Non-League Day: The most unique stories below the EFL, including the ex-England boss managing in the eighth tier
Non-League Day: The most unique stories below the EFL, including the ex-England boss managing in the eighth tier
Ahead of Non-League Day on Saturday March 25, Sky Sports looks at some of the most unique stories below the EFL, including interviews with former England boss Peter Taylor now in charge of Maldon & Tiptree and ex-Fulham striker Barry Hayles still playing aged 50 at Windsor
Non-League Day takes place on Saturday March 25.
From England to Maldon & Tiptree
Peter Taylor hands David Beckham the England captaincy for the first time.
“You’re not famous anymore” sang the Heybridge Swifts fans as Peter Taylor took to the dugout for his first game in charge of eighth-tier Maldon & Tiptree on Boxing Day. The former England manager, who made David Beckham captain of his country, couldn’t help but laugh.
“I loved it,” Taylor, 70, told Sky Sports, with this the 22nd job on a managerial CV which includes Leicester, Crystal Palace, Brighton, Hull and even Bahrain.
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Taylor was a Premier League Manager of the Month 23 years ago and has five promotions to his name. He led England for one game as caretaker manager in 2000, a 1-0 defeat to Italy, after Kevin Keegan resigned.But now Taylor is at Essex-based Maldon, training twice a week and playing in front of an average home attendance of less than 300 – although none of that fazes him.
“I had a text the other day from one of my players who has a bit of a hamstring injury,” said Taylor, who has previously worked in non-League at Welling and Dagenham & Redbridge. “He said it wasn’t getting better and he really feels it when he gets in and out of his tractor!
“I turned to my wife and said, ‘Pep Guardiola doesn’t have these kinds of problems!’ I couldn’t stop laughing. That’s the difference.
What is Non-League Day?
Formed in 2010 by James Doe, Non-League Day encourages supporters of Premier League and EFL clubs to visit their local non-League side during the international break.
“I know there are people out there who say they couldn’t go into non-League but it doesn’t bother me. It’s always a test no matter what level you take.”If you’re looking after people that are having a go and trying as hard as they possibly can then that makes it very enjoyable. That’s the most important thing.”
Peter Taylor (left) worked under Sven Goran Eriksson (right) with England
Maldon are eight points above the Isthmian League North relegation zone with six games to play and Taylor is confident they have enough to get over the line. The Jammers have taken 20 points from his 17 games in charge, but whatever the result he’s happy to still be doing what he loves.”I should do a book really because I’ve had so many different experiences,” he added. “I never dreamed in a million years I would manage my country but I did. Working in the Premier League and being up against Sir Alex (Ferguson) or whoever, I can honestly say I regard myself as fortunate.”I’m back on the training pitch which I absolutely love, I’m enjoying it so much that last Sunday I was thinking I’d love to be at training today. I still feel I have plenty to offer.”Non-League Day fixture: Maldon & Tiptree vs Lowestoft Town – Isthmian League North, kick-off 3pm50-and-out for Hayles?
Barry Hayles (left) celebrates Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League with Sean Davis
Barry Hayles insists this will be his final season playing football – but he said the same in 2010!The former Fulham striker, 50, is still turning out as a player-coach for Windsor in the ninth tier, 13 years since ‘retiring’ when he left Cheltenham Town. Within four months he had signed for non-League Truro City and hasn’t looked back as his career approaches the 30-year mark.”The phone started ringing, I went and spoke to the Truro chairman and said, ‘Let’s give it a go’. I haven’t stopped since!” Hayles told Sky Sports. “But this season will definitely be my last one, I haven’t played enough to sustain it which is why I haven’t started a game yet.”I took a break away as I had some family problems but I’m getting myself back into it now. I still enjoy the combative side of things and being on the pitch. You can’t show what you’re about from the sidelines, you want to get on and show it.”Hayles’ career started in 1993 at Stevenage where he was converted from a right-back into a striker before moving on to Bristol Rovers and then to Fulham for £2m, helping fire them into the Premier League with 18 goals alongside the likes of Luis Boa Morte and Louis Saha.He went on to sign for Sheffield United, Millwall, Plymouth and Leicester before dropping into non-League where his love for playing has never faded.
