Well, tomorrow's game has come around rather quickly for me, and I'm looking forward to it. Dartford start the game as favourites, and it looks as if the sensible money will be on the home team. But you never know in the FA Cup.
Camberley Town are planning to take the usual coach for players and staff, plus an extra coach for supporters, so this should boost an already large home crowd. Dartford are more than capable of getting a crowd of over 1000, as opposed to Camberley's average home gate of about 100. I'm still rather surprised that Dartford's attendance in the last round of this competition was the lowest ever at Princes Park, when you also consider it was against a Kent neighbour.
There is a debate going on at Dartford about the reason for the lower crowds in recent games. The consensus is that the youngsters are staying away (even though it is only £1 to get in for children). Dartford estimate that about 100 children no longer attend home games. Add on to that at least one accompanying parent and that is 200 no-shows. Pretty significant at this level.
How a club at this level markets itself, and attempts to attract local support, is critical to the success of the club. Camberley Town only this week have put out the call for ideas on how to attract paying customers, and again there seems to be an emphasis on youth.
But it is difficult these days when the kids have so many other choices. At the Dartford v Sittingbourne game, I lost count of the variety of different shirts that the youngsters were wearing. Chelsea, Charlton, West Ham, Arsenal and (most bizarrely) a Spurs shirt (poor child). The glitz and glamour is only around the corner for many, and the non-league clubs have this to compete against.
My son loves playing football, but he's not over keen on watching the game. He resists any of my attempts to take him to Chertsey Town. He has attended a few Fulham games. He has a variety of different kits (e.g. England, Barcelona, RC Lens, PSV Eindhoven) but no single favourite. He claims to support one of Chelsea, Fulham, Manchester United or Liverpool - depending which friend he saw last. He is only seven years old, and kids are fickle at the best of times. And I do not put any pressure on him to support any one particular team. He will make his own mind up in time, and chances are it will be based on who his friends and peers support.
And I would very much doubt that any of the sensible money would be on him choosing either Chertsey, Sittingbourne, Dartford or Camberley.