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Bacon's Bites: Non-league is getting it right as Carter/O'Sullivangate gets us talking – and all smile, it's the Osmonds (and Jurgen Klopp)

Up close and personal! The beauty of non-league and why it is thriving, players and fans together as one. Photo: STAN BASTON

Up close and personal! The beauty of non-league and why it is thriving, players and fans together as one. Photo: STAN BASTON

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In his weekly look at the sporting world, Mike Bacon loves non-league football, takes a look at Carter/O’Sullivangate and why it’s all smiles with the Osmonds – and Klopp

Dulwich Hamlet fans make the trip up from South London to Leiston to support their side. Photo: SIMON PARKERDulwich Hamlet fans make the trip up from South London to Leiston to support their side. Photo: SIMON PARKER

It has to be the local sporting highlight of the past few weeks.

No, I’m not talking about Ipswich Town’s 4-0 thrashing of Reading, Ipswich Witches’ trouncing of Newcastle Diamonds, with my beautifully crafted heading, ‘Witches Shine Bright Unlike Diamonds’ (get it? Well I thought it was good).

Or even former EADT and Ipswich Star editor (and my occasional golfing team-mate) Terry Hunt’s hole-in-one on the fourth at Rushmere on Wednesday – I promised I wouldn’t mention it.

Not even the brilliance of Ipswich Women’s basketball team, who went through the season unbeaten – even though that was a close second to this.

My highlight of a great couple of weeks of local sport was the 1,541 people who crammed into the Goldstar Ground, Felixstowe to watch the Step 5 Thurlow Nunn Premier decider between the Seasiders and Coggeshall on Tuesday night!

Now, OK, so Coggeshall have a celebrity fan (and occasional player), in singer Olly Murs. But even he had tweeted hours before the game he wasn’t going to be there. So, we can’t put the ‘huge’ crowd down to ‘Olly Mania’.

No, the people who went, went for one reason only... to enjoy nonleague football – and a big non-league game at that.

Ali Carter during his match against Ronnie O' Sullivan during day eight of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. The pair had a slight disagreement during the game. Photo: PAAli Carter during his match against Ronnie O' Sullivan during day eight of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield. The pair had a slight disagreement during the game. Photo: PA

What an attendance.

Hell man, Colchester United played at Morecambe in League Two back in March and the Globe Arena attendance that night was 893! The score was 0-0 as well, just to add to the excitement!

My colleague Carl Marston who reports on the U’s said it was a night he will never forget... or remember, I can’t recall what he said myself now.

I’m not taking a pop at either Morecambe or the U’s, more I’m making the point that six levels below where they play, non-league Felixstowe attracted THAT crowd.

Have you ever been to a non-league game in recent years?

If yes, then I apologise for preaching to the converted.

If no, then high time you did!

All smiles: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp walks out to thank the Liverpool fans after reaching the Champions League Final after the UEFA Champions League, semi-final, second leg at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.All smiles: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp walks out to thank the Liverpool fans after reaching the Champions League Final after the UEFA Champions League, semi-final, second leg at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.

There are plenty of Saturday and Sunday park pitch games around with plenty of honest endeavour where you will always be made welcome. However, look a bit further up the pyramid, where a nominal entrance fee is required, and you will find some quality football.

Not only that, you can sit where you like, potter from one end of the ground to the other, meet up with players afterwards.

I’m lucky to be able to watch football at all levels in my job.

From the Championship to the Suffolk & Ipswich League, I’ve seen both those leagues and most inbetween this season and in years past.

Of course a good professional game, with fantastic PA systems, comfy seats, good atmosphere and attacking football is most exciting and it is important we get behind our local professional clubs, Ipswich Town and Col U. But it can cost.

Non-league offers admittedly less atmosphere, although the passion is the same. There are just fewer prawn sandwiches – and diving is frowned upon!

These days non-league players have to be hugely committed, especially at the higher steps of the game. But for many of them there is good money to be made as the game continues to improve on and off the pitch.

The Osmonds 1975. All smiles from the American family. Photo: PAThe Osmonds 1975. All smiles from the American family. Photo: PA

So, hats off to Felixstowe & Walton and all non-league clubs up and down the country, especially here in Suffolk and north Essex, with their masses of volunteers.

Non-league is in good shape and as I have said, if you haven’t been to a game... make next season the one where you start supporting your local club.

I loved the spat between Ali Carter and Ronnie O’Sullivan at The Crucible this week.

In a sport where there are few fuel-driven thrills and spills, the two Essex boys’ bit of ‘aggro’, where Ronnie appeared to barge into Ali as the pair crossed during one frame, was pure gold for snooker supremeo Barry Hearn.

Hearn has worked hard to try and beef up snooker, with music and big announcements being played as players walk to the table.

He’s doing okay, but it’s a long way off how darts is progressing.

So, Hearn was interviewed about Carter/O’Sullivangate and although it was being put to him how ungentlemanly it all was, Hearn had a different slant on it.

“Sometimes gentlemen’s games are too gentlemanly, and while this wasn’t too serious, it summed up the intensity of the match. I don’t think the line was crossed,” Hearn said.

I think what he was indirectly trying to say was ...”More of that please, it will put bums on seats!”

Or maybe I am overthinking it all!

You have to like Jurgen Klopp.

I don’t think I’ve seen a bigger and whiter set of knashers since the Osmonds were in their pomp in the 1970s.

Klopp is the modern manager for the 21st century.

He won’t win everything, he will frustrate his team’s fans, he will even annoy at times.

But his football is sexy, he treats the press with decency and his smile is broad.

Let’s hope Liverpool see off Real Madrid in the Champions’ League final – if nothing else just to see that Klopp grin!

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