A new newsletter first series on what grassroots football means to people involved in the game. Robbie Stelling is third from the left in the picture above.
Football warms the heart. Trust me, at this time of year in particular, that isn’t always the case – and it doesn’t warm hands, feet or faces either.
Standing near the touchline, sitting in the plastic seats or sheltering in the media area at any of West Berkshire’s local football stadiums means running the risk of frostbite as the winter chill draws in, particularly during those late-night midweek matches.
Thankfully, I can always be sure of a warm welcome. The 90 minutes on the pitch can indeed make or break a supporter’s weekend, but it’s not all we go to the football for.
As a proud Hartlepool United fan, I was relatively unaware of football beyond the Football League until my beloved club were relegated to the National League in 2017. At the time, it felt like the worst thing in the world.
“Plus, there’s no VAR”
Since then, and since I started covering football in West Berkshire, I’ve learnt a lot about what some might call ‘proper football’. It’s a wonderful world full of die-hard supporters, storied careers, questionable burgers and familiar faces that soon become friends. Plus, there’s no VAR.
Non-league football has taught me that, while winning is great, losing doesn’t have to ruin my weekend. The little things make a day at the football so special – even in the freezing cold winter weather.
Sometimes, the best thing about the football isn’t the football.
This article appeared first in the Football in Berkshire Friday newsletter. To get your regular dose of Berkshire football news and stories in your inbox, click here to subscribe. If you’d like to feature here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire.