Category Archives: Non League

What Will The Sin Bin Rule Mean For The Non-League

Non-League Football will enter a new era of football with the introduction of the Sin-Bin rule, as football takes a leaf out of Rugby’s book concerning on the field action.

The act will aim to see football clean up on the disciplinary front with regards to dissent towards referees. The temporary banning of a player will aim to clean up the game and, cut out any ill-discipline that currently exists within the game.

Going up to step five of the National League, this decision taken by the Non-League clubs looks to be a popular one. Only a few years back, it seemed football was making a positive step forward bringing in yellow cards for swearing at officials.

Now football is going a step further, meaning a player can be suspended from playing for up to 10 minutes in a game. This will be for dissent and dissent only, whereas normal fouls will result in yellow and reds cards only still.

It seems very clear the ability to sin bin a player will cut out the ugly side of the game and clean up football. Although the new rule will not go as far as penalising players for physical fouls, individual player behaviour should only improve with this rule introduction.

Various matches at grassroots level saw the use of the sin bin in the 2018/19 season. Reaction given gives the FA enough reason to believe this new rule change can only be good for the game going forward. There was a reduction in dissent of 38% in the games trailed, with nearly three-quarters of players wanting to continue with the sin-bin as did the vast majority of managers.

Non-League football may not represent the best football in terms of quality, yet it is certainly setting fresh examples when it comes to off-field matters.

Joel Senior’s Future Looks Very Bright After Joining Burnley From Curzon Ashton

Curzon Ashton, like many teams at the Non-League level, has a squad with a number of players who haven’t quite made the cut in the academy system in other clubs.

However, for the likes of Ollie Crankshaw and Joel Senior, the opposite is true, and they have been spotted by other clubs.

Senior, in particular, has landed himself a five-tier leap up to Premier League club Burnley. For a player still in his teens, this is an incredible opportunity. We had a brief chat with Mark Bradshaw, the manager of Curzon Ashton who is delighted for the young player who he described this as being the “opportunity of a lifetime” for this “strong dynamic full back” and mentioned that many clubs were interested in him.

This will be a big leap and a learning curve for such a young player, who spent most of his career at Curzon playing for youth teams. He will go from playing with semi-pros to being in what is regarded, as one of the best and most competitive teams in the league. Potentially marking the likes of Lingard, Sterling and Salah next year, which sounds daunting.

However, I imagine for this young player this would be the stuff of dreams, as he will playing with players who would have been England regulars when he was very young, such as Joe Hart and Peter Crouch.

There is still a way to go I’m sure before he is a first team regular, and some time in the u23 ranks awaits. Nevertheless, it would be wonderful for a club with so many young players to produce a true Premier League regular, both for Joel and the club.

I’m sure all Curzon fans will join me in wishing him good luck, as will manager Mark Bradshaw.

The Close Season – Purgatory For the Average Football Fan

We should look forward to and enjoy the summer in the UK. It might not last long but given that there are some who think there is nothing better than a lazy sunny afternoon, drink in hand with the sun beating down on pale flesh it is worth waiting for.

On the other hand, however, there are some people who would rather be huddled in a cold stadium with freezing toes, yelling their disapproval at 11 men running around a muddy field.

Each to their own of course.

We can safely ignore the ones who call themselves sun lovers and leave them to their unhappy, peeling skin existence and concentrate instead on the plight of those of us who dread this time of year and shudder uncontrollably at any mention of the close season.

For us, games played in the snow, ice and rain after a nine-hour trip to Plymouth are to be enjoyed just as much as any package holiday to Lloret de Mar.

Everyone deserves a break of course, it gives us time to recharge our batteries and plan for the future. For football fans, however, the period between the FA Cup Final (the traditional end of the season) and the first Saturday of the new season is a yawning chasm that never seems to get narrower. There is the distraction of the World Cup and European Championships of course but, there is always the nagging doubt that you may have missed a rumour on Twitter about Oldham’s new centre half while you’re watching Peru v Namibia at 3 in the morning.

Any small snippet of news from your club is eagerly pounced upon, even if it’s an announcement about who will be sponsoring the club lawnmower when the new campaign begins. Those who are short on patience are harbingers of doom if the club hasn’t signed at least six new players by June 1st.

The new fixture list (20th June folks) is poured over as if it is a missive from another world. Away trips are planned and there is some comfort taken from the discovery that the Grimsby game, doesn’t clash with your daughter’s wedding after all.

However, this is only a brief hiatus and cannot put aside the horror that the new season is still an entire month away.

Eventually, there is an audible sigh from around the land as clubs post photos of new signings holding up scarfs inside empty grounds, and even though you’ve never heard of the player, for a brief moment he is everything you’ve been waiting for…The new season.

All Cup Finals Should Not Be Played at Wembley – Agree?

