More and more people are beginning to find out the joys of non-league football and it is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to spend a Saturday. For families, it’s a perfect means of getting out of the house, just grab your children, your dog and of course yourself as you are all invited to an environment that is inexpensive, unthreatening and enriching. There’s no segregation, very little swearing, and absolutely no pressure. Just a great day out with friends and family, possibly with a drink, and the football’s not half-bad either.
Dulwich Hamlet FC
For the vast majority of their history, Dulwich Hamlet have been based at their ground Champion Hill, in the heart of East Dulwich. Playing in the Ryman Isthmian Premier Division, Dulwich Hamlet have, in recent years, garnered a reputation as a bit of a ‘hipster’ club, somewhat down to their proximity to the now edgy Peckham, but possibly also due to their rather eye-catching salmon pink and navy blue strip. Their ground, Champion Hill, is easily accessible from both Denmark Hill station and East Dulwich station, while their bar is stocked with a fine selection of craft beers, and plays host to pop-up food tents serving a variety of cuisines.
Greenwich Borough FC
Greenwich Borough FC have only this season made a triumphant return to the Royal Borough of Greenwich after a number of years out in the darkest depths of Kent. They are currently in the Ryman Isthmian Division One South – yes, that is a real league – and they now play at the DGS Stadium, formerly Badger Sports Ground, in Eltham. Wearing rather smart red and black stripes, though having narrowly missed out on promotion this year Greenwich are currently on the up, and now is most definitely a good time to start attending. Managed by ex-Millwall star Gary Alexander, the club is also known for giving Ian Wright his footballing debut.
Tooting & Mitcham United
Merton’s finest football club since the demise of Wimbledon FC – now AFC Wimbledon, who play in Kingston upon Thames – Tooting & Mitcham United are united in the truest sense of the word as they are the result of a merger between two teams, Tooting FC and Mitcham Wanderers. Based at the Imperial Fields in Morden, Tooting & Mitcham were, until recently, going through a rough patch, however they stormed to the Ryman Isthmian Division One South title this year and can now look forward to playing against their fierce rivals Dulwich Hamlet in the coming season.
Welling are more classically seen as a Kent team, rather than a London team, hence the white horse on their badge. However, such has been the growth of London that Welling now sits snugly in the London Borough of Bexley. Welling are the highest ranked team of all on this list, but are struggling with financial issues, and suffered relegation in 2016 to the National League South, and had to battle hard to stay up in 2017. They play their games at Park View Road, which has stood in the centre of Welling since 1925.
Rising from the ashes of Fisher Athletic FC, Fisher FC are one of the most central football teams in all of South London, playing their games a stone’s throw away from the River Thames at their ‘St Pauls Sports Ground’ in Rotherhithe. Though they are historically Bermondsey’s other team, Millwall being the first, the previous incarnation of the club was wound up after encountering financial difficulties. Now, they play just down the road from their old ground, which has been redeveloped. Having reached the heady heights of the Conference South as Fisher Athletic, they are now working hard to get back up the leagues, but this year suffered relegation from the Southern Counties East League Premier Division to the Southern Counties East league First Division - yes, both leagues.
Cray Valley PM FC
Groundsharing in Eltham with Greenwich Borough, the PM in their name actually stands for Paper Mills. Founded in 1919 and unsurprisingly named after the Cray Valley Paper Mills in St Pauls Cray, Cray Valley PM are currently attempting to get out of the Southern Counties East League Premier Division, and this year upset the odds by winning the London Senior Cup for the first time in their history - beating Met. Police in the final 2-1 and becoming the first side from their level to win the tournament since it started in 1882.
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