Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Saturday 3 September 2011

First Person View - Non-League Day

    Today is Non-League Day in England, a celebration of support for the tiers of clubs below the Football League coinciding with the break of action in the Premier League and Championship – the two highest levels of play – due to the international break.

    The day is designed to encourage supporters to take advantage of the break in action of their usual club sides to experience and support their local clubs. The concept of the pyramid system is something very interesting to me, something that gives the FA Cup that magic about which everyone is always talking.

    I am in the process of planning a trip to England and I intend to partake in some of that lower-level experience that some say harkens back to the good old days of a less commercial, community based game.

    The Guardian recently featured a fantastic video of two fan-owned non-league sides – Chester FC and FC United of Manchester. The twelve-minute clip is worth a watch, it discusses both the importance of a club tied into its community and the role of fan ownership in an ever expanding world. I encourage you to give it a view and catch a glimpse of the true world of football - away from the glitz and glamour (and the riches) of the highest reaches of the sport.

    So what does that mean for Canadian fans? Well, as the campaign to Support Local Football points out there are plenty of opportunities to cheer on the game here. From MLS club academy sides, to the local University teams, from youth football at your local club to the semi-professional realms of the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) and its counterparts across the country, a plethora of opportunities to cheer, support, encourage and watch the game in your own backyard are present.

    I attended the CSL’s Championship match last fall between Hamilton Croatia and Brantford Galaxy on October 31st at Centennial Stadium out in Etobicoke. It was a chance to show support for one of the most local expression of the game, and I had a great time: the passion of the Croatian fans with their flares and beers, the families of the players in the stands, and the youngsters enjoying a championship atmosphere. All told it was fifteen bucks well spent, though a hot chocolate/ beer would have gone a long way in the blustery weather of a late fall afternoon.

    The same extends to supporting Canada. Our first match on the road to Brazil 2014 was last night in the humid blanket of fairground festivities at the CNE and other than the buckets of water sweated through the pores of the supporters it was a enriching and wonderful experience. Sure you may have a distant relative associated with one place or another that makes you feel tied to its fortunes in the football world – cough, glory hunter, ahem, excuse me – but how often do you get a chance to huddle with them in the sickening heat or freezing cold to experience the sorrows and excitement in person, in your own town?

    We all love the high-stakes drama of the World Cup and the Champions League, but there is still value in all facets of the game, let us not forget that.

    For more information on Non-League Day check out their website; for the goings on of Non-league Football in general, there is an excellent podcast done by the BBC. And should you ever find yourself in England (or anywhere for that matter) don’t hesitate to ask a local cabbie if there’s a match going on, chances are you will find it more welcoming and personally engaging than being just another customer at the top-level ground, it will be a fraction of the cost, you can stand and drink, plus, the food is better from what I’ve heard.

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