REDISCOVERING THE LOVE FOR NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL
Personal memories recalled by Chris Batey for Blues Talk, and dedicated to his dad…
I am hoping to give a little insight into how I became a big supporter of my local non-league teams, I genuinely hope they all do well nowadays despite growing up as a Windsor and Eton supporter, how my football supporting life has gone full circle, after my Dad taking me to games and now I take him to games, if not every Saturday then 3 out of 4 weekends a month will be spent watching a local game.
Without fail you feel a part of it, the people are always friendly, affordable, beer and burgers and the occasional programme, seriously what is not to like.
This is also dedicated to my Dad who absolutely loves his football, he lived in Newcastle during his younger days and still talks about standing on the Gallowgate watching Wor Jackie Milburn.
Hope you enjoy the following…
Where to start?
The first pro game I ever attended was 17/08/1974 was at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea lose at home to Carlisle, now, I was 5 and a half when my old man deemed it a good idea to drag me there for something to do on a Saturday.
He wasn’t even a fan of either club and nor was I (I am QPR).
To this day I had no idea what made him think this was a good idea for a 1st match.
We stood on the shed end, I hated it, we left at half time and it was on Match of the day that night.
My love affair with attending football matches had ended before it began then?
Well, for a few years yes it had, I would much rather be out playing football and generally messing about, growing up in Windsor was great with all the wide open space to play. Jumpers for goalposts? You betcha.
He also took me to Elm Park and Loftus Road a few times when I was about 9/10 which was preferable, there I fell in love with the real hoops in West London.
Stag Meadow – Windsor and Eton
This is the ground I attended more than any other in my pre teenage years.
Walking there on Saturday knocking on my mate’s doors on the way, I reckon about 10/15 of us used to go, I don’t believe we paid to get in very often, usually choosing the jumping the fence method to save money for a treat from the snack bar or whatever it was called.
These were the best times as a kid, we always took a ball for a kickabout before, during and after the games. Windsor and Eton was our club, they were decent back in the day, did well in the league, had FA Cup runs to the 1st and even 2nd round (proper).
Preseason was played against Arsenal (1st team) and even Red Star Belgrade, we had our first footballing heroes watching the Royalists. Although Stan Bowles or Phil Parkes were the ones I wanted to be during the aforementioned kickabouts.
Stag Meadow is where I found out that the vast majority that watched all lived within a mile or so of the ground, all locals, it was our club, our home town and we cared. Something that is lacking in the money laden big boys league. This I found out later in life is something that hasn’t changed, the people I see on a regular basis around the (mainly berks/Bucks) non-league circuit are local, the clubs are their clubs, and always will be.
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Windsor and Eton FC