In a life of a football fan and especially a non-league photographer a day of hideous weather such as yesterday, is not wanted. Most games were called off and the challenge was to find a game that was actually on. For me this would have represented a challenge to the management of a club that wanted to boost their attendance by getting the word out there that the game is on, or even off. Some clubs did this very well. Respect due to Sutton who even replied to my humble tweet to them about if the game was on. A club that did badly on all counts was Tooting and Mitcham FC. I could find no social media nor internet site to answer my question. The websites attributed to Tooting seem to have been last updated months if not years ago. No Twitter account. No Facebook page. I might add that all these media are freely available and indeed free. Many other clubs did well to update their fans. Lets throw some praise around. Walton and Hersham have both twitter and facebook and their fans knew the night before that the game was off. Horsham regularly tweet game updates during the game.
I belong to a closed group on Facebook related to non-league photography and from the multiple postings there it was clear that our little coterie could have been driven to any game probably on, hence boosting attendances by a few, but multiply this up and clubs could have done themesleves a real favour.
Having guessed correctly that the game might be on I arrived 2.20pm at Tooting to find no information available. Was the game on or off? Turnstiles all locked. No signs. No clues. No programmes. A few stewards appeared, mostly young lads, doing a grand job I must say, of about 13-14 years, who appreciated the issue and went away to solve the problem. Turnstiles duly opened at 2.40pm. A thin paper based programme was on sale from a cheery gentleman for 2£. In all honesty the poorest non-league programme I have seen for some years. I do not exaggerate but I could have printed this off from my computer in far better format. Little to no food was available in the snack bar. A wait for 10 minutes led to a burger. Priced at the not so cheap price of 3.50£. Entrance to the ground was 10£.
The pitch was not in bad condition at all considering the rain .
I will stop my social media rant here, but what opportunities are being missed by clubs who want to boost their crowds. Each week we read that non-league football needs larger crowds but clubs must promote themselves a little better to get new fans. Tooting missed this opportunity big time yesterday.
The game itself was not a phenomenal one. The better side won easily. The reality was that Horsham looked fitter and better, by a bit, but maybe more interested as a team. No players stood out. no one disgraced themselves. Tooting might have felt a little aggrieved that they did not get an equaliser in the second half but maybe this would have been unfair. The Tooting manager in his technical area spent most of the second half swearing badly at his team, with some non-funny sarcastic comments thrown in. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that children could hear each and every of his well chosen words. I cannot say I warmed to him and wonder if his team does. Neither side will win anything this season and neither will get relegated, although on a bad run, Tooting might be drawn into the relegation battle. The low crowd of 155 should however be of concern to the club as based on this performance will not be getting any larger.