7 things we’d like to see in non league football in 2019/20

Sunset over Scours Lane in Reading.
Sunset over Scours Lane in Reading.

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The season is barely over but we’re already looking ahead to 2019/20 here at Football in Bracknell.

We’ve already seen managerial changes, players on their way to new challenges and clubs posting their pre season fixtures.

With that in mind we put our collective heads together and made a little list of things we’d like to see next season. Some of them are obvious and some are simply on a personal wish list!

It is a little bit tongue in cheek so please don’t @ us, and if you have any suggestions of your own please add them to the comments below!

More and more and more people watching non league football

It’s an obvious place to start but it feels like we’re on a little bit of a role locally. I’ve not done any actual research but finger in the air, attendances seem up, people are talking about their local club on social media, buying flags that end up in Wales, that sort of thing.

The success of clubs locally, and I mean all of them in Berkshire at the moment can only breed interest. And interest in each others clubs. Non league football, especially at the level we’re (step 4, 5 and 6) at isn’t particularly tribal but it is competitive, it isn’t particularly glamorous but it is a smashing little community and the more people involved the better.

Reducing the reliance on dual registration

There’s no scientific evidence to back this up, but it feels as if the 2018/19 was the season that dual registration really moved in to top gear.

We tried to explain dual registration in a bit of depth here, but in short it’s the act of registering a player at different clubs without transferring them because they are in a separate league competition. A bit like the Football League’s loan system.

There are loads of good reasons to dual register players, particularly if you are allowing players on the fringes of your first team to get valuable minutes at another club, but call me old fashioned, I’d really like clubs to have their squads and aside from transfers, that’s it – I’m sure a lot of supporters would prefer a squad of players that are ‘theirs’.

Simplifying of the County Cup player qualification rules

Berks and Bucks County FA Senior Cup. Photo: BBFA.
Berks and Bucks County FA Senior Cup. Photo: BBFA.

The issues surrounding in particular this seasons Berks & Bucks County FA Senior Cup Final are well documented. Simply, the player eligibility rules need to either be simplified or relaxed, or both!

We are big fans of the Senior Cup as we’ve written at length about before with it giving step 5 sides the opportunity to play big games against National League and Football League sides but a similar scenario next season and we’ll soon see those ‘bigger’ clubs not taking the competition so seriously or swerving it altogether as Chesham United did this past season.

Leagues getting stuck in on twitter

When Bracknell Town won promotion to the Bostik League at the end of 2017/18, one of the last things on our mind was the quality of the leagues twitter account run by non league blogger Ian Townsend.

Ian is the leagues media manager and has created not only an engaging and engaged twitter account, but also a very readable official Bostik League website.

The Bostik League website.

Lots of leagues now have very informative websites but where the Bostik League really shines is on social media, sharing clubs posts and retweeting content and information to the wider non league world.

Of course being an official league or club account means you do have to be a little bit careful what you share from other sources but football fans rely especially heavily on the twitter accounts they choose to follow – proven by the fact most of the traffic to this very site comes through that one social media platform – so it’s incredibly important to get that particular form of social media engaged and busy.

Giving the leagues a little bit of individuality

This isn’t knocking what I am sure is a valuable contribution made by league sponsors. God knows, we need sponsors on this site to ensure what remains a hobby doesn’t hit me in the pocket and getting them is hard enough!

It would just be nice to have a little bit of individuality when it comes to what we call these leagues, especially at step 3 and 4. That individuality is often defined by the leagues sponsor.

We currently have the Evo Stik Northern and Evo Stik Southern Leagues as well as the Bostik (Isthmian) League – all part of the same overarching adhesive company which makes it – at first glance anyway – a bit sticky to navigate in terms of what’s where and who’s what. At least for us.

When I was a lad, you had the Dr. Martens or Beazer Homes Southern League, or the Diadora of ICIS (insurance company) Isthmian League.

But then you also had the Zamaretto and Skrill Leagues (answers to what products those were on a postcard) so I guess we can’t really moan!

Like I say, this isn’t to knock that particular sponsor but if they could just come up with a third globally renowned brand, perhaps by Wednesday lunchtime that’d be ace.

More fixtures at the end of the season

Flooded Larges Lane. A very common site at Bracknell Town. Photo: Chris Day.
Flooded Larges Lane. A very common site at Bracknell Town. Photo: Chris Day.

A fixture secretary really can’t win. See this season just gone: front load it with fixtures because the previous season lost nearly two months due to awful weather and get a really mild winter with barely two weekends of lost fixtures.

Cue people like us moaning there are no fixtures at the end of the season.

Next season, start with a more even fixture list and lose three months due to snow/sleet/flooding. Like we said, the fixture secretary can’t win!

Berkshire’s dominance continuing

You may be familiar with our friends Kelsey and Ryan who run the excellent Severn Sport, covering non league clubs in the west and specifically Gloucestershire.

As with clubs on the pitch, we have a friendly rivalry with conversations online often boiling down to the hashtags #westisbest or #eastisbest.

Over the last couple of season’s Berkshire has dominated (in our opinion) with a Hellenic League title, an FA Vase and dominance of the Hellenic League Challenge Cup – and we’ve been able to laud it over our western neighbours at every opportunity.

Of course, that is all tongue in cheek but the challenge for Berkshire is on with both Longlevens and Tuffley Rovers finishing strongly while Bishop’s Cleeve and Brimscombe & Thrupp were all in the title mix.

Perhaps though, after Shrivenham’s brilliant run.. maybe we all need to be looking over our shoulder at the Oxfordshire express coming up in the outside lane!


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