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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks


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The first ever book devoted entirely to the evolution and history of the dugout, featuring full colour photographs of over 70 Non League dugouts from England and Wales, from Step One to Step Seven and below.

Large and small dugouts, painted dugouts, wooden dugouts, dugouts on wheels, dugouts with doors, garden sheds masquerading as dugouts - they are all there.

Full colour hardback
RRP £7.99
Available in all good bookshops and from internet booksellers

Published articles (including a sneak preview of some of the pics)
Note You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files (Free Download)

‘Groundtastic’ (Autumn 2005)

‘Northern Ventures, Northern Gains’ (Christmas Edition, 2005)

The first dugout appeared at Pittodrie (home of Aberdeen) in the early 1920s. The story goes that Aberdeen’s trainer at the time, Donald Colman, was a boxing and dancing enthusiast obsessed with his players’ footwork. Because he also made meticulous notes during each game and therefore needed a dry notebook, he had Aberdeen build a sunken covered area at Pittodrie, thereafter known as the ‘dugout’. A few years later Everton visited, liked the idea and built one at Goodison Park.  Don’t forget that this was some 40 years before the introduction of substitutes.

In the early days dugouts had to be sunk below ground level so as not to get in the way of the crowd, although it is not that uncommon in Non League to find the odd example where they are positioned immediately in front of the stand, as at Sidlesham until fairly recently. These days it is quite rare to see a proper dugout, sunk below ground level. Part of this reason probably stems from the fact that it is virtually impossible to get a good view of the action from such a worms eye position, although a more pragmatic answer is that they tend to get full of water, particularly during a typical British football season. Wembley Stadium was unusual in that there were no dugouts as such, but instead provided the classic ‘trainers bench’ on the touchline.

Sadly, along with the increasing number of prefabricated stands at Non League level, dugouts are also becoming increasingly boring (what do you mean, they have always been boring?!).  There are however, some wonderful decrepit examples still standing – remarkably so in some cases – and some clubs are still coming up with quite original modern designs. As a connoisseur of the dugout I still have yet to see anything to match those at Franklands Village, which sway in the wind, although some would no doubt say they aren’t proper dugouts at all.

I’m also still waiting to stumble across some enterprising club that has commandeered a couple of old wooden bus shelters for the purpose. I haven’t managed it yet, but am still searching ...

Sidlesham FC
These dugouts have since been demolished but must have been amongst the worst positioned anywhere in Non League football. Thankfully their replacements are on the opposite touchline

Franklands Village FC
The legendary ‘dugouts’ at the Hardy Memorial Playing Field. Sadly no longer in use by Village since their resignation from the Sussex County League in 2004

Here are a couple of old Cornish dugouts I spotted close to the Tate Gallery in St. Ives (no, only joking!)

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