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

Fans United

Published in the Slough Town v Yeading FA Cup 2nd Round 4th December 2004
(Slough lost, and Yeading then drew Newcastle at home in the 3rd Round. Slough have never been in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and a victory would have bought us wads of cash and piled on the pressure for the Council to help us find a ground back in the town.)

I’m still quite lost for words after that brilliant result against Walsall – it’s something I know I will be boring people about for the rest of my life! For a local lad who used to stand on the Wexham Park terraces to get the winner was the icing on the cake, while the simple but very effective red card protest was the cherries, and has really help put the spotlight on the current lack of support from the council.

The protest is part of a fine tradition of Fan Power that has been growing over the past couple of decades. From the unofficial fanzines that came to prominence in the eighties, to the official supporters trusts that are in operation at over 100 clubs including Slough Town. Democratic, representative and open, trusts are the ultimate show of strength by the supporters.

A peek at AFC Wimbledon’s achievements highlights just how successful these trusts can be. The club was set up less than three years ago when the FA gave the nod for the infamous move to Milton Keynes and the creation of MK Dons (or Franchise FC as its more commonly known). The real Dons are now on a British record of seventy eight league games without defeat, while Franchise have no fans and are heading for another relegation fight. The protests haven’t let up and a few weeks back it was the turn of Luton Town supporters to hold a peaceful demonstration before the game.

Infact this sort of solidarity is an integral part of Fans Power. In my adopted town of Brighton, all manner of direct action took place to try and stop the clubs ground being sold by yet another dodgy chairman wanting to make a fast buck. In one match before a crowd of over 10,000, supporters invaded the pitch during the first half and the match had to be abandoned. One of the young Albion fans then had the very bright idea of Fans United, where supporters from across the country (and the world) were asked to come to a specific game to show support for the Albion’s plight. As one supporter put it "This is not about supporting Brighton and Hove Albion for the day. It's about supporting fellow football fans in their hour of need. It's about sending a message to the world that football belongs to the FANS." I was at that game wearing my Slough top and the atmosphere was something very special. Two weeks ago a similar Fans United happened, with nearly 60 different clubs present at a Wrexham home game lending support to the followers of the club, which is being threatened with extinction.

Fans Power has also erupted in German, where 32,000 Germans have so far pledged ‘direct action’ after a World Cup sponsorship deal means only Budweiser beer will be available in stadiums during the games, and McDonalds instead of German sausages. This type of American invasion has not gone down very well. “We have to act,” said one protester “Tourists coming here will think we drink this bland beer by choice. What would George Bush do if we sent Uli Hoeness to the Super Bowl to sell white sausages instead of hot dogs? He would send troops to Bayern.”

Today will almost be too nerve wracking to watch. So much hangs on it, not just a dream tie with one of the footballing elite, but if we do get through, another chance to shine the spotlight on the local politicians who’d rather sweep the football club problem under the carpet. It’s us fans standing united that can make sure that doesn’t happen.