A break in the Premier League schedule gave non-league teams across the county a chance to bolster their support yesterday with the help of ‘Non-League Day 2018'.
Non-League Day is a campaign, set up in 2010, which provides a platform for clubs to promote the importance of affordable volunteer led community football while giving fans across the country the chance to show support for their local non-league side.
This year over 4,300 fans turned up to Northern League grounds, despite the adverse weather conditions, and were treated to some remarkable scorelines. Most notably Bedlington Terriers thrashing a heavily backed Whickham side 5-1 in the FA Vase to progress into the second round of the competition.
Elsewhere, the top Northern Alliance sides were competing in Northumberland FA’s very own Scott’s Les Todd Benevolent Bowl with Newcastle Blue Star celebrating the occasion with a 5-2 home win which marked the opening of their brand new clubhouse.
“The new clubhouse took approximately three weeks and includes a bar, club shop and a mural of the late, great Sir Bobby Robson as well as the Blue Star,” explained manager Mark Bullock.
“We also have a stage so we’ve had a band on after the game. The atmosphere was great afterwards but we have got a long way to go to build a fan base.”
Blue Star are a reincarnation of the former Northern Premier League team, who folded after winning promotion to the 7th tier in 2009. Hazlerigg Victory players took over the naming rights this summer and have recruited a team with similar ambitions to challenge in the Alliance’s top tier this season.
“It’s early days, but the short term aim is to get established, build a fan base, then look at the Northern League,” added Bullock.
“This season it’s unlikely we will have the facilities [for promotion] and it’s hard to look past Newcastle Uni and Killingworth winning the league – we are taking it game-by-game.
“The long term aim would be to replicate the Blue Star of old or the South Shields model but it has to have the foundations.”
On a national level, the turnout at non-league fixtures was significantly higher and provided a well-needed financial boost to clubs in the lower leagues – showing the significance of Non-League Day and how it has helped clubs build a groundwork for success.