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SUNDERLAND AFC fans are being urged to change their allegiance and support grassroots football this weekend.

On Saturday, there are no Premier League or Championship matches taking place because of international fixtures.

Organisers hope to build on last year’s success of the inaugural Non-League Day and get fans flocking to grounds they would not normally go to.

James Doe, part of the Non-League Day group, said: “We want to make September 3 a celebration of football and a celebration of community spirit.

“Grassroots football is the bedrock of our national game – let’s all get behind it.

“The main thing that’s different this time is that we have more official support.

“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport are backing us and we also have a big charity in Macmillan Cancer nurses on board too.”

The day will hope to capitalise on the increasing unhappiness some football fans have, with top players earning tens of thousands of pounds each week.

“We aren’t trying to protest against anything,” added James.

“A lot of fans do think that way so it just seems like a bit of a no-brainer to do this, especially if Sunderland and Newcastle aren’t playing on the day.

“It’s a great way to spend a weekend out.”

Former SAFC, Newcastle United and England star Chris Waddle is also calling on fans to go along to a non-league game on the day.

The former winger worked his way up the football pyramid after starting out at Tow Law Town while also working in a factory.

“Non-League Day is a brilliant idea,” he said.

“As an ex non-league player I fully endorse the promotion of our grassroots game.”

To find out more go to www.nonleagueday.co.uk

Twitter: @davidal

Matches on:

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* Seaham Red Star v Ryton and Crawcrook Albion

* Washington v Alnwick Town

* Prudhoe Town FC v Cleator Moor Celtic FC

* Annfield Plain FC v Boldon CA FC

* Ashbrooke Belford House FC v Darlington Cleveland Bridge FC

* Wolviston FC v Kirkbymoorside FC

* Ryhope CW FC v Jarrow FC

* Coxhoe Athletic FC v Sunderland West End FC

* Gateshead Leam Rangers FC v Peterlee Town FC

* Redcar Athletic FC v Hartlepool FC

* Stockton Town FC v Silksworth Rangers FC