These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

THE NOT VERY CLOSED SEASON

From the Slough v Leyton programme 19th August 2006 Ryman Premier League (we lost 1-0 in front of a pathetic gate of 246).

Did the football season end? A few of us Slough supporters extended it with a visit to see Fisher beat Hampton and win promotion to the Conference South. Fisher are a very good side and will do well; all their moneybags chairman needs to do now is buy the club some fans.

Then we had the World Cup. The group stage didn’t disappoint, and it reminded of the early rounds of the FA Cup with non league opposition pitched against the big boys. It’s great that countries like Togo and Trinidad & Tobago qualified, and by all accounts the atmosphere in Germany was on the whole like a carnival, a celebration of football like it should be. But by the knock out stages the diving and England’s adoption of tactics from Serie A had done it for me. Apart from the mind bendingly dull Switzerland v Ukraine, England were the most boring team to qualify for the knock out stages, especially nauseating after all the bluster from our players and manager.

Then Italy go and win the bloody thing, while their top clubs were facing serious punishment for match fixing. What next for the world of sport? The winner of the Tour de France disqualified for using drugs!

Of course these English superstars, who had deluded themselves into victory, had all their celebratory autobiographies ready at the wings to cash in. So after the failure to even make it to the semi-finals you think they would have had the common decency to tell their publishers to hold back for a bit. First it was Wayne, who lets face it at 20 and not the brightest button in the box, you wonder what words of wisdom he really has got to share with the world? Then there’s Frank Lampard, who seems a good bloke, but again what’s he really done to make a thrilling read apart from play football? Yes, him and Rooney come from poor backgrounds but it’s hardly Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom.’

Next up Ashley Cole, who in the world of bling really is Premiership class. You’ve got to take your hats off to someone whose agent described his contract at Arsenal as resembling 'a master-slave relationship'. Oh really? It was reported, he was disgusted to have been offered only £55,000 a week (plus an executive box at Highbury for his own private use) rather than the £60,000 he’d been promised. So let's see. Arsenal raised him, tutored him, played him, defended him, paid his slave-like wages while he sat on the treatment table. Arsenal fans paid for tickets, replica shirts and posters. Now he flirts with Chelsea. On and on it goes, like a dull storyline from Eastenders until he marries the girl, the fabulously yellow Tweedy Famous-but-i-can’t-remember -why. Not once, but twice – the second time for the cameras so he can raise some much needed cash for him and his wife. Infact the couple were so keen to protect their £2 million plus magazine deal for exclusive pictures that guests were banned from bringing cameras and mobile phones and had to sign a confidentiality agreement in which they were told not to ask for autographs. To cap it all comes his autobiography. All this shows that Mr. Cashley Cole has long epitomised the widening gap between footballers and their fans and with every twinkle of his bling, he moves further away. But then with the tens of thousands of pounds that he earns every week, does he have any need for loyalty?

Still, if you’re having trouble sleeping then I’m sure these books are for you.

Of course, the big money in football means the TV companies are scrambling ever early and are now hyping up friendlies, with Five really taking the biscuit, trying to get us excited over Weird Named Grasshopper Team v Crap Premiership Club fixtures. Then there’s Sky Sports News which really should take a break during the closed season – infact it should take a break full stop, it only being of any use when loads of games are actually being played.

As for the Slough Town closed season; well for once we found out where we were playing nice and early and got some some friendlies lined up. Great I thought, time to relax, spend time with family and friends I usually abandon on a Saturday. I could water my allotments and instead of fretting about not having someone to support next season, I could instead worry about my tomatoes not ripening and getting blight. But oh no, the forum was alive with complaints about us staying at Windsor, tales of player’s departures and players arrivals. It’s never a dull pre-season with Slough.

I managed the Supporters Trust AGM and the kick about against the Polish Industrial League side (with the Polish invasion of Slough we seriously need to find ways of getting some of them down to Stag Meadow) but missed the other friendlies. I know I’m keen, but I’m not that keen to travel the Thatcham on a Thursday night.

As much as I like football, just like anything in life you need a break, otherwise it goes stale. The problem is that football is such big business, its flogging to death isn’t surprising. But if it drives a football nut like me round the bend, what must it be like for those who prefer cricket and cycling (I’m sure there are some of those people out there)?

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