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

My First Match and Other Love Stories

Published in the Slough Town programme v Kingstonian 5th April 2005

My first ever match was at the age of 11 when my dad took me to see Slough Schoolboys Under 15’s play Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup Final. Somehow eight thousand people squeezed into Wexham Park (still a club record for the ground and likely to remain so).

I started going too games the following season but I can’t remember anything, but I must have got the bug. Me and my mate from school got dropped off for every home game and in my second season I got a season ticket for Christmas for £12. (Being bought in August, my parents forgot that this was a Christmas present by the time the real thing came along). I used to cycle from Manor Park to the ground to ‘help’ with clearing up and improving Wexham Park on Sundays, and at some point managed to persuade my parents that me and my mate could go to an away game. So, Carshalton in the FA Cup it was. I can’t remember the score, just being excited sitting in the sun on the grass banks - although Chris Silski has since told me my mum asked him to look after us! In fact I’m rubbish at remembering scores, unlike people like Chris who seem to have a photographic Slough Town memory.

I used to love the away games more - and still do. Being one of the first to be picked up by the coach outside the George Pub on the Farnham Road I would stare out the window and wonder why everyone wasn’t going to football – and still do!

This was also the era of Terry Reardon being manager. The whole Reardon extended family used to go to games, and I had a serious crush on his daughter. A girl who liked football and whose dad was manager, was almost too perfect. Unfortunately Clare didn’t see it that way, and turned my bid to be her boyfriend down!

When I started playing for Crusaders, we trained at St Josephs School, and afterwards would go en mass to Wexham Park (two Slough players, Brian McDermot and Joe Maloney were our coaches at Crusaders. McDermot ended up with a spell at Arsenal and managing Slough). I certainly can’t remember many of those matches either, as the gossip and the mass football on the training pitches usually took precedent.

When we reached the dizzy heights of the Conference, me and a couple of mates started to produce a football fanzine ‘Rebels without a clue’ which when I recently re read it, saw just how littered with swearing and abuse it was! Eventually the club banned it from sale inside the ground after we printed a letter that was rather abusive to our local Conservative MP. This sparked a mass debate in the Slough Observer and was even picked up by a few national papers.

My favourite memories will always be the games against Wycombe. No disrespect to Windsor, but our derbies aren’t a touch on those encounters. I remember being part of the thousands of people that descended on Wycombe’s ground the year they got promoted. The unofficial gate was 8,000, as locked out Slough supporters jumped over the gates, while hundreds stood watching from the hilltop. The amazing two goal injury time equalizers against Reading in the FA Cup was also pretty special. Back at our local pub The Wheatsheaf, the celebrations continued long into the night, and the lone Reading supporter must have tied of the abuse. (The Wheatsheaf used to run independent coaches to various games at the time.) I also remember wearing my Slough scarf all day at school after we won the Isthmian league, but there was no promotion to the Conference in those days.

I’ve now been supporting the Rebels on and off for the past 28 years. Infact it was Chris Silski who made me feel really old a few seasons back at Hertford Town. I told him that I had a vague feeling I’d been there before. I had - 25 years previous when we lost to them in the FA Cup and our manager was sacked. I long for Slough to be part of that community again, back in the borough so I can have my slap up breakfast in the Touch of Class feeling sick before the game! Bumping into people and persuading them to come along and watch a game. My whole life has been tied to the team, and despite the five hour train trip to home games, I know that I’m always going to be wed to the Rebels.