As many of you will know, the “Non-League Paper” provides excellent coverage of non-league football and they also provide a free column for clubs like ours to use in our match day programmes. But of course they aren’t seen on the weekends when we are playing away, and so we have decided to start carrying the columns on our Facebook page as well on a regular basis, starting with Matt Badcock’s “take” on last weekend’s the FA Cup fourth round.
By Matt Badcock
EVERY SEASON in the FA Cup there is a shock. Whether it was AFC Wimbledon beating West Ham United in convincing manner last Saturday night or Barnet’s magnificent run to the fourth round – and now a replay.
The Bees have won away at League sides Bristol Rovers and Sheffield United before sharing a six-goal thriller with Brentford on Monday night to set-up another clash at Griffin Park.
But even though these upsets so often happen, we still hear the same tired line trotted out about the “magic of the cup”.
Invariably it is “alive and well” or the “romance still exists”. Well, of course. At these levels it never stopped. Just because some Premier League sides choose to rest players, that doesn’t stop the lower league and Non-League clubs thriving in the competition.
My theory is it’s just become an easy thing to say. It’s an easy line for all of us in the media or on the terraces. It’s so often repeated that eventually we just believe it.
But I’ve seen enough great FA Cup days in my time on The NLP to know that the FA Cup will keep creating memories and history every year. And maybe Barnet can keep adding to that in the next fortnight. Good luck to the Bees!
DAN SPARKES’ wonder free-kick for Barnet in the 3-3 draw with Brentford was straight out of the top drawer. He’s always been a player that has impressed when I’ve seen him over the years.
But it also serves as a reminder of perhaps one of the greatest double acts in recent Non-League memory when he was at Braintree.
In the same side as striker Sean Marks, the pair finally got on the scoresheet together against Nuneaton Borough for goals.
If only Marks & Sparkes had been able to repeat the feat in the same game as former Grimsby striker Lenell John-Lewis…
GOOD NEWS The FA are addressing an issue that often crops up around club and league allocations in the summer.
The provisional division line-ups are released on the understanding things can change between then and the leagues’ AGMs.
Often a club has gone bust in between time and the domino effect can see teams moved leagues through no fault of their own.
Last season Shaw Lane withdrew late and the knock-on effect hit clubs across the country.
Wimborne were promoted to Step 3, while Banbury and Hednesford Town, at the same level, and Fleet Town at Step 4 were moved laterally across divisions.
For Fleet particularly it was a crushing blow they would never have seen coming.
The FA were bound by regulations at the time but revealed to us in last week’s NLP that they’ve acted to change them. From now it is most likely only clubs from the same divisions will be affected – and not those hundreds of miles away.
IT was a real pleasure to speak to Ramsbottom United chairman Harry Williams recently.
His tales of more than 50 years at the Northern Premier League club were a joy to listen to as Rammy gear up to welcome AFC Fylde in the FA Trophy.
He still insists players buy some raffle tickets before they get their wages and he spends hours tending the ground that now bears his name.
In his 53 years since setting the club up, he’s missed just three games. It’s people like Mr Ramsbottom that keep Non-League going across the country. We applaud you all.