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.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Day Out In Arundel

Printed in the Slough Town v Braintree Town, Ryman Premier League match 4th September 2004

Last Saturday I decided I give the Brighton to Victoria train journey a miss, even politely declining Dave the Programmes offering of his newest video – the scintillating Brighton to Victoria line which I’m sure is destined be a top ten hit at Blockbusters. So, getting some brownie points with my girlfriend I sacked the idea of Hampton and instead we made our way to the picturesque town of Arundel, for some sightseeing and of course some football. After visiting the impressive Cathedral, my girlfriend went shopping while I went Arundel’s Mill Road to soak up some Cup fever.

The record number of clubs entering this year’s competition meant an extra preliminary round for 146 teams and for Arundel a home tie with Whitstable Town. But as with everything in life, it’s not just the magic of the cup these days but a way of earning some decent money - £500 for those that got through to the next round.

Arundel are in the Sussex County League Division One and like a lot of County League teams play in very pleasant surroundings that are worth a visit on a summer’s day. Their ground nestles beneath Arundel Castle, is close to the River Arun and surrounded by woods and fields.

Nicknamed The Mullets (because of the fish the place is famous, not the hairdos) it was a beautiful day, with plenty of away supporters and the average gate of 80 more than doubled, but there was no mullet power for Arundel, with their Kent League opponents easily winning 3-1.

No matter that the same old teams that dominate the Premiership now dominate the FA Cup, I still love it, especially the early stages, and a decent run for the Rebels will not just bring in some cash but the excitement of maybe drawing a league club (Wycombe would be nice) as well as bringing in the punters and giving the club a chance to let more people know about our desire to get back to Slough.

Visiting these places I always look for how Slough could go forward if/when we have a ground to call our own. When the Arundel chairmans company went bust, he decided to pay himself a modest wage and instead concentrate on sorting the club out. A grant from the Football Trust has meant new fencing (the old wooden fence was dismantled and burnt by travellers as firewood) although the seated stand consists of a covered bit with white plastic garden chairs! But as with any well run club they have a decent club bar with a big screen showing Sky and events happening throughout the week. Some people will never be tempted by the delights of non league footie so you might as well sort out the social side of things to keep the money rolling in.

Arundel are never going to set the football world alight, but then watching this level is more than just admiring the skills of some overpaid premiership star. It’s about football clubs being part of the glue that binds communities together, something which I had hoped those that now run Slough Borough Council would have realised before using our club as a political football.

* If for some strange reason you want to know more about Sussex County league clubs, there’s a book called er, 'The Non League Football Grounds of Sussex' and an excellent website