HAVING been a Roots Hall regular in my younger years, I was plunged into the world of non-league in the late 1960’s, when a group of us had this bright idea over a few beers (like you do), to attempt to form a senior club to represent the area around Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham.

As the club slowly progressed through the lower leagues, I was involved in numerous administrative roles, including secretary, press officer and club general manager, so as you can imagine, I’m really loving non-league at the moment.

It is great watching this close-knit little club more than holding its own at National League South level, just two promotions away from the Football League.

Nowadays, in retirement, I help out where I can, manning the PA at Rookery Hill, helping keep the Rocks Facebook page up to date, acting as an unofficial club historian and, along with Rocks’ travelling band of “Saga Louts”, testing the beer and burgers at all these new grounds we have been visiting since our promotion last year.

I’m sure most people will say the same or similar, but it’s the people who make non-league so different.

Over the years I’ve met and befriended so many people from such a wide variety of backgrounds, all bonded by a love of non-league. It’s always great to meet up with old acquaintances as you travel round the non-league circuit.

From a spectator’s viewpoint, you can become so much more involved than you would when watching the bigger league clubs.

Attending a non-league game has so much to offer if you make the effort to visit your local club.

Pop into the bar before the game, have a chat and maybe a swift half with fans of both clubs. Watching the game, you can get up close to the action, you’ll be surprised at the enthusiasm and commitment of players and fans alike.

At half-time sample the delights of the snack bar, then back into the bar after the game where you can mingle freely with the players, management and supporters of both clubs to talk over the game.

Premier League it ain’t, but it’s so much more fun.