It's Non-League Day when the nation hails the wonders of grassroots football (at least for one day anyway). Four years ago I abandoned my season ticket at Anfield for real football - 167 league places below in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
My team - Marine AFC - play in a three-sided-ground in Crosby, north Merseyside and attract gates of around 350. It's a far cry from the glamour and glory of the Premiership. But for a loyal band of Mariners their tiny local club offers more passion, atmosphere and love than anything shown on Sky Sports at 4pm on a Sunday.
Welcome to frontline football. Where children roam free and make homemade flags, where volunteers serve pea soup, where vice-chairman write, produce and sell the matchday programme. Where real ale is served in a glass, where players mix with their fans post match, where friendships are set in stone for eternity.
Where entry is cheap as chips, where children (the next generation) get in free, where you can safely stand or sit. Where kids design the club scarf, where squad match-worn Adidas club tracksuits are sold in the club shop for a tenner...
There's no police escorts, lock-ins or price hikes. No fixture changes for TV, no over zealous stewards or season ticket waiting lists.
It's ok if your late. Pay on the gate. Lose change will do, and the lads will try and win for you.
Where the Public Announcer is the world's best DJ spinning indie 80s classics and not advertising the latest multi million pound corporate deal.
Where games kick off at 3pm of a Saturday.
Where the team are local, vocal and proud. They're not here for the money, but for 90 minutes give it their all. There's no diving, play-acting or Ferrari driving. To us they are heroes wearing the famous black and white of Marine...
Ten reasons why you should support your local non-league team:
1/ It's cheap! At Marine just £10 adults, £5 concessions, U11 free with adult. Season tickets £150 - or about £6:30 a game. A bit cheaper than your £52 (obstructed view) at some Premiership grounds.
2/ It's very family friendly. At most non-league grounds children go free. So bring the family for a fun day out experiencing real footy up close. A generation of children are being lost to Sky. They are growing up believing football is a TV programme. It's not! It exists!
3/ Games kick off at 3pm of a Saturday. The traditional Saturday afternoon match is alive and well in the semi-professional game. Non of your silly Monday or Thursday 8pm lark.
4/ Enjoy a proper pint. Not some lukewarm rubbish out of a can for £4. Most non-league clubs offer a much better bar selection than the big boys. They aren't tied to sponsorship deals. At Marine there is always a great guest ale on. Served in a glass. Cheers!
5/ Get close to the action. Players so close you can reach out and actually touch them! Makes for great goal celebrations with players regularly giving high-fives to fans! This wouldn't be allowed in the Premiership on "elf and safety grounds"
6/ Star players which have time for fans. Priceless.It makes my son's day when one of his Marine heroes say hello. (It's pretty exciting for me too and I'm a grown man of 41). Players at this level are down to earth and will share a pint with fans after the game and pose for photos. They aren't on TV modelling for Gucci, driving 4x4s at high speed, or selling their soul for the latest sponsorship deal.
7/ Creative supporters. At Marine there are lots of homemade flags and banners. Many other clubs at this level have a rich fan culture. There's no plastic flags here. Banners are lovingly made and allowed to be hung up.
8/ Choose to sit or stand up. The facilities at non-league grounds are better than you think. At Marine we have a fantastic stand with fab view of the pitch. You can stand on terraces at either end or along the side. In fact you can go where you want. You are not shackled to your seat for 90 minutes.
9/ your money goes back into supporting the club. A visit to the Arriva Stadium is not complete without visiting our club shop. It's a far cry from the Megastores of the top flight. Six old programmes for a £1 or 20p each!
10 . There's no play acting at this level. Players give 100% and respect the opposition. To chest or dive I'd frowned upon in non-league but is the norm at the highest levels.
So what are you waiting for? Find a non-league club near you today. And if you are in Merseyside: Marine V FCUM of Manchester kicks off at 3pm today (6th September). Adults £10, concessions 5, U11 free with paying adult. The match is one of four nationwide designated as a Day of Action supporting the Kick It Out anti racism and anti discrimination campaign.