This Saturday’s match with Chester should be a good one. A local derby, signs of a return to form for Micky Mellon’s team and a decent attendance. The fact it’s Non-League Day matters little.
Firstly, let me qualify what I’m about to say. The football bodies should be applauded for jumping on board with Non-League Day – it provides much needed exposure for small clubs in the non-league who struggle for attention the rest of the year. But I’m a Tranmere fan, and I’m still bitter about where we find ourselves.
My memory of Non-League Day from a few years ago was about feeling a bit miffed as to why Liverpool and Everton were only promoting non-league teams and not League One and Two sides, as we then were. This week, they’ve both shown support for Non-League Day and promoted Tranmere. Yay.
The thing is, if this is a back-patting exercise for big clubs to feel like they’re promoting us lowly non-leaguers, then that’s great. Give a shout out to Marine, Lairds, etc. But I firmly believe Tranmere are a non-league club in name only. When we were in the league and were desperate for fans, we were totally overlooked during the international break as Leagues One and Two continued as normal. They need exposure as much as anyone. Now we’re down here, I’d rather not any spotlight shone on our predicament.
You can almost guarantee the attendance on Saturday (being a derby) is likely bigger than most of the attendances we had on NLD during our days in the Football League. But it’s nothing to do with it being part of this non-league celebration. It’s because of who we are, and the fixture we’re about to play against local rivals.
Saturday’s game will be a feisty encounter which will almost certainly be played in an atmosphere more akin to a Football League match. However, Rovers need to find their way back in to the EFL as soon as possible, otherwise NLD may become something we actually look forward to.
When the teams take to the field this weekend, I’ll be thinking about one thing and one thing only, a win for Tranmere and another three league points. There should be no pomp and ceremony surrounding this annual date in the diary as long as we have to endure it.
Get us back to League One obscurity as soon as possible please, Rovers. If one day we find ourselves back in the Championship, we will give a patronising little shout-out to those in the non-league.
Until then, NLD is not something I want to see mention of, let alone ‘celebrated’ at Prenton Park.