Putting something back

Sometimes ideas come to me in the weirdest place.  This week, whilst in the middle of one of the best concerts I have ever heard in my life I realised something.  An Epiphany.  Which is quite ironic as a) I was born on Epiphany (6th January) and b) I was in a church (The Union Chapel).  There I was listening to Scala sign Creep when I simply had to stop and write down my thoughts.

We sit at our laptops, PC’s, iPad’s and the like writing all of our good stuff on a daily basis, sharing it with a small community of like minded people.  We are in essence fuelling our own fire.  But there will come a time when our product will become a commodity, homogenised. There will be little left to cover and then we will all start writing about the same things.  I dread the day Beckham announces his retirement for instance.

When the Euro2012 starts next year we will all be watching, listening, writing and reading about the same thing.  Every game will be previewed and reviewed from every different angle there is, but the end result will never change. But there is another world out there.  A world where people do not spend hours online, not just because they can’t but because they do not want to.  What can we do to reach out to them?

Hang on in there – I am getting to the point.

An article in the award winning Staines Town programme

Last season I emailed 100 non league teams and asked them if they wanted me to provide them with content for their programmes.  I didn’t ask for a fee – just a credit if they used an article and a copy of the match day programme for posterity.  Out of the 100, 31 bothered to respond, and 29 said they would love to have stuff.  They ranged from the likes of Kidderminster Harriers and Cambridge United in the Blue Square Bet Premier down to the likes of Lordswood in the Kent Senior League.  The articles were all generic football ones – some of which that had appeared on these very pages such as our look back at Subbuteo or our Non League manifesto.  Examples of how the articles looked can be found here. For some clubs the requirement to produce a programme is an expensive chore (and it is a league requirement) so any help that can be provided is a welcome opportunity.

So why don’t we, as a community, offer some help.  Many people already contribute to their own club’s match day magazine or periodicals.  But what if 50 of us all donated 1 article?  That would mean that any club who wanted to take part would have two less pages to worry about for the whole season, but also would be putting well written, topical and independent articles in front of their fans.  Fans who more often that not will have never of heard of who we are, and of our work.  Fans who will then come back for more from our websites.

It doesn’t have to be brand new or exclusive content.  It won’t harm our search engine rankings by replicating material off line.  We all have an article or two that we are quite proud of I am sure that we could donate.  And think of the warm glow you will get in seeing your article in print.  Who know where it may lead to in the future?

All we need to do is create a simple portal where clubs can go and download the articles themselves.  It would take all of 10 minutes to set this up using Calaméo (an example of how easy here).  They can them use as few or as many as they want.

That is my idea.  Not revolutionary, not life changing but one area where we can give a very little back to the small clubs.  So who is in?

STOP PRESS – 22 JUNE 2011 – The portal is now live and kicking – head on over to Nonleaguenotes.co.uk to see how it all works.

BTW – Scala were fantastic.  If you ever get a chance to see them live then go…especially the cute one to the right of the conductor’s elbow in the above video.

To chat about this and any other random football topic, head on over to our EFW Chat forum.


  1. Good article, and something I thoroughly advocate.

    My own webstie http://www.freelancefootball.com will be up and running later this year, and I have a number of articles on there which will be available for download and/or use in matchday programmes. I am happy to add my work to the portal you mention.

    All I would ever ask a club is they credit the piece with my name and website.

  2. Great idea, and something we’ve been doing on Merseyside for the last six months. It’s definitely something I’d be happy to get involved in on a wider scale.

  3. What a great idea. The mention of portals scares me a little, but that’s due to my technical deficiencies. I’d be very interested it taking part.

  4. I am in. IN. I’ve done some football articles in the past, and being from North America I can offer something offbeat.

  5. Count me in. The key thing is ensuring the articles are credited – not lifted – and that those who access and print don’t just palm it off as their own content. If you can guarantee that, then lovely.

    1. Of course you are welcome….that is the beauty of this – anyone can take part and submit articles….hard part is getting the clubs to change their ways and use it!

  6. Count me in Stu. As I said on Twitter to you, I’d be happy to contribute an article and I know that we at Redbridge FC, would definitely like to feature articles from NL Football writers in our programme’s as a result of your idea.

    Again I commend you for thinking of your idea, it’s a great one.

  7. Count me in. I too will be setting up my own site this summer to showcase some of my published work but would also love to offer free to use articles for matchday programmes. Great idea!

  8. As a programme editor myself (Lewes), this is a great idea and Stuart is a very clever boy for thinking it up. A portal bursting full with articles written by the finest bloggers (and non-bloggers) in the land would come in very handy. Rest assured, I’d always credit the author and if you’re really lucky we’ll plug your blog too if you’ve got one.

  9. Scala sign creep! The transfer window never ceases to amaze. Is creep Tevez? El Hadji Diouf?

    On a serious note brilliant idea. Will be keeping close tabs on if this works as it really deserves to.

  10. Mr Lloyd sent this over to me. Sounds like a great idea to me.

    I can write something for Reading FC.

  11. This is an excellent idea – I’m no longer based in England but would love to ‘donate’ an article from my site footballtoptens.wordress.com – let me know how I can participate!

  12. What a simple and excellent idea. I write regular articles for the Slough Town programme and happy for others to print them if they like (assuming its the ones not focusing on Slough).

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