Grassroots football for grassroots fans

Seeing Wayne Rooney's stunning bicycle kick win a Manchester derby, making Old Trafford erupt, is a dream for many fans.

This is not the case for die-hard Wisbech Town fan and programme editor Spencer Larham, who would much prefer a trip to The Fenland Stadium over a corporate day out watching Manchester United any day. Ridgeons League football is all he has known and Larham enjoys the camaraderie of supporting a non league side.

'I've never really supported any professional sides so for me this is the norm,' he said. 'I don't know what it is like to stand in a stadium with 20,000 people or even 5,000 people to be honest, it's a unique experience, because there is so few of you it is much easier to feel part of something rather than a number. I mean if you're a Man U supporter, potentially there are another 70 or 80,000 people in that stadium and you're just another number coming through that turnstile. It is almost like being part of an exclusive club supporting Wisbech.'

Larham has been a Wisbech Town fan for approximately 16 years, and boasts an unbelievable viewing record, missing only one game in the last seven years. Incredibly, he has not missed a home match this century, loyalty you are unlikely to see higher up the football pyramid.

'I started out in 1995 coming to Wisbech, then when we got promoted to the Southern League, the distances involved were much greater and I didn't get to many away games,' he said. 'But I went to a few home games. Then gradually, I have gone to more and more games and now literally I don't think I've missed a home game this century. And I have only missed one away game in the last 7 years.'

Larham also revealed a major advantage of being a fan of a Ridgeons League side is the closer relationship a supporter can have with the players of their side.

'These are the sort of people that will come in the bar and drink after the game, even League One and League Two players probably would not do that, because it is due to the numbers involved and the fact that these are relatively famous people,' he said. 'Some of them are almost worshipped by their supporters; there are heroes for every club.'

Most Read

Larham also believes his involvement with the club means he has a more personal relationship with the players than some fans. The programme and website editor also believes it is easier for the fans to relate to the players as they are on the same level.

'As I am programme editor and all sorts of other stuff as well, they get to know me fairly well so I have contact with them more than your average supporter would,' he said. 'I think sometimes you do feel more in tune with the players because you can identify with them. You think some of these Premiership players are on about �250,000 a week, people cannot identify with that, it is a different world. These lads have all got day jobs; they all basically out there to earn a few more quid.'

Larham also admits he feels pride whenever his beloved Wisbech Town side take to the field.

'I feel pride whenever we play and we do well, because I think sometimes you have games when you're proud of the players when maybe they have lost,' he said. 'The FA Cup game obviously sticks out because it was such a massive thing, I mean I have still got a video of the thing at home. We didn't score that day but I would love to have heard the roar if we did because there were only about 800 Bristol Rovers supporters and about 2,800 of us. Pride is an interesting word, because you're still proud of your players each time they pull on the shirt. The first game at the new ground was a very important game for us because we needed to get off on the right foot, having been out of the town for a couple of years. I was very proud of the club that day, not just the players, but the club for achieving that goal of getting back into the town and attracting 600 odd people to come watch a game of football, which is not easy at this level.'

Clearly loving life as a Wisbech Town fan, Larham feels the only thing missing for Wisbech Town is a derby day, given the rivals King's Lynn Town are in a different league.

'Obviously Lynn are our main rivalry but obviously them being in a different league means we cannot meet them, but we know they're there, put it that way,' he said. 'If March could get promoted then we might have one. Our derby at the moment is Ely, which is 27 miles away.'

Larham is a clear believer in supporting your local side and supporting the little sides. Old Trafford and The Emirates may be a breathtaking sight, but why not enjoy watching your local side which has its own natural beauty and costs a fraction of the price.

It is a place where you feel like you really matter.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter