Being the best Sunday League side in the country was not something many would have competed for a few years back. With the evolution of Sunday League and the introduction of YouTube the grassroots game has changed for sure.
One big factor in the rise of Sunday League football has been the number of semi-professional players being involved. SE Dons from South East London are a perfect example of this.
Who are SE Dons ?
SE Dons are a Sunday League side who share their games on YouTube and have reached unbelievable heights since forming in 2014. The Dons are considered one of the best Sunday League sides and that is thanks to their talented squad.
Among those at SE Dons is former Arsenal Youth player Zak Ansah who plays for Herne Bay in the Isthmian League. Ansah has played seven games for both England U16’s and U17’s and currently leads the line for the SE Dons.
In the Dons last game they fielded a number of players who also play semi-professional on Saturdays. The majority of these players are playing in either the Isthmian League or the National League South.
SE Dons are not the only Sunday League side to have semi-pro players in their ranks. Many other YouTube teams have a similar makeup. Like those YouTube teams, other Sunday League teams playing in strong divisions come equipped with equally as strong players also playing in National League or below on a Saturday.
There has been a lot of talk about semi-pro players in grassroots football and whether or not it should be allowed. There is no doubt these players are improving the standard of the grassroots game but is there an unfair advantage on those who turn up purely for fun?
Ex-Professionals now playing the grassroots game
Sunday League football puts a lot of effort into including people from all walks of life. To then put a ban on semi-pro’s would be unusual. It is not uncommon to even see ex-professionals in the grassroots format once their careers at the top have ended.
A Sunday League team called Monica Star FC have four ex-pros in their team including Lee Hendrie and Lee Carsley. Hendrie racked up over 250 appearances for Aston Villa. Carsley on the other hand played for Everton over 160 times and the Republic of Ireland 40 times.