a free copy from the website.
Finally whilst even local news programmes really aren’t interested unless the FA Cup is in town local radio often does the game proud. I say often as unfortunately our local BBC station Radio Berkshire is happy to take our license fee without giving the Magpies the time of day unlike so many of our Blue Square South colleagues who are given live commentary on a weekly basis as those of us who tuned into the Worcester game will gratefully testify. The jewel in the crown of Non League Radio is the Non League Radio Show which although ostensibly a BBC Radio London production basically covers the entire country with expert analysis from Willie Wordsworth and Dave Anderson. Its usually broadcast on Monday at 9 pm for one hour on 94.9 FM and is now also available within hours of the end of the show either as a podcast from iTunes or on BBC iPlayer.

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