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Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Wednesday, 1 September 2010 17:04 UK
Support football's grass roots on Non League Day
Guiseley AFC in action at Nethermoor Park
Guiseley AFC in action at Nethermoor Park

As England begin their European Championships qualification campaign, there will be no Premier League or Championship matches this weekend.

A campaign group is hoping this will encourage more people to watch football's grass roots.

The first Non League Day is Saturday 4 September 2010, and organisers hope some fans will be looking for a game to go to.

So, why should you support your local non-league team?

BBC Leeds talked to Phil Rogerson, Chairman of Guiseley AFC, who are currently enjoying their first season in the Blue Square Conference North, after the euphoria of winning promotion from the Unibond League, at the end of last season.

Nethermoor Park
Nethermoor Park - home of Guiseley AFC

"Anything that gets fans through the turnstiles is obviously a good thing, as a club like ours relies for its marketing on the goodwill of volunteers, rather than being able to pay for full-time professionals to up our profile."

"However, those volunteers tend to come back again and again because we offer something that the bigger clubs don't have and that's a real feeling of togetherness, everyone pulling in the same direction for the same goal - no egos, no tantrums; just people who want to feel like what they do is appreciated."

"I think a lot of kids miss out by not popping down to see their local team. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere and everyone interacts. You can meet the players in the lounge after the game that you've just witnessed. In the Premiership, there are layers and layers of people who will prevent you from ever getting close to your heroes."

Guiseley team line-up
The team line up with their trophy for winning the Unibond Premier League

"Another aspect that should be in our favour - especially in these recession-hit times is the cost. I don't know how most families afford to follow the top teams - it can be such an expensive hobby, whereas at this level, admission charges are minimal and as we're in a regional league, the cost of travelling to away games is much smaller as well."

"We always try and schedule our games so as not to clash with Leeds United and Bradford City, as that can affect our crowds but I think the main reason we struggle to attract more fans is that people are exposed to so much football on the TV."

"People see the quality on show at the top of the game and assume that because we're several rungs below them, that there isn't any good football played in non-league - that just isn't the case."

Guiseley AFC women's team
Guiseley AFC has a thriving women's team

"Also, hopefully people appreciate what we put back into the community - nobody here is in it for the money - and can see the benefits we give to the town. We run a reserve team, a women's team and several junior sides. We encourage people to get active in the game."

"Financially we're only viable because of sponsorship and cannot afford to overreach ourselves, which has unfortunately happened to sides like Farsley Celtic who became a victim of their own success - progressing through the leagues faster than their infrastructure allowed. Progress over the longer term is the key."

"We've gone up a division this year and it's gonna be tough but we'll enjoy the challenge and hopefully establish ourselves in this league.

Saturday 4 September 2010 is Non League Day - here are some local league fixtures for you to support (all 3pm kick-off):

Blue Square Conference North
Guiseley v Redditch @ Nethermoor Park, Otley Road, Guiseley

Evostik League First Divison North
Garforth Town v Lancaster City @ Genix Healthcare Stadium, Cedar Ridge, Garforth

Northern Counties East League Division 1
Leeds Carnegie v Askern Villa @ Throstle Nest, Newlands, Farsley




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