Paget playing football vs Dudley Town. Credit: GinaGethinPhotography

After a two-year hiatus due to coronavirus, football’s Non-league Day returned on 26 March 2022.

The event, started by James Doe, is a day which celebrates the beauty of lower league football and urges football supporters around the country to relinquish their top tier team for the day and watch and invest in their local team.

Some teams made significant losses due to non-league football being curtailed in 2020, making survival tough, with some football clubs never walking on the field again.

For non-league day, Paget Rangers Football Club of Sutton Coldfield had a home fixture against Bilston Town Community in the Midland League Division 1.

The game took place at Coles Lane, home of the Bears who groundshare with Sutton Coldfield Town FC and West Bromwich Albion Women.

Paget Rangers match-day programme for the fixture against Bilston Town Community.

The game had an increased importance for Paget, a club who are comfortably mid-table with no fears of relegation but certainly not challenging for promotion this season.

A beaming Tony Bradley, president of Paget Rangers, was delighted the club sold out their match-day programmes and sold more tickets than normal.

Against seventh in the league, Bilston posed a tough game against 12th placed Paget. However, the script was ripped up as the Bears ran a rampant 3-0 victory, playing exciting football that teams in the Football League would be proud of.

Paget captain Ryan Kimberley (left) handing the MOTM award to Timothy Oyanda. Credit: Paget Rangers FC.

Exciting Welsh forward Rivel Mardenborough, who once trained under Thierry Henry while the Arsenal legend was practising his coaching badges, put the Bears ahead as he belted the ball into the roof of the goal, a finish Henry would be proud of.

Paget started the second half as well as they ended the first, with Leslie Omoridion doubling the Bears’ advantage as he shot across the keeper after beating the offside trap, placing Paget in a great 2-0 position.

The Bears were in dreamland when before the hour mark, Tim Oyanda was played through and placed his shot around the keeper and beyond the defender on the line who looked like he got a touch which left the crowd dubious as to who takes credit for the goal.

Paget (and Oyanda) will say Oyanda. Whether he got the goal, his performance earned him Paget’s man of the match award.

The matchday experience was also something Football League teams would be proud of, walking out to television theme tune Z Cars and after winning, celebrating and warming down to Depeche Mode classic Just Can’t Get Enough, exactly like Nottingham Forest after a big victory. The crowd were cheering all game with Paget youth teams from under 12s and younger making a sound from the west stand.

“It was great – the youth teams were in attendance due to the club being big on pathway to the first team”

Callum MCGREGOR, FIRST TEAM COACH

The matchday playlist also played a fitting tribute to Taylor Hawkins, featuring several Foo Fighters’ songs.

Post-match, Paget Rangers first-team coach Callum McGregor said: “It was great – the youth teams were in attendance due to the club being big on pathway to the first team” and it was good for the newly appointed chairman Matt Dainty to “see them having a kick-about, walking out with the first team and making noise for the first team”.

Audio: Tony Bradley, Paget Rangers’ president, talking about Non-League Day

Non-League Day always happens on a day when no Premier League or Football League football is being played.

The day is a chance for non-league clubs to rake in revenue and advertise their club to get more people to come for the day and potentially attend more games, adding more money into the clubs’ coffers.

Since fans were allowed back into grounds after the pandemic, 57 non-league clubs average 1,000 for home games.