Non-League Day: ‘It’s like a big family’ - Altrincham legend on why Man Utd & Man City fans should watch today

The former Altrincham goalkeeper praised the incentive and its impact on non-league football.

Former Altrincham player Stuart Coburn has praised Non-League Day ahead of the event today (Saturday 26 March), and its impact on the lower levels of English football.

Saturday marks the 12th annual Non-League Day with several of Coburn’s past clubs in action at home.

The ex-shot-stopper made over 600 appearances for the Robins during is playing career and believes the calibre of players outside the Football League is of a ‘really good standard’.

Speaking exclusively to ManchesterWorld, Coburn discussed the impact the event has had on non-league football and how the sport has developed at that level over the years.

“It’s massive,” he said. “Since the pandemic I think non-league football has taken off. I know I prefer to go and watch it because you can have a chat, get together with friends, have a pint, watch some good football and it’s cheap as well.

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“I can take my two sons with me. When I got to West Didsbury & Chorlton I pay £5 and they get in for free, it’s fun.

“That’s what it should be rather than going to a Premier League ground where you’re sat down and it costs a fortune.

“It [Non-League Day] gets people to realise there’s not just Premier League football out there, but non-league football as well. It’s got bigger over the last 12 years and it’s a great incentive.”

The 12th annual Non League Day will take place on March 26. Credit: Non League Day.

The event coincides with the international break in the Premier League, meaning those who would usually attend a Manchester City or Manchester United game could get their football fix by going to their local team instead.

Non-league football often is viewed in a stereotypical manner that due to not all clubs being professional, the standard must be poor, resulting in fans of teams in the Football League and Premier League not always showing an interest in it.

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However, this is something Coburn disagrees with and thinks those supporting clubs higher up the football pyramid should attend non-league football matches more often.

“Go and you’ll watch a really good standard of football,” he encouraged the football community. “People class non-league as a bunch of fat lads running around and kicking the ball anywhere, it’s not. Non-league has changed so much, players look after themselves.

“At National League level there’s more professional teams than there are part-time clubs. Even in the National League North there’s a few teams that are full-time and the standard of football is really good.

“Once people go and see the level of it, I think they get hooked by it.”