6 Non-League stories from 2019: Northern leagues
Another year of change is in the books for non-league football. Some revisions made no sense. The FA restructured the pyramid leading to playoff matches in which teams knew they wouldn't go up, win or lose. Others brought new risks. As more money floods the non-league game, it becomes more competitive but some owners become too desperate, risking the club's existence on promotion. When it happens to EFL clubs like Bury and Blackburn, it's big news but the host of non-league clubs who go under attract little attention. That said, the non-league game has never been stronger. Media coverage of part-time football has been fantastic, with live games broadcast on TV offering small clubs a huge presence on a national platform.
Attendance continues to rise. More fans become disillusioned with the game at the top levels. With the passion so evident and tickets much more affordable, many who sample non-league fare don't go back.
In the country's Northern half, former giants were redeemed, records were set at Wembley and divisions grew stronger and deeper. Long may it continue.