I’m not going to bull-shit you, I’m no Northern League devotee. I’ve only developed an interest in the league in the last 4 or 5 years and given the option I’ll probably get my non-league fix at Gateshead with The Heed Army. But over the last few years, putting a fanzine together which has looked at the NE’s non-league scene and taken a few days off from the relentless hype of the Premier League (and Championship) we have gone out to some Northern League outposts and loved it. From drinking it all in on the night of Portland Park’s Last Stand (Ashington humped 3-0 by Seaham) on a night of high emotion to standing talking politics with The Colliers’ Chairman and now Wansbeck MP, Ian Lavery, the true faith expeditionary force has loved it all.
The Northern League isn’t just good for your football soul. Its good for your soul full stop.
There’s a lot of old guff from David Cameron and his “Big Society” as if he has just invented giving your time and effort in no expectation of reward. The Eton Rifle needs to get along to a Northern League club and see it all in action – old stagers, proud of their clubs and communities in club ties and the phantoms of yesterday’s industries in the names – The Steelmen (Consett), The Colliers (Ashington and Horden) and The Mariners (South Shields).
There is friendliess and warmth all over the Northern League, a real sense of community and well, real love for the game of football. You won’t see many snoods, gloves, rolling around or feigned injuries. You’ll see players giving it all for 90 minutes and you’ll see a shared pint and sandwich afterwards.
Anyone who proclaims to love football in the NE and doesn’t get to see one or two games a season from the world’s second oldest league is seriously missing a treat.
Thanks to Michael Martin of the excellent Newcastle fanzine True Faith, who are also running a series of articles in support of Northern League Day.