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28 October 2014

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You are in: London > Radio > The Non League Football Show > Features > I’ll have a bag of chips and one of those World Cup stars please

Socrates takes a shot for Garforth

Socrates takes a shot for Garforth

I’ll have a bag of chips and one of those World Cup stars please

Caroline Barker finds out why a money laden Premier League is good for the Non League Soul.

By Caroline Barker

I’ll have a bag of chips, a battered sausage and one of those World Cup Winners please

I’ve finally discovered a reason to be grateful for the cash cow that is the Premier League, and this my friends, is it.

You know the drill, turn up to watch your team in action – sit down with the programme, flip to the back cover, take a glance down the team sheet, old lardy the goalkeeper’s there, next up the couple of defenders who are a bit flat-footed but slog their hearts out. Slotting in the centre - your battling midfield dynamo, ready to tackle for England and upfront your “could be something special, if only he could do it week in week out” striker.

"We may be Non League, but we’re still proper football"

Then all eyes, heart fluttering turn to the opposition, there’s that big fella you’ve all heard plenty about, then their number 7, (didn’t he once play for your lot a couple of seasons ago?) and there amongst the could’ve been contenders and promising young bright things is he, standing 47 years old (and 47 feet wide) rusty round the knees, scars like badges of honour from the days of the five inch studs. He of when men were men. The International former pro footballer turned Non League groupie.

Up and down the country some of the greatest players ever to walk the planet, let alone the Prawn League are plying their trade in grassroots football, and when we see them it’s like grown men have been given free licence to play Top Trumps… “Three World Cups? Na definitely five (comes the holler from the back row), do you remember his goal at Wembley, didn’t he turn out for you know who?”

Some Non League clubs have made it into an art form – think Socrates and Careca signing for Yorkshire side Garforth Town in a blaze of publicity, or our recent guests on the Non League show, Hendon FC who have Bontcho Guentchev  (He of Bulgaria circa 1994 World Cup) and now his two sons turning out for them.

And it is for this reason alone I’m celebrating the money, pouring into our Football League.

Bontcho Guentchev (Player/Coach) Hendon FC

Bontcho Guentchev Hendon FC

They’re awash with players from all over the globe, so Non League has become the perfect resting place for the great and the good of World Cups past. Those who’ve become not quite quick enough to mix it with the big boys, but still feel the need to prove they’re the big fish in our increasingly bigger pond.

We may be Non League, but we’re still proper football, and for the same reason the Lib Dems continue to allow Sir Menzies Campbell to talk about the rate of inflation. We too in our lofty positions 5 yards from the dugouts will allow the odd International play-boy or former star of the top flight to grace our hallow turf.

There is of course one condition. We’ll accept no prima donnas here. After all, with a career like theirs, there are no excuses when it comes to first one in at the bar. Clubhouse that is.

last updated: 13/02/2008 at 14:43
created: 25/09/2007

You are in: London > Radio > The Non League Football Show > Features > I’ll have a bag of chips and one of those World Cup stars please

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