I was at the National League play-off final yesterday at Wembley Stadium. A great occasion for the fans of course, however, a mere 8,049 were inside the 90,000 capacity ground.

Next week is the FA Trophy final, an average crowd over the years of around 15,000 to 17,000 – similar to that of the National League Playoffs. However, again it will look lost inside the vast Wembley backdrop.

Yesterday seen two northern teams travel down to the Capital, each with an approx four-hour drive there and back. Early starts, late getting home. It’s a long day for the fans, although the flow of beer for many will help.

I was sat next to some rather tipsy Salford fans waiting for the underground, who just wanted to get home – this was 7 o’clock at night in Wembley Central. I didn’t get home myself until 10:30 pm.

Was it worth it for them Salford fans? Without a doubt, yes.

Nevertheless, my gripe with the use of Wembley is this, yes it’s a great day out and something not every fan will experience watching their team at the iconic ground. However, I don’t understand why if two northern teams are in a final, we have a nominated ground in the north – like Old Trafford of the Etihad.

Similar if it’s a northern and southern team, we have a neutral ground in the Midlands like Villa Park.

Leave the League Cup Final, the three EFL play-off finals and the FA Cup ONLY to be played at Wembley. The rest play at neutral grounds, because let’s face it FA Cup semi-finals are not a Wembley showpiece. They take the edge off truly getting to a Wembley final and, it’s double the expense for the travelling fans.

It would be easier for the money spending fans to get to, more fans would be more likely to go with shorter travelling distances and it would pump money into different parts of the country.

Yesterday could have been played at the Etihad. The numbers would have definitely been more and the chance to play at a Premier League stadium would have still been a massive day out.

This all will never happen of course, but in common sense terms, it makes total sense to all.

Salford City in The National League…Completed It Mate

Salford City were on the verge of club history, and well ahead of their projected league status as they entertained AFC Fylde in the National League Play-Off final at Wembley.

Having overseen three promotions in an amazing four seasons, many would have backed Salford to make it a fourth and second on the bounce into League Two. The opposition had been going great guns in the league, however, do have the distraction of the FA Trophy final back at Wembley next weekend.

The Ammies crowd outnumbered, outsang and nearly outfought the security, as they looked to drink up every second of the biggest game in their 79-year history. There was plenty of noise made by the Salford lot and you could feel the anticipation amongst the crowd.

Salford dominated from start to finish, with Fylde not really causing much concern for Graham Alexander’s backline. The early pressure paid off when a free kick bounced off a couple of Fylde players and, landed at the feet of the Mani Dieseruvwe, the striker duly put it away from around 8 yards out.

The men in yellow and black staged a little fightback, going close on a couple of occasions but nothing to nail-biting in all fairness.

Half time whistle went and Salford went in the happier, the crowd moved a little towards the centre of the goal as they looked to suck the ball in for that second goal, the goal that could really settle the nerves.

Up stepped Carl Piergianni with a bullet header from a corner, the Salford crowd erupted and chants of ‘Salford’s going up’ rang around the stand. Every time, I’ve watched Piergianni this season he has impressed me, he looks like a player that may be in demand once he gets in the spotlight of league football. Salford have got a proper defender there, and one that is always down for the cause.

With still over thirty minutes left of the match to play, Salford put themselves in easy mode and cruised to the final whistle. Things got a little bit more celebratory on the hour mark when Ibou Touray, was left to wander down his left flank from inside his own half to the 18-yard box. He put in one of his trademark crosses but surprised everyone, including himself by finding the far corner of the goal and it bouncing in off the post to settle the tie at 3-0.

A lot can be said for Salford meteoric rise through the non-league divisions since the class of 92 took over. However, what you can’t fault is the player’s effort and commitment to keep Salford striving forward.

This really is a fairytale, Roy of the rovers type stuff, and one that certainly grabs the imagination. I can predict a few disgruntled League Two fans next year when Salford hog the limelight, and it will certainly be a scalp most teams will want to add to their bow.

However, Salford has to be applauded for the way it’s run, and the setup behind the scenes. As we have seen so much this season with badly run clubs near falling out of the league, Salford has the chance, and fair play they’re taking it with both hands.  

Today Salford City or Fylde Will be Taking a Step Into The Unknown, Miles Ahead Of Expectation

Just over a decade ago AFC Fylde and Salford City were so far apart, one of the clubs had a different name and the others had a different colour for a home kit.

Fylde were named Kirkham & Wesham until the 2008/09 season before winning the FA Vase at Wembley, the same venue of the play-off final. Salford’s main kit was orange until a controversial colour change following on from the takeover that changed Non-League forever. 2014 was the year the Ammies found fame, following the takeover of The Class of 92.

