Grassroots YouTube teams offer fans amazing access they'd never get at the mega-clubs - but who are the biggest and the best at doing exactly that?
Gone are the days when Sunday league teams were just watched by a hundred local fans. The rise of YouTube clubs with massive social followings means worldwide audiences of 100,000+ are hooked on the adventures of new sides, as the teams tap into everything from grime music to comedy.
But what started as a laugh is now getting (semi) serious as these teams are attracting talented young footballers, media attention and high-profile sponsors as their social numbers top those of some Premier League clubs. From originators to newcomers, SPORTbible have ranked them by their numbers and we reckon these guys are doing it better than anyone else.
Whether it's epic challenge videos, behind-the-scenes banter, training tips or more serious goals like giving youth players a final chance to go pro or shining a spotlight on race issues at all levels of the game - these teams have got it covered.
6. Baiteze Squad
Story so far: Jokers in the pack, but the east London showmen take their skills seriously. Baiteze, formed in 2017, topped their league table in 2019 - but it's their spicy challenge videos that explain why each get 30k to 100k+ views on YouTube.
A massive hit was the two-touch challenge starring Baiteze Squad and several top Liverpool players, including Sadio Mane (might want to sign him up Baiteze - looks decent). Sworn rivals of SE DØNS who they took on a pre-season game this August. Tasty.
Combined following: 83k
Why you should follow: For the outrageous challenges, banter and basically to see where they end up this season as they depart their Hackney league as reigning champions.
League: Hackney & Leyton Premier League (until 2020)
5. Under The Radar FC
Story so far: YouTube star Manny Brown (aka FIFA Manny) is the man behind Under The Radar FC where club videos do up to 200k views and beyond on his own channel. His brother Tobi, one seventh of the Sidemen, is also involved making them a sort of YT elite Neville brothers. Not really boys.
Manny has been articulate on the issue of racism in grassroots football and also provides terrific commentary of UTR's games. Not sure if it's returning for 2020/21, but the radar-themed black-and-red Puma kit is sweet.
Combined following: 87k
Why you should follow: Just some of the most amazing, OTT goal celebrations: less Sunday league, more World Cup final. We mean that as a compliment.
League: Woolwich and Eltham Premier Division
4. SE DØNS
Story so far: Started by grime/rap artist Don Strapzy, this south London club began in 2014 and are "the greatest Sunday league side ever to be created in the world" according to captain and keeper Big G, who admittedly may be a bit biased.
Mixing football and music, the team is a combination of pals, ex-pros and people who still have dreams of making it in the pro game. Own an impressive 177k YouTube subscribers and have actually hired and took on new people during the 2020 pandemic. Can't hate on that.
Combined following: 311k
Why you should follow: Music + football crossover, great access and because they guarantee the #LONGEST90 (which we always assumed was having to watch your team away at Stoke).
League: Orpington & Bromley League
3. Palmers FC
Story so far: One of the originators in the YouTube football world, Palmers FC paved the way for a lot of teams in the UK scene when they began in 2014. However they decided to stop filming in August 2019 due to a lack of finances and an ageing squad.
But the comeback is on! Palmers are now back in for 2020/21, playing in the Brentwood League after signing off with four trophies in their last campaign in the Thurrock League. Love the new kit, lads.
Combined following: 316k
Why you should follow: An exciting revamp to originally beloved franchise, a bit like Jumanji - except without The Rock and a load of jungle animals. Presumably.
League: Brentwood League Senior Division
2. Rising Ballers FC
Story so far: Leading platform and community for the best youth talent since 2016, Rising Ballers launched a men's team in 2018. Rising Ballers FC is a squad of the best unsigned talent aged 16 to 21, offering a final chance to get that pro contract - and it's proved a spectacular success.
Amazingly, SEVEN out of 20 players ended up signing pro contracts after the first season - three at Premier League clubs. An incredible start for the team that posts weekly YouTube updates - and takes on SE DØNS this weekend. We might be biased, but their kit looks pretty fresh too.
Combined following: 592k
Why you should follow: See the most exciting unsigned talent battle for victory and a final chance at a professional contract.
League: Barnet League Premier Division
1. Hashtag United
Story so far: Spencer FC's baby has grown up into a monster (erm, in a good way). From a mates team in 2016 to now climbing the football pyramid, Hashtag United were promoted from 10th tier to ninth tier in 2019 - and likely would've gone up again had the league not been abandoned.
Hashtag boast Football Manager as shirt sponsors, an elite FIFA esports team, a women's side, 400+ youth players (male and female) and are joint-third favourites to sign Leo Messi this summer. OK we made the last bit up - but Spencer Owen and his team are daring to dream massive.
Combined following: 1.2m
Why you should follow: Embrace your inner glory hunter and support the side that has so far made it bigger than all the rest. The only way is Essex, people.
League: Essex Senior League
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