Non-League

Ashley Shaw assesses the challenges ahead for FC United of Manchester, freed from the clutches of Malcolm Glazer and now starting out at the botom of the pyramid

A new season, a new club and an entirely fresh set of problems for Manchester United’s disaffected supporters. Having seen their club narrowly fail to lift the FA Cup last May, following a season where failure meant third place in the Premiership and defeat to AC Milan in the San Siro, Reds disgruntled to the point of anarchy with the Glazer takeover have turned their backs on their life-long devotion to form a new club, FC United of Manchester (FCUM) at the foot of the football pyramid.

David Stubbs on how the AFC Wimbledon story has been brought to the stage

Written by Matthew Couper, a local government arts officer and sometime stand-up comedian, A Fans’ Club is a modest theatrical undertaking but a worthy addition to that invidious yet strangely resilient genre – the football musical. It tells the story of a group of four Wimbledon fans who look on in passive astonishment as their beloved club is snatched from them by the seemingly larger, inevitable powers of commercial interest and dumped in Milton Keynes, their wishes ignored “like a tramp’s coat”. In the second act, however, moved by the spirit of the club that still lingers and pull together to form AFC Wimbledon. Commentating on this heroic turnaround are two “footballing Gods”, Hun-Batz and Hun-Choen, one of the play’s better devices, the “monkey twins” taken from Mayan mythology, who add both levity and a sense of the wider world of events.

Losing your social club can be disastrous for a semi-pro side. John Bourn reports on a fire that cost Spennymoor dear and plunged the Unibond League into crisis

Whoever discarded a cigarette end behind a fruit machine at the Brewery Field social club on Christmas Eve 2003 has a lot to answer for. They began a chain of events that were to wreck a long-established north-east club and left the Unibond League in chaos this spring.

For Mike Whalley, Northwich avoidinng relegation would be one of the most remarkable escapes of all time

The result attracted little attention as the final scores came through on Saturday, February 19. Yet Northwich Victoria’s 2-0 win over Farnborough was a significant moment in one of the most remarkable relegation escape attempts in living memory.

Socrates, futebol de salão and Premiership ambitions – Steve Wilson looks at the strange case of Simon Clifford's Garforth Town

Watching Garforth Town crash out of this season’s Northern Counties League Cup on the kind of wet and windy Tuesday evening in northern England that foreigners are habitually assumed “not to fancy much”, it was difficult to imagine anywhere further from Brazil.

AFC Wimbledon may be celebrating reaching the Ryman League, but it hasn't been much of a party for the minnows turned whales, as Robert Jeffery explains

An unbeaten season culminating in a league and cup double. Capacity crowds producing a pulsating atmosphere, home and away. The goodwill of fans the world over and the fawning plaudits of the media. Of such things footballing dreams are made. You’d think that AFC Wimbledon fans, the recipients of all the above and more, would be happy with their lot.

After last season's FA Cup run, it all went horribly wrong for Telford United. Neville Hadsley looks at how the fans are following AFC Wimbledon's example in getting it right second time round

“We have to be happy with where we are,” says Simon Shakeshaft, club secretary and commercial director of the relaunched AFC Telford United. But you get the feeling that unspoken bitterness lingers.

A century of football history has been needlessly cast aside for some, while for others the reorganisation of the non-League game is long overdue. John Carter reports

 T he glum knot of red-and-black-clad fans huddled in the main stand intrigued spectators at the Isthmian League play-off game between Bedford and St Albans. Could they be rossoneri supporters nostalgic for the atmosphere of the San Siro while visiting relatives in the south midlands? In fact the gloomy little group were from Lewes, in Bedford to watch their own team take on the hometown Eagles. Unfortunately the players were back at Lewes’s ground beating Kingstonian. Until late the previous day Isthmian League of­ficials insisted the Rooks would indeed be playing Bedford, contrary to all other indicators. It took a Football Association announcement to override their stubbornness and correct the error. To date there’s been no word of any apology from league officials.

One man has changed the face of sponsorship in non-League football. Craig Ellyard explains the Victor Gladwish phenomenon

In the world of non-League football, Victor Gladwish is making as big an impact as Roman Abramovich has done in the Premiership. In a matter of months Gladwish has become non-League football’s biggest financial benefactor, his clout being felt all the way from the south coast up to east Yorkshire.

Spartans FC have overcome two Scottish second division clubs and have garnered much media coverage since the draw sent Livingston to City Park, but  Spartan's Cup campaign has also highlighted Scotland's chaotic non-league situation, as Neil Forsyth writes

Unless their Scottish Cup fourth round tie against SPL outfit Livingston is postponed, Spartans Football Club are unlikely to be in the competition as you read this. If the lopsided clash ends with victory for Goliath, it will have done little to demean the most celebrated Scottish Cup story of recent years.

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday