Ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes at non-league clubs? Our very own "Non League Secret Footballer" will be sharing stories with you every week from a player's point of view from his time in non-league, into professional football and back again. Instead of cliches and quotes about being "as sick as a parrot, at the end of the day and it was a game of two halves," you will get real stories, behind real situations you may not even know happen at our level of football. Football at these levels is full of many, many surprising things. This just might open your eyes to things players you watch, play with or against have to go through on a weekly basis.
Check back here every Monday for the latest installment.....
"I play non league football now simply because I love football, and also at my age have made the transition into looking at my life after football. I have set up a business and I have aspirations to be a manager myself and the best route for that is by starting lower down and progressing up, which is what I did whilst playing as well.
Some of my mates have asked me why I still commit so much time to playing non-league football now especially as I have been on the other side for a while as a pro, and all the other things that I have going on in my life. A major reason is I still love the banter of non league and that I'm playing with and against 'real' people. At this level we all have other jobs so its not as cut throat as the pro game. By this I mean examples such as a time while I was a pro of one particular guy I had the misfortune to play with, who was a complete snake. He was always in the managers office after training and he eventually had our captain have the armband taken off him. Guess who the new skipper was..... yeah you guessed it, the snake. It's no surprise to see he is captain again of the team he plays for now! Sucking up to people obviously pays off, but for me, it's quite frankly embarrassing and is the kind of thing that many in the pro game seem to do to get ahead! I can't remember ever hearing about anything like that happening at non-league level. It might have happened at other clubs, but is not the kind of thing that I have ever seen or had other players ever talk to me about.
In non-league the lads are so much better and there is nowhere near the level of 'backstabbing' as in the pro game, where it's every man for himself because its their main job. I also enjoy speaking to the lads about the jobs that they do outside of football which is also a welcome break from the rigours of football. The stories the boys come up with about some of the things they get up to away from football always puts a smile on my face, and sometimes its worth going to football just for the latest stories!
I don't miss the travelling up and down the country that full time football brings, the over night stays used to be so mind numbing and tedious in my opinion and used to infuriate me, especially spending a lot of time with players and managers I quite frankly couldn't stand and wouldn't have chosen to spend time with outside of the game.
The non league game and the level I play now means none of that over night and 5 hours on a coach malarkey and I absolutely love it! That's certainly an aspect of the full time game I do not miss at all.
It's not all great at non-league level though, but anyone who has been involved at this level will know the things I am talking about here. For example, the training is maybe not always the best and some of the things we get asked to do can sometimes make no sense to me whatsover. I have a saying though that I always remind myself in these times, that 'it is what it is' and just get my head round it and carry on. A lot of lads I've played with have had their careers cut short due to injury and I'm blessed that I am still able to get my boots on at 3pm on a Saturday at a good level still and enjoy it.