Sunday league and amateur football is the less beautiful backbone of the beautiful game. Sure, it may not showcase the level of skill seen in La Liga or the Premier League every weekend, but it’s unique characteristics give it a charm that seems to have been lost in the mega-money business of modern football. Here we list 7 of those charming and frustrating characteristics that you’ll know if you’ve spent any time playing Sunday league football:

1) Goalkeepers are a rare breed.

Sunday league goalkeeper
Who’d be a ‘keeper…

Ah, goalkeepers. As the famous saying goes, who’d be a ‘keeper? Well, judging by our experience from Sunday league football: no one. Of course every team plays with a ‘keeper, but are they really a goalkeeper? Or are they just the unlucky one who happened to not be the worst between the sticks at the most recent team practice? Real, proper Sunday league goalkeepers are rare and valuable, so if you have one: hold on to them for dear life.

 

 

2) Red cards are even rarer.

Despite playing football at the weekend for a number of years, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a red card being given by a referee, and that’s even after seeing my captain slap a defender across the face for seemingly no reason. I mean do these mythical Sunday league red cards even exist? I’m pretty sure you could commit a horror tackle worthy of an entire segment of condemnation on Match of the Day and still receive just a ‘telling off’ at worst.

3) There’s a completely separate language that only those who have played understand.

‘Where’s the shout?!’, ‘It’s still 0-0!’ (it’s almost always 3-0 when you hear that one), ‘Box ’em in!’ (the peak of tactical innovation at Sunday league level), ‘Time!’ which is normally followed by: ‘You had time…’ Playing at Sunday league isn’t all fun and games, it also involves learning a new and distinct language that nobody from the outside world will truly get.

Diego Costa blaming the ref like all good Sunday league footballers
It’s always the ref’s fault…

4) It’s always the referee and/or the linesman’s fault.

This is because a Sunday league player is never in the wrong. Ever. Offside? Nope, the linesman’s a cheat! Foul? Never touched him ref! Of course, when you then lose 5-0 to top of the league having been completely outplayed it’s the referee’s fault and you were cheated out of it.

 

 

5) Your team’s kit will never, ever, be completely matching.

Somebody always insists on wearing their own socks for some reason or other, I mean is anyone really that attached to a pair of football socks? The shirts normally match, although sometimes there’ll be a collection from different seasons. I mean variety is the spice of life to be fair. Occasionally you might encounter a matching team though, which means you should be very wary of this ruthlessly efficient footballing machine (sort of).

6) Astroturf is the work of the devil.

AstroTurf rubber crumb which causes all amateur footballers problems
It just gets everywhere…

Now I understand the logic behind AstroTurf, it means there’s no mud, which is a constant in Sunday league football, and weather won’t really dictate if you can play. But my word does it hurt. AstroTurf burns offer a unique, short burst of pain not found elsewhere on this planet. There’s another dimension to it though: those tiny little black things (or ‘rubber crumb’) that you find on 3G pitches get everywhere. And I mean everywhere.

 

7) It’s such an amazing thing to do.

Sure, I may have listed a number of frustrating things about amateur football, but that comes with the territory. The frustrations (and there can be many) only make the successes and wins even better. Plus the banter between a Sunday league team that has played together for a while is different to pretty much any other relationship you’ll have in your life. It can make you angrier than you ever thought possible, but Sunday league football is genuinely a great thing to do, and I would recommend anybody who doesn’t know these characteristics gets to know them ASAP, because it’s brilliantly exasperating.