how can you miss out AFC Wimbledon?! Okay, okay, tickets may cost Â£12 per adult, but concessions put this down to just Â£6. With one of the most rollercoaster histories of any club in England. Founded in 1889, AFC Wimbledon climbed their way through from non-league obscurity right the way up to the First Division (Premier League now) and within 10 years, won the FA Cup in THE biggest cup final shock in the history of the competition, beating the mighty Liverpool. After spending over 10 years in the top flight, relegation was followed by a shocking betrayel by the FA and Football League who allowed the club to be franchised and relocated to Milton Keynes as part of a development deal that included a new ASDA supermarket in the ground. Loyal fans formed AFC Wimbledon, the continuation of Wimbledon Football club's soul of the fans, by the fans, for the fans. Starting at the bottom of the football non-league pyramid, AFC Wimbledon had gone back to its roots. 4 promotions in 8 years has brought the club on the cusp of reentering the realms of professional football. It's been an amazing journey for a truly unique London club.
Watch London football for under Â£10
Keeping spoiled footballers in Aston Martins isn’t easy for paying fans, so why not go non-league for less than £10? Time Out enjoys Casuals, Beavers and a whole load of Lilywhites
Why pay £54 to sit behind a pillar at White Hart Lane? When cash is tight but the pull of live football is just too strong, it’s time to acquaint yourself with London’s non-league scene.
Sure, the crowds are small and the standard of football variable, though it’s not to be scoffed at – even at what’s known officially as ‘Level 8’, meaning the Ryman League Division 1, there are plenty of ex-pros, never-quite-made-its and young prospects. To compensate for the lack of big-match atmosphere, there’s camaraderie between fans, 3pm Saturday kick-offs and admission for less than a tenner. You can check club details on the insiders’ website, www.pyramidpassion.co.uk. And if you hang around afterwards, you’ll probably get to share a pint with the big number nine you spent 90 minutes roundly abusing.
10. Leyton FC Nothing to do with Orient of that parish, but London’s oldest senior football club. Founded in 1868 and perenially cash-strapped, you’ll find the Lilywhites behind the ‘E10 Club’ on Lea Bridge Road.
9. Hampton & Richmond FC ‘Steptoe & Son’ scriptwriter Alan Simpson is club president and has a stand named after him at the tree-fringed Beveree Stadium. Former West Ham hero Alan Devonshire has led the club to the Blue Square Conference South, despite one of the game’s worst nicknames: the Beavers. Fans like to think of themselves as, ahem, the Beaver Patrol…
8. Clapton FC Founder members of the Southern League along with Luton, Millwall, Reading and Southampton (Tottenham Hotspur’s application was rejected), five times winners of the FA Amateur Cup and, in 1956, the first amateur club to play under floodlights. The Tons are still based at the famous Old Spotted Dog Ground in Forest Gate; biggest home crowd this season: 30.
7. Carshalton Athletic Surrey’s oldest club (founded 1903) and now one of its most active in terms of community development. The Robins are on a mission ‘to become the most friendly club in the league pyramid’. The team’s not bad either.
6. Enfield Town FC Until 1999, Enfield were one of England’s top amateur clubs and close to gaining admission to the Football League. Then they sold their stadium and began a series of catastrophic groundshares, which led (like AFC Wimbledon) to the formation of Enfield Town FC by a supporters’ trust. The Towners share amicably with Brimsdown Rovers; the old Enfield club expired in 2007.
5. Bromley FC Record attendance at the Lilywhites’ Hayes Lane ground: 10,798 for a game against Nigeria, who must have been very exotic opposition back in 1950. Crowds are rather smaller these days.
4. Dulwich Hamlet FC Pink and navy striped shirts. One of the great football addresses: Champion Hill Stadium, Dog Kennel Hill, SE22. What’s not to like? When the Hamlet are away, you can watch tenants Fisher Athletic in the Blue Square Conference South.
3. Hoddesdon Town Inaugural winners of the FA Vase back in 1975. The Lilywhites (yet another club with the nickname) rather bizarrely play in the Spartan South Midlands League, despite being only 25 minutes out of Liverpool Street. They picked up last season’s best programme and best pitch awards to compensate for the long away trips.
2. AFC Hornchurch The Urchins emerged from the ruins of Hornchurch FC, who collapsed in 2004-05 when their backers went bankrupt and a roster of ex-pros on big wages proved unsustainable. The reconstituted club held League 1 Peterborough United to a single-goal margin in the FA Cup this year.
1. Corinthian-Casuals FC Inflicted Manchester United’s record defeat. Originally refused to enter the FA Cup as such competitions were considered ‘demeaning’. Twice fielded the entire England side. Inspired Real Madrid to wear white. Jimmy Bullard played for them! The greatest amateur football club. Ever.
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