WHEN you have your next non-league fix have a quick look round and you will surely notice a number of dogs in the audience.
Man and their best friend are being seen more and more at the match.
So much so that there is a twitter feed – @nonleaguedogs which boasts at the last count 1152 followers and whose sole purpose is to tweet photos of dogs at the game. Whatever floats your boat!
Over the years Atherton Colls have had their fair share of mutts around the place.
Prince belonged to committee man Barrie Trundle and for all his life Alder House was his second home. They were a double act, like John Noakes and Shep.
Prince by name but king by nature. He thought he owned the place and if anybody sat in his favourite seat in the clubhouse his canines were bared. If you picked up a pool cue it was at your own peril as your ankles were likely to get a nip.
The scamp often escaped from home and Barrie generally found him on the clubhouse steps looking totally guiltless. He was a character to the last and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when he abdicated his throne.
There was also the sheepdog from just down the road that rarely missed a fixture.
He appeared like magic when the game commenced and watched attentively from his regular spot at the top end of the ground.
Maybe he got a whiff of wintergreen or heard the noise of the crowd, and thought: match day!
The black ’n’ white coloured dog mirrored the colours of his home favourites and every now and again he encroached on the field hoping for a bit of action.
He could have been our 12th man... and in his era we needed additional help! We were lucky to escape sanction by the league for his pitch invasion antics.
The class of 2014 are an eclectic bunch. There’s Max who stands there impassively as his owner Arthur chews the fat with all and sundry. Then there is Bob’s dog who yaps for 90 per cent of the proceedings.
He was once accused of being our secret weapon. An opposition fan believed that we positioned him behind the young visiting keeper in a bid to put the lad off.
We are not clever enough for that kind of gamesmanship but may bear it in mind for future consideration. On Monday night games the biggest dog in the world is usually in attendance.
His owner’s first port of call is to Emma’s tea bar where a pie is purchased. The dog wolfs the pie down in record time.
We have so many dog visitors now that some wag commented that we should stock Pedigree Chum in the tea bar.
Although stated in jest, I don’t think it is the worst idea in the world. We could also sell dog bowls in club colours – we are looking for a fresh marketing initiative.
The more dogs that visit us the merrier as long as they are kept on a lead. And if a calling card is left behind the owner has the decency to remove it.