If it’s entertainment you want, look to non-league football

PUBLISHED: 13:12 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:12 20 March 2017

Ipswich Town fans hold up a banner criticising owner Marcus Evans earlier this season. They are  unhappy about a 1.5% increase in adult season ticket prices for 2017/18. 
Picture: Steve Waller.

Ipswich Town fans hold up a banner criticising owner Marcus Evans earlier this season. They are unhappy about a 1.5% increase in adult season ticket prices for 2017/18. Picture: Steve Waller.

© Copyright Stephen Waller

Ipswich Town fan and football reporter WILL RIDGARD gives his view on the controversy surrounding the increase in season ticket prices at Portman Road...

Needham celebrate after their penalty win last week in a game which Will Ridgard says is the best he's ever seen. 
Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.comNeedham celebrate after their penalty win last week in a game which Will Ridgard says is the best he's ever seen. Picture: Steve Waller

A lot of people associated with Suffolk non-league football follow or support Ipswich Town.

Indeed, I am one of those people.

I would in fact consider myself to be a converted non-league fan/groundhopper, who does like to still experience the odd Ipswich Town game or two!

I have never been a season ticket holder at Portman Road, but over the course of the last 25-and-a-half years, have been to hundreds of Town games.

I have also been to hundreds of non-league games, and fell in love with what I consider to be ‘the beautiful game’, when I covered my first proper non-league match in August 2013.

I have seen people grow frustrated at the increased ticket prices at Portman Road over the years, and cannot blame them.

In my lifetime, or of what I can remember at least, I consider this season to be the most uninspiring.

Quite a statement considering that this is Ipswich’s 15th consecutive season in England’s second tier, as our dear neighbours Norwich City kindly reminded us recently.

Last Wednesday evening, I witnessed the best game of football I have ever seen.

At Woodbridge Town’s Notcutts Park, in a Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final, Needham Market beat county rivals Leiston 4-2 on penalties after a most extraordinary and breathtaking 120 minutes of football that saw the teams finish at 4-4.

Eight goals, injury-time equalisers, comebacks, brilliant saves, big tackles, controversial calls, penalty heroes, penalty villains, my goodness it was entertaining. Adult ticket prices for this game were £10.

I then looked at the 2016/17 adult season ticket prices for these teams, and found that Needham Market offered one for £175, while Leiston offered £175 for the previous seasons’ ticket holders, and £195 for new customers.

With 23 home Ryman Premier Division games in the calendar, these figures equate to roughly £7.60 and £8.47 (for Leiston’s new customers) per game.

The season tickets also allow spectators to attend all Reserve and Under 18 league games, equating to approximately 50 games in total, and therefore £3.50/£3.90 per game!

If entertainment is what you want, and at a good price, I would strongly advise following teams like Needham Market and Leiston.

The region is blessed with plenty of really lovely, accommodating, and exciting clubs.

Food for thought!

What do you think? Let us know!


  • Jungle Boy. You are writing tosh. I'm sure you have never been to Leiston or Nedhaham Market.Your opinion should be based upon knowledge and not ignorance. Both clubs play very attractive football. Leiston are playing tonight . Go and watch and educate yourself. The game will be far more entertaining than dross on offer at PR. Plus I've no idea why you call yourself after Ray Crawford who is an ardent Pompey fan and has no connection nowadays with the Town. Ray is a football journalist and has nothing but contempt for the mess at the Town. He played for Sir Alf............ err , that's it. He has zero interest in ITFC.

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    critic Blue

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • Am in agreement with poet, there is no comparision between league and non league, if truth be told. If you have watched league football, regularly, over a number of years, the difference between the two is easily seen, the speed, movement, skill, and general play is far superior in the league stuff, although watching Ipswich this season, they hardly enhance these qualities, far from it. Non league is important in communities, and I always look out for clubs near me, but have no interest in watching it on a regular basis. The headline to this article, is very misleading

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    jungle boy

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • Let's be honest, if you are a football fan, then you are a junky for the thrill and atmosphere at a large packed stadium, watching a fast, furious and exciting game, being played out by professionals who are at the top of their trade. Shouting for your home town side, the tribal aggression so thick in the air that you could cut it. Always trying to outshout the opposing fans, after a while you can hardly speak. The emotion that you feel when your side scores, you grab hold of a total stranger, you dance around with them like an idiot, your eyes fill up with tears, you are suddenly elated with utter pleasure. After seeing your side win, you leave the ground totally shattered, but incredibly happy. There is no substitute, no offence to non league clubs or their players, but you will never recreate that electricity and furor elsewhere. I'm not for one second saying that this is the case at ITFC at the moment, on the contrary, it's anything but. As I said earlier, I no longer go, it's far too depressing for me. But surely, we can all live in hope that this present shambolic regime will go, and we will one again have a chance of experiencing those exciting games again.

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    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • blue&white, I don't, go to Portman Road anymore, so no I don't pay out through the nose or for that matter, any other part of my anatomy. I do though cling to some great memories at Portman Road with my children, they are precious to me and always will be.

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    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • I would urge all Touts fans who seem hellbent in destroying ITFC to stop going to Toutland Road and start supporting proper football clubs. When Town became Touts I started watching Cambridge in non-league football. The standard of football was good, the club rebuilt on building links with supporters. There was even some play off heartache. The pleasure of getting back in the league was genuine and supporters could have lunch with the manager to hear his plans. Since Cambridge got back in the league I have been to Leiston. It is refreshing to get your football fix with deserving local football clubs. In the name of everything ITFC used to stand for please stop supporting Touts and try proper football instead.

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    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • StevieB - Out of interest, can you give me any concrete examples of non-league grounds where you got "foul language to officials, other players and from the crowd", "often a fight thrown in for good measure" and "families... get abused or threatened"?? Because I've been visiting many different local non-league grounds, on a regular basis, for a good many years and that description sounds like nothing I've ever experienced. On the contrary, most non-league grounds pride themselves on their community spirit and have the community awards to show for it.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Poet - if you're happy to desperately cling to mere memories and continue to pay through the nose for them, then you're welcome to it. I tend to go to Needham Market or Felixstowe & Walton United these days, where the football is exuberant and of decent enough quality; the atmosphere friendly; the clubhouses welcoming; the club servants always approachable; and the prices low.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • It's not for me, even though I played in it for many years. The memories of an electric atmosphere at Portman Road, watching a decent footballing side ( not this present shambles) will always surpass anything that non league football has to offer.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Yes, non league football is far more entertaining and a good day out.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • need to be fully aware and don't take your kids -expect foul language to officials, other players and from the crowd. Often a fight thrown in for good measure. Football is riddled top to bottom in unacceptable behaviour...............take a lesson from rugby or American football where families can enjoy a game and not get abused or threatened.

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    Stevie B

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • There are plenty of non-league teams to watch within just a few miles of Ipswich and it can be a good day out. Sure, the football won't be of the same standard but the passion is there. There are several Youtube channels dedicated to non-league football. As for the increase in season ticket prices at ITFC, if fans aren't happy with the prices, don't renew your season tickets. You're under no obligation to do so.

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    Suffolk Exile

    Monday, March 20, 2017

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