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

Digging It At Cobham

Published in the first programme of the 2005/6 season Slough Town v Leyton 23rd August 2005

Just what do you get up to on a Saturday without football? During the closed season I often find myself getting under my girlfriends feet. Shopping just isn't on my agenda, and I don't get to as many festivals as I used too, so when a few Slough supporters said they were heading for Cobham for a friendly against Burnham I decided to tag along.

Cobham in Surrey plays an important part of our social history, one of the places where the Diggers set up camp in 1650. The Diggers believed that poverty, hunger and oppression could be made history if the earth were made a "Common Treasury for all". The King, who officially owned all the land in England, had just lost the civil war and then his head, leaving England's land potentially up for grabs. So Gerrard Winstanley and twenty of his poor and landless mates squatted St Georges Hill at Walton on Thames. Unfortunately those in power didn't quite share there views and they were brutality evicted, so decided to move a few miles down the road to Cobham. Here they enjoyed more success: eleven acres were cultivated, six houses built, winter crops harvested, and several influential pamphlets published and people started joining them. But once again those with all the land and wealth wanted to stop such insurrection and began organising gangs to attack them until they were eventually evicted.

Fast forward over 350 years and Cobham now looks like Camblewick Green although I'm sure Windy Miller wouldn't be able to afford to live there, while St Georges Hill is one of the wealthiest places in the country and home to Cliff Richard.

I don't think much of note has happened at Cobham since, although they were one of Combined Counties teams lucky enough to be in the same league as AFC Wimbledon. Unlike the Diggers, the Cobham officials welcomed the AFC Wimbledon hoards with open arms. Infact the forward thinking Cobham chairman decided to insure against the game being cancelled - which amazingly it was, leading to a decent windfall. When the game was re-arranged it clashed with England on the box, so the chairman stuck up some marquees and big screens and again raked in the cash, enough probably to keep the club going for a couple of seasons. Which was probably just as well because despite playing at the delightfully named Leg O' Mutton Field, 50 people is a bumper gate for 'The Hammers'. The ground ain't up to much, with just a covered bus shed behind one goal and a clubhouse that could do with a lick of paint, but hey - what wouldn't we Rebels do to have a cow shed we could call our own.

As for the game against Burnham, well as the 10 Rebels expected former striker Matt Miller who couldn't hit the back of the net for us, grabbed himself a first half hat trick on his debut before being subbed at half-time.

Afterwards I got a lift back to Brighton with Matt who was heading for a stag do. He decided to choose Burnham over four other clubs because it looked liked they were going places; more salt in our homeless wound! It's a shame things didn't work out at Slough, as Matt was always a fans favourite who said he really enjoyed the crowds. "At our level it's a real buzz to get a crowd singing your name and the players really appreciate it." In fact one of the things Slough Town has still got is its fans (and one of the reasons one admirer recently gave a donation to the club).

Unlike the predictability of that other Premiership, its anyone's guess who will the Ryman Premiership. So let's celebrate the fact that despite all the odds we are here for another season, and cheer on the players throughout. And who knows we might just get ourselves a fallow field in Colnbrook where we can pitch up home and create a "Common Treasury for all" Slough fans in the not to distant future.