Time to celebrate decade of Non League Day - clubs preparing another push to boost crowds
Sweet treats, hamster racing, paying fans to watch games and free entry for dogs.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Non League Day, which on Saturday is celebrating its 10th anniversary, writes Simon Carter.
The annual event was the brainchild of QPR fan James Doe and aims to increase awareness and attendance levels at non-league clubs all over the country.
It is always held in October on a weekend when Premier League and Championship clubs have no game due to international matches taking place.
Over the past decade, clubs have come up with some novel ways to try to boost their crowds.
In 2013 Anglian Combination club Bungay Town made international headlines by paying supporters 5p to attend the game against Brandon Town. A year later they gave out free punnets of mushrooms to fans paying to watch a league game with Martham – resulting in a doubling of their usual attendance to around 100.
The following year, Western League club Welton Rovers organised some novel post-match entertainment at their West Clewes ground – hamster-racing!
In 2015, Walsham-le-Willows gave a box of six free range eggs to the first 50 paying customers for their Eastern Counties game with Brantham.
In 2017 West Didsbury & Chorlton ran a ‘Non-League Dog Day’ offering reduced admission to a North West Counties game for anyone bringing a canine with them. The dog gained free entry.
Sky Sports sent a camera crew along to record the event – which attracted around 300 spectators and 30 canines – for posterity.
In a bid to win extra publicity on Non-League Day, Grantham Town last year handed out free gingerbread men to fans – in recognition of the club and town’s historical association with the confectionary.
On Saturday Hawks’ league rivals Dulwich Hamlet host Weymouth and are offering cheap drinks at the clubhouse bar to season ticket holders at Crystal Palace, Charlton and Millwall.