It’s fair to say Fylde and Salford have more than ambitious owners. As near neighbours, Blackpool have suffered aplenty under the Oysten Family, the new up and coming Lancashire club have been doing the complete opposite. Under chairman David Haythornthwaite, a top of the range stadium and academy named Mill Farm has been constructed.

Now with Haythornwaite’s backing, they too have aimed to make the Football League. 2022 is their desired aim for League Two football, meaning if David Chanillor’s men come up short against Salford, they’re still ahead of progress to one day be in England’s top 92 teams. Alongside businessman Peter Lim, Gary Neville and co have something similar planned at the Peninsula Stadium.

Both teams have clear objectives, but by sunset tomorrow one side will have exceeded all aims and objectives. By August one of Fylde or Salford will welcome Oldham, Scunthorpe or Bradford to their respective stadia, while the other dust themselves down and goes again in the league they’ve spent nine months trying to get out of.

For Graham Alexander at Salford, promotion to the football league would be nothing short of his set standards. Only over a year ago Alexander was managing Scunthorpe in League One, come next season he may be taking his present team back to Glanford Park in League Two where the Irons have now been relegated to.

The former Scunthorpe and Fleetwood Town boss has been working with a lucrative budget this season, the reason why few eyebrows were raised when he made the rare step down in league quality. Most likely one of the few clubs below the Championship, let alone the National League to be able to have £4,000 a week Adam Rooney within his ranks, managing the club neighbouring Man United and City certainly holds a fair few bonuses.

But with money comes expectation and Salford have revelled in that. Set for another promotion, possibly their fourth in five seasons, working out where the momentum will end for the Ammies has been impossible. Working out where that will stop with victory tomorrow is a troublesome task as well.

Signings from Bristol Rovers (Rory Gaffney) and Chesterfield (Scott Wiseman) have helped Salford in their attempt to complete the last leg of their Non-League journey. In their way stand the club of the Fylde Coast. After finishing 5th in the regular league season and taking down Solihull Moors in last Sunday’s semi-final, they now have dreams and expectations of their own.

Two Things Brian Richardson Can Bring to FC United Next Season

This last season has been a rollercoaster of a season for FC United of Manchester, through having three managers and 57 players, it has been a season of constant change for the team in red.

In not having a stable squad throughout last season managed to contribute to the Red’s first relegation in their 14-year history. However, Neil Reynold will be hoping to put last season behind him and is already set up for the 2019/2020 season in the Evo-Stik North Premier, as the club announced on Friday that they have brought in a new Assistant Manager, ex-Prescot Cables manager Brian Richardson.

Richardson managed Prescot Cables for two and a half years, in that time he has brought great success to the club as Cables were just avoiding relegation before he took over. Since then, he got the Merseyside team into the playoffs where they just missed out after a late goal by Reynold’s former club, Bamber Bridge. Also under Richardson’s reign, he took them to three consecutive Liverpool Senior Cup Finals, in which they won the first two back to back but lost out to the last one to a penalty shootout. He managed Prescot for 137 matches, of those he won 68, which gives an incredible win percentage of 49.64!

Brian Richardson will be a great addition to Neil Reynold’s management team as he has much experience at this level, as he also worked at Skelmersdale United for ten years and was Assistant Manager. In FC United’s statement, Reynold’s stated “His knowledge at this level is exceptional and has a proven track record of recruiting and developing players” which is bound to get many FC United fans excited for the upcoming season after having such an unsettled squad for the majority of last season. The United faithful will be looking forward to seeing new faces enter Broadhurst Park, as well as seeing some familiar ones hopefully returning for another season at the club.

Since Richardson’s arrival, many FC fans are now looking forward to the season ahead. With having an experienced management team at this level will be a great asset for the club to have in trying to jump straight back up into the National League North, as well as attracting many players to potentially come and play for the team in red!

Radcliffe Passionate Fanbase Get Play-Off Win They Deserve

My first visit to the Neuven stadium as a neutral didn’t disappoint, with Radcliffe’s passionate fan base out in good voice in their Evo-Stick West Play-Off Final against Leek Town yesterday.

It was Boro’s first chance at promotion in 16 years, not since the 02/03 season have they been in contention for promotion to a higher level.

The game started at a fairly low tempo, with Radcliffe having most of the ball and creating all the chances. But it was Leek Town who made the breakthrough with an excellent ball into the box by former Liverpool academy man Dan Trickett-Smith, who found Rob Stevenson unmarked in the box and duly poked the ball home past Radcliffe keeper Ollie Martin to give Leek a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.

This was the high spot of a fairly tame first half. Radcliffe made one change in the break, Matty Crothers coming on for Lee Neville. The team clearly responded positively to Boro manager Jon Mackens half time pep talk, as they stepped up their gear and played with a greater sense of urgency than in the first half.

