These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Anti-Social Moaning Gits

Printed in the programme for the Ryman Premier League game v East Thurrock United 22nd November 2005

I took the opportunity of Slough not having a fixture last Saturday to go somewhere different. I decided to give the Lewes v Cambridge game a miss despite both teams scoring five goals during their previous matches. I must say that Lewes have lost a bit of their charm since being in the Conference South and becoming more ‘professional.’ Maybe it’s inevitable at that level of football, but I wanted something real grass roots, so I scanned the back of the Non League Paper for nearby fixtures and decided on the Sussex County League Division Two game between Seaford and Lancing. I also liked the fact that the match kicked-off at 2pm, giving me time to rush back to see the England–Argentina game

Seaford is a quaint little fishing town near Newhaven, located on the South Coast between Brighton and Eastbourne, where nothing much happens. Tucked away, their ground ‘the Crouch’ is near the train station, and as with every County league ground I’ve visited, has the obligatory view of the South Downs, this one a spectacular view of the cliffs that crash suddenly into the sea.

The ground itself is in a public park, and although the gate man took my £3 there was at least five other entrances for people to sneak in if they wanted to be tight gits. The crowd were the usual mix of ages with the younger kids taking the match as an opportunity to show of their own skills – I saw at least three other games of football going on while the match was being played! Cover is limited to a strange squat like breeze block building squashed up behind the dugouts. Although there are no seats, spectators have little option but to sit on the steps due to the very low roof.

The 1st half especially was a good advert for county league football, and by the final whistle there had been three goals, a couple kicked off the line, a sending off, and a penalty that hit the crossbar. Somehow Seaford managed to win the game 2-1.

The club have had a couple of brief spells in County Division One but in 1997 they dropped out of senior football altogether and spent two seasons in the East Sussex League before regaining their place in Division Three. Then promotion back to Division Two was achieved and last season they finished 6th.

They’ve now got permission to put floodlights on the ground which is essential if they want to remain in their current division, enter the FA Cup and FA Vase. All they need now is to raise £50,000! Half of this has been promised by the Football Foundation, but it’s a race against time to get it sorted before the end of the season otherwise under new Sussex County rules, they will be relegated back to Division Three.

Seafords climb back up the pyramid and the issue of floodlights raised the hackles of a few local residents and the first application was refused by Lewes District Council because the lights would be 'detrimental to local residential amenities.' Excuse me, but aren’t football clubs invaluable community amenities?

Luckily the council eventually saw sense with club chairman Dick Knight (no relation to the Brighton chairman!) telling councillors “We take 300 kids off the streets every month to play football. We need these lights to go any further because otherwise as a football club we will stagnate and die.”

Residents argued that the site was unsuitable for the development of Seaford FC and an alternative site should be found. I reckon that it’s these residents who should find an alternative site to live. As one Seaford official put it "The football club has been at The Crouch for a lot longer than a lot of residents have been here. I know that it was here in the 1950s because I used to come when I was eight or nine.” Residents also complained that their promotion back to division two could see crowd trouble. Where have we heard that before! With average attendances of 52 you can see where the whinging gits are coming from. After the game, I had to leave early as pitched battles raged between opposing fans, and I saw at least two cars torched a la France.

You’ve got to hand it to the idiots who move next to football grounds then complain. Personally, I think they should be told where to go. At Burgess Hill just two residents have helped get restrictions on the clubs use of floodlights meaning that extra time in cup games last season cost the club £10,000 in fines and legal fees. And what happens if the moaning minnies get their way and make Burgess Hill move out? It’s council land, and instead of a football ground being used occasionally in a lovely woodland setting, there will be hundreds of new homes! Apparently, one resident who lives near Crawley Down (whose biggest attendance last season was 94) one day complained about the noise being made by the groundsman cutting the grass! He doesn’t want the club to have floodlights either, despite the fact that it is the hub of the local community. Listen mate, there is also a simple solution to floodlights – close your bloody curtains. Britain really does seem to breed these wannabe Victor Meldrew’s. But it is this minority of moaning gits who are the real problems not the football clubs. They are the anti social, anti community types, who should be told to shove it if they don’t like it.

I like my little trips to Sussex County grounds. I feel that it is a real credit to football in this country that so many clubs exist. So the next time Slough haven’t got a game, why not sample the delights of some lower league team – you might be pleasantly surprised. And don’t forget to take an airhorn or big drum to really give those miserable old sods who live nearby something to really moan about!