How a QPR friendly led to a national Non-League Day

When I set up Non-League Day in 2010 I had no idea it would grow to what it has become today.

Set up as a social media experiment among friends after being inspired by a pre-season trip to watch QPR play Devon club Tavistock, it is now an event backed by Premier League and Football League clubs, MPs, celebrities, media organisations, charities and, most importantly, non-League clubs themselves and the fans that decide to turn up on the day.

Always scheduled to coincide with an international break, Non-League Day gives fans of Premier League and Championship sides the chance to experience football at a level they may be unfamiliar with.

It gives them the chance to go along and see what’s going on at a club that might be on their doorstep, which they’ve never shown any interest in before or even knew existed.

Many non-League clubs field more than just a first team, with the money taken at the turnstiles often part-funding thriving youth set-ups and facilities which can be used by the whole community for other purposes.

The level of skill on offer at non-League grounds will never compare to that at Stamford Bridge for example, but there are other sides to the experience where the smaller club will always win hands-down.

For many supporters of non-League football it’s the sense of belonging and preservation of traditional values that remains so appealing.

The vast majority of games still kick off at 3pm, ticket prices are realistic, you can stand anywhere in the ground (often with a pint!) and will always be guaranteed a warm welcome by people who run their clubs for the love of the game.

There is also a better chance of winning the half-time raffle!

If you like the sound of that then there are plenty of clubs in west London that are taking part and offering some great deals to get new spectators to come along.

Season-ticket holders at Chelsea, Fulham, QPR and any Brentford fans not travelling to Scunthorpe can all get in for free at Ashford Town (Middlesex), Northwood and Uxbridge.

Those clubs’ fans will also get in for half-price (£5) at Hampton & Richmond Borough and Wealdstone.

For the really energetic, Hendon are also holding a five-a-side tournament and will let all competitors in to their match against Leiston for free.

Failing that, you can just show your season-ticket and get in for £5 as at Hampton and Wealdstone.

If none of these games are good for you, use the Non-League Day match finder to discover clubs and offers nearer to you.

Remember, Non-League Day isn’t about supporting just another team. It’s about supporting grassroots football and ensuring the foundations of the game in this country stay strong.

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