As Leek struggled to match their opponents, Radcliffe started to find joy down the left-hand side of the pitch. Getting almost instant second-half success when top scorer Tunde Owolabi tapped into the back of the Leek net from a couple of yards out, after a well-squared pass from the recently introduced Matty Crothers in the 46th minute.

The vocal support from the Radcliffe faithful grew as they could sense a real chance of promotion unfolding on the pitch in front of them. Boro continued to turn the screw and apply pressure with an Owolabi effort firing just wide, and a goalmouth scramble in the Leek town box seeing many efforts blocked.

The pressure ultimately told. In the 62nd minute, Kyle Harrison did well to jink his way into the box from the left wing once again, where Leek left-back Lewis Short lunged in and brought Harrison down. Ben Wharton stepped up and fired home the resulting penalty to complete the second half turnaround.

Leek Town was to have a late penalty shout of their own turned down in the 75th minute when Rob Stevenson went down to a sliding Boro challenge in the box. The referee immediately waved it away to the relief of the home supporters, who were becoming more jubilant as the final whistle approached.

Five tense minutes of added time ticked away and as the full-time whistle was blown. Joyful scenes ensued. Large sections of the fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes in what was not only a huge win for the club but, a huge win for the town of Radcliffe. Such passion for teams representing their community is often lost at higher levels of the game.

Radcliffe were very gracious hosts and look to be operating in the right way and hopefully, have more success coming their way in the future. Today’s promotion was for their loyal fan base and for their former club photographer Pete Lee, who sadly passed away in a road traffic accident earlier this season.

Today’s performance and result would have made him very proud.

Photo Cred: Radcliffe Boro/ Robert Duckworth 

Bury & Stockport Are Up, Bolton Down, Salford in The Playoffs, with Rochdale & Wigan Safe

This is the EFL and Below Show from the Manchester Football Social, your look at all of the footballing action in Greater Manchester that doesn’t come from the Premier League.

Niall McCaughan is joined by Ian Foran and Aaron Benson from the Football Manc Cave after a busy period which saw Bury promoted to League One despite their off-field issues, and Stockport County making a welcome return to the 5th tier of English football after winning the National League North.

Bolton continue to be shrouded in ownership doubts and were relegated from the Championship in a week where the players went on strike – the same can’t be said for Paul Cook’s Wigan Athletic who dug in to secure their place in the second tier for another season, much like Brian Barry-Murphy’s Rochdale side who have avoided relegation in League One.

Salford are unsure of their fate as they prepare to take on the National League playoffs – plenty to talk about of course on this week’s episode!

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A Look Back at Salfords Recent Play Off History

In the five years since the class of 92 took over Salford City, it’s seen the Ammies gain three promotions in four seasons, and possibly a fourth on the cards.

Living life in the Northern Premier League Division One North for six seasons, it was seventh time lucky after managerial duo Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson took over the reins midseason in 2015.

Much as been made of the Co92 takeover, and how Salford are ‘buying’ their way up to the football league. However, it takes a well-structured club with determined players to claw their way through the leagues.

Furthermore, that determined set of players and managers have got Salford City up to the National League and within touching distance of stepping into the unknown world of league football, giving them 10 years to reach their 15-year plan of playing in the Championship.

Let’s take a look back at what Salford have achieved since 2015…

2015: Northern Premier League Division One North : Champions

The then Ramsbottom United managerial duo Morley and Johnson took over in January 2015, with the Ammies teetering near the top of the table. the Duo won 15 of the last 17 matches in charge and gaining promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division with a game to spare.

Gareth Seddon was the top scorer that season with 24 goals.

2016: Northern Premier League Premier Division: Play Off Champions

Danny Webber inspired Salford to a double bounce promotion with 16 goals in Salfords season at the seventh tier of English football.

An FA Cup run to the 2nd round proper was a major achievement for the Ammies, seeing off League Two side Notts County and taking Hartlepool to extra time in a replay.

They finished third in the league, seeing off Ashton United 3-1 in the semi-final, and Workington 3-2 in thrilling style to reach the highest level in their 76-year history.

2017: National League North: Playoff Semi-Final

Salford’s first season in the sixth tier of English football seen them not taste a promotion for the first time in the Co92’s very short history in charge.

They became a full-time club in 2017 and unveiled the newly named Peninsula Stadium. Mike Phenix became Salford’s top scorer with 15 goals, helping them achieved a fourth-placed finish. They, however, lost in the semi-final on penalties to eventual winners Halifax Town, after the teams couldn’t be split after the two legs.

2018: National League North: Champions

Salford set history once again by gaining promotion to the National League, and once again achieving the highest level the club has played at.

The Ammies finished top with a game to spare, Jack Redshaw topped the scoring charts with 17 goals. Unfortunately in the summer that followed the managerial duo parted ways by mutual consent, which seen now manager Graham Alexander take the reigns.

2019: National League: ???

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