Former foreign correspondent of The Times and award-winning travel writer
I’’ll be missing a few games of my team Motherwell this season as I’ll be travelling the country to places like Cambridge, Accrington, Grimsby and Plymouth.
My ‘season ticket’ to unfamiliar grounds is to gather material for a book on teams plying their trade in the lower English and Scottish divisions. In an era when glamour clubs are paying obscene wages to players, agents and their hangers-on, I’m looking at how smaller clubs survive, and how important it is that they do.
At the Premiership level there is a danger of fans being priced out of football and relegated to watching their teams on so-called ‘live’ matches on Sky. Meanwhile tens of thousands of diehard supporters remain loyal to smaller clubs that are important to the communities that sustain them.
Come rain or shine, win or lose, they’re on the terracings every week because of genuine passion for the game and because that’s what they do on Saturdays. My book, which I hope to have published next season, is a whimsical tour around the grassroots of the game whose survival is more important than ever.