Non-League Day 2018 matches for West Ham fans

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Non-League Day 2018

Non-League Day, the annual celebration of grassroots and amateur football, is back again for another year. Taking place over the international break it’s the perfect opportunity for fans of Premier League or Championship sides to finally pay a visit to their local non-league club. Many non-league clubs offer reduced entry for season ticket holders of the top clubs as a sweetener to tempt and new fans. Clubs like Spurs and Watford helpfully tweeted out suggestions of local teams for their fans to check out last year.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything from West Ham. It was a bit of a shame as East London and Essex is a hotbed for non-league football clubs. This year to save the club the effort I’ve done all of the hard work for them. I wasn’t actually that hard. Here are the best Non-League Days games for West Ham fans to attend.

Bonus Friday Fixture – Aveley v Basildon United (Friday 12 October)

Celebrate Non-League Day eve with a cracking local derby in the FA Trophy. These two sides are currently the top two in the Bostik North Division, the fourth tier of the non-league structure aka step four. Basildon were promoted from the Essex Senior League (step five) last season, and they’ve taken to the higher level like bees to honey. They won their first seven games, before two recent draws, to be the early pacesetters.

Aveley are currently seven points behind with a game in hand. This FA Trophy Preliminary Round clash gives both sides the chance to get one over a league rival and progress in a competition that offers them the possibility, albeit a small one, of a Wembley Final in May. Aveley’s home ground is the excellent Parkside, an exemplar of modern non-league grounds that has already played host to cup finals and the CONIFA World cup during its young life.

Venue: Parkside
Tickets: £10 adults, £6 concessions, £3 Under 16
Getting there: Plenty of parking is available on site and the ground is just off the Aveley Bypass (B1335)
Parkside, Aveley
The brand new Parkside

Grays Athletic v Sevenoaks Town

If you’re a purist that wants to experience Non-League Day on the actual day you’ll be relieved to know you can still visit Parkside. Grays Athletic, one of the top names on Essex Non-League scene, also play at the ground. The Blues were the inaugural champions of the Conference South in 2005 but fell on hard times losing their beloved home ground in 2010. Things are looking up with community ownership and they’re currently in talks to return to Grays. For the time being, however, they get to share the sparkly, new Parkside.

Grays welcome fellow step four club Sevenoaks Town in the FA Trophy. The club from Kent are currently mid-table in the Bostik South East Division while Grays are eighth in the Bostik North. The Blues feature former Dagenham & Redbridge forward Shomari Barnwell.

Venue: Parkside
Tickets: £10 adults, £6 concessions, £1 children
Getting there: Plenty of parking is available on site and the ground is just off the Aveley Bypass (B1335)

Dagenham & Redbridge v Wrexham

Recent times have been hard on the Daggers. They started last season well in the National League (step one) and looked every bit like contenders for promotion to the Football League. Unfortunately, financial troubles reared their head, players were sold and the manager John Still left at the end of the season to join Barnet. Things, however, are beginning to look a little brighter in Dagenham.

Former England Under 21 boss Peter Taylor is in charge and an American consortium, that includes former Everton and Man United keeper Tim Howard, has taken over the club. Improving fortunes off the pitch are, however, yet to transfer onto it as the Daggers currently lie in the bottom three. A big crowd at an always lively Victoria Road could help them get their season back on track. For Non-League Day they welcome high flying Wrexham who are currently fourth and looking to keep pace with the Daggers’ rivals Leyton Orient.

Venue: Victoria Road
Tickets: £10-£12 for Premier League or Championship club season ticket holder or friends of Daggers season ticket holders. From £15 otherwise.
Getting there: Dagenham East, on the District Line, is within easy walking distance of the ground.

Heybridge Swifts v Bury Town

Possibly the hottest ticket in town for Irons fans. Former player and coach Julian Dicks takes the reins for his first game in charge of Heybridge in the Bostik North Division (step four). Swifts had a successful season last term reaching the First Round of the FA Cup, later stages of the FA Trophy and only missing out on promotion in the playoffs. This season didn’t start as well, despite being tipped by many as promotion favourites, prompting a managerial change and the arrival of Dicks.

Heybridge may not be the most accessible venue on the Non-League Day list but the club are famed for their passing style of football and Dicks’ arrival could herald the return of the successes of recent seasons. They’ve also reduced ticket prices for an NLD treat.

Venue: Scraley Road
Tickets: £5 adults, £3 concessions, Under 16 Free (reduced for Non-League Day)
Getting there: Exit the A12 for the A1019.

Mile End Stadium on Non-League Day
Football photographers paradise at Mile End Stadium

Sporting Bengal United v Hoddesdon Town

If you like to keep your football in East London and you feel uncomfortable watching a game without a running track between you and the pitch then Mile End Stadium is the place for you. The Stadium, in the shadow of Canary Wharf, is situated in the heart of Mile End next to Regents Canal and is great for fans that like to take a few photos while they watch a game. The elevated main stand also ensures you can see all the action without too much disruption.

Sporting Bengal are a friendly (step five) East End club doing some great work in the local community. They’re currently midtable with a few games in hand following an FA Cup run that saw them take step four Brentwood Town all the way to a replay. They face Hoddesdon Town who are challenging at the top of the table.

Venue: Mile End Stadium
Tickets: £4 (reduced for Non-League Day)
Getting there: The Stadium is a 10 minute walk from Mile End Tube (Central Line). There is also plenty of parking nearby.

Romford v Coggeshall Town

Last season was a pretty uncertain one for step four Romford, who have led a largely nomadic existence. They looked like relegation certainties in the Bostik North Division (step four) until a miraculous escape in the final few games of the season. Their tenants, Thurrock FC, also folded last year meaning the Boro had to search for another new home. Fortunately, East Thurrock stepped in to help and Romford now share the lovely Rookery Hill. The step two ground is in a delightful rural setting has a great clubhouse and is a joy to visit.

To add to that Romford have also turned around their form. They’ve come out of their corner swinging and are currently fifth in the league. For Non-League Day they welcome Coggeshall Town for this league clash. Coggeshall haven’t quite hit their stride yet, but with none other than Olly Murs installed as a director there likely to be ‘troublemakers’ for Romford. Failing that, you might be able to get a photo with the singer.

Venue: Rookery Hill
Tickets: £8 adults, £1 Under 16
Getting there: Just off the A1014 in Corringham. Plenty of parking available near the ground.

Rookery Hill
Idyllic surrounds at Rookery Hill

Billericay Town v Gloucester City

Billericay Town v Gloucester City

Last, but certainly not least, is possibly the most famous Essex non-league club of the moment. Thanks in part to the influence, some might say antics, of Chairman Glenn Tamplin, Billericay are one of the biggest draws in the non-league game. Whatever the circumstances behind it you can’t deny Ricay’s success on the field. They are currently top of the National League South (step two) and the aim is to reach the Football League ASAP.

Billericay’s home is a freshly refurbished stadium. New Lodge is the place to be if you want goals, Ricay are the league’s top scorers, atmosphere, they routinely welcome crowds north of 1,000, and you’re a connoisseur of football related graffiti. They welcome mid-table Gloucester City for this Non-League Day league battle. Football League club season ticket holders and anyone in fancy dress will get in for half price.

Venue: New Lodge
Tickets: From £13 (half price entry for fancy dress and/or season ticket holders of league clubs)
Getting there: 10-15 minute walk from Billericay Train Station

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