Ayo Odukoya has become the latest non-league player to ditch the mudded pitches of the Semi-Pro game for the sandy beaches of Love Island, leaving Redbridge Fc without a striker for the upcoming pre-season. 

He isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last to feature on the reality TV Show, and this begs the question as to how these players will continue to be viewed by the fans of the clubs they love. 

Hashtag United’s Toby Aromolaran

The most notable example of this trend is Toby Aromolaran of Hashtag United, who has appeared on the show twice, including earlier this year.

Toby signed for Hashtag in 2020 and started his career playing for Loughborough University’s First Team.

This would have been a big loss for the Tags as Aromolaran was instrumental in their 22/23 promotion season, notching 23G/A showing he is much more than just a social media presence.

Hashtag have been more than encouraging of their winger’s decision, as owner Spencer Owen previewed Toby’s first appearance on the show through a podcast. 

The club is famed for their social media presence, through Owen’s own YouTube career prior to starting the club, so it is of no surprise to see them happy for Aromolaran to further promote their brand.

Next up is another two-time contestant who was also in the most recent season, and actually won it this time around.

Macclesfield Town’s Tom Clare

Tom Clare from Barnsley has been playing for Robbie Savage’s Macclesfield Town since 2021, and the striker started his career at League Two giants Bradford City.

His first stint at The Silkmen saw him score 27 goals in 47 matches, so it would have been a big loss to see him go for over two months. 

Before departing again, Clare’s contract had run down leaving him as a free agent. After coming back, he was announced as having re-joined Macclesfield, to a mixed reaction…

One fan of the club, Jon Mail, labelled it ‘embarrassing’ that he had been brought back to Moss Rose, claiming it had only been decided to model for the new kits Bohhoo Man sponsor.

However, Ted Gibson disagreed saying: “Good move. Tom has always been a solid performer. Welcome back.”

The return of Clare has not proven as successful as his first stint, getting just the one goal in nine games. 

Dennon Lewis

The original non-league contestant is Dennon Lewis, the only person on the list to have made Football League appearances at Crawley Town, on loan from Premier League Watford in 2017, where he started his career.

In 2019, whilst in between a move from Bromley to Wealdstone, Lewis had a brief appearance on Love Island, being kicked off the show just a couple of episodes after joining. 

Despite this setback, Lewis seemed to benefit from his time in the sun, winning Wealdstone’s player of the year in 2019/2020 and getting their goal of the year. Charlton were subsequently linked to the versatile man, known to play wing back and striker.

Stones fan Derek Gaston said: “Dennon Lewis is a reality tv star and footballer on loan to Casa Amor. Probably more of a reality star than a footballer tho.”

Perhaps this opinion would have changed upon seeing Lewis’ return after the show. 

The Dover Duo

Two ex Dover Athletic players featured in back to back years.

Kent native Aaron Simpson, who also signed for Wolves, appeared on the show in 2021 and was most recently at Salisbury. 

His teammate at The Whites, Jamie Allen, appeared on the 2022 series whilst playing for Halifax Town in the National league.

This backfired massively for Allen, who was released by the Shaymen due to not informing them of his decision to leave mid-season. He had racked up 88 appearances prior to his departure and has dropped down the pyramid ever since. 

Dover fan William Killeen who saw both players put on the shirt at then Crabble Stadium, said: “It’s a cash opportunity which you’d be silly to turn down I think.

“It’s after the football season too so it doesn’t really affect us, I think just let them do what they want to do. If they want to prioritise TV over football, so be it.”

The new series of Love Island starts next Monday, and we will have to see what this TV appearance does for Odukoya’s career both on and off the pitch.