Hashtag United’s inception into the Non-League pyramid has certainly been met with some reservations, to say the least in the past two weeks. However, we have been fortunate enough to speak to their Commercial Director and player Seb Carmichael-Brown earlier as he dispelled several misconceptions surround their new non-league status.
Seb, first spoke openly about how the journey for Hashtag United started, “It’s a difficult one to describe to be honest. Spencer, who is my brother and creator behind Hashtag United, he had been making football videos online for a long time and has followed non-league football for a long time also. One of his first ever series was about East Thurrock, which you can see on one of his original YouTube Channels. He did a fly-on-the-wall documentary about them, the club that our family had been involved in for a while, so it’s always been a passion of his.
“A sad event happened in Spencer’s life as a good friend from school sadly passed away and he arranged a memorial game, just of him and his mates and myself and a few other guys and as Spencer was making football content on Youtube at the time, he filmed the match. It was just on a random 3G pitch in Essex, and he stuck it online and it performed really well and loads of people watched it.
“So we thought, maybe their is something more in this. We can make a team out of this. Me, Spencer and our friends from school, and we can record the journey and see what it is.”
And Hashtag United was born…
“We have been around for over two years now but we have not played in a traditionally structured league, like we are going to be from now on in. Hashtag United is all about telling the story of the adventure these guys are on, who have been playing together since the playground, and to see how far can they go and what sort of experiences they can have.”
“At the start we didn’t want to join a Sunday League set-up. The starting team two years ago was not fantastic, some good players, some less than good players, but all mates. We were also concerned about making videos from Sunday League, as it can be quite difficult, you don’t know where you will be playing, whether it will be called off, or in fact if you will have the permission from the opposition side if you can film. And it’s all new and you are not in much control.”
Inspired by EA video game franchise Fifa, they devised a tournament in which the team would play real matches within a fictional league, working their way from fifth to first division, where they are currently. They are promoted or relegated depending on a points system dictated by match wins – their current target is to reach 22 points in order to top their own first division.
“We decided to create our own pyramid of football, we mirrored what was popular with our audience, which is a gaming revolution. This generation are very interested in computer games, as I was growing up with Pro-Evolution Soccer and FIFA etc so we made this football pyramid that is based on that, so we created five divisions, and we are the only team in those divisions. We have been playing in that system for two years, and have now completed it, Chapter One.”
During that time they have toured the US, Serbia, Ireland and Jersey, had their own kit custom-made by sportswear giant Umbro and average 700,000 views per match.
They’ve also played at the UK’s top stadiums including Wembley and the Etihad, as well as the O2 Arena and Everton’s training ground.
“We have now got to the point where we want to see how we do in the competitive ranks. We made the decision to get in touch with The FA, to find out what was happening. We found out that they were creating this new division, at Step 6, which was going to be Eastern Senior League Division One.”
“That’s one of the things that was really frustrating is that when it came out, their was a bit of a mistake, as The FA put us initially into the wrong league, into the Midlands League. Which is not geographically right for us whatsoever, and it basically got out that their was a team leaving that league, as their are many teams leaving the leagues across the pyramid, and 11 new teams coming into the league, but somehow it came out that we were taking another clubs spot, which is absolutely not true.
“We are going into a new league, which have been created, teams are coming down into it, teams going up into it, and 11 new teams in the pyramid and a reshuffle so it’s perfect for us to come in as well. We certainly wouldn’t want to take anyone’s spot, it’s not what we are about.”
Seb goes on to talk about the squad going into the new season, ground sharing, fan engagement, and much more, and you can listen to the whole in-depth interview below. It’s a really interesting insight into England’s newest and largest Non-League footballing side.
We must go on record and thank Seb for taking the time out to chat to us with his busy and hectic schedule and wish them well on their journey, wherever it takes them.