Thursday Nov 29, 2012


Manchester United could learn a thing or two from Mangotsfield United. Liverpool could take a leaf out of Liversedge’s book. Arundel could show Arsenal how it’s done whilst Chelsea could take a little inspiration from Chelmsford.  

Supporters of the commonly-known ‘big four’ clubs in England, basing achievement on title successes and cup final appearances, might scoff at the paragraph above.

But it’s not based on that. It’s based on the wonderful world of non-league football, a world where thousands of clubs stretching to all four corners of the country continue to uphold the values and traditions of the sport which many of us fell in love with from an early age.

It’s a world of pies and pints, terraces and togetherness, real ale and real people. And all of this is played out across a special landscape of quaint and atmospheric grounds at which a twenty pound note will secure a ticket, a programme, a pie, a couple of beers in the clubhouse and still leave you with a handful of change.

Even though non-league football might not receive the coverage it deserves, compared to the constant exposure of everything concerned with the 92 clubs of the Premier League and Football League, there are thousands of people across the country who would wax lyrical about the clubs, and in particular the people, who make non-league football the special sporting institution it is. None more so, in fact, than Sky Sports’ Martin Tyler.

In his foreword for the latest edition of the superb Non League Club Directory, produced by the equally-excellent Mike and Tony Williams, Tyler commented: “Wherever you live there is a non-league club round the corner at which you can find camaraderie, community spirit and entertaining football.

Well said that man. In recent years attendances at many non-league grounds have actually increased and hopefully more and more football fans will continue to take in a game at their local club from time to time.

Non-league football truly is the antidote to the sterilisation of the modern game many supporters have become increasingly disillusioned with. So what’s the relevance of all this grassroots enthusiasm you might ask? Well, a brand new magazine is getting ready to launch in December which hopes to encapsulate anything and everything that’s good about the non-league game.

The new publication is titled ‘Seven Steps’, as it plans to focus on all aspects of all seven levels of the National League System. From the more recognised names such as Wrexham and Luton Town in the Conference (step one) right down to clubs such as Percy Main Amateurs and Long Stratton competing in leagues such as the Northern Alliance and Anglian Combination (step seven).  

Seven Steps will be published on a bi-monthly basis during the remainder of this season with issue one on sale throughout December and January.

The magazine will be available to purchase at numerous non-league grounds across the country and fans are encouraged to pick up a copy as £2 from every sale will go directly into the club’s coffers.

Indeed, Seven Steps hopes to provide fans with an entertaining and informative read as part of their matchday routine whilst at the same time providing non-league clubs with another way of raising much-needed funds.

As our front cover shows, one of our main features in issue one centres on Cheadle Town from the North West Counties League

Known as Manchester AFC whenever they embark on one of their legendary tours, this is the story of the club who have travelled the world over the last fifty years, becoming the first British club ever to play in Cuba and playing in front of 65,000 people at Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium along the way

We’ve got an exclusive extract from Stuart Fuller’s superb ‘A Season With Lewes FC’ book, in which the author goes behind the scenes at the East Sussex club during their historic 125th anniversary season.

And, as we head into the festive season, we’ve got a copy of the book to give away in a special competition. Readers of a non-league magazine are likely to have a slight interest in The FA’s three main cup competitions.

Two people who certainly fall into that category are Droylsden fans ‘Tony One Leg’ and ‘Johnny The Rhino’ from the popular One Leg On The Cup website.

Having spent last season following all fourteen rounds of the FA Cup, from Chadderton to Wembley, they’re spending this season watching a game from every single round of the FA Cup, FA Trophy and FA Vase – all 34 of them

In between their many hours spent on motorways and railways, we caught up with the friendly duo for a chat about their adventures.

Staying with the FA Cup, there’s a chance it might not come as a surprise that none of the Seven Steps team managed to attend the final of the first competition which took place 140 years ago.

However, we did make it to the recent rematch between Wanderers and Royal Engineers at The Oval to witness a unique event, and a few goals too. Many other clubs are featured in the first issue, including Chester, Dunston UTS, St Albans City, Merthyr Town and Scarborough Athletic.

We’ll also be putting Stamford under the spotlight as we speak to Chris Rivett, the driving force behind the Lincolnshire club who is also believed to be the second youngest chairman in the country.

On top of all that there’s also a number of exciting regular features which will be included in every issue of the magazine, such as ‘Fan In Focus’, ‘On The Hop’ and ‘The Last Word’.

Finally, Seven Steps would certainly like to help bring all non-league fans together in one community. Social media plays its part in proceedings these days so if you’re a fan of grassroots football and have a Twitter account, please spare a few seconds to follow @sevenstepsmag and you’ll be able to keep up-to-date with all of the magazine’s developments. Meanwhile, Facebook users should be able to find us by searching for ‘Seven Steps’.

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