IT WAS 25 years ago that my friend asked me to go to an evening game at Marston Road to help out with the ball boy duties, writes Stafford Rangers commercial manager Stuart Maun.
It was my first experience of a live football match, and where better to go than my home team club.
I remember it never bothered me that it was “only” a non league match. Sure, my school friends would make a joke of it, but to me, it was live football, in my home town - and it is down to that visit that I'm still involved today.
It was a case though of one visit, and I was hooked. Sure, I had seen top flight football on television, and seen packed stadiums of fans. We know we're not close to a sell-out at Marston Road, but in my opinion you can't compare the feeling you get at a local club like Rangers.
My dad had treated me to a visit to Villa Park in the 80s, but that was not enough to tempt me away from Marston Road.
The perks of non-league football, the proximity to the pitch; the ability to walk around the ground; the interaction with the manager, players and officials - all make the visit more memorable.
Naturally we are proud of what we have created at Rangers - but it's great to see this feeling at other clubs on our travels.
We appreciate that we can't force Staffordians to come and support the lads - especially as there are other great non-league sides in the area, but whoever you choose, I know for sure that every pound you part with at such a club is greatly appreciated and of course much needed!
My message, choose local - make it count. Keep supporting our local teams even when it starts and gets a bit chilly, which is bound to happen soon!