If I am being a) somewhat facetious b) trusting of google maps, my local team is Manchester United.
Apologies to any Reds reading this article – it won’t be about them.
When I think local football I don’t think Manchester United, I think West Didsbury and Chorlton, who play a shade over a mile away from Old Trafford.
I think teams who probably aren’t the only team you follow, teams you might not have heard of outside of the local area and teams who are totally based and dependent on the community around them.
I have followed “local football” for a long time and there are some dizzying highs and some fairly flat moments too.
I think for everyone the biggest high you will ever get supporting a lower level “local” team is that of a giant-killing. I’ve made no secret of my fondness of Curzon Ashton who have had some good FA cup runs in the past. It’s a real buzz and the atmosphere around the club and local area is tangible. Just think of the build-up to Sutton’s FA cup fixture with Arsenal a few seasons ago. You simply don’t have that anticipation around watching Manchester City play Arsenal.
The community around the clubs is incredible, match days are staffed by volunteers, I’ve been to several games where the players know a few of the fans either as they are regular faces, or because they work together (seriously).
The football isn’t as pretty as “Sari ball” or tippy tappy Guardiola football, it’s often hard and physical and can often make for great watching for very different reasons.
There are of course lows, as there are with following every team, and I sometimes find following watching National League and National League North football frustrating. Money is as big a factor here as it is in the top echelons of the game, and these are tough leagues to get out of. If you support a team who seem to get stuck at a level and simply cannot afford to invest in a squad that other clubs do (here’s looking at you Salford City). It can be tedious to watch your team nearly make the playoffs or finish mid-table when they could have done better.
However as much as I do moan at games that I’m cold or that the Tameside stadium is a tedious walk from Ashton train station, I try not to dwell on the odd frustration. I love football at this level, the rising stars leaving to go to bigger and better things, the old stalwarts who have been playing at this level forever and a day, the die-hard fans, or the locals who popped in for a game to see what all the fuss is about.
The very best thing about football at this level, that watching Premier League, or even EFL football can never give you is, you feel you are a part of it all.