Published in the Southern League Premier Division game v Dunstable Town Saturday 4th February 2017.We won 1-0 in front of 503 punters.
Porter is Slough Town's General Manager. I caught up with him in
Kev's physio room to find out about his role.
did you get involved at Slough?
I am close friends with Bakes and Unders and followed them during
their first joint management post at Godalming. When the managers
were announced at Slough, I began to follow the Rebels and attend
games, acting mostly as the managers driver – though I didn’t
have to wear a hat, just a Slough Town FC tracksuit! In February 2014
I began commentating on Rebels Radio (which Bakes kindly volunteered
me for) and started completing pre and post-match interviews with the
managers. I am really happy to have the opportunity to talk about
something I love and have a good laugh at the same time.
you let us know more about your role now?
John: I began working
with our chairman Steve Easterbrook during the summer as Bakes
(again!!!) volunteered my services to help out. This was initially
focused on the homecoming Hayes and Yeading match and using my
organisational, planning and people skills to try and achieve what at
some points seemed like the impossible! Through this process I saw
the club and its volunteers (the heartbeat) in a very different
light. I built some great relationships during that intense and
stressful period and it really stood out was the selfless dedication
of volunteers to put themselves out there for the club they care so
One highlight was the
amazing ticket sales and I still can’t thank the team of volunteers
for the hours and efforts they put in to advertising and promoting
the event, managing the orders, planning the allocations and seating,
getting the tickets and actually sending/handing them out! Looking
back I still can’t see how we did it all in such a short time and
with so little sleep. There are many other highlights and people to
thank I only hope they all realise how grateful the club are for
their support and effort - boy they delivered! It’s an amazing
success and one we should be very proud of.
The move from
Beaconsfield to Slough has been much more than a physical move; the
club is changing at a rate and pace not seen for a number of years.
This is great for Slough and the team and results on the pitch
have matched this. During the initial period Steve and I began
working closely together and it became clear to us that the club
needed to be restructured to support the new adventure at Arbour Park
as match day at Arbour Park is so
much more intensive than it was at Beaconsfield.
I became General Manager
of Slough Town and my work is split into two core elements,
operational and strategic.
As a club operating
from (a partially built) Arbour Park the work put into getting the
match day ready is at a different level to Holloways Park. It is not
uncommon to have volunteers arriving at the ground shortly after 10am
and not leaving until 7pm.
The operational side
focuses on the ability for Slough Town to be able to communicate and
deliver matches well for supporters, sponsors, players, officials,
council and volunteers. Deliverables cover a broad spectrum of areas
from social media/marketing through to putting out “no parking”
cones on Stoke Road ahead of the match.
I am very lucky to have a
great committee team around me, all with designated areas of
responsibility, who work tirelessly to delivery matches whatever
challenges come our way.
The challenges continue
to come thick and fast, yet at every committee meeting I am proud and
energised when people say “no problem, I’ll do that” or “have
you spoken to” and we cross that one out and move onto the
The strategic element pretty much does what it says on
There is a dedicated steering group who look at
strategic topics and decide on approach that the club will take. This
is essential for the club to plan for the future - what do we want
both on and off the pitch and how do we go about getting there? What
does a good non-league football club look like? What do they do (that
we don’t)? What can we do to move our club forward or make it
unique? How can we engage with new fans and the community? How should
we conduct ourselves and how do we want to be seen?
What are our
footballing ambitions and what does it need to meet them? Is it
realistic? Is it sustainable? Where do we want the club to be in 18
months? 3 years? 5 years?
We are in a very exciting
period for the club right now and under the direction of the Chairman
have made great strides. We cannot rest on our laurels and there is
plenty of hard work to complete.
many hours a week do you do you dedicate to Slough Town?
I probably spend minimum 2 hours a day working on club topics (don’t
tell my boss), be that in the form of planning upcoming matches,
communicating with the committee team or meeting people and preparing
or debriefing from matches. 6 hours is normally dedicated on the
evening of a midweek match, whilst at the weekend 9 hours is probably
if we have 1 home fixture per week the number will be approx.
18/20hrs per week.
the managers, meeting with Steve, calling up the committee members
and attending other matches to watch our opposition - its no wonder
I'm single! (no comments please)
sorts out all the different activities during the games? There's
always a collection, at Christmas a school choir, today we have one
of our supporters promoting Frame Football with his son; it seems
people want to be part of Slough Town now we are back in town
A lot of the community work comes from the committees ideas. For
example we've been working closely with the head of St.Josephs Ciran Stapleton, a really nice guy who has turned the school around. The
school have been using Arbour Park facilities while their sports
facilities are being upgraded and our academy players are taught
their. When we came up with idea for bit of a Christmas fair at the
Kettering game, we got their choir in, gave away some mulled wine and
mince pies, got some pizza in and beers to say thanks to our
volunteers. We've had lots of collections such as poppy, collecting
toys for children spending Christmas in hospital; one that was very
special for the players and management side which was for Guy Hollis
mum who sadly passed away with cancer. We are a community club and
its not all just about what's happening on the pitch.
the club still looking for volunteers?
Absolutely. If they contact Kay Lathey or come up to people on match
day. If people can give a couple of hours every match day it would be
appreciated. This morning Lionel was out there early in the freezing
cold brushing the pitch to get it ready.
Where do you see the club
in the next few years?
On the pitch, settled in the Conference South, with regular home
gates of 700-1000 fans and engagement with the Slough community.
is important that we grow and develop in a positive and sustainable
manner. We need to make sure that we get the next period of 12-24
months right to ensure that Slough Town has the foundations in place
to have stable growth and support the club to succeed both on and off
will be great to be in a home with the ability and facilities to be
operating in a professional way and putting on a great experience for
fans new and old!
finally, has our chairman ever been in the directors room? Last time
I was here he was filling up the drinks cabinet and i've seen him
directing traffic and moving litter bins.
Yeah he does occasionally! He likes to get involved. He's a very
agitated spectator, he cant stand still. I think what has impressed
the council is seeing all these volunteers, who don't get paid
anything, giving up their own time and putting in the effort to get
the games on.
John, and I think it's always worth remembering, especially after a
defeat, how much work volunteers put in to make sure we watch a game
of football. And that now they are back in the town they represent,
Slough Town are becoming much more than just a football club.