Sutton United stalwart Craig Dundas recently made his 400th career appearance in non-league football. I managed to grab a few words with him.
I have always thought that there would be a massive gulf between the semi-professional and professional elements of the game. Watching the top European leagues week in and week out would lead you to believe that the players are different, somehow more dedicated to the sport. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dundas has had a lengthy career in the non-League game, starting off at Croydon before spells with Dulwich Hamlet, Carshalton Athletic and a season at Hampton and Richmond Borough in between time with his current club. With that much time in football, I asked how exactly had the game changed?
“I think the biggest change is facilities, better pitches, training pitches and better players, whether it’s been players dropping down leagues and some move up it has kept the game improving. Also a change In attitudes it’s more professional players looking after themselves better, the standard of coaching has improved.”
I was keen to know about the challenges faced by non-league clubs today. Luckily, Sutton United boast the 4th highest average attendance of the league (883), but what about teams who prop up the bottom of that particular table? Is there still a financial struggle, despite more money in the game than ever?
“I think it has to be financial, players and coaches wages, maintenance of facilities amongst other things.”
So it would seem that that aspect of non-league football hasn’t changed. Financial constraints continue to badger clubs, who have to keep on coming up with new, inventive ways to keep the fans coming through the turnstiles.
Following on from this, I asked how he managed to balance his illustrious career with the pressures of an outside job.
“Not really in the early days training in the evening meant going college or work in the day wasn’t a problem. The job I have now works well around football, I’ve been lucky with work always allowing me time off if needed.”
Finally, I wanted to know what the most rewarding aspect of playing non-league football was. Could it be the chance of playing a sport to a high standard? Or maybe the chance to work in an industry that not many others can? The answer was as simple as can be and one that we can all relate to, or only strive for!
“Most rewarding thing is the fact that you get to play football as a job that’s what anybody wants to do a job that they enjoy.”
Thanks to Craig Dundas for giving up his time to answer these questions for me. Much appreciated! Give him a follow on twitter @djdundo
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