The joys of discovering your local non-League club
Jumping on bandwagons isn't always bad
20 November ~ None of us at work had ever been to see Salisbury City play. We talked regularly about football over morning coffee in our small office off the A36, about three miles south of the city, but our discussions rarely left the well tread paths of our own teams: Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Coventry City and Southampton. It was only earlier this season, while casting my eye over the league tables in Monday's newspaper, that I noticed Salisbury had streaked ahead at the top of the Conference South.
They are currently six points clear, though those below them have games in hand. Having paid such little attention to my work place's local club I felt as if there was some kind of debt to pay them, so one evening after work I decided to make a visit to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium, if for no other reason than to shamelessly piggy-pack their current table-topping form.
Sadly, nobody else in the office shared my enthusiasm. At the ground an elderly attendant stopped me at the gates to the car park. He wanted £2. This was the moment when I began to have second thoughts – what sort of person goes to watch football on their own on a Tuesday night in the drizzle? I was distracted from answering that question by the queue of cars building up behind me, so I paid my parking money and bought a ticket. I was not to regret it.
Dorchester Town were the visitors, who proved that they are far from push overs by knocking Plymouth Argyle out of the FA Cup. Yet a cavalier and motivated Salisbury performance blew them out of the water and they won 4-0 in front of a crowd of over 700. Such occasions are usually the cue for home fans to gloat. No such behaviour here. Instead, a spectator behind me preferred to whistle his way through Wind of Change by Scorpions.
Perhaps being faced with such dire financial circumstances over the last few years has given the club's fans a sense of humility, or an ability to put the result of a single match into the context it deserves. After going into administration in 2010 Salisbury were demoted to the Southern League, which Chris Mann explained at the time. Having been promoted to the Conference South at the first attempt, a return to the Conference National is now in their sights.
Several factors had prevented me from seeing Salisbury play previously – sloth and being too tight to pay £13 for a ticket being two of them. But having now been I would like to think I'd go again. With any luck I'll drag some work colleagues along with me next time. I wonder if anyone has had a similar experience, where for whatever reason they have been oblivious to the local club until a certain moment. In my case that moment came when I jumped on a bandwagon. Mark Sanderson