The Premier League may attract all the money, glamour and attention of English football, but there is a joy attached to supporting a lower league team which cannot be found in the top flight.
There are few more colourful experiences than a trip to a match in the lower divisions, where the eccentricities of English football can still be found.
We’ve decided to celebrate the ups and downs of supporting smaller clubs. Even if you dream of the Premier League, there’s still that nagging sense that you wouldn’t want to lose all of this.
Some weekends you’ll witness a goal Lionel Messi would have been proud of. Other weekends, entertainment comes in a different form.
The variety of grounds and places you get to visit in the Football League is undoubtedly one of its biggest charms. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the uncovered away end at Gillingham.
Ipswich Town Away Support At Priestfield Stadium Today. pic.twitter.com/4WVuHYF9SZ
— Lee Clifton (@FOM_BLOG) September 21, 2019
LIVERPOOL FANS COMPLAIN ABOUT TICKET 🎫 PRICES I PAY £410……SEASON TICKET AT BRISTOL ROVERS……..⚽ ⚽ ⚽
— CAROLINE PLUMMER (@plummercaroline) February 7, 2016
The catering at Football League stadiums isn’t always worth shouting about, but several clubs have very, very strong pie games.
F*ck off, mate.
You live in Bristol and a Liverpool fan in your local is taking the p*ss. When did you last go to a game, fella?
— Chris Pither (@c_pither) October 25, 2015
“And it’s Bristol City, Briiiiiistol City FC…”
Only finish third did you, mate? Poor fella. Try being a Port Vale fan.
In leagues where pretty much every club is skint, there’s faint hope for all…
It doesn’t matter who you sign when you’re in the Premier League, there’ll be people on Twitter and forums claiming to know everything about them after watching a YouTube compilation.
There are some signings in the Football League, however, that even the biggest Football Manager addict hasn’t heard of before.
— Jonne Lindblom (@JonneLindblom) September 4, 2015
There’s generally a reason nobody has heard of them before, like.
— Andrew Steele-Davis (@andrewsteeled) January 7, 2016
— C (@Ciaran_Hart1) January 7, 2016
Blackpool team sheet……The Trialist brothers must be good pic.twitter.com/uhqRjLzjYi
— UTFR 🇾🇪 (@ManUtd_HQ) July 19, 2014
Every club has got their stories about the trialists they didn’t sign that turned out to be brilliant.
Remind me why we didn't sign Josh Windass when we had him on trial? Linked to Arsenal for £1million today #crewealex
— Adam Longhurst (@Adalon88) November 10, 2015
Why the hell did we not sign that David Ball when we had him on trial at the start of the season, he'll probably end up knocking us out now
— Jacob (@jacobkilner) December 8, 2015
Every club also has a story about the top-class player they had on loan as a kid. And the potential isn’t always there to see…
On this day: In 2013, Leeds signed Ross Barkley on loan from Everton. He made 4 appearances and failed to score. pic.twitter.com/0duJldeZKK
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) January 11, 2015
He may have dropped out of the Football League now, but Jamie Cureton will be ruining for someone’s weekend forever more.
All football fans worry when their team’s drawn against a lower-league team in the cup, but that fear’s doubled in the first two rounds of the FA Cup when Football League teams face the very real fear of being knocked out by a non-league team.
But if you can get through those first two rounds, a third-round tie against a big Premier League team can be the highlight of a season.
— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) December 26, 2015
While Premier League and Championship fans are moaning about their team not having a game that weekend, you can allow yourself a rare moment of smugness.
International break = no Championship football! Who's off to League One/League Two/non-league games? Who are we all supporting today?
— The72: EFL News (@FBL72) October 10, 2015
…but it isn’t always a good thing
Well done the 169 Carlisle fans who made the 779-mile round trip to Plymouth only to lose 4-1. Who let that be a midweek fixture though?!
— Paul Sheehan (@PaulNut) August 19, 2015
There’s lots about lower-league football that isn’t great, but there’s a realness about much of it and still a genuine connection between club and fans in many cases, a feeling that your support really is needed and appreciated.
You’ll still always dream of making the Premier League, though.