As football supporters turn up the protests against spiralling admission prices at Premier League and Championship games, the annual Non-League Day this Saturday gives clubs the chance to remind fans what there is on offer at the game’s grassroots level.
Last weekend saw protests against high ticket prices at Premier League games as well as some Football League matches to deliver the ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ message – a call for all away tickets in England and Wales to be capped at £20.
With Mansfield Town charging far less than the top two tiers to watch good quality League Two football on the door step, Non-League Day has unfortunately fallen on the same day the high-flying Stags have a home clash with bottom club Newport County.
But the grassroots sides will still want to try to get local football fans in to watch them when the Stags are away from home on other weeks.
Non-League Day was set up in 2010 as a social media experiment among friends after being inspired by a pre-season trip to watch Queens Park Rangers play at Tavistock in Devon.
It is now an event backed by Premier League and Football League clubs, MPs, celebrities, media organisations, charities and most importantly the non-League clubs themselves and the fans that turn up on the day.
Always scheduled to coincide with an international break, Non-League Day gives fans of Premier League and Championship sides the chance to experience football at a level they may be otherwise unfamiliar with.
It gives them the chance to go along and see what’s going on at a club that might be on their doorstep which they’ve never shown any interest in before or even knew existed.
Many non-League clubs field more than just a first team, with the money that is taken at the turnstiles often part-funding thriving youth set-ups and facilities that can be used by the whole community for other purposes.
At Northern Counties East League Division One level, AFC Mansfield are at home on Saturday to Selby Town.
To mark Non-League Day the Bulls will begin their schools programme with up to 100 children joining them from Wynndale Primary School.
As part of this, AFC Mansfield will be making a donation back to the school for every child who attends. Each child will receive a goody bag and after this the club will invite a different school to each of their Saturday home games for the rest of the season
“We look forward to welcoming the families on Saturday and further schools in the coming weeks,” said a club spokesman. “Come along and support the Bulls on Non-League day.”
Although away on Saturday, Clipstone, in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division, are offering free entry to U16s for all remaining league games this season.
Fellow Premier League side Rainworth MW already have an offer in place to Stags fans when Mansfield are away or have no game.
At home to Worksop Town (3pm) this Saturday, they will have pre-match entertainment with Worksop Boys and Girls U9s playing a game before the main match.
Other local games at Central Midlands League level include Bilsthorpe v Easington, Glapwell v Stapenhill, Blidworth Welfare v Real United and Sherwood Colliery v Eastwood Community.