Some weeks in football terms are best forgotten. Simply a bad week in the life of Brentford football club. A free saturday afternoon meant that I could go in search of a non league football game that might restore my sanity and belief in football as a game.
My first choice for a game is nearly always Carshalton Athletic who play in the Ryman South league and are assembling a young and enthusiastic side who are not paid the kind of excessive wages that some non league sides have resorted to in an attempt to buy success. Their season is a good one so far and they sit on the edges of the play off positions.
The ground is on the outskirts of Carshalton with a decent amount of parking at the ground. The terracing would grace many lower league grounds and a crowd of 257 gave a decent atmosphere.
The first thing one notices is that it is easy to walk around the whole ground so you not trapped in one zone all game. The food is generally better quality than league grounds and generally cheaper. One also has to mention the 3G pitch of which I am a fan and the ability of games to go ahead in often highly inclement weather.
The football played could be described as robust, a few tackles flying in which on a different day might have led to a few yellow and red cards. But the game and the result mattered to the 22 players out there. The physique and fitness may not be a league standard but these guys ran, well mostly, for 90 minutes.
Local builders did not seem to be doing much building during the game from their high perch behind the goal.
Away support at this level is varied but I had an excellent conversation with the seemingly sole South Park fan standing behind the goal.
People come for different reasons and many nowadays bring cameras, including myself, and some excellent photos end up online post match.
This football is real, played by amateurs and watched by genuine football fans who in many cases have followed their clubs for years or even decades. Those fans who only watch league football at higher echelons could do worse than spend around 10£ or sometimes less to occasionally watch non league football. It does restore your belief that football is a game, that fans of all teams can stand together and chat, and that the complaints over the referee and officials do not stop at a league level!
As a photographer I also enjoy the ability to bring my camera in and get all kinds of photos from different angles that would never be possible at a league game.