NLP says...

It’s a topsy turvy world in Non-League

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - Alex Narey Ed­i­tor – @anarey_NLP

The National League has come in for a fair bit of crit­i­cism this season from me, no­tably for the post­pone­ments at Soli­hull Moors at the start of the season, and last week at Eastleigh. But for ex­cite­ment and de­liv­er­ing the un­ex­pected, it’s cur­rently, if you will ex­cuse the ob­vi­ous pun, in a league of its own.

Ev­ery week I am left scratch­ing my head as I look at the ta­ble; ev­ery week I am ex­pect­ing one of the big guns and pre-season favourites to fire out a marker to the rest and state their in­ten­tions to grab the divi­sion by the neck. This week, case in point: Tran­mere clock up back-to-back wins af­ter a slow start and a third against Ch­ester will see Micky Mel­lon’s side spring into the top seven. But it doesn’t hap­pen. Mean­while, the top four all win: Mac­cles­field, Dover, Wok­ing and Sut­ton. Back in Au­gust, if you asked a thou­sand fans for their top quar­tet at the start of Oc­to­ber, not one is com­ing up with that com­bi­na­tion.

As I write this, there have been no fewer than six sides to top the National League this term. I know it’s early days and there will al­ways be a few ups and downs in the open­ing weeks, but it re­ally is any­one’s for the tak­ing. Some man­agers will be flum­moxed by it all, while oth­ers like Craig Har­ri­son at Hartle­pool and Ley­ton Ori­ent’s Steve Davis will be grate­ful for the con­ges­tion – just nine points sep­a­rate first and 15th – con­sid­er­ing the mixed starts their sides have had in the Non-League ranks.

But of all the clubs to have taken me by sur­prise, it has to be Wok­ing, who I feared would re­ally strug­gle this year. I per­son­ally viewed the re­cruit­ment of Anthony Lim­brick to be some­thing of a ‘Yes’ man who would keep the King­field board happy. The po­lar op­po­site of pre­vi­ous boss Garry Hill, who al­ways brought a cer­tain men­ace to pro­ceed­ings, I just didn’t think Lim­brick’s CV – where he had been a youth team boss at Southamp­ton – gave him the tools needed for suc­cess in the National League.

But he, and Wok­ing, can no longer be ig­nored, nei­ther can Sut­ton, or Dover, or Mac­cles­field. That said, I still think Tran­mere will come good and win it. You can in­sert your own jokes here…

Brows­ing Twit­ter yes­ter­day morn­ing, the above tweet caught my eye. For me, noth­ing bet­ter sums up what Non-League foot­ball is all about, and Non-League Day for that matter.

There were bumper crowds across the land and I just hope a few more faces re­turn next week to re­live the magic of foot­ball in its purest form. So to all the vol­un­teers who give their hearts and souls to their clubs, thanks for mak­ing it the great day that it is…

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