FOOTBALL has been a huge part of my life for as long as a I can remember.

As a young child going to watch both Canvey Island and Arsenal, any chances of forging strong groups of friends were greatly affected because I spent most of my spare time at football with my dad - but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

In 2008, we made the decision to follow Canvey every week with the main reason being it was simply more fun. You have experiences that you could never have as a fan of any Football League team.

My love for non-league, at times, has nothing to do with the game of football. I love that I can walk into the Frost Hire Stadium and everybody knows my name. I love that I can have a pre-match chat with (manager) Danny Heale before a game and I love standing being the goal with fellow supporters as they mercilessly lay into the opposing goalkeeper, players and quite often each other.

I love players jumping into the crowd after a late winner and shouting so much to the point where my head feels like it will explode. I love the bewildered looks I get from people when I wear my Canvey shirt on holiday as they desperately try to work out who I support.

From miracle comebacks and players hurdling the fence to sing with the Yellow Army to players talking to you after the game, I love that most weeks I can stand there and say “Well you wouldn’t get that at a Premier League game”.

If it wasn’t for non-league football, I wouldn’t see one of my closest friends each week and I would only see my dad at Christmas, on special occasions or when I need money.

Non-league has given me with some of the best moments of my life - winning 3-2 in the play-offs at Sudbury, beating Northampton Town, nearly getting slapped by a Wigan fan after shocking them in the FA Cup and being the only responsible/sober one on the train to Exeter.

I stand by the cliché that non-league football is ‘like being part of a big family’. Regardless of how terribly the team is playing or how miserable it can make you, it feel like you are part of something special.