The weekend starts here

Dave Woodhall discovers the hidden attractions of a Friday night in Lye.

If you think football’s all about Sky and the Premier League, hype and WAGS, a trip to Lye Town on a wet Friday night will change your mind. £5 admission, an old-fashioned barrel roof covering the terrace behind one goal, supporters who’ve seen everything before and don’t mind letting the referee, assistants and both benches know it. It’s closer to the true spirit of the game than

Lye Town are one of a number of local teams who have started the season by playing on Friday evenings. In their case it’s because they share their ground with the local cricket club, but the spin-off has been increased gates. Last Friday’s FA Cup preliminary round game with Bridgnorth Town attracted a gate of 130, a lot more than they would usually get for a Saturday afternoon match, despite the horrible weather and upcoming bank holiday. There were certainly plenty of supporters from other local non-league clubs in evidence. The match itself was a typical cup tie at this level – plenty of effort making up for any lack of skill, with driving rain adding to the uncertainty of the occasion.

Bridgnorth scored an early goal and looked as though they were capable of adding to this but Lye got into the game and the visitors, with a man sent off midway through the second half, had to hang on desperately at times for their victory.

The winners received £1,750 prize money – a lifeline at this level, where money is tight and many clubs face a constant battle for survival. I’m not sure how Friday night gates would hold up later in the year but I hope clubs carry on playing at this time.

It was an enjoyable (and cheap) Friday night, made better by a couple of pints on the way back to the station. This is football. Try it some time.