Barry Hayles (left) in action for Chesham United during their 2015 FA Cup second-round tie against Bradford City
“I wouldn’t still be playing if I couldn’t come on and have an impact,” said Hayles. “The manager was trying to get me to start a few weeks ago but I was saying I didn’t think I was ready yet. We’re getting to the business end now and by hook or by crook we have to stay in this division.”Hayles has been restricted to nine substitute appearances and one goal, but he’ll be in the squad on Saturday – and potentially even for England’s over-50s on Sunday – with Windsor embroiled in a relegation scrap in the Combined Counties League Premier North.”We’re struggling because we’ve used about 45 players. We’re still trying to find the right solutions really,” added Hayles. “We know we’re not one of the worst two teams in the league but we have to get the results to prove it.”I enjoy the coaching side of things, I didn’t think I would which is why I didn’t turn to it straight away. A lot of the youngsters take things on board but there’s a few that think they know better than most. I try to spell it out to them, a few go, ‘But, but Barry…’ and I say, ‘No buts in this game!’.”Non-League Day fixture: Windsor vs Broadfields United – Combined Counties League Premier North, kick-off 3pm
Current Premier League players who have played in non-League
Olly’s Heart Skips a Beat in relegation battleLong before the likes of Peter Taylor and Hashtag United rocked up in the Isthmian League North, Olly Murs was the main man of the eighth tier.The pop star spent three seasons at Witham Town before he shot to fame in 2009 when he finished second in X-Factor which led to four UK numbers 1s. But he’s never left behind his non-League roots.As well as regularly featuring in Soccer Aid for England, Murs, 38, joined Coggeshall Town in 2016, where his uncle was once manager, helping the club to two promotions as a striker and co-owner.
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One of his first upgrades for the club was fixing the showers but with his playing days now seemingly over, Coggeshall are facing a fight to stay up.The bottom two clubs in the 20-team league go down automatically with the third and fourth bottom sides set for a winner-takes-all play-off match against a team finishing second in the tier below to decide promotion and relegation.Coggeshall are 19th, two points off the play-offs but have at least two games in hand on the teams around them with a six-pointer at home to Tilbury to come on Non-League Day.Non-League Day fixture: Coggeshall Town vs Tilbury – Isthmian League North, kick-off 3pmClare aiming to bring the love to Macc
Macclesfield striker Tom Clare hopes his appearance on Love Island will bring more revenue to the club as he anticipates making a return next season.The 23-year-old was given permission by Macc in January to abandon their Northern Premier League Division One West title charge and make a loan move to feature on the hit reality TV show set in a villa in South Africa.Clare’s switch was a success as he found love, coupling up with Samie Elishi to reach the final where they finished third, but now he’ll be back in the north West to spur Macclesfield onto a second successive promotion into the seventh tier.
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“It’s a huge club anyway but to be more in the public eye and hopefully I can bring more fans to the gate,” Clare told Sky Sports. “It’s all revenue for the club which everyone behind the scenes has worked so hard for.”The work that’s gone into it, people don’t see it, but it’s amazing. If I can bring in more revenue for the club, I’ll be so happy. Maybe a few shirts with ‘Samie 9’ on the back – I think she’s taken my spot! If I can do that I’ll be buzzing because I’ve got so much love for the club.”
The Silkmen reformed after the original club Macclesfield Town was wound-up in September 2020 with debts over £500,000. Local businessman Robert Semthurst has been the driving force behind the phoenix club after he purchased their assets, including the Moss Rose stadium which has been refurbished and a 3G pitch installedWith the help of director of football Robbie Savage, Macclesfield were promoted in their first season and now lead the NPL Division One West by 10 points. Clare, though, won’t be returning to the pitch just yet.”I sat down with Robbie and I said to him I wasn’t fit. He said, ‘You look fit!’ but I said there’s a difference between looking fit and being able to run on a football pitch,” said Clare.”The plan is to get back fit where I was before and come back at the start of next season when hopefully the lads have won the league. I’m going to go to as many games as I can, I’m going to be quite busy, but I’m going to support the boys.”Non-League Day fixture: Skelmersdale United vs Macclesfield – Northern Premier League Division One West, kick-off 3pmA title race fit for HollywoodWrexham and Notts County will surpass 100 points each, score more than 200 goals between them but only one will reach the EFL automatically.Backed by the Hollywood money of Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and the subject of a Disney+ documentary, Wrexham have been catapulted into a global spotlight.
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It is their 15th season in the National League since dropping out of the Football League and the pressure to finally end their absence has never been greater. Their squad is littered with EFL-standard players, good enough to challenge for promotion in League Two, with striker Paul Mullin powering them into a four-point lead with 31 league goals.Yet he is not the division’s top scorer. That would be the ‘non-League Haaland’ Macaulay Langstaff of Notts County. He has plundered 37 in 38 games and looks set to break the National League season-record of 40.The season is building towards a showdown on April 10 when Notts head to Wrexham with a sell-out crowd of over 10,000 expected.Non-League Day fixtures: Wrexham vs York City, Notts County vs Scunthorpe United – National League, kick-off 3pm
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