Sutton United manager Paul Doswell is hoping that tomorrow’s Non-League Day will mean another impressive turnout at Gander Green Lane.
AFC Fylde will be the opponents for the fifth-placed Vanarama National League side.
The concept came to life in 2010, aiming to entice fans of league clubs to a non-league match during the international break, and Doswell believes it is invaluable for the grassroots game.
He said: “They are very, very good days and well-supported by fans that don’t normally come to non-league. It’s a chance for them to see a different type of football, so it’s something that we’ve always embraced.
“We’re reducing our prices as well, giving any fan of a Premier League or Football League club the ability to come in for a fiver if they show their season ticket. It can only be good to try and get more people aware of non-league football.”
The team are in good form, but the U’s boss is refusing to get carried away by their lofty position in the table.
Doswell, 51, added: “It’s so early at the moment. It’s a snakes and ladders league. Once it gets to February or March, we’ll take it a bit more seriously but our first target is to make sure that we hit 52, 53 points and get safe.”
There is expected to be another bumper crowd this weekend, which is a far cry from their attendances of comparatively recently.
He said: “It will be interesting to see what the crowd is tomorrow – our average is around the 2,000 mark. We had 2,200 down on Tuesday night [for a 2-2 draw against Dover] and the hope would be that we’d get a very similar number.”
“We are edging towards 1,600 season-ticket holders now, which when you consider our crowds were around 600 or 700 a few years ago is an unbelievable achievement.”
Last season’s success was followed by a number of departures, most notably influential duo Roarie Deacon and Max Biamou to Dundee and Coventry City respectively. It would be natural to be upset at losing two such vital players, but Doswell has a different perspective.
He said: “We want our best players to play at the highest level they can, so from our point of view it’s a good thing and we’ve made some good additions.
“Ross Lafayette, Aswad Thomas and Kenny Davis have come in and they’re more experienced players, but we’ve also got Josh Taylor and Tommy Wright who have done very well and they’re in their early twenties, so it’s a good balance.”
Last season also saw the south Londoners knock out AFC Wimbledon and Leeds in the FA Cup before being eliminated by Arsenal in the fifth round. They play Paulton Rovers in the fourth qualifying round next weekend, but Doswell is keeping realistic.
He said: “Last year was clearly a massive one-off, but our target is always to get through that fourth qualifying round, get ourselves into the first round proper and try and pull a league team.”