One of the great things about Non League football is the proximity to the action. In the Ryman League it is not uncommon to see crowds of 30 or 40 people and at that level the players can hear every word uttered by the crowd, whether they want to block it out or not. Barry Collins, one of the Lewes faithful, believes it might pay to have a little chat with your friendly opposition goalkeeper.
Hands up who’s dreamt of pulling on the the most famous of football kits, the black and red stripes of Lewes FC and scoring an injury-time winner, and performing a Walder salmon-leap into the Philcox Stand and the grateful arms of Cynical Dave?
I’d wager a damned sight fewer Rooks fans have fantasised about slipping on the green jersey and standing six foot in front of a gaggle of hostile strangers, who spend the entire 90 minutes impolitely questioning your competence. With all due disrespect to the magnificent Kieron Thorp, the life of a non-league goalkeeper is not an enviable one.
Imagine doing a job where even your own fans want to get as far away from you as possible, because all the good stuff is happening at the other end. Even at home, with hundreds of your own supporters in the ground, you’re lucky if you’ll find a single sodding one of them willing to stand by you. Sure, top-flight keepers have to put up with an amphitheatre of abuse, but at least they get to spend at least 45 minutes in front of their own fans at home games. Continue reading